Chelsea Peretti enters the podcast fray and Lizzy Caplan does it live on J.V. Club

Chelsea Peretti enters the podcast fray and Lizzy Caplan does it live on J.V. Club

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.

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“But I haven’t finished my drink!”
“And I’ve somehow finished mine whilst talking.” —Paget Brewster and Paul F. Tompkins as married alcoholics on The Thrilling Adventure Hour

“I recently, just for fun with me and my friends, I made my own list of the greatest films of all time, and believe it or not, this ranked No. 1.” —Tim Heidecker on his film The Comedy, Comedy Bang! Bang!

“I come here to plug things—I don’t come here because I want to be here.”
“You don’t have a good time here, and the audience knows that.” —Tim Heidecker and Scott Aukerman, Comedy Bang! Bang!

“That’s my biggest fear. Frogs sampling cake in a hot tub.” —Tig Notaro, Professor Blastoff

“It’s like Diet Racism.” Godfrey on the state of tolerance in Canada, WTF With Marc Maron

“It’s always an electoral risk to pass off one of the world’s leading genders as slightly annoying paperwork, or maybe as a catalog to be perused on the toilet while you’re having a Sunday shit.” —Andy Zaltzman on Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment, The Bugle

It will no longer be “cocktober,” it will be “nomember.” —Greg Proops, The Smartest Man In The World

“My deathbed speech—big shout-out to water-ice in there.” —Paul F. Tompkins, praising an esoteric desert that is not a snow cone, on The Pod F. Tompkast

NEW (TO US)

Call Chelsea Peretti
Even before launching her own podcast, Chelsea Peretti was already a prominent figure in the podcasting world. Peretti’s fierce personality engenders awe and fear in the hearts of podcasting buddies like Pete Holmes, who references her so frequently on You Made It Weird that she’s practically become the show’s mascot. (Fun fact: the podcast that became You Made It Weird was originally supposed to be hosted by Holmes and Peretti before Peretti pulled out.) Her new Call Chelsea Peretti podcast is custom-made to suit the comedian’s exquisitely snotty, mean-spirited persona; it’s less a conventional podcast than an irreverent parody of what a Chelsea Peretti podcast might entail.

Call Chelsea Peretti is a cross between an absurdist, alternate-universe call-in show and the podcast equivalent of insult comedy (think of Peretti as a distaff Don Rickles for a new generation), with Peretti fielding calls from a variety of confused fans and comedian friends like Brendon Walsh. It’s manic and stream-of-consciousness to the point of abstraction, and altogether fairly unhinged. Peretti’s first and only goal seems to be making herself laugh, even if that means bewildering both the audience and her callers. [NR]


OUTLIERS

Bear Down
For any fans of the Chicago Bears who no longer reside in the Chicagoland area and yearn for humorous and laid-back conversation about their favorite football team instead of the vitriolic meathead extremism of national sports radio, Bear Down is the closest thing to a casual chat at a Chicago tavern. Co-hosted by Upright Citizens Brigade founding member (and former Chicagoan) Matt Walsh and screenwriter Scot Armstrong (Old School, Starsky & Hutch), the podcast blends sports discussion with interviews and character monologues from various comedians. It’s such a generally entertaining podcast that the last two episodes, recorded over the course of the Bears’ bye week, are just as good as the postgame episodes. [KM]


THE BEST

The Best Show On WFMU
It’s unlikely The Best Show On WFMU would exist in its current configuration without Chris Elliott and Adam Resnick. Tom Scharpling has repeatedly told interviewers that a love for Elliott and Get A Life helped form his bond with Jon Wurster. The host’s deep appreciation is clear during Elliott’s third appearance on the show and first with longtime collaborator Resnick, as a giddy Scharpling gets to let out his inner fanboy for a couple of hours. The enthusiasm fosters a fascinating conversation that feels like a well-earned triumph for Scharpling, who giggles continually as his guests discuss insane network notes on Get A Life and the glorious failure of Cabin Boy . The affection seems to be mutual for Elliott, who sounds vindicated by the outpouring of admiration for his work. There may be little here for those who don’t love Elliott as much as Scharpling, but it’s essential for devotees of his wonderfully absurd comedy. [TC]

The Bugle #210: Punch Up For President
John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman start the episode with a typically hilarious and spot-on breakdown of the second presidential debate. What makes these bits so successful is the way the pair spread their venom to all parties: Romney, Obama, and, of course, the media. Oliver’s rant about the outlandish rules of the debate is a particular highlight. The co-hosts also have plenty of fun with a bit about Scotland’s vote for independence from the United Kingdom, and neither let the issue go too far over the heads of American listeners who may not understand the history or intricacies of the U.K. and its member countries. They also have a way of livening up segments about the jailing of four men accused of mocking the King of Bahrain and war crimes in Serbia, a good sign of a solid episode. [MG]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #182: Repeat Your Keyword: Tim Heidecker, Joe Wengert, Lauren Lapkus
Tim Heidecker has a pretty solid record for his Comedy Bang! Bang! appearances, from his hilariously combative debut in episode 102 to the “Mike And The Dope” shenanigans of episode 142. Heidecker deadpans his way through ridiculous scenarios, beginning with a long riff about his comic strip, Stitches, and continuing through an even longer discussion of the four-part film series he’s planning inspired by the life of Paul Rodgers. (Heidecker knows an awful lot about the former singer of Bad Company.) Also funny is Arthur Steinborn (Joe Wengert), creator of a ludicrous memory-aid system, and lonely heart Diane (Lauren Lapkus, without the grating voice this time). It all works, as evidenced by Scott Aukerman’s frequent guffaws. [KR]

Doug Loves Movies: Judd Apatow, Aziz Ansari and Wayne Federman
This week’s episode is short and pretty low-key—outside of a spontaneous sing-along to “Who Am I” from Les Miserables—but all three panelists bring solid anecdotes and movie acumen to the proceedings. Despite that acumen, though, there’s a fair amount of blundering during the Leonard Maltin Game, but the contestants’ chagrin at their dumb mistakes is nearly as satisfying as a definitive victory would be. (The categories Doug Benson selects this week are also particularly fun and conversation-starting in their own right.) This isn’t an all-time classic DLM, or even particularly hilarious, but it’s an easy, affable listen that shows off the sort of unfussy charm the show is capable of. [GK]

Hang Up And Listen: Honey I Badgered The Kids Edition
HUAL co-host Stefan Fatsis loves his kickers: He wrote A Few Seconds Of Panic, a book about his Plimpton-like experience as a middle-aged placekicker for the Denver Broncos, and the show takes advantage of his connections to that world at every opportunity. But Fatsis goes the extra mile in his “Afterball” segment this week, using the occasion of a 67-yard field goal from a Spokane high-schooler to track down Ove Johansson, who holds the record for a 69-yarder he booted back in 1976. Johansson had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, but has spent the intervening decades living a normal life in Texas with his wife and family. Johansson clearly delights in reminiscing about his big kick, recalling every detail as if it were yesterday, and it’s the type of segment that puts a distance between this and every other sports podcast. [ST]

Judge John Hodgman: Live Freon Or Die
Mike owns a ’99 Chevy Geo with 220,000 miles on it, and the car hasn’t had air conditioning for two years. This wasn’t much of a problem in Michigan, where the car’s AC unit originally broke down, but now Mike lives in Arizona, where temperatures frequently spike above 100 degrees. His daughter Olivia expresses concern that her old man may have a heat stroke, or at a minimum suffer heat exhaustion, but Judge Hodgman, who knows well how to play the eccentric father, is clearly delighted by Mike’s flouting of convention. Fixing his car would likely set him back $500—small, but probably not from its value at this point—but Mike’s jerry-rigged cooling solutions, like reversing heat panels or spraying a wadded-up shirt with water, both satisfy him and embarrass his daughter. And for a lovable iconoclast like Mike, that’s win-win. [ST]

The J.V. Club #33: Live At L.A. Podfest With Lizzy Caplan
Between Freaks And Geeks and Mean Girls, Lizzy Caplan is one of Janet Varney’s most versed guests when it comes to the high-school experience, making her a great person for this show’s first episode recorded in front of a live audience. It all begins with a haunting cover of The J.V. Club theme song, “Before We Were Brittle,” performed by musical guest Priscilla Ahn (who has another great number later in the episode), and the live experience adds a new level of excitement and energy to the conversation. The hilarious discussion covers a wide scope of material, from watching sexual movie scenes for the very first time to pretending to be a lesbian to get in with the cool gay kid to being confused by those old-school belted pads that Judy Blume wrote about in Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. To top it all off, the women play a game of MASH and whip out the Cootie Catcher, giving the episode a schoolyard recess feel that’s a refreshing change from this show’s usual intimate interviews. [OS]

The Moth: Ellie Lee: A Kind Of Wisdom
The title of Ellie Lee’s Moth entry is both a backhanded compliment and an expression of wonder. She recounts that her father, Ming Lee, often did things that seemed foolish by conventional standards, but quixotically triumphed as an underdog neighborhood grocer. While a lot of Moth stories deal with ambiguity and complication, Lee ultimately presents her father as an archetype people want to root for: a modest shopkeeper fighting off developers and city officials trying to raze his establishment and build luxury condos. It’s a heartening episode for anyone who’s ever been called stupid or crazy. [SG]

Mohr Stories #100: Rufus Wainwright
As prompted by superfan Jay Mohr, this freewheeling conversation with singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright is cursory and nonlinear, but still worth a listen. With no live music, the hourlong interview skims the surface of Wainwright’s emotional highs and lows in his life as an artist and gay man. He shares moving, melancholic recollections of preteen crushes both real and unrequited (including Ricky Schroder and the kid from The NeverEnding Story). Wainwright is casual and unimpressed with his status as a gay icon, but his insights about the value of supportive parents are fresher than the boilerplate discussion of his art. But if they don’t already know, fans will enjoy hearing which songs are about sex and drugs (respectively). [DXF]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #125: Tuggies
The description provided for this week’s episode warns that it is directionless—and it most certainly is—but My Brother, My Brother And Me always is. What’s more problematic is that it’s incredibly inconsistent, due at least in part to a lackluster selection of questions both from listeners and Yahoo! Answers. It’s never bad (or even mediocre, really), but it’s more often merely humorous rather than hilarious. However, when it hits, it hits pretty hard: Griffin McElroy’s laughing fit induced by being reminded that the movie Mr. Woodcock exists, allusions to “tuggies” and their resulting residue, and Justin’s attempt to redo a Ralphie May joke near the end are all inexplicably funny, as a lot of the best MBMBAM bits are. [CG]

Never Not Funny: Live At L.A. Podfest
The headliner of the L.A. Podcast Festival has a certain unspoken duty to deliver a master class in the medium. Never Not Funny’s first live episode of the season meets and exceeds that expectation, not by pulling out the stops and going big, but by relying comfortably on its tried-and-true formula for live shows: Jimmy Pardo opens with crowd work, Matt Belknap brings the quips, and Pat Francis shares his latest tale of shameful autograph hounding. This well-known framework ensures the conversation drives itself through familiar territory—topics includes ‘80s music, airplanes, and other podcast hosts—which leaves the three free to pitch in the full spread of NNF jokes. With the wildcard Francis more tight and focused than usual, and Belknap continuing his live-show hot streak, the trio manages to keep a predictable, low-stakes conversation feeling fresh, seamless, and consistently hilarious. That they did it with little sleep and likely zero preparation makes it all the more impressive. [SM]

Never Not Funny #1118: Teachable Moments With Laura House
Cynicism, like pain and tragedy, is fairly essential to comedy. For people who need a laugh, little resonates about a chipper comic with no worries. While Jimmy Pardo isn’t exactly a downer, his stand-up act relies heavily on a sarcastic edge and self-deprecation. So for a man entrenched in cynicism—he can’t attend a non-denominational church, no matter how much he’d like to—Pardo’s full embrace of comedian Laura House’s specialty, meditation, is revelatory. Following a first half of personal history and comedy talk—which touches on the differences between on- and off-stage personas—House schools Pardo and Matt Belknap on the purpose of meditation, how she kept her edge while losing her stress, and shows how meditation itself can be a well of comedic material. The lesson is a little drawn out, and House tends to talk over the hosts, but she’s otherwise charming, affable, and makes a compelling case for the practice. [SM]

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The Pod F. Tompkast #22: Scott Aukerman, Patton Oswalt, Matt Gourley, John Ross Bowie, Kimmy Gatewood, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Ice-T
This is one of those Tompkast episodes that’s not just long, but also takes a while to sink in. Which is fine—there’s not much up-front instant gratification, but Tompkins’ second suite of riffing over Eban Schletter’s piano does include some tossed-off witty conundrums (“I’m one person, and everybody else is a bunch of people”) and a consideration of what it would be like to have a murder mystery on a plane. This episode’s installment of “The Great Undiscovered Project” isn’t the most ambitious bit of the story, but does boast the joy of hearing Tompkins say “ginkgo biloba” in his own voice. That’s enough to make it worth hanging on for a mid-episode live sketch with a slew of comedy pals. [SG]

Professor Blastoff #75: Global Warming
When Podmass first checked out Professor Blastoff, it was found to be charmingly unique, but loose and uninformed. A drop-in earlier this year wasn’t much different, aside from host Tig Notaro’s heart-wrenching disclosure of her cancer diagnosis. So with Notaro’s health scares (hopefully) behind her, and a flood of new fans and attention, her return to the hatch acts as something of a reset, a broad and welcoming episode to any first-time listeners. Hosts David Huntsberger and Kyle Dunnigan prod Notaro to re-introduce the show’s convoluted premise, and Notaro continues to mine her ailments for laughs. (“It’s my dying wish,” she says, asking Huntsberger to phrase something trivial a certain way.) The show’s drawbacks still persist, as this week’s topic of global warming proves too impenetrable and well-known, and frequent guest Steven Yates’ insight on the issue is little more than that of the general public consensus. Still, the trio remains dry, droll, and funny enough to gloss over any of the science-related shortcomings. [SM]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #22: Brody Stevens, Jason Nash, Dan Van Kirk
Not too many stand-up comedians can say they played D-I college sports, but former Arizona State baseball player Brody Stevens is one of those few. It gives him a lot to talk about with the Sklars, including stories of his college teammates who went on to steroid scandals in the majors, and a great tangent deconstructing the tattered legacy of Lance Armstrong. The stories of the week, featuring a Florida couple having sex in public, lead to a typically outlandish fountain of jokes that earns a lot of laughs. [KM]

The Smartest Man In The World #181: Binders
Greg Proops is in full-on professor mode this week, with lengthy riffs on the various Popes named Gregory, Cthulhu, and a baseball team made up of U.S. presidents. (Lincoln is the manager, Taft the catcher.) He has a knack for turning arcane subjects into fodder for humor, and his description of the creation of modern Europe through the papacy is both hilarious and enlightening. He gets a bit too preachy in his commentary on Pussy Riot and Arizona’s recent attempt to ban Planned , but shines in the question-and-answer session at the end, where he reads aloud as Jeremy Irons from Die Hard With A Vengeance, and provides an emotionally charged defense of podcasting. [NC]

Sound Opinions #360: Sound Opinions Live With Ty Segall, Reviews Of Miguel And Grizzly Bear
Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot repeat a point they’ve made in previous episodes about the infuriatingly good and prolific Ty Segall: They admire his meld of melody and noise. Nothing earth-shattering, but it’s that sonic balance that helps Segall and band, recorded live at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, come through. Both viciously tight and bleary with reverb and fuzz, the performance helps to make up a bit for the so-so live recording quality. And unlike the hosts’ recent awkward live interview with Japandroids, their talk with Segall turns out to be agreeable and weirdly funny, especially as they recall a parody one of Segall’s old bands made of the reality show Laguna Beach. [SG]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Ghosts Of History: A Haunted House Tour
Sarah Dowdey and Deblina Chakraborty risk the fury of their more history-obsessed listeners as they delve into what some might call historic legend as opposed to history. Though the episode is in honor of Halloween, the hosts do an admirable job of approaching the stories from a journalistic perspective. The payoff is fantastic. They apply their dense research to tales like that of the White Witch of Rose Hall, Annie Palmer, who went on a voodoo killing spree that likely consisted of Jamaican poisons. Also covered are tales of Anne Boleyn’s ghost in Blickling Hall, Australia’s Monte Cristo Homestead, and the location of the Villisca Axe Murders. It’s a rather gruesome episode, but Dowdey and Chakraborty deliver the bloody details with both empathy and a scholar’s touch. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: What Really Happened In Salem?
To counter some of the season’s spookily themed episodes that may dabble a bit in mystery and superstition, this episode focuses more on the historical accuracy of the Salem Witch Trials. Salem Village, Massachusetts was still plenty creepy, even if legend has painted the town as somewhat ridiculous. The hysteria began with a local doctor, when faced with an un-diagnosable sickness that spread through young women of the area, diagnosing everyone as supernaturally afflicted. As things descend into theories, the town’s mistakes become harder to pin down. But local feuds and economic plights keep the eventual trials interesting, and the episode never dips into tedium. [DT]

This American Life #477: Getting Away With It
When it comes to slyly getting away with things like cheating in order to graduate from high school or college, This American Life listeners are some crafty bastards. This week’s episode is focused on people who game the system and don’t feel bad about it, and the voicemails left by listeners are hilarious in a PostSecret kind of way. The two main stories are both compelling as well: the story of a boy whose parents attempt to smuggle marijuana across the U.S./Mexico border, and an account of how a few astute policymakers in Oklahoma, the nation’s most conservative state, snuck through legislation for public preschool. [KM]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #93: Beyond Belief: The Haunting Of Howard Schroeder
Following the plot on this installment of Thrilling Adventure Hour’s supernatural serial can get hairy without the benefit of seeing the performers’ body language and so forth. The script refers back several times to previous episodes that set up this one’s plot: Protagonists Frank and Sadie Doyle (Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster, respectively) receive a visit from two of Frank’s old friends, one of whom was murdered by a demon clown. Brewster’s pugnaciously silly barbs hold things together through all the exposition, though James Urbaniak eventually upstages her, playing said demon clown with deliciously irascible delivery. [SG]

The Todd Glass Show#70: Live At L.A. Podfest
Since this episode was recorded at the L.A. Podcast Festival, a few of Todd Glass’ comedy buddies wander in and out of the recording. Repeat guest Graham Elwood has a fantastic turn as an irate fire marshal, and Doug Benson shows up to insert some droll asides. However, the real star of this episode is the music. The performance of a listener’s apology set to song is easily the greatest musical achievement in the entire history of The Todd Glass Show. Given Glass’ liberal use of jingles, that’s saying a lot. [MS]

Walking The Room #126: Crab Smoker And The Pants Band
This week’s episode opens on a wrong note, ends with a defeated sigh, and sees the hosts occasionally losing focus. Not that any of this is new, but in this case it can be attributed to their exhaustion (mostly Dave Anthony’s) from the L.A. Podcast Festival, stories of which occupy most of the running time. Those plugged in to the festival will hear familiar takes, but Anthony’s enjoyably aggravated rant on Twitter idiots and Andy Dick offers a nice glimpse at his dual role as founder and participant. And while the overall tone of the show may be a shrug, the two perk up with each of the head-slapping news items. [SM]

WTF With Marc Maron #325: W. Kamau Bell
It’s easy to sympathize with WTF listeners who tolerate Marc Maron rather than enjoy him when he’s at his most inexplicably combative. W. Kamau Bell explicitly talks about race in his comedy—it’s practically his entire act, ever since he subtitled his one-man show “Ending Racism In About An Hour.” Not content to simply let Bell give the same spiel he does in other interviews and on his FX television show, Totally Biased, Maron pushes back to discuss topics of racial otherness in surprising depth. Some may find it annoying or rude, but it’s precisely this tactic that helps the conversation avoid surface-level liberal simplicity. [KM]

WTF With Marc Maron #327: Jimmie Walker
Jimmie Walker will forever be associated with his Good Times character J.J. and the catchphrase “Dy-no-mite!,” but as with many elder-statesman comedy guests, Marc Maron seizes the opportunity to pick Walker’s brain for crazy stories from the past. Unlike modern comedians making the podcast rounds promoting something new, guests like Walker make for fascinating history lessons, and this interview is required listening for anyone interested in the history of comedy. [KM]

You Made It Weird #95: Baron Vaughn
Both Pete Holmes and Baron Vaughn have a hyper, theatrical side, and both have enough dorky likability to balance that out in their acts. Perhaps that’s why they’re able to keep things on an even keel as they alternate between fairly sober talk about their careers and spastic riffs. The episode gets an explosively funny start, as the two wonder how various comedians would construct a bit about a specific barbecue joint in Austin, yielding eerily accurate impressions of comics from Kyle Kinane to Hannibal Buress. At one point, they even catch themselves harmonizing on an abrupt outburst of song. It’s one of those sprawling, unfocused episodes that feels meant to be. [SG]


THE REST

Comedy Bang! Bang! #181: Happy Endings: Casey Wilson, Adam Pally
Two of the stars of Happy Endings make for a genial Comedy Bang! Bang! and some funny anecdotes (the old cabaret act of Adam “Bro” Pally’s parents is a highlight), but it’s not essential listening. [KR]

How Was Your Week #85: “No Breast Buds”: Mike Birbiglia, Peaches Christ
While Mike Birbiglia offers some genuine insights into the creative challenges of adapting Sleepwalk With Me for the big screen, neither interview on this week’s episode is all that memorable. [DF]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #83: Kathryn Hahn
A light, amiable conversation about acting, parenting, and the difficulty of being assertive is too scattershot and halting to recommend. [TC]

Mohr Stories #99: Kirk Fox
Comedian Kirk Fox (Parks And Recreation) has dry delivery and a presence to match; anecdotes from his career as an unsuccessful tennis pro and small-role-big-movie actor run shallow, and the wonder he feels recounting his family’s mythology isn’t contagious. [DXF]

Monday Morning Podcast
Even an appearance by Nia doesn’t help the feeling that almost every bit in this episode—from ramblings on the Jets and Patriots to Lance Armstrong to “Steak And A Blowjob Day”—is simply rehashed. Poor audio quality due to a faulty mixer doesn’t help, either. [CG]

Nerdist #272: Andrew Lincoln
In this short episode, The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln discusses his approach to the show’s main character Rick Grimes, and he and host Chris Hardwick get overly speculative about what could happen in the show’s future. [DA]

Nerdist #273: New York Comic Con
Due to a technical mishap, the audio for this episode was bootlegged by a fan, and it shows. It’s low quality, and while the episode could be salvaged, nearly two hours of barely audible chatter does not make for great entertainment. [DA]

Sklarbro Country #117: Double Cuff: David Krumholtz, James Adomian
David Krumholtz has a great story about his first foray into acting, and he has great camaraderie with the Sklar brothers. But none of that forgives the constant plugs for his horrid new sitcom Partners. [KM]

Stuff You Should Know: How Lion Taming Works
These circus trainers are interesting enough, but constant silly segues keep the topic from taking off. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Commercial Jingles Work
Though the history of the topic is fun, there’s not much to dissect about the fairly dull business of jingles. [DT]

Who Charted? #99: Who Sklarted?: The Sklar Brothers
The Sklar Brothers are solid, competent guests, but Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack should really consider drawing from outside the Earwolf roster more often. [MS]

WTF With Marc Maron #326: Live From Just For Laughs
Maron’s live show podcasts are like those five-page magazine samples you get in the mail: somewhat entertaining but not nearly as enjoyable or in-depth as the real thing. In a sea of yelling, Sean Cullen emerges weirdly funny and Nikki Glaser unexpectedly sincere. [CZ]

You Made It Weird #94: Joselyn Hughes
There’s an odd lack of chemistry between host and guest this episode, leading to some awkward pauses within a surface-level conversation that at one point devolves into the two of them watching and laughing at YouTube videos. [GK]