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Harrison Ford on Nerdist, and The Best Show makes a big announcement

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

Podmass comments and suggestions for future coverage can be directed to podmass@avclub.com 


“Some people took shop class in high school. I took foods class because you could get high, and there were cheerleaders.” —Greg Proops, The Smartest Man In The World

“Do you know how hard it is not to ask you a bunch of Star Wars questions?” “Why don’t you show me how hard it is?” —Chris Hardwick and Harrison Ford, Nerdist

“We’re now going to go right into facts about midwifery.” “Turn the facts machine on. Folks, I've still got it.”
—David Huntsberger and Tig Notaro, Professor Blastoff

“Picture a garbage can and people crowded around with flames coming out of it. That’s what the Internet is. It’s like one of those garbage cans from the beginning of Rocky. That’s the Internet. It’s what’s inside that flaming garbage can.” —Tom Scharpling, The Best Show On WFMU

“I get not working in a cubicle and wanting to make your fucking money, but there’s got to be some other talent that God gave you where you can make money that doesn’t involve shoving a key of coke up your fucking ass and trying to get out of Colombia. There’s got to be another way to do it.” —Bill Burr, reflecting on his fear of being imprisoned abroad, Monday Morning Podcast

“I said [to a genealogist], ‘Is there inbreeding in my family?’ and he goes, ‘A significant amount.’” —Johnny Knoxville on his family background, WTF

“Look, I don’t want to do nothing weird or strange or anything. I just want to fuck a bunch of meat that you’ve got in your huge old meat locker.” —Don Bolles, The Fogelnest Files

"That is horror in the truest sense." —Jordan Peele on the prospect of eternal life, You Made It Weird

“His new nickname is ‘The Wolverine’ because he’s a ‘Huge YAC-Man.’” —Mike Pesca, cracking himself up when discussing Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Hang Up And Listen

“Samsonite does not claim that you are safe, only that the illusion of protection can be achieved. But you are not safe. You have never been safe. Also, clouds were never supposed to have happened, never, not ever. This world should not be as it is now.” —Cecil Baldwin, advertising Samsonite, Welcome To Night Vale

“Is it a different New York since Lou Reed died? It’s been a different New York since I saw him in his sweatpants at the Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger.” —Julie Klausner, How Was Your Week?

"I hope you know I'm on your side, and I'm not looking to make you look bad, do a ‘gotcha,’ or tell you you're possessed by the devil. But I would like to remind you that if it weren't for me, you'd be in a Japanese orphanage and nobody would adopt you." —Paul Gilmartin reassures guest Julie J, The Mental Illness Happy Hour

“I still think that monitoring the German leader, however dubiously, is significantly safer than not monitoring a German leader.” —John Oliver on the NSA’s spying tendencies, The Bugle


Audio Spackle
When a music podcast takes on a form that subverts the long-form interview style, it has a tendency to recall radio shows in the most traditional sense. Though Sound Opinions set the precedent for being able to shift from radio to the Internet with little being lost, recent upstarts have struggled to separate from the hokey nature of morning radio. Christian Finnegan’s Audio Spackle occasionally recalls this as it has slowly found its voice over the course of 22 episodes. Each episode begins with Finnegan asking a guest about their musical history (“What was the first album you bought?,” “What was the first show you went to?) and these moments prove most fascinating, inspiring a unique familiarity with guests such as Dave Holmes and Myq Kaplan. 

However, when Finnegan introduces the episode’s weekly theme (“Songs For Establishing Your Musical Cred,” “Songs You Want Played At Your Funeral,” etc.) the show begins to falter. Both the guest and Finnegan pick three songs that fit the theme, discussing each song after a short snippet is played. The jovial nature built at the top is all but abandoned when this segment hits, and it’s difficult to rectify that tonal shift. If Finnegan melded the two parts, perhaps by treating it more like a hyper-specific questionnaire for music fans as opposed to a mini-mixtape, the show could perhaps keep from tapering off in its back half.

Audio Spackle is still young, so it’s easy to excuse some of these missteps, especially given Finnegan’s willingness to change the format as he sees fit—he stopped introducing his own song choices on the podcast for a few weeks only to reintroduce it later. At times, Finnegan’s desire to cut the fat ends up inhibiting the show’s flavor, but he’s getting better at knowing what makes an episode a full meal instead of only offering slivers and scraps. [DA]


The Sarcast
Touted as “the only show hosted by a 24-year-old virgin and a real-life hermit,” The Sarcast is nothing if not exactly what it claims to be. Essentially the audible diary of Portlanders/longtime buddies Chris Gonzalez (the hermit) and Quentin Trujillo (the virgin), it’s a weekly look at anything and everything filtered through the pair’s soft-spoken self-deprecation and nerdy sensibilities. Gonzalez and Trujillo come into each episode with their own topics (ranging from cannibalism to Ben Affleck) and the conversation loosely flows from there. Much in the same vein as bare-bones bromantic podcasts like Uhh Yeah Dude, The Sarcast relies entirely on the listeners’ relationship with its two hosts—both awkwardly likable and often preoccupied with finding jobs and “fly honeys,” all while still living with their parents.

Although occasionally joined by guests like often edited-out friend David and real-life girl Betty, Gonzalez and Trujillo reside in their own world where no secret is too personal to share with each other and the small but devoted audience. In fact, things recently took a quasi-melodramatic turn as Trujillo—a bit of a second fiddle to the slightly more suave Gonzalez—began dating a female fan that Gonzalez also liked. Although only time will tell whether bromance will emerge triumphant over romance, it’s assured that every detail will be over-shared in future episodes. [TK]


The Best Show On WFMU
The self-appointed “King Of Free Entertainment” is vacating the unpaid throne. After 13 years of The Best Show On WFMU and almost as many years jokingly threatening to quit the show, Tom Scharpling uses the final six minutes of this otherwise ordinary episode to announce the December 17 end-date for his influential radio program. On a show that began by fooling its audience, Scharpling fittingly prefaces the news by assuring listeners that he’s serious this time. The host drives the point home by breaking the show’s own version of the fourth wall when he mentions collaborator Jon Wurster by name. It’s a genuinely emotional moment for the show and Scharpling, who seems to have difficulty making the announcement. With more than 1,600 consistently excellent hours of mirth, music, and mayhem in the can, The Best Show has 21 left. Get strapped in. [TC]

The Bugle #250: No One Is Madder Than Obama...
After a two-week break, The Bugle returns feeling fresh and superficially new with a handful of cheesy audio cues. Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver are finally both back at their home bases, which is a relief after the constant touring and technical difficulties from producing the show on the road. This homecoming is perfectly suited for what the two lovingly call their 250th anniversary, complete with self-congratulatory fanfare. This top-notch episode spends a lot of time lampooning the failed launch of Obamacare website, and it features a glorious segment cracking jokes on the NSA spying scandal. Cricket also plays into this week’s issue, with a self-deprecating Zaltzman story at the top, and a hard-hitting look at the Vatican’s newly minted cricket team toward the back end. Hopefully now that the two comedians are settled down, quality episodes like this week’s will continue to roll out. [MK]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #252: The Creeeeeeepy Halloween Special: Steven Yeun, Paul Rust, Molly Bretthauer, Nick Wiger
For the first time in a few years, the Comedy Bang! Bang! Halloween special doesn’t visit Suicide House. There’s no creepy music or spooky sound effects playing in the background, no Brett Gelman and Jon Daly. Instead it’s The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun, Dykula (Molly Bretthauer), and fan favorite Paul Rust, whose name for his pet minions is like Sideshow Bob and the rake: funny at first, then less funny, then not funny, then annoying, then funnier. The update to Leo Carpazzi’s “Monster Mash” is a fun bit of conceptual CBB goofiness. It’s a departure from the past couple Halloween specials, but a welcome one. [KR]

The Fogelnest Files #60: Well, you’re a Germ: Don Bolles
Until this week’s show, it would have been a safe bet to say that no one on the podcast could be capable of keeping up with—let alone surpassing—Jake Fogelnest’s kinetic enthusiasm for all things underground and marginal. But Don Bolles (best known as the drummer for legendary L.A. punk band The Germs) is a verifiable vortex of free-associative energy. Clips aside, the episode is worth it just to hear Bolles’ stories of how weird, gross, and reckless the punk scene was back in the day. There are shit swastikas. There are people thrown out of windows to their deaths. In the more disturbing parts of the interview, there seems to be quite a lot of casual PCP usage. And though he straddles the line between honesty and exhibitionism at the beginning, by the end it’s hard not to like the guy, as excessively weird as he may be. [AB]

How Was Your Week? #139: Peter Bagge: “More Suicide Than The Average Bear”
Julie Klausner’s interview with cartoonist Peter Bagge is solid from start to finish, though it really picks up in the much stronger second half. After a general set of questions about his career, the topic shifts to Bagge’s new graphic novel on Margaret Sanger, the early 20th century women’s rights activist who founded Planned Parenthood. Like Klausner, Bagge’s sense of humor allows him to joke without undermining a subject’s seriousness, and this helps to keep a conversation about archaic birth-control laws and the persecution that Sanger faced from becoming totally dispiriting. Klausner has long explored feminism and women’s rights on her podcast, and this interview does a terrific job of highlighting one of the movement’s central figures. [DF]

Improv4Humans #105: Zombie Lisp: Wayne Federman, Eugene Cordero, Pamela Murphy, Alex Fernie
Improv4Humans is always at its best when it attracts unconventional senses of humor. The show can suddenly dive into obscene conversations and make them work without becoming grating, but there can only be so many silly debates over bestiality. This week’s episode sees a new kind of unconventional tension in the form of Wayne Federman. His insistence on keeping up his good-natured, clean persona works wonders opposite Matt Besser, who does his best to draw out a filthier side to him. After a strong start with a sterile pooped-pants story that Federman tries desperately to keep PG, “Zombie Lisp” chugs onward with one remarkable scene after the next. Also on display is Besser’s formidable new intern, Thomas the milk lover, and a hilarious story from Alex Fernie about mistakenly going to gay night at a haunted house. [MK]

Judge John Hodgman Exit Partay
The Honorable Judge John Hodgman rules on party behavior for couples. The stated issue: Jason, a doctor, interacts with the public all day. When it’s time to socialize at parties, the bar, and family events, he shuts down and prefers to stand alone, playing Candy Crush. His wife, Amber, wants him spend more time and effort at parties. The unstated issue: She’s sick of his shit. He’s a Gen-X geek-culture enthusiast who ironically drives a 1981 Ford Bronco and keeps his Silver Age comics in a locked room. They’ve been married for 12 years, and by the end of the deliberation, it looks like his luck will run out in year 13. Two short second cases clear the docket: A mother’s Facebook activity draws the attention of conservative grandparents, who fear their shorthaired granddaughter is a lesbian. And the court rules on when it’s appropriate to watch holiday-themed TV episodes. [DXF]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #139: Julie J
There are countless pitfalls in asking strangers to bare their soul for the world. That potential for failure or even exploitation makes Mental Illness Happy Hour episodes as outstanding as this conversation with listener Julie J even more impressive. The 115-minute discussion exemplifies the show's ability to capture the deep humanity of its guests. Much of the credit goes to Julie, whose poise and wit bring a power and unexpected levity to a conversation about her horrid upbringing as an adopted child. There are dark moments as she talks about a childhood with an emotionally distant father and disturbed mother, but Julie and Paul Gilmartin's shared sense of humor and empathy makes for a warm, engrossing conversation. It's among MIHH's best episodes ever. [TC]

Monday Morning Podcast
At times it can seem like whether the Monday Morning Podcast is any good simply comes down to the numbers—the more topics Bill Burr hits upon in a given episode, the more his ramblings bear fruit. This week he is all over the place and, not coincidentally, he ends up with a strong episode. His musings on Halloween, women who practice mixed martial arts, and anxieties over traveling abroad are mostly focused and quite funny, and the listener letters segment is more consistently interesting than it has been in a while. At nearly 90 minutes, the episode is overlong and drags at one or two points—particularly when he returns to the topic of his friend and fellow comedian Paul Virzi without having anything new to say—but for the most part it’s engaging and entertaining. [CG]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #173: Bro’s Better, Bro’s Best: Ch. 16-30
It’s kind of cheating to say that this is one of the brothers’ funniest episodes, since it’s actually a compilation of the best bits taken from 15 of the early shows, but if it looks like a duck, etc. The brothers have gotten much better at curating their own material, since this “best of” is a marked improvement over their first highlight reel. It also helps that it’s possible to hear them becoming more familiar with their own format. The whole selection is consistently solid, but the highlight is probably the McElroys’ predictably giggly and ridiculous take on how to get a girl to touch your crotch. [AB]

Nerdist #430: Harrison Ford
Chris Hardwick has gone on record several times that his sit-down with Harrison Ford is the one time he truly failed as a host. While that disclaimer implies some kind of epic meltdown, the actual interview is far from a train wreck. Long time Nerdist listeners will notice nervousness in Hardwick’s questioning, but Ford is a notoriously prickly interview subject, so tension comes with the territory. Between the awkward pauses, Ford talks about buying a tarantula to prepare for a role, his favorite movies, his years as a carpenter, how he creates a character, and why he would never want to direct a film. As with most Ford interviews, it’s a bit difficult to tell how much of his cantankerous personality is adopted for comedic purposes—his humor is so dry it’s almost undetectable—but Ford makes enough explicit jokes that it’s pretty clear he’s enjoying himself. This episode lacks the breezy camaraderie of most Nerdist interviews, but even if Hardwick had been on the top of his game, Ford’s low energy was bound to make things feel a bit off. So while it’s a somewhat muted episode of Nerdist, for a Harrison Ford interview it’s practically cheerful. [CS]


Never Not Funny #1316: Jake Johannsen
Jimmy Pardo typically sticks to friends or people he knows to be guests on his podcast, but he and fellow comedian Jack Johannsen don’t know each other going into this week’s episode. Unsurprisingly, they settle into an easy rhythm, and Johannsen is a funny, game guest. It’s a breezy chat, but worth the price of admission for Johannsen’s confession that he uses a Flowbee to cut his hair and Pardo’s baffled reaction. [KR]

Professor Blastoff #128: Midwives
The Professor Blastoff crewshould be allowed to brush off some of the criticism that the show spreads occasional misinformation, given that it’s a comedy program, but that wouldn’t be in keeping with the caliber of care the hosts put into their sessions with experts. This week welcomes Sarah Kleinman, a registered nurse and certified nurse midwife, to tackle a longstanding listener grievance regarding Blastoff’s historical depiction of midwifery. The hour and a half is as enlightening as any conversation ever facilitated by the host trio, shedding light on such topics as home births versus hospital births, the value of anesthesia, birthing as a business, and whether doctors truly spend most of their time in the “crotch five” position. Those who only have time for the introductory banter will be entertained by a chaotic and spirit-lifting new segment “Mother’s Movie Minute” with Judy Dunnigan. [NJ]

Sound Opinions #413: Neko Case
Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis recorded an interview and a stripped-down live set with Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, and Eric Bachmann before Case’s headlining performance at this year’s A.V. Fest at the Hideout in Chicago. The interview ranges from discussing how rarely Case gets her due credit for producing most of her records to her start as a bartender at the Hideout and her early performances on that stage. It’s a triumphant homecoming with some beautiful renditions of songs from her newest record. [KM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Encephalitis Lethargica
Though hosts Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson warn listeners that the disease of encephalitis lethargica is a particularly frightening topic, it is a slow descent into darkness. First described as a disease at the turn of the 20th century that rendered victims helpless into sleep-like comas, it sounds like the Spanish flu or any number of diseases that wrecked havoc on society during that time period. Then comes the revelation that its victims are aware the entire time they are incapacitated, and feel themselves slowly starve to death. As the disease spread, it mutated, and its symptoms became even more frightening. Children and teenagers who contracted it developed violent tendencies, committing horrible crimes against themselves and others. A sprawling list of consequences are revealed by the end of this memorable episode, and Frey and Wilson’s squeamishness for the now-dormant epidemic becomes completely clear. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Sophie Blanchard And Balloonmania
Hosts Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson shift away from the Halloween theme with the no less interesting subject of balloonmania in the late 18th century. The discovery of hydrogen or “inflammable air” quickly led to the invention of gas balloons for sport. The first half of this episode focuses on the hilarious origins of ballooning, where criminals were sent up first in order to gauge the risk of sending a giant bag of burnable gas into the sky. Quickly the sport became ingrained in high society, which is when Sophie Blanchard comes in. A socially timid woman, she found freedom, fireworks, and the friendship of Napoleon through her daring balloon flights. Though she met the sort of end one might expect for someone who also likes to fly their balloon among massive fireworks displays, her story is one worth plucking from the history books.  [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: What’s With The Winchester Mystery House
Few hauntings are as creepy as morally inspired ones, and on this episode hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant focus on one of the most haunted women in history, Sarah Winchester. An heiress to the Winchester gun-engineering fortune, Sarah Winchester was ultimately widowed and lost her daughter, seeking the assistance of a clairvoyant to find the source of her misfortune. The fortuneteller claimed that her family name was cursed, and that the ghost of anyone ever killed by one of her husband’s guns would haunt the family forever. Winchester’s mad scramble to build a house whose construction would confuse the ghosts makes for a fascinating struggle that could have taken more focus. But Clark and Bryant deftly juggle these details with the bigger picture, and the result is a creepy story with a surprising amount of closure. [DT]

This American Life #509: It Says So Right Here
This week’s episode takes a topic renowned for its tedium—official paperwork—and shows that for three people, it’s been anything but dull. The highlight is Act Two, an audio diary made by a young woman named Kelly who is getting the results of a test on the Huntington’s disease gene. It’s a deeply compelling and personal piece that shows just how fraught a Huntington’s diagnosis is for Kelly and her family, and the climactic moment in which Kelly and her cousin Kayla, who already suffers from the disease, learn the results of the test is one of the more unforgettable TAL moments in some time. The rest of the show is a bit more straightforward, but no less strong. Though it’s Kelly’s audio diary that will linger with listeners. [DF]

Welcome To Night Vale #34: A Beautiful Dream
Night Vale is a town fearful of technology, much as it is a town tacitly fearful of all the strange occurrences described by narrator Cecil Baldwin. But Night Vale is the only show that would take a sentient supercomputer bent on usurping all power in a single town into an anti-bullying treatise. As Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor discussed on Slate’s Culture Gabfest, most episodes build and build to disaster until The Weather, after which Cecil delivers a final, post-denouement monologue. This week, after the Night Vale Elementary janitor thwarts Computer’s near-instantaneous rise to power, Cecil’s message is simply that a girl who is different—even if that difference is having an adult man’s detached hand for a body—should be able to participate and communicate in school without being mercilessly teased. [KM]

WTF With Marc Maron #436: Johnny Knoxville
Johnny Knoxville comes off in his interview with Marc Maron exactly how he comes off in front of the camera—charismatic, genuine, jovial, and very funny—and their conversation is wide-ranging and never dull. Knoxville has stories to spare, and each word he utters about his father and his father’s friends—some of whom, bizarrely enough, were the basis for characters in Cormac McCarthy’s novel Suttree—is pure gold. The topic of Ryan Dunn’s death is broached briefly, but with considerable poignancy, and—combined with Maron’s on-mic attempts to cope with the death of Lou Reed—it gives the episode a nice feeling of roundedness. [CG]

WTF With Marc Maron #437: Elijah Wood
Marc Maron and Elijah Wood talk about Austin, Texas; child actors; and privacy rights for 45 minutes before they get around to mentioning The Lord Of The Rings films—and that’s a compliment. They have a wandering, yet intricate conversation that feels casual, but never lethargic. When they turn to Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Wood provides some insights into Jim Carrey’s preparation for his role in the film, and recounts a few incredible feats of technical mastery from behind the scenes. The episode recalls Maron’s interview with Seth Green, another surprisingly erudite interview that doesn’t have all-time highlights, but is consistently informative. [KM]

You Made It Weird: Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele is so often paired up with his Key & Peele partner Keegan-Michael Key that it’s easy to forget that they don’t automatically come as a set. So, Pete Holmes’ two-and-a-half-hour conversation with Peele is a treat if only because it gives him the chance to talk at length—spanning subjects from his mostly-absent father to the limitations of working on Mad TV—without having to share the spotlight with anyone. Peele taking Holmes through his process for building impressions, like his flawless Barack Obama and his fresh take on Bill Cosby, is a particular highlight. [DD]


Doug Loves Movies: Rory Scovel, Erik Griffin, And Brent Weinbach
This is one of those extra-long DLMs that really sags under its running time. There are a few gems buried in there, but it’s not worth digging through the drawn-out introductory riffing and interminable Seth Rogen Game entry to experience them. [GK]

Doug Loves Movies: Kevin Weisman, Clare Kramer, And Moshe Kasher
This episode coasts along in first gear without ever revving up. (Or, to put it in terms relevant to the episode, it has a “lovely pressure” that never quite explodes into something more.) Everyone is thoroughly pleasant and plays the game well, but there’s little in the way of memorable moments. [GK]

Hang Up And Listen: The Huge YAC Man Edition
Now that the World Series has finished and baseball season is over, a breakdown of the odd endings to games three and four—while levelheaded and intelligent—quickly feels dated. But a discussion of Calvin Johnson’s 329-yard receiving day will remain evergreen for the hilariously quotable observations about statistics like Yards After Catch (YAC). [KM]

Harmontown #77: Carpool Diem
The highlight of this week’s episode is the introductory tribute to Lou Reed, since the episode was recorded the same day as the influential songwriter’s death. [KM]

The Moth Radio Hour Ionesco, Voodoo, And Therapy
The agitation-to-relief ratio feels off in this week’s particularly grim episode, mostly due to a patient’s account of his too-personal relationship with his therapist. Michael Rips’ assessment that Eugène Ionesco would enjoy his story about a plagiarized translation of Rhinoceros, though, is right on the money. [DJ] 

Nerdist #429: Ike Barinholtz
Guest Ike Barinholtz sits down for a massive joke riff session with the Nerdist hosts. Unfortunately, it’s too fast-paced to come across as cohesive or coherent in an audio capacity. [MS]

Nerdist #431: Ezra Koenig
All three Nerdist hosts join the Vampire Weekend frontman for a conversation about the modern music industry that is enjoyable but inessential—although Ezra Koenig comes across as a particularly intelligent and thoughtful guest. [CS]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #75: Alison Rosen
The gang can’t seem to get much traction on Daniel Van Kirk’s stories this week, though the last few minutes are worth a listen for a very solid Steven Seagal bit. [AB]

Sklarbro Country #171: David Huntsberger, Jason Nash
Talk about a bad week for Jason and Randy Sklar. Not only did the St. Louis Cardinals suffer defeat in the World Series, but guest Horatio Sanz dropped out at the last minute. Professor Blastoff co-host David Huntsberger makes for a pleasant fill-in, but the brothers' attempts to get him to open up personally fizzle out. [DJ]

The Smartest Man in the World Wonders
Live from West Hollywood, Greg Proops holds court for two hours. Historic figure of the week: Frederick The Great. Old movie: The Bridge On The River Kwai. Sociopolitical issue: Women’s access to reproductive health services. Shady corporate and political institutions: Halliburton, BP, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the 1980s White House. [DXF]

Stuff You Should Know The Empty House
This spooky story from Algernon Blackwood is a lot of fun, but might seem a little unnecessary now that Halloween has passed. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know How Ouija Boards Work
Though the Ouija board has interesting origins in the 1890s and World War I, hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant are excessively polite regarding its tradition. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #125: Jake Fogelnest
Unfortunately, what was likely the best part of this episode—a conversation between Todd Glass and Jake Fogelnest about racial sensitivity and the Washington Redskins—was cut before it was posted. What’s left is little conversation and lots of bits that lean heavily on repetition. [DD]

Who Charted? #152: Overture
The Heat co-writer Kate Dippold’s recollections of exploring abandoned mental institutions with Chris Gethard are the highlight of a perfectly acceptable episode. [MS]