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.
Newcomers: Tyler Perry — Diary of a Mad Black Woman w/ Jon Braylock
It’s finally here: Season three of Newcomers, the podcast in which Nicole Byer and Lauren Lapkus experience for the first time the “essentials” of culture they’ve managed to avoid in life so far. Where previously they’ve examined hallowed properties like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and considered if these may actually be boring slogs, season three gets off on the opposite foot as they begin to explore the often-mocked but perhaps very fun and interesting world of Tyler Perry and his prosthetic alter ego, Madea. Longtime Perry appreciator Jon Braylock (Astronomy Club, Black Men Can’t Jump [in Hollywood]) joins Byer and Lapkus to ask: Why is slapstick comedy necessarily bad? Can soapy melodramas actually be improved with an insane caricature from a completely different genre in a supporting role? And is Tyler Perry’s true sin not in the films he writes, directs, and stars in (in multiple roles), but in taking those jobs on his films from dozens of other people who could be working on the productions? Only time will tell, and the nine remaining episodes of the season give the Newcomers plenty of time to continue to be an enjoyably contrarian counterpoint to prevailing pop-culture opinion. —Kathryn Doyle
The No Fly List — Jay Jurden: Southern Gem
Going through airport security is no fun, especially if you’re routinely stopped for “randomized” security checks. On The No Fly List, New York comedians Atheer Yacoub and Amamah Sardar interview other artists about their experiences with racial prejudice and how their upbringing influences their craft. Regular segments like “Keeping Up With the Caucasians” lead to larger discussions on intersectionality and what stereotypically “white” traditions are also shared among people of color and different cultures in general. This week’s guest is Jay Jurden, who dishes on whether or not he eats potato salad and what constitutes a salad (just vegetables covered in mayo?). He bonds with Sardar over growing up in the South and speaks on attending a Christian university as a bisexual Black man. Jurden gives insight into his nine-year interracial relationship and how they keep things spicy after being together for so long. Take off for a flight that substitutes turbulence with tolerance and laughter. —Alejandra Gularte
The Hard Times Podcast — The Hard Times Podcast w/ Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys)
Most satirical news sites are categorized with a simple “The Onion But for ____.” But The Hard Times, a site that skewers the world of punk music and its many subcultures, earns that descriptor with an Onion-esque hit ratio thanks to headlines like “Terrible Real Estate Photographer Moonlights As Amazing Emo Album Cover Photographer.” On this week’s edition of the site’s podcast, co-founders Matt Saincome and Bill Conway have on as their guest a music legend who knows all about the intersection between punk and comedy, former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. The sardonic lyrics of the Dead Kennedys made the band stand out amongst their dour punk contemporaries, as well as self-serious political bands influenced by DK like Rage Against the Machine. And it’s easy to see why after listening to the now 62-year-old singer, who hasn’t lost a step, rail against foes old (Tipper Gore and the PMRC) and new (the ultra right-wing Christians and Zionists behind Kars4Kids). But per usual, he directs most of his signature droll ire toward his former bandmates. It’s hard to blame him, considering that the Facebook page for the Dead Kennedys, a band that made its name ridiculing politicians on both sides of the aisle, recently posted boomer memes praising Senator Mitt Romney, Senator Lindsey Graham, and former CIA agent Evan McMullin for speaking out against Trump following the Capitol riot. —Pablo Goldstein
The War Report — We Don’t Believe You, Prince Charles
It’s always a treat to discover some quality folks have had a new podcast lurking around for a few months. Shalewa Sharpe (2 Dope Queens, The New Negroes) and Gastor Almonte (This Is Not Happening, Stories From the Stage) are dropping episodes from their fifth month of The War Report, and these two comic voices have teamed up to tell us how it is from their unique perspectives. They cover quite a bit of ground in the not-quite-an-hour “bonus episode” that hit Monday. And I’ve gotta believe it was to cover their centerpiece story about England’s Prince Charles staging a visit to his “homies,” Black health workers at Jesus House in London. This on the heels of Meghan Markle’s implication that racism is rife amid the royals in her recent Oprah interview. Well, Sharpe and Almonte ain’t buying it — not for a second. Prior to that, the hosts reveal a bit about their early rambunctious school days, and they debate the recent decision by Warner Bros. to bench lascivious skunk Pepé Le Pew from the upcoming Space Jam movie. The main question to be answered, in Sharpe’s mind, is, “Why would Pepé Le Pew be in Space Jam?!” Almonte points out that “he’s their Tony Parker,” a reference to the French American former point guard for the San Antonio Spurs. That’s quick, like much of the humor in this podcast. —Marc Hershon
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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