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.
Handsome Rambler - It’s Never Too Late For Now
Kathryn: What kind of out-of-touch, Luddite dadbod would start a podcast now, in October of 2016? Is it possible that a comedian who missed the first, second and fifth wave of podcasting is actually worth listening to at this point? It’s Hannibal Buress, of 30 Rock and Broad City and The Eric Andre Show and everything else you love, and yes. It’s presumably taken so long because Hannibal is always on the road, working or writing – he’s a successful guy. Or maybe he just really wanted to make sure this podcasting game wasn’t a fad. Either way, it’s never too late for “It’s Never Too Late For Now,” the 30 Rock reference title of the first ep of Handsome Rambler. Rambler follows Hannibal on the road – this week he’s between Richmond, Baltimore and D.C. – and the real rambling happens in his conversation with his DJ and sidekick Tony Trimm. Sometimes they’re rambling near sirens which are indeed diegetic. Sometimes they muse on confrontation stemming from loneliness, or virility as the soul of manhood. Sometimes they wonder why Baltimore isn’t ready for Tony Robbins jokes. The highlight comes at the end when Hannibal and Tony answer a fan letter on a bonkers sperm-based issue and treat it with unexpected gravitas. We all love Hannibal, but Tony is a great foil and may be the key to why the show will, hopefully, work. [iTunes]
The Great Debates - The Human Body Is Disgusting w/ Megan Amram
Pablo: After 3 excruciating presidential debates that made peeling off my fingernails while floating in the Dead Sea seem appealing, I’m glad that The Great Debates exists to remind me why America fell in with the contentious argumentative format in 1858. For the first debate, guest Megan Amram takes the pro side of “The Human Body Is Disgusting” against Steve Hely. Pointing out that the body is hacky and rotting from the moment you’re born, she wins handily with her argument that no matter if you’re the darkest of black or the palest of white, all human bodies are shades of shit brown. But in the second debate, she draws the difficult task of having to argue the pro of “The Hamburglar Is One of the Three Best Things About McDonalds.” While she wins points on calling the burger robber the prototype for all 21st century TV antiheroes, Dave King easily wins in 10 seconds by listing the cheeseburgers, fries, the Big Mac, the convenience, and the nostalgia. He didn’t even have to mention the employees who don’t care if you use their bathrooms without paying to win the debate in a landslide victory. [iTunes]
Two Beers In - A Tipsy Political Round Table
Elizabeth: UCB’s resident political analysts Cody Lindquist and Charlie Todd sit down to tackle the latest news in this dumpster fire of an election with The Nation’s Joan Walsh, The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic, and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’s Ashley Nicole Black on this week’s Two Beers In. Given their varied outlets, the talk quickly turns to the role of the traditional media and shows like The Daily Show and Full Frontal, particularly in terms of fact-checking and calling Trump out on boldfaced lies. Joan recounts interviewing Tim Kaine and debating Trump surrogates on cable news, which actually made her miss Pat Buchanan. They also debate the tough questions on everyone’s mind. What could Wikileaks release that would make you not vote for Hillary? (Nothing.) Has Hillary been trying to get into the White House so she can fuck a 22 year old in the Oval Office? (Hope so.) Who are the hot ones to watch in a the next election? (Cory Booker or a spry Elizabeth Warren.) And will Republicans learn a lesson from this election? (Probably not.) [iTunes]
Noah: It was like clockwork: Tom Scharpling, whose Best Show revival was revitalized last year with the enforcement of #NODUDEVEMBER, spent the first half of the show claiming that they didn’t need a ban this year. The men just weren’t as much of a problem as they were in 2015. Then a barrage of dudes hit the lines to step on Tom’s bits, fumble through the “Blowhard 100” topic, and change the tune of next month. And this week’s Jon Wurster call as Russ from West Newbridge, a sleazeball who spent his wedding night last weekend with famed third Sheila Larson, fits in – through serendipity or Scharpling’s master plan – as a scathing pre-planned critique of the type of man that November will lock out. Specificity is the spice of this week’s show, with Russ’s call directly referencing Tom’s story about his weekend trip to the Pacific Northwest for a friend’s wedding (which, by the way, is one of his best told travel stories) and a truly reverent mockery of longtime puppet caller Wally Wackiman in the form of an improvised, gritty detective drama that leaves AP Mike and in-studio guest Fred from Honolulu bloodied and dead from Wackiman’s hands. Maybe, after all, those dudes wound Scharpling up just perfectly. [iTunes]
Channel 33 - ‘Atlanta’ Talk with Brian Tyree Henry & Micah Peters
Mark: If you’ve been watching new internet darling Atlanta on FX, you’re familiar with the show’s Vinnie Chase, Paper Boi AKA Alfred. While I can’t condone listening to an interview with the actor who plays Vinnie Chase (you know who you are), this interview with Brian Tyree Henry is pretty fun. You might recognize the Yale School of Drama grad from small roles on HBO’s Vice Principals or Boardwalk Empire, but most notably he was part of the original cast of The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Who knew that his role,“General Butt-Fucking Naked,” was based off a real-life naked warlord-turned-missionary that Matt Stone and Trey Parker probably owe a fruit basket to. Host Micah Peters takes listeners deep into Paper Boi lore, the cast and crew’s family dynamic, and the on-set collaboration between brothers Steven and Donald Glover. Channel 33, The Ringer’s miscellaneous podcast feed, has some gems and this episode is one of them, especially for Atlanta fans. [iTunes]
Fresh Air - Chris Gethard on ‘Career Suicide’
Leigh: “I don’t usually start with suicide in an interview. I usually work my way up to that.” And so Fresh Air host Terry Gross jumps right into the heaviest, darkest stuff right at the top of the show with Chris Gethard, who’s there to promote his new off-Broadway show Career Suicide. Fans already know Gethard as someone who has become sort of a hero to people who feel like outsiders. So it should come as no surprise to hear that once he started talking about talking about all dark and heavy stuff on stage (after some encouragement from Mike Birbiglia), people would wait for him after shows to tell him they could relate. All this became what is now Career Suicide. Gross and Gethard also talk about the stigma of suicide, the damages caused by keeping mental illness hidden, panic attacks, insecurities, and why we need to get rid of the idea of a romanticized sad clown. Sure that sounds like it could make for a terrifying and dark conversation, but if there’s anyone you can trust to navigate you through the terrifying and dark stuff and make it feel uplifting and encouraging, it’s Chris Gethard and Terry Gross. [iTunes]
25 Minutes Of Silence - Zoltan Istvan
Marc: Pretty much everything on the resume of Joey Clift, the host of 25 Minutes of Silence, seems to be based in comedy, which leads one to believe that his podcast is intended to be as well. He’s a TV writer with creds in such things as Tosh.0, Funny Or Die, and UCB Comedy and he’s putting in time now as senior staff writer for comedy website Sarcasm Society. And while the concept of a podcast that has a host with a guest and literally showcases 25 minutes of silence might bring a smile to your face, at eight episodes in, this show qualifies more as performance art than anything else. It’s the sort of show that Andy Kaufman might have cooked up if he were still around. To the point that it’s found a home on iTunes in the “Religion & Spirituality” section amongst podcasts. Where it has garnered three reviews so far, all five stars. “Weird in a great way!” enthuses Gina I. in the latest review. The most recent installment has Clift sharing the sounds of silence with journalist and entrepreneur Zoltan Istvan, who is facing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the Presidential race, where he’s running on the Transhumanist Party ticket. After a brief introduction, the two hang out without speaking for exactly 25 minutes. It’s the silence of not talking, by the way, not completely soundlessness, which is where some of the comedy peeks through the Zen of it all: Trying to figure out what all of the odd little noises might be. At one point Istvan speaks a few words off-mike to a child playing with a talking toy. The show wraps up with Istvan explaining how he was mostly working on an article during the silence, a few plugs for upcoming appearances, a signoff from Clift and then — appropriately enough — the silence of a podcast being over. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
You Made It Weird - Norman Lear & Judd Apatow
Hollywood Handbook - Adam Pally, Our Bumper Recorder
Terribly Funny with Steve Basilone - Opus Moreschi
Sorry I’ve Been So Busy - Todd Barry
I’m Still Right - Little Rookie of the Year
Not Safe Podcast with Nikki Glaser - Chasing the Kids Around
Truth and Iliza - Margaret Cho
Kill Me Now with Judy Gold - Mateo Lane
Jordan, Jesse Go! - Hulk Hoagie: Jonathan Ames
High & Mighty - Horror Movies with Curtis Gwinn
The Manwhore Podcast - Sarah Hartshorne
Marty and Sarah Love Wrestling - Podcast At Night: Buddies Delight
I Was There Too - The Empire Strikes Back with Clive Revill
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
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.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.