Even being a comedian myself, music has always been my number one driving force, artistically, but in recent years, podcasts have threatened this. When I commute, podcasts have become my go-to companion, and I can’t imagine life without them. I always love finding new things (even though that means I need to find non-existent time to digest them) to listen to, and sharing with people what things have moved me, so I decided to compile my favorite podcast-related things of 2016. If I didn’t mention your favorite, there’s a good chance I didn’t hear it. One only has so much time. So tell me what you loved. And if you haven’t heard anything that I’ve picked here, please find time to check these things out. Enjoy!
2016 PODCAST OF THE YEAR: Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast
PODCAST MVP: Andy Kindler – For his essential appearances on Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Fitzdog Radio, Todd Glass Show, Talk Is Jericho, etc.
Honorable mention: Dana Carvey (WTF, About Last Night, The Adam Carolla Show, Nerdist, etc.)
EPISODES OF THE YEAR:
You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes – Louie Anderson; Garry Shandling
Pete Holmes used to be an excitable boy. He still can be, but he’s gotten a lot less weird over the years. It’s impressive how a man who was once widely considered silly, has become one of the best interviewers in the business. Part of the reason for this is that he is not actually an interviewer. Pete is very particular about what he’s looking for out of a guest, and he has an effortless knack of getting it out of them, simply by being genuine, engaged, and himself. Louie Anderson’s appearance is one of the most thoughtful and heartfelt things you’ll ever come across on a comedy podcast. Not only does Louie share many deeply personal things, but he also has a good cry in the middle of the podcast. It’s a moment that will stick with you, and just one of the few elements that made this episode so special, and my pick for the best of the year.
Not far behind is Pete’s personal, spiritual, generous, and inspiring conversation with Garry Shandling, shortly before his death, which shook the comedy community to its core. This episode just adds to the sadness, when you consider how healthy, and full of life he sounds.
Norman Lear and Judd Apatow – Speaks for itself. Generational legends sharing their wisdom with future legends.
Bo Burnham #3 – Burnham’s points of view may not always be what you want to hear, and his cynicism is very heavy-handed at times, but I respect his honesty, and willingness to speak his mind about things that could hurt his career. It’s very refreshing.
Aaron Rodgers – So great hearing an elite athlete speaking so freely, where others would give stock answers, or decline the interview altogether.
Girl On Guy – Sheryl Underwood parts I & II (212-213)
Aisha Tyler sadly doesn’t do her podcast as regularly as she used to, but on these two episodes with her The Talk co-star, she shows why she’s still one of the best, though it’s Underwood’s honesty, emotion, and willingness to share her biggest joys, and darkest pains, that ultimately made this one a shoo-in for one of my favorite listens of 2016. Sheryl is a black conservative. A veteran/comedian. A joyous widow. And she speaks on all her complexities with a bold delicacy that touched me to the core. It’s always refreshing to hear the depth of someone whose layers you only get rare glimpses of normally, and that’s what makes podcasts so essential to me. It takes a long, one on one, heart to heart, to find any real truth behind your favorite people. I already liked Underwood before hearing this, but now I feel like we’re close friends.
The Joe Rogan Experience – End of the World (Live From the Comedy Store)
Joe Rogan is still undeniably one of the best podcasters, but I must admit, these days I usually only listen if it’s someone I’m really into, or haven’t heard on the show before. On this episode, it was evident almost instantly that it would be one of the best shows of the year, and probably in podcast history. Rogan gathered a handful of the world’s finest comics (Doug Stanhope, Bill Burr, Bert Kreischer, Greg Fitzsimmons, etc.), headed to a comedy mecca, and sorted out the 2016 Presidential Election as it was happening, and helped me cope with the results once they were imminent. Burr was arguably the star of the show throughout, helping hold down the fort, and updating the results, while Rogan went to do a set, but Stanhope was great as always, and Rogan’s perspective after returning from his set, really helped me feel better about things. Rogan should really consider gathering these folks together anytime anything significant happens in this country.
Hannibal Buress (836) – The higher Buress got, the better the episode was, and the three hours flew by.
Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast – Bob “Super Dave” Einstein (Episode #123) – Episode to episode, this is easily my favorite podcast right now. So much so, that I had a hard time picking my favorite one of his. Gilbert’s infectious laughter, lust for life, and mind for history, make this a must listen event always, and co-host Frank Santopadre is the perfect straight man, and helps keep things from unraveling with his excellent interviewing, and listening skills. On this episode, Einstein busts Santopadre’s balls repeatedly, and Frank shows what a sense of humor he has about it, and we get to hear everyone laugh heartily multiple times, which will lead you to follow suit, and really, what more can you ask for from a comedy podcast?
George Takei (87) – Takei is such a good sport, playing with Frank and Gilbert, and consistently yes-anding them, even while having a very evident sore throat. There is lots of fun to be had here, but also touching to hear Takei talk about Asian discrimination in Hollywood, and other heavy issues close to his heart.
John Amos (129) – You can hear the strength, humility, and fun spirit that has made John one of our favorite distant relatives for decades here, as he talks about his storied career, which started off behind the scenes writing for and with legends. Glad to hear him still sounding so alert and in touch with his career. This man deserves a lot more recognition than he gets, and is just as impressive as many of his more famous colleagues.
Joe Pantoliano (125) – A refreshingly raw, and slightly emotional journey with a sweet man who often plays brash tough guys onscreen. I’m always blown away by what people will share when they’re in the midst of a really engaging conversation, and this happens often on Gilbert’s show.
Matthew Broderick (116)
Impractical Jokers (119)
Mini-Ep #74: One Hit Wonders, 1970; ME 70: One-Hit Wonders, 1966-67 – These mini-episodes are phenomenal. There is nothing that warmed my heart more consistently last year than hearing Gilbert sing along with his favorite tunes from the past.
Weird Al – Great episode, but it aired in 2015, even though I heard it for the first time last year.
The Smartest Man in the World – Bears – When Greg gets on a proper rant, there are few less captivating things in the comedy world. He’s one of the few people I can tolerate talking about politics as long as he wishes to. But add to all his normal magnificence some in depth Bob Dylan talk, and you’ve got me even more entranced. Proops was firing on all cylinders for this episode, and his on point coverage of all things awesome often makes you ponder if the title of his show isn’t just as spot on as everything else the man says.
Botanicals – Another post election pep talk that I sorely needed.
WTF with Marc Maron – Robert Kelly (737) – Kelly goes in depth about his childhood turmoil, his struggles with addiction, and the worries that keep him motivated to keep moving forward. There’s not many things better in the podcast world than hearing Marc and a close peer bring the best out of each other. It’s very real, and always beautiful.
Cintra Wilson (674) – Not only did Marc’s awesome interview with her introduce me to one of my new favorite women, writers, and secret crushes, but it led to her following me on Twitter! Marc has a high appreciation for strong, unique women, and I’m ecstatic whenever he shines a light on one, because I have similar taste in people. Cintra Wilson is a true gem.
Chris Gethard (711)
Casey Affleck (767) – I almost felt like I was intruding. As deep, honest, and genuine an interview as you’ll ever hear with a Hollywood star.
Dana Carvey (765) – I always feel like Carvey is holding back a little, but I’ve never heard him share as much as he did on numerous podcasts in 2016, and I think his appearance on WTF was arguably the best, and deepest. I’d still love to learn more, though.
Michael Rapaport (689)
Geoff Tate (743)
Ron Perlman (741)
Ethan Hawke (693)
Eric Andre (730)
Rob Reiner (702)
Chris Garcia (742)
Louie Anderson (715)
Jeff Goldlum (721)
Jerry Lewis (WTF Uncovered #3) – This was destined to become one of the finest episodes of WTF to ever air, than out of the blue, Lewis decided the interview was over. Not shocking, knowing Jerry’s personality, but I felt like things were going so well, and I thought that would be enough for him to overcome himself. I hope they’re able to make this happen again, though I’m not holding my breath.
About Last Night – Kyle Kinane – Simply one of the funniest episodes of any podcast in 2016. Kinane is always a treat, and you can always count on him saying a thousand things he’s never said before, especially if he’s riffing with other comedians.
Wayne Brady – I hope he comes back again, because I felt like they just barely scratched the surface. Brady is a more complex, smart, and creative person than a lot of people realize, and Adam and Brad did an amazing job of showcasing that here.
Godfrey – Yet another Godfrey appearance that will make you go, “Why the fuck isn’t he a household name yet!?”
Never Not Funny – All – There wasn’t an episode of NNF that I didn’t like last year, and that’s a testament to the way Jimmy, Matt, Garon, and Eliot work together. The uniformity of the show works flawlessly, even when things go haywire, or tempers flare, from the intros, to the bits, to the games, to the theme songs, to the way everyone interacts with the guests. It’s a weekly delight, and one of the things that helped keep me sane most often in 2016.
Matt Oswalt (1721)
Richard Kind (1802)
Jon Cryer (1812)
Amber Rose (1823)
Paul Reiser (1811)
Lauren Ash (1920)
Diedrich Bader (1817)
Joe Mantegna (1919)
Mike Schmidt (1915)
Maria Bamford (1819)
Anna Faris is Unqualified – Mike Birbiglia part two (48) – Unqualified was one of the most pleasant surprises that I discovered in 2016. I had no idea Faris had a podcast, and I don’t remember how I found it, nor did I know how important a podcast it would become for me. This episode further surprised me with Birbiglia’s insightful, thoughtful advice to listeners of the show.
Andy Cohen/Caller Updates (73)
Michael Rapaport (7)
Ken Jeong (57/58)
I am Rapaport – Live From New York City Irving Plaza – A raucous crowd, and lots of inside stuff that will delight any member of the Rapapack, but nothing beats special guest Danny Aiello (who Michael memorably chatted one on one with on episode 99) and Rapaport doing dueling Aiellos while singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, moments after Danny performed a solo serenade featuring tones that would make Tony Bennett proud.
Live From Minneapolis, MN (189)
Live Showcase with Latrell Sprewell (187)
True Romance (148)
Andy Cohen (186)
The Nerdist – Norm Macdonald – Speaks for itself, really.
The Best Show with Tom Scharpling – The Blowhard 100 – In which Kurt Vile, Fred from Honolulu, and a bunch of other beautiful knuckleheads help our hero rank the top 100 people who aren’t always the best at not shutting the fuck up.
Chris Gethard and Sal Vulcano
Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show – Andy Kindler (280) – Guest host Samm Levine brings out the profound wackiness of America’s should-be sweetheart, Andy Kindler. There is so much gold on this episode, it would take me hours to compile, but his jabs about Kevin James’ new sitcom might be the acme.
Vince Gilligan (253)
7th Anniversary Live with Colin Hay, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Burr
Jay Mohr (285)
Talk is Jericho – Broken Matt Hardy – If you’re a wrestling fan and don’t understand why an entire episode of Chris Jericho interviewing Matt Hardy in character as his “Broken” alter ego, then you’re probably not a wrestling fan.
Danzig (278) – Uh. It’s fucking Danzig. Need I say more? And Glenn gets pretty open about stuff. More so than I thought he would, honestly.
Impractical Jokers (291)
TalkN Shop (Live in Australia) – Pretty much all the TalkN Shop episodes (Gallows, Anderson, and sometimes AJ Styles) are great fun, and total messes. Love it. Not to mention, one of the most glorious (apologies to Bobby Roode) things I’ve ever heard is Luke Gallows’ impression of Howard Finkel.
Doug Loves Movies – Scott Thompson, Mark Forward, and Sean Cullen (Live from the Royal Theatre in Toronto) – One of the most beautiful trainwrecks I’ve ever heard unfold. They should reunite annually and see how much weirder it can get.
Danny Trejo, Joseph Mazzello, and Josh Wolf (Live from UCB Franklin) – Holy shit, I almost forgot about this one. I couldn’t stop smiling. Nobody including Trejo seemed to know how he got there, but he was predictably amazing, and all other guests were unharmed.
Geoff Tate, Doogie Horner, Greg Proops, and Emma Arnold (Live from Helium in Portland, OR)
Dustin Ybarra, Chris Cubas and “Mark Wahlberg” (Live from Hyena’s in Dallas)
pretty much anytime “Mark Wahlberg” appears on the show
Amy Miller, Sean Jordan, Sean Sakimae and Geoff Tate (Live from American Comedy Company in San Diego) – Half of these guests follow me on Twitter!
Opie, Sherrod Small, Judy Gold, Mark Normand, and Greg Wyshynski (Live from Gramercy Theatre in NYC)
Bobby Moynihan, Amy Miller, Ron Bennington, and Gary Gulman (Live from Gramercy, NYC)
The Todd Barry Podcast – Live from Just For Laughs in Montreal with George Wallace, Mark Forward, and Joe Mande (131) – Barry’s famously medium energy works wonders with Wallace’s natural comedic awesomeness, and hearing Mande crack George up was a special added bonus.
Wayne Federman (117)
Neko Case (114)
Sklarbro Country/Sklarbro County – Rhys Darby, Spelling Bee champs (306)
Romany Malco (County 229)
Ian Edwards (County 224)
Charlie Day (327)
Brad Williams (304)
How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black – Tim Gunn (38) – I hope Black gets a nightly chat show eventually, but only if he’s allowed to do things his way. Gunn was blown at how Michael was able to tap into his psyche in such a short period of time, and it wasn’t lost on me either. Superb.
Michael Showalter (36)
Dan Savage (33)
Artie Quitter Podcast – Gilbert Gottfried
Comedians Round Table with Dave Attell, Russ Meneve & Dave Juskow
Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank – Lunch Meat with Jeffrey Ross (272)
Harmontown – Amazing Blades with Logic (215)
Occasionally Awesome – A Radiohead Shaped Podcast
Tom Rhodes Radio – Paul Ogata – This would have been higher, but it originally aired in 2015. Ogata is a great guy, and remains one of stand up comedy’s best kept secrets, as Rhodes will proudly tell you.
TOP 10 COMEDY PODCASTS (episode to episode)
1. Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast
2. WTF with Marc Maron
3. You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes
4. Never Not Funny
5. I am Rapaport Stereo Podcast
6. Doug Loves Movies
7. Anna Faris is Unqualified
8. The Smartest Man in the World
9. Race Wars
10. How Did This Get Made?
Honorable mention (alphabetically): Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast, Comedy Bang Bang, Comedy Film Nerds, Fitzdog Radio, Hang Out With Me, Judge John Hodgman, Mohr Stories, Thanks For the Invite, The Adam Carolla Show, The Comedian’s Comedian with Stuart Goldsmith, The Dana Gould Hour, The Doug Stanhope Podcast, The Todd Glass Show, Trailer Park Boys Podcast