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.
Thrilling Adventure Hour – Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars
Marc: It’s the end of an era. Or, rather, the echoes of an era’s end. Live regular performances of Thrilling Adventure Hour came to a close months ago, but the podcasted segments of it kept on. Until now. This week episode 220 of TAH, the final installment of Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, marks the end of a great run of a legendary show. Performed live at Largo in Los Angeles in the style of old-time radio, producers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have assembled quite a cast for the adios of this western/sci-fi sendup: Besides the usual cast — Marc Evan Jackson as Sparks, Mark Gagliardi as Croach, and Busy Phillips as the Red Plains Rider —there’s Josh Malina, Molly Quinn, Tim Omundsen, Janet Varney, Matt Gourley, Hal Lublin, and a pile of other famous voices mostly playing robot outlaws. It’s the rehearsal dinner for the wedding of Sparks and his gal Virginia West (Varney), which will mark the end of the Marshal’s tenure roaming the red sands of Mars. The event goes sideways when the robot gang crashes the party, threatening the outgoing Marshal and his replacement, Red Plains Rider. In proper melocomedic style, Sparks dons his robot fists when all seems darkest and the hitching comes off without another hitch. And, with that, the Workjuice Players ride off into the podcast sunset.
The Champs - New Faces 2015
Pablo: The Champs has had an erratic schedule this year but the 2015 Just For Laughs festival managed to get Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher in the same city for two new episodes. While the first featured veteran Wanda Sykes, this episode showcases seven black comedians who were named New Faces during this year’s gala. Even with nine voices sharing a mic in what I can only assume was a very cramped Montreal hotel room, the conversation is far from halting and there’s much to glean from these performers, new to executives wanting to monetize their personalities, dealing with an industry that still largely sees black comedians as a monolith. Out of all the comics (Rob Haze, Clayton English, Leonard Outz, Chris Redd, Jak Knight, Langston Kerman), Dulce Sloan stands out the most, partly because hers is the only female voice of the group, but also from the specificity of her story. From starting out almost exclusively in white rooms to being inspired by Margaret Cho to asking her agent to turn down Sassy Black Woman guest roles, you grasp her hesitancy in not knowing if she’d turn down that same role if it had the potential to be a financially-securing starring role, an all-too-real hypothetical. While Brennan doesn’t talk much in the episode, he does end it by sharing that Eddie Murphy once offered to pay Gallagher to smash a watermelon on Paul Mooney’s car. That mental image alone is worth the download.
Ronna & Beverly - Diablo Cody
Leigh: The worst thing about Ronna & Beverly is that we don’t get new episodes every week. But the best thing about Ronna & Beverly is everything. Do I re-listen to old episodes in the weeks they don’t release new ones? Maybe. Okay, yes. It’s just that good. This week the ladies are joined by a pink-haired, pregnant Diablo Cody to talk about her new movie Ricki and the Flash. I could recap where the inspiration for the movie came from, what Diablo Cody is watching on TV these days, what actor she’d love to work with and that kind of stuff. But let’s cut to the chase: Ron and Bev really want to know all there is to know about working with Meryl Streep. When asked if she’s everything they say she is, everyone is relieved to hear the answer is a quick “everything and more.” Cody walks through the whole process of getting Meryl Streep to read the script and eventually getting on board to star in the movie. Other Meryl-centric topics covered include how long it took her to learn to play the guitar, a quick run-through of all her children and husband, and a hilarious discussion about who Meryl Streep’s Gayle (as in Oprah and Gayle) is and who their own Gayles would be. Sure, there’s a lot about the movie in this episode and it made me want to go see it and also what Diablo Cody is working on next, but consider this episode your comprehensive source of Meryl Streep info.
The JV Club - Ron Funches
Elizabeth: Normally people sit for an interview, but why do that when you can lie down? For this week’s episode of JV Club, Janet Varney chats with Ron Funches while the Undateable actor and comedian lies down in a dressing room at the Outside Lands festival during a Billy Idol set. Ron talks about growing up playing the board game Pretty Pretty Princess, becoming a parent at a young age, learning how to date after his ten-year marriage ended, and his taste in women (Lucille Ball-types). He also describes getting his start in comedy after realizing he needed a career when his son was diagnosed with autism. Janet closes the show with a game of MASH, which predicts a rich future for Ron filled with a house, backflips, sexual encounters with (an adult) Penny from Inspector Gadget, and a ton of heroin.
The K Ohle - Get Lost with Jon Daly
Kaitlynn: The K Ohle has been on a bit of a hiatus as host Kurt Braunohler has been doing that wonderful thing called work. This multi-format podcast always keeps the listener on its toes. “Get Lost” has Kurt blindfolding a comedian, driving them to an unknown location, and unveiling the location as they try to figure out where they are. The intro has Kurt telling us about the swimming hole at Loretta Lynn’s dude ranch and renting a canoe. His storytelling introductions are some of the best in the podcast game. Kurt takes Jon to a tropical section that was planted by a random man named Amir in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. The conversational interview is more prominent than similar episodes of “Get Lost.” They talk about how they became friends back in uncool, non-hipster Brooklyn, meeting Christian Audigier, upcoming projects, and the end of Kroll Show. Jon explains the background of his Red Hot Chili Peppers parody song and website. These two best pals talk just like…best pals do and what a treat it is to listen to. It is a shame the episode isn’t longer because these two are at the top of the “seem like nice guys and are also amazingly talented” list. If the Emotional Hangs format ever expands from Kurt and Joe DeRosa, my vote goes to Jon Daly.
WTF with Marc Maron - John Ridley
Marc: Most people don’t know that the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley, was once a standup comedian. He’s written, directed and created not just movies but substantial TV shows (American Crime, Third Watch, Barbershop) as well, and has written seven novels. Marc Maron hosts him this week on WTF and gets pretty deep — as he often does — as the interview slides back and forth between his upbringing in Wisconsin, his developing career in books, TV, and film, but always touching back on the six or seven years he spent in comedy clubs — his show biz formative years, as it were. He was fortunate enough to have some interesting mentors along the way, like Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. And he gets pretty choked up relating the story of having his children get to meet these figures around the same time their dad was winning the OSCAR. Ridley also talks about a film he’s working on, which focused on the 1992 LA Riots.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Hollywood Handbook - Julie Klausner, Our Close Friend
Doughboys - Original Tommy’s with Jim Woods
You Made It Weird - Jemaine Clement
Never Not Funny - Adam Pally
Until I Lose Interest - The Valparaiso Motel w/Ryan O’Neill
Who Charted - Kyle Dunnigan, Natasha Leggero
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.