These Standalone Podcast Episodes Will Make Holiday Travel A Breeze

There are hundreds-of-thousands of podcasts streaming right now. And while you can count on us for helping you find the best in comedy pods, music pods, history pods, food pods, travel pods, weed pods, art pods, true crime pods, and — of course — our own pods, we get that committing to a whole series is tough. Even the best podcasts are going to have lackluster episodes every now and again. Why commit when you can dabble?

The rub is that choosing one single episode amongst dozens or even hundreds of options from a single podcast is like throwing a dart in a dark room. You’ll rarely hit a bull’s eye. Hell, you probably won’t even hit the board. We don’t want that for you, so we took the legwork upon ourselves. We threw all the darts and found all the bullseyes.

The 15 podcast episodes below represent the best in conversational audio files created this year, bar none. These are stand-alone episodes that’ll make you laugh, offer an education, and challenge even your most firmly held ideas. The best part is that after listening you can move on. Or, if you dig the vibe and the hosts, you can smash that subscribe button then dive in for the long haul.

At the very least, use these gems to get you through the drudgery of holiday travel.

UNSPOOLED — “THE GODFATHER”

The Show:

Film critic Amy Nicholson and actor-comedian-writer Paul Scheer are leading the podcast-listening world through a very deep dive into the AFI’s 2007 Top 100. Nicholson and Scheer parse each of the AFI’s choices for the supposed 100 best American films of all time with bonus episodes and fantastic guests.

The beauty of this show is Nicholson and Scheer’s shared ability to take the cinema they love deadly seriously but not take themselves too seriously. They listen to each other. They argue. They commiserate. There’s nary another film podcast out there as fun, in-depth, and listenable as Unspooled.

The Episode:

The beauty of this episode is how Amy Nicholson and Paul Scheer bring wholly different experiences to The Godfatherhitting on nostalgia, the patriarchy, and the very foundations of America. The episode is a shining example of how the cinephile duo can disagree but still find a common love for the images flickering on the screen in front of their eyes.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox

FOX MULDER IS A MANIAC — “COLONY”

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The Show:

Tom Reimann and David Bell are the hosts of one of our favorite shows of the year. Fox Mulder Is A Maniac, part of the Gamefully Unemployed network, is a chronological episode-by-episode rewatching of the iconic ’90s FOX show The X-Files through the filter of asking whether Fox Mulder is, indeed, a maniac.

The well-structured and hilarious podcast is a delight to listen to. It also offers just the right dose of nostalgia without wallowing in it, while also providing a gateway for new generations to get into the show.

The Episode:

This podcast episode covers one of the more iconic episodes of the TV series, “Colony” from season two. It has an alien bounty hunter, Soviet Clones, Arctic ice stations, and Agent Fox Mulder acting like a motherf*cking maniac. It’s a great way to enjoy Reimann and Bell in their element while really enjoying a show they truly love. It’ll make you want to go out and start watching The X-Files again and listen to every other episode of this podcast.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Castbox, Soundcloud

DECODER RING — BART SIMPSON MANIA

The Show:

Willa Paskin has put together one of the best-researched, engaging, and endlessly fascinating podcasts of 2019. Decoder Ring takes an investigative and ponderous look at the cultural phenomena of the modern era. Episodes look at where hotel art comes from and how Chuck E. Cheese got into a pizza war in the 1980s with a rival chain. It’s a blast to listen to that verges on being a little unhinged when Paskin dives too deep on her subjects.

The Episode:

Bart Simpson Mania” is probably really hard to understand in 2019. If you lived through it in the late ’80s/early ’90s, it’ll be a trip back to a time when real censorship was happening on a federal level and the country was losing its collective shit over a cartoon character. The episode goes beyond the history of the early Simpsons and dives into what was happening in the U.S. to lead to such a massive following and backlash to the show. It’s comprehensive, complicated, and endlessly fascinating.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

BEHIND THE BASTARDS — JEFFREY EPSTEIN: PIMP TO THE POWERFUL

The Show:

Robert Evans — no, not that one — hosts comedians to talk about the worst people in human history and how they f*cked up our world. Behind the Bastards is part history course, part illumination, and part comedy that often veers into a state of sheer disbelief. Overall, the show is an essential subscribe to get a sense of the mechanizations some people have power over and how that has shaped our past and is still shaping our present.

The Episode:

Evans often follows major headlines and provides a space to dive deeper on a subject and find more context. This apt process of podcasting is on full display with the chilling two-part episode about Jeffery Epstein, a convicted sex trafficker and pedophile, who had connections to the highest offices in multiple countries. Evans’ excellent reporting on the subject will leave you informed and, frankly, baffled at who this particular bastard was.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox

GOOD BEER HUNTING — UNDER THE INFLUENCER

The Show:

The Good Beer Hunting Podcast network spans a wide range of shows about the world of beer. All of that content makes an access point as inscrutable as a sphinx for the outsider. The stable of shows cover issues from the process of making beer as told by the people out there doing it to the business of beer to the political and social issues surrounding the sudsy stuff.

If you love beer, this is the spot for you.

The Episode:

After an online kerfuffle based around a post on UPROXX about our favorite “Beer Influencers” ended up getting two podcasters fired for their misogynistic views, Good Beer Hunting steeped in to survey the aftermath with all those involved (including me, Zach Johnston). “Under the Influencer” is a fascinating look at how an online outrage can have real-world consequences and how people move on from the fallout and, hopefully, how we all grow.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox

GREAT ADVENTURES — MIKE MASSIMINO

The Show:

Charles Thorp has been building one of the most interesting travel podcasts out there. His list of guests is equally as impressive. Throp gets everyone from A-list actors to astronauts. Great Adventures is a meditation on travel, life, and the experience of it all. It’s an easy listen that’ll inspire you and, hopefully, help you get out on the road one day.

The Episode:

Thorp sits down with NASA astronaut Mike Massimino and it does not disappoint. The episode dives into what it’s like repairing the Hubble Telescope while giving context to what it’s like to leave the bounds of our own planet. You’ll leave this episode with a new appreciation for both what it takes to be an astronaut and what it means to be human.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher

ALL MY RELATIONS — CAN A DNA TEST MAKE ME NATIVE AMERICAN?

The Show:

All My Relations is one of the most unique and engaging shows on the podcast-verse. Matika Wilbur, a visual artist and photographer, teamed up with Adrienne Keene, creator of Native Appropriations and faculty member at Brown University, to create a space where Indigenous issues can be discussed with a wide audience. The show takes dives into issues facing Indian Country today and hits headlines you’ve likely already heard about — from Elizabeth Warren to celebrating Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day. The podcast is insightful, educational, and always a great listen.

The Episode:

In this episode, Wilbur and Keene sit down with Dr. Kim Tallbear, an expert on Indigenous DNA and professor at the University of Alberta. The trio delves into the proliferation of commercial DNA testing, non-Indigenous people’s deep-seated desire to prove some modicum of Indigenous DNA, and how all of this has a real-world effect on Indigenous communities right now. It’s an illuminating listen on a subject that reaches deep into the modern zeitgeist.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox

PEOPLE’S PARTY WITH TALIB KWELI — EL-P

The Show:

Hip-hop legend Talib Kweli leads a sit-down chat with some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, and culture. The raconteur approach to the format allows Kweli and his guests a chance to delve into subjects far and wide while still feeling intimate and personal. People’s Party never fails to keep the listener deep in their earbuds as the conversation rolls on, making this an easy choice for a must-listen this year.

The Episode:

A great place to hop into the mix is the episode featuring Run the Jewels producer/rapper El-P. The chat is a fascinating history lesson on the rise and Run the Jewels that delves into various music genres, musicians, and the struggle to make it in the industry. The episode plays out like two old friends sitting down for a rad chat we all get to be part of.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox

TOASTED SISTER — IMMINENT CUISINE

The Show:

Toasted Sister, hosted by producer and journalist Andi Murphy, is on the cutting edge of the next great American food movement. Murphy and guests from around the Americas dive into how Indigenous foodways are returning after 500 years of colonization and calamity.

This is one of the only spots where you can learn, firsthand, about the bounty of foods the Americas had and still has. It’s also a great way to learn about and embrace the wild and foraged foods in our own backyards.

The Episode:

Imminent Cuisine covers the creation of a new zine about Indigenous Food Futurism. It’s a great place to get a handle on the whole idea of what Indigenous food is via the conversations between the artists who created the new zine. This episode will give you a footing to understand and absorb the rest of the episodes of the podcast. And, trust us, you’ll want to go deeper and learn about the food that’s all around you right now.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox

CONSPIRACY! THE SHOW — ANCIENT ALIENS RECAP: S1E1, PART 1

The Show:

Adam Tod Brown’s UNPOPS podcast network puts out shows on an almost daily basis with a crew of great, young comedians in L.A. This year, Brown did a soft reboot of one of their best shows, Conspiracy! The Show. The show now features rotating co-host and takes a slightly more serious tack when delving into conspiracy theories both ridiculous and shockingly believable. The show has that perfect balance of being fun, informational, and a little scary. You can’t ask for anymore in your conspiracy podcast.

The Episode:

In this episode, Brown and co-host and comedian Laura Crawford set out on a slightly batshit endeavor to review all 14 seasons of Ancient Aliens. Yes, the History Channel show of every meme-makers dreams. The first episode shines as both Brown and Crawford take the show seriously when it’s looking at actual artifacts and aren’t afraid to call bullshit when the show’s “experts” are flailing about aliens. It’s a truly fun listen wherein you’ll likely also learn something new and cool.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher

SIDESHOW’S SIDE SHOW WITH JEFF MAY — SCOTT LOBDELL

The Show:

Comedian Jeff May’s Sideshow’s Side Show is a bit like Seinfeld, in that it’s kind of a show about nothing which means it gets to be about everything. The thrust of the show is May’s deep love of comic book and film culture and the world that’s been built around it — May is a host at many a comic-con around the country.

Where the show shines is in May’s wit while interviewing guests about the state of modern pop culture or how iconic artists created some of the greatest pop-art of our time. The show isn’t afraid to go deep while also keeping things accessible.

The Episode:

This would have been a fascinating stand-alone for any podcast. May sits down with Marvel writer and screenwriter Scott Lobdell to talk his work writing X-Men comics and slasher flicks. Then, May takes a turn and addresses Lobdell’s sexual misconduct in the industry. May pulls zero punches with Lobdell and doesn’t hesitate to call him out. It’s a fascinating look at how cancel culture works after a “canceling” and gives the listener a chance to find out what happens after the headlines and tweets fade from the public’s consciousness while also exploring how people change themselves for the better.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Pippa, Castbox

GOOD FOR YOU — DAVE GROHL

The Show: Whitney Cummings is at the top of her game right now with a new podcast Good For You. The star comedian has struck a great balance of interviewing people she cares about and has something to talk about with. The show is a couple of friends hanging out and bullshitting. It’s an easy listen, full of laughs, and gets tear-jerkingly deep from time to time.

The Episode:

The podcast is very young but one episode stands out amongst them all this year. Cummings sat down for an almost two-hour chat with Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. The chat winds through growing up in the D.C. area, how Grohl composes songs, his barbecue habits, the modern state of music, and how to deal with death. It’s deep, engaging, and will leave you wanting more of both Cummings and Grohl on a regular basis.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

FOODBEAST THE KATCHUP — CAMEL MEAT OR POPEYES, WE’RE ALL HYPOCRITES

The Show:

The official FoodBeast podcast, The Katchup, is a rollicking listen through the world of pop food that goes deep on food culture. Hosts Geoff Kutnick and Elie Ayrouth are having a great time talking about and eating all the food that fills our Instagram feeds these days. The show also pulls in great guests to take deeper dives on food culture and the experience of food right now.

You don’t have to be hungry to listen to his podcast but 100 percent will be after you do.

The Episode:

In this episode, UPROXX Life Executive Editor Steve Bramucci drops by to talk about the state of Popeye’s chicken sandwiches and the cultural blindness some have to other people’s food cultures around the world. It’s a great episode to give you the vibe of the overall show while also cutting into some serious issues that’ll leave you wanting more of this podcast in your life.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

HOW DID THIS GET PLAYED? — “CUSTER’S REVENGE” WITH JOEY CLIFT

The Show:

How Did This Get Played? is one of the funniest looks at video games via podcasts out there. The show, hosted by Heather Anne Campbell and Nick Wiger, is a love letter to the good, bad, and especially the ugly of video game culture and history. The show takes a lighter edge to the crap video game companies used to put out and asks why we ever played these games in the first place.

The Episode:

While this show is usually fairly light-hearted in its approach, this episode with comedian-writer-actor Joey Clift took a turn into territory that highlighted a lesson that’s been a long time coming. Clift, an Indigenous video game lover from Washington state, shifted the episode from being about a shockingly horrific 1980s video game about Custer literally raping Native women to ask the two white hosts why he was there in the first place.

Clift asks Campbell and Wiger why they found it necessary to not only discuss this sort of video game for their “Thanksgiving” episode but why they had to have him there (for the first time) to discuss something that’s obviously terrible. It’s a fascinating breakdown of tokenism of people of color and plays out live as the podcast carries on.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox

THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE — EDWARD SNOWDEN

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Wisdom from Edward Snowden. JRE #1368

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The Show:

There’s little to say about The Joe Rogan Experience that hasn’t already been said. The comedian’s long-form conversation podcasts have hit hard in the cultural zeitgeist this year with Elon Musk, Bernie Sanders, and even the Edward Snowden showing up on the show. So, let’s get straight to it.

The Episode:

Edward freakin’ Snowden showed up on The Joe Rogan Experience to talk about his fall from grace in the Intelligence Community, his reasons for whistleblowing, and what he sees happening to our personal privacy today via our smartphones and surveillance. It’s a fascinating, harrowing, and educational listen. At the very least, the episode will give you firsthand context to the story of Snowden and why he did what he did.

Listen Here: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Castbox

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