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.
Crybabies - Jason Mantzoukas
Elizabeth: It only took five minutes for this episode of Crybabies to make me weep in public. Susan Orlean kicks off the podcast by reading an excerpt of a devastating letter by a young surgeon with metastatic lung cancer to his infant daughter and Sara Thyre plays part of the Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize.” Later on big softie and self-proclaimed prolific cryer Jason Mantzoukas joins them to talk about what makes him tear up, from Gilmore Girls to The Hunger Games to songs with falsetto. His first cry cue is a scene between Chas and Royal in The Royal Tenenbaums, which explores both father-son relationships and the plight of the empathetic character. Jason recalls crying while on an elliptical scene when seeing the Hunger Games trailer, specifically the scene in which Katniss volunteers as tribute, and why scenes of self-sacrifice make him weep. For a special lightning round, Jason plays a special playlist of songs that make him cry, including Antony and the Johnsons, Asaf Avidan, Joni Mitchell, and Nina Simone, leading to a discussion of the emotional quality of songs by men who sound like women and vice versa and whether UCB in the ‘90s is to comedy what Laurel Canyon in the ‘60s and ‘70s was to music.
A Waste of Time with ItsTheReal - Desus Nice
Pablo: Unlike his comedy partner The Kid Mero, who was tweeting about raising Dominican-Jewish boys and working a crappy job at his old middle school long before landing on MTV2, there’s not too much information out there about Desus Nice. But after this illuminating interview with the Rosenthal Brothers, fans can finally hear the backstory of the man behind the dog behind the ski mask. It starts in the online Gilded Age of KaZaA’s dominance when Desus joined the Roc-A-Fella street team straight out of the backpages of The Source. But all those unpaid glory years of plastering stickers and avoiding Latin Kings only led to dead-end work, first as a nightclub bouncer and then as a writer for a financial magazine. Like many of us, Desus dealt with these shitty jobs by starting a Twitter account to get him through his 9 to 5. But unlike the rest of us, his tweets were funny enough to land him the alliterative achievement of Viacom cash and social media verification, even if that blue check gives him fears about being Trevor Noah’d by a thinkpiece writer sometime in the near future.
Don’t Ever Change - Hampton Yount
Leigh: I wish Don’t Ever Change, hosted by John Roy, had been around when I was in high school. Each episode, Roy sits down with another comedian and asks where they were when they were 14. This week it’s Hampton Yount, who grew up in the middle of nowhere, Virginia. He went to a school that was inside a nursing home and had a teacher they all knew had a gun. You should be on board with this episode with those two details alone. Throughout the episode, Yount gets pretty deep, talking about keeping the nerdy stuff he liked a secret and dealing with depression but to be fair, “this makes me sound a lot deeper than I am. Most of my act is about diarrhea.” They also discuss how messing up in a school play gave him an intense fear of performing and how he eventually got started doing standup and, spoiler alert: his Comedy Central Half Hour debuted this past weekend, so he seems he’s doing a pretty good job facing that fear.
It’s About Time - Rockets Red Glare Pts. 1 & 2
Marc: Charlie and Steve, refugees of the Great Terrestrial Radio Depression, hit the podwaves last year with their Cardinal James Show. This year, they’ve added to their workload by crafting It’s About Time – “a time travel science fiction comedy romp through history.” I’m using the word “crafted” because there is a lot of production value behind the funny premise that that the two bumbling hosts run a “time travel agency,” booking trips to folks who either want or need to go somewhere in time. These trips never turn out to be casual sightseeing trips. Instead, the sanctity of the time stream as we know it is frequently being threatened and these little jaunts – more or less – set things right. In the most recent adventure, a wannabe member of the Rockettes who travels back to get a chance to join them at Radio City Music Hall stumbles upon a plot by Russian agents to infiltrate the famed dance troupe with an aim toward destabilizing the USA by defacing the Statue of Liberty. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s the main plot – there’s a lot of action and subplots going on in the latest chapter – so much so that it’s a two-parter!
Save It For The Show - Star Lord
Kaitlynn: Each week host Dan Fields sits down with his cohost and brother-in-law Eddie. Both are married thirty-somethings with day jobs. Dan literally guarantees I am going to like the show, so before I even listen I’m a bit skeptic. Lots of people suggest podcasts and I generally approach them with a skeptic sly face emoji look. Episode #155, “Star Lord,” here I go, I already like the name of the show because it is said by many comedians about anecdotes and stories. First off, I was very excited to hear from this Eddie character, but alas he is missing and replaced by friend of the show Dr. Duff – a modern renaissance man. These two get real raw. Dan tells the story of being caught having sex by his son, mid-climax. They get into the Subway Jared story and the Ashley Madison scandal. In the “Is This Weird?” segment Dan talks about taking his dog into the shower with him to give him a wash. They get into it about what constitutes cheating, is an emotional or physical affair worse, and what kind of relationship agreement should you discuss with a significant other? Things get a bit deep, but still interesting. The real treat of the week is that Duff is having a kid, and they discuss miscarriages and pregnancy announcements on social media. Dan and Duff are interesting people who speak honestly about the weird and funny parts of their lives. The only mildly confusing fact is that some episodes come out 8 or 6 days later. So what if I know the day of the week based on what loads on my podcast app? Spontaneity in life, certainty in podcasting!
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend - Paul F. Tompkins Returns
Talk of Shame - David Young and the Ill Timed Orgasm
Tax Season - The Desus and Mero Episode
Writers’ Bloc - Sarah Pappalardo
Never Not Funny - Adam Pally
The Bertcast - Jackie Kashian
Who Charted - Hayes Davenport
Comedy Bang Bang - Jemaine Clement & Wild Horses
The Jon Reep Show - Kyle Davis
We Hate Movies - Summer Rerun: Judge Dredd
The Moment - Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder Pt. II
Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period - Training Day with Sasheer Zamata
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.