Remember those extremely uncomfortable “would you rather” questions we asked each other in college? The ones where choosing either option meant being the butt of a long string of jokes for the next couple of days? Choosing between 2020 and 2021 is one of those questions. If it were left to the majority of the population, everyone would just do a hard reset back to 2019. Sadly, that wasn’t an option. Earlier this year, we were all cooped up at home for a second time. The second wave proved to be far more devastating and we were all desperately looking for some kind of a comforting distraction. For many, podcasts were what scratched that particular itch. Listening to comedians riff and banter about the most mundane and unimportant things in life and drop some much-needed truth bombs from time to time, we survived the lockdown one podcast episode at a time.
Here’s DeadAnt’s picks for the top eight podcasts that kept us going through 2021. There’s something for fans of every kind of comedy out there, so just lean back and hit play.
1. No New Notifications
We don’t want any more beef with the World’s #1 grudge-holding podcast, so we’re going to get this one out of the way as quickly as possible. We already know that Kanan Gill and Manek D’Silva’s fully-middle podcast No New Notifications is a strictly no judgement space. People come together to hate universally loved things, sometimes they love unanimously hated things. Not to forget, you can also benefit from the sound financial advice of the Kanan Gill School of Shopping, or their rules of modern etiquette.
This year, “2020’s Most Released Podcast” reached new heights (or lows). The world’s first audio-only gaming podcast, audio-only travel podcast and the only podcast to have completed 20 seasons (Because there’s no standard unit of measurement for a season, right?) now has its own podcast listening app as well. Complete with the NNN Podcast Network which includes The Internet Said So, Simple Ken, Overthink Tank and A Show About Crypto, Kanan and Manek are on their way to winning their war against Spotify. Listen to NNN for the silliest banter and all the lore including Gorboroth The Podcast Eagle, Mylar The Keeper of the Podcast and Tim The Shape-Shifting Demon. To the Sun!
2. Andar Ki Baat
Amit Tandon has had an extremely busy year. Indian standup comedy’s resident cool dad appeared on Netflix’s Comedy Premium League, co-created Sony LIV’s satirical series Chalo Koi Baat Nahi alongside Gursimran Khamba, and even turned commentator for this year’s IPL. But, with typical Indian parent energy, Tandon decided that it just wasn’t enough. And so he went out and got himself a podcast as well.
The Spotify original Andar Ki Baat served as Tandon’s safe space where he could kick back and relax without worrying about dishing out the laughs. The comedian spoke with a variety of professionals from various walks of life across the 24-episode season. Tandon gave us the inside scoop about air travel, schools, news channels… you name it. He also brought on other comedians as guests—Karunesh Talwar waxed poetic about Indian weddings, Zakir Khan spilled the tea about radio stations, and Vipul Goel picked apart the world of standup comedy. Pick any episode to get the complete lowdown and behind-the-scenes action from the different worlds around us.
There are few names are as closely associated with American standup comedy as Bobby Lee. The Slept King has been hitting the stage for almost 30 years, and has starred in popular TV shows and films including MADtv, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Dictator and Harold And Kumar Go to White Castle. The comedy veteran has seen the legends up-close, and witnessed the rise of new generations of stars.
For the last six years, Lee has hosted the incredibly successful Tigerbelly podcast alongside his partner Khalyla Kuhn. Reaching the 300 episode milestone this year, the duo had honest and hilarious conversations with some of the top names in comedy, including Bill Burr, Judd Apatow, Anthony Jeselnick and Whitney Cummings (just in the last couple of months). Each episode is filled with unique insights into the world of standup, advice for upcoming comedians, and Lee’s trademark absurdist humour that takes everyone by surprise. Watch Tigerbelly for guaranteed laughs and meaningful conversations.
4. How Did This Get Made?
We love to hate-watch certain movies because of the “they’re so bad they’re good” phenomenon. Look at all the films Pretentious Movie Reviewers Biswa Kalyan Rath and Kanan Gill have watched. Or how Sahil Shah was so deeply impacted by Gunda that he’s officially known as [Gunda character] Bulla in the comedy circuit today.
Comedians-turned-critics Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas are no exception. The trio has taken on the mission of answering the million dollar question of “how did this get made?”, one insufferable film at a time. With a guest roster of comedy royalty, this podcast will make your Uber trip during peak traffic feel like a breeze. The in-depth Fast and the Furious F9 analysis with Parks and Rec’s Adam Scott is a great episode to start with!
5. Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend
We’ve all heard the saying “it’s lonely at the top.” And Conan O’Brien has been at the top of the late-night talk show game for a while now. After 25 years of interviewing the biggest names from the world of entertainment, O’Brien came to a deeply personal realisation… that he didn’t make any friends during his tenure.
Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend tries to fill the friend-shaped hole in O’Brien’s life, because he’s tired of inviting people he works with to parties. His weekly shot at making some meaningful and long-lasting friendships, the podcast also showcases what O’Brien can achieve when he has an hour with the guest and no FCC executives breathing down his neck. As expected, he brings on some top-tier guests ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Michelle Obama. Give this podcast a listen and find out if he ever came close to making a friend!
6. Random Musings
When he’s not busy fulfilling his duties as the quizmaster, Kumar Varun is busy picking the brains of fellow comedians and artists on his weekly show Random Musings. A way for KV to connect with his friends and colleagues, the podcast sees him go beyond their respective crafts and probe further into the guests’ lesser-known interests.
Having premiered in June this year, the podcast has 12 great episodes in the bank so far, with KV offering listeners a glimpse into the unknown inner worlds of his guests, such as Anirban Dasgupta’s deeply passionate relationship with cricket and sports, Rohan Joshi’s obsession with pop culture or Shreemayee Das’ love for teaching, books and SRK.
7. The Internet Said So
One of the bigwigs of the Indian podcasting scene, The Internet Said So has been the most consistent podcast on the Indian internet, with an episode releasing every Tuesday. The premise is simple. Comedians Varun Thakur, Neville Shah, Aadar Malik and Kautuk Srivastava get together every week to discuss some of the most random, interesting, shocking, weird and absurd “facts” and personal anecdotes in their award-winning (#DACA20) podcast.
They completed a century of episodes this year, and what a run they’ve had. On the back of their amazing banter and some memorable guest episodes, they’ve brought together a loyal TISS Army that shows up for every live stream and episode. Watch The Internet Said So for Kautuk’s compelling storytelling, Varun’s “veryprittyamazing” characters, Aadar’s puns and Neville’s fanboy energy.
8. Tiny Meat Gang
When two highly opinionated man-children sit together and mix it up for the microphone, you get the glorious chaos that is Tiny Meat Gang. YouTubers and comedians Cody Ko and Noel Miller started this podcast in 2017 so they could leave their boring corporate jobs. What started as a simple single-camera setup in Cody’s apartment has evolved into a full-fledged production funded by their viewers and patrons over the years.
TMG completed a whopping 200 episodes in 2021, and not a single one of them is a miss. The multi-talented duo have unique takes on all things pop culture that will leave you chuckling or gasping for air. You never know when Noel’s going to break out one of his spot-on accents and impersonations, or when Cody is going to reveal another facet of his quirky personality. If you’re looking for conversations about current affairs, internet phenomena, comedy and TV shows—with a generous helping of laughter—TMG is the podcast for you.