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 its 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, and be sure to check out Vulture’s new podcast Into It, hosted by Sam Sanders.
Sounds Like a Cult — The Cult of the Kardashians With Meg Indurti
Hosted by author Amanda Montell and comedian Isa Medina, the Sounds Like a Cult podcast dives deep into the formation and evolution of modern-day cults as we know (or don’t know!) them. Equal parts funny and revelatory, the podcast urges listeners to contemplate the fine line between cultiness and run-of-the-mill fandoms. This week, the Kardashians take center stage: From “Instagram face” and BBLs to presidential dinners and prison reform, Montell provides incisive breakdowns of the many ways the Kardashian family has impacted modern society and politics, all the while reminding listeners that we “didn’t vote for them.” Medina, who is not a fan of the term “devil’s advocate,” exchanges some takes on the family’s philanthropic efforts, affectionately termed “devil’s avocado,” with comedian Meg Indurti. At one point, the hosts question the notion of the Kardashians being America’s “royal family” but conclude that they might be even more powerful because “the royal family pays to be in the Daily Mail.” —Akanksha Aurora
Comedy Bang! Bang! — Live From the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas (Paul F. Tompkins, Carl Tart, Dan Lippert)
Scott Aukerman’s improv juggernaut, Comedy Bang! Bang!, spent all of Auggie Doggie ’22 on the road for the first time since 2019 to commemorate the show’s 13th anniversary. Amid a whirl of strong episodes, the Austin stop was a particular highlight: For a rowdy, crowd-pleasing hour and a half, co-host Paul F. Tompkins played goose-hating “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, and fan-favorite guests Carl Tart and Dan Lippert did turns as the always-rhyming MC Sugar Butt and long-standing Teachers’ Lounge character Todd Padre, respectively. The episode is available only as a Comedy Bang Bang World exclusive, but it’s worth getting the Maximus subscription just to hear Lippert force the group into singing the Chili’s jingle in the round. As a bonus, Aukerman delivers his patented Balcony Report inside the historic Paramount Theatre. —Sean Malin
We Might Be Drunk — Bill Burr & Root Beer Floats
It didn’t take We Might Be Drunk’s Mark Normand and Sam Morril long to get comfortable with their recent guest Bill Burr. It could be because of the fellowship of them all being stand-up comedians. Or maybe it’s because they plied him with root-beer floats and cigars. From the evils of drinking and smoking, boxers versus briefs (everyone on this show wears boxer briefs), recent actor deaths, tons of sports, and relationships, Burr is a born raconteur, and it’s second nature for him to slide smoothly from story to story regardless of the subject matter. All three guys are “East Coast comics,” but Normand and Morril, a few “classes” behind Burr and his contemporaries, are just a bit in awe of their guest, and they happily kick back with their root-beer floats for the ride. —Marc Hershon
How Did We Get Weird? — Remember Sega Genesis? (With Joe Mande)
Since its debut last year, the sweetest nostalgia show in the biz has chugged along with TV’s Vanessa Bayer (I Love That for You) and her brother, journalist and founding United Nations guitarist Jonah Bayer, gathering an impressive roster of guests from their overlapping worlds. Add Joe Mande, a powerhouse behind the podcast mic, and get him to wear out the word “Buttville” while recounting how he stole Earthworm Jim valor on the playground? That’s enough to earn an immediate download for the commute to Toys ’R’ Us, a store Mande also reveals he methodically mapped out for when one of his ten sweepstakes entries into Nickelodeon’s Super Toy Run surely came through. Vanessa sets the tone early, detailing her new job as a reply guy for Jonah’s Hedberg-esque Twitter rebrand, but, as is often bubbling below the surface on How Did We Get Weird?, the sibling playfulness is just window dressing for insights into the nature of addiction and obsession and how they manifest in childhood. This, a relatively new entry in the Bayers’ rotating body of games based on esoteric Greater Cleveland touchstones (and Buttville), makes it a new standout in the catalogue. —Noah Jacobs
Code Switch — What Makes a Good Race Joke? With Aparna Nancherla, Brian Bahe, and Maz Jobrani
If a comedian of color jokes on a stage without making a race joke, are they still doing comedy? This thought experiment forms the core of this week’s episode of NPR’s Code Switch. Hosts Gene Demby, correspondent on NPR’s race, ethnicity, and culture team, and writer B.A. Parker waste no time getting into it. Parker describes her experience as an intern at Comedy Central, where she endured a lot of “pep talk” lunches about navigating the comedy industry and came to learn that “if you’re a person of color trying to come up in the comedy ranks, you just have to eat a lot of the [bad] stuff.” Comedian Aparna Nancherla recounts her experience telling her first race joke, which affirmed to her that “identity is a big factor in her place in this industry.” Brian Bahe echoes this: “Being a person of color onstage, every joke is about race, whether or not it is stated,” he says in a discussion of his material about the absurdity of corporate-Zoom-call land acknowledgments. Maz Jobrani wraps up the episode with a lively discussion about using comedy to defuse stereotypes and make people think. Peppered throughout with clips from the comedians’ stand-up sets, this episode is funny and thought-provoking. —A.A.
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