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This Month in Comedy Podcasts: Brooks Wheelan’s Wheelan Motors

Photo: Brooks Wheelan and Isaac Rentz

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 Speedand don’t forget we have podcasts too: Check out Good OneInto It, and Switched On Pop.

Dead Pilots Society — Brooks Wheelan (I Think You Should Leave, SNL) & Isaac Rentz (Opening Night)

It was a clever move by host Andrew Reich to give comedian Brooks Wheelan and writer-director Isaac Rentz three full slots on Dead Pilots Society to read Wheelan Motors, their unjustly un-picked-up Abso Lutely sitcom about a family-car dealership, for Maximum Fun network’s annual MaxFunDrive fundraiser. Even more clever, though, was releasing this follow-up interview with Wheelan and Rentz, which, while not as laugh-out-loud funny as the “Wheelan Motors” episodes, will comfort any artist who has ever experienced rejection. Reich’s guests are unusually generous with their tales of development hell, despite what must be the painful reality of knowing that their potentially brilliant show couldn’t ultimately compete against, uh, this. But hearing Wheelan and Rentz spill on all the love that went into making their show, including skipping Christmas vacation to pump out a second draft and educating Fox executives on the deliciousness of breakfast pizza, one senses that the days of their dead pilots are soon to be over. —Sean Malin

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website 

Hollywood Handbook — Adam McKay, Our Close Friend

Between moving into the Forever Dog podcast studios and launching a monthly live show at Dynasty Typewriter, the Boys have been moving and shaking this year. The big changes have reinvigorated the guest pool, too — yes, Bang Rodgman still wants his Cowboy TV and Three Busy Debras are still catching COVID, but thrilling surprises like Aubrey Plaza and Mary Elizabeth Ellis are back on the menu. Nothing has made that more apparent than the appearance of Adam McKay showing up for the platonic ideal of a Hollywood Handbook episode, including the trademark tepid initial reaction from a genuine A-lister and the Boys attempting to leverage the appearance into bizarre movie ideas. It almost seems like McKay might bail altogether when co-host Sean Clements doesn’t hook him in with the failed Benicio del Torso pun he wrote on a rough day at work, but it’s only a few short minutes before Clements and Hayes Davenport are deriding Don’t Look Up for disrupting them just trying to live and practice mindfulness. Come for the details of a full-length movie about the time Michael Che pranked Colin Jokes this month; stay for McKay’s exclusive, long Lorne Michaels story; and add this to the ever-growing list of certified corkers. —Noah Jacobs

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Please Tell Me a Story — Megan: “The Spice Girls of the Apocalypse”

Omid Djalili, star of the forthcoming Love Again and many a comedy blockbuster, knows how to control a crowd better than most, so it’s a surprise that the ongoing second season of his Sony Music Entertainment/Somethin’ Else podcast Please Tell Me a Story feels more chaotic and experimental than anything in his previous repertoire. In each episode, Djalili cedes the floor to a fellow comedian, who relates a personal experience to another comic, who then retells it to another comic, and on and on until it circles back to Djalili in a long, playful game of telephone. In “The Spice Girls of the Apocalypse,” the latest season’s anarchic second episode, Felicity Ward, Nabil Abdulrashid, Helen Bauer, and Mark Thomas (along with Polly Lloyd as podcasting’s snarkiest narrator) all work hard to give Megan Jayne Crabbe’s tale of an adolescent encounter with Mel B their attention. But as Crabbe’s story warps from innocent memory into something more psychedelic, the episode collapses into a delicious ridiculousness I wish I could recapture afresh. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say it’s a dream episode of an increasingly essential new podcast. —Sean Malin

Listen: Spotify | Apple | YouTube 

Popcorn for Dinner — Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

Podcasting has breathed new life into classic entertainment formats before, and Podcast for Dinner is no exception. This sitcom-style comedy podcast, created by the talented Maddy Kelly in collaboration with Canada’s Kelly & Kelly (This Sounds Serious, Dexter Guff is Smarter Than You), transports listeners back to the golden era of ’90s TV sitcoms, complete with relatable characters, intertwining storylines, and even a laugh track. Narrated by Ciera Bravo (think How I Met Your Mother), the show follows four 20-something friends — Laura (played by creator Kelly), Michael (Charlie Foster), Ellie (Jillian Ebanks), and Austin (Ben Fawcett) — as they navigate life together in a shared apartment. Episode six, “Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect,” is packed with sitcom-style antics. We find Laura recovering from wisdom-tooth surgery with a reluctant Ellie playing caretaker, while Austin seeks his girlfriend’s parents’ blessing for marriage, enlisting Michael for moral support. True to form, both storylines are brimming with hilarity and mishaps, from Laura’s painkiller-fueled mischief to Michael’s “mom whisperer” skills being put to the test by a pair of dads. But by the episode’s end, everything neatly falls back into place. If you’re craving the nostalgic feel of retro sitcoms combined with a fresh podcast twist, PFD may be just the dish you’re looking for … and about as nutritious. —Marc Hershon

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Wiser Than Me — Julia Gets Wise with Fran Lebowitz

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a simple but significant question: “Why the hell don’t we hear more from older women?” In this interview-style podcast, she interviews iconic women with a range of experiences in entertainment, arts, and culture. This week’s episode features writer, actor, and staunch New Yorker Fran Lebowitz. Louis-Dreyfus leads the listener on a journey through Lebowitz’s life, from girlhood through “boys not liking funny girls” to “being 72 and feeling 82.” When Louis-Dreyfus asks Lebowitz for her thoughts on attending an all-girls school as a child, Lebowitz responds that she “wouldn’t mind if the whole world was all-girls,” and the host concurs. As the conversation unfolds, it feels intimate and familiar: The listener is clued in with the knowledge that Louis-Dreyfus associates the smell of old linoleum with home, Lebowitz still has an answering machine (but not the kind that uses tapes), and they both got their first white hair in high school. As all the other episodes, Louis-Dreyfus ends this one by recapping highlights of Lebowitz’s interview over the phone with the host’s mother, Judith, who shares her own experiences with being a “funny girl.” Just like previous episodes featuring Jane Fonda and Isabel Allende as guests, this episode of Wiser Than Me is hilarious, heartfelt, and tremendously valuable. —Akanksha Aurora 

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

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This Month in Comedy Podcasts: Wheelan Motors