Photo: Adam Rose/HBO/Adam Rose/HBO
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 their 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, launching on July 28.
Marc Maron’s comedy soulmate Nikki Glaser makes a return visit to WTF this month. Glaser has a new HBO stand-up special out, Good Clean Filth, so she’s been making the podcast-interview circuit rounds, but there’s a weird bond between her and Maron that really gives this interview both sparks and flow. Never one to mince words, Glaser cuts loose, but rather than shock Maron, he dives in with both feet, and the language gets both real and extra-salty. “The only thing men like more than new pussy is integrity,” Glaser remarks when discussing how hard it is to get a guy to focus on maintaining a relationship. During the pandemic lockdown, Glaser moved from New York back in with her parents in her native St. Louis, and she is still there now — no longer living with the folks but enjoying the many parts of being back where she was raised … except the conservative streak. She also tells Maron about her fixation with Columbine, Colorado, and the infamous school shooting that went down there in 1999 when she was still in high school herself. She’s even thinking of moving to that area to immerse herself in the weird energy. —Marc Hershon
Mega is divine improvisation. Hosted by Holly Laurent and Greg Hess, the podcast expertly satirizes the fictionalized world of Twin Hills Community Church, “a megachurch with a tiny family feel.” In each episode, Halle (Laurent) and Gray (Hess) invite a guest to join the entirely improvised show, playing a character from the absolutely absurd congregation. Past episodes have blessed listeners with Mason Jantzoukas (Jason Mantzoukas), the 23-year-old actor portraying Jesus for the church’s Easter celebration; and Bowie Landerson (Louie Anderson), an elder and self-proclaimed empath who loves faith, feet, and Florida. This time, Freelon Dowden (Lilan Bowden) rolls through — literally. She is the head of the church’s roller-skating ministry (megachurches really do have everything) and arguably the spiritual successor to Rollergirl (Boogie Nights). As an aged and saved divorcée who seemingly never takes her skates off, she is actively working to reconcile her love for Jesus with her love of being hot on social media. Fortunately, Jesus hears her prayers and responds with a plan: “Try a bikini post, Freelon. Just try it and I will reward you.” Sure enough, Bowden’s followers respond with love in the form of over 250,000 likes. If that’s not a sign from above that her followers are God-fearing, what else could be? —Becca James
When Bananas debuted in 2020, it ended up being one of the rare highlights and earned a spot on our list of best comedy podcasts of the year. Two years later, it’s still going strong. Hosted by Kurt Braunohler and Scotty Landes and focused on the “strange, fascinating, and just plain bananas news from around the world,” the show remains a much-needed respite from a very depressing news cycle. In this episode, V Spehar, host of Under the Desk News, which is billed as “The Nice Side of the News,” joins Braunohler and Landes. It’s a perfect pairing and, as Braunohler insists, it adds some journalistic integrity to Bananas. “Who are we kidding? We’re surface boys,” Landes adds. This mild self-deprecation does nothing to conceal their ability to source and study stories, as Bananas has always been as much about the context as it is about the comedy, despite the hosts playfully protesting otherwise. The trio tackles everything from a guy who spent over $8,500 a year on Pepsi to a man who is going to push a peanut up a mountain with his nose. Rife with riffs, this is an extra sharp and silly episode that aggregates a much more amusing news feed for listeners to enjoy. —Becca James
Whether it’s politics, basic science, or NFTs, listening to someone talk about something they know nothing about is usually pretty unpleasant, but Never Seen It With Kyle Ayers might be the exception. Ayers invites fellow comedians to rewrite movies they’ve never seen and perform readings of their scripts. The podcast’s latest guest is Gianmarco Soresi, who rewrites the star-studded fever dream of a movie, House of Gucci. Fans of horrible Italian accents, dunking on Jared Leto, and ridiculous character names like “Guccimarco Gucciano” or “Lady Gaga in a Wig” will enjoy Soresi’s take on the film. While Soresi’s rewrite might not be helpful if you want to learn about the Gucci family’s sordid, Shakespearean tale, it does somehow capture the campy, melodramatic tone of the Ridley Scott film. The episode also features a couple rounds of movie games, the best of which is “Before and Afters,” which has guests guess movie-title portmanteaus based on the smashed-together plots of two movies (e.g., Wolf of Wall-E Street). This podcast is a movie lover’s (or maybe even hater’s?) dream. —Kriska Desir
Along with a lovely little community of fans and submitters, the sibling duo of Xandy and Xtine Schiefer (the latter also hosts the popular true-crime podcast And That’s Why We Drink) have put together the perfect palate-cleansing podcast. Their network of patrons votes on themes and submit one-star reviews for them to read and clown on, and because people simply must get their grievances out on the internet, the simple format of Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet works both for hyperspecific topics like Los Angeles parking-violation bureaus and Minneapolis car washes to broad national chains. Nothing can prepare for the complaints that come out of the woodwork to Xtine and Xandy, who learn that all across the country Chipotle is “fucking shit” because glass partitions are allegedly spontaneously exploding, and raw eggs are taking weeks to reach nurses at full price seemingly every day in spite of on-again, off-again personal boycotts. Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet is a giggly treat in tense modern times: Based on the ruthless nightmare these drama monarchs seem to exist in, it’s good to remember it could always be worse. —Noah Jacobs
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