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.
Professor Blastoff - Goodbye
Kaitlynn: It is a sad day in the hatch. The long-lived and much loved podcast came to an end this week. Hosted by David Huntsberger, Kyle Dunnigan, and Tig Notaro, Professor Blastoff began over four years ago when the trio stumbled into an abandoned hatch where a long-lost Professor began transmitting data from space. Yes you read that correctly, the premise began very concretely with messages each week becoming the episode’s topic. Over the years the premise slowly disintegrated, especially when assistant Aaron Burrell left the show and the knobs got harder to fiddle with. The show was a real roller coaster ride that began with three working comedians growing their careers while hanging out once a week and learning about this whole new scientific world. It even continued through Tig’s four months of tragedy that culminated in a legendary standup set. Listeners laughed and cried along the way and the podcast still managed to bring out a few laughs despite it all. Each week a guest discussed a topic ranging from philosophy or science to the arts. Along the way, characters began to emerge (namely from Kyle) along with new recurring games and segments. Name that Punky, What’s Nuts, Top Shelf Thoughts and Boring Texts all sound like amateur punk bands but are in reality the most enjoyable episode segments. The trio hit the perfect balance of silliness and humor while keeping on topic (thanks David). Spoiler Alert! The Professor hits his eventual demise in the final episode when he transmits, “I have died in space.” There is an odd feeling in the air when Tig utters the episode’s closing words, knowing it will be the last time they are ever said. Welp, that’s been podcast.
The Todd Barry Podcast - Mark Normand
Leigh: This week’s episode of The Todd Barry Podcast starts off the way every good podcast should – with a series of apologies. Guest Mark Normand, who self-diagnoses himself with a real foot in his mouth problem, kicks off the conversation off by bringing up a few instances where he thought he may have offended host Todd Barry, and a few other people he’s pissed off. If you’re looking for some long drawn out drama, crying and begging for forgiveness, sorry. That only leaves room for more exciting things. Like how Normand once bombed in front of Amy Schumer, which led to touring and opening for her for the past six years. If you’ve listened to Normand’s own podcast Tuesdays with Stories, you know he’s got plenty of, well, stories. He shares a never before heard, Todd Barry Podcast exclusive. Other topics covered include therapy, being an introvert, what to say when you have a celebrity encounter, the perfect number of sets to do in one night, performing for the troops in the Middle East, free food, and getting verified. While it doesn’t end with another apology (even though Normand does offer to quickly insult Barry and then apologize), if you miss this episode, I’ll feel a little sorry for you.
The New Hollywood Podcast - Peter Hornsby/Andy Daly
Marc: Brian Flaherty has pulled another hilarious fast one with this week’s double shot installment of his The New Hollywood Podcast. A while back he’d posted a short interview with fictional film producer Alan Marlowe, following it up with a chat with successful director/writer Adam McKay…only to reveal that Marlowe had been portrayed by McKay. This time, with a similar formula, he’s brought non-existent former studio executive Peter Hornsby to life in a short talk that dropped earlier in the week, only to reveal later that it was actually Andy Daly doing the character before his appearance, which appeared yesterday. Hornsby talks mostly about films he let go — such as The Godfather, which he didn’t like. (“We’ve had enough gangster pictures, from Jimmy Cagney to Cleopatra.”) The former exec sounds very close to Daly’s Don DeMello character, as heard on Comedy Bang Bang, which alone makes it worth the stream. Flaherty’s chat with Daly as himself is good, but it’s not nearly as funny as the “minisode” with Hornsby. It’s becoming a nifty gimmick that both maximizes Flaherty’s guests’ talents while hopefully upping his numbers because, hey, who ISN’T going to go back and grab a 15-minute interview with a funny, made-up character? It’s like a DVD extras of podcasting.
Kill Me Now with Judy Gold - Amy Schumer
Elizabeth: On this week’s “Kill Me Now,” Judy is joined by Amy Schumer, who Judy expects will get a real career boost for appearing on the podcast. Amy talks about how her childhood was basically the plot of “Inside Out”: At age nine, her family went bankrupt, moved to a bad neighborhood, and her father was diagnosed with MS. She describes his condition now—he lives in a hospital in a room that looks like Eddie Murphy’s apartment in “Coming to America”—and how his condition has made her not want to attach to things like dogs or men. Judy also lectures Amy on the importance of flossing, they celebrate Amy’s shoot with Annie Leibowitz, and later they weigh in on Bill Cosby. After discussing jealousy and sexuality, they wrap things up to go see Magic Mike XXL with Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, Vanessa Bayer, and a bunch of other hysterical women. Now that’s an episode I’d kill to hear.
Before You Were Funny - Brea Grant, D.C. Pierson, Dave Ferguson
Pablo: Reading your work in front of a live audience, whether it’s your sketch writing class or an actual theater crowd, is an essential, nerve-wracking experience that ultimately will determine if you’ve got what it takes to write professionally. And just as important, when you hear your words said out loud, it allows writers to spot exactly what terrible areas need a crucial rewrite. On Before You Were Funny, sketches, plays, essays, and poems are read out loud for the totally opposite reason. The guests on BYWF are professional comedians who make a living being funny, so these brave souls volunteer to read their old material, some of it dating back to high school, solely to cringe at how awful they once were. This week’s episode features some fine examples of cringe-worthy .doc files that should never again see the light of the stage. But the standout is a scathing poem by The Birthday Boys’ Dave Ferguson called “Life According to Channel 9.” It hits all the right notes of pretentiousness, unearned confidence, and all-too-obvious social commentary that can only come from a Creative Writing 101 homework assignment.
The Mild Adventures of Fred Stoller - Robert Forster
Marc: I was delighted to discover that The Mild Adventures of Fred Stoller has crept into Podcastland recently. Just three episodes in and the titular comedian/actor/writer (Maybe We’ll Have You Back) is proving to be an engaging host as well. This week’s show is particularly tasty as Stoller’s pal, actor Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, The Descendants, Breaking Bad), drops in for a laid back and casual visit. Forster is one of those great underrated Hollywood guys, whose career pretty much vanished for a number of years until Quentin Tarentino cast him in the memorable role as Max Cherry in Jackie Brown (1997) and the guy hasn’t had much downtime since. Forster is totally comfortable talking about both the good times and the lean times, as well as sharing his simple secrets of success, things like “Finish what you start.” He sounds like just a regular joe and he’s got a pack of great stories starting from before he came to LA as one of the last studio contract player in 1965. Particularly memorable is his tale of being cast in John Huston’s Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) and, being nervous for his first film role, having Huston reassure him that the great director would tell him the secret of acting for the movies. I won’t spoil the reveal here, but Forster delivers the story along with a nice impression of Huston’s rumbling voice to boot. Not just a friend of the actor but clearly a fan as well, Stoller apologizes for occasionally fawning over his guest during their chat but, by the time they’re done and we find out what a nice guy Forster turns out to be, I’m sure any of us would be prone to a little fawning ourselves.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Fitzdog Radio - Nick Di Paolo Returns
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus - Matt Besser
Ronna & Beverly - More Advice For You!
Who Charted - Jonah Ray with Guest Host Armen Weitzman
The Waiting Game - Jo Firestone
The Jokes for Today - July 16th
Comedy Insider - Adam Resnick
The JV Club - The Boys of Summer - Stephen Falk
Nerdist Writers Panel - Marta Kauffman
Fresh Air - Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow on Trainwreck
The Great Debates - Space Program vs. Whatever James Cameron is Doing Underwater
Pop Culture Happy Hour - BoJack Horseman and People We’re Pulling For
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.