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.
Comedy Bang! Bang! – Nathan Fielder, Joe Wengert, James Adomian
JOSH: Nathan Fielder made his triumphant return to Comedy Bang! Bang! this week and finally answered the question Comedy Bang! Bang!-ingans have been incessantly asking for fifteen months: What is the status of Nate and Jazz Jazz’s epic friendship? After the Jazz Jazz-shaped elephant in the room is discussed, Fielder and Aukerman get taken to “Brad-uate” school when Brad Hammerstone (Joe Wengert), a man who most likely swapped bodies with a duck, joins the show to chat about pantsless pool parties and eating bread. Later, ousted CEO of American Apparel Dov Charney (James Adomian) makes a thunderous entrance into the CBB studio providing the show with a sufficient amount of “ambient sexuality.” “I ride around in a motorcycle with a sidecar like Darkwing Duck, and I have a life-sized Launchpad McQuack stand-in that sits in the sidecar of my fucking motorcycle,” Charney at one point asserts. “That’s how I get around!” Scott Aukerman and Nathan Fielder continue to be one of the most entertaining pairings in the CBB universe. Aukerman’s subtle goading deftly blends with Fielder’s repeated deferential corrections to inspire some incredible banter. Does Nathan Fielder know more than 500 words? Find out on this week’s quacktastic episode of Comedy Bang Bang!
Occasionally Awesome – Jake Weisman
PABLO: Many standups get started when they feel that venting into a mic is the only thing keeping hold of their sanity. But what happens down the road when an angry and acerbic comedian, like Bill Burr for example, attains professional/financial/personal success (read: happiness)? That’s just one of the many topics discussed on Occasionally Awesome, a free-wheeling show in the just-shooting-the-shit genre of podcasts. This week’s guest is one of L.A.’s funniest comics, Jake Weisman, who discusses that transition in his comedy from hitting open mics as a depressed 24-year-old to his current state as a happy and relatively well-adjusted 30-something. But it’s not all shop talk as hosts Nick Youssef and Kevin Christy later turn the conversation towards porn and reaffirm that it’s impossible not to laugh while watching a movie starring Rocco Siffredi, the worst European filmmaker to make a living off nonsexual sex scenes since Tommy Wiseau. Also discussed is Weisman’s love of cats and why he thinks the personified gender perception of cats and dogs should be flipped, as well as his mysterious Instagram obsession with knives. The last half hour focuses both on the importance of #YesAllWomen and Weisman’s New York Rangers fandom, ending on why outsiders view male supporters of that hashtag with the same suspicion hockey elitists give towards fans of the Los Angeles Kings.
WTF with Marc Maron – David Huntsberger
MARC: When Marc Maron started WTF, his guests were mostly friends from the comedy world and some other comedians he didn’t know so well. As the show grew, so did his slate of guests – both in number and in stature in terms of their scope and popularity. Now that he’s passed 500 episodes, he’s run through a lot of people and is faced with the question of “Who do I get now?” This week, he interviews David Huntsberger, a comedian and fellow podcaster (Professor Blastoff, co-hosted with Tig Notaro and Kyle Dunnigan), whose star in the world of comedy is still on the rise. What made this episode such a fun listen for me was Huntsberger’s surprising background. With so many comics pouring out of the burgeoning scenes in New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, and elsewhere, Maron – and, by association, us – are shocked to learn that his guest spent his formative years growing up outside Reno, Nevada, riding in rodeos and shoeing horses. He even chose San Diego as the place to cut his comedy teeth because of the large number of urban cowboys with horses that needed shoeing in the area. (“There are a lot of stables and I could do eight or 10 horses at one time,” relates Huntsberger.) It’s likely the first podcast episode to drop so far where the guest laments about having had his family’s anvil – passed down through a couple of generations – stolen out of his car. The mild-mannered comedian is now ensconced in Los Angeles, having participated in Last Comic Standing, been featured on Premium Blend and written for Comedy Central. But one wonders if, when a joke solidly hits with an audience, if there isn’t a little voice in his head yelling, “Yee-hah!”
You Made It Weird – Dave Hill
LEIGH: Before the interview even starts on this week’s You Made It Weird, host Pete Holmes says the episode features one of the best stories he’s heard in a long time. So not even two minutes in, the bar has already been set pretty high. Sure enough, guest Dave Hill doesn’t disappoint with what he refers to as “his big street cred move.” He goes on to explain what happened when he performed at Sing Sing, the maximum security prison. It’s a story that rivals any episode of Orange is the New Black. But don’t get carried away and think prison doesn’t seem all that bad, considering they’ve got their own house band (that Holmes was, rightfully, disappointed to learn wasn’t called “The Big House Band”) and Dave Hill comes to perform for you and all your inmate friends. Because you’ll snap right back into reality when Hill shares what the most watched TV show in prison is. It’s a pretty great story, that maybe your average weirdo would have a hard time following it up with something just as interesting. Dave Hill proves he’s not your average weirdo when Holmes asks him about his band Valley Lodge and how they’re big Japan. They also cover the usual topics like comedy and religion, and things even get a little emotional when Hill talks about his mom. It goes without saying that the conversation is engaging for the full two-plus hours, but it’s also worth listening to to find out just what the most popular TV show prison is.
The JV Club – Paul F. Tompkins
ZOE: Thanks to a very fortuitous session of M.A.S.H. (the middle school game, not the show), Paul F. Tompkins’s life is about to majorly change: relocating Sullivan’s Island with wife Bailey Quarters of WKRP, he’ll start his career as a pianist who’s BFFs with Rod Serling, wears only cricket uniforms, and vacations in Downton Abbey. It’s somehow not hard to picture this, but thankfully we’ve never known a game of M.A.S.H. to come true, so it’s safe to assume he’ll stay the comedian we know and love. The JV Club normally focuses on women in comedy, but host Janet Varney is well into her “Boys of Summer” series where she gives male counterparts the chance to discuss their teenage years. The show includes the disclaimer “Warning: This Podcast Contains Sincerity,” and Varney does a wonderful job upholding this sentiment without forfeiting humor. Part of Tompkins’s charm is his authenticity, which lends itself to an honest discussion about his parents’ marriage, his own relationships, and how to be okay on your own. You were probably aware, but in case you need a refresher on the extent to which Tompkins is a class act, this episode will do the trick. My words won’t do justice to his closing rendition of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” so you’re definitely gonna want to stay until the end.
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.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey.
Josh Sorokach is a comedy writer living in NYC who was once referred to as a “Poor Man’s Joshua Jackson” while on a date.