Comedy podcasts, you guys! They’re funny, they’re free; distract you from existential angst, give you something to talk about when you inevitably run out of things to say. But which comedy podcasts will you listen to this week — all of them? No way, internet stranger. This is not Kindergarten and you don’t have to invite every single kid in class to your birthday party. Thankfully we’ve done lots of field work, scouring through most of the crop for you, selecting only the juiciest offerings for you to put in your ears. These are the best comedy podcasts of the week:
Top 5 Comedy Podcasts This Week (In Alphabetical Order)
Comedy Bang Bang #116 — Todd Glass, Jessica St. Clair
Last week we got a comment about not including CBB’s Wet Hot American Summer episode featuring David Wain, Ken Marino, and (America’s sweetheart) Paul Rudd. Though the show had a big name guest and some amazing freestyle rapping, all in all it was pretty hit or miss to this reviewer. Mainly, it was a departure from what CBB does best: improv built around a character interrupting an interview. The reason that format is so special is that it could only be done like in an audio medium, as this week’s episode demonstrates. Todd Glass does an okay enough job as the patsy but it’s Jessica St. Clair who steals the show. Her Marissa Wompler (the CBB intern) is such a silly character, who not only is the master of “no, but”-style improv, but also possesses what is arguably the best rapport with host Scott Aukerman of any character since Mr. Bob Ducca. Todd Glass is getting a podcast soon on the Nerdist network, but if this episode was any indication Jessica should be getting one as well. Earwolf has the head start but we expect an all out bidding war with Maximum Fun and Nerdist as well.
You almost never get to hear them laugh. It’s a small detail but actually quite unique, considering how much of podcasting is a bunch of folks shooting the shit and laughing at each other’s jokes. So in the first fantastic sketch of this Superego, set at an assisted living bingo game, there was this rapid-fire exchange:
Old Person #1: “I want a Lincoln Continental”
Old Person #2: “I want to be incontinental”
Old Person #3: “I once met Labraham Lincoln”
From that small, somewhat dumb joke came three full seconds of chuckling. It was nice to have that moment, in which you can get a view inside their process. Then it was back to their airtight edited style. Even with the rise of more sketch podcasts, like Earwolf Challenge competitors Left-Handed Radio, there is still no one doing anything like or as good as Superego.
This week’s episode starts off with a nifty gimmick that Seth Romatelli sometimes employs: revisiting an old general interest magazine to make fun of the breathless excitement with which what is now old news to us was once reported. From a People magazine article about Sandra Bullock and Jesse James’ marriage 5 years ago, Seth finds this choice quote from one of Bullock’s friends: “Sandy’s been waiting to get married until she found The One. She’s got a great bullshit detector.” Whoops. Elsewhere the hosts rip apart a new show on CBS called Same Name that briefly transposes a famous person and his similarly named non-famous counterpart, Wife Swap-style, and come up with alternate names for the Friends With Benefits TV series that apparently exists (“Frennies With Bennies” and “We All Fuck Each Other” are the frontrunners). It’s hard to say what makes one episode of UYD better than another. It’s the same two guys every week, the same tried and true format, and the same total lack of guests. Only after you realize that you’ve been laughing out loud in the grocery store (or wherever you listen to these things), does it register that this just might be a good one.
Who Charted? #35 — Scott Aukerman
We are going to throw this out there: This was the best episode of Who Charted? so far. There are a lot of factors that earned this title but it was the dynamic between host Howard Kremer and guest/Earwolf co-founder Scott Aukerman that really set it apart. It wasn’t personal, but there was sense that both men were competing over the affections of the lovely Kulap (Who Charted? co-host and the current Mrs. Aukerman). However, both also obviously thinks the other his hilarious, resulting in a fun push and pull. Cooler heads prevailed and together they hilariously redid the voiceover of the Cowboys & Aliens trailer, which was more enjoyable than the movie itself. Topping the movie chart was Smurfs, which induced this classic bit of Howard Kremer nonsense, “People are like Smurfs, they come in all different colors.”
Generally, the live WTF episodes have nowhere near the urgency of the one-on-ones the show was founded on. In addition to his ability to score high-profile guests, host Marc Maron’s fearlessness and interview skills are what make his show a must-listen. Since the live shows pack in more comedians per show and put them in front of an audience, it means there’s less time to do in-depth interview, and also that since the illusion of just two people talking in a garage is gone, so is the lulling comfort that leads to big revelations. Not so with this week’s episode! It’s a well-rounded lineup and everybody brings something to the table. Kevin Allison reveals that it was his lust for former troupe-mate Joe LoTruglio that lead to his joining The State, author Sam Lipsyte reveals which character in his book The Ask* he modeled after Marc, Tom Scharpling teaches Marc how to deal with trolls, and Wyatt Cenac pulls the race card on Marc (in jest) for never badmouthing him in the past like he does roughly everyone else who comes on his show.
I could go on and on about how hilarious and wholly original Affirmation Nation is. Instead, I’ll just tell you to listen to the episode entitled “Yet Another Poem”. You will laugh until it hurts or my name is Dr. James T. Podcastman (my name is not that).
Sklarbro Country #53 — Paul Scheer, Kevin Seccia
It’s an Earwolf-incestuous episode of Sklarbro Country this week when fellow podcaster Paul Scheer drops by to talk about his multiple TV shows, and to speculate on how homeless people steal comedy bits from each other. The last ten minutes of the podcast nearly steal the show, though, when comedian and author Kevin Seccia reads an excerpt from his book, Punching Tom Hanks. The section he reads from is about how to defeat Steven Seagal in a fight, and it is as awesome as it sounds.
This week’s episode barely came together since one of the hosts (Jesse Thorn) was supposed to be out on paternity leave, and the other one (Jordan Morris) was supposed to be off shooting a movie. The two managed to get together still and record a rare guest-less episode. There is an unbilled third guest, however, since the spirit of Jesse’s soon-to-be-born child is in the room most of the time, filling it with both poignancy and laughs.
*The Ask is an amazing, hilarious document of our times and you should read it twice.