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Kumail Nanjiani to take on every episode of The X-Files in new podcast

The best podcasts for the week of May 31–June 6

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


“What? You’re gonna have gays in my locker room? Now I gotta stop jokingly fucking all these guys back here! My favorite thing to do is almost fuck a guy. Now I can’t do it!”—James Adomian, revealing the real reason straight athletes don’t want gay players in their locker rooms, Comedy Bang! Bang!

“I would appreciate everyone in the comment section of Podmass this week, just say, ‘Thank you. This show is inclusive and it hasn’t gotten too inside.’”—Jake Fogelnest, The Fogelnest Files

“I dunno. A society where you can’t Instagram but the government can? It just makes me nervous.”—Dan Harmon on the draconian ban on cell phones at an adult summer camp, Harmontown 

“I believe one of my electric eels have fallen into your lap. ‘Chop Chop Chop Time,’ as I always say.”—A Port-A-Potty sushi chef (Paul Rust), Improv4Humans

“You’re young people who are married without children—no wonder you’re having such an easy time finding meaningless garbage to fight over.”—John Hodgman, Judge John Hodgman

“About a thousand bats break away from the ceiling and come rushing past us. And these are not cute bats—these bats have bodies about the size of those little dogs that models in New York City carry around in their handbag.”—Dan Kennedy on his misguided effort to “live in the moment” by experiencing horror in a cave, The Moth

“Is this your first podcast?” 
“I don’t even know what a podcast is.”—Chris Hardwick and Morgan Freeman, Nerdist

“We’re the soup. We lost our pot.”—Pete Holmes on remaining optimistic after his recent cancellation, Nerdist

“Ten noteworthy floods a year. When we say noteworthy floods, we mean these squares… throughout the whole city, flood up to your knees.”—Josh Clark on the wetness of Venice, Stuff You Should Know

“Because everything’s going really well in my life, I’ve decided to reward myself with a deep, and very real, to me, cancer fear.”—Marc Maron, WTF


Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files

Those familiar with Kumail Nanjiani’s stand-up are probably aware the comic is vocal about The X-Files being his one great pop cultural obsession while growing up. He’s often referred to it as his Star Wars in terms of the fandom and devotion he’s directed toward the show, at least up until the sixth season or so when things with the central conspiracy plotline really begin to fall apart. Nanjiani would have to love the show given the fact that he started Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files, a podcast devoted a to analyzing every episode of a series that ran for nine seasons and had about 22 to 24 episodes per season.

Listeners who are expecting Nanjiani to spend an hour or so cracking jokes would do better with his other podcast The Indoor Kids. Instead, Nanjiani and guest Devin Faraci, of the movie site Badass Digest, share an incredibly in-depth and insightful discussion on the show’s pilot and second episode titled “Deep Throat.” It’s clear that Faraci shares Nanjiani insight and passion for all things Mulder and Scully. Nanjiani and Faraci do a great job of breaking down the tropes and plot devices that will eventually come to define the show dedicated to exploring government conspiracies involving alien invasion and the paranormal. Plus, Faraci gets points for dissecting one of Mulder’s defining character traits which is his pronounced porn addiction. They also echo some overwhelming fan sentiment as to why the show hasn’t re-emerged into the zeitgeist after its enormously influential run began 20 years ago.

Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files is definitely the kind of podcast that will entice fans and casual viewers of The X-Files to revisit the show with a more critical and appreciative eye. Hopefully, the first two episodes will also intrigue those who were never captivated the first time around to give The X-Files a second chance or a first-ever viewing. [MS]


How Did This Get Made?
Regular listeners have long been hounding hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas to turn around more episodes of their rotten-movie podcast per month, given that it’s a community favorite and remains one of the few bimonthly comedy shows. As Mantzoukas once put it early on to Doug Benson, they’ve heard the note and responded with fewer, but never without favorable reason. Most recently, when episodes slowed down to one per month, it was because Raphael and Scheer were preparing to have a child. As the gang inches toward the 100-episode mark, the riffs and walkthroughs are just as irreverent and hilarious as ever. As always, the actual question “How did this get made?” is put aside for more tangential fodder and a commitment to regularly producing special live episodes, which are typically the strongest, has helped things stay fresh. Here’s hoping something is in the works for the upcoming milestone. [DJ]  


Bonnie & Maude #22: Batman Returns: David Archer
Former guest David Archer is back on the show, just in time for this “Batman Podcrawl.” Over the next couple weeks, other podcasts will be tackling other movies in the series, but Bonnie & Maude kick things off with a in-depth discussion of everyone’s favorite character from the Tim Burton’s Batman Returns: Catwoman. Archer is quite the Catwoman expert, and gives a detailed history of her life in the comics and the silver screen (he even goes into the controversy in the genesis of Batman, and Crisis On Infinite Earths). Fascinating as it all is, the discussion takes its time to get to the movie itself. Nonetheless, hosts Eleanor Kagan and Kseniya Yarosh are game to take on the campy fun of the film. [NC]

Book Fight! Summer Of Shorts #1: Braverman And Bermudas
It’s the first of the summer short story episodes for Book Fight!, and the hosts Tom McAllister and Mike Ingram are still working out the kinks of what is actually a new show format. Covering short stories does present a new convenient way to enjoy this particular podcast: The discussion topic is small enough that a motivated listener could actually check the episode description, seek out the story, take the 20 minutes or so to read it if it’s readily accessible, form their own opinions, and then go back to the podcast having some idea what the hell these guys are going on about. In this case, it’s Kate Braverman’s “Tall Tales Of The Mekong Delta,” often lauded as one of the best short stories of the 20th century, an opinion the hosts clearly don’t share. What’s unclear is whether all the fashion and shorts-talk segments are an unformed bit they’re trying out or completely sincere. [ABa]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #290: Shed Busting: Todd Glass, James Adomian 
A lot of wildly unexpected things have happened on Comedy Bang! Bang! during its five-year run, but nothing as shocking as what occurs here: an actual serious, heartfelt conversation. Scott Aukerman channels his inner Marc Maron as Todd Glass and pseudo Comedy Bang! Bang! first-timer James Adomian (both of whom are gay) speak candidly about coming out within the close-knit comedy community, whether or not homosexuality is a choice, and the potential need for new public restroom arrangements. It’s strange to hear Aukerman ask genuine questions and even stranger to hear answers that are borderline philosophical, but the trio is still hilarious during the first half of the show—just in a far more acerbic way than listeners are accustomed to. The second half, however, is classic Comedy Bang! Bang! with a revealing visit from fledgling artist George W. Bush (Adomian) and a rapid-fire cavalcade of familiar characters that would make Andy Daly proud. [TK]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #291: Summer Haunted House: Bob Odenkirk, Adam Resnick, Neil Casey, Fran Gillespie
The hilarious first half of this b-b-b-bonus episode soars by as Scott Aukerman and Bob Odenkirk pal around with Adam Resnick, known for his cult-film Cabin Boy. Resnick’s low energy balances out with Odenkirk and Aukerman perfectly, and his self-deprecating humor stands out particularly when he laments over a botched reading from his recent collection of essays Will Not Attend. Somewhat abruptly, the three are joined by the Bixbys (Neil Casey and Fran Gillespie), a troubled husband and wife entrepreneurial team. Casey and Gillespie work wonderfully together as they promote their failing haunted hayride’s new summer hours. The two’s shortcomings, particularly Casey’s tendency to scare himself into submission, are brought into fine detail by Odenkirk and Aukerman’s inquisitive line of questioning. The difference between the two halves makes for a somewhat disjointed episode, but it’s not really an issue when each segment is as hilarious as the other. [MK]

Doug Loves Movies: Jay Chandrasekhar, Morgan Murphy, Eddie Pepitone, Matt Braunger, Rory Scovel
Could there be a better nickname for Eddie “Bitter Buddha” Pepitone? No matter how abrasively he yells or what degree of Andy Rooney rage he puts out in the world, he can’t help but radiate joy in front of an audience. The stand-up staple and Pep Talks host is a regular guest on the podcast circuit, but in his first round of Doug Loves Movies, he shows just how great of an outlet DLM is for his persona. Welcomed with a very warm reception from a boisterous house at Irving Plaza in New York City, Pepitone joins a panel of Los Angeles buddies for a solid extended episode. The discussion portion is as irreverent as the billing would suggest, but there’s a lot of great dialogue about current movies. With a panel this large, it’s inevitable that portions of the games turn into a bit of a clusterfuck, but a great round of Charlie Sheen edition of Last Man Stanton and an unusual Samm Levine-level of full-title diligence keeps things moving along. Even at 90 minutes plus, it’s a solid listen to the end. [DJ] 

The Fogelnest Files #92: Jake Fogelnest Flew First Class: Max Silvestri
Only two people who clearly adore each other can talk about one another in the way Jake Fogelnest and his guest Max Silvestri do. Everything is a simultaneously inside and inclusive joke in a constant game of one-upmanship to rib one another about otherwise inane shared experiences—like the time Silvestri sat in coach on Virgin Airlines and watched Fogelnest fly first class earlier in the day. The two of them could have just continued teasing for an entire hour and never moved on to the clips, but even their transition to plug Silvestri’s unintentionally topical new comedy album, King Piglet, brings the laughs. Fogelnest breaks out clips of twin goth cheerleaders covering Iggy Azalea, a bizarre college news station profile on a new student, and the YouTube behemoth “Hot Dog Condom Style” to round out a great, chaotic episode. [NJ]

Freakonomics: Failure Is Your Friend
This week’s episode begins with a personal story from Steven Levitt. It’s a nice twist on the typical format, because while Levitt usually spills a little bit of info about his life now and again on the show, he rarely tells anecdotes. The theme of the episode is failure, and how fear of failure stops people from greater success down the road. From the opening of a store in Shanghai to the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, Freakonomics shows how the incessant drive to hit all benchmarks on time, whether or not they’re done perfectly, can lead to disaster. The last chunk of the episode explores “pre-mortems,” or how a person can explore failure without actually having to fail, a strange case of having one’s cake and eating it too. [NC]

Harmontown #102: Sleepy Canyoneer
“Sleepy Canyoneer” turns out to be a rather apt title for this upbeat and relatively casual installment of Harmontown, one that feels refreshingly drama-free. Dan Harmon is downright upbeat and seemingly sober having just picked up fiancée Erin McGathy from a weekend excursion to an adult summer camp. Still “sunburned and woozy,” McGathy is onstage for about an hour of the 90-minute show, leading to a slightly more Erin-centric episode than usual. She basically fills in Harmon and Jeff Davis about what she did all weekend (including talk of a hunky astronomer and a horse story that Harmon gleefully refers to as a parable) before everyone reveals which movies make them cry. In keeping with the loose-but-fluid structure, Davis stumbles upon the titular canyoneer in the audience, which leads to a rousing discussion about repelling, coyotes in Los Feliz ,and perhaps the most coherent round of D&D on record. [TK]

How Was Your Week #170: Tara Ariano “Our Generation’s Nessie”
Skip this week’s scattered monologue, which is focused on Julie Klausner’s well-meant but not terribly funny resolution to be less mean. Instead, head straight to Klausner’s best interview in a while, in which she chats with Tara Ariano, proud owner of a Great Dane mix and the founder of Television Without Pity and Previously.TV, about, you guessed it, television. Their conversation covers the entire recent history of TV, from Ariano’s early experiences with The Simpsons newsgroups to the eternal debate of Friends vs. Seinfeld to how Julianna Margulies overcame Harvey Weinstein by starring in The Good Wife. The two don’t go terribly deep with their discussion of the craziest moments of this year’s new shows—beware of some serious spoilers for Black Mirror though—but they more than make up for it with their pitch-perfect skewering of contemporary television’s utter absurdity. After all, an android with a Ken-doll-style smooth groin is quite hilarious. [AH]

Improv4Humans #137: Porta Potty Sushi: Paul Rust, Neil Campbell, Mookie Blaiklock, Dan Klein
The best episodes of Improv4Humans often air when Matt Besser brings established partners on his show. Besser is skilled enough to improvise with just about anyone expertly, but the ensemble groups can be hit or miss. This week’s unendingly hilarious episode finds Dan Klein, Mookie Blaiklock and Paul Rust and Neil Campbell playing together. The Rust/Campbell pairing is well established in the podcast world (Comedy Bang! Bang! fans will recognize them as the “twinfamous” Bachelor Brothers), and Blaiklock is a veteran Improv4Humans utility player. The five delve into an hour-plus’ worth of comedy gold that’s often as disgusting as it is whip-smart. With ease, the group is able to do crass, as in the week’s titular scene involving a sushi chef in a Port-A-Potty, and smart with a neat character-based scene set in a collapsed basement. If these five ever reunite for a future episode, Improv4Humans would surely turn out another winner. [MK]

Judge John Hodgman #163: Backseat Jive
This week’s episode resolves another open-and-shut case, but card-carrying A.V. Club members should appreciate the conversation. The primary complaint involves a flagrant violation of a universally accepted social more: The driver dictates the vehicle’s environment—from stereo to temperature, especially on road trips. (Right?) Zaki is the designated chauffeur, but wife Michelle wants more control over the radio. With 24- and six-page playlists as evidence, the couple contrast their preferred listening material and its ramifications for their mutual safety. Between musical outbursts, Judge Hodgman considers acceptable ratios of Kanye West, foreign-language world music, NPR, passengers’ song vetoes, and learn-a-language tape requests. The conversation is worth of High Fidelity (which Hodgman cites early in the proceedings). Clearing the docket, Hodgman quickly addresses a complaint from a husband whose wife won’t watch Breaking Bad, but won’t stop asking him about the show. The hearing concludes with Hodgman’s ongoing discussion of Bill Murray’s role in Ghostbusters. [DXF]

The Moth: Snakes, Electric Shocks, And Afghanistan
In a time when both sides of the political aisle rank their outlook on the nation’s health on a scale between disillusioned and apoplectic, it’s re-enlightening to hear a story in which everyone can rally behind a main character hugging the American flag in earnest. Author Dori Samadzai Bonner recounts experiences from her childhood growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the Soviet occupation. Already a victim of her gender in a deeply oppressive culture, soft-spoken Bonner somberly recalls the difficulties her parents went through to smuggle her and her sibling into the United States. The matter-of-fact way she relays unconscionable atrocities, and the subsequent burst of emotional when she finally arrives to her better life puts even the most legitimate governmental gripes in perspective. That includes host Dan Kennedy’s admittedly silly and hilariously told effort to “live in the moment” by taking a horrific assignment wading through bat guano in a roach- and snake-infested cave. The typically lighthearted Wait, Wait... Don’t Tell Me! panelist Tom Bodett rounds out the excellent episode with a story about relating to his father. [DJ] 

Nerdist #528: Anthony Bourdain
There’s something appealingly disarming about Anthony Bourdain’s conversation with the Nerdist crew. In this conversation, the chef drops a lot of the uber-masculine posturing he adopts in his various television appearances. Bourdain is particularly insightful when he talks about the latent hostility within foodie culture, especially when it comes to posting pictures of food to social media. He’s also particularly forthcoming about his past as an addict and what inspired him to get clean. It’s no secret that Bourdain is a divisive cultural figure, but in this conversation, he displays an ease with himself that might convert some of his detractors.[MS]

Nerdist #529: Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman lends some gravitas to Nerdist this week as he chats with Chris Hardwick about everything from Shakespeare to Nelson Mandela. Freeman’s methodical pacing and stoic sense of humor add an offbeat comedic element to the proceedings. When Jonah Ray seems amazed at an early Tony nomination, Freeman deadpans, “You’re… surprised?” Freeman slows down the usually frenetic pacing of Nerdist as he relays stories about his love of theater, his communal upbringing, and his relationship to the characters he plays. Although Freeman isn’t always the most forthcoming with his answers, Hardwick remains undiscouraged and eventually hits on some fascinating topics, such as what Freeman learned from his friendship with Mandela. As Nerdist grows in prominence it will likely attract more high profile guests. This episode proves that Hardwick is more than up for the challenge of bringing out a new side of Hollywood stalwarts. [CS]

Nerdist #530: Pete Holmes
Unsurprisingly, Pete Holmes’ appearance on Nerdist ends up feeling a lot like his own podcast, You Made It Weird. Far from a proper interview, this is more of an extended philosophical discussion with Holmes and all three hosts sharing plenty of personal and intimate anecdotes along the way. The first half of the episode focuses on therapy, sexuality, and the power of positive affirmation. Holmes takes over hosting duties for a bit as he interviews Chris Hardwick about his current relationship and ties that into a larger discussion of monogamy. The second half of the episode proves more interesting as Holmes bridges the topic of the recent cancellation of The Pete Holmes Show. It’s the first time he’s discussed the cancellation on a public forum and there’s a lot of maturity in the way he explains the importance of both embracing the sadness of the loss and remaining optimistic about his future. [CS]

Nerdist #531: Tom Cruise
While Tom Cruise continues to make blockbuster after blockbuster, his public image has become almost exclusively tied to his religious beliefs and personal life. It’s a strange dichotomy that leads to an obvious question: Why does this guy keep making movies? This episode of Nerdist goes a long way to answer that. This is a career-focused interview—Cruise fairly openly dodges some of Hardwick’s more philosophical questions—and it reveals a man driven by an almost compulsive love of filmmaking. Cruise shares stories about his early days on movie sets where he spent hours learning the ins-and-outs of everything from editing to cinematography. He claims to watch a movie a day, so much does he love the art form. Yet that obsession is tempered by Cruise’s remarkably even-keeled personality. He’s more concerned with making sure everyone on set does their best work than he is with a movie’s commercial success. As Hardwick reasons, long-term career success is rarely an accident. In the longer format of a podcast, Cruise reveals the combination of drive and charm that have allowed him to maintain his movie star-status for the past 34 years. [CS] 

99 Percent Invisible #117: Clean Trains
Ever wonder why New York City’s subway trains aren’t covered in graffiti anymore, à la basically every scene from The Warriors? As 99 Percent Invisible explains, it’s basically due to one person: David Gunn, who became president of the NYC Transit Authority in 1984. Gunn spent five years systematically removing graffiti-covered rail cars from the system, or implementing procedures to keep taggers from bombing the cars at depots. Today, train graffiti is a dying art, with the majority of New York’s reported cases coming from traveling artists from other countries dying to take on the legendary subway system. That lack of local flavor is a little bittersweet, but it’s nice to know that trains everywhere are safer and cleaner now, albeit a little less colorful. [ME]

Professor Blastoff #158: Film Composing: Nate Underkuffler
Not a lot goes on in a top half dominated by humming film scores, and then the host trio engage in an uproarious and improvised deleted scene from The Fast And The Furious, in which some of the characters argue about who gets to go to the potty first and demand that their guest score it on the fly. They repeat the bit soon after—with Batman and Robin—to diminishing returns, but by this point the goofy diversion has locked everyone into a rare caliber of groove. Film composer Nate Underkuffler, who a minority will also recognize as the pianist for short-lived, semi-notable indie rock band The Young Republic, has been involved in the scene for so long that he’s able to squeeze in relevant educational tidbits from typical chord progressions to business tips whenever the hosts come up for air. [NJ]

Radiolab: Things
Radiolab set the bar high with “The Skull,” a short produced as a companion piece to this week’s episode. Thankfully, “Things” easily surpasses its lead-in by looking into how people hold onto the past through, well, things. Told in three riveting parts, the show begins with a spat between host Robert Krulwich and his wife, who feels no connection to artifacts. Both Krulwich and Jad Abumrad fail to see her logic and spend an hour exploring the stories of people tied to objects. The first segment’s story—about a man who’s held onto a sugar egg for four decades—is a bit sappy, but takes a turn for the worse when Radiolab inserts itself into the narrative. This turns into a running issue throughout the episode, as a producer almost falls to her death in the final segment. Thankfully, there’s enough drama packed into the stories as they are that this isn’t much of an issue. [MK]

Sklarbro Country #202: Character Choices: Romany Malco, David Huntsberger
This Sklarbro Country covers a lot of ground. Randy and Jason Sklar kick things off by reveling in the experience of hanging out with an apparently laid back and personable Robin Ventura. For the main interview, the Sklars sit down with actor Romany Malco and it’s a great opportunity to get to know a character actor that is generally recognizable from a few high profile roles. In this case, Malco has a really interesting back story from before he started acting at the age of 30. Part of Malco’s origin story includes a grueling stint in Marines basic training and his short-lived career as a rapper. Fortunately, the Sklars jump on the opportunity to discuss ’90s hip-hop with the former MC. [MS]

Song Exploder #11: Nite Jewel
This episode starts off slow, but the guests, Ramona Gonzalez of Nite Jewel and her producer Cole MGN, swiftly get wrapped up in talking about the complicated process of creating “One Second Of Love,” a catchy, synth-soaked pop song about the fleeting gratification of online interactions. The episode benefits from the fact that host Hrishikesh Hirway interviewed the pair together, so they can bounce off of each other as they warmly recount their personal and professional chemistry. Gonzalez and Cole are particularly adorable when they talk about falling in love while working together, but their discussion also covers improvising industrial sounds at The Brick Factory, working within self-imposed limitations, and brining in a friend to help with the vocals. The sonic breakdown is also more elegant than usual, with the production clearly delineating the melodies and harmonies before weaving them together at the end. [AH]

Sound Opinions #445 The Baseball Project, The Rock Doctors Perform Surgery & Sharon Van Etten
The most underrated segment on the airwaves makes a triumphant return to Sound Opinions this week as Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot double down on the Rock Doctors gimmick to prepare a soundtrack for an actual surgeon. It’s a welcome break from the recent streak of focused interviews with working musicians, and it allows DeRogatis and Kot to flex their encyclopedic rock knowledge, offering an interesting glimpse into the ambiance of an operating room, including the fact that melodic indie rock like Real Estate seemingly hits the spot during complicated surgical procedures. The hosts also sit down with founding Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey and Dream Syndicate bandleader Steve Wynn of The Baseball Project, a themed supergroup also featuring members of R.E.M., for an unexpectedly hard-hitting interview that reconciles the druggy baseball lifestyle with the Our Band Could Be Your Life aesthetic. [NJ]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Great Kanto Earthquake Of 1923
With the recent disaster in Fukushima and the legendary atomic blasts that effectively ended World War II, it could be that listeners feel they understand Japan’s history of terrifying disasters. But as hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey note, there was an earthquake in the early 20th century that was so humbling it brought the entire country to its knees. Some bracing statistics start the episode off—hough a small country, Japan experiences more earthquakes than any other, and in fact there is one taking place there every five minutes. The massive shockwave that ripped through the city of Kanto in 1923 trapped thousands of people beneath the rubble, created tsunamis, and coated the landscape in mud and fire that reached up into tornados. Wilson and Frey explain how this disaster affected the country’s pride, politics, and population in great detail and with great empathy. For those who think they’ve heard of frightening natural disasters, this episode’s tale should take the new top spot in their memory. [DT]  

Stuff You Should Know: Why Is Venice So Wet?
By the end of this episode, listeners will not only want to visit the marvel of engineering that is Venice, Italy, they will want to save it from destruction. Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant note that the city should not even exist. Built on shifting sands and seawater, Venice has been defying chemistry and physics for hundreds of years. Brick support structures are constantly replaced, miraculous resin is poured into the bricks, and massive billion-dollar gates all try to delay the inevitable. But the city is sinking, regularly submerged in knee-deep water filled with waste.  The population has noticed, and is now one-third of what it once was. Clark has personally visited the city and is smitten, and both he and Bryant spend enough time romanticizing the expensive drinks and beautiful architecture that by the time discussion winds its way to the seemingly insufficient gates being constructed it is hard not to rush to watch the Venice Backstage video Clark promotes and imagine a new way to stop the salty tides that reach up into the porous rock and slowly drag the city beneath the waves. [DT]

Who Charted? #183: Student Athlete: Stephanie Allynne
Howard Kremer makes his triumphant return to Who Charted?, and not a moment too soon given that the audience is probably suffering from peak Armen Weitzman-fatigue. Kremer is clearly thrilled to be back in the Earwolf studio given the enthusiasm he brings to the most recent installment of his delightfully ridiculous game, Jaws Is Better. This time around, actress Stephanie Allynne gives him some formidable competition when she posits that her favorite film is Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? The game evolves into some innovative new territory when Kremer and Allynne start riffing on the casting equivalents between her pick and Jaws. [MS]

WTF With Marc Maron #503: Rebecca Corry
Bullseye host and early WTF supporter Jesse Thorn is the first guest on the show, mostly to make up for Maron bailing on Thorn’s Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival (which Thorn is there to plug). Afterwards, comedian and animal rights activist Rebecca Corry joins Maron in the garage this week. The interview starts off mid-conversation, with Maron baiting Corry about her “having an attitude.” Luckily nothing comes of it, instead they segue into a discussion of wearing terrible clothing while taping comedy specials. Things get serious rather quickly, as Corry goes into her abusive childhood. Corry is blunt about her past, including the time she found a gay sex tape made by her fiancé, and her somewhat weary tone nicely matches Maron’s persona. [NC]

You Made It Weird #210: Josh Ruben
Strangely enough, much of this week’s interview with Josh Ruben hinges on the audience’s familiarity with About Schmidt, a bizarrely fitting condition for You Made It Weird. The show opens with a grueling half-hour of Ruben, a director and performer known for his work with CollegeHumor, cracking up Holmes with semi-obscure stream-of-consciousness impressions. This goes on to such an extent that Holmes pauses the interview to direct the listeners at home to watch About Schmidt if they haven’t already. Once the two settle in, Ruben becomes as interested in talking about Holmes’ strange life as Holmes is interested in Ruben’s. Together, they share a love of eccentricity and have an enjoyable conversation covering Ruben’s belief in horoscopes and astrology, Holmes’ well-documented spirituality, and the two’s dueling long-distance relationships. Cackling offbeat impressions aside, this is as solid as You Made It Weird gets. [MK]


The Bugle #271: Adicupdate
After a respectable run on The Daily Show, HBO’s Last Week Tonight has made Bugle co-host John Oliver one of the more quotable figures in media. This week, he briefly discusses his net neutrality monologue that helped crash the FCC website. Longer but less tweetable—but no less insightful—are Bugle bits on the Word Cup and the abdication of Juan Carlos I of Spain. [DXF]

Doug Loves Movies: Rory Scovel, Matt Mira, Ken Reid
Boston references and an extended game of ABCDoug’s Plugs fill a lot of this road show at Brighton Music Hall. The mostly local panel is spirited enough, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with the episode, but it pales in comparison to the New York show. For non-completists or new listeners, it’s missable. [DJ] 

Filmspotting #493: Maleficent / Top 5 Disney Villains  
With Adam Kempenaar out for the week, Josh Larsen welcomes guest co-host (and A.V. Club contributor) Tasha Robinson from The Dissolve, who seamlessly steps in for a session of Massacre Theatre, a countdown of their favorite Disney villains (all well reasoned, non-obvious choices), and a lively, long conversation about the discussable Maleficent. [DXF]

The Flop House #153: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
While diehards will be delighted by the Floppers’ extensive riffing (not to mention Elliott Kalan’s pitch for the sequel to his Ziggy movie), more casual Flophouse fans may find this extra-long episode a bit more drawn out and slow going than usual. [DF]

Hang Up And ListenThe Elephants In The Garden Edition: Stan Fischler, Bob Bradley 
An interview with former U.S. national soccer team coach Bob Bradley about his time coaching Egypt’s national team provides an interesting glimpse into his experience with the country’s 2011 revolution. While the Bob Bradley segment is worth a listen, the rest of the episode feels aimless. [TC]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #176: Bernadette
This episode with listener Bernadette represents an interesting shift for the program as she talks about her current battles with alcoholism and mental illness. While it’s refreshing to hear a discussion with someone whose issues are not in their past, the conversation is still a bit too unfocused to recommend. [TC]

Never Not Funny #1418: Bob Saget
An especially long episode gets better as it goes along, covering recent movies, sitcom dads, and the anatomy of a chicken. Guest Bob Saget is funny and insightful when addressing death in his family and the trickiness of going blue, but the discussion meanders a bit otherwise. [AH]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: The Treaty Of Waitangi
The United Kingdom’s relationship with New Zealand is both complex and mildly antagonistic. But the level of effort put into the treaty with the native Maori people set a new standard in an attempt to deal rationally with an indigenous people whose way of life was being supplanted. While the story is interesting, its Stuff You Missed In History Class treatment is a bit dry, with too much time spent describing context. The human story loses out because of this. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How The Space Race Worked
Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have put together a fun, nearly one-hour episode that moves at a breakneck pace. Yet, covering nine decades of political tension and scientific innovation seems like it should have taken even more time. It’s a topic Clark and Bryant admit they have covered in smaller doses both on the podcast and on their television program, and here they spend more than twice as much time discussing pens and pencils than they do discussing the ’90s or Mars. Perhaps six 30-minute episodes by decade would have been more satisfying. [DT]

WTF With Marc Maron #502: Chris Cornell
Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell seems plenty genial throughout his conversation with Marc Maron, but by the end of the episode it’s little more than a compact, straightforward history of the band, and one with very little depth or insight at all. [CG]