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.
Leigh: On this week’s Spontaneanation, host Paul F. Tompkins welcomes Lauren Lapkus and Tatiana Maslany. Between Lauren Lapkus from, oh I don’t know, I guess all comedy at this point, and Tatiana Maslany from, oh you know all of Orphan Black, I can’t think of two people better equipped to handle characters on an improv podcast. If you’ve already heard these three together on a handful of Comedy Bang Bang episodes, you already know what a treat this episode is going to be (if not, go back and listen to those as well!). After a conversation about spotting live animals and shower and swimming pool based fears, they take us into the high-drama, topsy-turvy world of a mini golf course. From customer complaints left on comment cards, the tensions between competing courses, and dead bodies buried right into the green, we learn there’s a lot that goes on behind closed doors at a mini golf course. They make themselves crack up throughout, which, on a podcast, is something that walks a fine line between hilarious and annoying. But with these three at the helm, it only makes the listening experience all the more better. [Apple Podcasts]
Modern Day Philosophers - Fred Armisen & Marshall McLuhan
Marc: Fred Armisen seems like he must be one of the nicest guys in the world. Danny Lobell, host of Modern Day Philosophers, explains how he basically ran into Armisen on the street one day and got him to agree to not only appear as a guest on the show, but to drive across Los Angeles to sit at Lobell’s dining room table to do so. As the host delves into his guest’s background – music, what prompted his transition into comedy, Saturday Night Live, and Portlandia – the two men discover they both have lived in Queens, Long Island, and now Los Angeles. They also both had, apparently, never heard of Marshall McLuhan before, a true “modern day philosopher” who died in 1980 and is known for the phrase “the medium is the message” as well as coining the term “global village” in 1962 to describe a world he foresaw where virtually everyone is connected by electronic technology. Lobell and Armisen take turns reading passages from and about McLuhan to each other and then do their best to interpret the meanings of some densely interesting thoughts. I was a little mystified that neither comedian recalled McLuhan’s memorable cameo appearance in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, which he appeared in just three years before his death. Aside from that, the two guys make some nice tangents into the philosophy of comedic performance along the way. [Apple Podcasts]
Hollywood Handbook - Drew Tarver, Our Close Friend
Noah: UCB alum, Seeso star, and Comedy Bang! Bang regular Drew Tarver is the latest in a series of guests Sean Clements and Hayes Davenport have pulled in for the newest Handbook story arc – trying to make the show more accessible and less inside so that they can get Hollywood jobs and stop doing the podcast. Tarver teaches Hayes and Sean – joined by Engineer Sam, horny vampire intern Andy, and creepshotting cum-denier K.E.V.I.N. – some of the foundations of YouTube success, and then allows the gang to do some hands-on learning by attempting their own ASMR, unboxing, and haul videos, some of the core successful conceits going today. They’re quick to invent their own characters, from understated fare like Quiet Hayes to Sean’s incredible Bonnie Bargain-Hunt. The characteristic snickers in the background of a Hollywood Handbook are belly laughs this time around, and with good reason. Sure, it helps to know some of the intricacies of the Earwolf staff’s relationships to one another, but this is as close to a late game entry point you’re going to get from a long-running high-concept podcast like this. [Apple Podcasts]
Chillpak Hollywood Hour - 10th Anniversary Show
Marc: A decade of podcasting is kind of a big deal in this relatively new medium. And this week marks the 10th anniversary of the Chillpak Hollywood Hour, hosted by Dean Haglund and Phil Leirness. Haglund’s a comedian and actor well-known for his appearances as Langley in The X-Files and its The Lone Gunmen spin-off, while Leirness is a film director and documentarian who produced The Truth Is Out There and The Lady Killers, which is just making the festival rounds now. While you may want to binge listen to all ten years of the show, this week’s installment shortcuts that for you as the co-hosts share their top 10 favorite moments from the run of the show to date. That’s 20 moments altogether, complete with clips, so you really get a sense of the breadth and depth that these members of podcast royalty (ten years – they deserve that, right?) have gone to in order to pump out an episode a week. In fact, for the past year or so, Haglund has been living in Australia but they’ve not missed a step despite the time difference between Down Under and Leirness’ home in Los Angeles. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Beautiful/Anonymous - First Kiss
Welcome to Night Vale - The Missing Sky
Crybabies - Hannah Hart
The Best Show - Dick Blevins! Feud! Avalanche Bob! More!
Pod Save America - BONUS POD with Trevor Noah
Good One - John Early’s Wedding Toast
Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown - Series 7, Episode 1 (Bleed The Radiators)
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.