Eight Podcasts That Aren’t This American Life

Do you have chores that need to be done but you can never bring yourself to do because cleanliness isn’t actually motivation? Do you have times where you really want to do something but there’s no way you’ll bring yourself to actually do anything? Do you have moments of ennui so mindbogglingly pointless that you can’t even tweet about it? These reasons and more are why podcasts exist. If you’ve never been the person on the bus giggling to themselves or the passenger roadtripping alone in sweet serenity, you need some podcasts in your life. Yes, I know you already listen to This American Life but there is so much more out there. Sometimes I’m afraid to search for more because it becomes overwhelming. There are so many people out their with voices that they record and make available for free download! The novelty of it all is astounding.

Since I am a person that is often concerned with laughter, I listen to comedy podcasts–or rather podcasts by comedians. If you’ve ever wanted to give podcasts a try but didn’t know where to start, here is where you should start. By listening to me. I have opinions.

My Favorites

You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes

Keep it crispy

Pete Holmes, aka Fun Dad, talks to other comedians about all the things that make them weird. There are a lot of interview podcasts out there. A lot. But this one is my favorite because Pete Holmes never stops being Pete Holmes during it. You never feel like he’s putting on some serious face to have a serious talk with a serious guest. He’s a comedian, he’s a nice guy, and he likes talking about himself while he’s interviewing other people. He often touches on relationships, religion, and people’s general outlook on life.

The best part about YMIW is you can genuinely hear the joy in his voice while he talks to people about whatever comes up. It’s like he’s learning about himself through other people. Start with the Chelsea Peretti episode if for no other reason than to know who Chelsea is because he brings her up pretty much every episode.

Doug Loves Movies with Doug Benson

Does anyone hunger for games?

Super High Me‘s Doug Benson hosts this podcasts about, you guessed it, movies. He brings on 2-4 guests an episode to discuss the last movie they’ve seen, what’s in theaters now, and to play a few games that are not for the casual moviegoer. It’s fun to listen no matter how into movies you are but don’t expect to fully enjoy the experience unless you watch a fair amount of films. How many games they play varies from episode to episode but it always end with the the Leonard Maltin game which I can not even begin to explain in this post. If you enjoy puns, it’d be worth it to listen just for the categories used in the game.

Some of my favorite guests have been TJ Miller, Zach Galfinakis, and Alina Foley. Probably everyone in the world should listen to the May 25th episode with Alina Foley and see if they can keep their ovaries in check. You probably are thinking that Alina Foley is some buxom woman from that sentence but she’s actually a child.

Gay Pimpin’ with Jonny McGovern

If you only know of Julie and Brandy from In Your Box Office, I’m so so sorry that someone did not bring this into your life sooner. Gay Pimpin’ has been around for years and when Jonny moved to Los Angeles, Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard took the podcast to hilarious new levels. Gay Pimpin’ is the funniest podcast out and if you are easily offended, I would suggest you stay away. However, if laughing is more important than “being a good person,” listen to it immediately. One of the longest and most structured podcasts available, the Hollywood cast of Gay Pimpin’ also features Calpernia Addams, Michael Serrato, and Nadya Ginsburg.

Obviously you should listen to the episode where Julie and Brandy talk about #CAMP.

Making It with Riki Lindhome

Riki Lindhome of the adorable yet scathingly funny singing duo, Garfunkel & Oates hosts this podcast about the path people in the entertainment industry took to get where they are. If you’re trying to figure out what your next step should be slash you’d like to become depressed once you realize how much chance and luck figures into your future in entertainment, this is the podcast for you. Or if you need to be reassured that all of the privileged poverty realness you’re enduring will be worth it in the end, this podcast could help. She branches out from just comedians and sits down with actors, writers, casting directors, and producers.

She’s had some great guests but obviously I am going to offer the Joss Whedon episode up since I know how much you all love Buffy.

Popular

WTF with Marc Maron

This was the podcast that kind of started it all. I don’t really like Maron’s ramblings at the beginning and I think he might cross the line with his questions every now and then but plenty of people love it. He without a doubt has had a guest you care about in some capacity.

Professor Blastoff

Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsberger get all philosophical-like during this podcast. They don’t have many guests but if you want to think deep thoughts about immortality, sustainability, and cheating, this might be the podcast for you. Sexual Attraction with Sarah Silverman is a good one. Also, if anyone could remind me which episode first mentioned “cool beer” I’d really appreciate it.

Nerdist

King nerd Chris Hardwick and his two buddies Jonah Ray and Matt Mira sit down and chat with famous people about nothing in particular. Usually they talk about being nerds which is fun for other nerds to listen to. I think the most disappointing thing about this podcast was how long it took them to have a female guest (Alison Brie was the first). I just expected more from Chris Hardwick maybe? Eventually Chris sat down with Tina Fey though so maybe put that episode in your ears.

Comedy Bang! Bang!

Scott Aukerman hosts this podcast that ranges from music to improv to just shooting the shit. If you’d rather watch moving pictures than just listen to words, you’re in luck because Comedy Bang! Bang! will be on IFC (the channel, not the person) this summer.

Hosted by Women

JV Club with Janet Varney
Women Aren’t Funny with Alana Johnston, Mo Welch, and Emily Candini
You Had to be There with Nikki Glaser and  Sara Schaefer
How Was Your Week with Julie Klausner

My To Listen List

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin
Throwing Shade with Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson
It’s That Episode with Craig Rowin
improv4humans with Matt Besser
The Pod F. Tompkast with Paul F. Tompkins
Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend with Alison Rosen

Please leave recommendations below so that I can continue spending late nights alone on my air mattress listening to podcasts.

*Featured image via Nerdist Fan Art

ETA from Riese: Also worth mentioning is the Lesbian Lounge podcast — they were one of the first lesbian media outlets to recognize the awesomeness of Autostraddle (back in 2009), and have also been broadcasting live in the US & UK for seven years! That’s a long time!


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Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 314 articles for us.

72 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

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    Do you listen to podcasts while doing chores, too?! It’s the only way to get my house somewhat clean, really. If Radiolab and This American Life would stop making podcasts I would never do anything housekeeping-related. Also, yes, I sometimes giggle on long bus rides and hope others think it’s because I’m an evil master mind.

    Thanks for the new suggestions, will check them out!

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      I decorated my whole flat to This American Life podcasts. Thank Jeebus that I had a *huge* backlog, because it took about five weeks to get two bedrooms, two hallways and a living room done.

      I threw in a bit of Planet Money too, to break it up. Plus the BBC’s flagship film review programme, for a bit of wittertainment. Mark Kermode is a genius. And he’s always right: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lvdrj

  2. Thumb up 1

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    BRYAN SAFI HAS A PODCAST NOW? GOD DAMN.

    Also, I know it’s probably been featured on AS before, but The Dinner Party from APM in California is a great one for pop culture junkies / people who love good food and booze and other things that are good. For music, I’d also recommend All Songs (no duh), Downtown Soulsville from WFMU (an evening of scratchy soul, blues and R&B records) & Mudd Up! With DJ/Rupture.

    Anyway, great list. Can’t wait to subscribe to all of these.

  3. Thumb up 4

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    Awesome suggestions! Thanks!

    I would add The Moth podcast — one person each week tells a true story about his/her life. Funny/sad/poignant. Plus, each podcast is only 15 minutes long! Good for quick chores :)

    Also, can’t get enough of Dan Savage’s Savage Love podcast. He really does get the sex/relationship advice right most of the time.

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    I agree on Blastoff and Nerdist. Also:

    WNYC’s RadioLab

    Stuff You Missed In History Class

    MSNBC Rachel Maddow (they have audio or video versions)

    DNTO (Definitely Not The Opera) from the CBC

    The Moth

    NPR’s Ask Me Another

    NPR Fresh Air

    On The Media

    99% Invisible

    How Sound

    A Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegon

    And if you need a good iPhone app for getting podcasts, I have found Downcast to be eminently worth the couple of bucks.

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      wow. i listen to pretty much all of these. i’m a college student, and i’m interested in pursuing a career in public radio once i graduate.

      I will add:
      -The Truth (“movies for your ears”…I think it’s been featured on TAL so perhaps y’all are somewhat familiar with it)
      -Wiretap from CBC Radio
      -Studio 360 from PRI and WNYC (“creativity, pop culture, and the arts”)
      -NPR Planet Money
      -State of the Re:Union (each hour-long episode focuses on a different part of the U.S. They’ve done a bunch, everything from Brooklyn to Las Vegas to the Ozarks)
      -NPR Snap Judgment (this was included in the recent TAL live show)
      -New Yorker: Out Loud
      -New Yorker: The Political Scene
      -NPR: Pop Culture Happy Hour (does anyone else listen to this? I’m in love with the four panelists. look forward to it every Friday)
      -Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
      -The Big Ideas Podcast from The Guardian UK
      -Star Talk (hit or miss…but it’s hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist!)
      -Too Much Information with Benjamen Walker

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    You have EXCELLENT taste in podcasts! I’m obsessed with You Made It Weird and Paul F. Tompkast. Maron is one of my favorite comics, so I love his intros.

    Other podcasts I’d recommend:

    Junk Food Dinner: Three awesome snarky dudes talk about cult movies. It’s great.
    (junkfooddinner.com)

    Superego: Improvised sketch gold, featuring the likes of Paul F. Tompkins, Patton Oswalt, Erinn Hayes, Andy Richter, and other funny folk. (gosuperego.com)

    The Dork Forest: LA comic Jackie Kashian interviews a guest (usually another comedian, but she’s had writers, actors, etc.) about their “dorkdom.”

    Anything on the Earwolf network, especially Gelmania and Sklarbro County. (earwolf.com)

    Badland Girls: I’m cheating. This is my podcast. Two ladies from the midwest talk about “junk” culture, comedy, film, feminism, and nerd stuff. badlandgirls.com

  6. Thumb up 2

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    YESSSSSS to You Made It Weird, x 100000. Pete Holmes is my absolute fave, I’ve listened to the Chelsea Peretti clips episode a lot.

    I’d like to say Alina Foley on Doug Loves Movies was so f-ing precious.

    Some of my other favorite comedy podcasts are
    – Sklarbro Country with Jason and Randy Sklar: funny-ish sports things (you don’t have to like/know about sports) comedy guests, I love how they are always on with eachother
    – How Did This Get Made? with Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael: Reviews best worst movies with a comedian guest
    – Who Charted? with Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack (she’s married to Scott Auckerman): Different funny music/movie charts every week with a guest who’s usually a comedian

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      The clips episode is so embarrassing and cute and just…I want to keep both of them in my pocket. I wish they had a podcast together. I would listen to every episode ten times.
      I’m excited to try How Did This Get Made. I love Paul Scheer. I can’t remember what podcast it was but he told a story about how his wife slapped this guy at a restaurant in LA and it’s hilarious.

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    This is not helping my podcast addiction at all. I don’t listen to many of these but Nerdist, but I will be checking them out.

    One of my favorites is Aisha Tyler’s ‘Girl on Guy’ where she jokes around/talks to comedians, actors, musicians, etc. about their lives, careers, and “guy” stuff. Sometimes she has girl on girl episodes which may be relevant to your interests. She does this thing at the end of the podcast called self-inflicted wounds and you have to listen to H. Jon Benjamin’s interview (it’s the very first podcast) just to hear his story. I’ve never laughed that hard in my life.

  8. Thumb up 4

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    Oh man! I’m a podcast FIEND and collect them like they’re going extinct and I’m a rich bazillionaire entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the species going. Here are my favorites that weren’t listed:

    Caustic Soda: learn about exciting and horrible stuff like ebola, doomed Arctic expeditions, and Robespierre!

    Freakonomics Radio: basically just like the book. At first I was confused about which podcast I was listening to because Stephen Dubner sounds a lot like Ira Glass.

    Lapham’s Quarterly podcast: I just discovered LQ in print and it is basically everything I ever wanted. The latest one is about invented languages.

    Love + Radio: bills itself as “the only public radio podcast with an ‘explicit’ tag,” which says it all, really. Think TAL but weirder and with stories about making balloon-popping-fetishist porn. And Lady Sovereign.

    Stuff You Should Know: does what it says on the tin.

    The Memory Palace: tiny, true stories. Shipwrecks, failed geniuses, and lobsters.

    99% Invisible: “Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we’ve just stopped noticing.”

    New Yorker Fiction: a writer reads aloud a story from the New Yorker archives and then talks about it!

    also I listen to like 900 NPR shows in podcast form. I like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! and All Songs Considered.

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    The Nerdist Writer’s Panel!! It’s so good. Usually it’s 3-4 television writers being interviewed by fellow writer Ben Blacker about how they broke in to the business, their first paying jobs, their processes, what their watching on TV, and so much other stuff and if you’re a big TV nerd like me it’s the absolute best.

    I also really like the How Stuff Works podcasts, specifically Popstuff (the pop culture one, Stuff You Missed in History (the history one duh), and Stuff Your Mom Didn’t Tell You (the lady-related/feminist one).

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      I have three episodes of the Writer’s Panel and haven’t gotten to any of them. Bleh. I thought only I’d care about the writer’s panel because not a lot of people watch as much TV as I do, let alone know who wrote the episodes.

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    Right now I subscribe to:

    On Being, which is one of the few places I’ve ever found progressive discussions about religion & spirituality.

    The Suze Orman Show, in hopes that listening to her yell at people for 45 minutes a week will turn me into a more responsible person who can do things like keep a budget.

    The Moth

    Rachel Maddow, of course.

    Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me for people like Paula Poundstone.

    To The Best Of Our Knowledge… kind of the lesser version of This American Life, but it’s not bad.

    The Savage Love podcast, because who doesn’t want an excuse to think about sex more.

    The Splendid Table, because who doesn’t want an excuse to think about food more.

    This American Life, duh.

    Radiolab, which I feel compelled to save for special occasion-listening only because they don’t have enough episodes.

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    I like Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Book Club, where she and her lady friends discuss romance novels, drink, and snark on sex scenes.

  12. Thumb up 1

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    i love professor blastoff![good one]

    my other required listenings are:

    here’s the thing
    godless bitches
    npr’s wait wait don’t tell me
    penn’s sunday school
    pottercast
    sara and aimee do glee
    savage love
    2 homos

  13. Thumb up 0

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    I am obsessed with podcasts. I subscribe to so many, especially ones by NPR and Slate.

    My favs:

    Extra Hot Great
    Slate’s Political Gabfest
    Slate’s Culture Gabfest
    Slate’s Double XX
    NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour
    NPR Playback
    NPR Wait Wait
    NPR Ask Me Another
    The Moth

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    Nerdist may as well just install a chip in my head considering how many of their podcasts I subscribe too. I even listen to the Indoor Kids and I don’t play video games. But I particularly love Making It with Riki Lindhome and the JV Club.

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    How has nobody mentioned The Tobolowsky Files? The Tobolowsky Files feature stories told by character actor Stephen Tobolowsky of “Ned? Ned Ryerson! Bing!” fame. At first, I was skeptical of listening to Ned Ryerson ramble on about life and acting. I mean, the dude was just so obnoxious in that role, I didn’t think his podcast would be for me. But I gave it a shot based on a review from a trusted website and I got completely hooked. The man is probably one of the best story tellers I’ve ever heard in my entire life. This pretty much sums it up –

    “Fans of “The Tobolowsky Files” already know this, but Tobolowsky has an amazing ability to find the extraordinary in the smallest of minutia, to pile events — both big and small — on top of each other, color them wth details, weave all these strings together, and extract the profound. They’re like “The Simpsons” episodes: They start in one place and wind up in a completely different one, but he finds a through line, hits upon a number of universal themes, and breathtakingly brings it home with kindness, and with humor.”

    If you like the Moth and This American Life, this one is a do not miss. Give it a couple of episodes. I think I was hooked by the third or fourth one in.

  16. Thumb up 1

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    My favorites include:
    APM: On Being
    Best of the Left
    The Classic Tales Podcast
    Homebrewed Christianity
    Mars Hill Bible Church
    The Moth
    New Yorker: Fiction
    Wait Wait
    Opinionated
    Popstuff
    Revolution NYC
    Savage Love
    Stuff Mom Never Told You
    Stuff You Should Know
    Wiretap
    Radiolab
    99% Invisible

    Now I have more to look into, hooray.

  17. Thumb up 0

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    Ah, most of the ones I listen to have been mentioned already. Sometimes I listen to This Week in Tech (with Leo Laporte) because I’m woefully unaware of what is going on in tech. Like really unaware.

    I also enjoy introcasts because I like to live vicariously through people who are watching my favorite TV shows for the first time. I especially like Potentialcast, the Buffy podcast, obviously.

    introcast directory: http://introcast.blogspot.com/

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    I love Throwing Shade! Bryan and Erin are basically my new best friends.

    In the vein of hilarious if not always PC comedy, there’s a show on the MaxFun Network that Throwing Shade is on called My Brother, My Brother and Me and it’s absolutely hilarious. They answer listener submitted and Yahoo! Answers questions – it’s fantastic.

    It helps if you start at the beginning so you can understand all the weird in-jokes they’ve developed, (a la Salvia and Marl on Throwing Shade) but it’s so worth it. Here’s a sampler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzagQwQgou4

    ALSO I think You Look Nice Today is making shows again? They’re fantastic too.

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    Yeah, there REALLY needs to be some CBC all up on this list.

    DNTO, Age of Persuasion, White Coat Black Art, Quirks & Quarks…

  20. Thumb up 1

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    I’m going to take this moment to re-tell the story of when Jonny McGovern paid for me to get into a sketchy male strip club and we drank vodka out of water bottles and watched guys jerk off and then got hashbrowns and he left his bag in my car and he was somewhat convinced that I was going to steal it. Then I got a two second mention on Gay Pimpin’ and I felt like One Million Dollars.

    Anyway, love Gay Pimpin’

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    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Homoground! They have an abundance of queer music! I have found out about so many amazing bands from their weekly podcast. And they are also really fun and awesome people. I’ve gotten a chance to meet them at one of the parties they throw and my body was sore from dancing and laughing so much!

  22. Pingback: Sleep-In Sunday: Things for you to do this summer | badcommunication

  23. Thumb up 1

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    My entire commute and going to the gym is based on the existence of the following podcasts:

    The Rachel Maddow Show – duh.
    Fresh Air – Terry Gross is an amazing interviewer.
    Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me – I feel so smart when I know the answers. And I frequently do because they were discussed on TRMS.
    Car Talk – So sad it’s ending… But there are years of back episodes.
    Savage Love – Yeah, sometimes he’s problematic, but generally I think his ideas are spot-on.
    To the Best of Our Knowledge – I like it better than This American Life, but that’s because I have issues with Ira Glass.
    The Promised Land – Majora Carter is amazing. This podcast is a series of interviews with visionaries – frequently women and/or people of color.
    99% Invisible – Fabulous little design show. My only problem is the episodes are like 10 minutes long.
    BackStory with the American History Guys – 3 professors sit around and chat about American history. It’s cute, and it just went weekly.

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    My first post, because podcasts (and this site) rock!

    How did I stuble upon Julie Klausner’s podcast (How Was Your Week), I can’t recall, but she has some cra-cra humor that I adore while discussing lots o’ pop culture that is relevant to my feelings.

    Also, I can’t get enough of Adam Carolla rants about errthing. He’s got some interesting opinions that I don’t always agree with, but I love to hear him go. And, he’s way more sensitive than you’d ever imagine.

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    so many good podcasts in the article and in the comments! i would like to add a little Canadian Content (or “CanCon” as we call it) highly recommend

    CBC’s Q – excellent daily arts/culture/current events show. Jian Ghomeshi is an excellent interviewer and they interview lots of people, not just canadians (you may remember one particular interview w/ billy bob thornton from a couple of years ago…that was this show) http://www.cbc.ca/q/

    CBC’s Spark – a weekly show about the social and cultural implications of technology. super interesting. http://www.cbc.ca/spark/

    BBC’s – Friday Night Comedy News Quiz. it’s a British Wait Wait and host Sandi Toksvig is a big ol’ lezzer to boot. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006r9yq)

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