Ever since the 2000s rolled along, comedians have been carving a niche for themselves in the world of podcasting. People in the comedy world obviously have a lot to say, so it’s only natural that they’d gravitate towards a medium allowing them the freedom to speak their minds on whatever topics they choose. Not only have podcasts opened the doors for comedians to expand their creativity in a no-holds-barred fashion, they’ve also enabled the possibilities of reaching a broader audience outside the comedy-club circuit, radio airwaves, and talk shows. Below is a list mentioning the top ten comedians who created successful podcasts, and in some cases, pioneered their successful career.
1. Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais was one of the first comedians to start making major waves in the world of podcasting with his hit series The Ricky Gervais Show. Gervais, who was primarily known for leading roles in both The Office and Extras, along with his stand-up, gradually transitioned his radio show into a podcast. In 2005, The Ricky Gervais Show podcast was formed, and quickly became the number one podcast in the world. Along with pals and co-hosts, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, Gervais was able to reach an even larger audience and talk about some of the most bizarre topics ever conceived. The success of the podcast even led to an HBO series of the same name in 2010.
2. Joe Rogan
UFC commentator, stand-up comedian, and former Fear Factor host, Joe Rogan began formally podcasting in 2009. Rogan’s podcast The Joe Rogan Experience quickly gained listeners following the buzz surrounding the comedian’s outing of joke-stealing comic/actor Carlos Mencia. Rogan also started becoming internationally recognized as a stand-up comedian after releasing his first couple full-hour comedy specials around the same time. Fans of Rogan’s show Fear Factor, UFC commentating, and stand-up comedy can collectively listen to the comedian’s podcast detailing personal stories and funny conversations with diverse guests from around the world. In 2012, The Joe Rogan Experience was voted the Best Comedy Podcast on iTunes.
3. Mark Maron
Comedian Marc Maron rose to a new level of popularity after starting his own podcast based out of his garage titled WTF with Marc Maron. Maron, who’d only reached marginal success with past shows The Marc Maron Show and Morning Sedition, finally found his voice when he created his own podcast. His show was able to incorporate his own neurotic style of self-deprecating humor, political views, and trippy adventures along with the added bonus of interviews with high-profile guests. Some of Maron’s A-list interviewees include Louis C.K., Michael Keaton, and U.S. President Barack Obama.
4. Doug Stanhope
Cynical, fringe stand-up comedian Doug Stanhope is a veteran in the comedy world. After having released thirteen comedy specials on various formats (CDs, DVDs, digital downloads, bootlegs), the Bisbee, Arizona native, finally branched out into the world of podcasting in 2013. Stanhope, who had also previously worked with podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan during their brief stint as hosts of The Man Show, began inviting comics and friends over his house for interviews and limitless conversations detailing some of the funniest and most unconventional stories one could ever listen to. Stanhope’s podcast is slowly growing an audience, including one very famous listener, Johnny Depp, who became friends with the comedian.
5. Bill Burr
Comedian and budding actor Bill Burr has been in the podcasting game for quite some time—since 2007. After spending years releasing edgy yet truthful comedy specials, the comic slowly transitioned into the world of podcasting with his show Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast. Burr, who’s known for speaking his mind, has been a natural in the podcasting scene, going on comical rants about political and racy issues, as well as giving blunt and humorous advice to his listeners who write in asking questions about personal issues. Burr has also made a habit out of bringing on other popular comedians to co-host his show, including Jim Norton, Tom Green, and aforementioned podcaster, Doug Stanhope.
6. Stuart Goldsmith
Stand-up comedian Stuart Goldsmith began podcasting in 2012 with his show titled The Comedian’s Comedian with Stuart Goldsmith, a podcast focused on interviewing comedians who discuss the art of writing and performing stand-up comedy. Goldsmith helped open the doors to the ins and outs of comedy to those aspiring to become comics, as well as those with an interest in the art form. The So You Think You’re Funny finalist and Edinburgh Fringe performer has slowly built a following of comedy fans from around the world and included notable guests such as Gavin Webster, Bo Burnham, and Gina Yashere.
7. Adam Carolla
Former original Man Show host, Loveline anchor, and Crank Yankers co-creator, Adam Carolla has been in the comedy world for decades. Carolla started gaining a new level of success with his podcast The Adam Carolla Show in 2009. Originally titled The Adam Carolla Podcast, the show overtook Gervais’s podcast as the most downloaded podcast in 2011. After the end of the comedian’s radio program, Carolla began speaking his mind without the fear of being hounded by the FCC, which still led to controversy from listeners and social media users. Some of Carolla’s prominent guests have included David Alan Grier, Martin Short, Nick DiPaolo, and William Shatner.
8. John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman
Comedians John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman, have been hosting The Bugle Podcast since 2007—a renowned podcast centered on satirical humor. Former Daily Show correspondent and current Last Week Tonight with John Oliver host John Oliver, along with Edinburgh Fringe stand-up comedian and author Andy Zaltzman have been working together for years. After having written for television programs and co-hosting radio programs in the past, the comedy duo began reaching a wider audience with their podcast The Bugle, jokingly claiming on their site that it’s “one of the universe’s leading satirical comedy podcasts,” and that they’ve reached an “estimated potential global audience of seven billion people.” The Bugle has helped both comedians achieve the current successes they’ve attained today.
9. Paul F. Tompkins
Renaissance comedian Paul F. Tompkins has been very active in the podcast world, creating his own series of podcasts, as well as guest hosting and making frequent appearances on others. Some of Tompkins’ highly successful podcasts include Pod F. Tompkast and SPONTANEANATION, both incorporating the comic’s zany brand of humor in the forms of improv, skits, and laugh-out-loud interview segments with special guests. Rolling Stone even ranked Pod F. Tompkast at #1 on their list of “The 10 Best Comedy Podcasts of the Moment” in 2011. Tompkins has also made it a habit of appearing on a multitude of other podcasts including Comedy Bang! Bang!, Superego, and Thrilling Adventure Hour.
10. Norm Macdonald
Stand-up comedian, writer, and actor Norm Macdonald is another veteran in the comedy scene, mostly known for his brief, yet hilarious tenure as a Weekend Update anchor on Saturday Night Live, his unpredictably long-winded and random fictional stories on talk shows, and his dark brand of bizarre stand-up comedy. In 2013, Macdonald started his own podcast on YouTube titled Norm Macdonald Live. The comedian received praise from USA TODAY and Entertainment Weekly, as well as from fans. Some of Norm’s notable guests include legendary radio and television host Larry King, Russell Brand, Adam Sandler, and Marc Maron.
Comedians are currently using the platform of podcasting to not only promote themselves, but to also promote other fellow comics. As we can see, when one comedian’s series rises in popularity, it’s not only due to the uniqueness of their own style and brand, but to the contributions from their guests and co-hosts. The podcasting community has now solidified itself as a permanent fixture and budding alternative for comedians to advance their careers, as well as become a great resource for the fans.
Are you a fan of these comedians? What do you think of their podcasts? Let us know in the comments below!