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.
Thought Spiral - Test Shows 1-3
Marc: Moving from being one of the busiest podcast guests into the hosting chair, comedian Andy Kindler officially kicked off Thought Spiral, co-hosting the comedy grab bag of a podcast with fellow comic and friend J. Elvis Weinstein. They’ve stealthily dropped the first two of their “test episodes” in the past couple of weeks, but now with the third episode it’s official, including an active email address and Twitter feed. Nothing fancy here, as Kindler and Weinstein set up in the latter’s house for recording purposes. Each episode’s rundown of topics thus far is pretty scattershot, with many of the topics eventually settling into an orbit around Kindler’s OCD and neuroses. Weinstein is the grounding factor here but seems very comfortable letting his co-host’s thoughts spiral amok for a bit before throwing him either a lifesaver or an anchor, depending on how things are going. Kindler makes no bones about the fact the pressure is on (at least in his own head) as opposed to his history of being the guest on a show and letting someone else drive. With no network and no sponsors to be beholden to, at least so far, both guys poke a lot of fun at the idea that anyone would even want to carry a show that has yet to really define what it’s about. The first two shows are wildly all over the place but by the third installment, Kindler mostly remembers where he was before a tangent sends him spinning into other topics. And Weinstein is settling into the role of riffing with his pod partner while trying to get him back to the topic at hand. They’re the verbal equivalent of a juggling team that is still trying to get into the rhythm of what to do when one of them keeps dropping balls. This is going to be fun. [Apple Podcasts]
Pablo: There’s generally three categories of WTF interviews: comedians, musicians, and actors. While the first is the reason we all started listening and the second tend to veer into fanboy territory due to Marc Maron interviewing his heroes instead of his peers, the third category is slowly becoming as fascinating as the first. Part of it, I think, is that Maron can now truly call himself an actor after four seasons of Maron. Starring in an eponymous TV show where you’re in every single scene is tough enough, but to pull it off with almost no acting experience is remarkable. And with in-depth interviews about the craft with people like Ian McKellen and this week’s guest Griffin Dunne, it’s clear how much respect he has for a profession that is often misunderstood. While Dunne is on to promote Jill Soloway’s new Amazon show I Love Dick, Marc and Griffin spend much of their hour on the process, from Dunne’s education at the Meisner Center as a young actor to his thoughts on why actors-turned-directors like himself feel uncomfortable talking to their fellow thespians on set. While most listeners know Dunne from his starring roles in the ‘80s cult classics An American Werewolf in London and After Hours, they will be surprised to find out his aunt by marriage is none other than the legendary writer Joan Didion. Dunne also gives rare insight to Marc about the highly publicized murder of his sister, actress Dominique Dunne, and the miscarriage of justice that followed. After her murderer was only given three years in prison, the Dunnes became victim’s rights activists to ensure bail/parole notifications were sent to families upon the release of convicted killers. [Apple Podcasts]
The Best Show - The Airing of Best Show Grievances!
Noah: Could this be the thrilling conclusion of the three-way feud between Tom Scharpling’s employees A.P. Mike, Jason “Dudio” Gore, and Pat Byrne? It seems unlikely, but Tom fills in the first Best Show of this Mountain Goats tour (and, thus, the first Wursterless episode) in a while with the easy idea to let the trio level anonymous complaints against one another with paper strips in Mike’s cowboy hat. Some are clearly in jest, like “A.P. Mike made us address him as ‘Mamacita’ in a Spanish restaurant recently, Pat refused, and Mike threw hot coffee in his face,” but they mix with more serious allegations like “Tom hates talking to us” to create the same kind of half-real tension that the show excels in. Tom opens with a rant on the new Sirius XM Beatles channel before opening the floor for a handful of worthwhile callers, who tee him up on topics like Hollywood Handbook at Vulture Fest, Sonic Youth, and the forthcoming Linkin Park/Blink-182 co-headlining tour. Julian in Los Angeles steals the show justifying a trip to a Panda Express Innovation Kitchen to try the orange chicken burrito, only for Tom to later learn it was in-studio guest and Roxy in Los Angeles’s boyfriend all along. [Apple Podcasts]
Who Charted? - Doughboy Special w/ Mike Mitchell & Nick Wiger
Mark: The constant state of dread we all live in may cloud the coming sunshine, but Summah is almost here. It’s nevah too early to start thinking about Summah gum, or Summah cuisine, which makes Doughboys pals Mitch and Wigah welcome guests on this unexpected podcast mash-up. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Who Charted? without extensive Jaws talk. The discussion leads to confirmation that given his way, Mitch would exterminate all sharks in the sea. Quite the radical idea, Adolphin Hitler. Mitch and Howard also butt heads over which coast has a better Summah, and both present surprisingly viable arguments. Does cold weather make you appreciate Summah more, or did the Summah of Sam taint the whole Eastern seaboard? If you think West Coast Summahs are best, tweet at these four using the hashtag #WestIsBest, and if you think East Coast Summahs are better, tweet #EastAintLeast. Stick around for Two Charted, where Ku-Ku and Wee-Wee get spiritual over some hot music charts. [Apple Podcasts]
The Bugle - Electile Dysfunction
Marc: Bugle host Andy Zaltzman is joined this week by fellow British comedian Nish Kumar and, while it’s one thing to review how US President Trump covered by the contentious American media, there’s nothing quite so entertaining than having his highlights and hijinks held up to the harsh light of rapid-fire and rapier-sharp English wit. Before turning to the subject of the Orange Menace, Zaltzman and Kumar (after some talk about cricket matches that I don’t pretend to understand) kick things off by batting around the upcoming British “snap election,” so-called as it’s happening earlier than planned in advance of encroaching Brexit maneuvers – or as Kumar puts it, “the British public faces the choice between a person they don’t really trust and a person they don’t really like.” And then, under the segment called “The Trumpet Section,” the two hosts knock over the Trump items like so many milk bottles in the booth on a carnival midway. “Trump has not brought an excess of dignity to the office of president,” Zaltzman delicately points out. The events that Zaltzman and Kumar rake through are all quite current and they, like so many, are astounded at the almost daily release of one revelation after another about everything from the Russian scandal to the firing of James Comey as head of the FBI. Somehow, there’s nothing more humbling about your own country when you hear the actions of its leader being distilled and scrutinized by smart, funny people from another land. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
You Made It Weird - Larry Wilmore
Views from the Vista - Alien: Covenant
Bertcast’s Podcast - Live from Bisbee, AZ – Doug Stanhope & Me
Handsome Rambler - The Sharkula Episode
Fresh Air - Aziz Ansari On ‘Master of None’
Beef and Dairy Network - 75th Anniversary Special
I’m Too Effing High - Sam Richardson, Mary Holland & Tim Baltz
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.