This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Science and Drama on ‘Beautiful/Anonymous’
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. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
Beautiful/Anonymous – The Whirlpool Galaxy
Mark: It’s rare to find any entry in the podcast-verse live up to its name as perfectly as this week’s Beautiful/Anonymous does. What begins as a useful lesson in astrophysics evolves into a retelling of one of the most touching journeys ever uttered on a podcast. Every twist and turn in the caller’s story is so tragic and surprising that network executives would tell her showrunner to take it easy. The way this young scientist has remained positive and driven in the face of horrible loss is a feat to admire. As the conversation eases back into the potential multiverse, it becomes evident Gethard is documenting the origin story for a future X-Woman. This episode is a welcome reminder of the ceiling Beautiful/Anonymous can occasionally reach. You will not find as complementary a mixture of science and drama outside of a Christopher Nolan movie. [Apple Podcasts]
Cool Playlist – I Like You, 1989 with Edgar Wright
Pablo: Cool Playlist seems like it was created solely for Edgar Wright. This new podcast hosted by Eliza Skinner invites guests to create a playlist based on a theme. This is child’s play for Wright, whose latest excellent film Baby Driver is shot so that the complicated chase sequences match perfectly with the soundtrack. In 1989, Edgar was a young 15 year old UK lad obsessed with girls and his choices are appropriately horny. Horny and misguided, like his first pick, Prince’s “Slow Love,” which Edgar laughs at because he didn’t even know how to do fast love, or any type of love, when he played it for his high school girlfriend. Unsurprisingly, Edgar is a walking encyclopedia of music facts and has tons of great stories, like finally meeting Brian May after a lifetime of soundtracking his films to Queen and getting a Monopoly set in return. [Apple Podcasts]
Comedy Bang Bang – Silly Cone Valley Poo Crew Minus One
Marc: As the new season of HBO’s Silicon Valley is set to kick off this week, who should come a-calling on Scott Aukerman, host of Comedy Bang Bang, but SV regulars Thomas Middleditch and Martin Starr. Or, as they have come to be known in that setting, the Silly Cone Valley Poo Crew. They are “minus one” this time around because fellow cast member Kumail Nanjiani had to bail at the last minute — though his buddies don’t let him off easily, especially now that he’s been an Oscar nominee for writing The Big Sick. Between Aukerman and the two Pied Pipers, there’s so much improv action in the studio that there’s very little room for any semblance of serious conversation (and not a smidge of anything about T.J. Miller, who exited SV at the end of the last season). Middleditch excuses himself a couple of times during the show to be replaced for a few moments by someone claiming to be Nanjiani and then later by a nurse named Janine Blackwell, who has a handful of ex-husbands, made her children battle each other in a homemade Thunderdome, and is selling beeswax Band-Aids. [Apple Podcasts]
Natch Beaut – Cute Hair with Jonathan Van Ness
Kathryn: Queer Eye takes Natch Beauty this week as everyone’s favorite grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness joins Jackie Johnson to talk cute hair and all the ways to get there. For Jonathan, the path wound from cosmetology school in Minnesota to hosting Gay of Thrones for Funny or Die to sculpting an updated Ulysses S. Grant look on perhaps the most talked about TV series of 2018. Turns out he’s one of the Fab Five and also a Fab podcast guest, dishing harrowing tales of career-ending cat hairs, commando pedicures, and lip-clinging toenail clippings. On the road to stardom, sacrifices must be made, and sometimes the best you can do is go nextdoor and buy a scone. Will Lena Dunham and Christina Aguilera get the gang back together on season 8 of Game of Thrones? Van Ness offers tips (silk pillowcases), predictions (silk pillowcases) and advice (silk pillowcases). [Apple Podcasts]
WTF – David Mamet
Marc: Marc Maron continues to get some amazing guests to join him for WTF, a podcast that reached the 900-episode mark this week. Included in that number is legendary playwright and screenwriter David Mamet. Pre-interview, Maron lets us know that he was playing sick – very sick – the day of the interview but, other than letting a few conversation threats float away without chasing them down with his usual vigor, you barely notice. Mamet is a guest that doesn’t disappoint, with stories like putting a play up on its feet: “You just do it,” says Mamet. “No previews?” Maron asks. “You don’t make money from previews. You put it up and if you need to fix something here or there, you fix it.” He’s a curmudgeonly glib guest, and when it’s revealed that he figured out how to write effective drama by watching improvisational comedy at Second City in Chicago – he started there as a waiter, back when talents like Fred Willard and Robert Klein were in the company — a lot of things about why his plays run so darkly comedic start to fall into place. [Apple Podcasts]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Hound Tall – The Hormonal Woman
Safe For Work – Taking Risks with John August
It’s All Been Done: A Barenaked Ladies Podcast – Grade 9
What’s Your Sign? – Mercury Retrograde
Swipe Left, Swipe Left – Day-te w/Marcello
A Funny Feeling – New and Old England Ghosts w/Mike Mitchell
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.