12 of the Funniest Comedy Fiction PodcastsReading Time: 5 minutes
From a musical mockumentary to a ‘true crime’ podcast investigating Willy Wonka, these fiction podcasts are as weird as they are funny.
When you think of fiction podcasts, you probably think of serious, speculative, and/or dystopian fare like The Bright Sessions or Limetown. But podcasting is a medium, not a genre, and there are fiction shows of all kinds—including a ton of hilarious, offbeat comedies. My favorite funny fiction podcasts take you to summer camp, to solve a mystery on the Warped Tour, and to investigate the the criminal activities of Willy Wonka and a fictional brother/sister Christian rap group named CrossBread. (Get it?) Each is more absurd than the next, and all deserve a place in your fiction podcast queue.
CrossBread is a podcast musical mockumentary that follows the rise and fall of the Christian rap duo CrossBread, led by twins Josh and Joan Burns. Narrated by Ken Lim (the band’s ultimate fanboy and social media manager), who is ostensibly sharing these audio tracks from their archives, it’s an outrageous storyline filled with hysterical Jesus puns, actually good music (if you can get over the absurdity of the lyrics), and two leadcharacters with too much confidence attempting to win $1,000 in the Prize for Battle of Believers.
You’ve laughed and sung along to the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but have you really considered the fact that the factory was a gruesome crime scene? Many of the story’s atrocities could have been easily avoided with the presence of handrails, safety interlocks, protective covers or any of the other standard safety equipment. On The Candyman ‘investigative journalists’ Ella, Maddie, and Millie (of the comedy trio Big Big Big) take another look at the film, digging deep to uncover Wonka’s dark deeds and demand some accountability. The production is brilliantly executed, and every second is original and punched with silliness.
Not sure how into conspiracy theories you are, but there’s one flying around that posits Avril Lavigne died back in 2003, shortly after the release of her successful first album, and was replaced by a body double named Melissa Vandella. Who Killed Avril Lavigne? is the story of Derek Walker, who is obsessed with 2000s pop punk and discovers that forces are coming to destroy the earth unless Derek can go back in time to the 2005 Warped Tour to stop the abduction and replacement of Avril Lavigne. After traveling through time v(ia a porta-potty), he races to form a band and get on the main stage so he can play the greatest show of all time and save the world in the process. The completely original script is pumped up with catchy pop music, and includes all the familiar sci-fi audio drama elements—aliens, time travel, conspiracies—taken with 0% seriousness.
Freelance insurance adjuster Doug Duguay (voiced by comedian Christian Duguay) suspects his pool guy is conducting drug drops in his garbage can, but he feels too awkward to do anything about it. (Relatable.) Instead he makes a podcast about it. Valley Heat is that show, an investigation into what is going on with his garbage can and everything else that is happening in his neighborhood, the Rancho Equestrian District in Burbank. This silly show is filled with quirky characters and original music from the band Cephalopods Are People (the biggest rock band in the Rancho Equestrian District). Arguably, the best part are the faux advertisements for local businesses like Karate Trophy City, Janie Cakes Breakfast Ice-Cream, and Pants by Jan Robinson.
Written by real-life queer couple Meegan May and Lauren Anderson, Starship Q Star is a creative mix of Star Trek and The L Word. It follows ex-girlfriends Aurelia and Sim who are chosen by a tone-deaf space agency as the ‘first all non-men crew’ on a PR mission to Mars, only for Earth to be destroyed after their departure. This sitcom-style pod follows Aurelia and Sim’s adventures from planet to planet as they discover new worlds, strange creatures, and bizarre civilizations.
Corked is a narrative ‘true’ crime comedy podcast that follows Jeffers Tatum Trench, who seeks the aid of investigative journalist Miles Fletcher to solve the mystery of what happened to Frances Meyer, the missing girlfriend of famous winemaker Lyle Le Monde. Trench is sure Lyle murdered her, but during the investigation, Miles discovers his client has a complicated past with Jeffers—the two were a criminal duo in Louisiana years ago. Every time Miles pins down a lead, a new one pops up. Corked mixes silliness with a traditional true crime format, making it a pleasing surprise for anyone who is familiar with public radio investigations.
Wooden Overcoats, set in the fictional Channel Islands village of Piffling Vale, follows the rivalry that explodes when Eric Chapman sets up an undertaking business right across the street from family-run Funn Funerals, formerly the town’s sole provider of funereal services (despite the fact that nobody likes the owner, Rudyard Funn.) The residents love the joyfulness of Eric’s take on funerals, and the rivalry between the two business comes to upend everything in town. The story is narrated by Rudyard’s best friend Madeleine, who happens to be a mouse that resides in Funn Funerals.
Mockery Manor is just like any other theme park, until people start disappearing. Then, it’s up to twin teens to figure out what’s going on. This ’90s-set show is a worldbuilding experience, with subsequent seasons that cover spin-off parks Dunkelschloss and Claytonville (inspired by the songs of country legend Clayton Woodrow III), and another season completely made up of ‘tapes’ from one of the P.I.’s cases. The twins keep on getting pulled into escalating mysteries that lean into the bizarre nature of theme parks, presented with atmospheric, creepy music and carnival jingles. (It feels very Disney After Dark to me.)
Remember Dead Eyes, the show on which actor/comedian Connor Ratliff embarked upon a quest to figure out why Tom Hanks fired him from a small role in the 2001 HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers? Conor’s dead eyes have returned for In the Cards, an audio drama about Gil (Ratliff) a comically unlucky low-level ad man (he writes copy for table tents in restaurants) who finds out via a tarot card reading that yes, the universe is against him, a discovery that prompts him to take charge of his own fate for the first time. The sharply written show is sprinkled with Gil’s self-deprecating humor and thoughtful, existential pondering of the nature of destiny. It’s a blend of comedy, romance, supernatural elements, and a really delightful story.
Summer Camp: The Case of the Phantom Pooper tells the story of a summer camp just like the one from your childhood, with singing round the campfire, craft time, and all. But this summer camp also has a phantom pooper on the loose. But who is it? Summer Camp is a lively detective story that feels wholesome and nostalgic, even while it leans into scatological humor. (Based on a true story!)
Cold Case Crime Cuts is a podcast that dives into some of the most horrific (fictional) crimes ever committed in pop songs. Who really killed the radio star? Who shot the sheriff? The ‘detective’ uses real lyrics from each of the songs to solve the case. It’s great to think creatively about these earworms, and also great if you’re familiar with that certain style of overly serious true crime podcasting. But it’s also hysterical even if you know absolutely nothing about either. (The best episode so far is all about the Copacabana.) This show has invented a new kind of joke, and it’s endlessly funny.
We Stay Looking is a satirical ‘true crime’ series—an extension of Insecure’s podcast Looking for Latoya, which chronicled the fictionalized search for a missing Black girl named LaToya Thompson (played by SZA). That podcast, which starred ‘Rose Cranberry’ (Terri J. Vaughn,) pokes fun at investigative podcasts as a means to illustrate real corruption in the justice system. Looking for Latoya lasted for one episode before LaToya was ‘found,’ a means to illustrate how lackadaisical the efforts of law enforcement often are when it comes to recovering lost Black women. Rose then returned for season two to track down not just women, but anyone who has gone missing and been overlooked. (There are only six episodes in season two as, ‘The budget only allows for so many Black stories a year. Apparently after six, they would have reached their quota for diverse material.’) It’s funny, but man does it pack a punch.
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