The podcast industry is currently undergoing one of pop culture’s most secret revolutions, specifically within its comedy sub-genre. If the idea of a couple of unknown comedians cracking wise for up to two hours sounds unbearable, fear not. The podcasts listed below (which are only the cream of the crop) take the conversation and interview format to places previously unreached, while also being really funny and compelling.
WTF with Marc Maron
Comedian Marc Maron’s career and personal life had dissolved to the point of disaster. Unable to sell enough tickets to perform and having lost his job on Air America Radio, Maron took to his garage with two microphones and a list of comedian friends (or in some cases, enemies) with no other plan than talking candidly and recording their conversations. Achieving an intimacy and honesty that hasn’t been matched in broadcasting anywhere, Maron has an incredible ability to draw out the most private of details. In a talk with Robin Williams, listeners would have caught an early glimpse of his tragic, lesser known side. His podcast is considered to be the gold standard in podcasts. Louis CK allegedly forgot he was being recorded (which explains a lot). You’ll forget you’re not the only one listening.
Easily the strangest podcast available. The format is deceptively simple. Host Scott Aukerman begins the podcast with a regular interview with a fellow comedian, only to be rudely interrupted by another comedian in the form of a (usually disturbed and disturbing) fictional character. Then it gets weird. A labyrinth of oddballs and idiots reoccur, with favourites such as theatrical director and pervert Don Dimello, “healer of cakes” Cake Boss and more. Episodes build on top of one another again and again, peaking most recently with a “battle of good and evil” between these characters. CBB has since expanded to a TV talk-show, which maintains the surrealness of the podcast. It’ll make no sense to the uninitiated but bear with it and you’ll be hooked for life.
Chris Hardwick and his co-hosts Jonah Ray and Matt Mira can often be over-fawning to their guests, but I’ll be dammed if they don’t get the best ones. A quick scroll through the Nerdist archive will include at least a few heroes of any listener and it’s this strength that Nerdist plays to. Guests include people from all fields, from astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson to rock hero Dave Grohl. A work of unashamed fandom, Chris eases his guests into an easy rapport that may not match the intimacy of Maron’s podcast, but reveals the genuine interests and passions of his guests and is also really fun to listen to. Who knew Tom Hanks obsessed with Storage Wars?
Doug Loves Movies: The Leonard Maltin Game. Google it.
Harmontown: Community creator Dan Harmon dispels wisdom. And laughs.
The Bugle: John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman’s audio (and British) daily show.
How Did This Get Made?: If you love dissecting bad movies, you’ll love this.
Image credit: jrn.com