The comedy art form has always required two basic components — a comedian and their audience. And while that audience today is more spread out in an increasingly digital world, they are simultaneously more accessible than ever. The podcast boom of the past decade has tremendously upended how different corners of the entertainment and media realm operate, and comedians have taken to the recorded airwaves to provide fans with laughs in a manner that replicates the energy they bring to their live performances.
Variety has rounded up a selection of comedy podcasts both new and old, many headed by some of the world’s most renowned comedians, available to check out today. These podcasts have either supplemented the careers of established comedians or broke previously unknown personalities into the mainstream, launching impressive careers in entertainment. Whether you need a quick laugh while running errands or want to learn more about the history of the comedy scene through extensive sit-down interviews, this list has something to offer for every comedy head out there.
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Kevin Hart is a high-energy comedy superstar in his own right, but the “Comedy Gold Minds” podcast serves as more of an introspective space for Hart and his guests to reflect on their comedy careers, their brands of comedy and fun insider anecdotes from all the legendary bar roundtables after long nights of shows. The podcast is a newcomer relative to other established shows on this list, starting in early 2021 with a Jerry Seinfeld interview, but has since included guests like Bill Burr, Hasan Minhaj, Steve Harvey and David Letterman. Comedy fans who would like to hear more life stories from their favorite comedians and gain a better appreciation for the scene will enjoy Hart’s laid-back, attentive approach to “Comedy Gold Minds.”
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Any fan of late-night host Conan O’Brien knows his comedic chops shine brightest when he goes off-script, so why not take the script out entirely? The weekly “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” podcast started in 2018 as a supplement to his late-night show on TBS and features his assistant Sona Movsesian and producer Matt Gourley sharing co-hosting duties, offering takes on current events and interviewing multiple high-profile celebrity guests. With O’Brien in between television gigs and working on his upcoming HBO Max show, the podcast currently serves as the primary spot for fans to get their consistent fix of Conan.
Although comedian Bill Burr has risen astronomically in stature in recent years, from a prominent role in Disney’s “The Mandalorian” to playing the first ever comedy show in Boston’s Fenway Park later in August, his Monday Morning Podcast — started in May of 2007 — continues to release weekly with hour-long episodes on Mondays and half-hour check-in episodes on Thursdays. Burr’s signature brand of anger-riddled but realistic takes on topics like marriage, fatherhood and getting older come on full display every week, and the simple, minimalistic approach to the podcast makes Burr feel like a hilarious old friend that you want to keep up with much as possible.
Comedian Pete Holmes, most notably known for his upbeat personality and a leading role in his semi-autobiographical HBO show “Crashing,” has been hosting “You Made It Weird” since its debut in 2011. Guests on the show primarily consisted of comedians during its earlier iterations, but has since expanded to include musicians, scientists, authors and pastors. The initial premise of the show and the origin of its title comes from the interview style in which Holmes would ask his guest about three “weird” things he heard about them, and comedic dialogue would then follow. In 2020, Holmes began a spin-off podcast titled “We Made It Weird” with his wife Valerie Chaney and serves as a weekly catch-up with his partner.
Desus Nice and The Kid Mero have gone their separate ways and their Showtime gig is officially over, but the “Bodega Boys” brand continues to live on with their exhaustive podcast archive. Over the course of a 253-episode run from 2015 to 2021, the duo’s irreverent brand of New York-centered humor came through in an unfiltered and honest manner, notching them attention from the right people that landed them their Showtime show in 2019 and a book deal with Penguin Random House that produced “God-Level Knowledge Darts: Life Lessons From The Bronx” in 2020. Whether you’re a newcomer or a longtime Bodega Hive member that wants to relive some of the duo’s best comedic moments, their extensive archive has something in there for everybody that will remind them what made Desus and Mero such formidable and fresh voices in today’s comedy landscape.
“WTF with Marc Maron” is a great choice for a podcast in which listeners would want to hear more about how comedians think, along with how their personalities and life stories influence their brand of comedy. The stand-up comedy veteran has been hosting the podcast — which now boasts more than 1,200 episodes — since 2009, becoming an experienced and thoughtful interviewer in the process. Prominent guests like the late Robin Williams, “Saturday Night Live’s” Michael Che and even former President Barack Obama have come on the show, making it a prominent platform for both comedians and high-profile guests to appear on.
Scott Aukerman’s “Comedy Bang Bang” podcast is a versatile sketch comedy show that is notoriously unpredictable and surprising in nature. The show, which launched in 2009, includes traditional conversation segments with guests, along with game elements and comedy song performances. Many comedians who have come on the show in the past have played or workshopped characters that they stayed in character throughout the entire episode. Attention garnered from the podcast eventually landed Aukerman an IFC show of the same name which breathed visual life to the podcast’s core components, which ran from 2012 to 2016. The podcast continues to air on all podcast platforms, with recent guests including the likes of Patton Oswalt, Adam Scott and Ben Schwartz.
Long-running NPR show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me” began in Chicago in 1998 through WBEZ, and has become a go-to for listeners who want to catch up on current events by putting guests through humorous quizzes. Peter Segal has hosted the show since its inaugural year, and it has since become a cultural mainstay in the podcast world. Listeners also are occasionally able to call into the show to participate in quizzes and segments such as “Bluff the Listener,” “Not My Job” and “Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank.” Prominent recent guests include actor Jeremy Allen White, whose FX show “The Bear” has become a breakout hit.
SNL star Bowen Yang and comedian Matt Rogers tackle all things culture in their “Las Culturistas” podcast, which first started in 2016. The duo interviews guests every week about their experiences with popular culture, including their earliest, most formative experiences. The show has a signature final segment called “I Don’t Think So Honey” in which they both do a minute on an element of culture they currently find frustrating. The show has been praised for the duo’s insights into being comedians navigating the entertainment industry, in addition to their humorous commentaries on pop culture.
Comedian friends Nicole Byer and SNL alumna Sasheer Zamata co-host “Best Friends,” a podcast about life’s most spontaneous range of topics discussed and dissected through the lens of two best friends. The podcast began in early 2019 and received much praise for the duo’s apparent chemistry, which is amplified by the fact that both comedians have experienced a great amount of success in entertainment. Byer and Zamata often host live recordings of the podcast in front of audiences in addition to the show’s regular output.
“The Office” co-stars and real-life best friends Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey started “Office Ladies” in late 2019 as a re-watch podcast for the much-adored series, sharing behind-the-scenes stories from the show. The podcast covers one episode from the show each week, and it is currently on the backend of the show’s sixth season. Fischer and Kinsey often have guests related to the show on the podcast to exchange jokes and stories, including former cast members and even the U.S. show’s creator and showrunner Greg Daniels.
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Movie-watching pals and comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas dissect the anatomy of bad films in “How Did This Get Made?,” a long-running film podcast that started back in 2010. They announce which movies they will be covering a week in advance and often have guests come on the show to join their conversations about any given movie, and also often hold live recordings in front of audiences. The trio’s combined charm and sharp commentary about each selected film and their broader discourse about film industry makes it a must-listen for any comedy and film buff.
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