Maron talks to the Community ladies and Comedy Bang! Bang! celebrates an anniversary

Maron talks to the Community ladies and Comedy Bang! Bang! celebrates an anniversary

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“If I worked in a firehouse, I’d be the guy that hangs back and makes the chili.” —Bill Burr, Monday Morning Podcast

“If you want to get down with some sex magic in the privacy of your own home, I’m not going to judge you.” —Gillian Jacobs, WTF 

“She was the kind of dame they write similes about.” —Thomas Lennon, The Thrilling Adventure Hour

“Every black T-shirt you’ve ever seen is actually just a very old Hypercolor T-shirt.” —Moshe Kasher, You Made It Weird

THE BEST

The Bugle #233: Baby Got Hack
When a listener signed up The Bugle for a Christian dating website last week, it was a brief and hilarious one-off, but anyone familiar with Bugle fans could see the storm approaching. After last week, avid Buglers signed up the show for no fewer than 15 international niche and fetish dating sites. John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman have more fun than they’ve had in awhile giving the rundown of the sites. Unfortunately, a very sleep-deprived Zaltzman is a bit off for the remainder of the show, going off on hallucinogenic asides that are weird for the sake of being weird, but without the show’s usual satirical flavor. The episode picks up on a segment about automated trading bots bested by Twitter hackers, and finishes strong. [MK]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #217: The WTF Hour: Marc Maron
The planets must have aligned just right for this b-b-b-bonus-sss episode featuring Marc Maron, because Scott Aukerman files a rare one-on-one interview without a single outside interruption. However, this being Marc Maron, he’s happy to interrupt Aukerman’s line of questioning on numerous occasions. The two have a loose conversation, not unlike an episode of WTF, about producing their respective TV shows, as well as Maron’s botched attempts at sitcom glory early in his career. To cap it all off the two play a weirdly contemplative game of Would You Rather, with Maron as the only player. He plays it straight (or as straight as a man talking about a post-apocalyptic society of semen-fueled cars can play it) and it makes for a hilarious and totally unexpected ending. [MK] 

Comedy Bang! Bang! #218: The Fourth Anniversary Extravaganza: David Wain, Lauren Lapkus, Jessica St. Clair, Paul F. Tompkins, Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Rust, Neil Campbell
Episode #218 is an extravaganza, packed as it is with hyperactive CBB all-stars. (“Let’s all talk at once,” says Paul F. Tompkins—in the guise of Mike The Janitor—on more than one occasion.) The chaos suits CBB, with successful tangents such an impromptu Dating Game where David Wain and Mike The Janitor compete to take Marissa Wompler (Jessica St. Clair) and Traci Rearden (Lauren Lapkus) to “da prom.” Wain and St. Clair can’t stay for the whole thing, but the always-welcome Jason Mantzoukas takes their place, joined later by the incestuous “Bachelor Brothers” (Paul Rust and Neil Campbell) to cap off an especially perverse episode. It’s Comedy Bang! Bang! at its most ridiculous (see the new life “My wife!” has taken), which makes it essential listening for fans. [KR]

Doug Loves Movies: Simon Pegg, Samm Levine, and Paul F. Tompkins
Doug Benson brings out the big, obnoxious guns this week to take down perennial Leonard Maltin Game winner Werner Herzog (Paul F. Tompkins), in the form of Samm “Lil Wolverine” Levine. The interplay between Herzog’s serene cynicism and Levine’s frantic grandstanding is predictably great, but the real treat this episode is the (somewhat late) appearance of Simon Pegg. Pegg’s arrival—in the midst of his Star Trek publicity blitz—leads to lots of “into darkness” riffing that doesn’t leave much room for games other than the main event, but it’s excellent nonetheless. The Leonard Maltin Game is short and almost perfunctory (though there are some particularly excellent category titles), leaving behind a faint whiff of missed opportunity. But Pegg makes up for it in the final minutes of the episode with a promise to bring Edgar Wright and Nick Frost along with him for another DLM appearance later this summer, which has already been pre-selected for “The Best.” [GK] 

The Flop House #125: Smiley
With Smiley, the Flop House hosts enter into a realm of such utter ineptitude that they almost seem surprised by it, even as hosts of a podcast dedicated to bad movies. It’s unfortunate for them that they had to sit through it, of course, but it’s great for their listeners—the film is in fact so dreadful that the hosts pursue every conceivable tangent. This clears the way for an ASCAP/“ass cap” pun, talk of an extremely long Broadway musical starring Roger Bart, and a pitch for a movie titled Virginia Woolf’s Blorlando that involves gender bending, stars Pam Grier and Richard Roundtree, and may or may not have something to do with The Iliad. It’s a solid 70 minutes of the Original Peaches being very, very silly, and it’s completely delightful. [CG]

The Fogelnest Files #34: If It Ain’t Stiff, It Ain’t Worth A Fred Armisen: Fred Armisen
This week’s episode with Fred Armisen fits comfortably into the “Fractured History Of…” series of personal interviews that Jake Fogelnest seems to be (intentionally or unconsciously) developing. Punk is the topic du jour, and the conversation progresses surprisingly swiftly, due to Armisen’s experience as a member of the post-hardcore group Trenchmouth and Fogelnest’s unending enthusiasm for the culture that dominated his formative years. As with other shows of this type, the clips feel almost unnecessary—with the notable exception of Armisen’s recent SNL sketch, “History Of Punk,” which serves as an opportunity for a brief skim of the genre’s icons. Armisen makes for a fascinating subject because comedy seems like a relatively small part of an otherwise complex identity, and he’s definitely more earnest than funny here. The only thing that detracts from his rapport with Fogelnest is their frequent declarations of their man-crushes on each other, which alternates between endearing and grating. [AB]

Freakonomics: What Do Medieval Nuns And Bo Jackson Have In Common?
This week’s episode starts off in a strange corner of history: the rape of nuns during medieval pillaging. Scholars think the term “spite” comes from the common practice of nuns cutting off their noses to dissuade potential aggressors (hence that well-worn phrase). Spite is the theme of this episode, which traces various instances and motivations behind spiting someone or oneself. Paying outside costs to hurt someone else (an economist’s definition of spite) goes against our traditional understanding of “homo economicus,” which posits humans as rational and self-motivated actors. According to biologists, spite does not exist in the animal kingdom, which makes it a unique (and uniquely horrifying) human action. Stephen Leavitt contends that spite may not even exist at all, since it defies our understanding of how humans interact. [NC]

Hang Up And Listen: The Sandpaper, Pine Tar, And Hair Gel Edition
After some rote discussion of the first round of the NBA playoffs and yet another snooze of a non-controversy in baseball involving a pitcher loading up the ball, the HUAL panel moves onto its most interesting discussion of the week: Spelman College’s decision to drop its athletics program and fold that money back into general wellness programs for all its students. With the proliferation of big-time college sports striving to reach a larger audience at the D-I level, the panel examines how programs like Gonzaga and Florida-Gulf Coast are the exception, but schools like Morris Brown, which attempted to make the D-I jump and filed for bankruptcy last August, are the norm. [KM]

How Was Your Week #113: “Pete Ubu“: Jim Gaffigan, Ophira Eisenberg
Ophira Eisenberg’s new book, Screw Everyone, deals with past relationships and sexual encounters, putting it in the same ballpark as Julie Klausner’s I Don’t Care About Your Band. This provides plenty of fodder for her interview with Klausner, including a memorable stretch that sees the two comparing notes on the (depressingly) similar reactions their work has inspired. The gears shift in the second half with Jim Gaffigan, who also has a new memoir, Dad Is Fat. The interview focuses mainly on his family, though a segment where he shares his thoughts on being a “family-friendly comic” offers insight into how he views his work. [DF]

Improv4Humans #79: Psychedelic Sign Twirling: Horatio Sanz, Ben Schwartz, Lauren Lapkus
It’s always a shame when a stellar cast can’t make a show arrive fully formed. Veteran improviser Horatio Sanz is joined this week by Parks And Rec’s Ben Schwartz and Lauren Lapkus, whom listeners might know as Comedy Bang! Bang!’s Traci Rearden. Despite their talent and Matt Besser’s best efforts, the first half’s scenes proceed aimlessly, if enjoyably. The four hit their stride about halfway through with an uncomfortably awkward take on video dating services, and they don’t relent until the end of the episode. However, the funniest scene of the week appears on a short bonus episode that makes great use of the non-word “gronk.” [MK]

The JV Club #60: Live From Bridgetown!
Returning guest Natasha Leggero and musician Karen Kilgariff join Janet Varney for a live episode at Portland’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and while the audio quality is mediocre, the conversation is hilarious. Leggero’s first episode on the show established her strong chemistry with Varney, and she starts off the episode on a mission to give JV Club fans an official name. Some suggestions from the audience include “juvies” and “sophomores,” but Kilgariff suggests “Club Foots.” As a songwriter, she knows how to craft titles, and JV Club Foots around the world now have a name. Kilgariff is a darkly comic lyricist, and that sense of humor is present even when she looks back at her adolescence’s ridiculousness with an irreverent eye. From her mother’s obsession with status vacuuming (the lines had to be perfect) to the time she got asked to prom by the class nerd who crawled to her on his hands and knees, it’s easy to see how those strange, formative years led to the creation of a gifted artist. [OS]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #112: “Ray”
The Mental Illness Happy Hour follows its successful live installment with another change of pace as a member of California’s Child Protective Services talks about his dispiriting and occasionally fulfilling job as a social worker. It sounds more like an excerpt from Studs Terkel’s Working than the kind of psychological confessional that is the show’s specialty, but it’s ultimately a rewarding shift (like last year’s conversation with a police officer) because of the excellent guest. Ray tells Paul Gilmartin about the travails of walking into a hostile home armed with horrifying and difficult-to-prove allegations of abuse. Ray sometimes sounds a bit contemptuous when talking about some of the low-income people he encounters, but it’s difficult to judge a person who puts himself through continual mental anguish and physical danger to protect children. It’s a conversation that may inspire some to seek a career in child protective services and influence many others to stay away from a profession with so much heartbreak. [TC]

The Moth: Tina McElroy Ansa: Stars On The Ceiling
In a previous Moth story, Tina McElroy Ansa spent a lot of time establishing the wondrous universe of her childhood in Georgia. In this entry, she returns to that realm, but to recall a tough period in which her family lost a house due to her father’s risky business ventures. Even with the sadness and uncertainty in the story, McElroy maintains that sense of sumptuous detail, evoking everything from lobster feasts to her mother’s resilience. And it’s still enough to make a listener a bit jealous of McElroy’s vivid childhood world. [SG]

Nerdist #353 W. Kamau Bell
In a fantastic one-on-one interview with Chris Hardwick, comedian-turned-late-night-host W. Kamau Bell talks frankly about his career, his comedic approach, and the inherent difficulties involved in taking over a soon-to-be-nightly talk show. Bell’s experience seems to vary from Hardwick’s, and his candor about his progression and creative desires makes the episode consistently funny and insightful. One of the most interesting sections is when Bell relates a story of seeing the masterful, reclusive, Dave Chappelle throw away a killer set in order to work the crowd. Over the course of the episode, Bell offers insight without ever taking himself too seriously. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1217: Driving It Home With Jesse Thorn
At one point in episode #1217, Jimmy Pardo exclaims that he’s having more fun than he has in seven years of doing Never Not Funny, and it definitely sounds like it. A plan to give away a gift certificate to a pizza place in central Illinois by having people call in humorously goes nowhere—at first. Then the calls start pouring in, but mostly from one guy in the St. Louis area, a comedian named Trevor Gertonson who desperately wants to perform with Pardo, to the point of doing an obnoxious hard sell even after they hang up on him. Pardo and the crew—including ace guest Jesse Thorn—are amused, then annoyed, then amused again, then kind of saddened by it, but it makes for an electric segment with Pardo gleefully hanging up on people (mostly Gertonson) and taking other calls. It may be Never Not Funny’s best episode—or at least best segment—of the year. [KR]

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Sklarbro Country #145: For The Halibut: Rob Corddry, Chris Cox
Rob Corddry has a supporting role in Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, and he sees one of the Sklars when dropping off their kids at school, so bringing him onto the podcast again makes sense. As a Boston guy, Corddry shares his story of calling friends who live in Watertown during the manhunt for the marathon bombers. But he’s a fount of wonderful anecdotes, from getting to know Ed Harris on the set of his most recent film, to flirting with Martha Stewart, to some news about a Hot Tub Time Machine sequel that sounds as though it will be every bit as unnecessary-yet-hilarious as the first movie. [KM]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #50: Colt Cabana, James Adomian, Dan Van Kirk
Pro wrestler and host of the Art Of Wrestling podcast Colt Cabana fills on the bonus Sklarbro episode this week, talking about much of the same material as his first appearance, but adds some good stuff about the Gathering Of The Juggalos. He has a great rapport with the Sklars and Dan Van Kirk, and they sound as though they’ve known each other for years, always operating on the same humorous wavelength. And as a bonus, James Adomian joins the Sklars to discuss Jason Collins, and how that story affects the sports enthusiasts of the comedy world. [KM]

Sound Opinions #388: World Tour: Japan
Just as they did a few weeks ago with the history of Swedish pop music, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot bring in an expert to discuss the history and basics of Japan’s pop scene. Tokyo-based writer Daniel Robson covers everything from the saccharine idol music groups like AKB48—Patrick St. Michel’s excellent dispatches for The Atlantic cover some more frightening aspects of this particular subgenre—to pioneers like Shonen Knife, to Western success stories like Boris and Melt-Banana. American audiences are far more familiar with Swedish pop, so this episode is a fascinating look behind the curtain of a scene that functions much differently—with actual financial success—than our own. [KM]

Stuff You Should Know: How Fair Trade Works
Fair-trade groups attempt to level the capitalist playing field, and this week hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant strive to educate the chocoholic masses on their legacy. Started in the ’50s by humanitarians who wanted to prevent northern hemisphere middle men from impoverishing southern hemisphere farmers, fair trade eventually took root in the corrupt world economy in the ’90s. Cocoa famers still make about a dollar a day, but the average American spends over $100 a day. Clark and Bryant handle the topic even-handedly and keep the episode idealistic and entertaining. There’s some awkwardness near the end of the episode during the “listener mail” segment, when some bracingly real and touching responses to the recent topic of “grief” are read over the show’s jaunty theme music. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Dungeons And Dragons Works
Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have played Dungeons And Dragons, and Clark’s deeper childhood experience with the game makes him an especially enthusiastic advocate. The basics of gameplay are explained for the uninitiated, from the extra-sided dice to the cardboard screen that hides the Dungeon Master. The game’s satanic reputation in the press sounds especially amusing once Clark and Bryant have discuss how much math and childlike imagination goes into each session. But the episode’s best attributes are its peeks into the playing styles of the hosts. Bryant managed to find games as a child despite his Baptist upbringing, and he favored clerics (fighter-wizards). He was also a bit of a cheater, which draws Clark’s ire. [DT]

This American Life #494 - Hit The Road
Ira Glass confesses at the top to disliking shows about “hitting the road,” which may explain why this week’s stories don’t adhere to the theme, at least in ways listeners might expect. Act One focuses on a young man’s decision to walk across America, but wisely gives plenty of air time to the people he meets, thereby not making it all about him and his precious early-20s feelings. Act Two is a silly palate-cleanser, while Act Three is a pre-Mother’s Day punch in the gut about an expectant mother’s last-minute act of independence. [CZ]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #116: Beyond Belief, The Devil You Know
How does The Thrilling Adventure Hour tell a convoluted story? By making jokes about how convoluted it is, of course. This installment of “Beyond Belief” touches on ghostly romance, the mythical three-headed dog Cerberus, and stylish, noir-style narration courtesy of Thomas Lennon. It’s even easy to keep enjoying when listeners give up on following the plot. Lastly, the episode continues TAH’s quest to give James Urbaniak the nasal, grandiose roles he was born to play, in this case a clown who rules Hell. As with all the best TAH moments, it’s a chaotic meeting of clever writing and an ever-more-zealous ensemble cast. [SG]

Who Charted? #127: LIVE From Bridgetown 2013
After many failed attempts, Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack have finally cracked the code to producing a successful live episode. It turns out that the formula is pretty simple: Just book two unimpeachably hilarious guests, in this case Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper. In a particularly inspired move, Kremer and Vilaysack have Serafinowicz and Popper riff on the top five New Age music tracks. The movie chart also provides Serafinowicz with the opportunity to show off his Nicolas Cage impression. Aside from Serafinowicz and Popper’s effervescence, Kremer also takes the live show as an opportunity to perform some of his Dragon Boy Suede material. [MS]

WTF #384: Huey Lewis
Yes, Huey Lewis is responsible for the classic album Sports with Huey Lewis And The News, as well as “The Power Of Love” from the Back To The Future soundtrack. But his most spellbinding story talking to Marc Maron goes all the way back to his gap year before entering the engineering program at Cornell. As a teenager, his father forced him—yes, forced him—to travel around Europe, so Lewis hitchhiked across the country from the San Francisco Bay Area, stowed away on a transatlantic flight (still possible at the time), and spent a year busking around Europe with his harmonica. The tales of his music career and his thoughts on the modern music industry are fine, but that one amazing story is the highlight. [KM]

WTF #385 - Gillian Jacobs
At one point during Monday’s WTF, Marc Maron admits that he goes all Creepy Uncle on several of his female guests—but that doesn’t stop him from doing it. Fortunately, Community’s Gillian Jacobs gets to discuss her choice to attend Juilliard over Harvard or Northwestern and her interests in the occult and landmark Supreme Court cases. Maron still drops into his phone-sex purr and says things like “I would have liked to have seen you play a junkie hooker.” Jacobs seems to be acutely aware of what he’s doing, but to her credit she bobs and weaves with grace and humor. [CZ]

WTF #386: Alison Brie
After Marc Maron kicked off the week talking to Gillian Jacobs, he continues the semi-themed week with another cast member on Community, Alison Brie. Maron met much of the cast—Dan Harmon, Dino Stamatopoulos, Joel McHale, Jim Rash, Donald Glover, and Ken Jeong have all been guests—but Brie balances the madcap Community talk with the pathos of Mad Men. There isn’t quite the same electricity as her interview with Paul F. Tompkins a few weeks ago, but Maron ably delves into Brie’s upbringing in Los Angeles, and they share a wonderfully awkward breakdown of Get A Job, an upcoming independent film in which they both appeared without meeting each other. Basically, it is impossible for Alison Brie not to charm, and she makes even an entrenched curmudgeon like Maron seem warm and delightful. [KM]

You Made It Weird: #148: Live From Moontower
The latest live YMIW sets a raucous tone from the start, with Pete Holmes riffing about killing his romantic partners and doing a recent stand-up bit about animals with hooves. (Imagine “Hooves!” in Pete Holmes’ voice, and that’s why that works.) That momentum carries through his free-form chatter with guests including Moshe Kasher, Morgan Murphy, and Greg Fitzsimmons. In the live-YMIW tradition of comedy impersonations, Holmes treats Murphy to a dead-on Todd Barry. Later in the episode, Dom Irrera’s clumsy offensiveness seems like an odd fit, but Holmes manages to keep the banter on track anyway. [SG]

You Made It Weird #149: Jim Gaffigan Returns
Jim Gaffigan returns to fellow lovable goof Pete Holmes’ podcast for a (relatively) brief episode. Pretty quickly the episode gets into a balance of playful and searching, as the two comics discuss how to stay grateful and keep enjoying their work. The episode isn’t as funny as listeners might expect, given how well Holmes and Gaffigan’s styles mesh, but it succeeds in bringing across a certain level-headedness in both. [SG]


THE REST

Mohr Stories #155: Joel Stein
A journalist who got his start at Martha Stewart Living, Joel Stein discusses his book, Man Made: A Stupid Quest For Masculinity, and raps with Mohr about Stewart’s subtle sex appeal. The rest of the episode is a private chucklefest that’s not contagious. [DXF]

Mohr Stories #156: Justin Willman
Magician, Nerdist Network personality, and Cupcake Wars host Justin Willman chats about board games, the evolution of magic as performance art, and mixing comedy, Siri, and S&M into his act. If it sounds interesting, look for video and consider this lively but erratic conversation optional. [DXF]

Monday Morning Podcast
The first 15 minutes are strong but the comedy gets choked out in the long barrage of sports talk and dull emails that follows. [CG]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #151: Orb Is A Horse
The title’s promise of strong horse-related riffing is only partially fulfilled in this week’s pleasant but unexceptional episode. [CG]

Nerdist #351: Rooster Teeth
Rooster Teeth Productions’ long-running web series Red Vs. Blue put it on the map, but hearing the creators talk with Chris Hardwick about the minutia of YouTube videos isn’t too interesting. [DA]

Nerdist #352: Bob Saget
From the start, it’s obvious that Bob Saget and Chris Hardwick have been friends for some time, but as the episode progresses, their reminiscing and riffing feels tired. [DA]

Professor Blastoff #103: Photography (w/ Steve Agee)
More hobbyist than expert, Steve Agee offers his thoughts on photography, specifically camera technology, but the conversation becomes stuck in a preferences on modern vs. vintage technology. But the opening segment—featuring great bits on sideline reporting, Neil Diamond/Young mash-ups, and David Huntsberger feeding awkward lines to Tig Notaro—is worth a listen. [SM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: The Hindenburg Disaster
If listeners have ever wondered why people stopped making zeppelins, this episode makes for an interesting listen—otherwise it’s mostly a dry story of bad engineering. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Here Kitty, Kitty: The Domestication Of The Cat
The early history of domesticated cats weaves through ancient Egypt, Cyprus, and a dozen other places, making this episode a bit disorienting. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #101: Blake Wexler
While this episode starts out strong with some insightful commentary on NBA athlete Jason Collins’ detractors and the process of publicly coming out, the comedy segments are a bit uneven. [MS]

Uhh Yeah Dude: #371
Seth Romatelli finds his true calling as a focus-group member for an awful TV show and provides a riveting description of Larry The Cable Guy's appearance on The Tonight Show on this entertaining, if uneven, episode. [CW]

Walking The Room #147: The Return Of Wil Anderson
Aside from Paul Gilmartin, no one knows what makes the Walking The Room hosts tick like Wil Anderson, so for the hosts to succumb to a post-Gallagher hangover and dwell on more dog-plus-medicine territory feels a bit like a wasted opportunity. Fans of the WTR glossary will find a lot to enjoy, however, as this week strives for most entries in an episode. [SM]

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