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. Also, we’ll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
Comedy Bang! Bang! – Patton Oswalt, Lauren Lapkus, Will Hines
ZOE: For everyone who missed out on April Fools’ shenanigans, guest co-host Traci Rearden (played by Lauren Lapkus) has good news: at the end of the month, you can look forward to Reverse April Fools’, where you do really nice things for people and go to a super cool costume party. Like intern Marissa Wompler, another regular Comedy Bang! Bang! regular, Traci is an eccentric high schooler trying to fit in somehow, except Lapkus’ is the type that has a butt piercing and works at Claire’s and Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors. Patton Oswalt, who’s gearing up for the release of his upcoming Comedy Central special Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, speaks to characters with the same earnestness as Aukerman, leading to some fascinating backstories about high-end wigs and brain surgery. But when Will Hines enters the episode as alien Qthor, we get a 2-for-1 deal on backstories, as he’s inhabited a white man’s body to his chagrin (he “jumped too early”). Hines plays Qthor, a.k.a. “Cutie Whore,” with calm, collected matter-of-fact-ness, but the bizarre details of extraterrestrial life provide a hysterical contrast with his sober delivery. After he reveals his frequent public masturbation, the other three suspect he might need help navigating earth, taking him under their wing like an exchange student on the first day of college (“I like a project,” says Oswalt). The episode concludes with a suicide — you’ll have to watch to know who — which ends up being a pretty great way to end an episode, if not a literal cliffhanger.
Final Level – Todd Barry
You Made It Weird – “Science Mike” McHargue
SCOTT: “Science Mike” McHargue makes it both weird and compelling this week in one of the most interesting You Made It Weird episodes ever. He and Pete Holmes get right to business talking about brain evolution and how the various parts of the brain work, and it’s fascinating to listen to Holmes be fascinated by someone that very clearly knows his stuff. They make a hard turn from that topic to discuss McHargue’s journey from devout Southern Baptist to atheist and back to progressive Christian. It’s like listening to a tale of espionage and international intrigue as he talks about the double life he led, continuing to preach to his congregation and lead his daughter to Christ while simultaneously spending nights on Reddit leading former believers into atheism. Just as riveting is his journey from atheism back to a form of Christianity, and how he was received by former friends and family. This episode is a refreshing break from the norm, and not one to be missed. To borrow a favorite phrase from Holmes, it will “blow your dick off.” Bonus: If you’re feeling adventurous and don’t have to be anywhere later, play along at home by taking a drink every time Holmes relates something McHargue says to True Detective, which seems to be replacing Mad Men as his go-to pop culture pull of choice.
The Todd Barry Podcast – Todd Glass
MARC: This “tale of two Todds” is mostly spent with Barry and Glass alternately reminiscing and swapping stories of working comedy clubs – the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. The gigs that went awry, that one audience member who wouldn’t give it up, and being torn between feelings like one should socialize after a show while really wanting to just flee back to the solace of the hotel room. Barry brings up a prank that the two wanted so badly to play on an unsuspecting dupe, that involved having him buy a first class plane ticket to a strange city on the promise of a job that would never materialize… but they never actually pulled it off. And Glass reveals the tricks of the trade, harvested from years on the road, when it comes to setting up a comedy room, massaging the atmosphere, kicking off the show, and even how to gracefully get hecklers, “quiet talkers”, and even bachelorette parties to leave. Ironically, if these two had what they wished for the most – a luminously appointed tour bus with all the amenities – most of the hysterically painful road stories they share would never have come to pass.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Scott Reynolds is a comedian and writer in Brooklyn, NY.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey.