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.
Jesse vs Cancer - Episode 1
Pablo: Comedian Jesse Case has stage 4 colon cancer. For those fortunate to be unfamiliar with the disease, there is no stage 5. Kind of puts your bad day in perspective, huh? Having moved back home to Nashville for chemotherapy and surgery, the 29 year old Probably Science co-host has decided to document his journey, even if the chemotherapy kicks his ass and USB microphone into a hospital bed. This debut episode focuses on the past two years of his life, from his recurring sharp abdominal pain to the eventual tumor-discovering colonoscopy. As you’d expect from a standup comic facing a potentially fatal illness, Case is honest as hell about a multitude of topics. One minute he’s being real about how neglecting his pain allowed the cancer to spread, the next he’s extolling the numbing side affect of chemo that provides him with an effortless Stranger whenever he’s horny. Besides being a frank and candid insight into a battle hopefully none of us have to go through, Jesse vs Cancer’s first-hand subject material is, I believe, a podcast first. And if you have a few extra bucks, you can donate to Case and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at his website.
Comedy Insider with Scott Dikkers - Weird Al Yankovic
Leigh: “Dumb first, smart later…Gotta lead with the stupid.” This is just one of the dozens of gems the legendary Weird Al Yankovic drops on this week’s episode of The Comedy Insider Podcast, the new podcast hosted by Scott Dikkers, founding editor of The Onion. The Comedy Insider Podcast, described as “a serious conversation about comedy,” is just that. No bits, no monologue, no ads for Audible.com, and more importantly, no time wasted before Dikkers and Weird Al jump right in and discuss what it’s like for him to have make the transition from just having fun to being a respected elder statesman in comedy. He shares his writing process for songs and his TV shows, and how that process has changed now that he knows people care about his work. Other topics covered include the origins of the name Weird Al, starting out in college radio, his time at accordion school (yes, a whole school), Mad magazine, and the possibility of a Broadway show he wishes he could talk more about. Kind of a tease, but let’s take what we can get, right?
Nerdist - Andy Samberg Returns
Elizabeth: Andy Samberg returns to the Nerdist podcast for his second appearance on the show, ostensibly to promote his HBO movie 7 Days in Hell, although that may be the subject they touch on the least. They talk about how his digital shorts at SNL set the benchmark for viral content—and the strange experience of having SNL legends like Dan Aykroyd recite songs like “Dick in a Box” back to him. Andy also recounts the SNL40 party, where it was hard to be excited about seeing celebrities because everyone was someone to be excited about, and wanting Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift to quiet down so he could talk to his friend. Taylor Swift comes up again later as they discuss her catalog of work, as well as the new too-hot-for-YouTube Rihanna video. Andy also talks about preparing to host the Emmys and they brainstorm some ways he can spice-up the broadcast like starting with the In Memoriam and ending with the monologue, incorporating Robert (or possibly Fred) Durst, and celebrating the 90s. At the end, Andy drops some hints about the upcoming Lonely Island movie, which will be coming out next June up against Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, a real Sophie’s Choice for moviegoers.
Hello from the Magic Tavern - Blemish
Marc: There are a number of podcasts that feature role playing games as they’re being played, such as Earwolf’s Nerd Poker, Penny Arcade, and Drunks & Dragons. Hello from the Magic Tavern touches on that genre, but the best way to describe the show is that it features characters from a D&D adventure…except they’re just hanging out. In a bar. Doing a podcast. The setup is that the host, Arnie, is one of us. A regular guy. Who fell through a “magical dimension portal” behind a Chicago area Burger King into the land of Foon. To kill time until he can figure out how to get home, he lives in The Vermilion Minotaur, with a couple of whacked out co-hosts, Usidore and Chunt, who’s on downtime between adventures. And, like most podcasts, they have guests. This week it’s Otok Barleyfoot, the owner of the Minotaur, and Blemish, the creepiest waiter ever to get on mic — he even has the occasional cat crawl out of his mouth. They’ve done a nice job with the setting – you can hear the ambient noise of what you’d imagine a medieval tavern might sound like — and the characters don’t really ever break…character. Which is totally unlike most of the fantasy gaming podcasts out there. It’s also pretty funny, particularly once you get to know the characters — it’s kind of like the TV show Cheers, with dwarves, and elves, and wizards.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus - The North Pod with Santa Claus
Welcome to Night Vale - Bonus Episode 4 - Pamela Winchell
You Better DON’T! - Do Dogs Only Love Us for Our Internal Organs?
Completely Obsessed - Joe Mande
Call Chelsea Peretti - A New Episode of the Podcast
Stop Podcasting Yourself - Nikki Glaser
Nerdist - Scott Weinger
Who Charted? - Andy Daly
improv4humans - Ask the UCB: Success in Comedy
Ronna & Beverly - Mitch Silpa
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.