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.
How Did This Get Made - Monkey Shines
Rob: In what’s becoming somewhat of a Halloween tradition, this week’s How Did This Get Made is another special guestless episode. It’s the second year in a row that you get to hear nothing but hosts Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael dissect a film that might have been a classic horror flick – had so many things not gone so terribly wrong with the movie. This time it’s Monkey Shines, written and directed by George A. Romero, which feels like an hourlong Hallmark channel drama about an athlete-turned-quadriplegic awkwardly cobbled together with a completely incompatible and insane monkey-murder exploitation film. There are plenty of things about this movie for HDTGM to dissect, from the essential expository scenes that the studio cut out (essentially making the movie incomprehensible), to the fact that the quadriplegic protagonist is not only in an ‘80s-length sex scene, but also the final battle to the death with the malevolent monkey. No spoilers, but as Mantzoukas puts it, that guy’s mouth can bring pleasure and pain. Not having a guest gives Mantzoukas and Raphael more time to bicker with each other, which happens a lot this episode. Especially at the end, when Raphael has a bewildering animal-ethics soapbox moment – made all the more convoluted and hilarious by Mantzoukas’ gleefully unhelpful counterpoints and questions.
Girl on Guy - Marc Maron
Pablo: Marc Maron has women troubles. Well, he has social issues with human beings in general, but the recently disengaged, two-time divorcé’s relationship woes have been well-documented on WTF and his eponymous TV show. Sometimes, as most straight men can attest, what someone like Marc needs is a good kick in the ass from a strong woman. And while Marc and Girl on Guy host Aisha Tyler admit they would not have been friends 15 years ago, he definitely could have used her advice back in the day… and today. And tomorrow. The only topic on hand isn’t #RelationshipGoals, as Marc also discusses his first experience with heroin and how talking about his pants onstage helped him find the tag for a three year old bit, but it’s the highlight of this episode live from the 3rd annual LA Podcast Festival.
How Was Your Week - Louis Peitzman “A Handsome on Your Test”
Leigh: Internet celebrity Louis Peitzman sits down with Julie Klausner on this week’s How Was Your Week. If you’ve ever read his work on Buzzfeed or follow him on Twitter, you’ll be relieved to know that Louis Peitzman is just as wonderful and likable as you always imagined he would be. So it’s fitting when Klausner breaks down just why everyone on the internet loves him. While he’s quick to point out that he does get his share of hateful comments, I have to say he’s got one of the most positive outlooks on internet trolls I’ve ever heard. If there were an award for best quote in a podcast, Klausner’s “Children aren’t interesting until they’re gay” in this episode’s monologue would most definitely be in the running. So, much like the appropriate rating for the perfect pair of jeans, I give this episode a “Radiant.”
Professor Blastoff - “God” with Pete Holmes
Kaitlynn: This episode of Professor Blastoff is the closest to a You Made It Weird crossover as can be with Pete Holmes as guest. The general seriousness of this topic and episode may not be for everyone, but it’s nice to see the other side of the silliness coin. The quartet talks about implications of believing in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus and how these idealized figures relate to religion. Pete is in his element discussing the power and problems of religion, God, and the many aspects of theology— including his own religious upbringing. The conversation really gets going when the idea of ‘hell’ is brought up. Everyone tries to understand the concept of eternity and why physical damnation is necessary. In an unusual turn, the discussion stays on topic with everyone engaged throughout. Even David’s thoughtful questions shine through when he doesn’t need to steer the conversation back on track. The episode ends back on a laugh with new renditions of Kyle’s classic new songs where “all the sounds are coming, from— his body!”
By the Way, in Conversation with Jeff Garlin - Jenji Kohan
Elizabeth: Jeff Garlin returns to podcasting after taking over a year off with a sit down at Largo with Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan. Kohan takes a while to warm up, but things really get going once they both start talking about things that hate, a reasonable and relatable list of offenses which includes talking about your “woe” or way of eating at parties, awards shows, lotion, and internet comments. OITNB fans will enjoy some of the behind-the-scenes details that Kohan shares including the fact that the show is filmed in an abandoned child psychiatric facility, as well as in Queens, which Kohan refers to as “its own mental prison.” (I’m sure she was not trying to offend the 75% of the New York comedy community living in Astoria. Don’t take it personally, guys.) Garlin also asks about her drug of choice and Kohan reveals her newfound appreciation for pot after she started using a vaporizer and why you should never get high before putting your kids to bed.
Employee of the Month - Simon Rich
Zoe: Theoretically speaking, it would be really easy to hate Simon Rich. At the age of 30, he’s the author of seven books, comes from a family of successful writers, and to top it off, was one of the youngest writers to be hired by SNL. But empirically speaking, it’s impossible to hate Simon Rich. If you need proof, look no further this week’s episode of Employee of the Month, where Rich sits down with host Catie Lazarus to discuss his brief career as a hard-hitting five-year-old journalist, formatting tips for new writers (it’s all about the big margins, guys), and the writing room of Man Seeking Woman, his upcoming show on FXX. Rich has a knack for taking seemingly trivial, usually unnoticed people, objects, and behaviors, then blowing out their realities with disarming earnestness. This especially comes through when he reads some choice excerpts from his early writing. On Simon’s Newspaper, the newspaper he started at age five: “Of course the biggest blow occurred when my mother told me that she no longer had time to type the stories that I dictated to her… You know, when you lose your publisher…” On his limitations as a hard-hitting journalist: “I was hindered by the fact that I wasn’t allowed to leave the apartment.” On Batman: “We are real, and Batman isn’t.” For more pearls of undeniable truth, check out the whole episode.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Todd Barry Podcast - Sam Morril
We Know Nothing - When Nikki Met Tom
The Dork Forest - Debra DiGiovanni
Doug Loves Movies - Gillian Jacobs, Laura Silverman,Cameron Esposito and Eddie Pepitone
Pauly Shore’s Interested - Carrot Top/Larry the Cable Guy
Hollywood Handbook - Iliza Shlesinger, Our Close Friend
Hound Tall - Christopher Ryan, Nick Kroll, and Nikki Glaser
The Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart - Live in Austin, TX
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.