To the chagrin of aspiring white rappers everywhere, comedy podcasts have swagged their way into totally #blowingup over the past few years. As The New Yorker’s Cameron Tung noted in a recent piece titled How Podcasts Conquered Comedy, “Podcasting, like other means of digital distribution, has flattened the old order, circumventing the traditional gatekeepers of the entertainment industry.”
That totes hard-hitting quote aside, podcasting is kind of like craft beer–it’s a hobby that requires serious devotion in order to develop tastes and sensibilities, and can therefore be intimidating. Hopefully the guide below–a breakdown of some of the most influential podcasts for 20-somethings–will help:
1. Comedy Bang! Bang!
Overview: Since its inception in 2009, Comedy Bang! Bang! has become arguably the most successful comedy podcast out there, and has spawned an IFC show of the same name.
What It Brings To The Table: Comedy Bang! Bang! is best known for its out of the box conversations with Scott Aukerman and guests, and the improv-style games including “Would You Rather,” “Who Said It?”, and “Freestyle Rap Battle/Contests.” The guests, oftentimes recurring, always turn this into an off the cuff hangout.
Dope ‘Sode: Parks and Recreation fans will love this Parks and Procreation episode, with show actors/writers Adam Scott, Harris Wittels, and Chelsea Peretti
2. You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes
Overview: Pete Holmes has been in the comedy game for awhile. His podcast, You Made It Weird, was initially conceived based on the premise of asking guests three about “weird” things he knew about them, but has since evolved into an impromptu-style show lending itself to deep, enlightening, and humorous conversation.
What It Brings To The Table: Holmes has this ability to steer conversations into some pretty outlandish places, but never too far in a way that makes it too esoteric or unlistenable. Very much makes you feel like you’re “in” on the conversation. It may be this skill that landed him a late-night talk show this Fall on TBS.
Dope ‘Sode: The A/V Club once interviewed Holmes and had him pick his favorite episodes. Among those, he chose his sitdown with Zach Galifianakis.
3. The Nerdist Podcast
Overview: Former MTV television host Chris Hardwick is now the Nerd emperor, hosting a highly popular podcast about “what it really means to be a nerd.” As the title makes clear, very catered to brainiac sensibilities.
What It Brings To The Table: The show is very “internetty.” If you enjoy frequent Doctor Who? talk, this is the podcast for you.
Dope ‘Sode: They’ve had Bill Nye The Science Guy on to talk about being Bill Nye The Science Guy.
4. By The Way: In Conversation With Jeff Garlin
Overview: Jeff Garlin is probably best known for playing Jeff Greene on Curb Your Enthusiasm. In his fairly new podcast, Garlin has corralled a whole host of marquee guests (Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, Aziz Ansari, Will Ferrell) to create something that’ll probably have big-time staying power.
What It Brings To The Table: Recorded live in front of an audience, this has a very particular “performance”-style feel.
Dope ‘Sode: The very first is with notable misanthrope Larry David:
5. How Did This Get Made?
Overview: Have you ever seen a movie so bad that it’s amazing? This is the question Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas tackle in utterly hilarious fashion.
What It Brings To The Table: Each movie breakdown is wild, the tangents and hypotheticals are incredible, and the energy is always high. It’s very easy to get trapped in this for way longer than intended.
Dope ‘Sode: This was the first one I discovered. It’s a breakdown of Fast & The Furious 6, with Adam Scott. Not bad:
6. Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast
Overview: Popular standup and actor Bill Burr (Kuby on Breaking Bad) kicks off every work week with a highly entertaining session of opinionated news recapping, and insights into his (highly entertaining) personal life.
What It Brings To The Table: Burr has a very strong “common man” appeal, which shines through brilliantly through the podcast’s informal tone. My fave portion comes at the end, where Burr answers fan mail. Always offers entertaining, yet solid advice. The podcast is predominately dude-centric, and has a heavy focus on sports.
Dopest ‘Sode: Tough to say, as content is always current. Check out the latest on Burr’s website.
7. You Had To Be There with Sara Schaefer and Nikki Glaser
Overview: New York based comedians Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer “invite one comedian, one musician, and a small audience of friends to hang out in Sara’s apartment in Brooklyn.” Their success helped launch their MTV late-night talk show, Nikki and Sara Live.
What They Bring To The Table: Chemistry is everything in podcasts, and these two have more than what goes into Walt White’s crystal blue. Relatable and hilarious, appealing nicely to those braving through the marshy thickets of contemporary adulthood. They’ve also managed to corral an impressive list of guests, from Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan to The Gregory Brothers of autotune-the-news fame.
Dope ‘Sode: A great chat with power couple Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan:
8. The TFM Podcast
Overview: It’s only a few months old, but Total Frat Move’s Podcast has developed a highly devoted and ever-growing following. Hosted by comedian and Penn State alum Jared Freid, the TFM podcast features one guest per week and is a unique and funny insight into beer soaked corners of collegiate and postgraduate life.
What It Brings To The Table: It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s not trying to be. For guys immersed in collegiate and fraternity life, Freid tackles issues in honest and hilarious fashion, developing a friendly relationship with loyal fans. Perhaps most refreshingly, it’s not as self-indulgent as many comedy podcasts inevitably become–it’s more about interpreting the oddities of collegiate and postgrad culture, making it relatable for both comedy and non-comedy fans alike.
Dope ‘Sode: In a recent episode with a fellow fraternity brother and owner of popular NYC bars (including drunk mainstays like The Stumble Inn and The 13th Step), the two discuss everything from how to get a bartender’s attention when it’s crowded, to how to properly execute a gameday tailgate:
9. Savage Lovecast
Overview: Closing in on 400 episodes strong, author and radio personality Dan Savage, perhaps best known for launching the It Gets Better campaign with his husband Terry Miller, has become one of the nation’s premiere voices in terms of LGBTQ advocacy, and general sexual openness and experimentation.
What It Brings To The Table: You’re going to get quite the range of stuff on here. Today’s episode synopsis consisted of “A gay man’s truly evil step-mother falsely accused him of sexually assaulting his younger siblings. His father never rose to his defense. Should he forgive his father or cut off ties?” AND “is there such a thing as ‘legitimate slut-shaming'”
Dope ‘Sode: One of the more notable episodes in Savage’s run deals with the gay teen suicide epidemic a few years back, which inspired Savage to form the It Gets Better Project.
10. WTF with Marc Maron
Overview: Probably the Comedy Podcast of Comedy Podcasts, WTF is a bi-weekly interview-style show that’s attracted some of the biggest and most interesting personalities in all of pop-culture. The podcast is unquestionably an influential component of the proliferation of comedy podcasts, and Maron often credits the podcast in helping him completely rejuvinate an otherwise very stagnant career in comedy. Maron now has a book, and IFC show loosely based around his life, and a bigger following than ever.
What It Brings To The Table: Maron’s hosting abilities are tough to compete with, as is his combination of general life experience and hankering for getting out each guests’ “story.” It’s very addicting, and has received praise from every corner of the comedy world. Judd Apatow, a two-time guest, once said “as a comedy nerd, this show is my nirvana.”
Dope ‘Sode: Only the previous 50 episodes are available for free, but the fairly recent ep with Bill Hader demonstrates a lot of what this podcast has to offer. You’ll come away enthralled every time.