There’s few things more unusual than watching someone listen to a comedy podcast in public. First you wonder what they are laughing at. Are they just insane? Is there someone you don’t see that just told a great joke? Are you losing your mind?
Then you see the earbuds and realize that no one is crazy. They’re just listening to a great comedy podcast, and having more fun than you. Well, I have good news – with the right podcast, you too can randomly burst into laughter in public spaces.
Once known as Comedy Death-Ray Radio, Comedy Bang Bang is the brainchild of Scott Aukerman, a writer and comedian known for his work on Mr. Show with Bob and David. Like many podcast hosts, Scott has certainly been around the block, but often flew under the mainstream radar.
The show has numerous guests, but it is far from your typical interview podcast. Instead, the guests often operate as partners-in-crime. There are sketches, there are impressions, and there’s even the occasional improv game. It’s all a bit silly, but Scott knows when to let absurdity reign and when to reel the show back in, resulting in a tight podcast packed with laughs.
This show is a survivor. Originally aired on radio, the Mike O’Meara show was cut when its station was converted into a sports channel. Rather than give up and go home, the crew decided to keep chugging on as a podcast, and I’m glad they did, because the show is a hoot.
You don’t have to listen long to recognize the show’s radio roots. It’s a very organized, high-quality production staffed with rich radio voices. The show is topical, but also contains bits, a mailbag and more. This would be a particularly good podcast for a workout; it’s always an hour long and can act as a no-pressure timer.
Yep, the Nerdist is a podcast that’s aimed at nerds. Who would have imagined!
To be honest, though, the “nerd” label is a net that can be cast quite wide these days, so this podcast is more accessible than you’d think. If anything, the Nerdist would be best labeled as an alternative pop-culture podcast, which is reinforced by a guest selection that has recently included Patton Oswald, Ed Helms and Adam Carolla.
While the Nerdist doesn’t typically force me into belly-laughs, the smooth hosting of Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira keeps a smile on my face, and the Nerdist arguably has the best selection of guests on any comedy podcast currently being produced.
A relatively new podcast, the Pod F. Tompkast is the creation of comic Paul F. Tompkins. Unlike most comedy podcasts, which tend to focus on current events and guests, the Pod F. Tompkast is an exploration in the absurd. There’s not always a clear logic to what’s happening, and if you’re looking for great jokes, excellent bits or in-depth interviews, well, look elsewhere (though that’s not to say bits don’t exist, or that guests don’t take part at times).
Yet there is something indiscernibly engaging about Paul F. Tompkins’ voice. Wherever he leads, I’m happy to follow. Indeed, it sometimes seems as if the entire point of the podcast is to see how far deep into absurdity Paul can go while remaining comedic. Be sure to check out the extrasodes,and .
Okay, I must admit, I’ve saved my favorite for last. I’ve been a long-time listener of this podcast, and of all the many that I listen to, this is one of the few podcasts that I absolutely never, ever miss.
The format of WTF is simple; an introduction of about ten minutes, usually consisting of Marc ranting about whatever is on his mind, followed by an in-depth interview with a single guest. It’s hard to say what it is about Marc that seems to disarm his guests so thoroughly, but he seems to inspire candidness in everyone who sits with him in front of a mic. This is often the source of the podcast’s comedy, in fact, as Marc and his guests tackle everything from family issues to the art of comedy.
WTF can ramble on at times, but it’s the lack of structure that gives it an edge. You never know what’s going to happen, and it’s not unusual for an interview to become hilariously confrontational when Marc hits a nerve – the Gallagher interview is the most famous example, but just one of many.
If you’re going to listen to just five comedy podcasts, these are the ones I’d recommend. Fortunately, you don’t have to listen to just five if you don’t want to. Feel free to share your favorite comedy podcast in the comments.