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 and 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.
Fantastic! With Dana Carvey — Episode One
No network. No suits. No one telling him what to do. “This is the only way I could have ever done this podcast,” Dana Carvey told me when I asked him what finally got him to host his own show after talking about doing it for years. And it’s a crazy, fun, mixed-bag collection of bits, riffs, and conversations in this week’s first installment. He’s got a co-host, Chris Rios, who has never been on mic before (she’s the woman who cuts his hair). He calls Larry “Bubbles” Brown, a comic from San Francisco who has been his opener for years, to talk about one-liners. And he talks to his younger sister, Lori, about some vacation adventures of growing up Carvey. But the bulk of the show is Carvey doing what he does best: freewheeling characters and impressions to express his take on everything from COVID-19 (in an argument between Dr. Fauci and Donald Trump) to blue-collar comedy as he tries on a new persona as Red Rednecky, the Redneck Comedian. It’s still a bit rough, with stray music and wild sound cues as his son Dex gets a handle on his role as executive producer. It’s all beautifully madcap as Carvey and his crew find their way, and I can’t wait to hear where he ends up next episode. —Marc Hershon
Add to Cart With Kulap Vilaysack and SuChin Pak — 2020: What to Keep, What to Leave
A show about “the things we buy and buy into,” Add to Cart sees hosts Kulap Vilaysack and SuChin Pak have weekly conversations where they take inventory of all the big and little things they’re adding or removing from their carts. Always honest and often hilarious, the discussions are a “subversive take on consumerism” that will leave listeners questioning their own habits. In this episode, the hosts take a look back at 2020 to determine what’s been worth investing in, whether that be monetarily or emotionally, and what was a total bust. From workouts to face shields, Vilaysack and Pak reminisce on the new customs they adopted during the pandemic before getting more in-depth to talk about mindfulness and mantras. The hosts’ reflections make for a hopeful episode that provides a helpful push into the new year. —Becca James
That’s Messed Up: An SVU Podcast — Babes
Comedians Kara Klenk and Liza Treyger consider themselves ametuer detectives. Their form of education? Multiple viewings of Law & Order: SVU. On their new podcast That’s Messed Up (named for Ice-T’s unofficial catchphrase on the show), the duo breaks down the most bonkers episodes, forgoing any kind of chronological coverage to instead highlight the greatest hits from the series’s 22-season run. After giving a joke-filled recap of the episode at hand, they dive deep into the true crime that inspired the episode and end things with an interview with an actor from it — in this particular episode, Treyger shares her own SVU audition story that, spoiler alert, did not go well. In the most recent episode of the podcast, the pair tackles the iconic pregnancy pact episode, “Babes,” featuring an interview with the actor who portrayed the leader of the pack, Jess Varley. Even though it’s a comedy podcast, Klenk and Treyger handle the more upsetting details of each case with respect, and offer up resources for anyone who may have experienced the same trauma’s depicted in the show, proving themselves to be Olivia Bensons in their own right. —Brianna Wellen
Stand by Your Band - Amy Grant with Alison Leiby
Join comedians Tom Thakkar and Tommy McNamara each week as they “talk about the bands that Pitchfork attacks and your friends make fun of.” In this episode, Alison Leiby (Ruined, the bodega tweet) defends the Queen of Christian Music, Amy Grant, best known for her 1991 hit “Baby Baby.” The song, from Heart in Motion, is part of Grant’s secular detour, which caused outrage among her Christian fans. Thakkar cites a Daily Press article from the time of the album’s release that begins with an accusatory, “Amy, what have you done?” The answer seems to be that Grant had wormed her way into Leiby’s life. “Ultimately, I’m a stupid person … and I didn’t know for years she was a Christian artist,” says Leiby before adding, “[Her songs] are kind of like very child-friendly pop songs, because Christians are children.” Tune in to join Leiby on her amusing journey of discovery, which Thakkar and McNamara pepper with lots of hilarious Grant trivia.—Becca James
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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