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Jeff Garlin and Larry David podcast about nothing and Michael Keaton emerges on WTF

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. 


“As with most mistakes, this takes place in Portage, Indiana.” —Dan Van Kirk, Sklarbro Country

“Can I have a vodka, filled with vodka, with vodka?”—Greg Proops ordering a new drink, The Smartest Man In The World

“That’s why Japan is whipping our ass: because they don’t tweet at work.” —Jay Mohr, Mohr Stories

“What do they do with them? How much can you look at? What are you looking at? What is there to see? Yes, okay, I was fishing that day! Big shit! Look at us fishing! Who gives a fuck?!” —Larry David explains why he doesn’t take photos, By The Way, In Conversation With Jeff Garlin

“THIS IS STUPID! THIS IS MAYHEM! HOW DO YOU STAY CALM?!” —Ben Schwartz reaches his breaking point as Shelly Driftwood (Horatio Sanz) tells a crazy story, Comedy Bang! Bang!

“How many presidents do you think said to another guy, ‘I can’t believe we’re doing this in the White House?’” —Greg Behrendt, Walking The Room


By The Way, In Conversation With Jeff Garlin
In the world of comedy podcasts, Jeff Garlin is best known as a frequent guest on Doug Loves Movies, where his boisterousness has a way of dominating the other panelists. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; Garlin is a longtime comedian who’s best known as Larry David’s manager on Curb Your Enthusiasm, so he has expert comic chops—and his body-seizing laugh is infectious. For at least a year, Garlin has been staging a series of “conversation” events in L.A., where he and a guest have an easygoing chat onstage in front of an audience. Garlin has stressed they’re not interviews, and his guests generally aren’t promoting anything, so there’s less of a chance of familiar answers and anecdotes told elsewhere being repeated. As Garlin told Entertainment Weekly, he was never sure what he was going to do with recordings of the events, until Earwolf Media (home to Podmass heavy-hitters Comedy Bang! Bang!, Sklarbro Country, Who Charted?, and many others) approached him about doing a podcast.

As such, By The Way, In Conversation With Jeff Garlin definitely feels like a live event recording and less of a podcast per se: He plays to the audience, not listeners. In his excellent conversation with Larry David, the podcast’s première episode, there’s a fair amount of physical action that will be lost on listeners. But the chat is so good that it’s not an issue. Episode one plays like a bonus Curb Your Enthusiasm, with Larry David being Larry David—which is to say, hilarious. We could have filled all of the quotes section this week with his quips and stories, but we won’t spoil them all here. As fans of Curb know, he and Garlin have excellent chemistry, which holds up even when Garlin praises David effusively. Garlin knows what makes his boss tick, and he knows just the right sort of questions to ask. Their conversation is loose and comfortable, with lots of the sort of mundane tangents people would expect from David. It’s not a career-spanning, “talk about your craft” kind of thing, but rather the type of chat where Garlin and David will discuss for several minutes why David has never taken a photo. To revisit a familiar theme, it’s a podcast about nothing—and it’s great. Here’s hoping subsequent episodes, which arrive bi-weekly, are just as good. [KR]


Nothing To Write Home About
Matt Pryor’s career in music has been rather diverse, but as the lead singer of The Get Up Kids, he’ll always be inextricably linked to the late-’90s emo explosion. As he’s transitioned into the role of singer-songwriter, he’s also ventured into the world of podcasting with Nothing To Write Home About (a reference to Get Up Kids’ 1999 album, Something To Write Home About). In the podcast’s short lifespan, Pryor has fostered a place for musicians and music-industry veterans to open up about both the joys and the struggles of working in such a rapidly changing art form. Thus far, Pryor has welcomed friends from bands as divergent as Coalesce and New Found Glory, getting his guests to open up and speak candidly in a way that most music podcasts don’t manage. With episodes dropping weekly—and the supplemental “Tuesdays With Reggie” episodes where Pryor chats with Get Up Kids keyboardist and Reggie And The Full Effect bandleader James Dewees—Nothing To Write Home About reaches out to aging music fans not by pandering, but through self-awareness and a wealth of worthy anecdotes and guests. [DA]


The Best Show On WFMU
The Best Show On WFMU kicks off 2013 off with a bang, as host Tom Scharpling starts out this week’s episode with the New York Podcast Festival in his crosshairs. After he bemoans the weak lineup and his non-inclusion in the festival, comedian Todd Barry calls up and the two riff for several hilarious minutes on the ridiculous Chicago Tribune article defending hecklers. Barry’s calls are always entertaining, but Jon Wurster’s scripted call as Tom’s father quickly steals the show. The highlight of the call comes when Papa Scharpling rattles off a list of fake designer drugs he’s taken, which include “Mink Juleps,” “Wet Bigfoot,” and “Medieval Canoe Explosion.” Near the end of the show, Scharpling poses a question for the ages: What would happen if GG Allin replaced Elvis? Unfortunately, it doesn’t have enough time to get off the ground. [AF]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #192: GoodFelines: Ben Schwartz, Horatio Sanz
Like Harris Wittels, Ben Schwartz is a good sparring partner for Scott Aukerman, who delights in shutting down the actor (House Of Lies, Parks And Recreation), mispronouncing the name of his show, and generally getting all the details of his life incorrect. Schwartz and Aukerman have an easy, funny rapport, and Schwartz always plays well with the characters who show up on Comedy Bang! Bang! This time it’s Shelly Driftwood (Horatio Sanz), a laid-back California guy with a penchant for setting up good anecdotes that go nowhere. Sanz’s character takes a while to get going, but he gets funnier, especially as Schwartz gets more exasperated with him. [KR]

The Fogelnest Files #17: Twitter IRL
This week’s episode is unusual in that it succeeds almost in spite of Jake Fogelnest’s usual hosting methods. His prompts largely fall flat or prove unproductive as gag-starters, and unlike other shows in which the video clips are optional supplements, his selections this time around have a visual component that makes it difficult to fully enjoy the subsequent riffing without also watching the material being discussed. Nonetheless, guests Megan Amram, Billy Eichner, and Danny Zuker, all of whom have gained popularity through their Twitter accounts, keep things alive more through the creation of a vivacious atmosphere than through the consistent delivery of solid jokes. Though the peaks aren’t as high as they would be had this been a more routine-driven show, the reward is of a mellower sort. [AB]

Hang Up And Listen: The Partying Through Pain Edition
In late November, the HUAL crew scored an interview with Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, a front-office person widely respected for embracing statistical analysis in putting his teams together. In the last draft, Morey made a big risk by picking Royce White in the middle of the first round: White is a major talent, but suffers from a severe anxiety disorder, and relations between the team and White have worsened lately, with the player refusing assignment to the team’s D-League affiliate and the Rockets pointing to a breach of contract. With that as background, HUAL talks this week with White, who proves thoughtful (if vague) about his struggles with mental illness and the struggles of others to understand it. Another highlight: Stefan Fatsis slipping into his “sportocrat” voice for a hilariously damning “Afterball” on the many dumb quotes of FIFA head Sepp Blatter. [ST]

How Was Your Week #96: “Exactly Like a Cornish Hen”: Starlee Kine, Noah Garfinkel
One of the hallmarks of How Was Your Week is that Julie Klausner rarely seems to bring an agenda to interviews. Instead, Klausner converses with her guests, never lingering on any one topic or thread for too long. This approach can have mixed results: Some interviews weave nimbly between an impressive number of topics, while others can struggle to find a center amid all the back-and-forth. Klausner’s talk with comedian Noah Garfinkel starts off searching for a center, but eventually comes together when Garfinkel and Klausner try to one-up each other with tales of their experiences with Rent-A-Wreck. The second interview with Starlee Kine, which takes up ideas of autuership, is a focused and charming complement to Garfinkel’s segment. A discussion of Stanley Kubrick and his work—especially his use of music in A Clockwork Orange—is particularly compelling. [DF]

The J.V. Club #43: Erinn Hayes
Recorded the day after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Janet Varney’s conversation with Childrens Hospital star (and mom) Erinn Hayes begins with a tear-jerking discussion of the previous day’s events, signaling the start of one of the show’s most memorable episodes. There’s very little of the divergent small talk that usually begins the podcast, and their discussion of the shooting provides a perfect segue into discussing Hayes’ own childhood and adolescent experience. What begins in tears quickly transitions into introspective dialogue and riotous laughter as the women begin to reminisce about their relationships with their divorced parents, their respective self-image issues, and their horrible teenage poetry. It’s always a delight when guests bring in old photos and journals, and Varney is so astounded by the similarities between her memorabilia and Hayes’ that she even whips out one of her old notebooks to read some hilariously bad passages. [OS]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #95: Maria Bamford
Mental illness is hardly a new source of material for comedians, but few have managed to broach the topic with more depth and honesty than Maria Bamford. It’s a skill that makes Bamford an ideal (and overdue) guest for a program that requires as much candidness as The Mental Illness Happy Hour. Bamford, who has spoken openly for years about her struggles with mental illness, talks with Paul Gilmartin about a recent bipolar II diagnosis and ongoing suicidal thoughts that led to hospitalization. While the topics remain dark, the episode never turns into a difficult listen, as Gilmartin lets Bamford tell her story at her own pace without interjecting too often or pushing too hard for details. Bamford’s insight, decency, and willingness to be completely vulnerable make this episode one of the best in the program’s run and an excellent starting point for those who haven’t given the show a chance yet. [TC]

Monday Morning Podcast
Bill Burr gets off on the wrong foot at the top of this week’s episode with a bit on a TED Talk that isn’t quite funny enough to transcend its screamingly stupid premise. That he follows it up shortly afterward with a story that mostly falls flat and is conveyed in (probably unintentionally) transphobic language doesn’t help matters, either. But the show makes a decided turn for the better when Nia pops in for the last 45 minutes or so. She proffers her two cents on some listener letters, but as usual, her interaction with Burr carries the episode. Burr alludes fairly often to his subpar reading abilities, and that pays off nicely when he completely botches a sentence immediately after explaining how the public school system failed him. It’s funny and endearing all at once, and easily the highlight of a mostly strong episode. [CG]

The Moth: Jim Bennett And Rebecca Addelman: StorySLAM Favorites
The two completely unrelated short takes on this Moth installment balance each other out. In the first, Jim Bennett recalls being a gay-rights activist traveling through Iowa and stopping off to enjoy a local restaurant’s supposedly legendary “ham balls.” (The takeaway: The locals aren’t really against him, they’re “just here for the balls.”) Rebecca Addelman’s story about her brother’s medical travails is just as funny, but also takes advantage of the StorySLAM format to sketch a fond and powerful memory. [SG]

Nerdist #304: Timothy Olyphant
Timothy Olyphant has often played threatening characters, but his Nerdist interview pulls down those preconceptions. Olyphant’s jovial demeanor meshes well with that of the show’s hosts, and his ability to riff with them makes the nearly 90-minute conversation consistently enjoyable. Beyond looking back at his career, Olyphant offers up the lessons he’s learned without ever being self-aggrandizing. The episode rightfully spends a good chunk of time discussing his recent television work, and his tales of working with David Milch on Deadwood are interesting for fans of the show as well as those interested in getting a look at Milch’s unconventional methods. [DA]

Nerdist #305: Anthony Jeselnik
Anthony Jeselnik is comedy’s equivalent of shrapnel: a burst of offense in all directions, singeing anything and everything in the surrounding area. Here he joins Chris Hardwick and Jonah Ray for an episode that sees comedians with polar-opposite approaches openly discussing their form, all the while leaving enough room for Jeselnik to insert his signature acidic wit. Jeselnik discusses his work on various Comedy Central roasts, how he came to be the acerbic presence he is today, and how he drew a great deal of inspiration from Jack Handy. The comedians go back and forth between discussions of style and easy riffing, and the insights gained prove just striking as the jokes themselves. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1201: Ringing In The New Year With Andy Daly
There are several moments in this week’s episode where Jimmy Pardo admits he has nothing to add, as Andy Daly has already made the perfectly phrased joke. Even passing comments like, “Oh, I love it” elicit bursts of laughter from the studio, a testament to how much meaning Daly can imbue into a single line. That Daly gets laughs so effortlessly acts as a bonus to a snappy conversation that—despite covering familiar ground with its key topics of family, inane celebrities, and haircuts—feels especially lively, even for a season opener. The episode’s also essential listening for fans of Daly, who’s been conspicuously absent from podcasts lately due to work on his upcoming show on Comedy Central, Review With Forrest MacNeil. [SM]


Sklarbro County #33: Lynn Shawcroft, Dan Van Kirk
After opening with a track from Austin indie band Okkervil River, the Sklar brothers get right into Lynn Shawcroft’s “lady energy” and her Canadian past, which involves terrible accents and a brief recap of Randy trying to cross the border with an expired passport. But the bulk of this week’s County is devoted to Dan Van Kirk’s wacky news pieces from around the country, the best of which is an altercation between two men named Hall and Oates. The stories are great fodder for the brothers’ laser-fast rapport, but the most hilarious moment of the podcast comes at the end, with a voicemail left by Van Kirk’s Mark Wahlberg concerning his older brother Donnie’s belief in the 2012 Mayan apocalypse. [NC]

The Smartest Man In The World  #191: Anemones
Greg Proops spends the podcast recapping 2012, especially the various celebrities who died in the past 12 months. The list is absurdly long, but Proops keeps the pace moving with quick asides and funny anecdotes about the recently departed. (His bit imagining Mike Wallace shit-talking Charon, the boatman of the river Styx, is especially hilarious.) This week is more varied than usual, including both the return of Kittens McTavish and a reading of Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo.” Proops ends the show with a meditation on “people of the year” and the better angels of our nature, a reminder that unheeded self-interest is an aberration, not a fact of human life. [NC]

Sound Opinions #371: A Sound Opinions Genre Dissection: Shoegaze
A breakdown of shoegaze is a daunting proposition: Those who already know and like the genre won’t find much they don’t already know, and people who don’t probably shifted away from shoegaze for a reason. But this is a fine summary discussion of Shoegaze 101, starting with roots as far back as The Velvet Underground, highlighting genre standard-bearer My Bloody Valentine and others like Ride and Lush, and moving to bands working today who were influenced by the early-’90s peak. And for all you aspiring music critics out there, DeRo and Greg go through some listener questions that address how many times to listen to an album for a review and the best listening environments. [KM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: The Bone Wars, Part 2
Deblina Chakraborty and Sarah Dowdey reveal “The Great Dinosaur Feud” this week, a competitive race between early paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. Chakraborty and Dowdey describe the men’s friendship and how it devolved into shady tactics in a race to become the most famous discoverer of dinosaur species. Marsh earned the nickname “The Great Dismal Swamp” for his poor treatment of employees, while Cope was known for being more gentlemanly. Unfortunately, both saw those ancient skeletons as their ticket to becoming historical legends and suffered the neurosis that comes with obsession. The men turn out to be as fascinating as more infamous rivals like Edison and Tesla. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Double Agent: James Armistead And The American Revolution
Deblina Chakraborty has a soft spot for spy stories, and this week she brings listeners the story of Virginia slave James Armistead, an American Revolution-era spy who reported on targets like Benedict Arnold. Though much of Armistead’s life remains a mystery as a result of his status as an enslaved person, his service as a spy is surprisingly well-documented and full of intriguing details. A spymaster among fellow slaves, his skills and charm helped make him a double agent for the British as well. Chakraborty and cohost Sarah Dowdey reveal Armistead to be an unlikely success story in a time of great violence and persecution. He was finally granted his freedom in 1787, but his life was full of adventure and unusual patriotism that make his story unique. [DT]

This American Life #350: Self-Improvement Kick
As we all struggle to hold on to the remainders of our New Years resolutions, this episode is almost a slam dunk. The prologue and first act on the theme of “self-improvement” are fascinating looks at the weird, painful lengths people will go to alter themselves in the sake of betterment (plastic surgery, shedding all earthly possessions and walking across the country in the name of God.) However, the third act loses steam; while a story about improving Honduras does technically fall under the show’s theme, a Planet Money report based on the pairing of a politician and a TED talk-giving economist lacks the color of the first two stories. [CZ]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #99: Sparks Nevada, Marshal On Mars: Sweet And Show Down
Patrick Warburton is so adept at adapting the tough-lug archetype to oddball comedy (from Seinfeld to Venture Bros.) that it’s surprising he’s not on Thrilling Adventure Hour all the time. After all, bending sturdy tropes to eccentric artistry is the whole point of the show. Here, Warburton’s turn as a robot villain helps to refresh the Sparks Nevada space-Western serial, as does the convenient trick of just pretending a little time has passed since the last installment. Chris Hardwick’s guest spot breathes new life into the series as well, literally resurrecting one of its comic standbys, the earnest-to-a-fault Martian Croach the Tracker. [SG]

Uhh Yeah Dude #354
A misguided attempt by the Louisville Slugger Museum to celebrate “the game’s steamiest superstars” with a Baseball Hotties exhibit gives Seth Romatelli the perfect prompt for some manic riffing, and episode 354 begins with a bang before settling into a more subdued—but still spirited—conversation about Uhh Yeah Dude standards like drug epidemics and Boy Scout abuse. The latter has been a recurring topic for months, and here it launches yet another enraged, excellent tirade by Jonathan Larroquette and Romatelli both, whose fixation on the plight of children seemingly increases the more they talk about how inept they would be as parents. [CW]

Walking The Room #137: Steve Agee And Caged Jesus
It’s clear early in this week’s episode that Steve Agee is a fan of Walking The Room, even without his inside-joke callbacks or admission of losing his shit listening to their story about carnies. For one, he supplies the kindling for two of the episode’s best riffs, the second of which—Jesus returns, only to be trapped by rednecks and forced to perform miracles for $10 a pop—spans segments and grows into a payoff worth weeks, if not months, of material. And not only does Agee share the hosts’ sensibilities, he tends to repeat or rephrase what he finds amusing, further encouraging extended riffs and generally bringing out the best in the hosts during later bits on food with racist names, alternative uses of crock pots, and men’s enduring need to be filthy. [SM]

Who Charted? #110: Single Guy Vibe: Adam Scott
Actor Adam Scott brings an appreciated change of pace to this episode with his laid-back charm and understated likeability. It’s this mellow demeanor that leads Kulap Vilaysack and Howard Kremer to describe Scott as having a “single-guy vibe” which will no doubt delight Scott’s wife and two children. Kremer and Vilaysack have a multi-faceted discussion with Scott, mainly covering some of the highs and lows of his onscreen career. However, the clear highlight of the episode includes an inspired impromptu bit where Scott launches into a self-important acting-coach character who is clearly fleecing his class of hopeful students, played by Kremer and Vilaysack. [MS]

WTF With Marc Maron #349: Michael Keaton
For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades, Michael Keaton remains mystifying and awesome (and he still talks like Matthew Perry’s version of him on SNL). We should all bow down and worship at the delightfully weird Church Of Keaton. Marc Maron’s winding preamble on how the interview came about is actually pretty interesting, and once Keaton sits down to talk, he and Maron just roll on for about 90 minutes. They cover Keaton’s youth in Pennsylvania, his early days working for Fred Rogers, his big breaks, and the rest of his career. It’s another example of Maron immediately building interview chemistry with a fascinating guest and flitting around from topic to topic, never losing momentum. [KM]

WTF With Marc Maron #350:Jakob Dylan
This is one of those interviews that probably wouldn’t sound too awkward if it weren’t for Marc Maron agonizing over its potential awkwardness at the top. Maron and Wallflowers frontman Jakob Dylan have a decent conversation about his career, musical influences, gear, and the various options old rock stars have when it comes to how they age. (Dylan points out that only Bruce Springsteen can be Bruce Springsteen and wonders what’s wrong with one-hit wonders relying upon their one hits?) However, Maron brings an unfortunate combination of being ill-at-ease and seemingly ill-prepared when it comes to asking Dylan about his famous father. While Dylan isn’t impolite when asked about Robert Zimmerman, he doesn’t exactly take the ball and run with Maron’s slightly vague, apologetic Bob-centric questions. [CZ]

You Made It Weird #114: Aziz Ansari
Pete Holmes’ extended chat with Aziz Ansari satisfies at least one rule of super-long interviews, which is that they should challenge a listener’s preconceptions of the subject. As the pair’s conversations about their careers sprawls out (despite Holmes repeatedly trying to talk about relationships), Ansari talks about finding some balance within the ambition and determination that comes through so clearly in his rapid-fire stand-up comedy. But the main attraction of bringing two such quick and strange comics together is the banter, and this episode is front-loaded with some of great instances of that. [SG]

You Made It Weird #115: Alison Becker
On the one hand, Pete Holmes’ sit-down with Alison Becker is in the “very long You Made It Weird Episode” vein, and before long there’s lots of potentially unwelcome talk about relationships and masturbating and so forth. But the episode starts strong anyhow, as Becker and Holmes encourage each other’s more hyper tendencies: Within 15 minutes, they’ve experienced three spontaneous outbursts of song, including one in goofy British accents. Sure, not all Pete Holmes fans are up for YMIW’s self-examining side, but they’ll likely enjoy the irrepressibly giddy energy of this episode. [SG]


Doug Loves Movies: Steve Lemme, Kevin Heffernan And John DiMaggio?
The first Doug Loves Movies episode of 2013 never quite recovers from Futurama star John DiMaggio’s no-show. Instead, we’re left with two guys from Broken Lizard and a whole lot of boring talk about award-season screeners. [MS]

Judge John Hodgman: Grow v. Blade
The title is perhaps the best thing about an episode that mulls over a husband-and-wife dispute over whether a 20-month-old boy should keep his long and lustrous hair or get it trimmed. Even by JJH standards, this case seems pretty minor. [ST]

Mohr Stories #121: Caroline Manzo
A rational perspective and calm demeanor have made New Jersey’s Caroline Manzo an isle of sanity in the Real Housewives reality TV continuum, and the grounded author/advice columnist/restaurateur contrasts the franchise’s different cities, dishes about behind-the-scenes machinations, and offers Zen advice for navigating a “post-Kardashian” online world. [DXF]

Mohr Stories #122: Jim Jefferies
In a spirited rap session with Mohr, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies delivers less dramatic—but equally hilarious—versions of stories from his HBO special and upcoming semi-autobiographical FX series, Legit. [DXF]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #135: TWENTY-DIRT
There are some good bits here—one about exchanging tickets at an arcade, another involving the word “wiener”—but not enough to justify listening to the whole episode. [CG]

Nerdist #303: Warren Ellis
Although author Warren Ellis is an excited, humorous guest, the interview is rather base-level, never digging too deep or offering any truly engaging stories or perspectives. [DA]

Professor Blastoff #86: Conspiracy Theories With Janeane Garofalo
This episode winds up finding both funny and critical ways to look at conspiracy theories of varying legitimacy, but the guest’s insistence on semantics and soapbox digressions bog down the skippable first half. [SM]

Sklarbro Country #128: Sklarbro Mixtape 2012: Matt Price, Jonah Ray, Jake Fogelnest
An episode dedicated to music may seem like a nice change of pace, but when that deviates from the typically hilarious stylings of the Sklar brothers and their guests, it’s not so much of a good thing. The brothers and their many guests count down song recommendations and dish about various musicians, but it’s not as strong as the usual programming. [KM]

Stuff You Should Know: What Was America’s First Terrorist Threat?
Listeners may find it interesting that pirates could be considered America’s first terrorist threat, but the episode spends most of its time laboring over this premise at the expense of going somewhere. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: Can You Outrun An Alligator In A Zig-Zag?
This episode is funny and full of interesting facts, but an early revelation that Mythbusters already debunked the topic makes continued listening feel less essential. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #83: New Year Show!
The first Todd Glass Show of 2013 feels a little phoned in. Hopefully this is the start of an upward trajectory for the coming year. [MS]