Before and after the joy of Thanksgiving comes the slog of Thanksgiving travel. Before you let the slow nausea of a cramped airport set in, or succumb to the desperation of being stuffed into a car on I-95 in standstill traffic when your dad won’t stop listening to the Eagles, consider tuning out and turning on one of these entertaining and insightful comedy podcasts:
“WTF With Marc Maron”
Comedian Marc Maron’s “WTF with Marc Maron” has become one of comedy’s most essential podcasts since its launch in 2009, eventually becoming the inspiration for his TV show on IFC. Maron has hosted hundreds of comics, including Louis C.K., Mel Brooks and Conan O’Brien, during the semiweekly series, often revealing a dark, vulnerable side of the famous personalities he interviews. In one of his most famous episodes, Maron confronted comedian Dane Cook regarding plagiarism accusations of Louis C.K.’s work, which later became the basis of an episode of “Louie.”
“You Made It Weird With Pete Holmes”
Although stand-up comic Pete Holmes says the main difference between Marc Maron’s podcast and his own show “is that Maron refers to himself as ‘Maron,’ and I refer to myself as ‘Old Petey Pants,’” Splitsider notes that the two comics have very different styles. But like Maron’s podcast, “You Made It Weird” often goes into uncharted territory and guests like Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Galifianakis end up revealing a more intimate part of themselves than audiences usually get to see.
“How Did This Get Made?”
The appeal of “How Did This Get Made” is obvious: comedians Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas (“The League”) and June Diane Raphael (Adult Swim’s “NTSF:SD:SUV::”) riff on movies that are so bad that they are good. But what makes the podcast so funny is that they avoid D-list movies and the obvious jokes. Scheer told the AV Club in February that “There are always these D-level movies, and we try to stay away from them, with the exception of ‘Birdemic’ and ‘The Room.’ We try to stay with the more four-quadrant movies that are trying so hard to appeal and be a big blockbuster and fail miserably, but a lot of those are not fun to watch. They’re bad, and they’re not even really fun to talk about, because it’s depressing. The biggest example of that I can think of is ‘The Last Airbender.’ Everyone was saying, “Oh, you’ve got to see this movie. It’s so bad.” We watch it. We’re like, “Yeah, it’s bad. It’s not fun. It’s upsetting.”
"Comedy Bang! Bang!"
“Comedy Bang! Bang!,” formerly known as “Comedy Death-Ray,” was the original podcast on Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich’s comedy-focused Earwolf Podcast Network, and has since inspired a TV show on IFC by the same name. The show, which features famous comedians, is delightfully weird, with improv segments like impromptu rap battles or bizarre hypothetical situations involving celebrity impersonations.
“By the Way, In Conversation With Jeff Garlin”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” actor and comic Jeff Garlin hosts informal conversations with famous comics twice a month at the Largo in L.A., then distributes them via his podcast on the Earwolf Podcast Network. The show’s vibe is a bit different from podcasts like “Maron” and “You Made It Weird,” though -- as Garlin explained to Splitsider in January, “the difference is it's in front of a live audience.” “I don't go over people’s careers, although we will talk about their careers if it comes up in conversation,” he said. “So what you're really doing as an audience member or as a listener is listening into a conversation with me and whoever I'm talking to.”
As the co-founder of Upright Citizens Brigade, one of the premier comedy schools in the country, Matt Besser brings some of the world’s best improv talent to the radio to tell stories and then perform long-form scenes inspired by one-word suggestions submitted on social media (Twitter, YouTube) or by a performer’s recent personal experience.