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.
Nostalgique — “Alanis Morissette (ft. Lauren Mitchell)”
Synchronicity sounds like the name of a hot, new tech venture or at least a word a tech bro would use an unsettling amount. Still, it cannot be a coincidence that comedians Ben Sosa Wright and Aba Amuquandoh discuss Norah Jones on Nostalgique the very same week I have been reflecting on the adult-contemporary queen’s legacy. The Jones banter is just a bonus. Every week, Wright and Amuquandoh invite a guest to discuss pop stars of yore, and this week’s focus is the crown jewel of Canada, Alanis Morissette. (Yes, Morissette is indeed Canadian. As Wright notes, do not be fooled by her Californian-length hair.) With the help of guest Lauren Mitchell, the hosts weave through musings on the catharsis of Morissette’s unfettered female rage; the underrated, healing power of “Thank U”; and even what the world would look like without condescending male critics like the ones who dismissed Morissette’s success. Spoiler alert: None of us would be aware of Mank’s existence. Though one never needs an excuse to revisit Morissette’s stunning discography, this episode is an excellent precursor to a nine-album-long karaoke session. —Kriska Desir
Make My Day — “My Verb, My Rules With Ayo Edebiri”
Make My Day is self-described as a “pop-culture and politics game show where comedians compete to put a positive spin on the news and cheer up host Josh Gondelman.” Lucky for listeners, the comedians do a consistent job of lifting Gondelman’s spirits, which in turn means they’re also treated to a positivity punch-up. This week, it’s Ayo Edebiri’s (Iconography) turn to pep things up, and she does so by laying out what her eventual farewell concert will look like in 2071. Gondelman introduces this scenario, but Edebiri doesn’t miss a beat, instantly naming the event “Good-bye-o to Ayo” and detailing all of its hilarious aspects. This includes sharing some of the accomplishments that led to this concert. “I was the first Black person to play Cate Blanchett in a biopic,” says Edebiri, adding, “The movie … is bad, but the performance is good.” This sort of absurdity continues until it is time to tally up the points and offer up a pep talk, a welcome ritual on this charming and cheerful podcast. —Becca James
Culturally Cancelled — “Lemme Get Yo’ Math” (With Bentley Kyle Evans and George Stroumboulopoulos)
Russell Peters is one of those few comedians who has managed to become an international favorite, a draw that can fill theaters and arenas around the world, while also logging a few movies and TV shows. So it is about time that he saddled up a podcast, right? Culturally Cancelled has been dropping for a few weeks now, and Peters wants this effort to be more than just for yucks. This week, he brings two of his friends together for the first time — television writer Bentley Kyle Evans (Martin) and Canadian journalist and host George Stroumboulopoulos (CBC Music) — to lounge in his backyard and share origin stories. They share crazy stories of being young mavericks on the loose in Toronto (that’s where Peters and Stroumboulopoulos met) and then some wild high jinks in Hollywood once Peters and Evans came together. They devote time to trying to figure out which street slang is still relevant and which has faded: “Once the white guys started using ‘homie’, we dropped it real quick,” recalls Peters. All three had memorable run-ins with singer Little Richard, and they even kick around their concepts of the afterlife. Frequently funny, this show manages to dip a little deeper along the way. —Marc Hershon
Election Profit Makers — “Area Codes Are Everything”
It started as a way to make some money on the pocket-change betting site PredictIt and talk politics during the never-ending election season, but Election Profit Makers has since become the rare weekly political podcast that just feels good to listen to. Whether it’s the community coming together to make friends and trade pedalboards through the personals Starlee Kine collects or David Rees ad-libbing songs for perfectly goofy ideas like Joe Manchin’s Hype House — a TikTok influencer pad dedicated to extolling the virtues of such hip norms as the current filibuster — politics momentarily stops feeling as scary as it is. Their dry third co-host Jon Kimball, domain-name magnate and Rees’s childhood friend, sometimes even breaks news. Get in before Matt Gaetz and Andrew Cuomo resign in tandem to start their new life together — okay, even if they don’t actually beat the market on that call, hopefully they can pull it together to publish their puzzle book of left-wing conspiracy-theory brainteasers. —Noah Jacobs
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