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.
Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People - Deaf
Noah: A member of the deaf community strikes gold with Chris Gethard this week as he, a lanky Black/Puerto Rican man, participates in the phone call through a bubbly white female sign language interpreter. The caller is also an avid reader of the podcast, pointing out that he looks forward to the transcription of Beautiful/Anonymous arriving every week for the straightforwardness of the format compared, specifically, to how hard it is for him to read a complex show like Comedy Bang! Bang! The nervous laughs come easy for Gethard and the interpreter from the get-go, between Gethard putting his ignorance on his sleeve by referring to the caller as “hearing impaired” for the bulk of it and prying honestly about the ways the caller used his deafness to get women. Gethard makes a half-hearted deal with the caller to arrange a night of performance art at which he’ll be the only hearing person at an all-deaf comedy event, but what’s most remarkable about this week’s Beautiful/Anonymous is the way it bridges for inclusivity in podcasts with Gethard’s eventual decision to make up a commemorative poster with the goal of ensuring that all the back episodes are transcribed for prospective deaf friends of the show. [Apple Podcasts]
We Still Like You - We Still Like Mocking You
Pablo: Celebrating two years of embarrassing, shameful stories this week is We Still Like You. This live storytelling podcast features comedians telling mortifying stories from their past that still make them want to crawl into a hole and die. A stand-out from this week’s episode is a tale by Joe Nudleman about his experience as an American Idol PA. As anyone who’s worked in unscripted production or seen Lifetime’s UnReal can tell you, reality is a cruel business. Joe lays the groundwork by explaining his main job was to take wristbands from the thousands of people who didn’t have the singing chops, but did have the free time to wait outside Soldier Field all day. Eventually, producers gave him more important responsibilities, like finding devastated people whom the cameras could film. But the majority of his shame comes as a bystander to the unnecessarily mean ridicule piled onto a smiling, chubby man who was passed onto the 2nd round just so he could be made fun of by the judges. Nudleman still regrets not doing anything as he watched the delusional, but harmless wannabe singer enter the audition room with his supportive sister in tow. Nudleman relays this brief 10-minute tale of shame with Moth-level quality storytelling that makes you hope that man still finds happiness in singing, even if it’s not for a global audience. [Apple Podcasts]
Cashing in with T.J. Miller - Colossal Crazy Crab
Marc: Darn the luck. We almost get treated to an appearance by famed foghorn artist Foggy Bottom in this episode of Cashing in with T.J. Miller, but it turns out that he doesn’t make it and T. J. Miller once again must sit in with host Cash Levy. The duo was in San Francisco this past weekend, hanging on the periphery of Comedy Central’s Colossal Clusterfest, a huge conglomeration of comics and comedy shows scattered throughout the city. Although they cover a lot of topics in their one-hour release in front of a live audience — cable cars, eucalyptus cough drops (too much “lupus,” according to Levy), Miller’s story about publicizing the upcoming The Emoji Movie by parasailing into Cannes, Alcatraz, the much-maligned sports mascot for the S.F. Giants, Crazy Crab, and a whole lot more, all starting with trying to determine the actual mystery behind the Bay Area’s famed Winchester Mystery House. There’s a never a slow moment in the show, a fact that Miller seems to be able to keep from occurring by sheer force of will. [Apple Podcasts]
Pop Culture Happy Hour - How to Break Up with Television
Leigh: Of all the problems in the world today, “too much content” is probably pretty low on the list of importance. But still, it’s a problem! Especially for anyone who feels like they need to consume every possible thing available in order to keep up. Furthermore, when is it okay to stop consuming something when you don’t like it anymore? To help make things more manageable, the panel from Pop Culture Happy Hour break down how to quit TV shows you’ve committed to, but don’t care about anymore. The way they see it, you can fall into one of two categories. You can be a Quitter – someone who can just give up on something right in the middle of an episode. Or you can be a Bitter Ender – someone who feels like they’ve been so invested in something, they need to see it through until the end, even though the show has made you angry or gotten boring (for me, that was The Office). There’s also unquitting for shows where you can jump back into at any time. Bottom line, Pop Culture Happy Hour is here to help you make all the TV easier to manage. Plus, it’s a quick discussion, so quitting in the middle of the episode won’t be a problem. [Apple Podcasts]
Black Men Can’t Jump in Hollywood - Wonder Woman ft. Anna Drezen
Mark: Wonder Woman couldn’t have been released at a better time, to be a temporary reprieve from the toxic hellhole that is today’s political discourse. The fact that the movie was a smash hit at the box office and critically, despite the DC Universe’s previous super-shit, is icing on the cake. On this podcast, it’s great to hear a non-white male perspective on the film. SNL writer Anna Drezen brings a particularly unique point of view, as someone who believes liking comic books “actually makes you a worse person”. While they deem it no Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy, Braylock, Milligan, James III and Drezen all show collective love for Wonder Woman. It’s not perfect, but it shouldn’t have to be. Go see it, then listen to this episode. Boy out. [Apple Podcasts]
Tapped - File 3.248
Marc: Something that’s never gone out of style is voyeurism, and now you can enjoy the thrill of listening in on conversations you really shouldn’t, courtesy of the new Tapped podcast. At least that’s the premise for this seemingly random collection of personal conversations that have been ostensibly released from National Security Agency archives, having been “found to have no discernible threat to national security.” The improv comic minds of Luka Jones, Mary Holland, and Casey Feigh have cooked up this pastiche of fevered human interactions and, in the second installment to be released via Feral Audio, they are joined by Scott Adsit, Ali Ghandour, and Tim Bagley. Among the chats we’re privy to: A breakup scene between two friends in a park, a creepy guitar teacher tries to become too friendly with someone else’s girlfriend, and the members of a homeowners’ association try to get to the bottom of several pieces of suspicious activity in the condo complex. I had fun trying to figure out, as I listened, what sort of keywords these people used in their conversations that may have drawn the attention of the NSA in the first place. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
You Made It Weird - John Early
Call Chelsea Peretti - We Meet Again
Bodega Boys - Butt Boys
The David Feldman Show - Susie Essman and Alan Grayson
Don’t Ever Change - Thomas Middleditch
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
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.