The Five Best Comedy Podcasts (According To A Comedian)

December 2019Words by Mr Jim Merrett

Messrs Max Olesker and Ivan Gonzalez in Fugitives. Photograph by Ms Idil Sukan, courtesy of Storyglass

Once safely confined to comedy clubs and TV channel Dave, these days, you can’t walk into the children’s section of Waterstones or log into Netflix without being confronted with a comedian. The place you’re most likely to encounter a professional gag merchant, however, is on a podcast, where they can be found mulling over all aspects of life or even, in the case of Ms Cariad Lloyd’s award-winning Griefcast, death.

“Podcasts and comedy are a perfect fit,” says Mr Max Olesker, one half of comedy duo Max & Ivan (you can guess which half). The pair have recently dipped their toes in the digital audio realm with their eight-part series Max & Ivan: Fugitives, which also features cameos from Ms Alice Lowe, Mr Stephen Mangan and Mr Adam Buxton. “It’s an intimate, incredibly convenient medium that allows for the creation of all manner of work, whether that’s exploring a treasure trove of your dad’s literary erotica, warm and meandering ramble-chats while out with your dog in East Anglia or committing to writing a carefully plotted geopolitical comedy thriller,” says Mr Olesker. “Full disclosure – that last one’s us. Why didn’t we just interview our mates like 98 per cent of the other podcasts out there?”

What is it about podcasting that makes it such a draw for people who are funny for a living? “Comedians, being natural self-promoters who crave attention above all else, have been swift to pounce on the possibilities of podcasting,” says Mr Olesker. “Technically speaking, all you need is a recording device and access to the internet. But what you really need is creativity, wit and the ability to communicate an idea, something that the best comedians have in spades. We may well have none of those things, but what we do have is a brilliant producer, who lovingly edited our fevered writings into a gripping eight-episode arc.”