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.
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus - Generations
Pablo: No matter the medium, Scott Aukerman is usually stuck playing the straight man to a revolving door of maniacs and creeps that populate the Comedy Bang! Bang! universe. But on the rare occasion he gets a chance to play someone else, he goes absolutely fucking insane. On the latest With Special Guest, Aukerman plays Buttercup, a 15 year old homophobic lesbian with alopecia who lives with her grandma (Paul F. Tompkins) and has a troubled relationship with her adoptive father, a Sasquatch (Lauren Lapkus). Buttercup’s interests include slutshaming her grandma, recasting Blue Jasmine, and impersonating Marc Maron interviewing bullfrogs. Needless to say, if your ASMR fetish is Paul F. Tompkins trying to hold his laughter off mic, you’re gonna cum a bunch. “Generations” is one of the best episodes of WSG’s two-year run and a fine way to begin its hiatus as Lapkus announces at the top of the show that she’s taking a three month break to star in Will Ferrell’s Sherlock Holmes adaptation. [iTunes]
Do Listen Twice - 10 Episode Mini-Series
Marc: Once upon a time, comedian Mike Birbiglia started getting invited to appear on This American Life by host Ira Glass to spin his true-life stories. By turns they tended to be mostly funny, but they were also laced with poignancy and pathos. Birbiglia then wrote a movie called Don’t Think Twice about the ups and downs and ins and outs of an improv group, which he ended up co-producing with Glass. The film did well in theaters this past year and now, in conjunction with its release on iTunes, Glass and Birbiglia have pulled together a collection of “Birbigs’” telling some of his most memorable stories from This American Life and have released them in a podcast mini-series of sorts called Do Listen Twice. The collection includes Episode 1, “Error at First Base,” in which Birbiglia recounts his early makeout days, and Episode 6, “Stranger in the Night,” Birbiglia’s very first appearance when he tells the real story of sleepwalking through a second story window. Each installment is fairly short — 10-20 minutes — with the exception of Episode 10 that Birbiglia calls “Christmas on a High Wire.” It features a number of SNL players along with Birbiglia onstage at The Bell House in Brooklyn, bringing the magic of Christmas improv to a live audience. It’s a great binge. [iTunes]
Another Round - Burn
Noah: Comedy mostly stood still in the week after a minority of Americans elected Donald Trump for President, replaced in the same spaces by overdue conversations about the state of intersectionality in America. Heben Nigatu and Another Round’s International Thirst Correspondent Bim Adewunmi were, unsurprisingly, a part of that necessary tone shift. At the same time, their self care for the time took on the form of a lot of healing laughter in between the deserved fuck yous to white people and to journalists who normalized the campaign’s most sinister (“bad dog!”) crevices. Like when the British Bim talks about her holiday stopover in Mobile, Alabama – or Wherever – it sounds like the first time Heben is laughing in a week. Or when Bim and Heben admit to the retail therapy and smutty fan fiction that they indulged in rather than trawling Tinder in the late night hours after Florida was called for Trump. And, of course, just beneath the chuckling, there’s open reflection about the certain lack of surprise that many marginalized groups have touched on in the week and Another Round leaves you, as it does, at a hell of a place to start getting woke. [iTunes]
Ronna & Beverly - Bonus Episode
Leigh: As we continue to plow through the garbage fire that is 2016, it’s getting harder and harder to distract ourselves from said garbage fire. Luckily, Ronna and Beverly stepped in right when we needed them most and dropped a bonus episode this week to remind us that not everything is terrible. Most things, but not everything. They’re joined by Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ writer Matt McConkey and start by helping listeners make sense of all their feelings after the election and start building a path forward. But not before hearing the story of why Beverly, notoriously undecided voter (to quote her directly, “I am Ken Bone. I am Sparticus”), didn’t vote. I know the reaction you may have to reading that but boy, what a story! I think we as a country may have to let that one slide. Longtime listeners will probably note the parallels between this story and the details of her 9/11 story. As expected, they’ve also got plenty of hilarious insights on everything, like what community is likely going to embrace Tiffany Trump. [iTunes]
Monster Party - Against Stan Against Evil!
Marc: Normally, the four self-professed horror movie nerds behind Monster Party (James Gonis, Shawn Sheridan, Larry Strothe, and Matt Weinhold) delve deep into one specific sub-drama or another around horror/monster/sci-fi films — vampires, zombies, guilty pleasure movies — but this week’s installment is a little different and VERY specific. They’ve invited friend-of-the-show Dana Gould, standup comedian and a former writer on The Simpsons (arguably during “the good years”), along with Susan Burke, actress/writer (Vamp’d, X Play, Southbound), Gould’s co-writer and co-creator of the new IFC TV show Stan Against Evil. And they go deep into elements of the show, from the choice to do physical effects instead of digital (“They look more fake but they feel more real,” Gould relates) to why there are so few people wandering around the fictional New Hampshire town of Willard’s Mill (“Extras cost money!”). There are no real spoilers but, for fans of the series, you may learn a few things about the backstories of main characters Stan and Evie (John C. McGinley and Janet Varney, respectively). As the booze flows, the chat ranges far afield, leaving the TV show to focus on things such as musing about a movie pitting slow zombies against fast zombies, and a riff on Judy Garland. That’s right, Judy Garland. [iTunes]
Roundball Rock - Raymond Felton is the Lena Dunham of the NBA
Mark: As the Roundball Rock (too soon to say posse) hosts astutely point out, since election day the only major sports league to collectively condemn our new president-elect is the NBA. Our one socially responsible league is chock full of comedically responsible podcasts like Cookies of last week’s roundup and The Starters, but Roundball Rock stood out this week with A+ election jokes told through parquet-covered glasses. Schilling, Divine and Keane break out of a somber haze to start the show by lauding woke NBA coaches like Steve Kerr, “my president” Greg Popovich, and fan of building other kinds of walls Stan Van Gundy. They proceed to guess which players probably voted for Donald Trump with prepared jokes, in a segment that serves as a reminder why we need Sports Show with Norm Macdonald in our lives now more than ever. Even more impressive than the Shaq impression is Schilling’s encyclopedic knowledge of Ghostbusters (Answer the Call), which includes the rare ability to recite all four new Ghostbusters’ names’ by memory. Casual and hardcore NBA fans alike can enjoy the episode - these guys find joy in every aspect of the basketball universe and it shows. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
You Made It Weird - Louie Anderson
2 Dope Queens - Trying To Work Through The Feels
Doughboys - Wood Ranch with Esther Povitsky
Truth & Iliza - Alison Rosen
Chapo Trap House - We Live in the Zone Now
Any Time with Vin Forte - Daniel Kibblesmith
Who Charted? - Colt Cabana
Tuesdays With Stories - Barnacle Bummer
Pop My Culture - Brian Huskey
This Is Why You’re Single - It’s Not Just About You
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.