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.
A Good Cry — “Stephen Colbert”
For those fortunate enough to have not (yet) experienced sustained grief, the emotion can sometimes feel like the opposite of that classic anecdote about an adrenaline-fueled mother whose child is hit by a car. Instead of lifting the vehicle with hysterical strength, when you’re overwhelmed by grief, you feel like using that superpower to drop an SUV on yourself. Additional grief metaphors abound in comedian Michael Cruz Kayne’s A Good Cry, a new podcast about dealing with grief, which was inspired by his decade-long struggle to speak publicly about the death of his son. For his first guest, Kayne invited his boss, Stephen Colbert, to discuss how he’s still processing the shocking death of his father and two older brothers in an airplane crash when Colbert was in elementary school. For the Late Show host, grief is “medicine you don’t want to take” because it feels like you’re dying too, while Kayne likens grief to a flooded basement in 21st-century NYC: There’s nothing you can do to stop it, but eventually you will find a way to make it dry. —Pablo Goldstein
Scam Goddess — “Australia’s Cop Con Artist, With AJ Gibson & Emile Ennis Jr.”
From selling LuLaRoe leggings to competing on Survivor, people have different ideas about how to get rich. Scam Goddess focuses on the more unethical and creative ways to make money. Hosted by Laci Mosley (iCarly), the podcast features the latest schemes and scams that make you wonder, Why the hell didn’t I think of that? Mosley’s guests this week are AJ Gibson and Emile Ennis Jr. (power couple and hosts of the Confess Your Mess podcast), who talk about fortune-tellers who send clients to an ATM to manifest good fortunes. Gibson recalls his earliest “scam”: sending letters to companies for a middle-school project only to receive free gifts in return. The trio also discusses the “Con Queen of Australia,” whose primary scam was impersonating a police officer to steal people’s personal information and drain their bank accounts. They talk about the ballsiness of impersonating government agents as well as scamming from a hospital bed after a car accident. People may try different scams to achieve wealth, but some, like the Con Queen of Australia, redefine the meaning of “get rich quick.” —Alejandra Gularte
How Did We Get Weird? — “Remember Shallow Hal?”
You may know Vanessa Bayer from her time on SNL and Jonah Bayer for his work as a music journalist, but this sibling duo used to be just two weird little kids. Now, with their new podcast, How Did We Get Weird?, they’re getting nostalgic about their favorite snacks, shows, and obsessions from growing up (and are sometimes joined by their favorite people, like Beck Bennett in the second episode). In the premiere, they look back on one of the most insane movies of all time, Shallow Hal, starring Jack Black, Jason Alexander with a prehensile tail, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit. If you’re lucky enough not to remember the plot of this movie from another sibling duo, the Farrelly brothers (half of whom went on to make Green Book), the Bayers have rewatched it and do their best to walk us through its nonsense logic. They also share a story about a time they got high and reversed the plot, but ultimately this movie is so ridiculous it doesn’t really matter which way the plot goes. —Leigh Cesiro
Creativity in Captivity — “Jerry Seinfeld: A Stand-up Guy”
Although Creativity in Captivity isn’t technically a comedy podcast, it’s hosted by a comedy writer and comedian, Pat Hazell, who for the most recent episode brings in guest Jerry Seinfeld, who needs no introduction. Seinfeld doesn’t guest on a lot of podcasts, but Hazell used to be a writer on Seinfeld and opened for the star at gigs on the road, so access was a slam-dunk. Hazell’s show gets A-list creative types to share their tips, tricks, and Hail Mary plays for how they’ve kept their muse amused during the past year and a half. As it turns out, Seinfeld’s methods are pretty bulletproof, lockdown or no lockdown. His tools? A Bic pen and a yellow legal pad. When does he crank it out? “In the morning. Before lunch. Anyone who tells you they write in the afternoon or at night is lying!” The two have plenty of funny joint reminiscences about shared creative moments, writers’ rooms, greenrooms, and driving to gigs (Seinfeld does like cars, after all) as well as insight on how Seinfeld, a master story technician, crafts his material: “I look at the subject like I’m in a drone and I can fly around to see it from every angle.” —Marc Hershon
My Neighbors Are Dead — “The Shining With Josh Gondelman”
My Neighbors Are Dead host Adam Peacock talks to lesser-known characters from well-known horror films. It’s a premise that has served the podcast well for years, giving listeners access to Tony, a “skeptical tether” from Us, and Kim Milk, one of Pamela Voorhees’s peers in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, among others. These characters are, of course, just as fictional as the movies they purportedly hail from and are played by Peacock’s “friends and luminaries from the worlds of comedy, horror, and beyond.” Enter this episode’s guest, Josh Gondelman, who shares that his introduction to horror came courtesy of parodies of the genre on The Simpsons and Animaniacs. He then assumes the role of Gordon Lewis, the owner of “Pine Tree Manor,” which exists in the same world as The Shining and is the Overlook Hotel’s No. 1 competitor. The duo wastes no time getting down to business. “What does a complete set of human teeth go for?” asks Peacock, before inquiring further, “What is a pervert willing to pay for them?” Lewis explains that $12,000 is fair, which is just one of many hilarious and deranged details revealed. Tune in to learn more about the grind and the ghosts. —Becca James
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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