Professor Blastoff, the beloved, long-running podcast from Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsberger, released its final episode this week. In loving memory, we’ve compiled the best of podcasting’s most prolific — and most crowded — subgenre: comedy.
From interview shows to news satire, comedy podcasts are one of the driving forces behind the current boom in the industry, connecting entertainers to audiences while easing said audiences’ commutes/workdays/laundry folding time. Here are 30 that have established themselves as essentials, whether they’re dearly departed or five years strong.
Notaro, Dunnigan, and Huntsberger’s show has a remarkably simple premise: the three pick a topic — anything from “Trauma” to “Filmmaking” to “Canada” — and riff on it for an hour or so, occasionally with guests. Given that it’s basically ending because Notaro is too busy, i.e. successful, to keep up with her co-hosting duties, PB shouldn’t be mourned too much, but it should be mourned nevertheless: the three comedians’ rapport is exactly the kind of laid-back, intimate vibe that’s made podcasts so popular in the first place. Find the complete archives here.
Desus vs. Mero
These Twitter stars have since left podcasting behind for bigger and better things, including a development deal with MTV, the medium served as the comedy duo’s bridge between social media and the mainstream entertainment industry. Hosted by Complex TV, the webseries/video podcast saw the partners, both of whom hail from the Bronx, riff on pop culture against a bare-bones backdrop. It only lasted 46 episodes before Desus and Mero moved on, but luckily they’re still free to watch online.
A podcast so successful it’s spawned an entire namesake network — including, among others, fellow list members You Made It Weird and The Indoor Kids — The Nerdist began with a wide mandate that’s only gotten wider: host Chris Hardwick, along with Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, discusses comedy and/or nerd culture with a guest. It’s an interview show that, thanks to the group aspect, doesn’t really feel like an interview, a formula that’s landed The Nerdist every comic, actor, writer, and musician you could think of — and kept it online for more than half a decade. Here are its archives.
Ronna & Beverly
I’ll have to admit bias here: any creators who describe themselves as “America’s favorite fifty-something Jewish mothers” have my endorsement. (For context, I’ve watched all of Kroll Show‘s “Oh, Hello” at the 92nd Street Y. Multiple times.) But Ronna Glickman and Beverly Ginsberg, aka Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, will appeal even to those outside the tribe, adding their fully realized fictional personae to interviews with everyone from Tavi Gevinson to Jenji Kohan, who once co-wrote a Paul Feig-directed pilot with the duo for Showtime. Listen to all that gabbing here.
You Made It Weird
Pete Holmes, of the late Pete Holmes Show, often jokes about his podcast’s similarity to WTF: confessional one-on-one interviews, mostly with comics. But Holmes’ outlook is considerably sunnier than Marc Maron’s, even if he’s just as willing to bare his own dirty laundry, and urge guests to do the same. Every episode follows the same general outline — Comedy, Sex, God, in that order — though the episodes featuring Chris Gerhard, Harris Wittels, and Holmes’ “best worst friend” Chelsea Peretti stand out. Listen to them all here.
If anyone’s capable of making a science podcast funny, or a comedy podcast about science, it’s Neil deGrasse Tyson, the man who singlehandedly brought astrophysics (back) into the mainstream. Chuck Nice and Bobs Burgers’ Eugene Mirman take turns as Tyson’s co-hosts, helping him bring science to the masses for six seasons and counting. Access the archives here.
Doug Loves Movies
Doug Benson is best known for two things: marijuana — don’t worry, we’ll get to that one in a second — and Doug Loves Movies, his long-running panel show where comedians compete for movie trivia supremacy on audience members’ behalf. At 861 episodes strong, DLM boasts one of the largest and most engaged fanbases of any podcast around (it has a Wiki and a subreddit!). Here are the archives.
Getting Doug with High
Video podcasts can be a risky proposition. Putting a casual conversation on in the background during a car ride is all well and good, but to earn eyes as well as ears, a piece of media needs to be worth the investment. Luckily, Getting Doug with High delivers by getting comics and celebrities high on camera, with results that are frequently a mess but always delightful. Guests run the gamut from iconic stoners like Cheech and Chong to more occasional smokers like Pete Holmes; episodes begin promptly at 4:15 pm and end with a magic trick. Watch them all here.
How Was Your Week
Before Difficult People premieres this August and Julie Klausner finally gets the national television airtime she deserves alongside Billy Eichner, How Was Your Week is required listening. By now, the monologue-and-interview format is familiar to the average podcast listener, but Klausner’s approach — she’s more likely to ask guests, whether they’re BuzzFeed editors or Joan Rivers, about their taste in reality TV than their creative process — is very much her own. Find the archives here.
Friends Like Us
Any comedy nerd with an ounce of self-awareness knows that the industry, like the rest of entertainment, is overwhelmingly white dude-centric. Enter Friends Like Us. Creator and host Marina Franklin has performed alongside the likes of Amy Schumer (in Netflix’s Women Who Kill) and Larry Wilmore (as a panelist on the Tonight Show), and she brings her well-honed charisma in spades to the all-too-rare comedy podcast that’s explicitly centered around women of color. Recent guests have included SNL‘s Sasheer Zamata, Phoebe Robinson, and Godfrey; listen to the archives here.
WTF with Marc Maron
Maron’s interview show needs no introduction. If you know what a podcast is, you know WTF, the podcast that evolved from a struggling comedian working out his demons (addiction, breakups, and professional jealousy among them) to an established program that could conceivably host the likes of Terry Gross and Barack Obama. Even if WTF is well within the mainstream, though, it hasn’t lost its edge; witness the recent (totally overblown) uproar over Obama’s use of the n-word on air. Archives available here.
Comedy Bang! Bang!
What WTF is to the interview podcast, Comedy Bang! Bang! is to… whatever genre you’d call its mix of character work, improv, recurring segments, and discussion. Scott Aukerman has been hosting since the show began as a radio version of his Comedy Death Ray show at UCB in 2009, and it’s kept going even after Aukerman adapted it into a postmodern “talk show” for IFC (also home to WTF host Marc Maron’s show Maron). Comedy Bang! Bang! stalwarts include Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Daly, and the late Harris Wittels. Listen to the archives here.
The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project
Speaking of Andy Daly, he’s the mastermind behind this podcast equivalent to a miniseries, launched last year in the run-up to Daly’s much-lauded Comedy Central series Review. At just eight episodes, the Podcast Pilot Project is theoretically a series of trial runs for potential podcasts — each hosted by a different character Daly’s introduced on Comedy Bang! Bang!, like theater director/professional creepshow Don DiMello. The premise is extremely insider-y, but surprisingly accessible even to those who aren’t up-to-date with CBB‘s enormous canon of characters. Listen to the project in its entirety here.
Co-hosted by comedy partners and identical twins Randy and Jason Sklar, Sklarbro Country‘s niche is that place where most proudly nerdy comedians dare not tread: sports. (They’ve been on ESPN — they’re the real deal!) Consequently, many of their guests fall outside the typical podcast circuit, even though the discussion remains accessible to those of us who couldn’t remember this year’s Final Four with a gun to our heads. Find the archives here.
And now for a very different sort of wonk: the kind who keeps up with Billboard rankings and box office numbers, i.e. the kind who’s much more likely to be reading this website. Co-hosted by Howard Kremer and “chart keeper” Kulap Vilaysack, Who Charted? reviews what’s selling each week with a guest, a simple, populist premise that allows for plenty of good ol’ fashioned pop culture comedy. Listen to the archives here.
How Did This Get Made?
Those who tuned into Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No know that terrible cinema makes for great comedy. Hence How Did This Get Made?, a biweekly podcast hosted by husband-wife team June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie) and Paul Scheer, (The League), along with Jason Mantzoukas (every movie and TV show from the last five years). Recent targets include Face/Off and the Wachowski’s low point/masterpiece Jupiter Ascending; listen to back episodes here.
The Flop House
Any discussion of bad movie podcasts, however, also has to include The Flop House, the brainchild of Dan McCoy, Stuart Wellington, and Elliott Kalan. (McCoy and Kalan are Daily Show writers; Wellington is a longtime friend.) Following its 2007 launch, The Flop House quickly established itself as a destination for prime terrible move #content, tackling cinematic masterpieces like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and many, many Nicolas Cage films. Find the archives here.
UCB alumni Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi co-host this current events podcast dedicated to “all the issues important to ladies and gays…and treating them with much less respect than they deserve.” Throwing Shade is profane, frequently sexual, and explicitly feminist — always a welcome approach to comedy. Episodes are organized around each week’s relevant news items, albeit with plenty of room for riffing; find them all here.
Kid Fury and Crissle are one of podcasting’s first breakout success stories. Since launching The Read in 2012 as recent New York City transplants, the duo have built their pop culture-oriented podcast — divided into commentary, listener letters, and a weekly “read” of someone or something — into a 100,000-plus subscriber powerhouse. Listen to the archives here, and check out Crissle’s complete and total shutdown of a panel audience member’s inability to understand why blackface is wrong here.
If a podcast is a big enough deal to earn its own documentary, it’s probably worth a listen. Ditto if said podcast is hosted by the famously temperamental “genius asshole” (per Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff) Dan Harmon, creator of NBC-turned-Yahoo cult favorite Community and Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty. Co-hosted with Whose Line Is It Anyway‘s Jeff B. Davis, the “comptroller” of Harmontown to Harmon’s mayor, the podcast, recorded in front of an audience, combines Harmon’s “live therapy sessions” with segments focused on Dungeons & Dragons and, later, Shadowrun. The archives can be found here.
Mike and Tom Eat Snacks
Michael Ian Black now hosts the far more formal How to Be Amazing, but the sporadically released — it’s had 95 episodes in over four years — Mike and Tom Eat Snacks is just a bit more fun. The idea is self-explanatory: Black and co-host Tom Cavanagh eat snacks, and then they talk about them. Simple Relatable. Powerful. Listen to all of its episodes here.
The JV Club
Comedy is tragedy plus time, and most people’s teen years are, in retrospect, a complete and utter tragedy. Janet Varney (get it? JV?) asks guests to talk about what they were like in their teen years, with results that simultaneously make listeners laugh and give us hope. Plenty of comedians stop by, of course, but the likes of Christina Hendricks and Connie Chung are also willing to open up. Listen to the archives here.
Never Not Funny
At just over nine years old, Jimmy Pardo’s Never Not Funny is another member of comedy podcasts’ “old” guard, with emphasis on the scare quotes. The format, in which Pardo and co-host/producer Matt Belknap sit down with a guest, is about as free-wheeling, and the guest roster as extensive, as one would expect a podcast that set up shop in 2006 to be. Check out its enormous archives here.
On paper, “two white guys host a show about black culture” reads like a complete and utter disaster. But under Moshe Kasher and Neal Brennan (who is, after all, the co-creator of Chappelle’s Show), The Champs regularly turned out discussions of race, politics, and personal lives that were both insightful and hilarious, a line that’s much harder to walk than the hosts make it seem. The podcast wound down a few months ago, but its archives are available here.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour
If podcasts signal the renaissance of radio — and they are how 99.5% of all twentysomething yuppies got into NPR — then The Thrilling Adventure Hour is the revival of old-school storytelling shows. Recorded monthly at Largo in L.A., The Thrilling Adventure Hour features segments like space Western “Sparks Nevada, Monster on Mars” and “Desdemona Hughes, Diva Detective.” Created by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, the show frequently hosts guests like Paul F. Tompkins, Nathan Fillion, and Linda Cardellini. Find the archives here.
Welcome to Night Vale
Night Vale isn’t a “comedy” podcast in the traditional (read: less than a decade old) sense, but the fictional dispatches from its namesake paranormal town have their own macabre, surreal, and utterly distinctive comic sensibility. Cecil Palmer’s updates on the improbable happenings in his desert home feel like the unholy marriage of Twin Peaks and Prairie Home Companion, and in less than three years, creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor have turned them into fictional podcasting’s first bona fide phenomenon. Keep an eye out for the novel this fall; archives are available here.
The Indoor Kids
Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon are a married couple. Kumail and Emily like video games. Kumail and Emily are extremely funny — he’s a stand-up who’s guested on every TV show, not to mention podcast, known to man; she’s a writer and producer of The Meltdown Nanjiani and Jonah Ray’s stand-up show. So since 2011, Kumail and Emily have talked about video games into a microphone, with predictably entertaining results; find the archives here. (Fans should also check out The X-Files Files, Nanjiani’s episode-by-episode breakdown of the cult show — now with extra relevance given his casting in the reboot.)
Judge John Hodgman
John Hodgman presides as “fake Internet judge,” with Jesse Thorn as his fake Internet bailiff/co-host, over hilariously minor — but very real — disputes between fans in the perfect venue for Hodgman’s fussy-white-guy gravitas. Courtroom sound effects and “expert witnesses” are sometimes involved; find the archives here.
Call Chelsea Peretti
Though the comedian is known to hand over her hosting duties to a robot every once in a while, Call Chelsea Peretti is theoretically a call-in show (duh) where the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star puts herself at the mercy of random fans. There are plenty of in-studio guests, including Peretti’s former boss Mike Schur and Tim Heidecker, but at its heart, this show is all about the bizarre conversations, and random tangents thereof, between Chelsea and her non-famous callers. Find the archives here.
John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman have, incredibly, managed to maintain production of their “Audio Newspaper for a Visual World” even after the launch of Oliver’s weekly HBO news show last year. The two comedians and longtime collaborators have been broadcasting since 2007 — in podcast years, practically the Jurassic Period — when British newspaper The Times approached them about a satirical podcast. Recording in London and New York, the duo have been independent since 2012, riffing on news from both sides of the Atlantic from… both sides of the Atlantic. Back episodes are available here.