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.
Bullseye - Fran Lebowitz
What an absolute treat to hear Julie Klausner step in as Bullseye guest host this week and interview the iconic Fran Lebowitz, the subject of the new Netflix series Pretend It’s a City. The series, which was filmed before the pandemic, leaves us yearning to know what Lebowitz thinks about COVID, quarantine, and their effects on New York City. Listeners are in capable hands with Klausner, getting Lebowtiz’s takes on all the big things that have happened in the time since filming the Netflix series ended. In fact, she’s even got a story about an evening she spent with Dr. Fauci in the ‘80s, because of course she does. Whether it’s the concept of forgiveness, what makes a good writer, how marginalization contributes to art, or even outdoor dining or just the bus, it’s clear Lebowitz is extremely good at talking and even better at having opinions. So good, in fact, she should have a podcast of her own, something I’m positive she has absolutely no interest in doing. —Leigh Cesiro
WTF - George Wallace
If you’ve ever seen comedian George Wallace work, live or on TV, you know what a towering slab of pure comedy he really is. Imagine all of that churning comedic wit self-quarantined in an Atlanta condo since last March, and you’ll have some idea of what Marc Maron gets to play with this week on WTF. Never at a loss for words, Wallace nonetheless starts off with, “I hope you have some questions because I have no idea what to talk about.” He’s got an amazing, eclectic background: From computer engineer in Ohio to a “rag salesman” in New York City (when you’re clearing three grand a week selling rags in the early 1970s, you’ve gotta be doing something right), and finally an ad salesman, it was always to fuel his dream of becoming a stand-up. “I knew I wanted to do it since I was 6,” Wallace says. He auditioned to get onstage the same night as Jerry Seinfeld at Catch a Rising Star, and the two have been friends ever since. His stories of trading on his offstage skills to propel his onstage success are spellbinding, but even after more than four decades of performing comedy, Wallace can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so he can get right back to the stage. —Marc Hershon
Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People - I’m Narcoleptic and Collapsed During Sex
I won’t lie — the title made me nervous. I myself have narcolepsy, so I know that media depictions of it are misrepresentative at best, offensive at worst. But then I heard the intro and remembered: This is Chris Gethard. This week’s anonymous caller leads Gethard through one of the chillest, most patient, most fun conversations about narcolepsy I’ve heard. That’s thanks to the caller’s confidence and wit, obviously, but also to Gethard, whose signature non-judgmental curiosity is perfect for learning about an often-parodied (yet serious) disorder. I never thought I’d hear an explanation of the spoon theory or the sentence “We’ve gotta talk about Nuvigil” on a critically-acclaimed comedy podcast — details that listeners with invisible illnesses will appreciate. The charming caller introduces Gethard to cataplexy (what “Collapsed” in the title refers to), busts the myth that she can’t drive, and expresses doubts about pursuing comedy with cataplexy. (Gethard encourages her to try it and, in my expert opinion, he’s right.) Fatigued and anxious types alike will love Geth’s rant against “this ‘mind-over-matter’ thing” and lamentation over how they both “apologize to tables.” It’s a fascinating lesson in taking people with invisible struggles at their word. As our caller demands: “Stop judging sleepy people.” —Anna Marr
My Neighbors Are Dead - Jennifer’s Body with Mia Schauffler and Allie Jennings
My Neighbors Are Dead takes listeners on a funny and fully improvised journey as host Adam Peacock talks to the “lesser-known characters” of horror films. Past guests include Tony, a “skeptical tether” from Us; Ted and Sally, a young couple who celebrated at the Hårga in Midsommar; and Kim Milk, one of Pamela Voorhees’s peers from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Suffice to say, this podcast is consistently good, and the latest episode is no exception. In fact, it’s one of the strongest because of its focus on Jennifer’s Body, which lends itself to a thoughtful conversation about Hollywood’s disappointing relationship with women. Guests Mia Schauffler and Allie Jennings (P.S. I Love Rom-Coms) gush over the film’s subtle brilliance and its ability to garner cult-classic status despite the horribly horny marketing campaign surrounding its debut. Later, they assume the identities of indie-folk rockers Canoes With No Oars, the band that opened for Low Shoulder the night of the tragic events at Devil’s Kettle. It turns out, these soft-singing ladies don’t necessarily disagree with Low Shoulder’s decision to make a deal with the devil, musing, “Maybe if the deal is not that bad …” before plugging their upcoming release. —Becca James
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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