Dec 16, 2013

Listmania: The Best Podcasts of 2013: #80-100

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.

Left to right: Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier
80. SModcast (SModcast)

One of the flagship podcasts remains the Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier lead show SModcast, which has been impressively running since 2007 and showed up strong this past year. Now a producer behind his own film company, the show mixed in promotional pieces with interviews with talents ranging from familiar Smith talents to the likes of Rian Johnson and Gerard Way. Smith is never shy for words and he continues to be a compelling force of nature on a usually weekly basis.

One of the weak spots in my listening schedule has been finding political shows that could inform as well as entertain. To find a show that covers majority of the spectrum and present the news in an intriguing fashion. Citizen Radio may not be my favorite of this nature, but it is at very least a compelling source of information with two lively hosts that inspire audience interaction and to make a difference in communities. Labeled as "Democracy Now, but with more swearing," the show manages to not feel stuck up and the hosts don't sound imposing on their topics.

82. Jordan Jesse Go! (Maximum Fun)

Jordan Morris and Jesse Thorn have made quite a great podcast label with Maximum Fun and while their respective shows have a lot of great entertainment value, it is fascinating to listen to them join forces on a weekly basis to talk about whatever they like with guests. With plenty of chemistry, the show remains an enjoyable offshoot of something that feels like it could be NPR, but with more of a goofy and inappropriate side. 

83. The K Ohle (Nerdist Industries)

One of the great surprises of 2013 was the debut of the K Ohle: a show that is essentially anything and everything all at once. With host Kurt Braunohler, the show rotates between several gimmicky premises that involve boat loving or driving a blindfolded guest somewhere. Even if the show has some occasional lesser moments, what Braunohler has created is a fascinating achievement to what a podcast could do. It manages to be high concept and low brow absurdity often simultaneously and with the great "Get Lost" segments, they manage to find the last ounce of mental trickery that can be played on the audience. While it is rated low on this list, it will probably quickly become one of your favorites. If not, a segment will.

Left to right: Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer
84. You Had to Be There (Splitsider) 

In case you missed it, Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer had a big year as the hosts of their own MTV show Nikki and Sara Live. The two comedians have always been a joy together and their brief moment of success did spawn plenty of great moments from their show. There was talk about work intertwined with personal thoughts on etiquette and current trends. In fact, the show's impressive climb from being a group of friends in an apartment to a show that lead to a TV show is a great feat that just goes to show the power of honing your talents on a microphone.

A great little movie podcast that dives into reviews of current movies as well as older cinema, usually in regards to horror. The show manages to be a grab bag of topics, which always keeps things fresh. The banter is engaging and the quality of the conversations manage to almost seem like a lexicon at times. With in depth coverage and passion, this is a show that manages to bring life to films that otherwise would seem pointless. At very least, you'll finish the episode more satisfied for having learned little nuggets of trivia that add weight to the perception of their topics.

86. You Made It Weird (Nerdist Industries)

Pete Holmes has remained a strong force in the podcasting industry and has even become one of the most successful, even releasing commentaries for his favorite films. What continues to make You Made It Weird an interesting show is that it is a very casual approach to conversations and it could either be 90 minutes or three hours. There is no time limit and the topics usually spawn from improvisational speech. Even if Holmes does still seem a little too giddy for his own good, he does know how to keep a conversation going and when there's a great guest on, he definitely "makes it weird" in all of the right ways. He may seem somewhat of a cult figure with the branding he has produced, but that only shows how successful you can be with good marketing.

87. Famous Person Story Time (Ghost-Hat)

Another one of the great shows from Ghost-Hat is this program which imagines famous figures ranging from James Stewart to Mickey Mouse reading familiar nursery rhymes. With uncanny impressions, the segments may be short, but they do have plenty of weight simultaneously. Even if the moments don't click, they are bizarre and creative looks into the psychosis of how characters would break down the familiar and make these stories into something all about them. Very well written segments and while infrequently put out, is worth listening to when they make their rounds.

Maybe this is just a promotional "podcast," but it is one of the more effective for those into movies. Meet the Filmmaker is a show in which the directors and stars of the latest movies are interviewed in New York at an Apple Store and dive into fascinating topics. While it varies from subject to subject, those that click definitely deserve some merit and helps to personalize the marketing by giving them a chance to speak their mind. Maybe there are better interviewers out there, but this podcast is a guaranteed interest point for whenever a film of curiosity makes the rounds.

Cameron Esposito
89. Put Your Hands Together (AST Records)

Labeled as the first stand-up comedy podcast, this is a great way to sample local talents on a weekly basis. This is a recording of a show hosted by Cameron Esposito at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in which she introduces comedians to perform a routine, usually with a brief interview that follows. As much as any other show with random guests, the quality of the show is based on the performer, though the feeling of discovering someone new is always exciting and makes every moment worthwhile. 

90. Yo, Is This Racist? (Earwolf)

A daily show on Earwolf that explores racism in culture with the help of host Andrew Ti and a guest. While it often just turns into hilarious banter that proves the complexities of racism and discussing it, the show does manage to hit some hard button issues from time to time. The show never loses focus on its goals and with its brief running time, it is great filler. It will provoke and fill with insight and hopefully even make you reconsider your views on certain social stereotypes.

Maronzio Vance

Maronzio Vance has done wonders in 2013 in raising his profile from that of a small comedian who appeared on WTF with Marc Maron to a self-motivated success story. His show is pretty much what his brain sounds like during his downtime when he is alone with his thoughts. Sometimes he'll discuss road stories and others will be about political and news events. The chronicling is fascinating and helps to strengthen his voice as a whole. Even if he occasionally gets preachy, he has become a fascinating voice to listen to with a great work ethic that will hopefully only help him get bigger in the year to come.

92. Picture Start (Benview)

One of the more ingenious new shows to come into the Benview Network's roster is this show which not only explores movies, but also creates a meal out of it. The show features a passionate host who at very least is ambitious when making meals and has plenty to say about films that relate to whatever's cooking. It is an engaging, fun experience that will hopefully continue to expand next year in exciting new ways. 

*NOTE: I do realize that there were only four episodes released upon publication and thus it should have been in the Mini-Podcast post. However, I only recognize this unfortunately in hindsight. 

93. Shots Fired! (Earwolf)

There is a reason that Earwolf continues to be the best podcast network. It has more variety and quality than any other network out there. It isn't specifically comedy and instead an exploration of whatever interests audiences. One of the strangest shows by that standard is the hip-hop show Shots Fired, which explores every facet of modern hip-hop with criticisms by the hosts as well as interviews with various guests. While it is more directly for those passionate about the musical style, it does provide great, unique commentary and makes for a great companion guide to whatever rap music is currently out there.

94. Tell'em Steve-Dave (SModcast)

The other SModcast flagship continues to move along at a brisk pace and even remains just as relevant thanks to the AMC series Comic Book Men. The show manages to combine the hosts of that show and explores their more personal interests and lifestyles in ways that may be exploitative, but often result in great banter that has become like a cult all unto its own. It isn't just a show for Comic Book Men lovers, but more of a show for those that enjoy conversations had by people that hold more engaging conversations than you.

95. Black on Black Cinema (Nerdpocalypse)

In all honesty, my perspective on movies does come from a rather Anglo-Saxon point of view. I can try to argue for "understanding" other cultural films, but there is only one way to properly grasp it: hear what they have to say. This show is probably the closest to in depth coverage of every black film in cinema no matter how highbrow or mainstream with hosts that can correlate it not only to their lives, but to cultural significance. The episodes tend to run longer than some of the actual movies, but almost every moment reflects great criticism and helps to better understand how black cinema is perceived by the black audiences. It is fascinating and informative all with a sense of importance that makes each episode feel satisfying.

96. Rafflecast (Earwolf)

For a brief while, Jon Daly released a weekly look into how his brain worked. His strange id that managed to explore what made comedy work came through in skits that pushed the limits of tolerance and often asked you to question your own tastes. However, the show's artistic triumph, and one of the best gimmicks of the year, was the segments called "Building the Track," which was essentially building a song from scratch with random ideas. Rafflecast became a show about the process of song writing during these moments and even if the songs themselves weren't amazing, they payoff was always fascinating. This show deserves to be recognized, if just for those moments, as no show has managed to capture the creative process behind music so candidly.

There have been a lot of board games created in the existence of the format. That's why it is a blast to have fanatics join together and play games that range in overall quality and concepts. While some are more baffling than others, the concept of translating these games to audio is an audacious feat and it surprisingly works rather well. Even if you can't see the game, it feels involved. Sometimes only the games are fascinatingly bizarre, but that's the fun of discovering just what clicks from episode to episode.

98. Cashing In with T.J. Miller (Nerdist Industries)

Probably one of the most cryptic, bizarre shows to exist on the Nerdist Industries network is from the most obvious of sources: T.J. Miller. Serving as the show's only guest, the program is an exploration of ideas and the more random things get, the more free wheeling the creativity gets. No topic is out of bounds nor is any use of speech strict to one specific meaning. Even if the show may have a more novelty premise, it is a source of comedic absurdity through the form of questions and gives Miller the platform he needs in order to be the entertaining hit-and-miss machine that he is.

99. Penn's Sunday School (Carolla Digital)

It is strange that of all magicians in the world today, few can hold a candle to the likes of Penn Jillette. Not necessarily just in terms of recognition, but in being able to talk about anything and everything. While his political rants are somewhat obnoxious, he still manages to be an entertaining host that can fill 90 minutes easily. A consistently fun listen, Jillette manages to be one of the only tolerable things to be attached to Carolla Digital and one that gets far weirder and more perverse than most shows of its nature wish to get.

One of the more novelty premises of podcasting is The Takeaway's Movie Date show in which a weekly review of what's in theaters is also sided with the question of how a film would play as a date selection. Even with the reviews themselves having concrete value, it is the latter concept that gives the show somewhat of an edge and serves as a nice guide to those looking for a view on culture that is not specific to just whether a film is great or bad, but just how two people can enjoy it together. It is a fascinating listen and hopefully will be further up on this list when compiling 2014's line-up.

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