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.
Brian Posehn’s Nerd Poker - Episodes 1-4
Marc: Brian Posehn and his crew of Dungeon & Dragons-playing pals are back! It’s been more than two years since the cast of Nerd Poker with Brian Posehn and Friends stopped swilling 5 Hour Energy and skarfing down Arby’s in the Earwolf Studios. But at the end of April, Posehn and a trio of gamers (Blaine Capatch, Ken Daly, and Dan Telfer) stealthed back onto the podwaves with an ever-so-slightly revised version of the show, now dubbed Brian Posehn’s Nerd Poker. It’s more hardcore now – no studio, no Earwolf – just a homemade yet spiffy Patreon homesite and the guys meet up at Posehn’s place. For the first eight episodes, they’ve only got one mic, so the whole thing sounds like it’s from 2005 right now. Telfer is running the new campaign as the Dungeon Master and they’ve cracked the books on the game’s 5th Edition. The characters of Bodhi (Posehn), Tom Diretto (Daly), and Twee (Capatch) are trapped in a spooky, dark, and evil land. The episodes are about half derring-do and half random pop (and pre-pop, in the case of Capatch) references. And now that they’re no longer in the sanctity of the studio, there are cameo appearances by Posehn’s son, wife, and family dogs. The single microphone makes for some tough going in the early episodes but if you’ve missed Nerd Poker, you won’t care one single bit. [Apple Podcasts]
Las Culturistas - Oscar Montoya
Kathryn: The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Cumbia this week as Las Culturistas round out their LA saga with UCB star and hip hop dance impresario Oscar Montoya. Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang get into it over Oscar’s tattoos, the Power Rangers extended universe, and piña colada muffins, and agree that what really matters is self-knowledge, when it comes down to it. There’s plenty of time for fun and games, as always, but also a serious discussion about what it takes to succeed in comedy on stage, and that’s being yourself. For Oscar, who’s on Maude and Harold teams at UCB, that means being a cumbia-dancing Colombian immigrant who lives and breathes US pop culture the way someone who grew up surrounded by it never could. Trite but true: we want to watch people live, not work, onstage. And for a podcast designed to chart the cultural moment, Las Culturistas may have spawned its own cultural moment this week with the birth of Matt’s drag character Anya Rysm. Come for it, and for the frankly very informative breakdown of drag personae pronouns based on the precedent set by the Justice League. From Gru to Ru, this show has it all, including a restraining order from (record scratch) Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter?! [Apple Podcasts]
The Bill Simmons Podcast - Aziz Ansari on Master of None, Hosting SNL, and Kanye Studio Session Stories
Mark: Master of None is back along with a number of Aziz Ansari interviews, and for that we thank our overlords at Netflix. Bad news for Bill Simmons’ sports nerds, good news for comedy jocks: almost no sports talk gets in the way of season 2 behind-the-scenes details. The writer/director dives into his personal experience in Italy to prepare for this season, how much improv is involved in the writing process, and of course, Trump fatigue. Unexpected (fake) beef arises with Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed, for taking all the dramatic roles Aziz could be reading for. It’s also no surprise to hear the Modern Romance author dole out some helpful technology-related advice for writers. Appreciate the irony of listening to someone speak about taking a daily break from being connected – all on an internet radio show, made possible via your intelligent phone. Finally, in addition to being a New York Times bestselling author and an Emmy Award-winning creator, Aziz deserves another accolade for being the first podcast guest to tell a backstage SNL story without doing a Lorne Michaels impression. Stay tuned to the very end for some revealing stories about Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, and Harris Wittels, the four of whom would make a fine version of Mount Rushmore. [Apple Podcasts]
Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People - Rekindling an Old Friendship
Noah: The anonymous caller at the focus of “4 Kids 0 Sex” returns to Beautiful/Anonymous almost exactly a year after his first call aired, causing Gethard to choke up at the realization of this unlikely second encounter – he’s the first to get through for a second time with a random dial. Caller 4K0S was a hit in the earliest days of the podcast. He earned praise for his candor as half of a loveless, sexless marriage and faced criticism for seemingly spending most of his time at comedy shows or calling Chris Gethard while his wife runs errands with their four children. And, unsurprisingly, this surprise reprise – which, by the way, is a much easier rapport much quicker than ”Ron Paul’s Baby, Pt. 2” – focuses in on the at-home and online fallout from their last conversation. 4K0S understands the way he came off a year ago and displays a great sense of humor about the way he was painted by his critics. More than anything, it’s just nice to hear the love back in his voice. [Apple Podcasts]
Good One - Jerry Seinfeld’s Donut Holes
Leigh: This episode of Good One technically isn’t an episode of Good One. Instead, it’s the conversation host Jesse David Fox had with Jerry Seinfeld recorded at Vulture Festival back in 2015 that inspired the idea for the Good One. If you’ve been listening along to this first season of the podcast (which, I hope you have been!) you know that in each episode comedians break down one of their jokes. So since this isn’t technically an actual episode of Good One, it doesn’t follow that format. But come on, it’s a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld! In it, he shares the Julia Louis-Dreyfus episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee as well as why he wanted to make the show in the first place, how much planning goes into each episode, and even some insight into how much of it is “scripted.” Plus, he shares his thoughts on standup in general, new comedians’ attitudes towards new material, his process of honing new material, and come on – it’s Jerry Seinfeld, so no matter what I list here, you’ll want to listen. We got Good One out of this conversation the first time around, maybe we’ll get something out of it this time around. [Apple Podcasts]
Code Switch - Master of None’s Alan Yang Unpacks Season 2
Elizabeth: Code Switch’s Gene Demby and guest co-host Lenika Cruz of The Atlantic chat with Master of None co-creator Alan Yang about the new season. They go through the thought process behind some of the episodes, including the cinematic influences that inspired the scenes shot in Italy. Yang also talks about having a diverse writer’s room, whether he listened to critics of the first season, and the importance of listening to the experiences of the people they depict. Gene and Lenika also ask how Yang’s parents a dealt with his decision to leave his biology degree behind to move to LA, and his path from South Park to Master of None. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Lovett or Leave It - Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire Comey
The Watch - David Mandel Talks Veep, Curb, and Seinfeld
Anna Faris Is Unqualified - Timothy Simons
Harmontown - God Made Us to Kill Us
Jordan, Jesse, Go! - Child Colleague: Bryan Safi, Erin Gibson
Be Here for a While - Mindy Rickles
I Seem Fun - Jen Explains Things to You
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.