The 10 Best Comedy Podcasts of 2015

Comedy Lists
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Nobody listens to the radio anymore, and that’s why podcasts are so great: they’re like listening to the radio without having to be some nerd who listens to the radio. There are all kinds of podcasts but the only ones worth listening to are the funny ones, the comedy ones, the ones with the jokes and all those hard, hard laughs. We’re at least a decade deep into the podcast revolution, where you pretty much have to have your own podcast if you want to make it as a comedian, or at least pop up regularly on other people’s shows, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. This is perhaps the most fertile comedy ground going right now, so let’s dig into it and see what kind of yuks that soil is yielding.

10. My Brother, My Brother and Me

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There’s a lot of reason why My Brother, My Brother and Me shouldn’t be funny. Namely, why the fuck should I care about three random brothers giving people terrible advice? I resisted listening to it for a really long time because of that, but somehow, three random brothers giving people terrible advice is now something I anxiously await. Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy exude the warmth and tension of any good family hang out—pointing out each other’s faults while riffing on each other’s jokes in the way that siblings really only can. It helps that their listeners often have absurd, self imposed problems, or that they also mine Yahoo Answers, that comedy goldmine, but the chemistry isn’t something you can fake. If you’re gonna listen to three random dudes shoot the shit, this is the only podcast you really need. And with the three launching an online TV show through Seeso next year, this is a good time to get into ‘em.—Gita Jackson

9. Professor Blastoff

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After four years of digging into science and philosophy and other big issues that actually kind of mean something sometimes, the Professor Blastoff crew (Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger) signed off for good in July. It was a blow to the comedy podcast world but also to knowledge itself—where can I, as lazy and uninquisitive a man has ever existed, actually go to learn a little bit about stuff? Not Professor Blastoff, at least not anymore. At least they gave us a final great half-year before shutting up shop.—Garrett Martin

8. We Have Concerns

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Anxiety is a weird thing. Sometimes you get anxious for real reasons, like if your oven starts smoking. Sometimes you get anxious about vague reasons, like, let’s say, the inevitability of your death. Anthony Carboni and Jeff Cannata explore mainly the second kind of anxiety on We Have Concerns and it’s weirdly comforting? Each episode explores a different weird science topic, and Anthony and Jeff take half an hour to explain how it’s probably the worst possible thing to happen to mankind. It’s punchy, it’s short, and they’re getting anxious so we don’t have to. If you’ve ever found yourself considering the insignificance of human existence on the bus, We Have Concerns is the best possible way to have that experience.—GJ

7. Lady to Lady

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Comedians Barbara Gray, Brandie Posey and Tess Barker have created one of the most fun hang-outs in podcasting with their show, which is maybe best described as “a funny version of The View mixed with Comedy Bang! Bang!” The ladies’ fun when they’re chatting with each other is infectious and their real friendships are apparent on even a first time listen, making a return visit feel very inviting. Producer David Janove does a nice job equally balancing and indulging the ladies with their whims, and the game segments and recurring character bits are all delightful ingredients.—Grant Pardee

6. Comedy Bang! Bang!

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In its seventh year, Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang! continues to be one of the most consistently hilarious and brilliant comedy podcasts of all time. 2015 brought us great new characters like Mike Hanford’s clueless take on the resurrected John Lennon and Andy Daly’s latest monstrosity of a human being, Joe Bongo. In the past year, we heard the wedding of Gillian Jacobs and Garry Marshall, the return of the Solo Bolo and the creation of the 2015’s greatest catchphrase: “heynong man.” All kidding, a salad. Yet it was “NOT Farts and Procreation 4” —recorded only eight days prior to the untimely death of Harris Wittels, and which became a beautiful tribute to the hilarious writer and comedian—that was this year’s high water mark, and one of the best and most touching episodes in the show’s history. Aukerman usually creates a wonderful playground for some of the best comedians and characters around, but with this wonderful episode, Comedy Bang! Bang! became a visitation for one of the funniest writers and comedians in the business and a perfect way to say goodbye.—Ross Bonaime

5. Spontaneanation

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Podcast pro Paul F. Tompkins launched Spontaneanation in the spring and it quickly became one of our favorites. The show plays to Tompkins’ strengths, from his charming conversations with guests to the long-form improv that makes up the second half of every episode. Between his consistently great guests, a rotating roster of improv regulars and the presence of longtime collaborator Eban Schletter, whose piano work makes the show feel as classy as Tompkins’ suites, Spontaneanation is both an illuminating chat show and a strong argument in favor of the often-maligned artform of improv comedy.—GM

4. Hollywood Handbook

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The concept behind Hollywood Handbook seems groanworthy: two successful but relatively obscure comedy writers (Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements) act like they’re huge Hollywood successes, and offer horrible advice to their legitimately more famous guests on how to make it in show business. Mocking the arrogance and delusions of grandeur stereotypical of Hollywood types isn’t ground-breaking or perceptive. Davenport and Clements are hilarious, though, and their characters so deeply stupid and condescending that they make it work. It’s a satire of self-important celebrities, but it’s so absurd that it also works as a satire of satire of self-important celebrities. Check out the three episodes with The Best Show’s Tom Scharpling, in sequence, to see how great this show can be.—GM

3. How Did This Get Made?

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I love watching bad movies. I’ve seen all of the Twilight movies, at least two of them in theaters, I forced my friends to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and for some reason I watched the entirety of Man of Steel, unable to stop, as if possessed by a horrible spirit or a curse from a faerie. But the best part of watching bad movies is talking about absolutely everything that went wrong. How Did This Get Made? is a podcast that is just that experience, and it is delightful. This year, Paul Scheer, June Diane Rapheal, and Jason Mantzoukas get together and watch terrible, terrible shit and then have the conversation that everyone always immediately wants to have. ‘Cause sometimes you really have to wonder—what in the fuck happened there?—GJ

2. The Best Show

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2015 was a highway roadside trash bag of a year, but it had one thing going for it over 2014: The Best Show was back. After a depressing year-long hiatus Tom Scharpling’s weekly revue came back in full force at the start of 2015, ditching terrestrial radio entirely for the cyber future of today. The mix of top-notch comedy guests, surly caller participation and elaborately orchestrated phone calls with Jon Wurster returned intact, making it feel like the show had hardly left. The Best Show’s labyrinth of in-jokes and callbacks might be off-putting to new listeners, especially when Scharpling and Wurster dig deep into the arcane history and ecosystem of Newbridge, New Jersey, but once you give yourself over to The Best Show it’s hard to ever really pull away. Scharpling and Wurster have spent the last 15 years constructing their own idiosyncratic comedy world, with its own peculiar rhythms and outlook, and it’s as impressive as radio (or, now, podcasting) gets in the 21st century.—GM

1. WTF with Marc Maron

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5 years and over 600 episodes in, WTF feels as essential as ever. The added confidence of his success and longevity pairs nicely with Maron’s natural anger and anxiousness. The show may have built its reputation on the early years when Maron was bitter and had an axe to grind but it’s found it’s best version as Maron has settled into being the most empathic and intuitive interviewer in any format. The Obama episode was definitely the highpoint in terms of publicity but Maron’s best showing was the following episode, 614, when Maron reflects on the experience of having the president on the show and producer Brendan McDonald reflects on dealing with Maron dealing with the experience. That’s the show at its best—searching for the human element, looking for the connection and sharing a knowing laugh.—GP

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