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. You can also keep up with all our comedy-podcast recommendations in Vulture’s newsletter 1.5x Speed.
Hollywood Handbook — Three Busy Debras, Our Close Friends
It was only a matter of time before Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements would finally get their friend Mitra Jouhari, often cited as a top-level Hollywood Handbook regular, to introduce them to her Three Busy Debras costars Alyssa Stonoha and Sandy Honig, but after passing COVID between one another long enough that the new season came and went, the day is finally here. As a chorus of giggles underscores the opening riff, it’s clear that all five (plus Chef Kevin) have been looking forward to this for a while. The Boys get a packed house of guests locked into their wavelength, and Jouhari gets the backup she’s always needed going toe-to-toe with them. But for all the fermented anticipation, what we end up getting is a breakneck conversation that leaves everyone satisfied but protesting, “Wait, we didn’t even talk about anything!” — Noah Jacobs
Self Esteem Party — Mo Welch
Everyone knows that comedy is rife with people who have amazing self-esteem, but on Alana Johnston’s podcast, the improviser and sketch performer invites her colleagues — this month, Jocelyn DeBoer, Jorge Berrios, and repeat guest Mo Welch — to discuss their relationship with themselves, even if it’s a thorny one. Johnston recorded her episode with Welch from the road during their tour together, and in it they talk about that tour and their hopes for the future with all of Johnston’s infectious, high-energy hosting and a delicate balance of earnestness and silliness (see their Larry Bird bit). It’s weird that the polite answer to “How are you feeling?” is always “good,” even if the answer is actually “very bad.” But that’s okay, because Johnston doesn’t need the polite answer to spark a little joy. — Kriska Desir
We Got This — Best Meal Course
You’d think Maximum Fun’s We Got This With Mark and Hal would have run out of pop-culture “This is better than that” debates after nearly 400 episodes. But no, The Thrilling Adventure Hour (R.I.P.) alums Mark Gagliardi and Hal Lublin continue to unearth reasons to argue. Earlier this month, it was “Best Meal Course” — as in a full-on, fancy-pants dinner of twelve courses with all the trimmings. I found this episode pretty educational, cuisine-wise, never having had such a sumptuous supper, a repast our hosts both assure us they’ve only experienced but once: I didn’t know that something called an amuse-bouche comes after the hors d’oeuvres and before the soup, for instance, or that there are two main courses and two desserts. (Don’t listen to this episode hungry!) Chopping some of the courses is a no-brainer, with Lublin proclaiming that “there’s no way the hors d’oeuvre is winning; it’s the only course you eat standing up.” But the clashing of these two refined palates climaxes in a battle royale, with Gagliardi battling for the main course deux and Lublin rallying for “the promised land,” a.k.a. dessert. Knives (and forks and spoons) out! — Marc Hershon
Classroom Crush — Season-Three Premiere w/ Austin Cassel
Rebecca Bulnes is back with the jittery energy of an arbitrary new season of Classroom Crush, her little podcast about first (and second, and 50th …) loves that can boast such big guest names as Jamie Loftus, Ashley Ray, and Megan Stalter. But Bulnes is often most in her element when dishing with close personal friends like Austin Cassel, a New York comedian who spent much of this two-year break alongside her championing police abolition in the city. That camaraderie shines through as they trade priceless, perfectly relatable stories of what constituted flirting as children: Cassel attempting to get a girlfriend by stating misheard lyrics from Madagascar’s “I Like to Move It” or trying to assimilate to the United States by skeptically learning the Soulja Boy dance. The premise of Classroom Crush is something most anybody can get behind — Penn Badgley even tried to swoop in during the hiatus — but the past few years off the mic and in the streets have brought Bulnes a new confidence that has made season three unskippable. — Noah Jacobs
Nosy Neighbors — Your Granddaddy Was a F*ckboy (ft. Brandi Denise)
The Citizen-Nextdoor panopticon is known to send an especially colorful push notification or two, and on this deliciously gossipy Spotify podcast, comedians Chinedu Unaka and Candice Thompson get into them: They dissect the posts, run bits about them, and philosophize about the types of people who post them. The duo waste no time diving right into a post about a house-egging in the neighborhood, debating the merits of “vintage” house-egging versus the standard revenge-TP’ing. They also challenge a seemingly innocuous post about the quality of bagels at a new bagel shop on the block, concluding that the post was a thinly veiled attempt at making friends or finding love through a “bread connection.” The duo usually bring on a comedian friend to share a neighborhood story for their final segment, and this week’s special guest is Brandi Denise, a comedian from Chicago with a story about renting a room from a questionable host on Airbnb. She gets menaced with “people-eating” dogs! A fellow tenant is threatened with deportation! (Candice dubs the setup “a trap house for immigrants.”) Chinedu’s L.A.–local incisiveness and Candice’s punchy, no-holds-barred comedic voice make for a laugh-out-loud relatable listen. — Akanksha Aurora
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