Playlisted No Joke, Scripted Comedies Are the Next Big Thing in Audio With hilarious storylines and star-studded casts, this emerging format lets comedy creators engage fans in a whole new way. By Emily Martin Jul 9, 2021 If you’re a comedy fan, you're probably familiar with how satisfying great comedy audiobooks and memoirs can be. But though you may have encountered them before, you might not know that scripted audio comedies are a distinct format of their own—and their audience is growing as hilarious storylines, top-flight creators, and A-list casts are shining a spotlight on the form. Written with the listening experience in mind, scripted comedies are immersive and easy to binge, featuring cinematic storytelling and rich sound design. Increasingly, they showcase the talents of famous actors, comedians, Saturday Night Live stars, and award-winning creators like the ones on this list. The best part? Scripted comedies are limitless. They can take risks and go in directions totally unique to audio, resulting in an entertainment experience wildly different from their television and film counterparts. You just never know what to expect with scripted audio, but here are a few of the absolute best of the best. (Just make sure to note that many of these titles contain adult material and themes that may be inappropriate for younger listeners—you might want to make sure the kids are in bed before pressing play!) Heads Will Roll stop Heads Will Roll By Kate McKinnon, Emily Lynne Narrated by Kate McKinnon, Emily Lynne, Tim Gunn, Meryl Streep, Peter Dinklage, full cast 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. From Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon and her real-life sister Emily Lynne comes the Audible Original comedy Heads Will Roll. When Queen Mortuana of the Night Realm (McKinnon) and her ditsy raven minion JoJo (Lynne) receive word that there’s a peasant uprising, they decide to embark on a quest to find the Shard of Acquiescence. They believe this is the only thing that can stop the rebellion and save the throne. But will their friendship survive such a treacherous quest filled with chatty sex slaves and princes with bird fetishes? Escape from Virtual Island stop Escape from Virtual Island By John Lutz Narrated by Paul Rudd, Jack McBrayer, Sue Galloway, full cast 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Looking for an escape from reality? Then head to the Pengalaman Island Resort and Virtual Reality Theme Park in the Audible Original, Escape from Virtual Island. This epic comedy stars Paul Rudd and is written by John Lutz of Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and 30 Rock fame. The year is 2038, and this exclusive theme park on a South Pacific island welcomes guests to live out their wildest fantasies. The retreat is a dream come true until a valued guest goes missing within one of the virtual simulations. Will a rescue mission led by Derek Andrews (Rudd) be able to save the day? Hit Job stop Hit Job By Eric Cunningham, Achilles Stamatelaky, Lauren Gurganous Narrated by Keke Palmer, Pete Davidson, full cast 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Keke Palmer and Pete Davidson star in Hit Job, a star-studded dark comedy podcast about KillCo., a company whose motto is Do Bad Things for Good Reasons. Basically, KillCo. is the Uber for hitmen. Brynn Morris (Palmer) takes on a job at KillCo. as an administrative assistant because she desperately needs money to help her ailing grandmother. Coming in, Brynn plans to keep to the administrative side of work and stay as far away as possible from all the morally questionable stuff. But to her surprise, she gets swept up in a company-wide competition. Dang! In the hopes of avoiding the whole killing thing, she teams up with a tech nerd coworker, Geo (Davidson)...who might be more lethal than he looks. A Total Switch Show stop A Total Switch Show By Matt Powers, Madelyn Deutch, Julie Greiner, Agathe Panaretos, Sam West Narrated by Zoey Deutch, Lea Thompson, Bradley Whitford, Bobby Moynihan, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Judy Greer, Sasheer Zamata, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Mitra Jouhari, full cast 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. A Total Switch Show is an outrageous comedy from Team Coco, Conan O’Brien’s Emmy Award-winning production company. The podcast stars real-life mother/daughter duo Lea Thompson and Zoey Deutch in a NSFW version of Freaky Friday for adults. One morning, Emma (Deutch), a directionless young adult, and Lisa (Thompson), Emma’s micromanaging mother, wake up to find that they’ve swapped bodies. As Emma and Lisa each desperately try to find a way back into her own body, the two constantly make a mess of one another’s lives—and soon discover they’re part of a global phenomenon of body-swappers, called Switchies. These Walls Can Talk stop These Walls Can Talk By Erin Mallon Narrated by Joe Arden, Andi Arndt, Shane East, Tanya Eby, Teddy Hamilton, Emma Wilder 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. You're here because you listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts, so you've totally fallen in love with a narrator or host's voice before, right? That's totally normal...isn't it? Well, it is to Vera in the audio play These Walls Can Talk. Every day, she tries to find time to listen to her favorite narrator. Vera listens to her guy when she’s cleaning, cooking, driving, in the shower…but what will her husband say when she suggests bringing her favorite voice into the bedroom? (Spoiler: he's not too thrilled about it.) Sorry Charlie Miller stop Sorry Charlie Miller By Tanner Cohen, David Ludwig Narrated by Zachary Quinto, Michelle Buteau, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ashley Benson, Chace Crawford, Christian Borle, Samira Wiley 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Looking for a comedic mystery that speaks to the TikTok era? Try Sorry Charlie Miller. Zachary Quinto and Michelle Buteau star as Mark and Tiana, two deskbound police department employees who pose as detectives to solve the case of missing D-list reality TV star Charlie Miller (Ashley Benson). Charlie went missing off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida, and her devoted fans are starting to bring a lot of media attention to Charlie's suspicious disappearance. Pretty soon, Mark and Tiana find themselves caught up in a case filled with twists, turns, and quite a few questionable fashion choices. 64th Man stop 64th Man By Bryan Tucker, Zack Phillips Narrated by John Cena, Anna Chlumsky, Jane Curtin, Will Forte, Leslie Jones, Adam Pally, full cast 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. 64th Man is an Audible Original comedy starring John Cena, Anna Chlumsky, and an all-star cast featuring Saturday Night Live alums and regulars. We often hear the sports stories about the underdogs who make it to the top of their game against the odds. But what about the other stories? What about all of those hopefuls who never make it? In professional football, 53 players make it to the roster every year. Ten more make it to the practice squad. Billy Logan (Cena) is that 64th man who’s always just one spot away from glory. Listen to Billy’s story to find out what happens when your dream is just slightly out of reach. Things We Don't Talk About stop Things We Don't Talk About By Justin Heimberg Narrated by Luke Kirby, Lauren Lapkus, a full cast 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. From screenwriter Justin Heimberg, Things We Don’t Talk About is a comedy about the dramas of adulthood and coupling. This hilarious and heartwarming nine-episode series looks at the different stages of sex throughout a relationship by following multiple generations within the same nuclear family. At the center is a young couple, Erin (Lauren Lapkus) and Dave (Luke Kirby), who are trying to get pregnant without ruining their sex life. Men's Health stop Men's Health By Daniel Goldfarb Narrated by Diane Guerrero, Laura Benanti, Santino Fontana, Tom Hollander, Tony Shalhoub 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Did you ever think a visit to the urologist could be fun? Or even laugh-out-loud funny? Try Men's Health, an audio comedy written by Daniel Goldfarb and directed by Scott Ellis. The show follows Adam (Santino Fontana), a TV writer who's looking for a diagnosis for a very personal problem. And so he turns to Dr. Szabo (Tony Shalhoub), a physician with some truly unique treatment options. The more time these two men spend together, the more they both open up about their personal lives and problems. But when Adam decides to write about Dr. Szabo and their relationship, will the doctor feel open enough to expose himself in such a public way? Hot White Heist stop Hot White Heist By Adam Goldman Narrated by Bowen Yang, Alan Cumming, Cynthia Nixon, Shannon Woodward, Jane Lynch, Bianca Del Rio, 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Hot White Heist is a podcast about a sperm bank heist set in Seattle and featuring an all-star, all-LGBTQ+ cast. Deep under the Space Needle is a secret bunker that holds sperm samples from some of history's greatest minds and politicians, including Barack Obama, Stephen Hawking, and Ronald Reagan. In an attempt to help a lesbian cult complete a top-secret mission, Jude Judy Fink (Bowen Yang) and a whole crew of misfits from across the queer community will attempt to complete the, well, stickiest heist ever. As this is the first and only podcast about a sperm bank heist, it’s definitely a unique listen you won’t want to miss. Cabin Pressure stop Cabin Pressure By John Finnemore Narrated by Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Stephanie Cole, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Roger Allam star in Cabin Pressure, a hilarious audio sitcom about the pilots of a tiny charter airline. Their motto: No job is too small, but many, many jobs are too difficult. This team of pilots is so close to competence, but it's so much funnier when they're not. The Amelia Project podcastThe Amelia Project is a dark comedy podcast about a secret agency that offers its clients a very special service: faking their deaths and bringing them back with a new identity. The agency serves clients from many different fields, and each episode features new characters. Scientists, politicians, cult leaders, and even A.I. are among those the agency has helped… but how long can their service remain a secret?Tampon Rock podcastiHeartRadio presents Tampon Rock. It's the story of Deja and Chloe, two Black lesbians living in Oakland and navigating a world of music and dating. This show prides itself in being queer in every sense of the word. Yes, it's a comedy and a musical with a LGBTQIA+ theme, but it's also a story that refuses to be held back by labels. And Tampon Rock isn't afraid to get serious sometimes, though it's still a cohesive listening experience.Emily Martin is a Contributing Editor at Book Riot and podcasts/blogs with Book Squad Goals. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, a PhD in English, three cats, and way too many books. 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