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.
Getting Doug with High - Michael Ian Black & Greg Proops
Pablo: For obvious reasons, Getting Doug with High works best when the guests are regular pot smokers. You can watch former stoner Jack Black’s September freak out for evidence to my theory. But the latest episode featuring Michael Ian Black and regular toker Greg Proops runs contrary to the Rule of GDWH. While Black claims to not feel high after his first cough-inducing rip, it’s clear to any listener/viewer that he’s on a different level. Gone is the comic persona familiar to fans of his Twitter account or Topics podcast of a holier-than-thou jerk, replaced instead by that of a really chill bro. I know he would hate to hear that, but he was really fucking chill. The rest of the convo is standard GDWH fare: first high experiences, movies, comedy shop talk, etc. But it’s entertaining all the way and a lot more, let’s say “chill,” than the story Black tells of his last venture with marijuana: Waking up in Amsterdam to his wife yelling “Is he dead?!” because he ate too much pot brownie.
You Made It Weird - Harris Wittels
Kaitlynn: The show begins like most others do: a conversation about existence and our molecule-based bodies. Pete mentions Harris was there to speak about his drug addiction and when he abruptly mentions it at the 25 minute mark, the episode finds its grounding with a confession that shocks Pete into questioning whether the conversation and podcast should continue. As a fan of Harris Wittels and his podcast appearances, his addiction was previously mentioned on the long-awaited “Analyze Phish” concert episode and as far as podcast appearances go, he has been off the radar for a few months. Without ruining the climaxes of Harris’s story, I will remark that while listening to Harris recant how good he became at lying to others and covering his habit, Pete blurts out the amazingly timed, “Drug addicts are good at improv!” The laughter is definitely not lost in this episode, and does not become uncomfortable as these two navigate the comedic balance between personal lows and light at the end of the tunnel. As a comedy writer Harris knows how to speak without alienation an audience and in his retelling of personal experiences, he speaks about his troubles and life decisions in the most honest way a young person can. Pete found the episode where his hosting skills are the most admirable— navigating difficult subject matter with precision. I dare say this is my favorite episode of You Made it Weird yet, a thoroughly engaging must-listen as Harris and Pete both remark: “This is a good story.”
Nerdist Writers Panel - BoJack Horseman
Zoe: This week, host Ben Blacker speaks with creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and designer Lisa Hanawalt of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman. For anyone who may have prematurely judged the show after the first couple episodes (like myself, shamefully), this interview will convince you to pick up where you left off and keep with it (like myself, triumphantly). In the wake of NBC’s cancellation spree, it’s especially interesting to hear writers sing the praises of working under the Netflix model. “We never hear from them,” says Bob-Waksberg, which, if you’ve read horror stories of writing for a network, is a very ideal setup. The duo also discuss what it’s like making an animated show in the age of Bob’s Burgers and Archer. We’ve graduated from animation being written for dudes in their twenties to animation being written for anyone whose viewing depends on something other than the presence of Pokey Sticks (like myself, once upon a time). BoJack is not just another Family Guy. It’s also not just anthropomorphic animals making puns. Okay, it’s a little of those things, but it’s also Louie and Masters of Sex. Bob-Waksberg quotes Paul F. Tompkins, who happens to be the voice of Mr. Peanutbutter, as having said it best: “It’s a show for adults, not grownups.” If you need any more convincing, listen to this interview, and then get back in the saddle (this is a bit of a misguided pun since BoJack is non-domesticated) and keep watching.
Picking Favorites - Cranking The Dish with Adam Baldwin
Marc: The advent of the Wolfpop Network last week has inundated Podcastland with not just a baker’s dozen of new shows, but with a bunch of new hosts as well. Picking Favorites is a product from Nerd Machine and features founders Zachary Levi (Chuck) and David Coleman, Tyler Labine (Deadbeat, Tucker & Dale vs Evil) and comic Razzle Dangerously. The premise is that “everybody has a favorite something something” and this show chats up what those things are for the hosts and their guest. This second outing features Levi’s Chuck co-star Adam Baldwin (The Last Ship, Firefly) and the trio of topics the gang covers: Their favorite Mel Brooks movie, guilty pleasure movie, and favorite ‘80s band. This chatfest (as their homesite calls it) is a fun listen even though, with five guys in the room, it take awhile to figure out who’s who. As a listener, you kind of get to play along, too — with five chances that someone on the show is going to hit your favorite no matter what the subject matter might be.
Hollywood Handbook - Paul Scheer
Elizabeth: Actor and podcast titan Paul Scheer stops by Hollywood Handbook to workshop his scary movie So I Married Van Helsing: Skelating’s Kiss. But before the table read starts, Hayes and Sean express their rage at Kim Kardashian’s Paper magazine cover, asking why magazines don’t put more talented people’s butts on the cover like Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai or Flannery O’Connor. Why aren’t we celebrating who actually do things like singer/DJ Paris Hilton or actress Kate Upton? Once the guys have gotten that off their chest, Scheer joins them to try to figure out the reasons for the success of How Did This Get Made, which they attribute to our negative society and it’s enjoyment of tearing down people who have achieved things. Next Scheer introduces his script, which has Van Helsing taking the place of a college student, meeting a girl, fighting vampires, going to get an abortion, and more. It’s a college movie, a horror movie, an undercover, a thriller, a gross out comedy, and a biopic. It has everything. Sheer gets some good notes and the guys let us know that in Hollywood, that it’s all about what shooting scripts are on your USB drive.
Box Angeles - Gil Ozeri
Leigh: If you’re trying to make it in Hollywood, you might want hear what the guests of Box Angeles have to say. Each week, host Mike Elder sits down with writers, actors, and other established people in entertainment to find out why they moved to Los Angeles. This week’s guest is Gil Ozeri, who’s written for both Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Happy Endings, so yeah, I guess you would call him established in entertainment. Ozeri shares how he got started in comedy, taking classes at UCB, starting his group Hot Sauce with Ben Schwartz and Adam Pally, and how phone sex pranks helped him get an agent. For a guy who describes himself as annoying several times over the course of the episode, listening to him on this episode he’s anything but. And, bonus! The episode is full of TV show recommendations from a guy who seems to know what he’s talking about - so pay attention.
Who Charted? - Jimmy Pardo
Kaitlynn: Jimmy Pardo has been making the rounds through Earwolf this week and my ear holes are happy. In addition to his own show Never Not Funny, Pardo was also a guest on Professor Blastoff. But enough about them, Who Charted! Kulap Vilaysak and Howard Kremer host this weekly podcast that counts down the top charts in movies, music, and more. The second, shorter show of the week (the aptly named Two Charted) is a conversation between the two hosts and engineer. This week’s guest brought the “non-summah” lull into an energetic good time. No one compares to the fast-talking nature of Pardo’s riffs, bits and quips and this episode is no exception. Therefore, in a concise manor I have assembled his best comedic topics in order to tease the potential listener: Hilary Swank, the Hoosiers, Meghan Trainor, his son’s career aspirations, windscreen throwing, and affectations. Most comedy podcasts thrive on riffs and bits but with a more structured approach, the hosts and guest’s comedic personalities really shine.
Grabbing Lunch with Matt Knudsen — Helen Slater & Rob Watzke
Marc: Eschewing a cardinal unspoken rule of traditional radio, “Thou shalt not eat on the air,” Grabbing Lunch’s Matt Knudsen tucks into the midday meal at different restaurants and gabs amidst the clatter of tableware and the chatter of nearby diners. Joining the comedian/actor this week to celebrate a year of talking with his mouth full is actress Helen Slater (City Slickers, Supergirl) and her husband, editor and improvisor Rob Watzke. Rather than an interview per se, this feels like a true lunchtime chat that unfurls very naturally. During the course of their talk, we learn that Slater is a self-taught musician who can’t read music but writes original compositions all the same, that Knudsen was a merchant marine who landed in LA to pursue his career with no prior standup experience whatsoever, and even what horchata is — a rice-based beverage that Watzke proclaims tastes exactly like rice pudding. It takes a few minutes to tune out the hustle and bustle of the audio activity going on around the conversation, at which point you feel like you’re at the table. (Interviewing host Knudsen at the recent Los Angeles Podcast Festival, he told me that he’s heard from fans that they like to listen to his show while they’re eating lunch.) Bon apetit!
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
The B.S. Report - Lorne Michaels
Nerdist - Rob Riggle Returns
Professor Blastoff - Fantasy Baseball/Neurosis
Comedy Bang Bang - Youtube Phenomahna with Chelsea Peretti, Seth Morris
Pop Culture Happy Hour - Small Batch: The Comeback
Fitzdog Radio - Rob Riggle
Affirmation Nation - Tijuana Skin Grafts with Nate Corddry, Jason Mantzoukas
The Bugle - SpaceCats: The Search for Merch
Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast - Bob Saget
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.