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This Month in Comedy Podcasts: Amy Sedaris, Massage Oil, and ‘Griefcations’

Photo-Illustration: Vulture

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.

Chinwag — A Detour Through Life With Amy Sedaris

The recent WGA and SAG strikes are driving even national treasures like Paul Giamatti to host podcasts. His offering, Chinwag — British slang for “chat” — also features author and philosopher Stephen Asma (The Evolution of Imagination) as co-host. Together they tackle esoteric topics, often veering into the supernatural and spooky. But their recent guest, the supernaturally funny Amy Sedaris, steers the conversation down more earthly paths. Though they briefly touch on paranormal experiences, Sedaris’s skepticism prevails, courtesy of her doubting brother David. So Giamatti settles for simply marveling at her improv chops as she riffs on whatever random topics arise, like visiting Japan (“My brother and I go at the start of every year — we call it Japanuary”), cell phones, Dollywood, loneliness, and George W. Bush’s paintings. Sedaris is a conversational pinball wizard, but Giamatti and Asma’s chemistry have them working the flipper with finesse. Just a few episodes in, Giamatti seems thrilled to be having free-wheeling chats with fellow artists and weirdos. Chinwag offers a refreshing peek behind the curtain at how talented minds bounce off each other when the cameras aren’t rolling. —Marc Hershon

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

The Bedtime Podcast — Our Dog Red

Who knew a comedy podcast could break your heart? Over the last five months, Sydney Steinberg and Noah Findling have invited listeners into their connubial bed several times a week to hear about their lives as an entertainment power couple. Most episodes of The Bedtime Podcast trend frothy and sweet with occasional pinches of real grit scattered amongst the pillow talk; seemingly lightweight conversations about break-ups or moving apartments, for example, get really real really fast. None of these suggested just how much Steinberg and Findling were willing to share, however. In this staggering episode from July 13, the couple opens up about the sudden passing of their beloved three-year-old dog, Red, and the “griefcation” they took from recording to recover. Their pain is still palpable, but Steinberg and Findling speak with great grace and humor about the terrifying symptoms of Red’s autoimmune condition, breakdowns at the vet, and the embarrassing spirituality of feeling her presence in a breeze. Every pet owner will recognize these experiences, but I’ve never heard a more truthful or funny discussion about them in any medium. This is extraordinary, award-worthy broadcasting — just don’t listen to it on the way to bed. —Sean Malin

Listen: YouTube | Apple | Simplecast

Bad Behavior With Sterling Mulbry & Blair Peyton — Doused in Oil with Emmy Blotnick

Comedians, beware: Sterling Mulbry and Blair Peyton will drop the hammer of justice on your ass. In fact, morally subjective judgment is at the core of their etiquette podcast Bad Behavior, which commemorated six months of episodes this July with a guest appearance by Emmy Blotnick. Adapted from Mulbry and Peyton’s live show with Heather Cook and Emily Draper, each episode centers on a questionable decision made by the guest, which the hosts then adjudicate once and for all as “good” or “bad” behavior. Cowards that they are, some comics present easily justified softballs to avoid Mulbry and Peyton’s (mostly silly, sometimes formidable) scrutiny, like copping too slowly to a case of mistaken identity or finding $20 in an apartment. But Blotnick, who normally radiates moral virtue, goes hard, offering a legitimate ethical quandary with her tale of pretending to ignore a respected employer in a clothing store lest he see her covered head-to-toe in massage oil (a state she blames on her friend Liza Treyger). Though Blotnick is fast on her feet, as expected, the episode is a primo showcase for Peyton and Mulbry’s riffing chops as they tear her to greasy little pieces for crimes against cute little belts. (Peyton: “When you say you were ‘browsing,’ were you … touching … the products with your oily hands?”) Blotnick may be deemed bad to the bone, but this show is increasingly very, very good. —Sean Malin

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Audioboom

Exploration Live! — It Happened (w/ Jaboukie Young-White)

Exploration Live! is finally taking on guests. The podcast hosted by stand-ups Natalie Rotter-Laitman and Charlie Bardey, which has been running since late 2021, is currently on the up and up. Each episode, the duo take familiar ideas from everyday life and rephrase and transform them into something alien (a discussion of the “Citi Bike red noise,” for example, is actually about persevering through difficulties for a potentiality of freedom). Rotter-Laitman and Bardey began inviting guests for the first time back in March (Vulture faves StraightioLab were the first), and now they’ve really hit a groove. For audience members who are fans of the queer-comedy scene, part of the joy is hearing a slew of guests who have already been on Las Cultch, Seek Treatment, and their sisters come back in a new format. But the excitement really comes from hearing the truly original observations that power the show — of which Rotter-Laitman and Bardey have a seeming overabundance. The Jaboukie Young-White episode, which features “Citi Bike red noise” among other topics, is largely a meditation on our need to distract ourselves, and it is both fun and stupidly profound. Exploration Live! is a podcast on smart topics made by smart people who are throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. That sometimes the ideas don’t stick is half the fun. —Jason P. Frank

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

The Girl God Experience — Nuremberg Trials & Error (w/ Felix Biederman)

Surrealist comedy duo Grace Freud and April Clark, a.k.a. Girl God, burst onto the comedy scene in 2021, quickly becoming the hottest, most sought-after podcast guests since Ayo Edebiri did the same. They clinched their bona fides this summer by speedrunning a business relationship with Earwolf, producing a Earwolf Presents miniseries but immediately spinning off into the independently produced Girl God Experience. That’s just the way Girl God does it — whiplash quick, keyed-up meta satire that’s equally incomparable and impossible to ignore. In a debut month bursting with highlights, Felix Biederman (Chapo Trap House) anchors the girls in a frenetic outing that touches on the bizarre distinctions the world made in deciding to either prosecute or hire Nazi war criminals on a case-by-case basis, how extremely old guys either have frighteningly sickly or gorgeous gorgeous children, and the genre of podcasts that manifests as 30-second Instagram Reels of white guys in a room saying “That’s facts” to whoever their most famous member is. The personal is political on The Girl God Experience, and both are a riot. —Noah Jacobs

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

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