In a year where we spent more time cooped up in our own homes than even the most introverted homebody would like, dealing with more free time than any of us had ever hoped for, people took up various hobbies and activities to keep themselves entertained.
A few weeks in and all of us were craving human contact, missing the mundane humdrum of everyday life, eager to listen to a voice other than the ones we were living with (or the ones living in our heads). That’s where podcasts come in. A brilliant way to kill the deafening silence, or to keep us company while we completed our daily chores, podcasts were a lifesaver this year. Here are our top 10 picks for the discerning comedy-minded listener, in no particular order.
1. Smartless (with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett)
Close friends Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett put together this podcast early this year, featuring improvised conversations full of organic hilarity, friendly ribbing, and authentic interactions. The trio—along with a ‘mystery’ guest, known to only one of the three hosts beforehand—always looks on the brighter side as they connect with people from all walks of life. Recent episodes have featured Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman and Paul McCartney.
With all the jokes at Sean’s expense, Will putting up his Batman voice for the ladies, and Jason’s secret hair routine which he refuses to disclose, every episode is a laugh riot.
2. No New Notifications from Kanan & Manek
Talking about the important things in life, such as hostile cows and the lack of clarity in shampoo bottle instructions, comedian Kanan Gill and illustrator Manek D’Silva came together this year to start this hilarious ‘fully middle’ podcast.
Every week the two childhood friends get together to make the world a better place by tweaking the social protocol that we all have accepted in our daily lives in their segment ‘Modern Etiquette’ (seriously, stop with the iPhone signatures), helping their listeners make informed financial decisions in ‘Shopline Bling’ and listen to people justify their hatred of some universally loved things in ‘Haters’. With different musical segment breaks in every episode, No New Notifications definitely helped us get through this year.
3. Take Your Shoes Off with Rick Glassman
Set in the cosy setting of comedian Rick Glassman’s home, this podcast is a great insight into the minds of some of the most iconic comedians and actors in America. As the name suggests, the guests take their shoes off and have a conversation with Rick, having to entertain his many idiosyncrasies and indulge his trademark over-the-top comedic bits.
With guests such as Larry Charles (writer for Seinfeld and director of cult comedy film Borat), actors Esther Povitsky, Seth Green, and comedians such as Marc Normand, Tony Hinchcliffe, and Erik Griffin, Take Your Shoes Off is a goldmine for comedy aficionados seeking some perspective into comedic writing, acting and standup.
4. Bad Friends with Andrew Santino and Bobby Lee
Comedians Andrew Santino and Bobby Lee get together every Monday to make some edgy jokes and laugh at what’s going on in the world. With almost 40 years of standup comedy experience between the two of them, and having acted in a number of popular films and shows (Pineapple Express, The Interview, Mad TV, Dave), the two of them were around to witness the birth of some of the biggest stars in American comedy.
Whether they’re calling on a hypnotherapist to help Bobby quit smoking or confronting Andrew about his anger issues, the duo bring the listeners into their personal lives, befriending them from the get-go. Full of the duo’s hilarious anecdotes about hijinks they’ve got up to with close friends such as Joe Rogan, Chris D’elia and Tom Segura, or about their interactions with the likes of Larry David and Bill Burr, Bad Friends is a great way to start your week with a laugh.
5. Our Last Week with Anuvab Pal and Kunaal Roy Kapur
Self proclaimed ‘neuro-science researcher’ and ‘physicist’ Anuvab Pal teams up with ‘renowned philosopher’ Kunaal Roy Kapur on this podcast, where they get together every week to discuss the week that was, touching on everything from an analysis of the value of raddi, to the viability of Hindustani Bhau doing educational content.
Feeding off of their mutual disdain of everyday niceties and formalities, the two make some compelling arguments in favour of changing the way we interact with one another. In every episode, they offer innovative solutions to familiar conundrums faced by their listeners. Be it someone encroaching on your soap dish, or the subtle art of turning down an enthusiastic friend’s show recommendation, the two have a tactful fix for it all.
6. The Internet Said So
Every Tuesday, comedians Varun Thakur, Neville Shah, Aadar Malik, and Kautuk Srivastava get together to discuss the most random, interesting, shocking, weird or absurd “facts” they can find. Each episode is based on a topic, but the boys also share hilarious personal experiences, give their witty takes on some internet “facts”, and somehow always circle back to the one topic they love talking about the most… Salman Khan.
Neville’s obsession with Aaron Sorkin, the ‘struggling actor’ jokes at Varun’s expense, Kautuk and his weird food habits, and Aadar’s obsession with the facts, have been a constant through their 50+ episode run, helping them build a community of loyal fans who eagerly wait for the new episode every week.
7. The Official Podcast
Full of silly questions, burger puns, bad dating stories, and more silly questions, The Official Podcast aired its 200th episode this year. The four close friends Charlie White Jr., Andrew Wagenheim, Jackson Clarke, and Kaya Orsan meet with YouTube celebrities and many more interesting people from the world of gaming, comedy, and acting, to talk about internet trends, flat earthers, video games, and a lot more.
Pewdiepie, Jacksepticeye, Mr. Beast, David Cross, James Allen McCune, and many more have come on to share some personal experiences that will leave you in stitches.
PS: Start with Episode 96 featuring comedian Daniel Sloss, where he talks about high school bullies, robot wars, his best farts, and how annoying humble people are.
8. Simple Ken hosted by Kenny Sebastian
This podcast, excuse me… this ‘long recording of Kenny talking’ is a breath of fresh air in the middle of stressful workweeks. Speaking about the various aspects of life such as navigating through all the negativity, accepting the reality of things, and understanding family, Kenny offers his perspective on things in his calm and soothing voice.
A strictly ‘no advice’ podcast, Kenny puts forward his view on experiences shared by his viewers, timidly and funnily, often wandering off into a different but hilarious train of thought. Though most of the episodes are just Kenny talking to a camera, he has also brought on fellow comics such as Naveen Richard, Kanan Gill, Biswa Kalyan Rath, and childhood friends Jason and Tara for some episodes, to share their own amusing thoughts and stories.
9. Wake Up With Sorabh
What started as a simple exercise to stay in touch with standup comedy and his fans in March, has now become a podcast that completed 100 episodes on 6 December. Bringing on guests with a major focus on comedy, cricket and history, Sorabh Pant has been extremely regular with the show during the lockdown, bombarding us with information and anecdotes from some fascinating figures from their various fields.
With prolific guests such as writer-historians Ramchandra Guha and William Dalrymple, actors Boman Irani and Javed Jaffrey, cricketers Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik and most recently Shoaib Akhtar, and almost everyone from the Indian stand-up comedy scene, Wake Up with Sorabh is a great podcast for anyone who wants to learn as you have a laugh.
PS. A great episode to start with is The Delhi Takeover an episode that started off with Pratyush Chaubey, Vikramjit Singh and Aakash Gupta, but then saw Zakir Khan, Nishant Tanwar, Anuvab Singh Bassi, Vipul Goyal and many other Delhi comics jump on, eventually sidelining Pant on his own show!
10. A Hot Dog is a Sandwich
Is cereal a soup? Is a Kit Kat technically a lasagna? Does pineapple really belong on a pizza? Josh and Nicole from the kitchen of the famous YouTube channel Good Mythical Morning get together to dissect and understand the internet’s most controversial food debates.
Diving into the culinary details, with both of them equally passionate about their food opinions, the two have an interesting dynamic with some hilarious and witty back and forth. Packed with a lot of information, Josh’s bossy demeanor, and Nicole’s quick quips, this is a great podcast to dive into. Not so much when you’re hungry though.