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 has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. Also, we'll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
ROB: If your reaction to Jimmy Pardo’s Never Not Funny raising a paywall was “never pay for podcasts,” here’s a free episode of the near-decade-longrunning chat show, provided by Earwolf. This week’s guest is Scott Aukerman, but that’s not the only reason Earwolf distributed the episode – Never Not Funny is joining the Earwolf network as a free weekly podcast! Pardo describes his decision to join Earwolf as a difficult one, because while his subscription model was successful, he wanted to grow his audience. He’s one of the pioneers of podcasting, but as he says, “sometimes the pioneer gets left behind, guys.” After describing the new subscription package for paying fans, Aukerman joins in, and in the usual NNF style, the conversation saunters through topics like the holidays, Aukerman’s vacation, Pardo’s next half marathon, his colonoscopy, his next appearance on Comedy Bang! Bang! (the TV show), and the question of when rock bands are too old to make a comeback. At first blush, Pardo’s manic, occasionally gruff, talk-radio podcast may seem an odd fit for the improv-rooted Earwolf network. But hear him and the equally quick-witted Aukerman turn any subject, or even a phrase, into a 10-second bit or pun-off — or seamlessly trade off interviewing roles — and you’ll notice the fundamental chemistry between the two podcast entrepreneurs and realize why this partnership makes sense. The Earwolf (and once again, free!) era of Never Not Funny will officially begin on Jan. 30: Already, 2014 is looking great for podcast listeners.
The Read – Freshalina
ZOE: Listening to The Read feels like being at a party and running into the two funniest people there, who happen to have all the dirt on everyone else in the room. You realize the night would’ve been way more fun if only you had been hanging out with Kid Fury and Crissle the whole time. The hosts, both NYC-based bloggers, are insanely listenable because a) they’re hysterical people, b) they have a great dynamic, and c) they are not afraid to throw some major shade. This week they cover Young Jeezy’s “terrorist threats” against his son, SNL’s hiring of Sasheer Zamata, and Dwyane Wade’s baby mama drama with Gabrielle Union. But the real showstopper here is a story about two children eating grapes at a local supermarket. What could have been a casual aside becomes a monumental rant, the stuff of standup specials, thanks to the hosts’ razor-sharp one-liners, personal anecdotes, and flippant, off-the-cuff style. The listener mail segment sees them dishing more commentary on delicate issues of race, sexuality, and gender, all underscored by their “Are you fucking kidding me?” delivery that balances comedy with critique. But if you take one thing away from this episode, let it be that TMZ needs to pay more attention to kids eating grapes.
Hollywood Handbook – Shelby Fero
PABLO: In this week's Hollywood Handbook, showbiz bigwigs (SBBWs) Sean Clements and Hayes Davenport don't hold anything back. Like Boss Tweed for the iPhone generation, Sean and Hayes use a Tammany Hall-like operation at Earwolf to show Tinsel Town how the rich & powerful play politics. Listen up, screen traders of the Greater Los Angeles Area: If you send Sean or Hayes an email, you run the risk of it being read on the segment Gmail Roulette. First in line is a apologetic Kevin Pollak who Sean rips into for ruining a Usual Suspects podcast reunion due to a last-minute cancelation. It goes without saying that Gabriel Byrne was fucking pissed off. Their next email target is rap superstar Macklemore. It turns out his days of making money by telling black people that consumerism isn't cool anymore are over thanks to the similar songs of pop sensation Lorde. Given that he co-wrote Macklemore's hit single "Thrift Shop", Hayes isn't too happy about his young Seattle protégé trying to hog the message about the proper way New Money should flaunt their wealth. Speaking of young Hollywood stars, this week's guest is comedian Shelby Fero who sets up her youthful peers Drake and Patricia Heaton into getting prank called by our hosts for past transgressions. Hollywood is a small town. It gets even smaller when you get on the wrong side of Sean and Hayes.
Nerdist – Neal Brennan
MARC: The conversations on Nerdist rarely get more real that when Chris Hardwick has some history with the guest. Neal Brennan's first TV writing gig was on MTV's Singled Out, Hardwick's first TV hosting gig. And while their paths took them in different directions through the wilds of show biz, that common starting point really helps the chat get down to it. So when Brennan goes into his history of writing with Dave Chappelle, starting with pitching and writing cult hit Half Baked continuing on through his tenure on Chappelle's Show, we get some dish not likely to come out anywhere else. Like Chappelle tossing Brennan's name out while talking to some studio guys as his collaborator, only to surprise-call him to say, "If anyone from Universal calls, we're working on a weed movie!" Now Brennan's a standup in his own right, as well as a screenwriter and director. He's almost as big a threat as Hardwick himself. No wonder they get along.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family's Melissa & Joey.