Pod-Fascination: The 12 Best Podcast Episodes Of 2012, Part One

For the last few months, I've been recommending quality podcasts. In the spirit of the year's end, I'm highlighting the single episodes that I enjoyed the most. As I have mentioned before, I listen to primarily comedy podcasts, so there are obviously thousands of other episodes released this year. Leave your favorite episodes in the comments!

12. You Made It Weird With Pete Holmes Episode 46: Harris Wittels
Pete Holmes is funny in small doses, but who is funnier than Harris Wittels? This episode also includes the sociopath test, which is something I now use at parties.

11. WTF With Marc Maron Episode 238: Michael Ian Black
Marc Maron's WTF is often lauded as one of the best in-depth interview podcasts. I find it to be incredibly self-indulgent, and that's a good thing! Maron often reveals a lot about himself in the interviews, and likes to bring up the "tension" he feels with the guests. Nothing was more tense than his interview with Michael Ian Black, original member of The State, and one of my favorite actors/writers. They both bring up their resentment with each other and it is delightfully squirm-worthy at times. Also interesting is hearing Black's explanation of his "comedic persona," which is intentionally arrogant and obnoxious. How much of that is real and how much is put on for the public? It's hard to tell.

10. The Mental Illness Happy Hour Episode 60: Jamie Denbo
The best guests on the Mental Illness Happy Hour are the guests who are willing to "go there," in other words, dig into their childhoods, talk about the roots of their depression, and share their biggest fears and insecurities. Comedian Jamie Denbo (who happens to play Beverly in my favorite podcast, Ronna And Beverly) is such a guest. She brilliantly explains how her comedy is directly inspired by and is an outlet for her anxieties.

9. Nocturnal Emotions With Har Mar Superstar Episode 1: Macauley Culkin
You may remember Har Mar Superstar as the Ron Jeremey lookalike who was popular with the Williamsburg crowd for a hot minute. I'm not a frequent listener to his Earwolf show, in which he interviews mostly musicians and underground artists, but the first episode was equally bizarre and engaging, like a car wreck you can't look away from. If you were concerned with what Macauley Culkin was up to, your fears will be assuaged with this. Turns out he's part of an art collective in Soho where he churns out ironic art (at least I think it is ironic?). Culkin jumps from topic to topic like he's either manic, under the influence, really excited, or all of the above. The good news is he's come to terms with his past as a child star, even celebrating it with a weekly DJ gig. (Who doesn't have a DJ gig these days?)

8. Totally Laime Episode 111: Michelle Buteau
Totally Laime is the best "awesome people hanging out and chatting" podcast, where subjects sometimes go the serious and dark, but often the mundane gives good insight into the lives of the guests, often creative and brilliant people. Michelle Buteau is just so damn funny, charming, personable, and insightful that I didn't want this episode to end.

7. Baby Geniuses Episode 2: Nikki Glaser
In one of the earlier episodes, Emily and Nikki talk about their experiences with ASMR, and it’s just something you don't often hear on a comedy podcast. Also, I may have it, or maybe it's just the power of suggestion.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the list!

I'll be continuing Pod-Fascination in the new year, and let me know about any podcast you'd like me to review. You can leave a comment or tweet me at @robinhardwick.

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