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.
Stand by Your Band - Phish with Mike Hanford
Comedians convincing people to like Phish on podcasts has a long history, and for good reason: It’s comedy nirvana hearing self-aware Phish phans squirm as they strain to explain this unapologetically dorky band’s appeal. On this week’s episode of Stand by Your Band, Mike Hanford (the Birthday Boys, the Sloppy Boys) takes on the self-explanatory premise’s mantle in defending the Burlington, Vermont, jam band to hosts Tom Thakkar and Tommy McNamara. A veteran champion of Phish on Analyze Phish, Hanford does admit early on during the episode that the playlist is “embarrassing to listen to,” especially a bootleg of Jay-Z joining Phish on their 2004 farewell tour that makes the musically adventurous quartet sound like a broken jukebox playing Billy Squier. But even if listeners aren’t convinced to follow them on tour by episode’s end, at least they’ve learned the meaning behind Phish concert parking-lot terms like “wook” and “spunion.” —Pablo Goldstein
So You Ruined the Party Again - Sophia Johnson Ruins a Concert
In the age of infinite reality TV shows, daily (if not hourly) Twitter drama, and the reign of beloved Hot Mess, Fleabag, it seems that messiness is a more socially acceptable vice than ever. If Schadenfreude is the pleasure we derive from someone else being down on their luck, then maybe we need a German word for the slightly less sinister pleasure we derive from watching messy people act up. So You Ruined the Party Again, hosted by comedians Randee Neumeyer and Bobby Warrener, invites guests to recount their messy, usually alcohol-fueled acts of party-ruining behavior. This week’s guest, actress and comedian Sophia Johnson, recounts her role in ruining a concert she MC’d as a teenager. The story features much hate for the band Tool, a love interest named Bats, and an exotic New Zealand setting. What more could you ask for? —Kriska Desir
My Brother, My Brother and Me - This Is My Juice Spot
“I just feel like we’re in the dog days of summer,” says Travis McElroy. Thus, he opens the latest episode of My Brother, My Brother and Me, which he hosts with his older brother Justin McElroy and his younger brother Griffin McElroy, on a very mopey middle-child note. The reason for his summer blues is the comedown from a recent “Live & Virtual Summer Boy-B-Q,” which was a “digital pool party” big on summer vibes and now available to dive into until July 9. Luckily, this episode ends up being just as positive as the party was, after Justin and Griffin thwart Travis’s doldrums and move on to doling out free and funny advice. A standout topic is how to convince a bartender that a piece of paper with “Fireball” scribbled on it is indeed a redeemable prize earned prior to the pandemic and not a scam. Of course, the brothers are pro going in with “big-dog” energy and demanding those six “spicy shots,” because as their newfound motto advises, “ACT STRONG,” and you’ll get what you want. So why not give the pod a listen and the maxim a try to boost your summer’s success rate? —Becca James
WTF - Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino has calmed down. A little bit, anyway. Maybe it’s the fact he had his first child born during the past crazy year. Or that he settled down and got married before that. Or that he doesn’t smoke as much pot. Whatever the reason, in his one-on-one convo with Marc Maron on WTF this week, he comes off as excited but measured, as well as fun and funny, with a steady spray of F-bombs just in case anyone thinks he’s lost his edge. The other thing he gave birth to this past year was the book form of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which the host tells us is not simply a novelization of Tarantino’s film of the same name. They also get into elements of his childhood, including the father he never knew until he got to be well-known: “He came into the diner I eat breakfast at and wanted to talk — I just waved him away.” On the other hand, his stepfather, Curtis Zastoupil, brought him to the movies every week, and then they would talk about them endlessly. It’s a good conversation — a lot of the information you may have heard, while other details are fresh, including Maron’s somewhat exclusive reveal that Tarantino is not retiring from film directing anytime soon. Says Tarantino: “You make one joke to a reporter, and suddenly it pops up everywhere, completely out of context!” —Marc Hershon
Knowledge Fight - June 24, 2021
It can border on disrespectful to categorize what Knowledge Fight does as purely “comedy,” because even though Jordan Holmes’s huge, infectious laugh lights up earbuds, Dan Friesen does serious research to critique in good faith the conspiracy-theory magnate/allegedly insurrectionist vagabond Alex Jones and his unfortunately seminal alt-right talk-radio show, Infowars. But ever since the anti-virus magnate/allegedly murderous vagabond John McAfee was found dead in a Spanish prison last week, Jones has been mostly obsessed with producing “emergency broadcasts” about him, using whatever tenuous relationship they had with one another to help him grunt toward the next ad read. Hollywood rumors about a McAfee feature span almost a decade now, and with such holes in both men’s stories of their triumphs, the (so far) two-part recap from Friesen and Holmes has breathed new life into the laugh-out-loud side of Knowledge Fight and — though Alex often laments that “to give life is to give death” — it’s time to jump onboard. —Noah Jacobs
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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