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JB Smoove dominates WTF and Kevin Smith binges on Batman 

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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“I don’t expect him to know everything about Star Trek, I just expect him to have seen a particularly good episode from late in the series run.” —Matt Mira having his soul crushed by LeVar Burton’s lack of Star Trek knowledge, Nerdist.

“‘Oh, but I’ve done some other horrible, unforgiving thing.’ There’s 6 billion of us. Google it. Somebody has done exactly what you’ve done, and they’re currently on a book tour.” —Maria Bamford, The JV Club

“I think I can out-rebound Patton Oswalt. I can box him out.” — Jay Mohr, Mohr Stories

 “Oh, you gotta fuck a brain first.” —JB Smoove, WTF With Marc Maron 


Fatman On Batman 
Writer, director, and Batman superfan Kevin Smith’s new podcast is a treasure trove for lovers of the Dark Knight, particularly his ’90s cartoon interpretation, Batman: The Animated Series. Each week, Smith brings on a new guest related to Gotham City, beginning with B:TAS co-creator, executive producer, and head writer Paul Dini. Smith spends a lot of time gushing over Dini, as he does all his guests; then again, he brings on a praiseworthy bunch, including Mark “The Joker” Hamill, Arleen “Harley Quinn” Sorkin, and Tara “Batgirl” Strong

The wealth of animation-industry insider knowledge shared between Smith’s guests is staggering, and they’re each so passionate about their craft that it’s a pleasure to listen to them talk about the most mundane details of their careers. Smith shares a similar passion, and is often more enthusiastic than his guests when it comes to their roles in the Batman mythos—particularly when it comes to Sorkin’s Harley Quinn, whom Smith named his daughter after. His strongest interview thus far is the two-parter with Hamill, whose amazing vocal talents are pulled straight from the golden age of radio. Smith pesters him to start his own podcast, and rightly so: The charming Hamill would do spectacularly well with his own show. [OS]


Dream Tweet
Dream Tweet—the “game show to go”—is a podcast parody of classic game shows, replete with crappy prizes and a dead-on impression of hacky, obnoxious game-show hosts, courtesy of writer and host Jonathan Corbett. Each episode, Corbett brings on two comedians to face off against each other as they try to ascribe celebrities’ inane tweets to their authors. If neither comedian can figure out who wrote the tweets, Corbett reads off a “dream tweet,” one that he himself wrote and that usually gives away the celebrity in the form of a punchline. The comedian contestants and Corbett are all quick on their feet, and episodes typically run about 15 minutes in length, so it’s sort of hard to go wrong. That said, a recent episode with Kimmy Gatewood of The Apple Sisters and occasional game-show host and veteran stand-up Jimmy Pardo is especially good: Pardo eats up Corbett’s shtick, and everyone involved riffs well together, resulting in an very solid quarter-hour of entertainment. [CG]


Mohr Stories #70: Marc Maron
Podcaster-comedian-actor Jay Mohr fired Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, hosted NBC’s Last Comic Standing, and more recently left Kevin Smith’s SModcast network to build his own podcast label, Fake Mustache. Mohr Stories is its flagship show, and recent guests include Burning Love actor Ken Marino, Mohr’s priest, and comedian Jim Norton. This week, Mohr and podcasting icon Marc Maron talk about changing their relationship status from feuding to friendly, following an appearance on Maron’s WTF? by Bobcat Goldthwait, Mohr’s wife’s ex. All tension has already been defused by the time Maron takes a seat in Mohr’s garage, and the athlete and the neurotic spend the ensuing 90 minutes exploring their common ground of the comedy-club circuit and Scorsese movies. Mohr and Maron also recap their dustup and rehash their respective origin stories as perennial outsiders, comedians, and podcasters, and there’s some shoptalk, including behind-the-scenes details about Maron’s visit to the Carrot Top compound. The takeaway is, whether you’re the first name in podcasting or a Hollywood actor, the grass is always greener—though movies pay better. [DXF]


The Best Show On WFMU
After a well-rounded episode plagued by terrible callers, The Best Show is back on track this week. Starting off with a tribute to the late Dennis Flemion of The Frogs, host Tom Scharpling follows up an excellent 30-minute set by sharing some of his personal memories of the underappreciated Milwaukee band. Jon Wurster’s call as Tom’s annoying co-worker Darren evidences the evolution of Wurster and Scharpling’s scripted calls, quickly devolving in to a bizarre story about a new cruise ship featuring entertainment from notoriously “prickly” singers Van Morrison and John Mellencamp. Particularly memorable, though, are Scharpling’s rants about Game Of Thrones author George “Rascal Rider” Martin and “1 Percent Comedian” Jerry Seinfeld. With Martin hailing from Bayonne, it’ll be interesting to see if any future listeners call in with local connections to the author. [AF]

Hang Up And Listen: The British Are Crying Edition
A big week in sports draws out the best from the HUAL crew, starting with Roger Federer’s reassertion of dominance at Wimbledon after a two-and-a-half-year major tournament drought. Guest Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated spares no hyperbole in praising Federer’s last three sets, which belittled an otherwise spirited performance by Andy Murray, who was helpless to end Britain’s streak of disappointments at Wimbledon. The hosts also get in some shots at the brown patches along the baselines of Wimbledon’s grass courts, suggesting that players might want to come to the net more often just for groundskeeping purposes. A slew of big offseason moves in the NBA also gives them a chance to rib the league for weird phenomena like Jeremy Lin’s “poison pill” contract and the hypocrisy of tarring Ray Allen for leaving the Boston Celtics to play for the Miami Heat. [ST]

The JV Club #18: Maria Bamford 
Janet Varney is joined by her The Legend Of Korra co-star and stand-up comic Maria Bamford for one the most honest, revealing, hilarious JV Club episodes yet, which focuses on both of their struggles with mental illness. That may not sound like guffaw-worthy material, but Bamford is skilled at exposing the funny side of heavy issues. For the first time on the show, Varney opens up about growing up with Depersonalization Displacement Syndrome, a mental condition that feels “like being high without any drugs,” which may sound fun but was a terrifying experience for a young child. Bamford discusses her depression, which first manifested at 10 years old, and her subsequent OCD and eating disorders, but she never once drops her signature sense of humor. Varney and Bamford could talk about re-gifting for an hour and it would be delightful (they certainly spend a lot of time on the subject), but the insight this episode gives into its charismatic host and guest make it a standout. [OS]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #68: Simone DeBlasio
Writer and musician Simone DeBlasio visits for an entry in Mental Illness Happy Hour’s “full life of chaos” category. There have been more tragic stories on the show, but this one still goes pretty deep, from DeBlasio’s coke-dealing father to her struggle with suicidal impulses. Host Paul Gilmartin’s best move here is to get DeBlasio talking about the limits of treating bipolar disorder or depression, and how the “voices” of those disorders might never fully go away. In addition, Gilmartin goes heavy on brutal listener-submitted surveys this week, so it’s a good episode for those who listen for the harsh stuff. [SG]

The Moth: June Cross: Secret Daughter
It’s heroic for June Cross to have even pieced together and made a little sense of the childhood she recounts in this Moth entry. She grew up not only as the child of a black man and a white woman in the ’50s and ’60s, but also literally as a secret, half-hidden away with a surrogate family to spare her mother and stepfather the shame. It’s incredible that she gets through certain parts of this without dissolving into sobs—Moth storytellers have cracked over less. Listeners can expect to get walloped with a sense of heartbreak, as Cross tinges the story with a child’s sense of bewilderment. [SG]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #111: Sacrilice
As power outages precluded the release of a new episode last week, the McElroy brothers naturally start this week’s installment with an explanation, and elements of the tale are mirrored later in a Yahoo! Answers question about the helplessness of having bad smells trapped in one’s lungs forever, and another about wind having free will. Outside of that, an earnest question about a roommate without boundaries prompts dirty answers, and an utterly silly question asking whether making movies about cats is illegal or not rounds things out niely. With the exception of a derecho-related opening bit that very nearly falls flat, no one bit really stands out as much better or much worse than any of the others, so while it’s not exactly a standout episode, it’s pretty consistent throughout and still probably better than whatever the average podcast put out this week. [CG]


Nerdist #227: Fred Armisen And Carrie Brownstein
Portlandia creators and stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein join Nerdist for an episode that gets off to a rather rocky start. Host Chris Hardwick starts off by putting too much focus on Portland itself, but the episode soon stabilizes as Armisen and Brownstein guide the conversation down more interesting routes that include their paths through music and comedy, and Armisen’s desire to work as a mortician in his younger days. When Matt Mira, who formerly worked at a funeral home, joins in, he pulls out strong anecdotes and riffs that would have gone unmentioned otherwise. [DA]

Nerdist #228: LeVar Burton
Known best for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow—as well as a stunning cameo on Community—LeVar Burton’s wealth of experience and knowledge lends itself well to a Nerdist interview. Once Matt Mira appears, the tone shifts, as Burton and Hardwick jab Mira for his Star Trek fandom. Although the episode does focus on that rather predominantly near its end, Burton’s dry approach to the topic lends itself to some hilarious exchanges. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1103: Skeet Shooting With Matt Braunger
Not that recent episodes haven’t been in form, but this week’s with Matt Braunger represents a return to the classic give-and-take of Never Not Funny. A Chicago native trained by Del Close, Braunger shares some history with Jimmy Pardo—the two were involved in a “turf war” between the stand-ups and improv actors at the time—as well as a rapport presumably grown from their time in the clubs. With a tone and riffing style often reminiscent of Patton Oswalt’s (albeit less precise), Braunger delightedly propels much of the wide-ranging conversation forward without ever truly driving it, offering witty, informed responses and rich premises for the room to explore, while patiently seeing how Pardo and Matt Belknap play it out. It’s an extremely well-balanced episode, one that works to earn its laughs while never really showing the effort. [SM]

Sklarbro Country #102: Comedy Jazz: Duncan Trussell, Jason Nash
Comedian Duncan Trussell brings an intense, thoughtful presence to any podcast, even The Lavender Hour, the lighter-hearted one he used to host with ex-girlfriend Natasha Leggero. Where the Sklars are jocular and easygoing, Trussell favors the darkness, and consequently makes 102 one of the more existentially minded episodes of Sklarbro Country. Comedy nerds will find the discussion of the “Comedy Store” style vs. alt-comedy interesting, though the inside-baseball talk may bore others. Still, the whole episode is rewarding, as the different perspectives between the Sklars and Trussell make for lively discussion. And then there’s the story about two porn stars offering to blow all of Miami, which is a gift from the comedy heavens for the Sklar Brothers. [KR]

The Smartest Man In The World #166: Supremes
Overlooking the initial drawn-out riffing about the Minneapolis neighborhood Dinkytown, Greg Proops’ stop in the Twin Cities makes for a well-rounded-enough set this week. When he sings early in the episode, it’s about sharing a shower with Drew Carey, and when he inevitably gives the crowd a story about Prince, it’s convoluted in just the right ways, especially its little tangent about racist ashtrays. That means there’s plenty of comic goodwill built up by the time Proops launches into his “boring preachy part” about the Affordable Care Act. [SG]

Sound Opinions #345: Rock Cruises, Summer Reviews, And Jim’s Desert Island Jukebox
After brief segments discussing rock cruises and slamming the Olympic Committee for picking a Muse track for its theme song, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis turn to reviewing five new summer records. It’s an eclectic-enough handful to make the episode fun, even if the only record that’s halfway “summer-y” in the typical sense is Best Coast’s The Only Place. Otherwise, they jump between justified praise for Patti Smith’s Banga and discuss the elusive balance of melody and chaos Ty Segall aims for on Slaughterhouse. The hosts’ habit of giving lots of background comes in handy when introducing Bobby Womack’s new collaboration with Damon Albarn, making for a unanimously positive but still interesting slate of reviews. [SG]

Stuff You Should Know: How Tabloids Work
With Alec Baldwin throwing fists and Justin Bieber flying down the 101, tabloids are as worthy of a proper deconstruction as anything. What gets creepy is that no matter how often the hosts throw around words like “shady” and “shifty,” the culture seems completely embedded in journalism. Designed to evoke an emotional response, tabloid publications like the National Enquirer actually inspired much of the sensationalism in all mainstream media. Especially relevant are the discussions of how both kinds of journalism covered Katie Holmes and her theoretical battle with a monolithic cult, as well as the exploits of Rupert Murdoch. And no matter how much a listener might enjoy an episode about moss, plenty will get immediate gratification from this episode’s Bat Boy introduction. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #53: Kulap Vilaysack
For just under two hours, host Todd Glass goofs off with guest Kulap Vilaysack and his usual companions Daniel Kinno and Blake Wexler. If Vilaysack’s infectious laugh is any indication, she sounds like she’s having an obscenely good time, and that energy and enthusiasm makes the two hours go by really quickly. Glass also introduces some new audio clips into his repertoire, one involving a woman giving a baffling and incoherent defense to Anderson Cooper of a homophobic pastor’s speech, while another concerns an absurd news report on the website Cats That Look Like Hitler. As has been his tendency lately, Glass intersperses these moments of absurdity with meaningful pieces of discourse about coming to terms with sexual identity within the current cultural and political climate. [MS]

Walking The Room: #111 Bouncy House And Red Vines
Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt have a curious relationship, both with each other and with Walking The Room. The two are often at odds: Behrendt can undermine Anthony’s premises with giddy non-starters, while Anthony questions Behrendt’s behavior to no avail. In regards to the show, the co-hosts strive to gain new listeners—they reveal plans to join an aggregator and announce some exciting first-time guests—yet at the same time, they willfully create an impenetrable universe with callbacks to things that were nonsensical in the first place. Not to say it’s not funny—it is, and often uproariously so. It’s just that their best material is undoubtedly cooperative, like when Anthony teaches Behrendt how to best deal with rude strangers, or when they plan a competing tour versus Mumford And Sons’ Gentlemen Of The Road tour. While all of the in-fighting lends to the show’s personality, the conflict tends to undercut its potential. [SM]

WTF With Marc Maron #295: JB Smoove 
“Interview” isn’t quite the right word to describe this installment of WTF, as Maron’s slice of the conversational pie chart is tiny; but his encounter with actor and comedian J.B. Smoove is certainly entertaining, if not very enlightening. The chat starts off with a rambling riff by Smoove on the differences between “fiddlers and fixers,” a theme he often returns to in his frequent use of extended analogies and metaphors. Maron does manage to squeeze in a few questions about Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louis C.K., and in the end, Smoove emerges from the conversation giving the impression of a man gracious and grateful for his experiences in showbiz, if a tad prolix. [CZ]


Comedy Bang! Bang! #166: Farts And Procreation 2: Adam Scott, Harris Wittels, Chelsea Peretti
Sequels: so alluring, so hard to do well. CBB tries to recreate the magic of  episode 120 with Parks And Recreation’s Adam Scott, Harris Wittels, and Chelsea Peretti (who has since left the show), but doesn’t pull it off. [KR]

Monday Morning Podcast
Another batch of unusual listener emails provokes amusing responses from Burr, but it’s not quite enough to make the whole episode much better than average. [CG]

Sklarbro Country: Sklarbro County 7 
The “county” lives and dies on the riffable strengths of its stories, and this week’s episode is a mixed bag, though the Sklars, Dan Van Kirk, and guest Matt Braunger score solid laughs from news of a baby-racing competition. [ST]

Stop Podcasting Yourself #225: Nancy Robertson
This week’s “Overheards” are solid, as is Corner Gas star Nancy Robertson, who chats about summer, raccoon run-ins, and how much credit Art Garfunkel deserves for Simon & Garfunkel. [DXF]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Prisoner Princess: Sophia Dorothea Of Celle
“The Königsmarck Affair” is a part of a “Summer Two-Timing Princesses” series. Fans of princess drama will love it; that should be about it, though. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: What Happened To The Lost Colony At Roanoke? (Update)
This episode is technically a rerun with an admittedly compelling 5-minute updated analysis of the Virginea Pars map. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: Geysers: Nature’s Innuendo
Co-host Chuck Bryant has a funny moment describing the viewing period of a famous geyser, but mostly it’s a lot of dry steam talk. [DT]

Uhh Yeah Dude #329
Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli just don’t have it in ’em to kick aging punkers The Offspring when they’re down, in this affable, mild-mannered episode. [CW]

Who Charted? #84: Podcuddle: Chris Gore
There are few love affairs more enduring than the one that Attack Of The Show’s Chris Gore has with the sound of his own voice. [MS]

WTF With Marc Maron #294: Tony Millionaire 
Cartoonist Tony Millionaire and Marc Maron have an enjoyable, drama-free rapport in this banter-y discussion about art and life, but those unfamiliar with Millionaire may be left confused about the nature of his work. [CZ]

You Made It Weird #64: Dov Davidoff
Dov Davidoff’s emotional detachment—especially compared to recent guests—keeps this (relatively) short episode from ever becoming particularly engaging. [CG]

You Made It Weird #65: Mike Burns
Pete Holmes and fellow Chicago ex-pat Mike Burns have a nice, familiar rapport, especially when it comes to their conversation about loneliness; but for the most part this episode lacks much in the way of insight. [GK]