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.
A Very Fatal Murder - Episode 5, Part 1: Did My Police Department Miss Something?
Noah: Spoilers ahead! Starting with episode 1 of The Onion’s new binge release true crime podcast parody is obviously essential to follow the story, but the two-part fifth act is where everything falls into madcap place and the thesis of the show becomes glaringly apparent. Writer David Sidorov plays East Coast public radio reporter David Pascall, who uses his Extremely Timely Homicide Locator – ETHL, like the old lady name, for short – to hone in on the small town Nebraska murder of Hayley Price, a 17-year-old debate captain/prom queen that the host constantly refers to as “supple [and] in the prime of her life.” It’s a crime that ETHL has determined checks every box for a perfect murder podcast, including commentary on the plight of the white working class. And now, a year after moving to Bluff Springs to investigate the story full-time after realizing that the force didn’t have a single podcaster assigned to the case, he’s quickly worked his way to the position of chief of police. It’s clear now that the real joke isn’t in the true crime parody, and what could have been just another (worthy) chapter in the growing trend of podcasts criticizing podcasting is actually a direct confrontation of the celebrity culture around hosts like Sarah Koenig and the self-importance that one needs to take such a stake in the story. [Apple Podcasts]
Loner at Coyowolf Creek - JT and Me
Leigh: Have you ever thought about what’s going to happen to America? Sara Schaefer’s got some answers. I don’t mean she’s got some pretty good guesses or she used some kind of fancy algorithm to predict how everything plays out. I mean actual, concrete answers. And that’s because her new podcast Loner at Coyowolf Creek was recorded in the future in what’s now become known as America 2 in her official Designated Loner Zone, which, to be clear, is different than A Bubble Zone. It’s unclear just how far into the future this is all happening, but it’s far enough to get some real perspective on things like the #MeToo movement and to learn where we landed on that whole are women funny debate. While listeners don’t completely know what happened to America 1 yet, the story has been unfolding bit by bit over the first four episodes. As luck would have it, this week’s episode just so happens to line up with current-day issues. That issue being Justin Timberlake. We also learn which celebrity’s untimely death it took for America 1 to finally say “we’ve had enough” to and start taking mass shootings seriously. Loner at Coyowolf Creek manages to be both topical and nostalgic at the same time, and above all, comforting. If you’re like me and still not over You Had To Be There ending, getting a new Sara Schaefer podcast is super exciting. [Apple Podcasts]
Nerdist/ID10T - BIG ANNOUNCEMENT THING
Marc: Chris Hardwick brought the sister-wives (Jonah Ray and Matt Mira) together for one last “hostful” installment of his long-running podcast, The Nerdist. And by last I mean final. And by final I mean, well, not REALLY final. More on that in a moment. The first part of this episode has Hardwick and Ray hanging on Mira’s every word as he talks them through the harrowing details of a recent anxiety attack while doing a show in New York. He’s not quite fully recovered and the boys have diagnosed him with overwork. Ray is having the opposite problem, albeit temporarily, and that’s a lack of work. But soon he’ll be back on production on a new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Then we get to the meat of the matter, which takes a while in Hardwick’s hemming and hawing style that takes over when he’s uncomfortable about the icky details about something. Nerdist, as we know it as a podcast, is going away. In fact, as of this writing, it’s gone. Replaced by ID10t, featuring host Chris Hardwick, a steady stream of guests, and occasional appearances by Jonah Ray and Matt Mira. What?! Yeah, it’s basically a name change, with a lot of ownership gobbledygook around the Nerdist identity that Hardwick wades through. Done so simply that subscribers don’t even have to do anything. If you got the former, you will automatically get the latter. Nerdist is dead. Long live ID10t! [Apple Podcasts]
Exit Strategy - Ryan Schumaker
Pablo: How do you define success in comedy? If you’re a standup, is it being able to book all the coolest, most respected (albeit non-paying) shows in town a few years in? If you’re a writer, is it finally nabbing a writers’ assistant job five years after your first PA gig? Whatever arbitrary number you have in mind, there’s a point in every comedian’s career where they think about what they’d do if they quit. That’s the premise of Jeff Wattenhofer’s Exit Strategy where he interviews comics of varying levels about what plans, real or fantasized, they have if they ever have to pull the plug on their dreams. This week’s guest is Ryan Schumaker, a standup comic walking a dangerous line by already working an advertising office job he says is one of his three exit strategies. The tone of Exit Strategy is a lighthearted chat among friends (lots of discussion of the Big Dog t-shirt expanded universe in this one), but there’s a dark undercurrent when you realize these one-on-ones are serious pieces of self-examination every artist needs to have with themselves. [Apple Podcasts]
The Unwritable Rant - Interview with Bert Kreischer
Marc: Normally, The Unwritable Rant host Juliette Miranda lets loose with an edgy, smart (and often bourbon-fueled) diatribe on her podcast, The Writable Rant. Less frequently, she opens the show up by bringing in a comedically inclined guest and popping the top off their brain pan to give her audience a look inside. Most recently comedian and fellow podcaster Bert Kreischer led Miranda on a merry chase through his comedy perspective. Holding nothing back, he talked frankly about leaning on the attitudes and deliveries of comedians he admired as a way to find his own voice. He shares some of the ways he goes about forging new material, and how he had to sheepishly explain to one of his young daughters who was watching his special on TV “why daddy takes his shirt off in front of strangers.” The performer known as “The Machine” also digs deep into podcasting – why it works as a medium and why he loves it. Miranda is an engaging interviewer who is content not to try to wedge herself into her guests’ narrative but instead respectfully guides Kreischer down one interesting conversational path after another. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Hound Tall - I Fought ISIS
Chapo Trap House - Soup or Bowl
Classroom Crush - Black Daria with Ashley Ray
Fitzdog Radio - Zach Galifianakis and Mike Gibbons
Hollywood Handbook - Nick Wiger, Our Corny Friend
How To Be A Person - How To State of The Union
The Hilarious World of Depression - Hannah Hart Gets Drunk, Tries to Make Grilled Cheese, Gets Famous, Tries to Enjoy It
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.