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.
Politically Re-Active With W. Kamau Bell & Hari Kondabolu - Donald Trump: White People’s O.J.?
Politically Re-Active invites listeners to join hosts W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu “as they pull the alarm on the dumpster fire that is American politics, and talk to the creators, thinkers, and leaders doing the work to defend and reinvent our democracy.” Longtime friends and comedians Bell and Kondabolu approach politics with a wit that produces both clever and cutting commentary. As the duo dives into recent events, this episode is no exception. Kondabolu riffs that January 6, 2020, was a “racist Coachella” after hearing that a Texas realtor took a private jet to the insurrection and attempted to use her participation in this illegal activity as an advertising opportunity. Later, CNN analyst and lawyer Asha Rangappa joins in to discuss Donald Trump’s “post-presidential legal liabilities.” This highly informative segment offers some hope that Trump will face the consequences of his crimes, at least at the state level. The episode wraps with venomous voicemails for Trump from listeners, and it’s majorly cathartic. Tune in to take the trip from silly to serious to satisfying. —Becca James
Why Won’t You Date Me? - Big Dick Energy w/ Conan O’Brien
Without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest news of the week is pretty obvious: Team Coco’s acquisition of Nicole Byer’s Why Won’t You Date Me? podcast. Following the announcement, it was no surprise that Byer’s first guest on her new network was none other than Conan O’Brien. With O’Brien leaning into his Irish-Catholic upbringing and Byer leaning into, well, herself, this comedic pairing proved to be a powerhouse of fun. In playing up his best Felix Unger traits, this episode hits full stride when O’Brien squirms his way through a gauntlet of uncomfortable topics. From Byer’s detailed description of how to best use a Theragun massager to O’Brien’s inquiry about “Big Dick Energy,” the two certainly learn a lot about each other in a short amount of time. With Byer partnering with Team Coco, I’m excited to see what the next chapter holds. In addition to his new role of colleague, I’m eager to see if O’Brien also becomes a matchmaker to Byer. At her request, she pleads with O’Brien to set her up with one of his brothers. I guess only time will tell how that plays out. Will we be listening to Nicole O’Brien soon? Stay tuned! —Tom Rainey
Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown - Gay, Sober and Fabulous with Leslie Jordan
Funny and smart, Mayim Bialik boasts a Ph.D. in neuroscience, and her array of skills (she does voice-overs, too) makes her uniquely qualified to host this show. She first breaks down each week’s topic from a brainpan perspective and then, with the aid of a guest, she gets into the human side. This time around it’s about homosexuality, and she’s got the research to back up the idea that being gay isn’t a choice but a matter of brain chemistry, environment, and upbringing. Her guest — comedian, actor, and co-star Leslie Jordan readily attests to that, claiming that he “fell out of my mama’s womb and into a pair of her high heels.” Jordan has a lighthearted way of telling the world he has always felt the way he does now, and he makes no bones about his life’s choices. His journey gets a little heavy at times — like his struggles with alcohol and drug dependency — as well as delightfully real and with some laughs along the way, too. Bialik’s proves herself a good interviewer just two episodes in, and her show will leave you feeling both entertained and uplifted. —Marc Hershon
Going Deep - Pasta Is Always the Answer with Tim Baltz & Edi Patterson
Going Deep is an improvised podcast that sets out to parody couples therapy by putting listeners in the office of America’s “most acclaimed couples therapist,” Diana Deep (Lily Sullivan of Comedy Bang! Bang!). Teasing an upcoming season full of “husbands, wives, lovers, throuples, first-daters, booty calls, and on-again-off-again sexters,” Going Deep debuts with a couple working through “an affair at work, an age gap, and an unmet desire for pasta.” The tone rings true to a sort of stereotypical soft-spoken therapist, which provides an almost ASMR quality. Listeners’ own laughs will cut through, though, as they take in the story lines, which are of the amusingly absurd variety. Although this is a Stitcher podcast, the first episode is available for free. If only the same could be said for real therapy. At least this session is sure to be enjoyable. —Becca James
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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