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.
The Hooray Show with Horatio - The First Ever Very Special Secular February Christmas Episode
Elizabeth: Ben Schwartz joins Horatio Sanz for the third episode of The Hooray Show. The show starts with plenty of SNL reminiscing—Ben talks about freelancing for SNL’s Weekend Update and how Horatio helped him finally get two jokes on the air, and Horatio does the impressions he did for his audition (Meatloaf, Truman Capote, and Unsolved Mysteries host Robert Stack getting prank calls). Later they call Samm Levine who is on his way to a Justin Timberlake concert, but takes time to give Horatio a glowing character reference. Horatio and producer Chad Krueger take some calls from listeners on their way to New Year’s Eve celebrations and then Horatio and Ben sing Horatio’s SNL Christmas song along with recordings left by listeners. It’s a charming end to the show and enough to make you wish it really was Christmas today (and overlook the fact that the Christmas in February show is actually in January).
The Todd Glass Show - Kelly Carlin
Rob: Of all the people to interview Kelly Carlin, the daughter and legacy-protector of the late legend George, Todd Glass is one of the most interesting. Clearly influenced by Carlin at a young age, Glass regularly uses the phrase “to George Carlin” (in place of “swear to God”) on his podcast to signal whenever he’s being genuine and not doing a bit. But he also opens many episodes debating guests on certain derogatory language that he often thinks is too offensive or outdated to be spoken, even in the context of comedy – something Carlin of course was known for doing and defending. Speaking to Carlin’s daughter about his legacy, Glass’s interview style is similarly poles apart – a hint of nervous reverence mixed with his typical ridiculous bombast. That only adds to the funny, though, as the conversation can dramatically shift in a minute, from subjects like the death threats Carlin and family received for his anti-religious stance, to Glass making a bid to buy Carlin’s BMW in installments of $600 a month “if I have it.”Nothing’s revealed here that you probably didn’t already know about Carlin – or that Kelly doesn’t cover in A Carlin Home Companion – but for fans of Glass, it’s great to hear this obviously special episode devoted to the comedian that he looked up to.
Truth and Iliza - Julieanne Smolinski
Leigh: If you were lucky enough to get a free day off from work this week thanks to the potentially historic blizzard and you didn’t use it to watch Iliza Shlesinger’s Netflix special Freezing Hot, you didn’t do your snow day right. But if you really know how to do a snow day right, you followed up the special by listening to this week’s episode of Truth and Iliza with guest Julieanne Smolinski (@BoobsRadley on Twitter). The episode is exciting right off the bat when Smolinski and Shelsinger, who have only just recently met each other, share how excited they are to become friends. They also talk about hair extensions, big words, the kinds of smart girls that bother them, justifying how you’re better than some people, hating couples, and why being bullied maybe isn’t the worst thing. Needless to say, Shelsinger and Smolinski’s is a friendship I’m really pulling for.
Nerdist Podcast - Bill Gates
Marc: This is quite the event: Bill Gates, ultra-billionaire brains behind Microsoft and perhaps the Nerd King, making his debut appearance on the Nerdist podcast. Host Chris Hardwick and his two co-hosts Jonah Ray and Matt Mira are granted a 40-minute audience with Gates somewhere in the bowels of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation HQ in Seattle. The occasion was the recent release of the Foundation’s annual “Letter” – a humanitarian manifesto of sorts that spells out difficulties in the world and the Gates’ plans to thwart those problems. “But is this comedy?” you say aloud, to no one in particular. Sometimes comedy is where you find it, and where it lies in this interview is that the appearance is clearly set up for Bill to get word out about the Letter. Hardwick and friends are just as determined to lure their guest into talking about the early days the PC and all the trappings. At one point, some PR flack interrupts to make sure the interview is going to get back to the information in the Letter. From there on out, the humor comes in knowing Hardwick is going to slip in as many of his questions as he can before he feels obligated to get back to the subject at hand. After Bill splits the scene, Hardwick welcomes two Gates Foundation folks in – Jay Wenger, director of the Gates Foundation’s polio eradication efforts; and Julie Sunderland, director of program –related investments. It’s hardly a laugh-a-minute show, but there are some grins and – what the heck – you could actually learn something.
Fitzdog Radio - Steel Panther
Pablo: If you’re a fan of Spinal Tap, then you’ll love Steel Panther. The glam metal parody band born from the Sunset Strip has toured for over a decade, longer than most of the bands who actually ruled that music scene, and the reason for their longevity is pretty easy to figure out. First off, they’re great musicians who sound like they time traveled from 1987. But most important is their commitment to their outrageous characters, both on-stage and off it. Their personas are on full display on this week’s episode of Fitzdog Radio as Greg Fitzsimmons invites the metal gods to tell their craziest tour stories and answer calls from listeners. Even Steel Panther’s fans, who play along like they’re 16 year old groupies meeting Tommy Lee in his dressing room, never break character. So while you wait for the next Spinal Tap reunion, check out a classic Steel Panther record like Balls Out or Hole Patrol in the meantime.
Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids - “I Don’t Even Know What Hormones Are!” (Windsor)
Kaitlynn: Have you ever looked back on old schoolwork you did as a kid? Have you ever been morbidly embarrassed at how easily your childhood feelings were so easily transferable to the page? Well here is a great podcast that is equal parts cringe-worthy and cathartic. Host Dan Misener is a CBC Radio host who guides the listener through each story and the background of the writer. Though it is short, each story represents the youthfulness and naive persona of the reader. Topics covered in this episode include Canada-US relations, hot dogs, camp, and falling in love with a waiter. The episode takes a dark turn when a woman reads a letter to her alcoholic stepfather. But alas, these short 30 minute episodes are enough to fill the nostalgia void in your life. Although be wary of going through your own childhood writings, you never know what embarrassment lies ahead.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
WTF with Marc Maron - Jason Schwartzman
The Poundcast - We Are The Weinbachs
Comedy Bang! Bang! - Secret Superlatives with Patton Oswalt, Lauren Lapkus, and Mary Holland
Pretend Wizards - Midwife Wrestling
We Have Concerns - Leaf It Alone
You Made It Weird - Live from SF Sketchfest 2015
Doug Loves Movies - Topher Grace, Paul Scheer & Neal Brennan
Taggart and Torrens - Episode 26
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.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.