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 one 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.
Call Chelsea Peretti - CESSPOD
It was a huge week for America as Chelsea Peretti made her triumphant (reluctant?) return to the pod waves. Call Chelsea Peretti, which originally aired regularly from 2012 to 2015 with sporadic episodes popping up here and there in 2016 and 2017, was once a juggernaut of podcast universe. It not only had its own app (which we hear a sort-of update about on this episode) featuring the soundboard Peretti used on the show and photo filters like “Mauled by a Bear,” it also spawned one of the funniest, most creative, least toxic online-listener communities that seems like something from a bygone era. And so, at a time when it feels like we need it most, the beloved call-in show is back. Peretti is joined by music producer Kool Kojak, who longtime listeners will remember as her collaborator on hits such as “Wolf Blitzer,” “I Drive a Mercedes,” and of course, “Coffee Crankin’.” But to get down to brass tacks, the real reason they’re back is to discuss an upcoming album, one she’s been teasing on Twitter for a while now. Technical issues aside, the show picks back up like it hasn’t missed a beat, with callers doing their best to bring something to the table, asking only yes-or-no questions about the album, as instructed. There are even a few rounds of the CCP classic food test. In between the show’s signature rapid-fire hang-ups are sweet, heartfelt discussions about kids and motherhood, making it clear that while Peretti herself is in a different place than when the show started, listeners have also grown and changed. While it’s not clear how many new episodes there will be, with the album being released “somewhere between 2020 and 2028,” Peretti proves once again why she is undoubtedly One of the Greats. —Leigh Cesiro
The Gino Lombardo Show - No Glove, No Love
Earwolf’s longest-running intern finally got a job offer. Following in the footsteps of Comedy Bang! Bang! greats Marissa Wompler, Bob Ducca, and all of Andy Daly’s suicidal “friends,” Gino Lombardo has spun off into his own Stitcher premium show. “Broadcasting from the heart of Long Island,” The Gino Lombardo show is a terrestrial radio parody complete with aggressive drops, call-ins, and local commercials. Episode two features everything Comedy Bang! Bang! fans have come to know and love about the overbearing and underweight Long Islander: obsessing over weightlifters, bullying callers, and one of the most disgusting things you will ever hear involving a chemistry lab pipette. CBB regulars Ben Rodgers, Don Fanelli, Edgar Momplaisir, Betsy Sodaro, Drew Tarver, and Carl Tart all appear in various segments, which include an awe-inspiringly “Lawn Guyland” conversation with Fanelli as deli artist Sal Scallopini. Who would have thought a Long Island drivetime radio hour would have such universal appeal? In fact, Lombardo’s only real competition is Nassau County’s own Jon Gabrus, of the High & Mighty podcast. —Mark Kramer
14 Days With Felicity - Day 1: Growth
From the brilliant minds of Christina Friel and Connor Wright (Gay Future) comes 14 Days With Felicity, a podcast that promises to be “equally as insane” as its predecessor. More specifically, it’s a satirical take on actor Felicity Huffman’s arrest for her role in the 2019 nationwide college entrance exam cheating scandal. The name refers to her sentence, which includes 14 days in jail, a $30,000 fine, and 250 hours of community service. Though she only ended up serving 12 days, the limited series is set to release episodes daily for two weeks. In the first, we encounter Huffman (played by Heléne Yorke) behind bars with a cellphone she snuck in that she uses to connect with friends, family (Jordan Klepper plays Huffman’s equally famous husband, William H. Macy), former rivals, and more. The “more” is played by remaining cast members Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri, Josh Sharp, and Aaron Jackson, and includes her overzealous manager and an agent — “We can send you scripts! Auditions! You can do self-tapes. How’s the lighting in jail?” — who help her land a memoir deal. The script might seem absolutely absurd if it weren’t for the surreal shenanigans of the Hollywood elite tending to exemplify this exact sort of bizarre behavior. Join the fictionalized Huffman on her “journey of personal growth,” which, true to life, sees her missing the point entirely. Up next, 20 to Life With Lori? — Becca James
Beyond - Hometown Haunting (Pt. 2)
Carol, babe — it’s Halloween! You better believe that means comedian and “good eng” expert Mike Kelton’s Beyond is back with another multi-part haunting. Like last year’s “The Haunting at Cure Thrift Shop” (Parts One, Two, and Three), this ghost tale is 100 percent real and 100 percent local (certified-organic spook!). Kelton and his magical medium friend, Asa Hoffman, bust some ghosts in what sounds like objectively the spookiest, witchiest town this side of the Mississippi: Stratford, Connecticut. As Kelton says himself, “starting with Part Two of a podcast is psycho,” so please go listen to Part One first. For those of you too busy doing the “Monster Mash,” though, Kelton does give a quick rundown of his friend and fellow comedian Rosie’s graveyard smash — I mean, haunt. Then, we jump right into the car heading from New York City to Freddy Krueger’s grave to Boothe Memorial Park. Join Kelton, Hoffman, Producer Tracey, and the two friends who experienced this haunting over twenty years ago as they leave their rational minds and “P that V” (penetrate the veil). Prepare yourself for creepy surprises from coincidental gravestones to major energetic shifts. Carol, honey, grab your wine because it’s about to get real! —Anna Marr
Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend - Zach Galifianakis
On Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend this week, Zach Galifianakis looks back on his regular stand-up and guest appearances on Conan’s show and on Conan’s equally auspicious appearance on Between Two Ferns to coincide roughly with the release of the BTF movie on Netflix. These two guys have been interviewing celebrities in opposite ways for years now, so there’s lots of craft to dissect, which of course they do not do. Instead they talk getting roasted while dressed as Little Orphan Annie, dissing Barack Obama to his face, and describe each other’s bodies (guess which one is the “fifth grader who swallowed a penguin” and which one is the “junk tree”). On a serious note, they do connect over something else they truly have in common: growing up with supportive families. Plus, they offer some great holiday tips for clay hunting in the wilderness and E.B. White’s famous recipe for ass-blowin’ chili. —Kate Doyle
WTF - Edward Norton
While Edward Norton’s appearance this week on WTF wouldn’t rank as being strictly comedic, his forthright sit-down with host Marc Maron is amazingly frank and revealing. He’s got no qualms when it comes to talking about what’s good and bad about movies, whether the industry at large or his own work. He works — and has worked — with some greats, and he shares his perspective on what people like Marlon Brando and David Bowie were like behind their public personas. “I knew David Bowie a bit,” says Norton, “And he would sit with you just as David Jones [Bowie’s real name], the guy who does the work and retreats to a place where he was very healthy.” That seems to be a theme behind a lot of the actor’s motivation: Can he retain a sense of true self as opposed to being swept up in the glitz and glamour of show business, and falling prey to the “bitch-goddess of fame” (says Norton, quoting Tennessee Williams). He also deflates the rumor of tensions that fans of Marvel’s Hulk character believe must exist between himself and Mark Ruffalo since they both have played the iconic role. It turns out that the two actors are good friends and Norton, though happy to have “Hulked out” in the one film he starred in, had no desire to keep being the green guy in favor of other fascinating characters and endeavors that have called to him. His latest focus has been writing, directing, and starring in the noirish mystery Motherless Brooklyn, in which he plays a detective with Tourette’s opposite Alec Baldwin. When he talks about the project, it’s plain to hear the intensity for which Norton is renowned. As far as comedy goes, he admits to having a soft spot for Death to Smoochy (2002), a quirky film in which he plays a kiddie TV-show host competing with another, played by Robin Williams. He laughs to Maron: “I will always sign anything for someone who wants to talk about Smoochy.” —Marc Hershon
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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