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.
Late Night with Seth Meyers Podcast - Senator Al Franken
Elizabeth: Late Night with Seth Meyers is on hiatus this week, but the podcast carries on. No “Closer Looks” this episode, instead we get to hear Seth interviewing Senator Al Franken at Cooper Union earlier this month. Franken talks about his journey to the Senate, including his narrow 312-vote margin, and why he didn’t feel he could be funny during his first term. With the release of his new book, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, the gloves appear to have come off, comedically speaking. As Seth notes, Franken seems eager to tell all the stories and jokes he couldn’t do until he was re-elected, from a dig he really wanted to do at an employment discrimination hearing to his burns of Tom Coburn and Ted Cruz. They also talk about the good old days at SNL, including the origin of 30 Rock’s Fart Doctor bit, a late night spent with George Harrison, and his tribute to his late friend and writing partner Tom Davis. [Apple Podcasts]
Dumb People Town - Tig Notaro: Take It Down a Notch
Marc: Just a few weeks before kicking off the sophomore season of her Amazon show One Mississippi, Tig Notaro hitches a ride to Dumb People Down. She takes turns sniping at the antics of really dumb people in the news, along with show hosts Randy Sklar, Jason Sklar, and Daniel Van Kirk. Notaro also talks about the benefits of her newly vegan lifestyle (“I was finally free of chronic pain just four days in!”) and trying to raise a pair of 14-month-old twins. The stories Van Kirk reads out, submitted by listeners, are classic — ranging from a mom towing her toddlers behind her Ford Taurus in a plastic wagon and a man passing out free candy while naked, to a hefty couple who ended up in the emergency room after attempting to execute a move copied from the movie Dirty Dancing for their wedding. The latter taletelling results in the quartet breaking spontaneously into a rendition of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” which is always a sign that guest and hosts on a podcast are really clicking. [Apple Podcasts]
You Made It Weird - Timothy “Speed” Levitch
Pablo: Pete Holmes inviting a fellow notorious motormouth like Timothy “Speed” Levitch, he of the cult classic documentary The Cruise, sounds like the human version of the Large Hadron Collider. But perhaps realizing that his guest was going to run the show, this episode is not as manic as you might think. Levitch became infamous for his stream-of-conscious monologues about philosophy, metaphysics, the arts, history, life, death, and other heady topics while hosting what would normally be a staid NYC bus tour, so he’s the perfect guest for YMIW. He is, after all, the kind of guy who compares a traffic jam to a tantric orgy. Holmes and Speed touch on way too many topics to cover in one paragraph, but early in the episode Levitch has two great quotes, one complex and one very simple. The complex: He believes that we pass a fork in the road on every sidewalk in the city representing two types of consciousness, commuting and cruising. The simple: After a recent The Cruise screening at Pratt, Levitch’s advice to the art students was that the film was a guidebook on how to make a shitty job interesting. [Apple Podcasts]
Homophilia - Eliot Glazer
Kathryn: Jokes and observations are fun, but what we really want to know is this: Who are you fucking? The new podcast Homophilia cuts right to the chase, asking LGBT celebs to get into it without much foreplay. Sure, there’s some time up top for hosts Matt McConkey and Dave Holmes to muse in their gentle-voiced way on James Van Der Beek’s forearms and the thrills of playing Trivial Pursuit in Teri Polo’s garage. And on the second episode, Eliot Glazer (of the live cabaret Haunting Renditions) has room to riff on Freeform lesbian dramas, Maude’s abortion episode, and the drag queen Alaska’s encyclopedic knowledge of The Golden Girls. But there’s also time to have a painful discussion about the world’s most abrupt breakup, and to dissect the unexamined narcissism inherent in certain facets of gay culture, particularly online. It’s a satisfyingly voyeuristic show premise, and works particularly well with a guest like Glazer, who’s lived through some bafflingly hard times, romantically, and moved on to better things, with just enough distance to make the conversation feel charged but safe. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Don’t Get Me Started - The End
Why Am I Laughing - Why Is Conan O’Brien Funny?
Las Culturistas - Rae Sanni
Friends Without Benefits - Michael Ian Black
Lady to Lady - “My Favorite Stuff” ft. Karen Kilgariff
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.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.