Best podcasts of the week: Jon Stewart confronts corruption, Trump and more

<span>Jon Stewart speaks at the Capitol in Washington, May 26, 2021.</span><span>Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP</span>
Jon Stewart speaks at the Capitol in Washington, May 26, 2021.Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Picks of the week

Where Everybody Knows Your Name with Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson (sometimes)
Widely available, episodes weekly

The two Cheers stars reunite and rekindle their friendship while chatting away to interviewees – and it is every bit as smile-inducing as you’d expect. Will Arnett is first up, but the hosts are questioned about their comedy chops as much as their guest – including a great anecdote about Harrelson and Arnett goofing around and upsetting Bono at a celebrity dinner party. Alexi Duggins

Smoke Screen: My Friend, the Serial Killer
Widely available, episodes weekly
Steve Fishman was an intern at his local Connecticut paper in the 70s when he hitchhiked a ride from a man called Robert Carr III – who, he learned while working on a story, had killed three people. Fishman uses confession tapes and interviews with detectives to recall what happened. Hollie Richardson

Widely available, all episodes out now
This warm, personal look at the beauty of the animal kingdom is packed with magic, from rescuing baby puffins and helping them find their way back to sea – by throwing them off a cliff – to charming tales of dogs saving lost hamsters. Come for the adorable animals, stay for the excellent storytelling. AD

The Pink House
Widely available, episodes weekly
Sam Smith’s new podcast is named after their childhood bedroom, a haven where they’d escape after many a tough day. Now they welcome celebrity guests to share that feeling. The first guest is Elliot Page and it’s a moving chat about coming out, trans joy (and rage) and feeling no shame. Hannah Verdier

The Weekly Show With Jon Stewart
Widely available, episodes every Thursday
US satirist Jon Stewart unleashes his newsy podcast in time for all the US election shenanigans, starting with an episode on corruption – where, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s name comes up. Stewart has well-informed guests, as well as thoughtful monologues on democratic dysfunction, economic reform and challenging conventional wisdom. HV

There’s a podcast for that

This week, Hannah Verdier chooses five of the best podcasts on elections unfolding on both sides of the Atlantic, from an open-minded breakdown of the US election to Nish Kumar and Coco Khan asking all the big questions in the UK

Electoral Dysfunction
Just in time for a bumper election year comes Beth Rigby shepherding Conservative peer Ruth Davidson and Labour’s Jess Phillips (with special guests while she gets on with campaigning). Right in the middle of the UK’s political scene, all three can offer a real insight into the run-up to the US and UK elections. They take an informed and gossipy approach, with theories on why Rishi Sunak chose 4 July, a look at how leaders prepare for TV debates, and extras such as a sit-down with Angela Rayner.

The Run-up
For all things US election, host Astead W Herndon takes a measured approach for this New York Times show, bringing in a wide range of opinions – some of which might leave you open-mouthed. Is Donald Trump being “over prosecuted”? Yes, this is an accusation that comes up from Kellyanne Conway when Herndon asks her and Celinda Lake what female voters really want. What do the youngest voters make of the oldest president? Can celebrities help to sway the election? And what on earth will happen next? If you want to get a handle on all the dramatic campaign twists in a half-hour episode, this is the podcast you need.

Oh God, What Now?
Every Tuesday and Friday, this politics podcast modestly promises to “make the unbearable bearable with top quality guests and analysis, plus poor-quality jokes”. (“Mordaunt on the dancefloor”, “What’s the story? Mourning Tories” or “Things can only get wetter”, anyone?) There are also bonus episodes coming up as the team react quickly to the latest campaign gaffes and surprises, starting with Rishi Sunak’s national service plan for the pesky idle youth. A bumper election week will see extra panel shows with lively debates guaranteed.

Pod Save the UK
Crooked Media’s Pod Save America provides insider knowledge from four of Barack Obama’s former aides, and its UK cousin sees Nish Kumar and Coco Khan (above) bring the funny. If you like it to the left, the hosts pull no punches, with Khan being particularly hard-hitting in the more heavyweight interviews. Big questions are asked, including: would you kiss a Tory? The election countdown is on, but the thoughtful episode asking trans and non-binary people what they need right now brings in the human side of policy.

Politics Weekly UK
Could Sunak lose his seat in the election? Just one of the questions poised by John Harris on the Guardian’s political podcast as the election looms. He deftly describes the run-up as “the political equivalent of a 12-hour wait in A&E” and asks why Sunak’s campaign is so chaotic and downbeat. The chat is straightforward, with high quality guests across the political spectrum who have no need to lean on comedy for electoral kicks. Guests include reporters in the thick of it such as the Guardian’s Pippa Crerar and The Spectator’s Katy Balls. Plus, the Guardian is also running bite-size Election Extra episodes each weekday in the Today in Focus feed.

Why not try …

  • Ex-Invisibilia host Yowei Shaw’s new series Proxy is all about frank, human conversations with strangers.

  • Comedian Chloe Petts digs into the big history of a little room in her Radio 4 series, Toilet Humour.

  • Japanese City Pop is under the spotlight in music discovery pod Primer.