The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We’re here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
You Made It Weird - Sarah Silverman
Leigh: You Made It Weird episodes tend to generally fall into two categories. Let’s call the first category the silly ones. Look no further than the Josh Ruben episode for the best example of this. On the flip side, we’ve got the deep episodes, with the Harris Wittels episode being an obvious, though most extreme, example. This week’s episode, featuring Sarah Silverman’s return to the show, is the second kind of episode. Her first appearance, episode 9 way back in 2011, is also worth a listen. This time around, she and host Pete Holmes share some very moving thoughts on death, more death, near-death experiences, and politics (it’s also funny! I swear!). Clocking in at two hours, I never understand the complaints that this show is too long. I could have listened to this conversation for easily another two hours. We also learn what Pete’s parents would have named him if he had been a girl! See! I told you there were also funny bits! [iTunes]
Office Hours with Tim Heidecker - 3.17.17
Pablo: For almost a year, Tim Heidecker has been hosting a live call-in podcast through Skype allowing fans (and the occasional hater, like Million Dollar Extreme creator Sam Hyde) to interact with the normally reticent comedian. And while Tim alternates between genuine sincerity and the faux-pissy “Tim Heidecker” persona seen in projects like On Cinema or Tim’s Kitchen Tips, it’s the former that makes this a weekly must-listen for any T&E fan. While he doesn’t connect with any caller for an extended conversation on this episode, he still drops a few morsels for Abso aficionados in between berating prank callers or politely accepting hip hop recommendations he didn’t ask for. One is a song, a 17-year tune from The Tim Heidecker Masterpiece archives. But the other is the admitting of a comedy influence, a rare occurrence given that Tim is rightfully annoyed on a regular basis by callers asking for the nth time if he watched Andy Kaufman as a youth. The influence? A VHS tape that came with an old board game called Commercial Crazies that he later said was “more influential to me than anything else.” But my favorite part of this and nearly every episode of Office Hours is when a caller goads him into doing his manic stream-of-consciousness Alex Jones impression. It rivals Anthony Atamanuik’s Trump and James Adomian’s Bernie as the best (or only good) things to come from the 2016 election. [iTunes]
We Got This - Best Monty Python Song with “Weird” Al Yankovic
Marc: Any fan of Monty Python worth their salt will gobble up the latest installment of We Got This as hosts Hal Lublin and Mark Gagliardi welcome “Weird” Al Yankovic to help them declare which is the best Monty Python song of all time. One forgets what a massive range of musical fun and nonsense the renowned British sketch group has banged out over the several decades they’ve been around, from their Flying Circus TV show to their movies and albums. Fear not – pretty much every title you can think of (and a bunch you’ve either forgotten or, maybe, never heard) are lovingly sorted through by the hosts and Yankovic. Some tunes, such as “Spam Song,” are dismissed because they are too dependent on a particular sketch. Others, like “I Like Chinese” and “Never Be Rude to an Arab,” get the hook because they are just too politically incorrect to qualify. The boys manage to whittle the list down to a hot half dozen, including “Bruces’ Philosophers Song,” “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life,” and “Sit On My Face.” Not seen your favorite yet? You’ll just have to listen to find out the winner. [iTunes]
Blank Check - Blank Check
Kathryn: At last, for its 100th episode, the podcast Blank Check is actually about the movie Blank Check. Has anyone been waiting for this? Who cares. Griffin Newman and David Sims have spent 99 episodes already mulling over the projects of auteurs whose early successes gave them the leeway to make the movies they really wanted to make – gems like Aloha, After Earth, and The Happening. This week the Two Friends focus on a 1994 Disney family comedy about a precocious maniac who ends up with, you guessed it, a blank check. In a Shazaam/Kazaam situation, Richie Rich and Blank Check actually were two different movies that both existed, starring separate charming towheaded imps. This is the one without Macauley Culkin. It’s got characters named Preston, Quigley, and Juice (why did we get worse at character names between 1994 and now? we can get back to that golden age, screenwriters) and a cast that includes Miguel Ferrer, James Rebhorn, and Tone Lōc. Child psychopath Preston revels in his windfall in a display of pre-9/11 excess that does not hold up at all. A preteen is able to spend almost a million burgled dollars in six days, suffering no repercussions, in this movie. An adult woman kisses a 12-year-old boy on the mouth in this movie. This is a bad movie. Don’t watch it. But do listen to Blank Check, which is good. [iTunes]
Modern Day Philosophers - Bobcat Goldthwait & Jorge Luis Borges
Marc: Comedian/actor/director Bobcat Goldthwait has done a lot of things in his career, including some a couple of pretty heavy movies. But in visiting with Danny Lobell on Modern Day Philosophers, he claims that he’s not really up on philosophy: “I know nothing about philosophy past whatever could be boiled down to a bumper sticker. So whoever wrote, ‘Ass, Grass, or Gas: Nobody Rides For Free’ might be my biggest philosophy inspiration.” And for a big chunk of the show he gets a bit of a free ride, as host Lobell gets him to open up at length about how he got into standup, why he took the roles he did in movies such as Zed in Police Academy 2, 3 AND 4, and what drives him to explore the subjects he does in film. There’s also a swath of remarkable conversation in which Goldthwait is very forthcoming about his close friendship with the late Robin Williams, a connection that he’s been reticent to discuss with anyone until finally coming to grips with his friend’s death only recently. When they finally do round on the philosopher chosen for this installment, Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo, Goldthwait is onboard with the 20th century writer and poet’s connection to mysticism and “magical realism” but tends to balk at embracing his more religious views — understandable given Bobcat’s agnostic-formerly-atheist leanings. [iTunes]
Jordan, Jesse GO! - Work the Anchor with Amber Nash and Sarah Morgan
Noah: It’s MaxFunDrive! Jordan Morris and Jesse Thorn welcome a major get for the first week of the co-flagship’s fundraising marathon, Archer’s Amber Nash. Nash, in her first JJGo appearance in-studio after a fair few live showings, slides right in to the program’s goof-off rhythm, as happy to be interrupted by stupid riffs about how much they hate drama as she is to interrupt with stupid riffs about how much she, too, hates drama. At the same time, it’s an often illuminating discussion about the showbiz movement toward Atlanta and the below-deck life of a cruise ship entertainer – the latter topic becomes a delightful guessing game about Nash’s experience in a murder mystery parody of Dancing with the Stars. The big knowledge peaks, though, when Jesse cracks open his daughter’s newest venture, a ten-or-so page book of all Earthly knowledge. The dry, in-the-moment wit of Grace Knows Everything is a sight to behold and a sign that the apple fell straight beneath the tree, from the page dedicated to our ABCs to the one about being careful with staplers that Jesse assumes was determined post-stapling. The “Momentous Occasions” segment welcomes a rare mid-show co-guest in International Waters producer Sarah Morgan, who gabs with Jesse about his crush on Pam throughout some great listener calls. [iTunes]
Who Charted? - D’Arcy Carden
Elizabeth: This week on Who Charted?, the best part of The Good Place, D’arcy Carden, helps Howard work through an incident at the Coffee Bean with some role playing and they get to the bottom of his earplug habit. They also talk about the most unrealistic part of La La Land: the lack of loud motorcycles. As they go through the top 5 Shazam songs of the week, Howard and D’Arcy also rank their favorite members of One Direction and D’Arcy describes all her 1D merch (both purchased and homemade by her aunt.) During the TV chart, Howard pushes Kulap to set some aggressive deadlines for her plan to become the Asian Shonda Rhimes. Later in Two Charted, they run down Kevin’s list of music that millennials are banging to and Howard shares his suspicions about French interference with his iPhone. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Weird Adults - Jackie Johnson
The Todd Barry Podcast - Matt Goldich
Chapo Trap House - No. 1 In Heaven
Hollywood Handbook - Kulap Vilaysack, Our Close Friend Again
The Best Show - Every Topic Ever! Shawn in Newbridge! More!
Being Frank with Ivan - Happy Relationships
How to Be Less Awkward - Glory Hole w/ Terence Pennington
Royal & Doodall - The Rise and Demise of Royal & Doodall
Good One - Tig Notaro’s Taylor Dane Story
Tuesdays with Stories - Dibulge
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.