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 Champs - Champs Farewell/Questlove
Pablo: The Champs officially came to an end this week. Centered on the premise that hosts Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher would only interview black guests, they built an enormous archive of interviews with eventual household names like Trevor Noah, Hannibal Buress, and Jordan Peele, along with legendary rappers, alien-encountering NBA stars, and even the rare white person. For the first half of this farewell episode, The Champs (along with returning Champ DJ Douggpound, safe from Chris Rock telling him not to play his signature drops) reminisce and discuss the genesis of the podcast, their fear that the podcast would seem exploitative, how they all met, lost episodes, and how they somehow went five years without interviewing Dave Chappelle. Halfway through the episode, Questlove finally shows up after having trouble finding the studio. I have to admit, at first I wanted the trio to keep looking back on the history of the show, but Questlove’s second Champs appearance ends up as one of their best interviews. Even as the Tonight Show bandleader brings up his lifelong battle with anxiety and talks solemnly about befriending Amy Winehouse in her final years, the mood always stays positive. I hate the term “safe space,” but The Champs created an arena that is lacking in the media landscape: a place where black men could talk openly and honestly about their emotions. To use Moshe’s own words, some might have found the show “fetish-y,” but he is right that The Champs ultimately made the podcast world a little less white. [iTunes]
Pop My Culture - Maria Bamford
Elizabeth: Pop the champagne, because it’s the 200th episode of Pop My Culture. Cole and Vanessa celebrate with a nine-minute compilation of moments from the past six years of the show, which listeners are given permission to skip. The delightful Maria Bamford joins them for the rest of the episode to tackle the highs and lows of humanity. They chat about the danger of mob mentality, especially on the internet, give some hot takes on plants, and analyze airline hierarchies, from boarding order to cookie availability. Maria also talks about her new Netflix series with Mitch Hurwitz Lady Dynamite and meeting up with people from Twitter to practice her jokes one-on-one. And if you’re searching for something to fill the void in your life, Maria shares her favorite self-help books and offers a convincing argument for choosing pugs over drugs. [iTunes]
The Cracked Podcast - Why We Should Wait 5 Years To Award The Oscars
Marc: I remember Cracked magazine from when I was a kid – to me it was always that “other” Mad magazine that I never really got around to reading because the satire never seemed quite as sharp and they didn’t have Don Martin cartoons. (“Fap!”) But the spirit of Cracked made the leap from print to digital in 2005 thanks to Jack O’Brien and a comedy-savvy editorial team, which have been injecting pointed, wry, and silly humor into society’s funny bone via website, videos and, inevitably, a podcast. O’Brien recently hosted a live version of the weekly show aimed directly at the Oscars from the UCB Sunset theater in Los Angeles. Joining him in front of a sold-out house were staffers Dan O’Brien and Alex Schmidt, writer Liana Maeby, and actor Stanley Wong (The Big Short, 22 Jump Street). The team’s capping on the Academy Awards seems especially focused following this year’s yawn fest, and they joke about bringing more relevant categories to the contest such as Best and Worst Running Times (“Whether you hated or loved Mad Max, it was exactly two hours, which was the perfect running time!”) Other category ideas: Best Title, Best Accent, Best British Actor Playing An American (and vice versa), and Best Oscar-Bait That Didn’t Get Any Nominations – this year’s winner would have been Burnt, starring Bradley Cooper, according to the panel. They also discussed the prevalent issue of race, which weighed down so heavily on this year’s festivities, the overwhelming percentage of “old white guy” membership in the Academy, and a variety of other subjects. The only thing they couldn’t get around to solving was how to make the awards show less than three hours long. [iTunes]
Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend - Nikki Glaser
Leigh: I know the title of the show suggests you’ll find a new best friend in host Alison Rosen, but this episode will leave you wishing Nikki Glaser was your other new best friend. Maybe I’m biased because I’m loving her new Comedy Central show, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser. Or maybe it’s the way she can talk about things that may be embarrassing or uncomfortable or even gross in an incredibly relatable way. If you’ve listened to the show before, you’re familiar with the “Just me or everyone” round at the end of each episode (if not, you get the gist of it from the name alone). This episode felt like one long, comforting episode of “Just me or everyone” where no secret gross pleasure was off-limits. Like a video of a Japanese toenail fixing contraption, which you WILL find yourself googling. They also cover first kisses, nap shame, and the certain brand of smugness that comes with being a person who wakes up early. And don’t forget to look up that hangnail video. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
OMFG! - Casey Wilson Tech Sesh
Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane - Sexual Harassment in Improv
Grouch Inc. - Rev. Bob Levy
Shmanners - Travel: Boats and Planes
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.