Not all comedy podcasts are just people doing bits with Scott Aukerman or helping Marc Maron process his failed SNL audition. Some of them study comedy and how it works, intentionally enough that you can learn from them. Here are four great podcasts that can make you funnier.
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In each episode, a comedian plays one of their jokes for Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox, then spends an hour tracing its origin, its evolution, and how it plays into the themes of their work. Fox talks to each guest about their philosophy of comedy and how they write their jokes. (Most stand-up comics "write on the stage," but as Fox has said, this means something different for each comic.)
Not all of the examined jokes are from stand-up. Paul Feig talks about a scene from his movie Spy; SNL writers Julio Torres and Jeremy Beiler talk about their sketch "Wells for Boys;" Maria Bamford talks about her commencement speech.
In a recent episode, Fox talked to Cameron Esposito about her new special, "Rape Jokes" a concept set about sexual assault that is about more than punchlines.
Because there are no guests to introduce and get to know, this show's co-hosts (experienced comedians Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin) can get deep and specific. In their most recent episode, they discuss the pressures on women comics to work blue and in the process they tweak the wording on a tantric sex joke and examine what Netflix expects from its stand-up specials.
It's great to hear a pair of comedians not just sharing stories, but really discussing craft and industry practicalities.
Nell Scovell is a comedy writer and the author of Just the Funny Parts. And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking Into the Hollywood Boy's Club. Nell's written for The Simpsons, Newhart, The Late Show with David Letterman, and a ton of other shows. We talk to Nell about how she excels as a woman in a field that's so male-dominated.
In this miniseries, host Emily Winter teaches how to produce a live comedy show, bringing on guests to explain things like how to host, how to make money from your show, and how to do corporate gigs. Winter also appears on an episode of The Good, the Dad, and the Ugly to talk about telling jokes to your partner.
This is mostly a typical comedian interview show like Maron or Pete Holmes, mostly covering the guest's career. But at the end of each episode, host Alan Johnson pitches the guest a joke or sketch and workshops it with them. So you get to hear live punch-up work by comedians from SNL, Cracked, The Daily Show and the New Yorker.
I wish they'd make the whole podcast out of this segment. You can learn a lot about what it's actually like to make comedy, by paying attention to what questions the guest asks, and what options they give Johnson for taking his joke in one direction or another.