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 Kibitz - Episode 1: Light
Pablo: It’s Hanukkah! I think. It might be over by now. I don’t know, I’m a bad Jew. So I’m glad there’s The Kibitz, a new podcast, named after the Yiddish word for chatting, that is dedicated to all things Jewish. In this inaugural episode, host Dan Crane and his guests discuss our people’s most misunderstood holiday, Hanukkah. First, comic Moshe Kasher and his brother Rabbi David Kasher discuss the Biblically-unimportant holiday’s emergence into the mainstream during the 1970s when the children of assimilated middle-class Jews felt left out during Christmas. Next, Crane ventures to the sunken culinary expanse of Downtown LA’s Grand Central Market to learn how to make the perfect latke from Chef Micah Wexler. He then takes listener calls with Ronna and Beverly, including one from his 95 year old bubbe, about the correct spelling of Hanukkah and whether or not adults should exchange gifts. Finally, the Sklar Brothers stop by to hate on dreidels and paint a picture of their dueling Bar Mitzvah in 1980s St. Louis. It’s a great start, but I have no idea how Crane will find more Jewish people in the entertainment industry for future episodes.
The David Steinberg Podcast – Kathy Griffin
Marc: One of the many interesting aspects of podcasting is that performers seem to be discovering the medium at the same time listeners are finding their way here, too. David Steinberg has signed in, and it’s great to have this longtime standup comedian in front of a microphone after what seems forever. He’s mainly been directing television for the past few decades (having won several Emmy awards along the way), but his background in improv and comedy have stood him in good stead over the years. For his first few episodes of The David Steinberg Podcast, housed on the Sideshow Network, he’s chosen guests that make it easy to fill the time – Gilbert Gottfried and Kathy Griffin are the “self-conversing” kind of people. In the second episode, Griffin is a rollicking raconteur, keeping Steinberg and what seems to be a small audience laughing with tales from her formative years. She claims to have, basically, conned her family into moving to Hollywood from Chicago so that she could pursue a show business career. And then the stories of being a struggling standup and wannabe actress keep the episode moving right along, with just enough questions and comments from the host to keep it from veering too crazily off-course. The show promises to get even more engaging as Steinberg settles into his hosting role.
Nerdist - Fred Savage
Leigh: I have great news for your ten year old selves. Fred Savage is just funny and delightful as you always hoped he’d be. And this isn’t just my own longtime crush on Kevin Arnold clouding my judgment. The episode actually starts with host Chris Hardwick’s enthusiasm for his conversation with Savage. And if for some reason you’re still not convinced, Matt Mira says at one point “I’ve never liked a human being more than I like Fred Savage right now.” Savage is there to talk about his return to television starring alongside Rob Lowe in The Grinder. Well, that sentence was a little misleading, because he never really left. He’s just been busy directing every good TV show. Seriously. He’s worked on all the good ones. All of them. He and Hardwick first met when he directed the taken to soon from this world Garfunkel and Oates TV show. Savage fills us in on where everyone from the cast of The Wonder Years is now and how he got his start in show business. They even watch and critique his very first acting job in a commercial for Pac Man vitamins, which you can and should find on YouTube. If the overall excitement for having Fred Savage on the show wasn’t already clear, Hardwick ends the conversation by telling Savage he wants him to keep coming back. So if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get a bunch more of episodes like this.
High and Mighty - Hanukkah and Judiasm with Adam Pally and Gil Ozeri
Elizabeth: Adam Pally and Gil Ozeri stop by High and Mighty this week to celebrate the start of Hanukkah and talk Judaism with a very curious Jon Gabrus. (So curious in fact that Gil gets a little suspicious.) They touch on many of the major Jewish holidays and customs and their origins, from Yom Kippur to dancing the Horah. Much of the episode is devoted to discussing the importance of customs and culture in the Jewish faith and the world in general and debating the need for religions to change with the times. For example, should rules initially based on keeping people alive, like not eating pork and shellfish, be changed? One argument: “Moses never had a pulled pork sandwich.” Finally, in honor of the first night of Hanukkah, they touch on how this minor holiday has become blown up (mostly for the sake of kids) and how tough it is to be a Jewish child during Christmas. Anyone who thinks that comedy podcasts are just people talking about how they got their start doing improv or debating the best era of SNL should listen to this funny and extremely insightful episode.
Wooden Overcoats – The Series
Marc: The British podcast Wooden Overcoats popped onto the scene a little over two months ago, blasted out a first season of eight episodes, and left an early audience wanting more while the rest of us bend an ear catching up. Billing itself as “a sitcom about rival funeral directors,” the show is in the fine style of top-notch English television situation comedies. The setting is the small Channel Island village of Piffling Vale and the main figure is Rudyard Funn, the proprietor and undertaker of Funn Funerals, the only funeral parlor in town…until now. All the stories swirl around the rivalry between Funn and Eric Chapman, who arrives in the village and opens his own mortuary. There’s intrigue, romance, violence, mystery – and it’s all done in the style of snap-pace comedy. There are shades of Fawlty Towers, The Black Adder, The Office, and likely a good number of other Brit-coms I’m not familiar with, all while being completely original. From the concept and plotting by series creator David K. Barnes, direction from Andrew Goddard and John Wakefield (whoever heard of podcast directors before?) and spot on acting by a great voice cast – including leads Felix Trench, Beth Eyre, Ciara Boxendale, Tom Crowley, and Belinda Lang (who voices Madeleine, the show’s narrator, who happens to be a mouse) – the show entices one into binge-listening through the premiere season.
I Burn Everything - Noël Wells
Kaitlynn: I Burn Everything is a relationship and food podcast. The premiere episode has co-hosts Stevie Nelson and Dave Horowitz begin the show with only an introduction of their names and where they are sitting. I paused the ep right there and googled the hosts. My nosiness into people’s lives may have got the best of me as I realized afterwards how refreshing it really is to begin a podcast at the beginning with no clue whatsoever. Description? Not needed. Host bios? Unnecessary. You have the name of the podcast and the adorable heart in toast logo, that’s all most listeners need. Stevie and Dave welcome guest Noël Wells and go deep into first date chat. It quickly turns into proper naming of STD vs. STI. The conversation flows between the trio that has laughs and deep discussion mixed throughout. How do you approach dating someone to be friends? Should you order food that reflects your personality or eat what you want? How much does food really play into relationships? Listen for the answers and before you know it, the hour has concluded with the “best” way to end a relationship/podcast—ghosting…and just like that it was done.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Ronna and Beverly - Joel Stein
WTF - Adam Resnick
Fempire - Ali Fedotowsky
Comedy Bang Bang: The Oh, Hello Show
Bitch Sesh - Ciao Tuscany!
Allegedly - Dennis Quaid
Bodega Boys - AirBNB the Pussy
You Made It Weird - Jacqueline Novak
Human Conversation - Vanity Plate Trim
Lady to Lady - Blowing Raspberries ft. Emmy Blotnick
Nerdist Writers Panel - Dead Pilot’s Society Backdoor Pilot
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!
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.
Kaitlynn E-A Smith is a writer/creator and (somehow) MA fashion grad, born and living in Toronto.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.