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.
Comedy Bang! Bang! – Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham
JOSH: "I am 100% a woman in the body of a Grimace slash muffin." In context, out of context, even context adjacent, that witticism originating from Jessica St. Clair's brain is just one example of the copious amount of hilarity your ears will be privy to during this week's episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!. Stars of the United States of America network's upcoming series Playing House, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham return to CBB this week to reprise their popular podcasting alter egos Marissa Wompler and Miss Listler. From her early days in Kenya to her time as a Detroit dancer, this week's episode delves into the past of the enigmatic, gender ambiguous life coach Miss Listler. Also, if you're as interested in Marina Del Rey High School's social scene as I am, you'll be delighted to hear all the latest gossip involving Gutterball's love life and Seth's romantic night time proclivities. Word of caution, you may not want to listen to this week's episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! in a public setting due to its abundance of laugh-out-loud moments. My failed attempts to conceal my laughter reduced me to the role of "possibly deranged passenger" while riding the cesspool of abnormal peculiarity known as the NYC subway system. If you don't want to find yourself in a real B.A. Baracus situation, I highly recommend listening to this week's edition of Comedy Bang! Bang!.
Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend – Alison Agosti
LEIGH: This episode of Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend is your new complete source for all things Alison. Anything you've ever wanted to know about being an Alison (spelled the right way, with one L) is all right here. If your name is also Alison and you already know it all, don't worry. There's stuff for you in here too. Like when guest Alison Agosti, who currently writes for Late Night with Seth Meyers, explains her decision/commitment to only listen to Mariah Carey for an entire week. The Alisons also talk things like Twitter (yay), Vine (nay), the time-traveling final season of Felicity, moving to New York, and parents. One of the most interesting parts of the episode is Agosti's story about her Late Night interview and how poorly she thought it went. At the end, they do a round of "Just Me or Everyone" where we hear from a medical marvel who has never had a headache and learn just how far you can actually drive when your gas tank says its empty.
You Made It Weird – Mark-Paul Gosselaar
SCOTT: Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash, Saved by the Bell) patiently bears with Pete Holmes for the first few minutes of the show as Holmes struggles to figure out what to call his guest (they settle on “MP”) and awkwardly tiptoes around the “Zack Morris” issue. Gosselaar sets the record straight on that, insisting that he doesn’t understand why people assume he doesn’t want to talk about Saved by the Bell and goes on to say that his appearance as Zack on Late Night in 2009 was completely his own idea. Holmes and Gosselaar discover that they had very similar first marriages, with both men admitting to thinking of their spouses as "mommy-wives." Gosselaar deftly walks a line of what he does and doesn’t want to divulge about his personal life, his youth, drug use, and his relationship with other Saved by the Bell cast members without ever seeming like he he’s hiding anything. Some of the greatest moments are when Zack Morris-obsessed Holmes fumbles a Saved by the Bell reference and Gosselaar is right there with a specific or a bit of trivia. The pinnacle, though, is when Gosselaar makes Holmes do the E-Trade baby voice, momentarily flipping the fanboy balance of the episode.
Desus vs. Mero – Money House Blessing
PABLO: It took a couple of months, but the Bronx Bombers have finally made their triumphant return to podcasting. And with a new and improved video format on Complex.com too! Outside of getting to see what Desus looks like, I'm pleased to report that not much about the show has changed. It's still two funny dudes talking shit about rappers, Manny Pacquiao's mom, subway rats, and 14-year-old girls pretending to be terrorists. First on the agenda is French Montana's pet drug monkey liaison, Monquito, and its role in helping him start a relationship with Khloe Kardashian. But the Bronx rapper gets off lightly compared to Jay-Z and the Cool Dad Meets Blood outfit he wore to Coachella. If you saw the pictures, then you understand why The Kid Mero's description of Hova looking like "a Crooks & Castles lookbook from 2004" is so spot-on. Moving on to local NYC news, and by news I mean that picture of a dude calmly peeing inside a subway train that was widely circulated on Twitter last week, the guys try to explain why this is totally normal behavior in the city. And a conversation about penises wouldn't be complete without some shots fired at Lord Jamar, the Brand Nubian rapper and self-proclaimed crusader against the feminization of hip hop who threatened our hosts for making fun of his rampant homophobia in previous episodes. Ending the show is my favorite segment of Desus vs. Mero, Caucasity of the Week. This week's focus is on marijuana vending machines in the trailblazing state of Colorado. Because as Desus puts it, there is nothing whiter than naming a strain after Gore Vidal and then taxing the stoners who buy it.
WTF with Marc Maron – Ivan Reitman
MARC: Following up from the episode before, where Marc Maron interviewed movie director Jason Reitman, we get to hear about the life and times of Ivan Reitman this time around. While Jason has had some nice success and an interesting life, his dad has stories that easily could fill a few hours. From his first self-propelled project Cannibal Girls through his landmark comedies like Animal House, Stripes and Ghostbusters, Reitman sheds some light in on what a crazy struggle it was – even after success hit – to get the next project made. And the in-between stuff is even better for us not having heard many of the stories. Working with talent like John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray before Saturday Night Live was even a gleam in Lorne Michaels’s eye (as a stage show producer, he was once shown the door by Murray for daring to suggest some bit of comedy), Reitman laughs easily and often at the behind-the-scenes memories of his many years of bringing delightful comedies to life. Maron brings him to the brink of tears as well as the conversation moves into more personal territory about how both Reitmans found a new level of respect for one another when Ivan produced Jason’s movie Up In The Air.
Who Charted? – Natasha Leggero and Kumail Nanjiani
ZOE: Guest co-host (and owner of the best laugh ever) Natasha Leggero joins Howard Kremer for another great episode of Who Charted? with guest Kumail Nanjiani. "I kind of feel like we're doing morning radio… but we're funny," Leggero speculates, which is pretty dead-on, except I'd add that they're extremely funny. Despite having very distinct comedic sensibilities, their mutual appreciation for each other allows the trio to play very well together. It feels like a utopian high school, where the aloof-yet-endearing band guy, the girl who takes smoke breaks in the senior lot, and the hardcore gamer sit at the same cafeteria table, laughing their asses off as they share tater tots. The episode includes some amazing tangents about topics ranging from alarmist environmentalists to pretty girls who are "just smart enough." Make 'em up movies are a recurring theme, and for those of you not familiar with the genre, Leggero offers a helpful guideline: "Anything Will Smith is in is a make 'em up."
My Sexy Podcast – Nikki Glaser
LEIGH: As a listener, this is the closest you will ever come to starting a podcast without actually starting one. In the premiere episode of My Sexy Podcast, host Sabrina Jalees works to figure out exactly what My Sexy Podcast is. And because it's more than just a having a concept and a title, guest Nikki Glaser is there to be the Tabatha (of the salon-taking-over sort) of podcasts to do a "podcast rescue." The episode is consistently (and hilariously) fun with topics like quitting Facebook, babies posing for Playboy and face tattoos. While you may roll your eyes at the thought of listening to your mother's advice – guess what? Listening to someone else's mother? Infinitely more tolerable! Something we learn in a segment of the episode where Jalees and Glaser each call their own mothers. It was endearing to hear these two friends work together through potential lulls and steer the conversation on the right track. By the end of the episode, it's pretty clear they've nailed what My Sexy Podcast should be. You should give it a listen to feel like you've contributed to the process.
The Nerdist – William Shatner
MARC: What could be a more perfect ”get” for the podcast that celebrates nerdiness than Captain James T. Kirk himself? And yet host Chris Hardwick shows admirable restraint at NOT asking what must be a myriad of Star Trek questions during this first-ever meeting. Instead, Shatner seems to take the helm for the conversation, asking as many questions as are thrown at him, and it helps to give a much fuller picture than the 80-something actor has gotten from less nerdy coverage. Shatner admits his struggle to keep up with ever-changing technology (out of respect, it seems, Hardwick and co-host Jonah Ray keep themselves from trying to correct his improper use of podcast and blog). The chat is much more about the rich, full life Shatner has enjoyed surrounding the performances he’s given, with less of a light shone on his upbringing and the body of work with which so many are already so familiar.