This Week in Comedy Podcasts

With Cast-tember coming to an end and Pod-tober almost upon us, the weather is starting to get colder. Studies show that 99.9% of all body heat leaves through the earholes, so you’d better find a way to plug those suckers up. Maybe headphones would work. And while you are it, why not run the smooth sounds of podcasts through those headphones. Here are some recommendations of podcasts to jam into your earholes.

Top 5 Comedy Podcasts This Week (In alphabetical order)

Judge John Hodgman with Jeffrey and Jack Lewis

Jeffrey Lewis to some might constitute a rare famous guest for JJH, but to John he is just a guy who fed his cat a couple times. Depending on how you like your tea, the music of Jeffrey Lewis, which is of the talky anti-folk variety, may or may not be your cup of said tea (Check out this video, you will instantly know which side of Jeffrey Lewis fence you reside). No, this episode was not about debating the relative merits of Jeffrey’s music. Instead, Jeffrey’s brother and band mate took him to court for not letting him take off tour dates to go to a wedding. The episode had everything: a bickering family, a plethora of buzz marketing, and John talking down to his guests. The matter had basically already been resolved before the brothers got in the court house on Skype, so I think it allowed John to be a little sillier than usual.

Ronna and Beverly #9 — Ana Ortiz

I’m not ruling out the influence Rosh Hashanah had on me in terms of craving older Jewish voices. Either way, I’m glad to welcome in the new year with Ronna and Beverly. The episode starts with the girls in a fight, which is a good place for all their episodes to start. Then maybe the funniest one line of the week came when Ronna learned Beverly was having an affair with her contractor: “You know he is like 58…And you know he doesn’t look great either…And he’s covered in dust.” It doesn’t read that funny but the conviction and “god forbid” tone she brought to saying it was perfect. The interview itself starts with Beverly accusing the Puerto Rican Ana of not being a citizen. Thankfully, things calm down and the girls fawn over her ability to read while in a car. To her credit, Ana does a wonderful job playing along and also telling her story. At the end we learn Ronna and Beverly’s friendship is saved, which is great news for all their podcast’s fans, which should be everyone. Happy New Year.

Star Talk Radio: Live at the Bell House Part 1 — Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Scott Adsit, Alan Alda

Yes, Star Talk is not a comedy podcast but look at that guest list — read Alan Alda’s name three times if you have to. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Host/Director of the Hayden Planetarium/Jon Stewart’s friend, is no stranger to yucking it up with professional yucksters. He knows exactly the topics to bring up, starting with Aliens and whether or not they have faces and how are they going to kill us. The vibe is very much teacher and bratty elementary school students, specifically it felt like NdGT was being berated by Bob’s Burger’s Louise and Gene (and a guest-starring Scott Adsit). The highlight of the episode that was jam-packed with highlights, was Kristen discussing with NdGT why she’d happily jump into a black hole.  Also, Alan freaking Alda, COME ON — you get to hear him crack wise for 40 minutes — ALAN ALDA. Listen to this, then this to the next one, and then maybe listen to this one again.

This American Wife # 38 — Dave Holmes

If you are between the ages of 20 and 28 Dave Holmes might mean something to you, and if he does, he might mean a lot. Dave Holmes has eeked out a very solid TV hosting/comedy career off of losing an MTV VJ contest. His getting hired despite losing made him an inspiration to those nerdy kids in school that would read up on music trivia instead of how to cut the sleeves off a denim jacket and have impressive male cheek bones. This interview tracks his admirable career from there. Considering the epic NYMag UCB piece that was released this week it was particularly interesting to hear him talk about deciding not take classes there when it first opened. The episode ends with a total tonal 180. Co-host Eric Martin tells his completely genuine story about they days following 9/11, driving to pick up his friend who lived in Manhattan from his home in Glendale, CA. It’s a type of story that would be perfectly at home on This American Life. There is comedy in it but it comes from the confusion and abstract sadness, not the show’s usual soft satire. It brought to mind a quote from my favorite Alan Alda character, Crimes & Misdemeanor’s Lester, “Comedy is tragedy, plus time.”

WTF with Marc Maron #213 — Artie Lange Nick DiPaolo, Nick Griffin, Joe Mande, Wayne Koestenbaum, Elna Baker, Morgan Spurlock, Ira Glass

I was there. It feels like a weird thing to say about a podcast taping but the room was electric and Marc instantly grabbed a hold of it. He did his opening remarks standing with an intense hunch that brought to mind a boxer seconds before connecting with an uppercut. He dove straight into a very Marc Maron story about how the venue put him up in a hotel in the overwhelming Hassidic South Williamsburg and the fear, anger, self-hating Jewness that came as a result. Sadly for me, I had already posted an article I wrote about the podcast’s most Jewish episodes because this might have topped them all. The guests that followed were as terrific as they were absurdly varied. It is this dichotomy that makes the podcast, and this one in particular, so great. Seeing Ira Glass almost reduced to laugh-tears because of the beautiful harshness of Nick DiPaolo really makes you look at what an alt-comedy audience really is. Also, Artie Lange was there and not dead, which was/is great.

Honorable Mentions:

How Did This Get Made? #19 — Jonah Ray

Nerdist Podcast #125 — Tom Wilson

Jesse Fox is a freelance writer, podcaster, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. His iPod is broken.

This Week in Comedy Podcasts