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.
Call Chelsea Peretti – The Real Chelsea is Back
LEIGH: This week on Call Chelsea Peretti, one of the greats makes her triumphant return! If you’ve been keeping up, you know that the past few episodes were recorded by a robot. So it was music to my earholes to hear that the real Chelsea was back. That music was of course the G’d up version of Tank’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” After a quick awkward catch-up conversation, Peretti fills us in on where she’s been - touring, taping a special, petting her dog, cooking meals. There’s no topic for the episode, so the conversations with callers run the gamut. From dating advice and food recommendations to hot prisoners and Toronto, it’s clear how lucky we are Peretti is back. These are all topics a robot would not have any insight on. At the end of the episode, comedian Yassir Lester calls in. The two tease listeners with the idea of them doing a show where they choreograph dances to 10-20 songs. A night of yearning, beauty, accuracy and prancing we can only hope becomes a reality.
Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast – Jeff Ross
ZOE: “This is one of the best times I had,” Jeff Ross says to host Gilbert Gottfried, before quickly adding, “today.” It’s fitting coming from the Roastmaster General himself, who’s probably most well-known for his Comedy Central appearances, where fellow comedians regard him with a “Wow, still here” attitude. In reality, he’s the opposite of this persona. That’s not to say he’s any less filthy or desperate (we’re not trying to ruin his reputation here), but it is to say he’s an extremely compassionate, earnest, and humble person for someone that once said, “I wouldn’t fuck Sandra Bernhardt with Bea Arthur’s dick.” He’s a throwback to the generation of comedians that have a jazz-like folklore and has some pretty great stories about Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, and Bea Arthur to back it up. An especially interesting one is how he convinced everyone to go on with the Hugh Hefner roast just two weeks after 9/11, and how Gottfried completely lost the audience with a “too soon” joke, only to follow it up with The Aristocrats. Between the two of them, there’s enough comedy lore to tide you over for a while, or at least until the next Amazing Colossal episode. The show’s name is self-deprecatingly overblown, but thanks to its legendary guests and host, there are quite a few amazing and colossal moments.
You Made It Weird – Sinbad
SCOTT: Pete Homes finally said “comedians are funnier when they’re taking the bus” enough times and Sinbad appeared to do the show. This episode is so jam-packed with amazing stories that there are times where you almost forget that Holmes is there at all. Sinbad has a story for everything, and the way he describes his early career makes you think he’s the boldest, most interesting man in the world. He has a way of telling stories that span time and space so that you’re never quite sure what’s happening. He transitions seamlessly from playing college basketball and thinking he was going pro, to going AWOL from the Air Force when he didn’t make their basketball team to doing comedy competitions in the Air Force, to finally jumping on stage, uninvited, to do jokes while the band takes a break. It’s a story tornado that only stops churning (briefly) when Holmes asks, in all seriousness, “How many teams are competing in the NBA Finals?” When they get to the religion part and we find out that Sinbad can astral project, has seen floating monks, and actively tried to develop Fantastic Four powers, you can practically hear Holmes salivating. Prying for more information about the floating monks, Holmes says it’s “either not true or the most amazing true thing in the world,” which is a feeling you get about all of Sinbad’s stories to that point. Either way, it’s incredibly entertaining.
The New Phil Hendrie Show – Episode #157
MARC: What’s so new about The New Phil Hendrie Show, especially if it’s already up to Episode 157 as of Monday this week? The fact is that Hendrie is now a podcaster as opposed to being a broadcaster, which he was since 1973 when he got his first terrestrial radio gig outside Orlando, Florida. For the past couple of years, he’s been slicing and dicing the archives of his famed broadcast into podcast-sized pieces but as of March he washed his hands of the flagging radio biz. Now he does a morning podcast Monday through Friday, joined by the cast of crazy characters that used to interact with live callers on the air. Folks like Margaret Gray, General Shaw, David G. Hall, and Jay Santos now spend most of their time getting in Phil’s way, it seems, as he tries his best to get through hew stories of the day. In this edition, Santos, of the Citizen’s Auxiliary Police, called in to comment on a recent TSA ruling about confiscating cell phones and laptops with dead batteries, but an odd speech impediment kept him from delving too deeply into the subject. Don Burman from Channel 19 News called in from Disneyland but was being hassled by people in the park for being a 40-year-old man standing alone and wearing Mickey Mouse ears. While I miss the fun of Hendrie bamboozling unsuspecting callers with his amazing ability to be many people at once, the formula works well in this new format too.
SModcast – Scancouver, B.C.
ROB: Vancouver, British Columbia is very special to SModcast hosts Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, and not just because most of their recent podcast material has originated from the delightfully innocuous Canadian crime reports tweeted by @ScanBC. Vancouver is the city where Smith and Mosier first met in film school more than 20 years ago before hitting the big-time with Clerks, but this episode actually marks the first time the two have come back to record a live show. Unsurprisingly, after a couple short opening bits and (indeed) a few @ScanBC tweets, “Scancouver, B.C.” takes on a warm, nostalgic, old-home-week vibe. They both tell some hilarious stories set in Vancouver, both from their college days and more recently – especially Mosier, whose story about an unforgettable sexual encounter with his wife (hopefully recounted with her permission, considering she was in the audience) brought the house down. But there’s also a dash of sincerity in this show, when Smith – in describing Vancouver’s significance in his life – goes on an impromptu soliloquy, which turns into a tribute to Mosier and their 20-odd years of friendship and partnership. Even if you’re not a big fan of Kevin Smith, it’s a pretty tender moment. Needless to say, Vancouver was quite friendly to SModcast, so even when the show concludes, they’re goaded back onstage for a Q&A, during which Smith reveals this news: He’s expanding his podcast-inspired filmmaking beyond Tusk to create a Canada-based trilogy of horror movies, including a film called Moose Jaws.
Industry Standard – Phil Rosenthal
PABLO: As anyone who has seen the hilarious documentary Exporting Raymond can attest, Everybody Loves Raymond creator/showrunner Phil Rosenthal is one of the most affable and genuine guys in Hollywood. He’s also one of the most successful people in the industry, a fact that is only possible due to a fateful decision host Barry Katz and his then-client Jeff Ross made in the mid-’90s that led to Worldwide Pants developing a sitcom based on the comedy of Ray Romano. But there are no hard feelings here as the manager gets Rosenthal to open up about his suburban childhood and his rough 20s which included getting fired from a history museum security job for taking a nap on a 300-year-old bed. However, Rosenthal’s life soon changed when he combined his Jewish upbringing with Romano’s similar Italian background to write the pilot script for Raymond. What followed were Emmys, lunches with Johnny Carson, and writing jokes for the President of the United States. Rosenthal is a natural comedian and it’s surprising to hear that he doesn’t have a performing background given the way he cracks Katz up every five minutes. But he also brings the host nearly to tears while recalling that he and Romano end every phone call to each other with the phrase, “Thanks for the good life.”
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.
Scott Reynolds is a comedian and writer in Brooklyn, NY.
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.