It’s a bit like a wizard revealing the secrets of an illusion. And instead of sucking the wit of magic, it makes it even better and provides a stepping stone into the complicated subject of how humor works. This season, greats like Margaret Cho, Samantha Bee, James Acaster and Howie Mandel shared their killer stuff.
If you like this, try: My dad wrote a porno
The classic: Comedy bang! Bang!
Samantha Bee can be seen in this year’s season of Good One.Recognition:Invision
Read and write: The first time
Victorian writers Kate Mildenhall (The Mother Fault) and Katherine Collette (The Helpline) bring some of our best writers into the depths of the reality of writing. Even more informative, however, are the conversations they have with each other before these interviews, which are full of advice and tips, but also fascinating insights into their lives.
Initially it was all about writing, publishing and promoting her first novels – now Mildenhall is writing her third, and Collette is about to publish her second Overcome It.
If you like this, try: Start with that
The classic: Long shape
Victorian author Kate Mildenhall.Recognition:Black cat
Music: Everything for Selena
In the Latino world, Selena Quintanilla-Perez was Madonna, Beyonce and Taylor Swift rolled into one. When she was shot dead by the president of her fan club in 1995 at the age of 23, her huge fan base mourned. The host of this podcast, Maria Garcia, was one of them.
Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez in 1994.Recognition:AP
She is now editor-in-chief of Boston radio station WBUR, but as a young Mexican immigrant in the United States, she saw her idol as a symbol of hope and was inspired by her to pursue her own ambitions. Anything For Selena is part documentary, part memoir and this mixture makes it all the more powerful.
If you like this, try: Cocaine & Rhinestones
The classic: Song exploder
Human stories: Stay away from Matthew MaGill
Matthew MaGill was a reclusive weirdo who died alone and homeless in the southern United States. He left a box of personal items suggesting he had a fantastic life and family story hidden – a hijacked 747, luxury car theft, and more. Podcaster Eric Mennel spent five years tracking down everyone in the box of memories to get the full story. But something remarkable happened along the way.
Inspired by the stories he had unearthed, Mennel began to question the mystery behind his own broken family. It turned out that Matthew MaGill wasn’t the only one with secrets and regrets.
If you like this, try: Heavyweight
The classic: This American life
Politics and History: Slow burning
Since 2017, every season of Slow Burn has picked up, scrutinized, and broken down into fascinating details a great, divisive story from recent history – Watergate; Bill Clinton’s impeachment; the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious BIG season 2021 covers the Iraq war, scouring the archives and doing many new interviews to find out how we went to war with a country that did little with the 9/11 attacks had to do.
The show highlights the post-9/11 mood in the US, the Bush administration’s desperation to blame someone and the decision to target a country with no damning evidence and the idea to the American people and the world for sale.
President George W. Bush declared the end of the great fighting in Iraq in 2003, but the war dragged on for many years.Recognition:AP
If you like this, try: Revisionist history
The classic: Pod Save America
Radio play: The Magnus Archive
There were rumors that the debut episode of the newest – and final – 2020/2021 season of this long-running horror fiction show crashed Patreon. This is not surprising as The Magnus Archives is critically acclaimed and has a large, loyal fan base. Writer Jonathan Sims plays the newly appointed chief archivist of the Magnus Institute, a seedy organization that investigates paranormal activity.
Much like Scully in the X-Files, he’s skeptical at first, but as the show progresses, it becomes harder for him to deny things. The stories he records from the archives every week do not seem to be linked at first. And then they do it scary.
If you like this, try: Homecoming
The classic: Welcome to the night valley
Pop Culture: Welcome to your imagination
Did you know that Chippendales, the male striptease franchise that was huge in the 1980s, has a completely crazy, dirty, and very dark backstory? Historian Natalia Petrzela is hosting this story of a multi-million dollar industry that included multiple clubs, national tours, mall appearances, calendars, a training video, and regular spots on talk shows. It’s the story of how two men – an Indian immigrant and a children’s television producer – turned a seedy LA nightclub into a global phenomenon and how greed turned into paranoia, arson … and murder.
If you like this, try: The Wanderer Counter
The classic: Missing Richard Simmons
The historian podcaster Natalia Petrzela from Welcome to Your Fantasy.Recognition:
TV and film: You have to remember that
Film journalist Karina Longworth is nothing less than Hollywood’s leading historian in the podcast age. You Must Remember This, which began in 2014, is devoted to researching Hollywood’s secret and forgotten stories, and each season focuses on a different topic including the infamous blacklist, the murders of Charles Manson, and criminally overlooked screenwriter and producer Polly Platt . The stellar 2021 season, Gossip Girls, takes a deep dive into the history of two of LA’s most powerful showbiz columnists, Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper.
Podcaster Connor Ratliff from Dead Eyes.
If you like this, try: The rewatchables
The classic: Script notes
Oddball: Dead eyes
More than 20 years ago, actor Connor Ratliff auditioned successfully for a role in the Tom Hanks-produced miniseries Band of Brothers. But then he was called back to meet with Hanks in person. Shortly thereafter, he was told that he had lost the role, allegedly because Hanks felt he had “dead eyes”. Ratliff, who has since stewed on it, decided to produce this fun yet hearty podcast, using his own experiences to explore the broader topic of how we deal with setback and rejection. Along the way, he receives advice from the likes of Jon Hamm, Elijah Wood, Ira Glass, and Judd Apatow while doing detective work to find out exactly what happened to Hanks in the room that day.
If you like this, try: Everything is alive
The classic: Love + radio