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.
U Talkin’ U2 To Me? – Jimmy Pardo
ZOE: If you like Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott’s U2 podcast U Talkin’ U2 To Me? but wish it was lighter on the U2 talk, this episode is a run-to-stand-still situation. In order to meet U2’s delayed album release, hosts Adam Scott and Scott Aukerman have introduced “Slowing It Down” installments (hey, you can’t spell “installment” without “stall”), and here to help them is Jimmy Pardo. Pardo’s good-natured, barrelling energy is a great compliment to the hosts’ existing dynamic as they cover Chicago, The Eagles, Paul McCartney, R.E.M., and INXS. And if you could use a break from music altogether? The boys got some of your favorite meta podcasts: we’re talkin’ Talkin’ ‘Bout Turtle. We’re talkin’ When Do You Get There, Bro? And—of course—we’re talkin’ I Love Films. While we’re off the subject of U2, I’d also like to point out that Aukerman has reached a career high with his Stamps.com ad break, which is just as funny as any bit in the episode. At this point you may be wondering if they talk U2 at all. I can assure you that, yes, they definitely talk U2. Pardo makes an excellent suggestion that future episodes cover compilations and music videos. While the hosts leave it open, they announce that next week’s topic will be Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, where you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for.
Nerdist – Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham
ROB: Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham have recently been making the podcast rounds, promoting their new USA show Playing House. Unsurprisingly for a publicity blitz, many of their appearances have been pretty buttoned down and focused on their show. Not here: this week’s Nerdist is maybe the loosest you’ll hear them, outside of their CBB characters. Their chat with host Chris Hardwick takes a beat to get going, but once out of first gear, St. Clair and Parham’s momentum never slows. This episode’s freewheeling conversation covers such diverse topics as St. Clair’s aversion to ‘70s style, Superman, spider monkeys, how terrible LA’s Runyon Canyon is, Kevin Costner, “which one are you: a rescue schnauzer or a cat?”, and a little bit about their new show. If you find yourself bored by a particular topic, wait 20 seconds and a new one will emerge. The duo does eventually discuss their comedic partnership and their show — how they first met, how improv informs their writing process, and what kind of tone to expect from Playing House. But mostly, enjoy St. Clair and Parham playing off of each other (and Hardwick) in a way that’s remarkably similar to Wompler and Listler: a balance of ebullient wackiness and quick, wry reaction. Though less talkative than the other two, Parham gets the best line of the episode toward the end, but I won’t spoil it for you.
How Was Your Week – Liza Dye
LEIGH: What a big week! Julie Klausner is writing a pilot for herself and Billy Eichner AND, wait for it… Jessica Seinfeld dyed her hair blonde! It comes with fair warning that there’s a lot of Jessica Seinfeld talk on this episode, but if for some reason that’s not really your thing, relax: We also hear Klausner’s take on two timely issues - awful YouTube commercials and Monica Lewinsky (who now has an open invite to be a guest on HWYW). Stopping by the show this week is New York standup Liza Dye, who was hit by a train this past February and just recently discharged from the hospital. For something so gruesome and horrifying, the conversation is anything but. Dye shares what her time in the hospital was like and how the comedy community came together to show their support and help her recover. It’s worth listening to the episode to hear how one comedian took such a tragic event and turned it into such a positive story. But also for all the Jessica Seinfeld stuff.
Dinner Party Download – Marc Maron, Philippe Petit, and Soylent
PABLO: The Dinner Party Download describes itself as a “celebration of culture, food, and conversation” that will help you win the night at your next dinner party. Despite the title, however, the show is not formatted as one. Rather, each week’s stacked line-up of guests are interviewed separately, giving you the micro dinner party vibe of having intense five-minute one-on-one conversations with the famous partygoers sitting around you. On the latest episode, Marc Maron continues the promo push for Season 2 of Maron by answering fan letters, including one about Hitler and time travel machines that should wrap up society’s obsession with killing Hitler in alternate universes. Later, writer/cartoonist Mimi Pond, whose credits include writing the very first episode of The Simpsons, shares her thoughts on what it means to be a bohemian. Hosts Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam then give the history of the most famous trophy in the world, the Stanley Cup, and the champagne and baby poop that has been held within it over the last century. Ending the show is an interview with legendary tightrope artist Philippe Petit about his thoughts on creative chaos. It should come as no surprise that a guy who once illegally walked between the World Trade Center is passionate about letting chaos inspire his art.
Pop My Culture – John Michael Higgins
MARC: When John Michael Higgins, one of the standout stars of Christopher Guest’s classic improvised movies (Best In Show, A Mighty Wind), drops by the PMC studio, it’s a license for co-hosts Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland to let their own improv flag fly – not an unusual state by any means – and the characters the trio come up with keep weaving themselves through the pop culture-ridden conversation. The discussion about what happens to lost airline bonus miles and why they have anything to do with magazine subscriptions is particularly laugh-worthy. On the merely fascinating side of things, Higgins’s glimpse into the process that goes on in crafting a Guest movie is never-heard-before stuff. As are some of his other showbiz anecdotes — such as the reveal that he was never able to actually see any of the action that his character was doing such funny commentary on in the movie Pitch Perfect.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey.
Photo credit: Earwolf