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.
Oh, Hello: The P’dcast — Oliver!
George St. Geegland (John Mulaney) and Gil Faizon (Nick Kroll) are back. If you’re unfamiliar, George and Gil have roots in Kroll Show as well as a Broadway show that you can watch on Netflix. Crotchety New Yorkers with a penchant for tuna, the characters’ new “p’dcast” is billed as a look back “on the life and death of Princess Diana,” but also “on the life and loves of George St. Geegland (Oh, Hello on Broadway, TED Talk Submission) and Charmed I’m Sure Gil Faizon (Oh, Hello on Broadway, Nestle commercial web-only, can do French accent).” It obviously leans toward the latter, given that the duo has literally nothing to do with Di’s death. The second episode sees guest John Oliver do his best to answer the hosts’ questions in earnest, despite their bizarre queries and the intermittent and illogical sponsorship interruptions from the likes of Babe Ruth: “Look at any photo of Babe Ruth and you’ll probably think he was 40, and then you find out he was like 20. He always looked like a big, round apple pie.” When nothing in the world makes sense currently, why not tune in and let the absurdity carry you away? —Becca James
Best Friends With Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata — Sasheer Scrubs! With a Tool!
Having a hard time deciding if your heart wants a podcast recorded pre- or during quarantine? Strangely, and perfectly, this episode is both. Hosts and best friends Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata recorded the first half in-studio and the second remotely. The first half promises pure, joyful distraction: After some fabulous talk about ghosts and the 2015 erotic thriller The Boy Next Door, Byer and Zamata jump off the rails into a shocking exploration of bathing. What begins with an old Twitter hit (“Do you wash your legs in the shower?”) unravels into the revelation that everyone showers wildly differently — or, to Byer and Zamata, incorrectly. It even inspires the producers to find impromptu guests from around the studio to play everyone’s favorite game, “How Do You Bathe?” It’s time to rethink everything you thought you knew about how humans use washcloths and wash their butts. Plus, Zamata’s rant about using tools, not hands, to bathe is inspired. It’s a conversation around cleanliness filled with boisterous laughter instead of … whatever it is now. The episode’s second half addresses the virus and Tiger King, of course, and answers listener questions. Even with the obvious topic shift, it’s comforting to hear that their playful, curious, and positively likable rapport never changes. —Anna Marr
Armchair Expert — Ed Helms
It’s not like Dax Shepard hasn’t had amazing guests on his Armchair Expert podcast before, but as he muses after the most recent guest Ed Helms exits Zoom, the caliber of the guests has ratcheted up with the arrival of the coronavirus lockdown in many American states. On the other hand, when we find out that Shepard was palling around with Helms in Bangkok during the filming of The Hangover 2, it seems like he could have been an automatic “get.” Regardless, it’s a fun, listenable interview with the quietly funny (and self-admittedly reserved) Georgia native. He deftly brushes off the fact that he survived open-heart surgery at the age of 13, but takes great pains to explain his longtime love of the banjo. (“When kids hear a banjo,” says Helms, “they always — always — start dancing! It’s some incredibly primal thing that it hits in kids,” he says.) As he plunged into doing stand-up comedy and theater, he had his sights set on one of two paths: Saturday Night Live (“When I was a kid, Eddie Murphy was like a god to me”) and The Daily Show (“I watched it every night — I love it and I got it”). When he got the audition for the latter, the script he was given to read was one that he vividly remembered seeing Stephen Colbert deliver two years before. “So I did my very best Stephen Colbert and did it the way he had done it.” Nailed it. And Colbert became a good friend and sort of mentor until he left the show. Shortly afterward, Helms was tapped by The Office, and the rest is comedy history. —Marc Hershon
420 Day Fiancé — I Shall Name Him Barney
The No. 1 doctor-recommended way to survive quarantine is smoking pot and talking at great length about the show 90 Day Fiancé. Follow the recommendations, they exist for a reason! It’s not just hype — plenty of legit celebs are employing this strategy, like Casey Wilson and Iggy Azalea. Of course, this podcast is going to be really confusing if you don’t watch the show, but if you’re one of the millions who do, you’ll agree that hosts Sofiya Alexandra and Miles Gray say exactly what you want them to say, and listening to their takes will double your 90 Day time for the week just from a math point of view. This week they ruminate/fumigate over the episode “Stranger in a Strange Land.” At this point in the season we hate pretty much everyone on the show, from Stephanie to Big Ed, but 420 Day Fiancé can tell you specifically why and to what degree we hate them. Why not be mad about something different for a change, like these ungrateful Americans complaining about shit that doesn’t matter? Plus, you’ll learn important lessons about how much a pre-owned goat should cost. —Kathryn Doyle
Doug Loves Movies — Vanessa Gonzalez, Doug Mellard, and Josh Wolf
Another COVID-19 challenge asked and answered: How do you do a podcast that is normally done in front of a live audience in this time of shelter in place? A bit of a stumper for Doug Loves Movies, which is over 1,200 episodes in and always recorded live. It’s finally back this week after a monthlong break. Resorting to Zoom, host Doug Benson welcomes comedians Vanessa Gonzalez, Doug Mellard, and Josh Wolf to play his slate of movie-oriented games. With no live audience, no crazy altered movie posters, no prize bag (!), there’s a decidedly more subdued, rowdyless vibe to the proceedings. Although it takes a little while to get up to speed, Benson starts clicking and is soon back to being the laid-back yet snide ringmaster that DLM fans have come to love. His guests are definitely funny comedians, but their movie knowledge is scanty at best. One assumes that Benson, having now cracked the code on how to do his show under this new remote formula, will soon be reaching out to some of his more cine-savvy chums who, let’s face it, have nowhere else to go. —Marc Hershon
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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