Joseph Gordon-Levitt charms Nerdist and Gilbert Gottfried is unrepentant on WTF

Joseph Gordon-Levitt charms Nerdist and Gilbert Gottfried is unrepentant 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. 

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“The fact that the [United Nations] General Assembly is in America is a great example of freedom of speech in itself, because throughout the history of the U.S., it’s basically meant inviting all the leaders of the world to come to your country and talk shit about you to your face.” —John Oliver, The Bugle

“I don’t think we have enough AMCs around here to take advantage of that [deal].”
“You don’t have enough to AM-seize on that opportunity? The reason I said that is to highlight how much I haven’t been doing that the rest of this show.” —Myq Kaplan testing Jimmy Pardo’s “no puns” rule, Never Not Funny

“Rat transit. They’re gonna be so big you can put a fucking saddle on them. These rats are gonna be so fucking big and so fast you can ride ’em. Ride it to Portland. Jump on the five and ride that rat.” —Seth Romatelli on the upshot to Seattle’s coming “ratpocalypse.”

“There is one scene where Kathy Bates cooks [Kate Hudson’s character] a steak—that’s the closest the movie has to having any stakes.”—Elliott Kalan on A Little Bit of Heaven, The Flop House

“It’s hard to describe; it’s like taking a bite of fart air.” —Michael Ian Black describes halva, Mike And Tom Eat Snacks

“I just like winks, nods, laying a finger aside of your nose. It’s not just for traveling up chimneys.” —Paul F. Tompkins, The Pod F. Tompkast

“Charlie Brown’s teacher was the original dubstep.” —Howard Kremer, Who Charted?

NEW (TO US)

Throwing Shade
Fans of Will & Grace who wish they could listen to Jack and Karen discuss major issues as well as everyday minutiae will find much to love in Throwing Shade. If that situation sounds like one of the outer circles of hell, then this podcast is not for you. Lacking any sort of filter, UCB veterans Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi are equal-opportunity offenders, discussing current events with a politically incorrect sense of humor. The two cover a broad variety of material, and in the last month, their conversation topics have ranged from Ella Fitzgerald to gay-marriage laws. They have great banter, often taking potshots at the other’s expense, but their conversations frequently stray off topic. The best moments are when Gibson and Safi become passionate about a serious political issue, like Representative Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, which allows them to focus their shared cattiness on a single topic. Their aggressively energetic personalities give the show a bit of a morning shock-jock feel, if shock jocks spent even more time talking about genitals. [OS]


OUTLIERS

The Farm Dreams Farmcast
Managed by Dusty Bottoms, a man intent on sustainable living and bad puns, Farm-Dreams.com hosts a social community of users, bloggers, and podcasters interested in agriculture and the opportunities for self-sufficiency it provides. Hosted by Tim and Liz Young, its flagship podcast curates that content into easily digestible segments, plus experiential commentary and a touch of Southern warmth. While the podcast has much to offer the aspiring farmer, some segments share sensible information everyone should know. Advice ranges from how to prepare food and supplies in the event of a natural disaster, to how it’s possible—and lately, smart—to preserve bacon by canning. Episode #13 addresses the controversy of genetically modified crops, and how GMOs can affect the population in unseen ways. As the developed world “evolves” and becomes more urbanized, podcasts like The Farm Dreams Farmcast are a welcome reminder of where humans have been, and why where we’re headed shouldn’t have to be much different. [SM]


THE BEST

The Best Show On WFMU
Best Show host Tom Scharpling has no problem using his show to stoke the flames of his celebrity feuds. His notorious slight from Monkees drummer Mickey Dolenz has been a source of frustration for years, and more recently he’s engaged in Twitter spats with Garry Shandling and Chuck Woolery. Woolery’s far-right political leanings come into question on the show this week, as Scharpling breaks down the details of the ongoing saga. Later in the episode, Jon Wurster calls in as Mitt Romney’s campaign manager with a shocking behind-the-scenes look at the presidential race. All in all, it’s an excellent Best Show, but the absence of rising puppet star Gary The Squirrel might be somewhat troubling for loyal fans of felt-based humor. [AF]

The Bugle #207: UN-believable
This week’s episode of The Bugle hits the ground running with John Oliver eulogizing the band LMFAO, much to the delight of co-host Andy Zaltzman. After this brief memorial, the pair does what they do best: tackling political affairs. This week, it’s the recent U.N. General Assembly in New York, which provides plenty of world leaders and ridiculous platforms for the co-hosts to mock. Even President Obama—who skipped all meetings with other world leaders and appeared on The View instead—doesn’t escape their satirical wrath, particularly with regards to the U.S. drone strikes. As usual, the second half of the episode, featuring an entertaining bit about England’s upcoming church elections, is strong but still pales in comparison to the strong first half. [MG]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #178: Motor Boating Around Town: Rob Corddry, Jessica St. Clair
There are no guarantees in improv, but on Comedy Bang! Bang!, rare is a dud show that features Andy Daly, Paul F. Tompkins, or Jessica St. Clair. As perpetually AWOL intern Marissa Wompler—womp it up!—St. Clair brings a bubbly, giggling, and increasingly perverse presence to the podcast. (She claims being on her period makes her work blue during this episode.) Wompler has an extra sparkle of chemistry with Childrens Hospital’s Rob Corddry, whose game-for-anything style makes him a natural for Comedy Bang! Bang! Considering no one mentions Childrens Hospital’s Emmy win, this episode must have been recorded at least a couple of weeks ago, which is a shame—this trio could’ve had fun with the show’s improbable win. [KR]

The Dana Gould Hour: Occult-O-Rama!
Veteran podcaster Doug Benson joins The Dana Gould Hour’s distinguished panel of cerebral smartasses for the first time, as the podcast explores the shadowy world of cults and the charismatic folks who inspire them; but as usual, it’s the quick-witted hosts who scores the biggest laughs. Gould is particularly cutting and hilarious when contemplating some of the less-remarked-upon indignities of being part of Hugh Hefner’s harem, like having to listen to Hef drone on and on about how funny Don Adams is or discuss a marathon conference call with Sergio Aragones’ widow. (It’s worth noting that Aragones is still alive.) This episode isn’t just funny; it’s also philosophical (there’s a great riff pondering if Christ was actually crucified to keep him from becoming a narcissistic asshole) and educational, particularly a fascinating Gould monologue about the intense friendship between Aleister Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard. [NR]

The Flop House #111: A Little Bit Of Heaven
The Flopcasters manage to mine an absurd amount of humor out of the unintentionally absurd Kate Hudson “ass cancer” rom-com A Little Bit of Heaven. They’re aided by the film’s insane flourishes, such as the protagonist’s colon cancer repeatedly being referred to as “ass cancer,” a turn by Whoopi Goldberg as God, and a little-person gigolo who bears the title of the film as his nickname. All three hosts have quite a lot of energy considering how bored they were with the film, and that keeps even the slightly less funny sections of the episode (which are few and far between) completely engaging, resulting in a strong episode overall. [CG]

Hang Up And Listen: The Live From Washington D.C. Edition
Whenever the HUAL crew do a live show, they pull out all the stops, which means special guests, Q&A sessions with prize giveaways, and a 1000 percent increase in shameless audience mock-pandering. For their D.C. show, their special guest is Washington Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff, hot off snatching victory from the jaws of ignominy on Sunday, when he kicked the game-winning field goal after missing three straight. Cundiff has a healthy perspective about the journeyman life of the place-kicker, and the hosts are not shy about asking him to reflect on low moments. The Afterball segments are a hoot, too, with Stefan Fatsis and a guest accordionist leading the crowd in a Washington Senators sing-along and Josh Levin bringing them down another delightful web-browsing rabbit hole, unearthing a rap song by a famously corpulent ’80s relief pitcher. [ST]

The Moth: Jessica Lee Williams And Don Ray Smith: StorySLAM Favorites
There’s a nice metaphysical balance in this pair of short Moth entries. One storyteller talks about discovering his better, less-racist self, and the other talks about finding her weirdly selfish side. Jessica Lee Williams recounts how her inner vanity emerged as she battled with a friend over who could take better care of a wayward street prostitute—which is only funny in that “I’m a bad person” way, but that’s a good surprise in the Moth context. Don Ray Smith, in his tale about living in a segregated Louisville, says a lot more by seizing on just a single scene from his childhood, deftly using his short time to capture how much changed within that short moment. [SG]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #122: In Your Tarzan Boy
It’s hard not to get spoiled by the consistency with which My Brother, My Brother And Me stands head and shoulders above most other comedy podcasts, and for that reason, this week’s episode, in which at least a few bits never exactly take off, is somewhat underwhelming. Considered in the larger scheme of things, however, it’s still a solid piece of comedy. There’s enough funny scattered throughout to keep the episode afloat, and it’s worth listening to, but it’s simply not a great representation of the extent of the McElroy brothers’ talents, and it can be hard to forget that while listening and simply enjoy it for what it is. [CG]

Nerdist #264: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Hot on the heels of Looper’s release, Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins Chris Hardwick for an interview that covers a lot of ground and finds ways to balance humor with a solid look at Gordon-Levitt’s acting method. The interview doesn’t start strong, but once Hardwick and Gordon-Levitt lock in with each other, they’re able to effortlessly discuss the difficulty of playing emotionally heavy roles, the merits of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as the death of Gordon-Levitt’s brother, Daniel. Their rapport makes the episode effective and informative, but the potential to dig deeper is cut short by a conclusion that seems to come all too soon. [DA]

Nerdist #265: Rich Sommer Returns
Much like Mike Birbiglia’s return visits to Nerdist, Chris Hardwick and company’s second time with Mad Men’s Rich Sommer proves to be a lighthearted, joke-based endeavor. In the show’s introduction, Hardwick makes note of the fact that it was recorded at the start of summer and is just now being released, but being a bit dated doesn’t denigrate the episode’s charm. The riffs are evergreen, and as the interview progresses, the rapport between Sommer and the hosts only grows. The episode is strong throughout, but Jonah Ray closing anecdote about Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich downloading music at a party caps the episode with one last punch of humor. There’s little in the way of Mad Men insight, but the episode is highly effective all the same. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1115: Seating Arrangements With Myq Kaplan
“The Fastest Hour In Podcasting” has long since eclipsed that mark, with this season steadily pushing past the typical 90-minute runtime. Thankfully, the quality of episode tends to dictate the quantity, and even at over two hours, this week’s episode could double in length and still leave listeners wanting more. The room has a deep roster this week: Myq Kaplan is joined by his Please Be Seated partner Micah Sherman; Pardo offers a seat to Ross, a British Never Not Funny fan; and new intern Garon Cockrell is quickly making his presence felt. This gives the conversation a palpable party vibe, with the combined laughter and digressive asides feeding into the infectious giddiness. Other than the incredible firsthand account of the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavor, it’s a charmingly silly episode throughout, as Kaplan’s talented wordplay delights Matt Belknap to no end, and forces Pardo to retract his “no pun” rule. [SM]

[pagebreak]

Sklarbro Country #114: Who Wants Pepperoni?: Brad Meltzer, James Adomian
Brad Meltzer is a best-selling thriller writer in the vein of John Grisham, but he was chosen as a guest to Sklarbro Country less because of his credentials as an author than because of his long friendship with the Sklars and his minor contributions to some of their most beloved projects. It doesn’t hurt that Meltzer is also related through marriage to Miss Elizabeth of  wrestling fame. Meltzer is a game and amusing guest, and the podcast closes with a funny phone call from James Adomian’s Tom Leykis. As Leykis, Adomian sounds like he’s choking on his own bile as he waxes hilariously misogynistic about his ideas for improving the WNBA by removing women from the equation. [NR]

Stop Podcasting Yourself Bonus Episode: Live With Dan Mangan, Alicia Tobin, And Kevin Lee
Recorded live at the Olio arts festival, this bonus edition of Stop Podcasting Yourself plays like a talk show, and it’s the rare episode in which the guests impact the conversational flow. The hosts and Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter Dan Mangan riff on LMFAO and conclude with an unplugged snippet of Savage Garden’s “I Want You.” Comedian Alicia Tobin brings one of the night’s winning “Overheard” reports, which details a mass-transit melee, a skater kid’s rad idea for a tattoo, and an anecdote that overlaps strippers and kids. Improviser Kevin Lee blends into the banter, but closes the show with a lively game of guessing whether food truck names are real or fake. The talk isn’t always linear, but the laughs per minute are high. [DXF]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: The Surprising Life Of Henry Ford: Part 2
Scott Benjamin, the co-host of CarStuff, returns to the studio with regular co-host Sarah Dowdey to cover the second half of Henry Ford’s life and career. And the second half is where things get really dicey, continuing from last week’s revelation that Ford angrily tore apart a prototype made without his permission. Essentially a hoarder, he not only over-purchased raw material, but also bought coal mines and erected the abandoned Connecticut-sized city “Fordlandia” in the Amazon rainforest, built to control rubber production. His paranoia escalated through spying on employees and straight to the brink of madness. The hosts take care to get the facts right, and the result is a surprisingly dark and fascinating portrait of America’s biggest name in automobiles. [DT]

This American Life #475: Send A Message
When an episode of This American Life tries too hard to shoehorn several tenuously related stories into a theme, it can sometimes go awry. But the strength of the first two stories this week more than makes up for a lagging back stretch. Leading things off is a story of correspondence between Galileo and Johannes Kepler. Galileo sent messages to Kepler about finding Saturn’s rings and theorizing the sun was the center of our solar system—messages he sent in anagram as a means of primitive copyright protection on his discoveries. Kepler misinterpreted these messages when trying to crack the code in Latin, but his incorrect transcriptions resulted in two astonishingly correct guesses: Mars has two moons, and Jupiter has a giant red spot. The second segment centers on a large family with a tradition of sending around a pair of pants or a small dress to pregnant women in the family, with incredible predictive powers. The theme may not connect all the segments, but those first two are oddly fascinating. [KM]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #90/SuperEgo: War Of Two Worlds, Part 8
The Thrilling Adventure Hour-on-SuperEgo experiment continues its hot streak. Once again, just focusing on something simple—and writing and improvising it as exhaustively as possible in a short time—makes the alien-invasion tale pop. This one goes the potential-dead-horse route by riffing on the hostile aliens’ fatal weakness, a nut allergy. Naturally there’s a rambling appearance from “defrocked President Jimmy Carter” and, less naturally, there’s Booker T. Washington. The key is all the dumb, accidental ways in which people discover the allergy, giving each little riff a story, but not too much of one. [SG]

Uhh Yeah Dude: #341
A little sluggish out of the gate, episode 341 of UYD quickly finds its legs, with Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli swapping sad stories of beautiful ravers blinded by toxic sludge, wives wasted by vials of acid, and Larroquette’s erstwhile career as a theme-song composer. Larroquette’s anecdotes are always entertaining, but they’re also important for maintaining the illusion of UYD: that you’re just shooting the shit with your funny friends—even if you don’t know exactly what they do to make their rent each month. When Larroquette tells a story about his dad, standing in the kitchen nude and strapped with a firearm, it’s impossible not to feel the closeness. [CW]

Walking The Room #123: Santeria Fixins And Bad Soccer Dad
As Walking The Room earns acclaim and breeds higher-profile gigs, its successes have a tendency to be undercut by quintessential drawbacks. For instance, Dave Anthony’s nomination for a Webby award amounts to little more than a consolation prize useful only to undocumented immigrants. Greg Behrendt’s band, The Reigning Monarchs, has garnered enough interest for a documentary, but to finance it, he’s been forced to resume his stand-up career and take gigs in undesirable locations like Florida. That these bits provide the episode’s biggest laughs is an interesting, cannibalistic dilemma: The more successful the co-hosts’ career, the more opportunities they’ll have to squander that success, which feeds their appetite for self-deprecation and gallows humor, which makes for better episodes. With both hosts so committed to the podcast and its surrounding community, it’s almost counterintuitive to seek untarnished success. Fortunately, it’s probably not a concern. [SM]

Who Charted? #96: Vegan Jock: Graham Elwood
It should come as no surprise that noted cinephile and comedian Graham Elwood derails much of the music-chart portion of this episode into movie talk. His stints as a frequent Doug Loves Movies guest as well as host of his own Comedy Film Nerds podcast evidence his knowledge of and passion for movies. But Elwood still has a lot of fun during the music discussion, describing the broad romantic comedy soundtrack that one of the song picks would occupy. Naturally, Elwood really comes alive during the movie chart, especially when he discusses the triumphs of The Master and the failures of the Jake Gyllenhaal vehicle End Of Watch. [MS]

WTF With Marc Maron #319: Loren Bouchard
Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard cut his teeth on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, then co-created the cult UPN/Adult Swim series Home Movies, among other projects, before starting his new show on Fox. But in his hour with Marc Maron, Bouchard reveals none of it would’ve happened if he hadn’t met one of his former middle-school teachers at a crossroads in his life at age 23. That chance encounter led him to animation and he never looked back. Bouchard and Maron’s discussion ranges from why stand-up comedians are often great voice actors to rediscovering the greatness of Looney Tunes with the benefit of drugs. It’s an engaging hour despite Maron’s initial admission that he’s not much of an animation guy. [KM]

WTF With Marc Maron#320: Gilbert Gottfried
After a bit of “Where did you grow up?” small talk, Marc Maron and Gilbert Gottfried get right to the elephant in the room: Gottfried losing his role as the Aflac duck after some “too soon” (to some) Tweets about the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Gottfried’s not exactly penitent, which makes for a rich discussion about the age of comedians being forced to tread lightly lest they face the outrage of the Internet. Gottfried (who either does not break character or simply is his character) comes off not so much bitter as he does an older, wealthy comedian comfortable speaking his mind, as he discusses his unhappy time at SNL and his suspicion that a touchy Jerry Seinfeld was a one-time Scientologist. [CZ]

You Made It Weird: Live At L.A. Riot Festival
The L.A. Riot Festival edition of You Made It Weird gets off to a bit of a slow start but builds momentum quickly. The live show is filled with highlights, from Pete Holmes playing a strangely beautiful background music for an anti-depressant commercial to guest Harris Wittels good-naturedly lampooning the host by rattling off some of Holmes’ tweets that qualify as Humblebrags. (Not coincidentally, Wittels is promoting a Humblebrag book that compiles those statements that combine self-deprecation with self-aggrandizement, but definitely fall closer to the self-aggrandizement side of the equation.) Throw in a lively James Adomian doing Paul Giamatti, Todd Glass, and Marc Maron, and you have a solid live podcast that doesn’t wear out its welcome. [NR]


THE REST

Doug Loves Movies: Charlie Hodge, Matt Bearden and Tim League
Tim League might be a lovely gentleman who owns some cool venues in Austin, but damn if he isn’t a boring Doug Loves Movies guest. [MS]

How Was Your Week #82 “Lapland”: Jon Ronson
A career-spanning interview with author, documentarian, and radio host Jon Ronson gets a boost from Julie Klausner’s ability to make an interesting yet dry conversation engaging and humorous. [DF]

Judge John Hodgman: The Mother Tongue
Judge Hodgman and his guests get into the issue of how best to raise a child in a bilingual household, specifically when one parent knows as little of the second language as the child, but the episode never quite springs to life, despite a welcome detour into Esperanto. [ST]

The J.V. Club #30: Jennifer Finnigan
Janet Varney’s interview with friend/neighbor/actress Jennifer Finnigan takes a bit too much time getting to the adolescence conversation, but once it does, it’s a great discussion of French nuns, good Halloween neighborhoods, and terrifying old children’s movies. [OS]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #80: Chris Gore
Chris Gore has a podcast that replays his guest spots on other podcasts, so his oddly boastful appearance here can be skipped twice. [TC]

Mike And Tom Eat Snacks #70
In an episode that sees Mike and Tom thoroughly unimpressed by the week’s user-submitted snack, the duo spend more time working on half-cocked riffs than truly entertaining their viewers. [DA]

Monday Morning Podcast
With the quasi-exception of a listener email that baffles Bill Burr and was likely totally made-up, this week’s episode is roundly forgettable. [CG]

Nerdist #263: Sara Watkins
Although the format of half-music, half-interview is engaging, this episode never settles into itself. The interview segments are often not deep enough, and Watkins’ performances—as well as the presence of guest host Paul F. Tompkins—are not enough to save the episode. [DA]

The Pod F. Tompkast #18
Episode 18 is by no means bad—it lies on a continuum somewhere between Podmass’ poles—but it doesn’t quite measure to its predecessors, or perhaps the anticipation from a five-month layoff. The Great Undiscovered Project is short and uneventful, the discussion with Jen Kirkman is especially mundane, and the episode just feels a little underwhelming on the whole. Advice To The Probably Dead is quite funny, though, so maybe just skip to the 28:20 mark. [KR]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County 19: Tom Segura, Dan Van Kirk
When the best part of a Sklarbro County episode is the minute-long fake voicemail from Mark Wahlberg pitching a movie about NFL replacement refs that also happens to mash-up all of his previous hit movies, it’s not a good sign for the rest of the show. The police blotter commentary is still funny, it’s just not as sharp as usual. [KM]

Sound Opinions #357: Sound Opinions Live With Japandroids, Green Day And The XX Reviews
This episode’s concert recording of Japandroids doesn’t quite capture the nice mix of growl and sparkle heard on the band’s recent album, Celebration Rock, and the hosts trip up the interview with a clunky question about why the band’s music is “ugly.” [SG]

Stop Podcasting Yourself #237: Ross Dauk
A chat with Ross Dauk, comedian and roommate of co-host Graham Clark, delivers few revelations, though a backlog of “Drunk Dials”—rambling calls from drunken fans—proves irresistible, like an inebriated, affable partygoer. [DXF]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Bloomers And Beyond: A History Of Underwear
Guest co-host Holly Frey of PopStuff is up for the dense format of SYMIHC, but this episode has trouble getting a handle on a too-broad swath of history. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: Subways: HUH! What Are They Good For?
The subways of the world are intriguing in their differences, but focusing on just one would have helped. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Whiskey Runners Worked
Although moonshine is an amusing topic (with ties to NASCAR), the brevity it’s treated with here makes it seem stale. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #66: Tom Martin
The second part of the Tom Martin episode picks up considerable momentum after last week’s slower installment, but it still falls just short of being memorable. [MS]

You Made It Weird #88: Sean Patton
While Pete Holmes’ conversation with comedian Sean Patton delivers on the podcast’s promise of weirdness—including in-depth discussions of sexual choking and the word “cunt,” plus the unfortunate phrase “jizz pimple”—it’s not nearly enough to sustain the whopping two-and-a-quarter-hours runtime. [GK]