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.
Bullseye with Jesse Thorn - Chris Rock and John Cleese
Marc: The guests that pass through the portals of Bullseye with Jesse Thorn run the gamut of show business and the conversations can get serious. Still, given the host’s comedy connections, no one would debate that his show counts as a comedy podcast. This week offers two insightful chats, the first with Chris Rock upon the debut of his latest film Top Five. Thorn delves into the similarities between the lead character, played by Rock, who is a comedian turned movie star, and Rock’s real life as a comedian turned…movie-kinda-star. Thorne also talks to the delightful John Cleese of Monty Python fame, who just published his memoir So, Anyway. Cleese amusingly reveals the truth behind what brought he and the remaining members of Python together for their reunion in London last summer: A legal settlement of $800K against the cast. Solution: Put on a show! In between the two chats, in a segment called “I Wish I’d Made That,” is Comedy Bang! Bang!’s Scott Aukerman waxing wistfully about TV’s quirky Twin Peaks series. Finally, Thorne closes the show talking about the triumph of Amazon’s video series Transparent starring Jeffrey Tambor. At one hour and 14 minutes this week, Bullseye serves up one hell of a show.
Nerdist Writers Panel - Girls’ Jenni Konner
Leigh: This week on Nerdist Writers Panel, host Ben Blacker sits down with Girls showrunner Jenni Konner. You don’t have to get very far into the episode to realize Jenni Konner has the best job on the planet. For starters, her first writing job was on Undeclared (I’ll give you a few minutes to stop and remember how good that show was, ready? okay) which means she’s part of the Apatow camp and lucky enough to work with what she refers to as “the X-Men of comedy nerds.” Then there’s her partnership with Lena Dunham and how they write together - locked in a hotel room, ordering room service and watching Shonda Rhimes shows. Konner even had great things to say about working with HBO. So great in fact, you might start to feel a little bad about stealing your friend’s HBO GO password. Blacker and Konner also discuss what is/was like in the writers room Girls and Undeclared and doing punch-up for Dinner with Schmucks and Transformers 3. If you’re an aspiring TV writer, or even aspiring to be an aspiring TV writer, Nerdist Writers Panel is a great resource. So if you’re not already listening, this episode is a great place to start.
Truth and Iliza - Diablo Cody
Elizabeth: Iliza Shlesinger and Diablo Cody get together to talk about the stuff they hate on the latest episode of Truth and Iliza. This week’s pet peeves include Las Vegas, cool parents, and people who leave all their money to their dogs. There’s also several bathroom pet peeves this week. Shlesinger takes issue with the number of stalls provided to women, while Cody is angered by the time it takes them to go to the bathroom: “What are other women doing [in the bathroom]? Taking off shapewear?” Is a trough-style toilet the answer? It’s up for debate. Shlesinger also gets annoyed when people get mad at her for using the men’s room. And what’s the cut-off age for taking your son into the ladies’ room? They agree that it’s definitely before the age of 14. From there they tackle E! stars who don’t say anything and people who make it about themselves when famous people die, or as Cody calls it, tragedy porn. Shlesinger recalls her interaction with Justin Beiber and gives her theory on the fame of garbage person Kim Kardashian, which dates back to Brandy and Monica in the 1990s. Long story short, if Monica hadn’t gotten adult braces, Kim Kardashian wouldn’t exist as we know her now. So be a hero just accept your overbite, so nothing like that ever happens again.
The Dead Authors Podcast - Appendix G: F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce, featuring Andy Daly and Sean Conroy
Rob: Sometimes the way podcast episodes are labeled can affect whether you give it a listen. In the case of this week’s installment of The Dead Authors Podcast, don’t let the prefix “Appendix G” make you think it’s any lesser than regular full episodes. First off, it’s full length and there are no audio issues. Secondly, it’s hilarious. Featuring Sean Conroy as James Joyce and the seemingly always-on Andy Daly as F. Scott Fitzgerald, this week’s Dead Authors guests strike a great balance between being grounded in reality and ridiculous UCB-style exaggerations. Both guests demonstrate a relatively impressive familiarity with the dead writers they’re playing, with Conroy’s more arrogant and staid Joyce perfectly playing off of Daly’s (quite convincing) sloppy drunk Fitzgerald – and vice versa. Tompkins is great as always, hosting in the guise of the time traveling H.G. Wells – especially in a couple particularly funny off-the-cuff interactions with the audience at the end of the show. This episode is a great starting point for first time listeners, but fans should make sure they don’t miss out on this classic installment too.
By The Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin - Stephen Merchant
Kaitlynn: The latest episode in Jeff Garlin’s By The Way is one of the most entertaining to date. Stephen Merchant’s radio and podcasting background work in his favor to bring out the funniest anecdotes. As Jeff mentions in this episode, he listens more than ever, giving Merchant the opportunity to shine. They discuss the Christmas episode of The Office that Garlin gives the highest compliment when he calls it “perfect.” They discuss the difference between comedy and drama and how they combine to create interesting stories. The climax of the episode is Merchant’s childhood attempt to make a funny home video and how he disappointed his father. The storytelling is on point and it’s so easy to see how he transforms stories and experiences into his work, especially in his recent HBO show Hello Ladies. The episode takes turns as Merchant sometimes reverts into material from his standup (as a fan of his, I can recognize bits throughout). Nevertheless, the podcast episode is a great intro if you are somehow new to Merchant, independent of his sitcom writing partner Ricky Gervais.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Call Chelsea Peretti - Hi America
Terrified - Kate Berlant
Nerdist Podcast - Benedict Cumberbatch
The Bugle 280 - On the wAI out
Doug Loves Movies - “Werner Herzog,” “Mark Wahlberg” and 6 other Crazy Guests
StartUp Podcast -We Made A Mistake
Picking Favorites - Nathan Fillion
Professor Blastoff - Josh Radnor
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.