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This Month in Comedy Podcasts: The 2023 Las Culturistas Awards

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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.

Drifting Off With Joe Pera — “An Audio Tour of Ireland ft. Julianna Barwick & Dr. Art Hughes”

There may be no better application of Joe Pera’s God-given dulcet tones than to lull listeners to sleep, and this fourth episode of his podcast, Drifting Off, is the most soothing yet. Produced while the comedian was on tour in the U.K. and Ireland, it’s a hypnotic travelogue through a culture — plaintive, becalmed, and quick with a touch of silly wordplay — that Pera seems preternaturally part of. Pera’s guest, the magnetic Gaelic phoneticist and scholar Dr. Art Hughes, sounds almost like he could be Joe’s father; in fact, if not for the energizing score by drop-in composer Julianna Barwick and a smattering of gentle jokes about American tour guides, the whole recording would feel like a lullaby. If podcast executives were smart, they’d give Pera enough money to keep broadcasting abroad like this, posting delicate morsels of humor from the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China to his Patreon — after all, who doesn’t need help getting to sleep these days? Your move, Rick Steves. — Sean Malin

Listen/Watch: Patreon | Apple | YouTube

Las Culturistas — “2023 Las Culturistas Culture Awards 2023 PART I”

Sometimes, a podcast can be people having a conversation about an interesting topic, or conducting an interview, or playing funny characters. And sometimes, a podcast can be two luminaries — Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang, for example — nominating people and things for categories of awards that they made up. That’s the beautiful and versatile thing about podcasts. A month ahead of their third annual (and second live) Las Culturistas Culture Awards ceremony, Matt and Bo released an episode that was just the two of them revealing the nominees. They waste no time on lead-up and roll straight into the nominations, just like a real awards-show nominations broadcast. And they read them off with stateliness and clarity, conjuring the image of a teleprompter and podium in the listener’s imagination, just like a real awards-show nominations broadcast. They nail the format, but it’s mostly an excuse for the two of them to release a barrage of hilarious non-sequitur humor, with categories like “Free Them! Award for Criminal Who Should Be Free” and “Best Religion,” and nominees like “Hereditary: Lil Mama Head Come Off” (for “Scariest Moment of Our Lives”). You just know the race for the “Best Skill to Have” award is gonna be heated between front-runners “Drew Barrymore Impression” and “A Sense of Play.” —Rebecca Alter

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Let’s Not Be Kidding — “Another Day, Another Donna”

Podcasting has emerged as a delivery system for unconventional, uncomfortable topics intertwined with a sense of humor. Let’s Not Be Kidding adheres to this formula, as brought to life by Canadian comedian Gavin Crawford. Navigating his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease, Crawford harnesses comedy to weave a narrative both moving and enlightening. Known for his work with Second City and the Comedy Network’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Crawford shifts from performer to son, candidly sharing Donna’s deterioration and its impact. Accompanied by family, friends, and fellow comedians with similarly stricken loved ones (including Jann Arden and Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson), Crawford’s journey reveals an emotional landscape often unexplored. It’s a comedic show that pushes boundaries, offering a unique perspective on Alzheimer’s and a testament to the transformative power of storytelling. — Marc Hershon

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Pillow Fight — “The Everything Shower With Raya Carmona”

Los Angeles comedienne Yamini Nambimadom has a unique take on pop culture, and Pillow Fight — returning for a fourth “season” after an impromptu, extended hiatus — is the pinnacle of her distinct style. Each episode is anchored by Nambimadom taking three disparate headlines from the week and mashing them together into a game of “fuck, marry, kill.” This week, sex educator Raya Carmona plays along with headlines that include Tom Cruise’s scientologic seduction of Shakira, Imagine Dragons’ disastrous picket-line performance, and the many undeniably fascinating crimes of George Santos (R-NY). On top of all that, they play truth or dare: Would you rather have sex in your mom’s body or be walked in on? How would you rank the smell of your group-chat besties’ feet? And why is this so fun? —Noah Jacobs

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

The Inconsistent Podcast With Rob Haze — “Hardcore Chicago with Carmen Christopher” 

As a podcast host, comedian Rob Haze is a magician of sorts; over the course of an hour-long, freewheeling conversation with friends and fellow comedians, he is constantly pulling delightful, surprising cultural references out of his hat. In one episode, Haze doesn’t just do a Jay-Z impression, he specifically does an impression of Jay-Z getting philosophical with Nardwuar. In his interview with comedian and actor Carmen Christopher, Haze offers an almost unbelievable cultural deep cut that becomes the golden thread of the episode: the time Oprah got sued by the beef industry. Haze gives Christopher the sort of free range that makes for a satisfying listen. The two have an easy chemistry that allows for a long-running bit in which Christopher has provoked Oprah to punch him in the face, but also fosters the kind of vulnerability that makes room for Christopher to offer biographical tidbits or earnest, geeky raves about his favorite comedy specials. Still, despite the name, there are constants listeners can bank on: Haze asking his guests what their favorite color sky is; his liberal but hysterical use of absurd sound effects; or the host’s infectious laugh. —Kriska Desir

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

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This Month in Comedy Podcasts: The Las Culturistas Awards