Top 5 Comedy Podcasts
Lately I’ve been going through a phase. Well, it started out at a phase and then evolved into a full blown fascination. I’ve always been into stand up comedy but lately I’ve been breathing it. From the mechanics of SNL sketches to the discussions of what make’s a comedian’s comic and so on. I’ve watched old comedy roasts, riffed on old Roseanne stand up, sort out Jerry Seinfeld’s old Comedian documentary and found my happy place in Talking Funny with Jerry, Louis, Ricky and Chris.
But the best way I’ve been getting my comedy fix though has been with podcasts. An hour a so where you get to hear the life and times of some of comedy’s greats. The highs and lows. The laughs and the sombre moments. It’s an hour of bliss and at times therapy to me. An inspiring wind-down routine I’ve come to crave after a big day. It’s been a solid six months now that I’ve been on the podcasts bandwagon and apart from being one of those people that starts a sentence with ‘I heard on this podcast the other day…’ I’ve also become a connoisseur of the genre. I’ve heard it all, seriously, and I’ve got some highlights I want to shout out.
So if you’re sick of bopping along mindlessly on your commute home, these are the conversations you should be listening to.
WTF with Marc Maron
You might not have heard of Marc Maron before, he of the angry-style of standup comedy. Surprisingly, I think he’s actually a better interviewer than he is a standup. But the fact that he is a comedian (and Jewish and also a rehabilitated drug addict) lends itself to him being able to relate to such brilliance. With over 300 episodes and counting, he’s pretty much interviewed every comedian you can ever think of. But when I say interviewed, it’s very much a natural conversation, and thanks to his laidback energy he has come to have a reputation of having guests really open up. Like the time he talked addiction and rehab with Natasha Lyon (who’s character on Orange is the New Black is not that far from her real life), or the days of starting out with Amy Poehler, who was convinced that Marc thought she was a loser in their early days. The most interesting of his chats though was the incredibly intimate and raw two-part series with a long-time yet lost-touch friend of his – Louis CK. While his rants at the beginning can get a bit much, once he get’s into the swing of things with his guest, it’s hard to stop listening.
Must listen: Louis CK, Robin Williams, Natasha Lyon, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Tenacious D, Hank Azaria and Tom Arnold.
Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin
Yes Alec Baldwin has a podcasts and yes it’s pretty much everything you imagine it to be. A swinging jazz music intro and a biography intro narrated by the distinctive coffee-covered voice of Jack Donaghy. While it is less focused on comedy and very much a focus on New York personalities, there are some comedy gems in there. Plus with Alec Baldwin’s quick wit, there’s always a giggle in there, even if it’s a serious conversation with someone like Joe Berlinger. Either way, it’s always a fascinating listen. How can it not be with the voice?
Must listen: Jerry Seinfeld, Lena Dunham, Rosie O’Donnell, Chris Rock, Lorne Michaels, and Kirsten Wiig.
The Nerdist Podcast
As the name suggests, the Nerdist truly is a comedy and pop-culture conversation. An hour of ecstatic fandom if you will. From the guys that did the highly successful Talking Bad, the Nerdist consists of super nerd Chris Hardwick alongsidehis two side kicks Jonah Ray and Matt Mira getting their fan-girl on with some of Hollywood’s best. While it’s much more light hearted than say Marc Maron, with an hour to burn it still manages to dig down deep to get into the minds and lives of their incredibly famous guests. Based in LA, the trio talks to wide range of guests from serious actors like Jared Leto and Harrison Ford to musicians like Ezra Koenig and the National, porn stars like Sasha Grey and nerdy pop culture icons like the Overly Attached Girlfriend. It’s a mixed bag, but it’s always a good one.
Must listen: Billy Crystal, BJ Novak, Jon Lovitz, Katy Segal, Charlie Hunnam, Nick Kroll, Slash and Nick Offerman.
Here’s my British influence coming in. I’ve actually been lucky enough to attend two screenings of Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, commonly known as RHLSTP (relhestaper). The first being a comedy-meets-romance Valentine’s edition, and the second being a recording with the legendary Harry Shearer. Both of which were fantastic to be a part of. While I admit I’m not totally keen on Herring’s comedy style, he does have his moments, not to mention a knack with getting some fantastic guests like Simon Pegg, Ross Noble, Russell Brand and my most recent comedy obsession, the dark and twisted geniuses Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith. His most notable interview though was with Steven Fry where the beloved Brit admitted to having attempted suicide. It sounds dark but it’s a therapeutic listen.
Must listen: Steven Fry, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, Stewart Lee, and Stephen Merchant.
Now, I toyed and toyed over adding Jeff Garlin’s rambling podcast to the mix. As much as I love the freestyle of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jeff’s yelling and overly used phrases like ‘a big bowl of,’ does grow tiresome. I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t even listen to the whole podcast of him with Larry David – and that’s saying a lot because I LOVE LARRY DAVID. But with Garlin grappling to get as much air time as possible, the idea of talking shit quickly takes a turn to just actual shit. I realise the irony in writing negatively about it, as he is constantly bringing up the negative comments about him online (another thing he needs to stop). But to be fair, he does have his moments and when he does, they are pretty good. You can also tell he’s a big sweetie at heart and that’s why he has such fantastic guests.
Must listen: Lena Dunham, Aziz Ansari, Amy Pohler, Maya Rudolph, Bob Odenkirk, Vince Gilligan, Michael Moore, and Will Ferrell.