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.
StraightioLab — Reservations w/ Julio Torres & Las Culturistas — I Love Locations w/ Ana Fabrega & Julio Torres
Julio Torres is the podcast guest that all these gay comedy podcasts desperately need. He’s been around enough that they all know him personally. He’s a well-known-enough comedic voice that his persona is easily riffable. And yet, he’s enough of a chaos agent that even the most established podcasts feel refreshed in his presence. Both StraightioLab and Las Culturistas are hosted by a duo of gay male comedians (StraightioLab by George Civeris and Sam Taggart; Las Cultch by Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang); both are produced by Big Money Players, Will Ferrell’s podcast network; and both have been around for long enough that the sense of spontaneity is occasionally missing. On StraightioLab, that became text during the Torres episode, with both hosts acknowledging a feeling of staleness before Torres undoes any staidness by refusing to turn on any lights so his screen becomes continually darker as night falls, answering a knock on the door during recording, and eating snacks. On Las Cultch, Torres is a guest alongside his Los Espookys co-creator Ana Fabrega, and his ability to tell stories that are funny specifically because he tells them (while admitting he’s never seen A Star Is Born) forces both Matt and Bowen to adopt a different conversational approach. It’s nice to hear Torres, but it’s even nicer to see these shows get a little shaken up. —Jason P. Frank
This Is Important — Inventing Anders
No one seems to be having more fun in podcasting these days than Blake Anderson, Adam Devine, Anders Holm, and Kyle Newacheck. Best known as the team behind Workaholics (though also prolific writer-director-producer-actors in their own rights), the quartet’s Zoom show This Is Important is anything but: a frivolous, ridiculous exercise in talking — to use an old standby — about nothing. But true deep-in-the-soul frivolity is an alchemical art, and “Inventing Anders” is a potent reminder of how masterful these men are at it after more than a decade together. Even with Newacheck out for the recording, the hosts make comedy hay over whether or not the curly-headed Anderson should go “full Shaun White” (i.e., get a haircut so he can be cast as Mr. Freeze), what Devine estimates the singer Miguel to weigh (about 112 pounds), and where Ders ranks on IMDbPro’s Star Meter (top 5,000). Ultimately, it’s all a bunch of nonsense, but with Anderson’s Fred Norris-style sound bites cutting through every joke, these are 49 of the funniest minutes of audio published so far this year. —Sean Malin
Funny Cuz It’s True — Overthinking My First Kiss (With Paul Feig)
Most people wouldn’t start off their first podcast with an embarrassing childhood story. During comedian Elyse Myers’s debut podcast, Funny Cuz It’s True, she introduces each podcast with a story from her life, usually from her childhood, similar to the comedic storytelling she became popular for on TikTok. She sets up a moment of vulnerability in humor as she becomes more vulnerable herself, interviewing someone she admires like in her premiere episode with writer-director Paul Feig. She chats with the Freaks and Geeks creator and Bridesmaids director about his experience working in the television industry, and she doesn’t shy away from asking simple questions that she wants answers to, like how a writers’ room works. Myers’s endearing TikTok presence easily translates to podcasting; throughout the interview, she stops the conversation with tape-recorder asides to interject her thoughts, from how important it is to see a new writing perspective to admitting that she should’ve asked Feig a different kind of question. It’s easy to put yourself in her shoes (or headphones), and she admits how much of a fan she is as she talks to Feig, something most podcasters try to play cool. —Alejandra Gularte
Don’t Ask Tig — Kristen Bell
This month Tig Notaro is back for season three of Don’t Ask Tig, her one-on-one podcast where she chats up showbiz friends and acquaintances then enlists their help fielding questions from listeners. Kristen Bell is on hand to kick off the new go-round of shows. They start out with a big tease: The two are apparently putting some big, top-secret project together. TV show? Movie? Podcast? Notaro and Bell let no cats out of the bag, but the host does pry into how her guest is able to wear so many hats (acting, producing, writing) at a breakneck pace, all while raising a couple of kids and keeping her marriage a lively, going concern with husband Dax Shepard. The getaways help: The family takes off on regular road trips in “Big Brown,” a motor home Bell says is more like an Aerosmith tour bus and towing a trailer loaded up with assorted motorcycles, bikes, and other recreational gear. “For some reason, our family does really well in tight spaces,” Bell says. “You’ve gotta get over your grudges quick.” After about 15 minutes of chat, Tig wades into listener questions. The first is from a primary-school teacher who wants advice on how to keep a fellow teacher from playing music from the movie Frozen incessantly for her class. Having been the voice of Princess Anna in both Frozen movies, rather than being offended, Bell offers some very actionable advice. —Marc Hershon
Knowledge Fight — October 12, 2022
Nearly six years ago, conspiracy obsessive Dan Friesen had the dangerously harebrained idea to create a near-daily show where he explains what’s happening with Alex Jones to his friend Jordan Holmes. Early highlights included the revelation that Joe Rogan called into The Alex Jones Show on 9/11 and incredible rumors that Ronald Reagan liked to be pegged on film, but since then, this couple of bottom feeders have become the foremost experts and historians on Infowars. They’ve been endorsed by CNN with an appearance on Reliable Sources and consulted on the trials that led to Jones eating a record-setting billion-dollar (and counting!) personal-injury judgment for his (continuing!) defamation of the families of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. So when Friesen and Holmes dropped an emergency recap of Jones learning his fate live on air, it wasn’t so much schadenfreude as vindication. Jones vamps through procedural lulls by setting up his newest weather-weapon narrative in the shadow of the nuclear-attack narrative he spun during the deliberations, acts tough by screaming “Yeah!” through the reading of the verdicts, and crashes and burns through an impromptu fundraising marathon. Grape job, Knowledge Fight. —Noah Jacobs
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- This Month in Comedy Podcasts: The 2023 Las Culturistas Awards