These are heady times to be a comedy nerd with an Internet connection. The past couple of years have seen an explosion of comedy podcasts, and in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly (on stands June 24), we profile the man behind one of the best and most-buzzed-about ones out there: stand-up comedian Marc Maron, whose twice-weekly podcast, WTF, features fascinating and often astonishingly raw and intimate conversations with some of the biggest names in comedy (including Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and Amy Poehler, among many others) — nearly all of them done in Maron’s cluttered garage in Los Angeles. And WTF is just the tip of a very large iceberg. The fact is, there are so many comedy podcasts now, comedians could spend virtually all of their time just bouncing between them. “It’s like the new comedy circuit,” Patton Oswalt (who frequently shows up as a guest on his friends’ comedy podcasts and really ought to start his own) tells EW. If you’re a newbie to the podcasting universe, here are a few of the biggest and best out there:
1. WTF. Some comedy podcasts are all about jokes. Maron’s podcast is not one of those. He goes deep with his guests, exploring career ups and downs, relationship troubles, neuroses and fears, and the joys and sorrows of a life in comedy. Asked for his thoughts on WTF, Aziz Ansari (who’s been a guest in Maron’s garage) offered this to EW: “Honestly, just stop reading this and download a few episodes of Marc’s show right now. If you like comedy or just human conversation, you will enjoy it. You don’t need to read some quote from a ding dong like me.” ‘Nuff said. Check it out on iTunes or here.
2. Comedy Bang! Bang!. Scott Aukerman, a former writer for Mr. Show and producer of Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns” web series, hosts an eclectic group of his alt-comedy friends (recent guests include Andy Samberg, Andy Richter, and Rob Corddry), who often show up in character and bust into improv. Often strange, consistently hilarious, always unpredictable. Check it out on iTunes or here.
3. The Adam Carolla Show. The Guinness Book of World Records title holder for the most downloaded podcast (who knew they kept track of such things?), Carolla’s unscripted show is not for the easily offended. But you knew that already. Check it out on iTunes or here.
4. Doug Loves Movies. Stand-up comedian Doug Benson is well known as a great lover of marijuana (see: Super High Me), but he also loves movies! Recorded in front of a live audience, Benson’s podcast features him and his panel of guests talking about whatever flicks they’ve seen recently. If you love comedy and you love movies (not to mention if you share Benson’s other enthusiasm), what are you waiting for? Check it out on iTunes or here.
5. The Nerdist. Amiably hosted by nerd-in-chief Chris Hardwick, The Nerdist takes a comedic look at all things of interest to nerds. Technology, comic books, Doctor Who, zombie flicks — it all goes into the geek-out hopper for a freewheeling discussion with Hardwick, his sidekicks, and his guests. Check it out on iTunes or here.
6. The Pod F. Tompkast. Paul F. Tompkins’ free-form, absurdist podcast is hard to explain and impossible to pigeonhole, but if you’re a fan of alternative sketch comedy like the legendary Mr. Show (on which Tompkins was a featured player and writer), you should definitely give it a listen. Check it out on iTunes or here.
7. Jordan, Jesse, Go!. Hosts Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris and their comedy friends engage in funny and brainy riffing on pretty much anything they find interesting and humorous, with a particular focus on life in your 20s. Check it out on iTunes or here.
8. SModcast. If you’re a hardcore fan of writer-director Kevin Smith, you already know he lords over his own podcasting empire, of which SModcast (which Smith co-hosts with Scott Mosier) is but one piece. But if you’re just a moderate fan or simply curious to hear Smith stonily extemporizing in his inimitable fashion on movies, hockey, or whatever else pops into his head, surf on over to iTunes or to here.
There are many more we could mention (among others, respect must be paid to Ricky Gervais, who helped blaze the comedy-podcasting trail). But for now we’ll throw it over to you. Have you explored the world of comedy podcasts? If so, which are your favorites?