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.
How To Be Amazing - Margaret Cho
Marc: Margaret Cho is not just a comedian not afraid to speak her mind and to use her act to address uncomfortable issues, but she’s also a social activist. She came up as part of the comedy boom of the 1980s, starting in the clubs in San Francisco, which is where host Michael Ian Black starts things off in his chat with Cho in the latest installment of How To Be Amazing. They talk about their connection — Cho was part of the lineup for the live Stella show that Black helped to put together in New York — but a lot of the episode has the host tracing his guest’s comedy development through the past few decades since starting out. As her material and style changed to become more focused on current events and issues of the times, Cho talks about her own personal development through those times as well, and we glean more insight into the life of this strong, vocal performer. The children of Korean parents who arrived in the United Stated in the mid-’60s, Cho talks about grappling with dimensions of her identity, both from a racial standpoint — “I have never really felt like I’m Korean” — and from a sexual standpoint —“I’ve done pretty much everything over the years but I’m kind of settling down now.” There are surprises along the way, too, like when Cho reveals what a nervous wreck one of her mentors, Joan Rivers, was before going on stage, even years into her career. Black’s a good interviewer, popping in some of his trademark sardonic humor from time to time, but always giving his guest center stage. [Apple Podcasts]
Raised by TV - Sitcom Draft (Live From Now Hear This)
Leigh: Raised by TV continues to prove how excited people of a certain age will get when talking about the TV they grew up watching. Case in point: this week’s episode was recorded live at the Now Hear This Podcast Festival before Raised by TV even started airing and there was already a crowd of people on board with the concept. Play them a theme song, mention Kelly Kapowski, remind them about Mario Paint and you’ll see people are not only on board with ‘90s TV nostalgia, but they’ll go pretty nuts for it. For this live recording, hosts Lauren Lapkus and Jon Gabrus do a fantasy sitcom family draft. As someone who doesn’t know or care about sports, I have to imagine this is the most fun any sort of fantasy draft could possibly be. Lapkus and Gabrus go back and forth picking their ideal TV moms, dads, siblings, best friends, pets, and neighbors. I don’t want to spoil any of the picks, because they’re great and fun and surprising, but I will say that Porkchop from Doug makes an appearance.They’re later joined by Paul Scheer for the “Very Special Episode” segment where they read a scene from, you guessed it, a very special episode of a sitcom. All in all, it’s a very special podcast. [Apple Podcasts]
Mark: Listeners rejoice every time Earwolf shines that giant peace symbol in the sky to summon John Lennon, and for good reason. The Fab Four dominate this week’s improv4humans as Matt Besser is joined by Lennon (Mike Hanford), famed Rolling Stone music critic David Fricke (Horatio Sanz), and Screw It, We’re Just Gonna Talk About the Beatles’ Will Hines and Brett Morris. In a continuation of a discussion from Hines’ podcast, Besser says “Screw It, We’re Just Gonna Talk About How Twist and Shout Is the Worst Beatles Song.” Hines alone is coaxed into defending one of the most popular songs of all time. It’s shockingly challenging, thanks to the rest of the panel bending over backwards to come up with reasons why the globally-beloved song is bad. It’s plays out like the inverse of U Talkin’ U2 To Me?. Sanz masterfully launches into an improvised Rolling Stone article about Helter Skelter that will make you question whether this whole spin-off is even a bit. This “debate” will no doubt cause you twist and shout at your earbuds. [Apple Podcasts]
The Adventures of Danny & Mike - Live from Union Hall w/ Griffin Newman
Elizabeth: Danny Tamberelli and Michael Maronna celebrate the holidays with the scent of pine and guest Griffin Newman at Brooklyn’s Union Hall in the latest episode of The Adventures of Danny & Mike. They kick off the show with clips of their childhood work, including a scene from The Baby-Sitters Club VHS series, which includes Danny’s first kiss. They dive into the differences in the theatrical and video universes of The Baby-Sitters Club, and Griffin takes the opportunity to rail against the different timelines in the three Madagascar franchises. Mike reveals that his college girlfriend was Griffin’s sister’s babysitter, which leads to a comparison between the picture that Mike took with Bill Clinton and Griffin’s father’s autographed photo with Bill Clinton. Griffin also explains his dad’s crusade against the Clintons after making the 1987 move End of the Line in Arkansas and reveals that both Clintons confuse Bob Balaban with Rick Moranis. Wait until Fox News gets ahold of that opposition research. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
How Did This Get Made? - The Disaster Artist (w/ James Franco, Seth Rogen, Tommy Wiseau)
Puppet Hunt - Episode 6
Doughboys Double - It’s a Cookbook! With Kelly Nugent and Lindsay Katai
Glowing Up - Live from Credo Beauty with Kate Berlant
High and Mighty - Unemployment w/ Chase Mitchell
The Unwritable Rant - A death plague, failed pee tests, and a Jackass Christmas
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.