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.
Scott: The live shows are always a good, weird, often uncomfortable time, and this one is no exception. The six guests on the show this time are Chris Thayer, Mike O’Connell, Kate Berlant, Billy Wayne Davis, Matt Knudsen, and Nick Thune. Right up top, Holmes and Thayer make it weird with the revelation that Thayer has never enjoyed his sidekick nickname “Weird Boy” and goes on to explain the time in his life when he was called “Creepy Chris” and was totally fine with it. Berlant casually mentions that she grew up having out-of-body experiences and then just tries to move on as if Holmes wouldn’t lock on to that tidbit, but it gets even better when she talks about asking for medical tests for birthdays and the time she convinced herself she had breast cancer before she actually had breasts. As the last guest, Thune brings it all home with a bunch of talk about farts - creating, consuming, new techniques for creating and consuming - and by the end, you’re left wondering what exactly you just listened to, which is kind of the point of the YMIW live episode.
Marc: Podcasting takes all kinds of forms, but there are some “purists” who despise the growing numbers of terrestrial radio shows that are maximizing their reach by offloading their radio programs shortly after broadcast into the podwaves. Whatever works, as the saying goes, and the Fernando and Greg Daily Podcast has been popping up with rising numbers on comedy podcast charts all over. I sampled this past Monday’s show, which originally appeared last week on the air in San Francisco, on KMVQ 99.7 FM. That’s where radio’s first openly gay duo (according to Wikipedia), Fernando Ventura and Greg Sherrell, holds court every weekday morning before slicing and dicing their program up for podcast consumption (they’re not allowed to leave the music they play in the podcast version without paying steep fees or fines, whichever comes first…). The main guys (along with straight producer Jason Dahlstedt) hit the ground running and fire out a pace from start to finish with the “morning zoo” rhythm so familiar to radio listeners for years, but with what can only best be described as a gay spin. They read news, take listerner phone calls, do sports features – “If they’re playing with balls,” goes their blurb, “I’m all over them!” – as well as rag on movies and celebrity gossip. The absence of music makes the show move superfast, at a pace “regular” podcasts would be hard-pressed to match. What Fernando and Greg may lack in podcast quirkiness is more than made up for with caffeinated, high energy, radio hijinks.
Down With Joe DeRosa - Sara Schaefer and Superheroes (mostly Batman)
Leigh: Down with Joe DeRosa is one guest, one topic, for one hour. This week Sara Schaefer sits down to talk about Batman. As someone who barely knows the basics of Batman I thought I wouldn’t be able to follow. But, right out of the gate, when Schaefer describes Batman as “a real dude with some fucking emotional issues” it’s pretty clear this is a conversation anyone can (and should) get on board with. They cover what makes a good superhero, which ones they’re not so crazy about, and origin stories – both Batman’s and their own. Speaking of origin stories, Schaefer and DeRosa share a great moment after realizing they both watch a certain embarrassing TV show about fairy tale characters. Of course no superhero conversation is ever complete without wondering what kind of of superhero would you be and whether or not you could handle the responsibility of having a super power. Either way, after listening to this episode I think I’m up to speed and can finally have an opinion on Ben Affleck as the next Batman.
The Champs - Harrison Barnes
Pablo: The latest basketball player to appear on The Champs, Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors is a welcome reminder that the NBA is returning to wake up sports fans from four-hour-long baseball games and the Anheuser-Busch non-profit subsidiary known as the NFL. But Barnes could pass for a comedian the way he sneaks in a plugs joke at the top of this episode. The third-year player is a lively guest who jumps right in to discuss the dumbest thing he bought after being drafted, what it was like having a head coach who’s also a pastor, and his experience growing up in lily-white Iowa. Don’t worry if you’re not a basketball fan; while Neal Brennan promotes the the official Lebron James app on TV, Moshe Kasher is the audience surrogate if you associate the Iceman with Bobby Drake instead of George Gervin. It’s been nearly a month since the last Champs, so check out this week’s episode featuring (probably) the only former McDonald’s All-American who counts Bill Burr and Jim Gaffigan among his friends.
Professor Blastoff - Development (with Katie Krentz)
Zoe: Listeners, gather round. If this episode were a hopeful designer’s dress on Project Runway, Tim Gunn might say, “There’s a lot going on here. Frankly, I’m worried.” But then, as if there were any reason to doubt them, your devoted Blastoff hosts make it work. Here to join Kyle Dunnigan, Tig Notaro, and David Huntsberger is Cartoon Network development executive Katie Krentz to discuss how pitches become TV shows. While they do stick to the topic for a good portion of the podcast, what’s most fun about Professor Blastoff are the tangents and riffs that the hosts fully embrace. The three have such a natural, funny dynamic that pretty much anything is fertile ground for these things, and I say the more, the better. From DJ Tanner’s boyfriend to romantic proposals to Tim Gunn, this episode is full of tons of hysterical moments. To stick to this Project Runway parallel I’ve half-committed to, it’s like how Heidi Klum might say the designers can only use cotton candy to make a raincoat, but someone’s Sno-Caps buttons are what really gave them the edge. Congratulations, Professor Blastoff, you have immunity.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Monster Party - Horror Hosts
Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig - Chester See
We Know Nothing - Mellow
Twisting the Wind - Kate Berlant
Desus vs. Mero - Pumpkin Spice TerRio
Scriptnotes - Ghost
Nerdist Writers Panel - Person of Interest
How Did This Get Made? - Glitter: LIVE! with Adam Scott, Casey Wilson, Dan Levy
Comedy Bang! Bang! - Grounded Me@ with Lauren Lapkus, Andy Samberg
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.
Scott Reynolds is a comedian and writer in Brooklyn, NY.