Free from the censorship shackles of TV and radio, and the time restrictions of live club gigs, you can often find comedians at their most creative and riff-tastic on the internet, in comedy podcasts.
There are hundreds of free downloads out there. Some have gained huge cult followings, others have more or less disappeared into the ether… Here, we're constantly adding to this list of what we think are the best comedy podcasts the internet has to offer. Keep checking back for more recommendations that are top of the pods.
This month’s comedy podcast pick
Elis James and John Robins on XFM Podcast
That’s a long title. Yep. Accurate, though. These two stand-up pals host XFM’s Saturday morning show, in the same slot that helped launch podcast chart-toppers Adam & Joe.
But this is a podcast, not a radio show? Correct again. Well, this is the radio show, as a podcast, with all that pesky indie music removed.
Isn’t the music the best bit? Not here. James and Robins’s cheeky chat, silly catchphrases and running jokes will make you snort on your commute.
What kind of running jokes? John reading aloud from ‘A Robins Amongst the Pigeons’, his autobiography written in the style of Tony Blackburn’s ‘Poptastic!’, is well worth catching up on. He’s doing a live reading soon, but just for podcast listeners.
Where can I listen? Head to www.xfm.co.uk/podcasts.
More of our favourite comedy podcasts
The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast With Stuart Goldsmith
What’s the format? Fascinating, in-depth interviews with comedy talents talking about their craft. If you’re interested in how funnies are created, the affectionately titled ‘Com Com Pod’ is a must-listen.
And who is this Stuart Goldsmith character? A comedian who’s been on the circuit for over a decade. Goldsmith should be better known than he is: the guy has heaps of smart, well-crafted jokes.
Is the podcast itself funny? It’s about funny, rather than being rip-roaringly hilarious. But as Goldsmith is a comedian, his interviews – like US comic Marc Maron’s chats on his ‘WTF’ podcast – often veer into stupidly funny stories.
Is it a live show too? It is now! Recently Stu’s been recording ‘Com Com Pod’ at Soho Theatre. See our listing for more details.
Where can I listen to it? Catch up on the 100-plus episodes recorded so far at www.comedianscomedian.com.
Chris Coltrane and Lolitics
‘Lolitics’? A mix of ‘lols’ and ‘politics’? Correct! Good work. Disappointed by the election result? Elated? Don’t care? Or just wish politics was funnier? Chris Coltrane’s podcast can help.
What’s the format? It’s a mix of political chat from Coltrane – a passionate, anti-Tory activist-comedian – and live stand-up recorded at his monthly lefty gig at Camden’s Black Heart.
Stand-up from whom? Political comedy maestros Robin Ince and Josie Long are regulars, and other guests have included Foster’s Awards nominee Liam Williams and Pappy’s member Matthew Crosby.
I’m a Conservative. Will I enjoy it? Er, probably not. Sorry. But it’s not just Tory-bashing. It’s Tory-bashing with jokes.
Where can I listen? Head to www.chriscoltrane.co.uk.
And can I see it live? Of course! Lolitics runs mostly – see our listing for info.
The Mortified Podcast
Sounds embarrassing! Can be. ‘Mortified’ is a hugely popular live show in the States where members of the public read from their teenage diaries. Those thoughts and experiences seemed so important at the time, but reciting them decades later to a live audience – well, they’re just humiliating.
God, I couldn’t do that. Why would anyone want to read their journal in front of strangers? It’s funny! Plus it’s a cathartic experience, confronting the past – right?
And now it’s a podcast? Correct. Each week one reading (and a ‘postmortem-fied’ interview) are released as bite-sized, 15-minute episodes.
Where can I listen? www.getmortified.com is where to relive your teenage angst through the bravery of strangers.
No Such Thing as a Fish
Is that really true? Biologically speaking, it is. The animals we collectively call ‘fish’ don’t all descend from the same common ancestor.
What does that have to do with this podcast? It’s a fact that popped up on ‘QI’, and this podcast is hosted by four of the show’s researcher ‘elves’, including stand-up Dan Schreiber and improviser Andrew Hunter Murray.
So they have more interesting nuggets to share? They sure do. Dan and Andrew, along with James Harkin and Anna Ptaszynski, unload their fact-packed brains of the fascinating and frequently funny things they’ve learned each week.
Where can I listen? Head to www.qi.com/podcast.
Can I see it live? Sure! The gang often record episodes in London. See our listings for more details.
Comedians Telling Stuff
Who’s the host? London-based Danish stand-up Sofie Hagen.
What’s the format? Well, the clue’s in the title, really. It’s all story-based laughs here. Each series features six comics offering (often embarrassing) tales on six themes, with each topic getting its own episode.
Themes such as? First gigs, worst gigs, best heckles – the kind of things they would josh about backstage at a club. Guests so far have included Russell Kane, Nick Helm and Katherine Ryan, among others.
Is it funny for us non-comedians? Definitely. Hearing a stand-up talk about the time they died a horrific death is never not funny – their pain is your pleasure. The ‘backstage sexytime’ episode often brings up some bizarrely funny stories, too.
Where can I listen? Head to www.comedianstellingstuff.com.
Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast
In his unofficial role as the king of internet comedy, Richard Herring’s been churning out top-quality podcasts for yonks (we also highly recommend ‘As It Occurs to Me’, if you haven’t listened to it already). But his most recent series – RHLSTP, as all the cool kids are calling it – is his finest yet.
After a few minutes of topical jokes, Herring sits down with the good and great of stand-up and TV comedy, from Armando Iannucci to Stewart Lee, Jonathan Ross to Tim Minchin. But this isn’t a cushy love-in, Herring asks ridiculous questions and gets equally silly (and often filthy) answers. It’s made us laugh more than anything else on the internet, and considering the millions of cat videos available, that’s saying something.
Listen to 'Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast'
Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown
Terrifically shambolic sketch troupe Pappy’s have another excellent podcast – ‘Bangers and Mash’, a mix of sketches and chat – but it’s their flatshare-based panel show that we can’t get enough off. Each episode focuses on a household chore that Ben and Tom (the tenants) are trying to avoid, so landlord Matthew makes them compete in various tasks to decide who has to do it.
Of course, it’s just a hook for a panel show, with Matthew acting as host while Ben and Tom, joined by comedian guests, captain opposing teams. It’s miles funnier than any panel show on TV or radio (partly thanks to Tom’s ridiculously silly deep southern lawyer character, Fanshawe Standon).
Listen to 'Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown'
The Pod F Tompkast
What happens when it’s night-time on the internet? The Pod F Tompkast happens, that’s what. The creation of smart American comic Paul F Tompkins, this refreshingly laidback, almost sleepy podcast features Tompkins talking nonsense, suavely accompanied on the piano by Eban Schletter.
Each episode features a chapter of ‘The Great Undiscovered Project’ – an increasingly epic saga about an abandoned collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber, John C Reilly, Ice T and others – a recorded sketch from Tompkins’s live show in LA, and a phone conversation with comedian pal Jen Kirkman. But the big laughs come from Tompkins just chatting away, veering off on strange tangents and deconstructing his own musings. Plus, he somehow even makes reading out a list of his own tour dates funny! Bravo.
Listen to 'The Pod F Tompkast'
The Smartest Man in the World
Everyone knows Greg Proops is a master improviser; we’ve all seen his sublime work on ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ But its on his solo podcast – recorded at comedy clubs across the world – that we see the pompadour-donning comic’s improv skills at their best.
‘The Smartest Man in the World’ is simply Proop Doggy Dogg monologuing for an hour or more about absolutely anything – the town he’s in, news headlines, Genghis Khan… – all with acid-tongued wit and sharp opinions. Look out for recordings in London; the Proopcast comes to Soho Theatre every so often.
Listen to 'The Smartest Man in the World'
By The Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin
The second comedian-on-comedian chat action on our list, this time from ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ star Jeff Garlin. Because of his fancy showbiz lifestyle, Garlin’s guests are A-list Hollywood friends of his – Will Ferrell, JJ Abrams, Lena Dunham… – and, because they’re his pals, it feels like you’re sat in on their conversation in the pub (or ‘bar’, as the Americans would say).
The first episode, with ‘Curb’ co-star and creator Larry David, is a proper treat; David’s on wonderfully misanthropic form, and Garlin knows exactly how to rile him up. But Jeff, stop with the sponsorship interruptions already! Don’t you earn enough money without having to tell us how good Audible.com is every half an hour? Come on!
Listen to 'By The Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin'
Do the Right Thing
Another excellent podcast panel show. On ‘Do the Right Thing’, regular team captains Michael Legge and Margaret Cabourn-Smith are joined by guests to work out what the best action to take would be in tricky hypothetical scenarios given to them by host Danielle Ward.
Of course, all this leads to witty riffing about peculiar situations and a lot of brilliantly angry rants from Michael Legge. It’s the best Radio 4 panel show that’s not actually on Radio 4 (with added F- and C-bombs).
Listen to 'Do the Right Thing'
The Thrilling Adventure Hour
More than 100 episodes in and this ‘new-time podcast in the style of old-time radio’ is still going strong. Originally just a live show (it’s still recorded live in LA), Bens Acker and Blacker write ‘The Thrilling Adventure Hour’, which has the classy feel of a 1940s radio play: smart, snappy dialogue and wonderfully observed pastiches.
Also, at just 20 minutes long with engrossing recurring characters and stories, it’s the perfect quick listen.
Listen to 'The Thrilling Adventure Hour'
Peacock and Gamble Podcast
Childish and childlike stand-ups Ray Peacock and Ed Gamble’s banterous podcast is a consistently funny listen. The pair have the freedom to riff (for hours, apparently, edited down to just 30 minutes) on everything from their latest food consumptions to top trumps, via wanking.
During the Edinburgh Fringe they release a daily version, joined by a different guest comedian each day. The Marek Larwood episode (from August 9, 2012) is a particular favourite of ours.
Listen to 'The Peacock and Gamble Podcast'
The SModcast Network
There are so many top quality podcasts on Kevin Smith’s massive Smodcast Network, it would be too difficult to choose just one (or even ten), so we’ve picked the whole lot. Smodcast has offerings for tons of interests from multiple contributors:
Smith and actor Ralph Garman discuss entertainment news in ‘Hollywood Babble-On’, former porn star Katie Morgan answers sex-themed questions in a show simply called ‘Having Sex, with Katie Morgan’ and, for comic book fans, there’s the beautifully titled ‘Fat Man on Batman’, where Smith interviews people who’ve worked on caped-crusader projects. Bring provisions, though, some episodes can go on for hours…
View the Smodcast Network's podcasts
New Year’s Eve with Neil Hamburger
If you prefer a podcast with more of a radio feel, and hosted by a bitter, drunken, washed-up entertainer, then Neil Hamburger’s brilliantly bizarre offering is for you. As well as the chat, Hamburger (the anti-comic character creation of Gregg Turkington) plays old country or soft rock songs in their entirety, before counting down the new year, every single episode.
It’s essentially what you’d imagine Hamburger himself listening to on the radio, at home alone on NYE, slouched in a chair drinking whisky from the bottle and shouting through the ceiling. And it’s ruddy brilliant.
Listen to 'New Year's Eve with Neil Hamburger'