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.
Beautiful/Anonymous - Ron Paul’s Baby Part 2
Pablo: For this site’s 2016 year-end recap, I chose Beautiful/Anonymous’ “Ron Paul’s Baby” as 2016’s best pilot episode for its life-affirming message and literal release of catharsis in its final moments. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of his podcast, Chris Gethard has brought back Ron Paul’s Baby to catch up on his year, but the ending will surprise you in who thanks who for changing their life. RPB gives Chris a quick recap: First, he decided to stop showing up at his soul-sucking job and cashed out his 401k for some much needed R&R. Then he started therapy and got back into improv, although he hasn’t yet tried out standup as Chris implored him to do. And now RPB is back at work, this time as a substitute teacher. While the work is exhausting, he’s begun dating again and it seems that his life has done a 180 since last March. But halfway through the conversation, Chris remarks on the awkwardness of their conversation and wonders out loud why he feels that way. It eventually becomes clear that Chris has something he needs to get off his chest: That his life is totally different because of his conversation with this man he’s never met. It was that episode that got Beautiful/Anonymous on This American Life and rocketed it up the podcast chart. It was that boom that got the long-struggling hero of niche comedy nerds a score of new fans who will never set foot inside the UCB. And it was that surge in popularity that caught the eye of Judd Apatow, who is bringing Chris’ off-Broadway show to HBO this May. But it was this podcast that got RPB a date with an ex-girlfriend who recognized his voice on This American Life. So maybe they’re even? Chris and RPB end the episode in the only way they can, with another cathartic scream-off and a promise to talk again next year. [iTunes]
That’s Deep Bro - When You’re An Imposter…Or Just Feel Like One
Marc: Funny folks in the podcasting world have staked out the mental health corner pretty heavily. Hosts like Paul Gilmartin (The Mental Illness Happy Hour), Joe Moe (The Hilarious World of Depression), and Alice Bradley (The League of Awkward Unicorns) talk about their own foibles and phobias, which tends to get listeners to write in to open a door to let us peek into their own dark places. Comedian Christina Pazsitzky has been at it a while, logging her 113th installment this week and focusing much of the show on a mental malady suffered by many – the feeling that you’re a phony, that you don’t belong and that, any second, you’re about to be found out. Her trigger for the subject is from a young college student, writing from a school which he clearly feels is above his station. Another topic she teases out into the light is comes from a listener’s note asking if he should seek professional help because of his situation: He moved to a new city expecting his girlfriend to follow him only to have her break up with him instead. And now he’s stuck except he’s lost 70 pounds, made some friends, and is doing okay. Pazsitzky’s timely advice, rather than her usual push to see a counselor, is simple: “Move!” The subjects are heavy and the host reins herself in to keep from being flip and treating the topics too lightly. (If you want to crank up her funny, catch Pazsitzky co-hosting Your Mom’s House with husband/comic Tom Segura.) [iTunes]
Marty & Sarah Love Wrestling - Get Down With The Ladies, Y’all
Noah: What better corner of the wrestling world to tackle International Women’s Day than Marty & Sarah Love Wrestling? The wrestling impressions and wrestling confessions are a treat this week as Sarah Shockey runs the gamut, playing an exceptionally wound Paige and returning to the sexually enticing fan favorite Helen, who celebrates the day by revealing ever more of the wrestlers she’s given her seal of approval to and intimating about a rival temptress we can only hope gets her own interview soon. Marty DeRosa’s impressions hit on the trifecta of men in Sarah’s life from her fellow Cutest Couple recipient The Big Guy (NB: check out a distilled clip of this week’s hilarious Improv, accompanied by Sarah’s half drawn drawin’s, here), to the ultimate gentleman Cesaro, to a surprise, off-season appearance by Santa Claus. The pair are still less than a year in to the show, but episodes like this showcase a revolving door of truly lovable characters, convening for skeezy get-togethers at Taster’s and just trying not to let the fuckbutts and shitkings steal their smiles. [iTunes]
WTF with Marc Maron - Kevin Nealon
Marc: I could have sworn this was a return to the garage for comedian Kevin Nealon this week on WTF but no, it’s his first time and no wonder. Host Marc Maron has been thinking, for who knows how many years, that Nealon’s been nursing a hate-on for him. When he brings up that fact with his guest, Nealon — master of the pregnant pause on par with the late, great Jack Benny — waits a beat or two before insisting he’s got no idea where Maron got the notion. As the time unwinds and Maron dips deep into Nealon’s history (from spending his formative years in Germany on up through SNL and beyond), the visiting comedian playfully swipes at his host’s interviewing style: “Gee, you could have been a police interrogator!” Though he’s always seemed a laid-back kind of guy, Nealon reveals that he’s only recently learned the power of saying “no” — to gigs he doesn’t want to do, travel he’s not interested in doing, and to other intrusive elements that “keep me from spending time from my wife and kid.” Nealon and Maron, though clearly not close buddies, nonetheless have that shared comedic fraternity and are able to connect closely on much during their chat, including the passing of fellow comic Garry Shandling, with whom Nealon had been particularly close. [iTunes]
Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig - Rachel Bloom
Elizabeth: Grace Helbig and Rachel Bloom get real on this week’s Not Too Deep, delving into bidets, Poo Pourri, Squatty Potties, and shapewear. They also break down awards show prep, and how it’s impossible to “get the look.” Rachel shares her internet strategy (which seems to be working because she’s been followed by Lena Dunham AND Cinnabon) and talks about her wedding, which featured a piñata in lieu of the traditional smashing of a glass. As always, the internet weighs in with questions and Rachel shares her Golden Globe workout routine (that’s working out with her Golden Globe, not for the Golden Globes) and talks about the pitch and songwriting process of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And what better way to end than Grace and Rachel revealing the things they’ve found in their cleavage (pennies, keys, etc.) [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Ronna & Beverly - Chris Kelly
Don’t Ever Change - Matt Ingebretson
The Drunken Peasants Podcast - Hitler Was A Woman!
How To Be A Person - Eric Castro - How To Make Good Drinks
H3 Podcast - Phillip DeFranco
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.