Dec 19, 2013

Listmania: Best of Podcasts 2013: #20-39

To know how these lists were compiled, please read the Preamble here.

One of the greatest forms of media currently growing is the podcast format. In recent years especially, it has gone on to encapsulate a lot of our culture. Featuring a mix of commentary, comedy, and information, these shows are indelible sources of enjoyment and makes celebrities out of the common man or personalize the celebrities that exist. The following is a week-long countdown of the Top 100 shows that I feel show the variety of skills that are present in these shows and hopefully will provide you the readers with new forms of entertainment. Enjoy and put your headphones on! They're all free.

Rob Paulsen

Continuing to be a virtuoso in the field of voice acting, Rob Paulsen continued 2013 by inviting on other performers to discuss everything related to the craft. With plenty of witty banter and a growing amount of live shows, the show has done wonders to introducing audiences to the faces behind the voices that defined your childhood. Even when they are discussing craft, it is presented with great impersonations and probably the only place to hear Tom Kenny as Spongebob outside of the actual show. It's always a delight and at very least would give you further appreciation for the medium.

This may be one of the most insular, perverse story podcasts out there. It is also one of the best. Usually through monologue, James Urbaniak's exploration of everyday issues through strange occurrences is delivered with his deep, sly voice that suggests a few nods to the audience. There's a sense of class in the growing realm of bizarre and most of all leaves the listener wanting more. If there is one fault to the series, it is that the short length and monthly output doesn't come more often. It is a shame that it also gets overlooked by the narrative community for Welcome to Night Vale, which pales heavily in comparison.

Eric D. Snider and Jeff Bayer continue to make movie criticism into an enjoyable, unpretentious hobby. Even with insightful banter, their rundown of the latest releases usually come through casually and accessibly. There's also plenty of games to help stretch the cinematic brain and be creative with the medium as well as weekly questions to the audience that are answered on the show. With rotating theme songs, the show manages to stay fresh on a weekly basis and serves as a great collection of what to see on any given week.

John Hodgman
23. Judge John Hodgman (Maximum Fun)

Continuing to be the expert on all situations, John Hodgman continues to be the ruler over everyday issues from everyday people. With a rotating set of bailiffs, an average episode is full of insight and humor as well as life lessons. Even if the show varies in quality week-to-week, the demeanor of Hodgman's superiority helps to make the show work on a humorous level as well as a intellectual dissection of life.

24. Sawbones (Maximum Fun)

One of my favorite debuts of 2013 is this show featuring one of the hosts of My Brother My Brother and Me and his wife as they explore medicine through history. There have been plenty of absurd concepts throughout history and it is only right that they are treated with as much reverence as there is comedy. The result is a mix of education of medicine's sad legacy and a bunch of segues that prove that while they know the information, they are not professionals and are just doing this to have a good time.

Scott Aukerman's weekly roulette of comedy guests and characters continues to expand into the most absurd territories. Often releasing as many as two episodes a week, the show is a celebration of the strange as well as promotion for upcoming things. More than any other show out there, this is a place where comedy lives and breathes. It will introduce you to some of the funniest people out there who wouldn't have an outlet otherwise. It may not always work and maybe it won't make sense, but it doesn't matter. It's just funny.

26. Fresh Air (NPR)

Terry Gross continues to remain one of the best interviewers out there. Interviewing everyone from the world of movies to politics, Fresh Air manages to be one of the best magazine podcasts for daily news on current events. With each segment lasting varying amounts of time, no interview feels too short or too long. Gross hits all of the hard questions and gets insight like no other.

27. The Treatment (KCRW)

Even if it's only a half hour long, Elvis Mitchell's discussion with some of movie's best known performers remains one of the most intriguing shows. Through covering of "the treatment" or often the inspiration behind their projects, the show manages to dive deep into performers' past and where ideas come from. With an impressive guest on any week, it remains most of all an impressive look into the psyche and passion of creating movies with a few intriguing tidbits mixed in.

Why is this Breaking Bad recap series the most essential show not featuring Vince Gilligan? Besides David Chen being one of the rising maestros of TV criticisms, it is the show that managed to influence the show. After an interview with composer Dave Porter, there was a release of a second volume of the show's score, largely thanks to questions raised during that episode. Along with weekly coverage that explored each episode at length, the show is the right intersection of criticism and fandom. While it is doubtful that they'll return to cover the other four seasons, this recap series is worth a listen for anyone who has interest in the show but finds Breaking Bad Insider Podcast too insider.

29. Stuff You Should Know (How Stuff Works)

Wonder how the world operates? Well, Stuff You Should Know continues to remain as one of the best manuals for understanding of how varying elements work. With entertaining hosts, it manages to be worth your time if you ever seek curiosity on any given subject. Check it out.

30. How Did This Get Made? (Earwolf)

One of the best bad movie podcasts out there continued in 2013 to dive into the passion for all things inexplicable. With comedic guests, the dissection of the films has managed to turn into a cult-like presence with memorable, quotable episodes on films such as Howard the Duck and Street Fighter. With some great production, it manages to bring together listeners in accessible ways that makes each episode sheer delight. Even if the film is bad, the hosts can managed to mine humor from bizarre premises and rise above the bad movies by making them some of the best punchlines out there.

31. By the Way (Earwolf)

One of the more surprising introductions to the podcasting world was Jeff Garlin's live talk show. Where he tends to be loud and obnoxious on other people's shows, he managed to somehow tamper it into one of the most entertaining interview shows out there. With an impressive line-up of guests that includes Larry David, Lena Dunham, and J.J. Abrams, the show manages to be above the average interview by recounting events that you otherwise wouldn't have known about, thanks largely to Garlin's history of rooming with practically everyone. Even if the Goldbergs doesn't take off, at least this bi-monthly show manages to stay entertaining and well worth a listen anytime a noteworthy guest is on.

Doug Benson (no relation)

It is strange that Doug Benson is able to be as productive as he is. In 2013, he managed to spring from hosting two podcasts to also hosting Getting Dough with High and separating his mini episode into Doug Loves Minis. Luckily that has only strengthened the output of this particular feed and has allowed each episode to feel stronger. The show continues to be a great intersection of actors, comedians, and movie talk. The notable hero of the show is Paul F. Tompkins as Werner Herzog, who is always a delight in any public appearance, but here mixes his nature cynicism with an impressive movie trivia skill. The show continues to remain delightful and with an unbreakable formula, it most likely will be that way until Benson gets too stoned to host a show.

Left to right: Chris Gutierrez and Matt Benson (no relation)
33. Benson's Boombox (Benview)

One of the disappointments was seeing this beloved institution go on hiatus after a Comic Con episode. The interview/skit show has had on some of the best local talents out there and with plenty of witty banter, the length rarely becomes problematic for the show. Hopefully it will return in 2014 with a good reason for being gone as long as it has. It will bring joy into your life and make your mother respect you more. If not, at least you'll be on talking terms with her.

Left to right: Brian Thompson and Jill Whelan

Brian and Thompson and Jill Whelan celebrated their first full year of The Brian and Jill Show with plenty of fun memories. With daily episodes, the show continued to mix news coverage with trivia and conversation about their daily lives. With the occasional guest, the show remains a fun, hour-long show that remains a place for optimistic humor and plenty of hi-jinks. The show has become like a community and it is one that continues to improve day to day. Hopefully it continues to last.

Left to right: Brian Saffi and Erin Gibson
35. Throwing Shade (Maximum Fun)

My favorite show regarding news involving the gay and women communities continued to expand and experiment with the format. They began doing a live tour and even video episodes that only help them to explore more potential. Nonetheless, the chemistry of Brian Saffi and Erin Gibson continues to make the news into scathing, humorous rants that may be crass, but have a sense of entitlement behind it. The show remains an enjoyable, informative program no matter what format it is, and that alone proves why the show remains as crucial as ever.

Jeff Rubin

One of the most underrated "nerd" shows out there is this Jeff Rubin-hosted program that manages to get a nostalgic group of guests that appeal to nerds outside of the Nerdist community. Two notable guests include "Goosebumps" author R.L. Stine and the creator of the Simpsons Trivia Night in New York. It is an embracing source for alternative content and one that should be heard more often. Jeff Rubin is quite the talent at getting guests that you didn't know you wanted, and that alone may be his biggest achievement in separating his show from everything else.

37. Science Friday (NPR)

The world of science is a growing field and one that if you don't take time to stop and check out, you may be a little behind. Science Friday releases several episodes varying in length every week in which they explore the many mysteries of this universe. Through discussions with varying people in the science community, the podcast doesn't explore one specific topic and serves as informative nuggets to the latest in the culture that is worth knowing. 

 38. Here's the Thing (WNYC)

While he came into controversy on his TV show, Alec Baldwin's podcast remains a source of some top notch interviewing. With a calm, collective voice, he is a professional who knows how the system works and is able to ask questions in regards to that. From guests such as Lena Dunham to Chris Columbus, he has managed to turn their careers into a narrative structure that is compelling and worth listening to. It opens up secrets of its guests that otherwise wouldn't be well known. Baldwin knows how to work his guests, and that alone is an accomplishment.

39. My Brother My Brother and Me (Maximum Fun)

The advice show for the modern era continues to be a source of great riffing through the guise of Yahoo! Answers pages. The brothers McElroy remains an endless source for entertainment. Even if they don't make sense, they'll just go with it and make something hilarious out of nothing.

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