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May 17-May 23 


“No seriously, I’m going to do a terrible job at it. I don’t understand it. I gag a lot. It’s gross. I think the texture is weird.” —Jason Mantzoukas on why Alison Brie shouldn’t proposition him for cunnilingus, Comedy Bang Bang

“I was driving through Little Ethiopia the other day, listening to Dio. A woman walked by, laughed at me, and I gave her the horns. So that’s where I’m at.” —Dave Anthony, Walking The Room

“I lost my baby and my husband this weekend. How? Well, my baby was tossed from her basinet. My husband was tossed from his mancave barstool. They both passed. I’m having a double funeral this weekend. Thanks, China.” —Seth Romatelli on recalled Chinese products, Uhh Yeah Dude


How To Do Everything
Produced and hosted by two dudes—Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag—who work on NPR’s popular game show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, How To Do Everything is a podcast about just that. Want to know how to make pizza dough? Send them an email, and they’ll have an expert on to give you the best hand-tossed tips. Curious about how to hunt and kill an African elephant? That’s probably not legal or advisable, but hell, they’ll at least tell you how to do it in theory.

The show is a mix of both practical and impractical information tossed liberally with a touch of humor. In this week’s edition, “NATO, Zuckerberg, and Country Music,” the hosts recruit Mekons and Waco Brothers frontman Jon Langford to teach a punk how to make his tunes countrified. Langford suggests the young man listen to Jimmie Rodgers and steer clear of saying “yee-haw,” which is fairly solid advice. The show also looks at what’s in a journalist’s NATO protest survival pack, helps advise Mark Zuckerberg on what to do with all his IPO money—eat nine servings of the most expensive pudding in the world every day for the rest of his life, for example—and gets Wait Wait host Peter Sagal to try the hosts’ “taco gin,” which they learned to make on a previous show and spice up with a liberal helping of packaged taco seasoning. [ME]


Zombie Grrlz  
Women are on the whole poorly represented in the horror genre, which is why hosts Rachel, Ariel, Sarah, Jodie, and Matilda devote the sporadically released Zombie Grrlz to featuring the best the women of horror have to offer and dissecting representations of gender in the genre. The conversation is a mix of the academic and casual, with discussion of The Feminine Mystique sharing space with questions like, “Which character would you bone?”

Episode 25 is a discussion of the most badass action hero in cinema: Ellen Ripley from Alien. Despite lasting more than three hours, the conversation never stagnates and manages to ask really interesting questions about Ripley’s sexuality and how it helps define the character as well as the Alien universe. There’s a lot to learn for longtime fans and newcomers alike, and the frenetic energy that comes from the group dynamic keeps the episode moving along nicely. [AJ]


The Bugle #194A: Too Good For Context 
John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman are on vacation, so Producer Chris has compiled a bunch of clips from the cutting-room floor. Usually these extra episodes are proof that the deleted content was justifiably done away with, but this time, most of the segments are just as good, if not better than anything found on a regular episode of The Bugle. Zaltzman is out-of-his-mind absurd with gruesome “maths” questions, Oliver sticks it to world leaders with his barbed wit, and there’s an obscure shout-out to an ancient episode of The Bugle to keep longtime fans warm with the knowledge that they know way too much about this show. It would be a shame that these bits were originally deleted if they didn’t come together so well as filler. [AJ]

Comedy Bang Bang #159: Apicklelypse: Alison Brie, Jason Mantzoukas, Bob Odenkirk
When a Comedy Bang Bang episode has Alison Brie (being kinda dirty to boot), Jason Mantzoukas, and Bob Odenkirk appearing as Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman, something would have to go catastrophically wrong for it not to end up in The Best. That doesn’t happen, and “Apicklelypse” delivers as expected. After offering some free legal advice and suggesting Brie consider stripping, Odenkirk doesn’t stick around for long, but the other three have an easy chemistry (particularly Brie and Mantzoukas) that sustains the show’s tangents and even “What Am I Thinking?” The endlessly charming Brie hadn’t met Scott Aukerman before recording the podcast, but like the best Comedy Bang Bang guests, she’s game for anything—even when, minutes into the episode, Aukerman asks if her vaguely sexual dream about doing the podcast involved getting fingered. If anything “Apicklelypse” makes a case for Brie and Mantzoukas starting their own spinoff podcast. [KR]

Doug Loves Movies: Scott Aukerman, Nick Thune, Lennon Parham, Natalie Morales
It always seems like a gamble when Doug Benson books a four-guest panel. The more guests he adds, the likelier it is at least one will be overshadowed by a particularly boisterous comedian (T.J. Miller, Pete Holmes). That’s not a problem this week, as Scott Aukerman and Nick Thune gracefully interject their quips and asides into the flow of conversation, while allowing the charming Lennon Parham and Natalie Morales to shine. Also, Benson introduces a fun new game to the repertoire, “ABC Deez Nuts,” which provides a refreshing break from Build-A-Title as a prelude to The Leonard Maltin Game. [MS]

Doug Loves Movies: Graham Elwood, David Huntsberger, Joe Pettis 
Doug Benson seems particularly invigorated at the top of this episode. Maybe it’s because he’s happy to be out of the usual confines of the UCB Theatre and into Atlanta’s Laughing Skull comedy club, or maybe it’s the especially enthusiastic crowd. Either way, that energy gets focused into a rousing chat portion that leads to some funny, if wildly inaccurate impressions of Gary Busey. This episode is also heavy on the games, as Benson packs ABC Deez Nuts, Build-A-Title and The Leonard Maltin Game all into one episode. (The last one takes a while to get off the ground because Benson gets on an entertaining tangent on 9/11-themed movies.) [MS]

Hang Up And Listen: The Tim Duncan Loves Paintball Edition
Tim Duncan is one of the all-time great NBA big men, but his refusal to open up for the media—a luxury afforded by his small-market team, the San Antonio Spurs—makes him the most neglected of superstars and, yes, perhaps the blandest, too. That’s why it’s a treat to learn that Duncan is a paintball enthusiast, given to spraying a fusillade of charges from his high-tech paintball gun, which is an especially funny image given his 7-foot frame. This detail comes from a Sports Illustrated profile (cheekily titled “21 Shades Of Gray”) by Chris Ballard, who joins this week’s podcast for a segment contrasting Duncan’s image with the one projected by Kobe Bryant. Other highlights include a discussion with the Washington Post’s Sarah Kogod on female sports fandom and Stefan Fatsis’ “Afterball” about the making of a great New York Times horse-racing story. [ST]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #61: Bald Bryan Bishop
In some ways, Bryan Bishop, a regular part of Adam Carolla’s podcast, is the reverse of many of Paul Gilmartin’s guests. A common Mental Illness Happy Hour theme is guests pulling themselves up from a tragic upbringing or self-destructive, depressed worldview, but Gilmartin’s challenge this episode is to engage with someone who says he’s always felt pretty optimistic. Bishop’s level-headedness and general faith that things will work out puts an interesting bent on the story—or at least, the fact that he continues to live with an inoperable tumor on his brainstem makes his outlook seem all the more improbable and admirable. [SG]

Mike And Tom Eat Snacks #59: Better Cheddars And Cream Cheese
When viewers of Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanaugh’s snack podcast send packages that play to the duo’s strengths, it results in MATES proving just how effective it can be. In this episode, the hosts receive a package of snack crackers and cream-cheese spread, though these items are largely ignored as they choose instead to dissect the packaging of the box itself—as well as a few sidebars to discuss the relative uselessness of newly hired interns Zac and Efron. Black and Cavanaugh cover a great deal of ground, making the episode’s bits all the more entertaining. [DA]

Monday Morning Podcast
Although a recent argument with his partner, Nia, is far enough in the past for him to admit he was wrong, it’s still fresh enough to give Bill Burr an edge—the type that keeps him sharp and funny. That comes in handy when he riffs on Conway Twitty and country music in general, then relates that to the practice of inbreeding among royal families. Unfortunately it also brings out his most abrasive side; it’s annoying when he takes serious umbrage with a comment about female empowerment made by Meryl Streep, even though he mostly remains self-aware. Outside of that, though, it’s easily the most entertaining episode in a few weeks. [CG]

The Moth: Lee Stringer: Higher Powers
When writer Lee Stringer repeatedly tells a Moth audience about his dread of God, he comes off like a surly Bill Cosby. Then again, Cosby never edited a homeless newspaper to fund his crack addiction. His sense of comic doom helps him gradually introduce elements of shame and betrayal into the story, as he recalls stealing $6,000 from an alcoholic old lady who befriended him. When the more redeeming conclusion comes around, it’s all the more convincing for the good-natured gruffness that precedes it. [SG]

Nerdist #209: Ana Gasteyer
Although Ana Gasteyer never became a breakout star after Saturday Night Live, she has a wealth of anecdotes to share with Chris Hardwick during a lengthy interview. Gasteyer’s SNL disaster stories predictably make for the best moments, and hearing how the show continues to give her recurring nightmares proves how the stress can linger for years. The episode peters out near the end due to an overly analytical discussion of Twitter etiquette, but it hardly detracts from the highly informative conversation that precedes it. [DA] 

Risk! #328: State Of Emergency
Risk! is nothing if not inconsistent when it comes to the quality of its episodes and its themes. But this week’s episode is the best in a while, and the theme—people in various states of panic and emergency—lends to entertaining, suspenseful stories. One of the best is by Tim Heidecker, who talks about a terrifying experience of being chased by someone whom he thought needed help, but every story is worth a listen. [MM]

Radiolab: “Colors”
A typically fascinating episode of Radiolab begins with a simple question: Do colors even exist? Or are they only real in our heads? The episode doesn't really answer that question—since an answer doesn’t exist—but along the way, there are terrific stops in Isaac Newton’s bedroom from his 20s (when he performed an experiment on his own eye to attempt to discern where color came from) and along the entire ladder of the animal kingdom to determine which animals can see the most colors. (The episode uses an ingenious device of having a choir sing the names of different colors at different pitches to express the fullness of the spectrum—and how little we can see of it.) The episode’s conclusion, which tackles why ancient writers seem to have such strange descriptions of various objects’ colors, is legitimately unnerving. [TV]

Sklarbro Country #95: Bench An Engineer: Rich Eisen, Dan Van Kirk
For a podcast devoted to the seldom-explored intersection of indie rock and sports, Sklarbro Country features few guests exclusively from the sports world. The brothers make an exception, however, for Rich Eisen, who performed stand-up in college but is best known as a former host of ESPN’s SportsCenter and all-around sports dude. Unlike most episodes, this podcast will appeal to sports fans much more than non-sports fans—a fact the Sklars all but apologize for—as Eisen discusses his career and the evolution of Sports Center, but the episode is saved by a hilarious closing call from Dan Van Kirk’s Mark Wahlberg, who is rapidly becoming the Sklarbro Country’s ace in the hole. [NR]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Operation Mincemeat, Part 2
“The most successful wartime deception ever attempted” is every bit as fascinating as that title implies. In Part 1, hosts Deblina Chakraborty and Sarah Dowdey outlined why Hitler needed to be thrown off the scent of an attack on Sicily, and how a corpse had false official documents planted on it. Now that listeners know the body, Part 2 describes how the intel worked and how the plan played out. It’s so fascinating that four minutes in, Chakraborty and Dowdey drift off their normally tight script and mull over how researching the mystery affected them. A circling midnight submarine, Spanish military red tape, and seal-breaking techniques explained make this as thrilling as SYMIHC gets. [DT]


Stuff You Should Know: What Is The Future Of Earth?
This environmental-science-loaded episode sounds intimidating, but hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have done extra research to mitigate that. What is intimidating is how epic some of the numbers get: 24 million people could be displaced by flooding as soon as 2080, with areas like Indonesia losing massive amounts of landmass, and by 2100 we could lose 25 percent of all species on Earth. In fact, even in a best-case scenario, the next Ice Age is only about 1,500 years away and will last twice that. “We are in trouble one way or the other,” Clark states, and by halfway through the episode, most listeners will probably be substantially creeped out by their impending doom. [DT]

This American Life #464: Invisible Made Visible
“Invisible Made Visible” features excerpts from a recent live show in New York, and, as a result, any visual elements from the show are lost on the podcast audience. That said, the stories remain mostly good: Ryan Knighton’s recounting of his daughter coming to the realization that her father is blind is interesting but slightly anticlimactic; Tig Notaro’s Taylor Dayne bit from her 2011 album Good One is spiced up by an actual performance by Taylor Dayne; David Rakoff’s story about losing the use of an arm is exquisite, but its visual climax loses effectiveness on a podcast; and David Sedaris’ anecdote at the end is rather one-note. The live audience helps elevate each act above its shortcomings, though, making them more enjoyable and the episode as a whole worth a listen. [CG]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #72: Beyond Belief: Goatbusters 
In what must be one of the most bizarre takes on the myth of the chupacabras, Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster’s pair of alcoholic paranormal investigators awake to find a goat in their home. Though it earns plenty of laughs, as The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s “Beyond Belief” segments tend to, the proper reaction might be troubled astonishment about how the episode combines urban legends, fairy tales, and love triangles. Luckily, Gillian Jacobs, as the jealous witch who’s responsible for the whole thing, keeps it tied together and grounds it in deadpan comedy. [SG]

The Tobolowsky Files #56: What Does The First Day Of A Dream Look Like? 
Stephen Tobolowsky picks up from the end of his last podcast by telling of his various sojourns to New York City to work on Broadway, a place he’s always longed to work but has never been as successful as he’s been in TV and film. The episode jumps throughout Tobolowsky’s career—giving a slightly discombobulated feel—but it’s worth it, as always, for the anecdotes, particularly one in which he goes out looking for a wild time in December, 2001, New York by finding the loudest bar on his side of the street and ends up at a party where a man who claims to be a CIA agent says there’s another terrorist attack about to hit the city. As always, there’s plenty of wisdom, but this podcast has almost as many laughs. [TV]

The Todd Glass Show #45: Rory Scovel And Fake Problems
The Todd Glass Show is the most jazz-like podcast in the Nerdist stable. It’s all about groove, improvisation, flow, chemistry, and finding moments in the spooky podcast wilderness. The problem is that sometimes this doesn’t happen until late in the show. When Rory Scovel and band Fake Problems visited to The Todd Glass Show for example, it was a three-hour extravaganza divided into two separate episodes. Unfortunately for listeners to last week’s first part, the show doesn’t find its groove until part two, as the assorted silliness and weird riffs build to an inspired comic crescendo. [NR]

Walking The Room: #104 Bruce And The Bus Eater
Listening to Greg Behrendt goad Dave Anthony can have diminishing returns; after all, Anthony’s response when Behrendt interrupts the intro three words in or shares his preference of tight clothing over lax diet restrictions is so predictable it undercuts much of its effect. Fortunately, the initially punchy Behrendt eases off, and the two find common ground in their bemusement of the cult of Bruce Springsteen. Not that they’re trolling to fans of The Boss; rather, they’re addressing the supposed need to convert non-fans a good 40 years after he became popular. It’s an insightful takedown that oddly parallels criticism of religion while musing on taste and the joy of sharing new music. Then, in typical Walking The Room fashion, Anthony and Behrendt swap grotesque news stories about bus cannibals and a flesh-eating virus to close out the episode. [SM]

WTF With Marc Maron #280: Danny McBride
Marc Maron has conceded throughout WTF that he develops ideas about who people are based on their onscreen personae, then is surprised when they turn out to be much different. So Maron is pleasantly, predictably surprised to discover that Eastbound & Down star and co-creator Danny McBride is a self-effacing, charming, and humble Southern gentleman instead of the arrogant, badass shit-kicker he plays on television. McBride cuts an unexpectedly mild presence, and the episode isn’t big on laughs or soul-searching, but McBride is nevertheless engaging and amusing discussing his strange path through show business and finding Eastbound & Down’s ragged Southern soul. [NR]

WTF With Marc Maron #281: Paula Poundstone 
Marc Maron is famously a cat lover, but he’s a veritable animal-hater compared to Paula Poundstone, who somehow manages to care for 16 cats in addition to various children and other personal and professional obligations. Maron and Poundstone bond over their love of cats in a casual conversation that touches on Poundstone’s early days in the Boston comedy scene, her traveling the country via Greyhound as an unknown, parenthood, and, more substantially, her problems with alcohol and the law. Poundstone emerges as guarded but fundamentally forthright and, like a lot of battle-scarred veterans who’ve been interrogated in the Cat Ranch, blessed with a sense of perspective that can only come with decades of hard-won experience. [NR]

You Made It Weird #51: Kurt Braunohler
Kurt Braunohler’s episode of You Made It Weird gets off to a slow start, but it picks up steam with an anecdote about scoring an audition for Brüno under the fiction that he speaks German instead of vaguely German-sounding gibberish. This segues into an even more fascinating tale about Braunohler working for a prank show and traumatizing a woman by pretending to be a man who communicates largely through his ventriloquist dummy. (He briefly dated the woman years later after she was able to work through her dummy-related trauma.) This painfully funny story flows seamlessly into the heart of the episode: a fascinating segment on an experiment where Braunohler and his girlfriend of 13 years gave each other a monthlong free pass to fuck around that eventually ended their relationship. All in all, good, crispy stuff from another talented and engaging friend o’ Pete. [NR]


The Best Show On WFMU
Jon Wurster’s call connecting high-school politics and Squiggy is wonderful, but the first episode in three weeks never finds its rhythm. [TC]

Doug Loves Movies: David Huntsberger, Jared Thompson and Jon Casali guest
DLM’s been on a tear lately, but this is the least exciting of this week’s four episodes. There’s lots of game action and pleasant conversation, but the motley panel—David Huntsberger in his third appearance this week, the owner of the club the show was taped in, and an audience member who won against Huntsberger in this week’s mini-episode—lacks spark. [GK]

Freakanomics Radio: You Eat What You Are, Part 1
This episode about the food industry will only be useful to those who are not familiar with the philosophies of Alice Waters or Michael Pollan. For those who know anything about them, skip this episode. [MM]

Judge John Hodgman #60: Chevy Case
After selling his beloved Camaro to his girlfriend Hannah, Patrick wants the judge to compel her to wash it in a low-stakes episode that nonetheless affords Judge Hodgman more opportunities to poke fun at Portland’s barter economy and fleets of Subarus and Vespas. [ST]

Nerdist #207: Michael Emerson
Even with Michael Emerson presenting himself as a downright friendly guest, his appearance on Nerdist offers little more than some extended discussions of Lost’s shooting locations. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1023: Playing Games With Doug Benson
As fun and witty as a conversation with Doug Benson about film, comedy, and podcasting can be, its predictable content and drawn-out latter half make this a fans-only episode. [SM]

The Smartest Man In The World #159: Cramps
Greg Proops’ prolonged crowd-participation bit about fuckable bands might have been fun in person, but keeps him from what he’s best at on this episode. [SG]

Sound Opinions #338: James Mercer Of The Shins, Donald Duck RIP And Norah Jones Review
James Mercer’s interview and acoustic performance in this episode is pleasant enough, but doesn’t turn out to be especially revealing. [SG]

Stop Podcasting Yourself #218
No guest this week, so unless you’re interested in poutine, skip to “Overheards” (1:08:05) for reports of creative graffiti, an unfortunate kid name, and a misidentified song. [DXF] 

Stuff You Missed In History ClassA Visit To Clybourne Park
Interviewing Clybourne Park’s Broadway director Pam MacKinnon makes for a change of pace, but this feels less like history and more like romanticizing domestic fiction. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Labor Unions Work
This is essential listening for those in search of a historical union education, but labor history is incredibly dense and can be a real bummer. [DT]

Uhh Yeah Dude #323
A real beaut of a segue bridges great riffs on Paleolithic porno and nursing-home firebugs, but the rest of the episode takes a more subdued approach. [CW]

Who Charted? #77: Plant-Based Dick
Guest Pete Holmes comes armed with a bunch of voices and impressions that unfortunately are more annoying than funny. [MS]

You Made It Weird #50: Chris Thayer
Although Pete Holmes and up-and-coming stand-up Chris Thayer make each other laugh, their chemistry pales compared to recent guests. [CG]