Andrew W.K. pumps up WTF and You Made It Weird drops an awkward bomb

Andrew W.K. pumps up WTF and You Made It Weird drops an awkward bomb

Hey, you like podcasts? Make sure you check out Reasonable Discussions, the A.V. Club podcast. Podmass comments can be directed to podmass@avclub.com.

To listen to these and other podcasts, visit Podcast Central, our podcast hub. 

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“Thank you, Justin. You are a true gentleman of the theater, which is to say, a needy, despicable worm.” —Andrew Lloyd Webber (Paul F. Tompkins) to Justin Kirk, Comedy Bang! Bang!

“I’m 33, I’m already set. You’re not gonna tell me there’s a better song than ‘Into The Night’ by Benny Mardones.” —Julian McCullough on the overflow of new entertainment, Never Not Funny

“Warm? What do you mean warm? You cook food, asshole! How do you eat your food? Do you just pick up the corn at Whole Foods and start chewing it in the aisle?”
“I couldn’t think of the word ‘cooked’”
“You’re a podcaster, man. You’ve got to know words.” —Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt, Walking The Room

NEW (TO US)

The Fogelnest Files
“Remember when you would, like, flip through the dial on the TV?” So asks Jake Fogelnest in the introduction of his new podcast, in which he shares and comments on the videos that he’s collected throughout his years of channel-surfing and trolling the Internet. For the inaugural episode, Fogelnest is joined by guests Julie Klausner and Chris Gethard as they turn their attention toward one of Fogelnest’s favorite subjects: punk rock.

Over the course of the first episode, Fogelnest, Klausner, and Gethard discuss a scene from the ’70s procedural Quincy, M.E. that’s set in a punk-rock club, a Sex Pistols non-interview on Bill Grundy’s morning show, and Fear’s infamous 1981 performance on Saturday Night Live, to list only three. (Fogelnest has posted all 10 videos on YouTube.) The highlight of the show is a clip of notorious scum-rocker G.G. Allin on The Jerry Springer Show, which features a cameo from G.G.’s brother Merle decked out in a Hitler mustache. After an audience member fails to mount a passable defense of one of Allin’s many outrageous statements—leading Fogelnest and Klausner to question the seriousness of Allin’s provocative antics—Gethard shares an unforgettable story involving his brother, a Merle Allin show, professional wrestling, a riot, and Merle’s unspeakable act with a drum stick. Fogelnest comes off like a cool friend who turns you on to the great things you never knew existed, which bodes well for future episodes. [DF]


OUTLIERS

Game Night Guys
Games are supposed to be fun. For the general public, that means easy-to-learn games that serve as a social outlet, like Taboo or dominoes. But since the medium of podcasting still tends to draw nerdier crowds, role-playing, tabletop, and videogames are overrepresented by shows dedicated to analyzing theory and strategy. Game Night Guys is refreshing in that regard, as its simple conceit—two friends learn how to play a party game, and then do so non-competitively—allows room for lighthearted, Mike And Tom Eat Snacks-style banter to break up the action. The MATES comparison isn’t too far of a stretch: Though hosts Brian Gregory and Curtis Hill aren’t comedians, their quick-witted and frequently hilarious observations on a game’s mechanics are often more enjoyable than the game itself. (Scattergories taunts listeners with the obnoxious timer; the impenetrable rules of Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game result in the tortured hosts giving up in favor of checking their voicemail.) With more than 100 episodes in the bag at this point, the show has to look for more obscure and foreign games to try, making for even more of an entertaining listen. [SM]


THE BEST

The Best Show On WFMU
Tom Scharpling is fond of talking about the revolving door of callers who have appeared and disappeared over The Best Show’s 12 years on the air. Spike and Fredericks, two of the show’s most reliable veteran callers, check in with subpar efforts this week, but it’s a couple of new callers who make the stronger impression. There’s an employee of a big-box retailer who gives a behind-the-scenes tour of the store’s food court, where many customers apparently make the bewildering, stomach-churning decision to mix fast-food pizza and coffee. Another new caller tees up Scharpling for a delightful bit on Ron Perlman. The callers largely allow Scharpling to do the heavy lifting this week, and the host dispenses advice on watching the films of Ingmar Bergman or The Santa Clause for the first time. It’s a fun topic on a solid episode with no guest and only a brief appearance by Jon Wurster. [TC]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #175: Mop Water: Justin Kirk, Paul F. Tompkins
People who know Justin Kirk as the slacker brother-in-law from Weeds (and one of the show’s highlights) won’t be surprised to find him affable and game in his Comedy Bang! Bang! debut. Kirk, who leads his own show now on NBC’s Animal Practice, has an excellent, theater-nerd rapport with Scott Aukerman that keeps the show breezy. It continues when Paul F. Tompkins shows up as an amnesiac Andrew Lloyd Webber, nicely adding a layer to CBB’s “crazy person shows up” dynamic. With his rolling Rs, theatrical enunciation, and formal-sounding, nonsensical words (“heading phones”), Tompkins portrays Lloyd Webber as a blustering buffoon—so it’s particularly funny that his amnesia has him thinking he’s a janitor. It all works, which is to be expected when three pros like Tompkins, Aukerman, and Kirk are together. [KR]

Hang Up And Listen: The Quarterbacks Are Back Edition
With host Josh Levin on the DL, Stefan Fatsis takes over hosting duties for a mostly compelling, guest-filled hour. There’s plenty of Week One NFL talk, but the strongest segments bring in the experts: First, Sports Illustrated’s Melissa Segura talks about a piece in which she covered the oft-discussed issue of head injuries in the NFL and looks at it from the perspective of wives who have stayed with their husbands through dementia and even suicide. Then The Wall Street Journal’s Tom Perrotta comes on to discuss the U.S. Open, which found Serena Williams asserting her dominance and the USTA, the sport’s governing body, making the curious decision to forbid its best junior player from participating due to weight concerns. The only hiccups are a couple of weak “Afterball” segments: Guest panelist Dan Steinberg talks about quitting fantasy football without broadening the discussion, and Fatsis interviews friend of the show Jonathan Hock about a relatively insubstantial short documentary for Grantland. [ST]

Judge John Hodgman: Cigarettiquette
As public-health concerns—and public-annoyance concerns—regarding cigarettes have severely limited the places where smokers can satisfy their addiction, the market has produced a clever end-around in the form of “e-cigarettes,” which are nicotine delivery systems that resemble smoking, but involve exhaling harmless water vapor. Longtime smoker Bradley, in an effort to quit smoking, has turned to e-cigarettes, which are ostensibly okay to use in public places where regular smoking is not allowed. Bradley’s friend Robert, however, describes an incident where Bradley smoked his e-cigarette at a soccer game and that made him uncomfortable. Hodgman, a former smoker himself, offers a nuanced view of a device that hasn’t been completely vetted—as well as thoughts on the silliness of professional soccer team names—before laying down the “fart statute.” It’s less silly than it sounds. [ST]

The J.V. Club #27: Elizabeth Laime
Even when The J.V. Club gets more serious and topical, Janet Varney strives to maintain a lighthearted, jovial tone to the show. That can be a challenge when the conversation covers sexual abuse and dead parents, as it does in this week’s interview with Totally Laime host Elizabeth Laime. They start by talking about lingering guilt over dead pets, and a casual question about exposure to boys in private school leads to an entire tangent on instances of sexual abuse in both women’s lives. Then the conversation shifts to Laime losing both her parents in the span of 10 months, at which point it becomes hard for either woman to hold back tears. Varney wisely ends the episode on an uplifting note when she asks Laime about her grade-school crush who is now her husband, showing that no matter how difficult life may get, some things turn out right in the end. [OS]

The Moth: Mishka Shubaly: Shipwrecked 
Essential elements in Mishka Shubaly’s Moth entry include a shipwreck, a hangover, and sunstroke, so naturally it has a certain hazy, uneasy pace. And, conveniently, it’s when he’s marooned in the Bahamas that Shubaly has an epiphany and beats himself up for being a man-child. This leads naturally to a typically Moth case of self-deprecating-yet-sinister humor. But Shubaly gets it right, balancing the story with serious grief on one hand and a survivalist, urine-drinking punchline on the other. [SG]

The Moth: Steve Osborne: Takedown Day
The Moth commemorates 9/11 with this bonus episode, a story from a real New Yawk-sounding NYPD cop. As a cop, Steve Osborne’s entitled to draw some surreal humor out of his memories of that day, and yet, like most people, Osborne started September 11, 2001 helplessly watching it unfold on TV. He’s concise and blunt about every emotion that unfolds from there on out, whether it’s numbness, sudden tears, or simply the reflexes of being a cop. Yet it’s not sentimental: The story ends as he starts to “feel like a human being again,” leaving off with the sense that the hard part was just starting. [SG]

Nerdist #255: Henry Rollins
With a wealth of experience across various art forms, Henry Rollins joins Nerdist for an episode that falls somewhere between an interview and one of Rollins’ spoken-word performances. The episode dives right in with Rollins laying out the differences between the U.S. and U.K. versions of Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up And Start Again before diving in to discussions of writing, music, comedy, and performing. In a sense, Rollins is the leader of the episode, as Chris Hardwick lets him go on at length without disruption. Co-hosts Jonah Ray and Kyle Clark display a wealth of knowledge about Rollins’ work, and at times seem bit starstruck, but they use their fandom to push Rollins toward new topics and keep him going for nearly two hours. It’s a lengthy listen, but for fans of Rollins, it’s just as good as his standalone shows, only with other voices thrown in for variety. [DA]

Nerdist #265: Comedy Mutant
In honor of Brian Posehn’s upcoming Comedy Mutant show in Los Angeles, Chris Hardwick invites Posehn and several of the event’s performers to join Nerdist for an episode that’s as off-the-cuff as they come. There’s little in the way of interviewing from Hardwick and co-host Matt Mira. Instead, Posehn, Pete Holmes, Fortune Feimster, and Ron Funches share anecdotes about terrible shows while discussing their different approaches to performing. Because there’s so little anchoring the episode, it functions more like a candid conversation, where the comics seldom hold back when talking about poor stand-up practices (Dane Cook bumping other comedians) or jabbing elder statesmen (the Jerry Seinfeld “voice”). It ends up functioning like a “hostful” episode, but with enough voices participating that it never becomes stagnant. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1112: Jawing With Julian McCullough
Late into this week’s episode, Jimmy Pardo claims there’s a rising class of young comedians as good as or better than their same-aged stars—the Paul Provenza to Jerry Seinfeld, the Tommy Johnagin to John Mulaney. Pardo’s speaking broadly about unsung comics, but it’s clearly a reflection of his impression of first-time guest Julian McCullough, who, in the parlance of the show, “gets it.” A regular talking head on VH1 and host of TBS’ Very Funny News, McCullough quickly settles into a groove, giving informed and hilarious long-form takes on Philadelphia’s mean streak, overrated classic-rock bands, the history of snack foods, and why he doesn’t trust older adults who prefer new entertainment. McCullough’s delivery is so polished, and his stories and opinions so fully formed, it almost seems like he’s lifting from a stand-up set. He’s not, though, and Pardo is right to add him to the list of “ones to watch.” [SM]

[pagebreak]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #16: Brendon Walsh, Randy Liedtke, Chris Cox, Dan Van Kirk
A guest-heavy Sklarbro County is always the best way to spend some extra time with the Sklar brothers, and Brendon Walsh, Randy Liedtke, and Chris Cox don’t disappoint. Their commentary on the parents of recent gold-medalist Tianna Madison suing her for defamation and libel is priceless, but the best part of the show is right at the beginning, when the panel takes an extended tangent to break down everything wrong with the new baseball film Trouble With The Curve, especially Clint Eastwood’s misplaced emphasis in the phrase “cheap seats.” [KM]

Sound Opinions #354: OFF!, Cat Power And Bob Mould Review
Jim DeRogatis aims to make Sound Opinions his own devilish toybox with this episode, and those who don’t usually find DeRogatis charming will find it hard not to enjoy how fully on-board he is with Keith Morris and company’s 45-to-90-second morsels of destruction. The band members and hosts find some agreeable tension in the interview, and the episode rounds out nicely with challenging reviews of Cat Power’s Sun and Bob Mould’s Silver Age. [SG]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Alan Turing: Codebreaker
One of the most brilliant scientists of all time, Alan Turing arguably conceived and invented computers and artificial intelligence, a concept that the down-to-earth hosts describe simply and compellingly for listeners. Yet the nightmarish persecution Turing faced as a gay man cut his life short, which makes his story frustrating. The idea that someone so completely aware of the idea of “self” would be treated so brutally for his sexuality is all the more upsetting, particularly as some civil rights take longer to advance than computers. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Codes! Allied Cryptography In World War II
Once again, guest co-host Jonathan Strickland of TechStuff joins Sarah Dowdey while co-host Deblina Chakraborty is on maternity leave. Those who enjoyed the engineering details in last week’s episode dedicated to the enigma machines of the Axis powers will love this discussion of the Typex, the British RAF version of the machine. The code was impossible to break when intercepted, leading to amusing frustration on the other side. The hosts bring it to the present as well, noting this is the same technology that goes into the encryption of modern-day online banking systems and email accounts. This episode also serves as the perfect follow-up to the last episode dedicated entirely to Alan Turing. [DT]

Uhh Yeah Dude #338
Uhh Yeah Dude is, at its core, a pop-culture-commentary podcast, and that pop culture tends to skew young. So there’s some intriguing dissonance when Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli harrumph about those darned Millennials. But the duo is just as likely to give grief to the olds, like in this episode, in which the nation’s grannies are exhorted to act as human shields—like certain species of termite—in order to protect their kin. Lively, funny, and engaged with the idea of aging gracefully as coolness takes a backseat to earning a steady paycheck, #338 is funny in its first half and thoughtful in its second. [CW]

Walking The Room #120: Skin Mountain And Bohan
Sometimes stories offered up as launching-off points on Walking The Room are so crazy, they instead become dead ends. Those stories abound this week, from Greg Behrendt’s heartbreaking description of his daughter’s many problems to Dave Anthony’s account of the time his mother made dinner for his father and his father’s date. Even Anthony’s tragic bemusement at his alcoholic father’s relationship with his enabling, hoarding wife prompts very little insight other than Behrendt suggesting he cast them in a TV show. While these stories don’t lead to much more than slack-jawed responses, they’re inherently hilarious and engrossing, and allow the hosts to coast until the disgusting closing payoff, where they drop what pretense is left and swap the most debased tales of personal debauchery in their arsenal. [SM]

WTF With Marc Maron #312: Nate Bargatze
Sometimes it’s great to hear Marc Maron dig deep into the personal life of his guest; but other times it’s refreshing to hear him talk to someone that he finds really funny. Nate Bargatze is that kind of guy, and Maron is comfortable to cede a lot of time to just listening and laughing at nearly everything Bargatze says. Their conversation covers all the standard personal details—with a great bit of background on Bargatze’s magician father—but the interview really kicks into gear once they start talking about starting in stand-up. Bargatze has a compelling stance on stand-up over improv performance, and he and Maron deftly break down the rhythms of early stand-up performances like Rob Gordon musing about mixtapes. (“You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.”) [KM]

WTF With Marc Maron #313: Andrew W.K.
Aside from partying, Andrew W.K.’s greatest passions seem to be music and life itself, and his enthusiasm for both of those things clearly come across in his conversation with Marc Maron. It’s pretty infectious—so much so that he even stirs up bouts of prolonged enthusiasm from Maron himself, be it for avant-garde music or William S. Burroughs—and generally makes the discussion engrossing no matter the topic. For almost the entire length of the episode, W.K. comes across exactly as one would expect based on his persona, but in the last 15 minutes or so, he reveals a strange side to his childhood personality, specifically involving petty crimes and non-malicious emotional manipulation of his friends. It’s only briefly touched on, but could easily be stretched out into an entire, separate episode. [CG]

You Made It Weird: Live From SF Outside Lands!
Pete Holmes prefaces this live You Made It Weird from SF Outside Lands by saying it’s the weirdest, most awkward episode he’s ever recorded, and it lives up to that billing. Listeners’ enjoyment of it will largely be predicated on whether they find awkwardness fascinating or cringe-inducing. Things start off pleasantly enough with guests Eric Andre and Jackie Kashian, but turn toxic when Holmes mentions that he beat out guest Jon Glaser for the role of the E-Trade baby and Glaser becomes enraged at what he perceives as an obnoxious faux pas. At first it’s hard to tell whether it’s a post-modern, provocative bit or genuine anger, but the bad vibes linger throughout the podcast, resulting in a fascinating trainwreck of an episode. [NR]


THE REST

Doug Loves Movies: Brody Stevens, Ari Shaffir and Bert Kreischer
Though it’s somewhat satisfying to see Bert Kreischer eat it spectacularly during the Leonard Maltin Game, it’s not worth sitting through the rest of his mind-numbing obnoxiousness, which dominates the episode. [GK]

How Was Your Week #79: “C Skeleton”: W. Kamau Bell, Wayne White, And Neil Berkeley
Pee-wee’s Playhouse aficionados will be intrigued by Julie Klausner’s sit-down with former Playhouse set and puppet designer Wayne White, but ultimately neither of this week’s interviews is particularly revealing. [DF]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #77: A Day Of You The Listener
An episode of listener submissions isn’t terrible like Paul Gilmartin worries it might be, but the one-way communication makes it feel unrelenting in its misery. [TC]

Monday Morning Podcast
Bill Burr recorded this week’s episode from his hotel room on the road, and with a TV showing sports highlights on in the background, he’s so distracted that no particular train of thought ever has a chance to gain steam. The half-hour epilogue, however, featuring his girlfriend Nia replying to a listener email, is quite funny and well worth a listen. [CG]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #119: Drop The Beat, Francis
A lot of the bits in this week’s episode—particularly repeated references to horses playing sports and the incoherent text messages the McElroy brothers receive from their father—are more mildly amusing than downright hilarious, a level of humor the brothers typically deliver handily. [CG]

Sklarbro Country #111: Add 5 And Figure It Out: Adam Carolla, Chris Cox
The Adam Carolla episode of Sklarbro Country is an engaging, brisk, and funny conversation between accomplished professional broadcasters that is unfortunately so poorly recorded its dire sound quality should scare off all but the heartiest Sklones and Carolla die-hards. [NR]

The Smartest Man In The World #175: Gates
Greg Proops continues amassing a Time-Life set of complaints about the Scottish during this touch-and-go performance in London. [SG]

Stop Podcasting Yourself #234: Pat Kelly
Promising “Overheard” setups fizzle this week, and a meandering conversation hits its stride when Pat Kelly—co-host of CBC public-radio send-up This Is That—delivers faux Wes Anderson dialogue over the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin.” [DXF]

Stuff You Should Know: Bioluminescence: A Bright And Shiny Fish
Known as cold light, the topic of bioluminescence is incredibly dense and interesting. So much so that scientists and the hosts don’t actually know enough about it. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Asexuality Works
While this is a noble effort to include the 5 percent of people who identify as asexual, the topic isn’t technical enough for the show to get a handle on it. [DT]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #87: The Cross-Time Adventures Of Colonel Tick-Tock: Electric Park
Of Thrilling Adventure Hour’s segments, Colonel Tick-Tock is one of the toughest to portray through audio alone, and that undermines this otherwise cleverly written installment that repurposes Ben Franklin’s kite experiment. [SG]

The Todd Glass Show #63: Todd, Daniel And The Gang
Tedious rants about personal-hygiene hang-ups and inside-baseball discussions on comedy-club procedures take up too much time on an episode that is already over two hours long. [MS]

Who Charted #93: Rikileaks : Riki Lindhome
This is essential listening for those concerned with the state of Kulap Vilaysack and guest Riki Lindhome’s pubic hair. Otherwise, it’s a pleasant but forgettable installment. [MS]

You Made It Weird #82: Taylor Williamson
Pete Holmes and up-and-coming stand-up Taylor Williamson seem to playfully drag this episode out for no real reason, leaving the listener a 150-minute clunker that’s light on laughs and insight, and thereby skippable without qualification. [CG]

Filed Under: Comedy

More Podmass