I love podcasts (and you might, too)

Recently, I’ve found myself listening to more and more podcasts, to the point where they’ve edged out music as my favorite thing to listen to in many situations. Given how neat they are, and how many of them exist, I’m constantly surprised to find that many people don’t listen to any podcasts, or even know where to find them if they want to. I think that some combination of a lack of exposure, a belief that podcasts are all just recordings of boring radio shows and a degree of impatience in finding new podcasts stops many people from trying out the genre, despite the diversity and quality of many shows that are available. Within the panoply of podcasts that are out there, my favorites are all comedy shows; so, with what little power this editorial gives me, I’m going to suggest a few of my favorite comedy podcasts, and explain what makes them so good.

"Hello from the Magic Tavern"

HFTMT is a serialized, Chicago-based show hosted by Chicago native Arnie Niekamp, who in the show claims to have fallen into a magical portal behind a Burger King into the fantastical, magical land of Foon, which is basically a parody version of Narnia or Middle Earth. The show claims to be a serious documentary about Foon, and Arnie and his co-hosts Chunt (a talking badger played by Adal Rifai) and Usidore (an incompetent, blustering wizard played by Matt Young) interview a new magical guest every week as part of the documentary. However, the show is anything but serious; Arnie, Matt and Adal are all veteran improvisers, as are most of the guests on the show, and the show will usually unfold into hilarious comedic situations. The show’s humor is diverse and includes constant satire of fantasy tropes (such as one episode featuring a skeleton named Clax, who is the first enemy encountered in a dungeon), well-placed banter between the hosts and tons of puns that seem to break the fourth wall while still maintaining the reality of the show. This last part is truly what makes the guys on HFTMT unique: even though the show is filled with fast-paced jokes and features comedians who seem to relish in forcing a laugh out of each other, the hosts do an amazing job of (mostly) consistent worldbuilding, with details from previous episodes being brought back up weeks later to help justify a joke or story. This is truly my favorite podcast right now (if you couldn’t tell), and I highly suggest you listen from the beginning––the full back catalogue is currently available on the Podcasts app on iOs devices.

"Comedy Bang Bang"

If you like comedy, you should listen to CBB. If you like podcasts, you likely do listen to CBB. If you like comedy podcasts and don’t listen to CBB, what are you doing? This show is legendary. The format is not entirely unlike HFTMT; CBB host and creator Scott Aukerman begins most episodes by interviewing a guest, often another comedian but also frequently a musician or actor. Then, after a break, Aukerman and the guest will be joined by additional “guests,” who are in fact characters played by frequent contributors to the podcast. The character-guests will usually upset the interview process in some way, and hilarity ensues. Some of my favorite guests are Gino the intern, the self-effacing Jersey Italian played by Jon Gabrus, and Al A. Peterson, the “smooth criminal,” a completely hair-free man played by Paul F. Tompkins. But these are just the tip of the iceberg––CBB features an ever-evolving wheelhouse containing dozens of colorful characters. Aukerman himself is also hilarious, and does a great job of playing the straight man and keeping the show on track as his guests’ antics frequently drive it off the rails. But seriously, if you like comedy at all, you have to listen to this show––it’s like a funnel that collects comedy talent and siphons it directly into your ear.


This one might not be for everybody, but if you’re a fan of either “Community” or “Rick and Morty,” you’ll probably love it. What do three of these shows have in common? Dan Harmon, the writer who helped to create them all. Harmontown is essentially a weekly variety show that, depending on the lineup each week, can feature improv, interviews, Harmon’s rants or banter between Harmon and his co-hosts Jeff B. Davis (of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) and Spencer Crittenden (of SeeSo’s “Harmonquest”). Some of my favorite guests on the podcast have been the Duffer brothers, the Durham natives who created “Stranger Things,” and Kumail Nanjiani, who is known for “Silicon Valley,” in addition to many other projects and appears semi-frequently on the show. However, underneath it all, the X-factor that makes this show great is Harmon himself. He’s an alcoholic, he rambles and he’s certainly not the easiest person to run a podcast with, but he’s also hilarious, charming, thoughtful and incredibly quick-witted. I really can’t explain why I like this show any better, so you’ll just have to try it for yourself. And if you like Harmon’s other work, there’s a good chance that you’ll thank me if you do.


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