Plug In, Zone Out: 5 Comedy Podcasts to Distract You From the Horrors of Real Life

By Jaanvi Advani 01 September 2019


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Podcasts are catching up faster than we could have imagined. And more so within the comedy scene. Which seems like an obvious segue, considering they all seem to suffer from verbal diarrhoea anyway—might as well go public with it! Given that we come across at least one new podcast alert a month, usually more, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to get you well acquainted with the world of comedy podcasts. Start now, before this space properly explodes, and you have no idea where to begin.

Listed here are five that we personally recommend (and two that have just started).

1. The Overthink Tank by Surbhi Bagga

For when you’re on your way to work/ college, dramatically looking out of the car/train window, overthinking everything and overplanning your day.

Surbhi Bagga published the first season of this one on YouTube with four 15-minute-long episodes. But she now has a full-fledged second season with up to 60-minute-long episodes covering urgent themes like ‘How to throw a house-party and chips review’, ‘How to deal with heartbreak’ and ‘How to talk to a friend dealing with depression’. Bagga chooses topics from a pool of questions sent in by fans and overthinks the hell out of them for you with fellow comics or experts in the field. 

What we love: What makes Bagga’s podcast an easy and fun listen, irrespective of the topic, is that the conversations are easy flowing and sound like all of us thinking (or overthinking) out loud. Who even voluntarily decides to call people over, set up cameras and dive into a thought vortex for the greater, collective good? This is social service, Surbhi Bagga. We’re grateful. 

2. Senti-Mental by Azeem Banatwalla and Sana Khan

For when you’re on your way back home from work/ college wondering how TF you got through your day and how others got through theirs. Throw yourself a tiny no-judgement pity party where everyone empathises.

Senti-Mental has EIC comic Azeem Banatwalla and wife Sana Khan having chilled out conversations with other comics about various mental health issues, and—like the rest of the internet⁠—trying to normalise conversations around therapy. With topics centred around mental health, the podcast runs the risk of getting heavy but the hosts do a great job keeping it light by being completely honest with their stories and throwing in jokes at regular intervals.

The podcast strikes a chord with most listeners because Banatwalla and Khan have frequent conversations with their audience (on Instagram, via AMAs) to understand their stories, which often make their way into these episodes in the form of life lessons/suggestions. 

What we love: Our favourite segment on the show is ‘Dimaag ka Dahi‘ where the hosts and guests share the most absurd pieces of advice that people have given them to help them overcome their illnesses (that are obvs just “all in the head”). While all these unsolicited suggestions can make you want to pull your hair out and yell because they’re SO, SO wrong, we had fun thanks to these ace comedians and their art of segueing from one zone to another.

Please note: These are conversations about personal experiences and nobody on the podcast is a licensed therapist or expert. If you think you might be suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues, please get in touch with a professional.

3. VartaLab by Aakash Mehta & Navin Noronha (IVM Podcasts)

For when you’re on the pot, chilling, with no one around for any vaartalap… hopefully.

On VartaLab, the two comic hosts Aakash Mehta and Navin Noronha talk to their guests (different people with unique jobs and fun stories to tell, but mostly comics) about everything under the sun. It has no specific theme but is just casual “VartaLab” (a play on the Hindi word vaartalap, meaning a conversation). From an entire episode featuring guests who are creators of a card game to one with a professional poker player, listening to VartaLab literally feels like being in the same room as these dudes over a beer. There’s a high chance you’ll find yourself interjecting while listening (don’t, they can’t hear you) because it’s engaging AF. Also, it’s back with Season 3 this August! So little time, so many conversations for you guys to listen to.

What we love: If you’ve watched him live or on YouTube, you know that Aakash Mehta has a distinct chuckle. And he’s ALWAYS chuckling. We don’t know if it’s disturbing for this to be the ‘thing we love’ about the podcast (great material and range of topics too, guys!) but it’s his infectious laughter that got us hooked so we’re just being honest.

4. Number One Bullshit by Shashwat Maheshwari

For bedtime, when you gotta give your eyes a break from whatever you’re binge-watching but need to feed your brain bullshit for bizarre dreams.

Where Shashwat is in conversation with… *drum roll* himself. From ‘Vaishnodevi for beginners’, to ‘How to deal with failure’, he’s got some really random stuff in there. We don’t know what’s happening, Maheshwari doesn’t know what’s happening, and if you also want to not know what’s happening, tune in every week to listen to Number One Bullshit. We assure you it lives up to its name.

Because ‘rambles’ isn’t a thing yet, and Maheshwari calls it a podcast, we’re calling it that too. But it’s literally 30-40 minutes of the man talking aloud to himself and telling us the most absurd stories (we know they’re mostly made up but even that’s a skill so go on, Shashwat, we really don’t mind).

What we love: The fact that it follows no pattern, no topic, nothing. It’s just Maheshwari’s amazingly bullshit train of thought.

5. Dating is Garbage (IVM Podcasts)

For a date gone wrong, play it right there to let the other person know it was absolute garbage. (LOLOL no.)

With two of three comics playing host, this podcast tackles everything that sucks about dating. Topics range from rejection to late bloomers and pick-up lines. Sometimes they all get serious and then laugh for a few minutes straight, but every episode concludes with the eternal truth—dating is garbage. Though it has a fun tone through all 13 episodes, the hosts have managed to make the podcast educative too by talking about unspoken dating rules and the concept of consent. The friendship, nagging and constant leg-pulling among the three hosts keeps you hooked enough to pick a side by the end of it (we know we did).

What we love: Season 1 ends with the episode ‘It’s Not You, It’s Us’, in which Abbas Momin, Jaanam Dewan and Surbhi Bagga go over all the episodes again, picking their favourite guests/stories/moments and comparing the places they’ve been in, mentally and emotionally when they first started recording. It’s a glimpse into the process of how the podcast came into existence, how the name was decided, how the logo was designed and by the end of it, you’ve been a part of Dating is Garbage too.

NEW ON THE BLOC

While we’ve already given you a list that’ll make your long commute to and from school/college/work seem much shorter and significantly less painful, there are two brand new podcasts that have our attention:

1. 4-4-Two by Azeem Banatwalla and Neville Shah

For a post-mortem of the game you just finished watching, and when you need to arm yourself with extra info for the detailed sports-through-the-week conversation you’re gonna have with your buds.

Azeem Banatwalla and Neville Shah have literally turned their living room chats and everyday phone conversations into 4-4-Two. Banatwalla and Shah, two ‘old school uncles’ obsessed with sport are talking everything football (4 parts), their favourite teams (4 parts) and general sports (2 parts). DeadAnt got a shoutout in their second episode (at 5:55) in which they’ve reduced us to a listicle making publication and made it to our….. listicle! They’ve promised us a new episode each week but the first one’s out after three years of planning and procrastination so, well, who can guarantee anything, really?

2. Then What Happened? by Rueben Kaduskar

For when you’re doing the dishes or cleaning out your cupboard and need some interesting stories to keep you going.

A storytelling show, the first episode features Karunesh Talwar and Supriya Joshi talking about their experiences with bullying, the second one has Rahul Dua and Agrima Joshua talking about fights (cordially) and the third one has Aishwarya Mohanraj and Urooj Ashfaq talking about crushes and stalkers. With more stories on their way, just follow Kaduskar to know what’s going to happen next since he keeps all his fans posted (he took us through everything from the naming of the show to guest suggestions, all on his Instatories).

COMING SOON

There’s a lot to look forward to in the comedy-podcast space. We’re waiting on Abish Mathew to release TheUnExperts (a podcast recorded with a live audience). And there’s also the ex-SNG gang threatening to return as a foursome after a massive break from the SNG podcast, The Big Question.

Catch up, quick! There’s more where that came from.

Aakash Mehta Azeem Banatwalla Navin Noronha Neville Shah