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.
Noah: High on the list of the world’s most simple pleasures is a Best Show appearance from Nathan Fielder, who sets the tone for an all-cylinders show with a casual promotional call ahead of tonight’s return of Nathan for You on Comedy Central – the highlight of which might be when he breaks out of an uncharacteristically personal story about childhood shoplifting with a tender “So, how’ve you been?” But the centerpiece and main event of the three-hour broadcast is Tom’s hosting of the fictitious 2017 Podcast Hall of Fame (USA) Induction Ceremony, making good on a throwaway bit idea he let slip last week. The lo-fi production reminds of 2015’s ambitious “Newbridge Wall” sketch, with scattered applause and chuckles at Tom’s laugh lines as well as Sarah McLachlan singing “I Will Remember You” under an In Memoriam lineup featuring The Fogelnest Files, By The Way: In Conversation with Jeff Garlin, and the Greggulator’s Holding Court Podcast. The excellent awards show parody honors Hollywood Handbook and Clare O’Kane’s brand new Talking to Myself in the Park with inductions, and for a moment it seems like Tom might even leave The Best Show out of his own vanity Hall of Fame. But at the last minute – even after A.P. Mike gives a stirring, patriotic speech for his award – Julie Klausner hops on the line to induct Kid Jersey and his crew. And no one can ever take this nothing award away from him. [Apple Podcasts]
Origins - Originals/Larry David Interview
Leigh: Following the release of the 5-episode oral history of Curb Your Enthusiasm on Origins earlier this month, host James Andrew Miller has released an additional 13 (13!!) episodes, each an interview with one of Curb’s key players. Everyone you want to hear from has an episode. From the people who have been there from the beginning like Cheryl Hines, Susie Essman, Richard Lewis, and J.B. Smoove, who started out as a fan of the show and became a cast member, all the way up to Larry David himself. These interviews are packed with details of the show’s, well, Origins. Like the only guidance Larry David ever gave Susie Essman in creating Susie Green (“I want you to rip Jeff a new asshole”) and the audition scene that made Cheryl Hines Cheryl David. With only a few more days until the 9th season of Curb starts, there’s no better way to get ready for the premiere than hearing directly from the people who made one of the greatest TV shows of all time. [Apple Podcasts]
We Got This - Best Classic SNL Member w/Dave Thomas
Marc: With their latest episode, Mark Gagliardi and Hal Lublin (both alums of The Thrilling Adventure Hour) kick off the first is what is planned to be set of shows that will take them through Saturday Night Live’s long-running history. Along with guest Dave Thomas (SCTV, Strange Brew), the hosts turn back the hands of time to 1975 and the debut of SNL in order to make a determination of which of the core cast members in the first five seasons of the show was the best. Thomas was there during much of that time – hanging out, writing on the show, and palling around with OG cast member “Danny” Aykroyd because of their shared Second City (Toronto) time together. Thomas is a wealth of insider info and anecdotes about those first years, including tales about show creator Lorne Michaels, so it takes awhile to get through the SNL all-stars: Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner. There are great pros and cons for naming one or the other “the best,” although some folks are eliminated for obvious reasons (i.e. Chevy Chase left after just a year.) In the end, the choice came down to…ah, but that would be telling. I can’t wait to see whom they pick from the next handful of years. [Apple Podcasts]
Norm Macdonald Live - Tim Allen
Pablo: It takes all of five minutes for Tim Allen to start ranting, unprompted, about paying high taxes to a federal government that he says never helped him. Which is pretty ungrateful for a snitch who had his life sentence for cocaine trafficking reduced by cooperating with the feds. If you’re like all God-fearing Americans, your “Tim Allen” Google alert has been popping off once a month as the comedian gives his thoughts on the cancellation of Last Man Standing after six seasons. And the sad, indignant tone that starts this episode of Norm Macdonald Live hovers over the whole show. To Tim, “those people” at ABC-Disney who canceled the show were scared of a likable conservative character. But he never goes into detail about why that made him “dangerous” to that same company who gave him six seasons, plus tens of millions (post-tax) with Home Improvement, The Santa Clause trilogy, and the Toy Story trilogy. For a guy who hates entitlements, he sure sounds entitled. [Apple Podcasts]
I Was There Too - Catwoman with Janet Varney
Kathryn: Why don’t we talk more about Janet Varney? She’s currently on the actual television on You’re the Worst and IFC’s Stan Against Evil, she’s been a power player in alt comedy for over a decade appearing in Burning Love, cofounding SF Sketchfest, and popping up in mainstream blockbusters like Entourage and this week’s I Was There Too movie Catwoman (the 2004 one with Halle Berry, not the seminal Michelle Pfeiffer catwoman). She’s bounced around a lot and always seems to land on her feet, probably because she’s a versatile mix of eloquent, beautiful, and funny. IWTT episodes are the most fun when the guest is someone Matt Gourley has known for a long time. He knows them, but he’s never done a deep dive on their filmography. This far into the podcast one might worry he’d run out of friends with secret parts in big movies, but not yet. Varney reminisces about acting so well her lines got cut, the seedy Hollywood doctors who give you a checkup under the 101 before you film Drunk History, and a truly insane story about meeting up with her childhood crush/nemesis on the Catwoman set who had no memory of her. [Apple Podcasts]
Marc: Whether it’s a show about crimes in general (Pretty Scary), garden variety killings (My Favorite Murder), or serial killers (All Killa, No Filla), true crime and comedy go together in podcasting like nowhere else. Adding to the stack of these sorts of shows, just seven episodes in, there’s Zealot, Australian writer Jo Thornely podcast about cults. Each installment she and a guest tear into the guts of one notorious cult after another. Her latest guest is fellow Aussie Nadine Von Cohen and they pull back the shroud on Colonia Dignidad, “an evil Chilean Nazi torture cult” founded and run by a Nazi named Paul Shäfer Schneider. It turns out that when Von Cohen was a student in South America in the mid 2000s, she was fascinated by the stories of Schneider’s cult and she ended up doing some “amateur sleuthing,” as she puts it. While the movie Colonia (2015), starring Emma Watson, was a bust as far as Thornely and Von Cohen are concerned, much of the rest of the story behind the cult leader and his slavish followers is fascinating. While neither of the two recounting the stories profess to be journalists, they have a mountain of names, dates and facts, but it’s all related in a breezy style with some uncomfortable laughter in spots along with some pop psychological diagnosis thrown in. If you like your comedy darkly chilled, this is the listen for you. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
WTF - Pete Davidson
2 Dope Queens - Never Ghost Abbi Jacobson
Star Wars Minute - Imagination Tapeworm
Let’s Watch A Full Length Movie On YouTube - Cockfighter
Hollywood Handbook - Jessica Chaffin, Our Close Friend
Ghosted Stories - Soulmates and Ghosts w/Keren Eldad
Classroom Crush - Did You Know We Exist?!
My Neighbors Are Dead - Room 237: Marty DeRosa & Sarah Shockey
All Fantasy Everything - Sports Nicknames w/ Sean Jordan, David Gborie, and Rhea Butcher
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.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.