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.
Good One - Kyle Kinane
Leigh: In the future, you won’t be able to claim you’re a devoted fan of comedy without being a regular listener of Good One: A Podcast About Jokes. It’s like the comedy equivalent of those Magic’s Biggest Secrets Revealed, but you know, not lame. Each week, host Jesse David Fox sits down with a comedian and asks them to deconstruct one of their jokes, covering things like how much of it is true and the original idea that inspired it. This week it’s a joke from Kyle Kinane’s 2010 special Death of the Party about foolishly waking up and believing in yourself. Kinane recounts what his life was like at the time he first started doing this joke, its evolution, and how it ultimately ended up in his special. Beyond just the joke, the two also discuss the difference between doing a joke that’s structurally perfect and works on paper vs. one that’s true to your voice, getting rid of jokes when you’re sick of them, and how it’s lazy to shit on LA. It’s an especially compelling argument, once you realize Kinane is accidentally summarizing the plot of La La Land to make his case. [iTunes]
Terribly Funny with Steve Basilone - Tami Sagher
Elizabeth: Writer Tami Sagher sits down with friend and former co-worker Steve Basilone to talk about a low period in her life that ended up leading to something great. It’s a story that begins in Vegas at a writer’s retreat with the staff of How I Met Your Mother, when a trip to the craps table activated an “inchworm in her brain.” Unable to stop thinking about gambling, she goes back to Vegas to scratch the itch and ends up reconnecting with her old friend Liz Allen, who along with another friend from Chicago, becomes a creative support group that still has weekly phone check-ins. Tami talks about the books that helped her find her path and realize big dreams and by the end of the episode, you won’t want to gamble, but you will want to read The Artist’s Way. She also goes into the crazy coincidences (like seriously crazy) surrounding Don’t Think Twice and why the movie made her realize what she wants next. [iTunes]
Noah: It’s open phone Tuesday in the Best Show studio and Tom Scharpling is in rare form. Though Scharpling’s recent reliance on topics produced some great programs (for better or worse), the absence of one brings forth an unrestrained type of caller and an episode that, really, defies any description other than “classic Best Show.” Tom’s ever-expanding characterization of his trio of producers holds down the transitions, from a great segment goading a caller in Cleveland to get an apmike.bandcamp.com tattoo, to setting agendas for the post-show meeting, to sharpening knives while he solicits for Patreon backers in a nod to Get Out. A riff on Bon Scott and AC/DC leads into a short, giggly Jon Wurster call as Blythe Habershaft, and Tom hints at a forthcoming Missing Wally Wackiman parody when Z-Man calls to close the show. What people will remember more than anything, though, it’s Tom’s pitch perfect karaoke parody (Podcast Heroes), dismissively calling out the podcast industry for what it is to the tune of the Kinks’ (Celluloid Heroes), whether friends or foes. [iTunes]
Under The Skin - Feminism - Can It Change the World?
Marc: The new podcast offering Under The Skin is at that end of the spectrum reserved for shows that wind up in the comedy category because there’s a comedian attached to it. In this case it’s British comic Russell Brand, and in the first month since his show’s debut, the subjects have been pretty heavy, starting with terrorism, racism, and societal change, to this past week’s deep dive into feminism. Heavy seems to be his middle name, as Brand reveals that he’s gone back to university, where he’s studying for a MA degree in World Religion and Politics. Anne Phillips, Professor of Political and Gender Theory at the London School of Economics, is his guest and they really examine the topic in some detail. There’s not a whole lot of room for laughs in the hour-long exchange, but Brand is an affable host and does find some lighter moments here and there, even as Professor Phillips is helping him to understand the degree to which modern culture really has to go in order to strike true equality between the sexes. The only way you really know you’re listening to a comedy podcast is that Brand does get in a few plugs for some upcoming gigs. [iTunes]
Everything’s Coming Up Simpsons - Krusty Gets Busted w/ Joe Russo
Pablo: The day-to-day working environment of early Simpsons seasons compared to today’s season whatever assembly line is hard to envision, even if you’re a diehard fan who’s heard former writers and producers tell stories of cramped bungalows and an anxiety-ridden Matt Groening. But Starburns Industries CEO Joe Russo, who started his career as an animation PA on the old Simpsons shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, brings a different perspective to the greatest animated show of all time’s genesis with stories of his two mentors: Gabor Csupo and Brad Bird. Csupo, the co-founder of the legendary ‘90s cartoons animation company Klasky Csupo, recognized the passion in a young Russo and kept giving him jobs… even when Russo was repeatedly fired. Sometimes those jobs were just babysitting Csupo’s kids until a new production was up and running. But he kept a young Russo around, even when a silly wrestling match landed them in the back of a police car. Russo also recalls the undeniable talent in a young Brad Bird, a decade before the animator became an A-list Hollywood director. This podcast episode covers “Krusty Gets Busted,” one of the two episodes that the animator was credited as the director. With his knack for both visual gags and visual storytelling, like having the Simpson children point out the Kwik-E-Mart robber’s enormous shoes couldn’t belong to Krusty, Bird set the bar for how The Simpsons would be compared to other shows on primetime TV. And in the process, Bird inspired Russo to always clear that bar with the projects he now oversees at Starburns like Anomalisa and Rick and Morty. [iTunes]
Kathryn: NCAA basketball just wrapped up, baseball just kicked off – spring is a great time for sports. So it makes sense that Mark and Matt (self-professed sports neophytes) would call this the “off-season” and fill time with an abjectly absurd one-off mini-series breaking down the Virgin America safety video one minute at a time. Virgin’s highly stylized musical seatbelt-tutorial extravaganza deserves an in-depth deconstruction. Mark and Matt leave no narrative, production, set design or VFX stone unturned, following our hero flight attendants Gabby and Cordelia in their standoff against nun/passenger Sister Carlotta across a five-minute epic. Episode/minute 3 features Pete and Alex of the Star Wars Minute podcast, progenitors of the form. Based on riff quality, episode/minute 4 is my personal favorite. But you don’t have to choose – all five installments dropped at once on April 3rd, to tide Shrimps fans over until the season 5 premiere of LA women’s rec league basketball… the following day. Every aspect of this is great and totally useless. [iTunes]
By The Book - The Secret
Marc: Several years ago, Earwolf featured a short-run podcast called The Andy Daly Pilot Project, which featured Daly each show as a different character hosting a new podcast each week. Life continues to imitate comedy with something called the Panoply Pilot Project where, for reals, four podcasts are being given the chance at life based on the response garnered by a single pilot episode. One of those, By The Book, is hosted by New York-based comedian/storyteller Jolenta Greenberg and her Minnesota friend Kristen Meinzer. The premise is that both women will follow the dictates of the same self help book for two weeks, then report back on their experiences and whether they think the guide is full of hooey or not. The pilot focuses on the immensely popular The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and, although both hosts start out rather skeptical about the book’s belief system and methodology around the Law of Attraction, their recap of the two weeks spent adhering to it ends up providing some interesting evidence to support it. At least for Greenberg. The stolid Midwesterner, Meinzer, wasn’t thoroughly convinced but takes the change she sees in her friend as proof enough that there may, indeed, be some power in The Secret. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Hollywood Handbook - Mikal Cronin, Our Close Music
Lovett or Leave It - After Nunes, Delight?
Dumb People Town - Dan Harmon – the Nissan Ring of Power
Skeeter-ial - Benny Arthur and the Noisy Neighbors
Politically Re-Active - YouTube’s Akilah Hughes on #BlackWomenAtWork & Feeding The Buzz
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.