this month in comedy podcasts

This Month in Comedy Podcasts: Munch Madness Returns

Photo: Courtesy of Doughboys

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 month, 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. You can also keep up with all our comedy-podcast recommendations in Vulture’s newsletter 1.5x Speed.

Doughboys — Subway vs. Arby’s w/ Jen D’Angelo (w/ Deli Boys As Pickle Correspondents)

Ready for the passage of time to slap you across the face like [REDACTED] hitting [REDACTED] at the 2022 [REDACTED] Awards? This March saw The Doughboys’ seventh Munch Madness miniseries. That makes the annual fast-food review bracket older than some of the kids on Abbott Elementary. This year’s tournaments pitted sandwich chains against each other in “Munch Madness 2022: The Tournament of Chompions: Hero’s Journey: Sub-Optimal.” Yes, that’s the full miniseries title. Part of the fun of Munch Madness is seeing how hosts Nick Wiger and Mike Mitchell build upon their bits every year: The rules list grows longer (“Regional chains are out. Wawa? Nah-nah.”), the voting system grows weirder (this year’s features a devil’s bargain with Subway mascot and convicted pedophile Jared Fogel), and commissioner Evan Susser grows ballsier in his interferences. The semifinal episode features return guest Jen D’Angelo, who has a sharp and rollicking dynamic with the boys. The TV comedy writer brings an extended riff about shopping for toilets, and she’s game to help Wiger goad Mitch in an episode-long pile-on about him marrying his own mum.

Contrary to the episode title, they actually pit Quizno’s against Arby’s, thanks to some interference from Yusong’s ghost. When a podcast is on for this long, it amasses a cast of recurring characters, and episodes like this pay off when they all crop up (the Deli Boys have a good bit toward the end). Would this all sound like gobbledygook to a first-time listener? Almost definitely. But if you’re the sort of person who’d want to listen to a two-and-a-half hour podcast about Arby’s, of all things, you’re probably already onboard. In 2022, saying Doughboys is funny is about as necessary as saying McDonald’s fries taste good; they’re the biggest names in their respective games. But sometimes you gotta doff your cap to the greats. —Rebecca Alter

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Senior Superlatives — Power Suit (w/Laci Mosley)

For a lot of people, dredging up those old cringey, embarrassing, angsty teenage memories is probably not at the top of the to-do list. Luckily Senior Superlatives, the newish podcast from Headgum, has no trouble finding guests who are game enough to take us on a journey through their high-school years no matter how cringey, embarrassing, or angsty. Every week, host Greta Titelman takes us back to (usually) the early 2000s to hilariously make the best of some of the worst years of our lives. In this episode, we head to 2009 with Laci Mosley. Before she was the Scam Goddess, she was the most involved high-school student of all time, taking her duties as student-council president and class president very seriously. How seriously? Well, she regularly wore power suits to school. Self-proclaimed “not popular but respected” high-school Laci also casually drops mention of the time she went on a helicopter ride piloted by the mayor’s 18-year-old son. The highlight of every Senior Superlatives episode usually comes in the form of a pop-in from the Guidance Counselor, who gives guests the opportunity to apologize to someone, say fuck you to someone, get revenge, or just get something from those hellish years off their chest, and this episode’s segment is no exception. After sharing a story about a fight in the school’s rotunda that takes a gut-wrenching turn, Mosely and Titelman make sense of all the teenage feelings with their adult perspectives and make it okay to move on. Senior Superlatives has had murderers’ row of recent guests also worth checking out, including diehard theater kids Megan Stalter and Bowen Yang. —Leigh Cesiro

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Jade + X.D – Drama Couch

Self-described as “the Blackest show about nothing,” Jade + X.D. delivers delightfully on that promise. From the minds of bartender/chef/comedian Jade Verette and Twitter comedian Xavier D’Leau, this podcast is rife with expletives, banter, pop-culture observations, and (mostly negative) TV reviews. “Drama Couch” begins with an a capella rendition of a Solange song, which instantly makes the listener feel safe and in the company of friends. In the episode, Jade “finds [her] voice” which, she adds, “was never on the side of a milk carton anyway,” and expresses gratitude to a white co-worker for “being normal.” Meanwhile, X.D. reviews the Netflix show Worst Roommate Ever, a twisted true-crime docuseries they both thought was about undone dishes and late bills. Later in the episode, the hosts share takes on Serial’s Adnan Syed, whose case recently resurfaced in the news. They bounce effortlessly back and forth covering topics like racism, the justice system, and their own two cents on the case. The podcast is notably expressive in its use of sound effects, with air horns and musical interludes liberally peppered among retellings of grave-digging, forensic-evidence-investigating, and murder-mystery-solving. Unapologetic, spontaneous, and deliciously dark, Jade + X.D. pushes the envelope, going far above and beyond your average TV-review pod. —Akanksha Aurora

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Let’s Make a Sci-Fi — Episodes 1–4

Can three comedy writers buckle down and, in the space of an eight-episode podcast, get serious about the business of writing a science-fiction pilot for TV? Let’s Make a Sci-Fi comes from Kelly & Kelly Productions, the funny factory that has given podcasting such mocku-style shows as This Sounds Serious and Dexter Guff Is Smarter Than You, and now they’ve saddled Ryan Beil, Maddy Kelly, and Mark Chavez with the task. Each episode digs into the nuts and guts of what makes a good sci-fi story, as well as how the heck you’re supposed to write a TV pilot if you’ve never done one before. The intrepid trio get the benefit of calling on experts as they set about creating the world of their pilot — the characters, the plot, and everything in between. In the first episode they consult with some successful producers, like Catherine Winder (Star Wars), about how to know when you have a solid story idea. By episode two, they’re already into world-building and running concepts by Neill Blomkamp (District 9) to find out about fascinating worlds that actually hang together. Armed with some solid story and world bones, they discover they still don’t have any good characters, but a screenwriting professor, Kat Montagu, sends them careening in the right direction in the third installment. I’ve gotten as far as episode four, where the writing trio beats up the science part of their science fiction with the help of Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s much more fascinating and funny than you might imagine to follow along and find out what happens when they get to real actors doing a table reading of the finished script in the eighth and final episode. —Marc Hershon

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Dead Eyes — Tom

Photo: Headgum

Connor Ratliff had been dining out on the story of being personally canned by Tom Hanks — the nicest guy in Hollywood — from a small part in the 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers for having “dead eyes” for decades before starting a podcast introspection of the same name. Even as his showbiz career took off with memorable roles on prestige television and as the man behind the cult hit George Lucas Talk Show, Ratliff invited friends like D’Arcy Carden and Zach Woods to talk him through it; interviewed his replacement, Adam Sims; and quickly began to get spiritual about his fated rejection. And now, at last, word spread to Hanks through his children that Ratliff was still seeking answers. So Ratliff and his crew headed to Los Angeles to meet Hanks for a one-on-one sitdown interview. The result is a chilling and deeply funny reflection on the nature of rejection and resilience. Twenty years removed from Easy Company, both men wear their hearts on their sleeves, trading anecdotes of their foolish mistakes and why they chose them. Ratliff’s failed re-audition is finally lifted from his spirit, but the wisdom in his reunion with Hanks will exist in perpetuity. “To Connor: What eyes you have.” —Noah Jacobs

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:

Stuck With Damon Young — Stuck on Sh*t My Dad Did
Listen: Spotify | Website

Legal Geeks — Closing Arguments in the Trial of Wanda Maximoff
Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Your Kickstarter Sucks — False Alf
Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Hollywood Handbook — Try Month, Our Close Friends
Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

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This Month in Comedy Podcasts: Munch Madness Returns