Paul F. Tompkins and Jen Kirkman team up on Todd Glass and Joel McHale schools Pete Holmes

Paul F. Tompkins and Jen Kirkman team up on Todd Glass and Joel McHale schools Pete Holmes

Podmass comments can be directed to podmass@avclub.com.

To listen to these and other podcasts, visit 
Podmass Central, our podcast hub. 

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“Rutgers is only miles away from New York, but you have to turn left at 1986 to get there.” —Greg Proops, The Smartest Man In The World

“There’s an a cappella group that I really like called Fuck You, Rosa Parks. I guess Rosa Parks was a girl they went to school with and broke all their hearts. I don’t think they understand there’s another Rosa Parks.” —Greg Behrendt, Walking The Room

“You don’t know what McHale’s Navy is?”
“Is it a sex move?” —Joel McHale and Pete Holmes, You Made It Weird

“I loved sitting around with my male friends in a place of sexual calm.” —John Hodgman on playing Dungeons And Dragons, WTF With Marc Maron

So it’s girls that run around in bikinis and shoot machine guns. Really? That’s radical?” —Tom Scharpling on the trailer for Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, The Best Show On WFMU

“I’m not the biggest Wes Anderson fan.”
“And why is that?”
“Eh, it’s a lot of matching luggage.” —Billy Eichner and Scott Aukerman, Comedy Bang! Bang!

NEW (TO US)

Tell Your Friends! The Only Podcast That Matters!
Like Comedy Bang Bang!, Liam McEneaney’s Tell Your Friends! The Only Podcast That Matters! is based on a popular live comedy show and features a comedian host talking to other comedians; but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of the absurdist audio vaudeville of Scott Aukerman’s podcast, Tell Your Friends favors a genteel, literary tone that evokes the soothing storytelling of Ira Glass and This American Life more than the comedy-podcast template of comedians gabbing with other comedians about comedy stuff. Tell Your Friends combines charming literary vignettes from both its host and his friends—the most memorable of which involves the larger existential and philosophical ramifications of swapping pens with Bob Dylan—with entertaining interviews with comedians Eddie Pepitone and W. Kamau Bell and musician Mike Doughty, who plays a song he claims was rejected from the Twilight soundtrack. McEneaney’s curiosity and affection for people and their fascinating imperfections comes through in both his stories and interviews. Tell Your Friends has a cozy, nicely lived-in feel. It’s easy to imagine McEneaney—whose career recently got a boost when he appeared on WTF and A Special Thing released a terrific, star-studded Tell Your Friends! concert film on DVD and VOD—hosting in a comfy cardigan while sipping from a mug of cocoa in a book-lined apartment. Not everything on the podcast works, but its likeability and gentleness go a long way, and McEneaney’s willingness to playfully tweak the podcast form bodes well for its future. [NR]


THE BEST

The Best Show On WFMU
When The Best Show On WFMU gets on a roll, it’s a treat for everyone involved. Host Tom Scharpling’s mood tends to ebb and flow in accordance with his callers’ level of intellect, and with Todd Barry and Kurt Braunohler calling in recently and regulars like Spike and Geneva calling early this week, the show has started on the right foot this year. Following up on Scharpling’s pitch for the perfect pop song, Nick Thorburn from the band Islands took it upon himself to retool his vocals from last week’s episode in to a new dance-party classic. The result, “Fun! (Come On Y’all, It’s Time To Have),” is premièred on this week’s episode, and Scharpling decides to sell out and license it to Paul Ryan and the NRA for promotional use. Philly Boy Roy calls in later in the episode to run down his memorable audition for director David O. Russell. As always, though, the highlight of the show tends to be Scharpling’s screeds against pop-culture trends, and his gripe with the Spring Breakers trailer at the top of the show is among the most memorable in recent episodes. [AF]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #195: Making The Snow Angel: Billy Eichner, Reggie Watts, Matt Besser
A lot of comedians love Billy Eichner’s Billy On The Street series, and Scott Aukerman counts it among his favorite shows. On it, Eichner cuts an amusingly obnoxious path as he ambushes New Yorkers on the street, but he’s more restrained on Comedy Bang! Bang!—though he’s still very much Billy Eichner. (Aukerman: “When you say [Zachary Quinto] is really gay, what do you mean?” Eichner: “He gets fucked by guys all the time, Scott.”) Reggie Watts lends a supporting role, but Matt Besser’s portrayal of Frosty The Snowman as an anti-police child molester dominates much of the episode. Besser’s never afraid to go dirty, which makes for many funny moments, even as Aukerman ostensibly apologizes for the filthiness. The episode highlight, though, may be Aukerman’s impression of Barenaked Ladies. [KR]

Doug Loves Movies: Chris Evans, Jonah Ray, And Martin Starr guest
Actor Chris Evans makes a return appearance on Doug Loves Movies, but given how drunk he was during the first recording, this may be the only episode he remembers. Jonah Ray also gets to flex a little indie-rock muscle by publicly lambasting the band Fun, and Martin Starr is his usual reticent self. Combined, these are probably the last three men anyone would expect to have a passionate discussion of the film Les Misérables, but that’s exactly what happens this week. All in all, this installment is well-paced and allots almost equal time for banter and games without feeling rushed. Also, kudos to the DLM fan who suggested the “No Time for Love, Dr. Jones” category for the Leonard Maltin Game, which involves movies where Harrison Ford fails to get laid. [MS]

Doug Loves Movies: Ngaio Bealum, Rory Scovel and Keith Lowell Jensen guest
From the get go, Doug Benson seems uncharacteristically energized this week. Maybe it’s because the Sacramento crowd seems like they couldn’t be more pleased to be there, as evidenced by the near-constant eruptions of laughter. Benson’s affability could also be attributed to the fact that he assembled a jovial panel that keeps a tight and evenly paced conversational rhythm, which is no small feat given the spotlight hogs this show tends to attract. After the chat portion, Benson beefs up the games segment by adding “ABCDeez Nuts” and “How Much Did This Shit Make?” before the Leonard Maltin grand finale. [MS]

The Fogelnest Files #19: Beyond The Valley Of The Internet Trolls: Louis Peitzman
The great thing about newer podcasts is that they still have the freedom to experiment. Since regular listeners are still in the process of building expectations, hosts can change the tone or format without rocking the fanboat. And that’s exactly what Jake Fogelnest does in this week’s episode. The guest, Louis Peitzman, comes from the realm of journalism rather than the world of entertainment, and the conversation, while funny at times, is primarily an earnest and engaging look at the sociology of the Internet and the aesthetics of exploitation films. The change-up pays off big time, largely because Fogelnest’s rapid-fire speech is less overwhelming when employed in the service of actual discussion than when it’s put toward priming jokes. Peitzman’s comparatively mellow demeanor (due to sickness) also acts as a welcome foil to Fogelnest’s formidable free-association. [AB]

Freakonomics: Who Owns The Words That Come Out Of Your Mouth?
Want to quote Winston Churchill? Because of Britain’s overly protected and convoluted copyright laws, it’ll cost somewhere between 40 cents and a dollar per word. Stephen Dubner uses this example to highlight the differences between American and U.K. copyright, the most glaring of which is that Britain doesn’t have a “fair use” exemption. This means quotations, such as those of Churchill’s, can’t be used without paying, but it also means that practices such as data mining actually break U.K. copyright law. Data mining has a ton of practical applications, from Google’s algorithms to genetics, so the British government is now getting involved to make its copyright laws clearer and more lax. Turns out, a key factor in American innovation is the ability to quote liberally. [NC]

Hang Up And Listen: The Catfish Got Your Tongue Edition
With Stefan Fatsis out at a Scrabble tournament, Josh Levin and Mike Pesca have to run the show on their own this week, but between the NFL playoffs, the incredible Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, and Lance Armstrong’s two-night interview with Oprah Winfrey, they don’t have to struggle for things to talk about. Their biggest score is an interview with Deadspin editor Tommy Craggs about how the Te’o scoop happened and what it reveals about the habits of sports journalists who look for inspirational narratives without actually checking their veracity. Craggs gives them the “exclusive” of reading the original email tip that broke the story and walks us through the process of how a sensitive piece like that is developed and released. Deadspin rarely gets credit from old-media journalists, so it’ll just have to settle for eating their lunches time and time again. [ST]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #97: Elizabeth Laime
The Mental Illness Happy Hour almost always functions better as a conversation about experiences, rather than a makeshift college psychology course that occasionally feels like the students have taken over the discussion. A prime example of how a single episode can run the spectrum of fascinating to frustrating is found in this week’s conversation with Elizabeth Laime (which was posted the same day an installment about Borderline Personality Disorder was removed when Paul Gilmartin acknowledged that the weak episode’s facts could be “misinterpreted”). Laime and Gilmartin instantly bond over the pain of losing parents in a conversation that’s helpful, warm, and interesting. However, a discussion on sexuality (which always seems to be a tricky topic for a show that tends to pathologize all human experience) is maddening as Laime and Gilmartin posit that the latest technology and apparently sudden outbreak of adolescent sexuality have seriously damaged today’s young people. It’s a discussion with as much depth as a local TV news piece on Kids These Days, but it’s worth enduring for a moving conversation about living with grief. [TC]

Monday Morning Podcast
It comes as no surprise that Bill Burr hits on the major sports stories of the last week—the Manti Te’o fake-girlfriend debacle, the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, and his beloved Patriots losing to the Ravens—but even he seems disappointed with his lackluster treatment of each topic. They’re not actively bad; rather, they don’t ever really come together, and then fall kind of flat once they do. But what makes this episode great is Burr’s story of drunkenly attending, of all things, a Lady Gaga concert. And what makes it even better is the retelling of that exact same story, but from the perspective of the sober and annoyed Nia. It’s a long episode with a couple of lulls, but there’s more than enough to make it worthwhile listening. [CG]

The Moth: Satori Shakoor: Too Much
Satori Shakoor begins this story with a ton of grief, recounting the deaths of her mother and then her son with understandable but almost unbearable solemnity. That only makes it funnier and more jarring when her story of grief changes on a dime into a story of menopause, fun, and apparently extreme horniness. It’s clear the live audience here gets swept up in the feeling of liberation, as Shakoor launches into the gleefully profane heart of the story. (And yes, there’s a bigger point we all can learn from, but mostly it’s just hysterically funny.) [SG]

Nerdist #311: Live From Twin Cities
This live episode from the Twin Cities was recorded in March 2012, but the gap between recording and posting doesn’t diminish the episode’s overall charm. Special guest Doug Benson joins the Nerdist hosts for an episode that breezes by, only showing its age when they discuss what then-upcoming films they’re anticipating. Aside from that, the episode functions as many of the Nerdist live episodes do: with the emphasis on witty banter as opposed to interviewing. The ending “quemments” section is a nice little tag as well, with the hosts and the guest both answering questions while continuing on with the absurdist streak they established earlier in the episode. It doesn’t go very deep, but with the comedians’ ability to riff back and forth, staying on the surface works just fine. [DA]

Professor Blastoff #88: American History Pt. 2 (w/ Sascha Cohen)
Guest expert Sascha Cohen returns to the hatch (or, more likely, stuck around to record another episode) for another companion episode, this time picking up where #76 left off: the Roaring ’20s. With considerable help from Cohen, the hosts quickly outline the Great Depression, World War II and Vietnam, and the emergence of the ’60s counterculture, but the throughline of it all, much like in Pt. 1, is the cognitive dissonance of holding on to the “good ole days” of American traditionalism without ignoring the plights and suffrage of poor and oppressed groups of people, which gives a welcome emotional weight to the well-known facts. Del LaRue pops in to reminisce before giving in to his Alzheimer’s, but it’s Kyle Dunnigan’s episode-bookending quandary with his niece, who’s begging him to introduce her to Daniel Radcliffe, that shines in this scant but otherwise fine episode. [SM]

[pagebreak]

Sklarbro Country #130: Haitian Dad: Eric Andre            
The Manti Te’o controversy is a news story tailor-made for Sklar brother commentary, and the beginning of this week’s episode leaves no comedic stone unturned. Even if the whole furor over the hoax died out quickly in the past week, the Sklars still get in some of the funniest, most sensible analysis. Plus, they’re joined by Eric Andre, whose surreal, satirical talk show with Hannibal Buress on Adult Swim is a white-hot ball of avant-garde energy. Andre discusses how difficult stand-up comedy can be while on drugs, and how difficult it was for his parents to deal with his rambunctiousness as a child before finding a place in the comedy world. [KM]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #35: Kamenetzky Brothers, Dan Van Kirk
Sklarbro Country doubles the amount of similar-sounding voices on the podcast this week with the Kamenetzky brothers, childhood friends of the Sklars who are sports journalists and authors of a recent book about bass fishing. The first part of the show, a series of the two sets of brothers’ collective memories, is a bit of a slog. But Dan Van Kirk once again saves the day with his news clips, which include a 50-year-old drug addict who stole a Chevy Tahoe and traded it for two crack rocks, a ridiculous amount of Ken Griffey memorabilia, and a guy caught having carnal relations with a couch. [NC]

The Smartest Man In The World: Peaches
Greg Proops covers a wide array of subjects in this nearly two-hour-long episode, but his personal history with Barry Bonds stands out. Proops saw him play during his first game for San Francisco, and describes how Bonds had the ability to will a home run into existence, which involves a physical imitation of Bonds at bat. Proops is a defender of both Bonds and Roger Clemens, even with their alleged steroid use, because, as he puts it, “Everyone was using steroids, and they were better than everyone. What does that tell you?” [NC]

Sound Opinions #373: The Best Satirical Songs
As a preview of next week’s episode with South Park and The Book Of Mormon creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, this week Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot pick some of their favorite satirical rock songs. It’s a diverting primer and a glimpse into what each of the hosts consider to be the best in satire: Spinal Tap, “Weird Al,” and The Lonely Island are gimmes, but the picks include Frank Zappa, Bill Cosby, Dead Kennedys, Beck, and The Rutles. They also discuss some of the recent big reunion singles—Outkast’s appearance on Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter,” the new song from Destiny’s Child—and the returns of Justin Timberlake and David Bowie. [KM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: 5 War Dogs Of History
Osama bin Laden was taken down not just by soldiers, but also a military dog, leading to an increased public interest in military dogs that makes hosts Sarah Dowdey and Deblina Chakraborty excited to explore some canine individuals that have assisted soldiers throughout history. It’s the ancient connection between dog and man that makes this episode so interesting. Starting thousands of years ago as shock troops, dogs evolved alongside man and his wars to become more useful in reconnaissance and sniffing out IEDs. Perhaps the most interesting story, though, is that of a World War I messenger dog that was somehow granted the name Satan, who traveled through heavy shelling in a gas mask and made truly heroic trips from trapped French troops to reinforcements. But there are more standout stories here, all of them worth hearing. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How The Frick Fracking Works
Co-host Chuck Bryant is rightfully wary of taking sides on the show’s topic of fracking, which has an endless number of environmental pitfalls and economic benefits. The idea of drilling deep into the earth’s core and blasting away at the rock already sounds dubious, but apparently it also involves sending massive amounts of water down there. What comes up is highly profitable natural gas, and often what remains are underwater lakes full of chemically toxic and slightly radioactive water. The hosts take up both sides admirably, and leave with the feeling that there is still too much research left to be done. Listeners will also leave with a sense that 45 minutes was not nearly enough of this rich topic. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Autopsies Work
Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant wisely ratchet up the silliness when tackling the particularly morbid subject of autopsies. After starting with the reasoning for having an autopsy in the first place, Clark and Bryant unpack the human anatomy and the various careers that rely on this investigative procedure. It turns out that the practice is as thorough as one could possibly imagine, and the process of weighing organs and adhering to the Time Of Death Certainty Principle reveals the precision necessary to be one of these unenviable physicians. It’s also fun to hear how much it takes to make the hosts squeamish, as this is far from their first episode dealing with death. [DT]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #101: Beyond Belief: Forged In Flame
Writing- and performance-wise, this installment of Thrilling Adventure Hour’s Beyond Belief segment is as funny and bizarre as anything the show’s ever done. This time, the supernatural plotline involves a spate of murders that lead back to a mutant gingerbread man (who is also a mama’s boy), and Paget Brewster rightfully rips the spotlight away from co-star Paul F. Tompkins. The trouble is that the live audience isn’t quite as responsive as it should be, and its reactions are a big part of making the show’s live performances translate into podcast form. Despite that unsettling effect, the episode again proves why Beyond Belief is the best thing in TAL’s repertoire. [SG]

The Todd Glass Show #86: Paul F. Tompkins and Jen Kirkman
As it stands, The Todd Glass Show is probably the only podcast where Glass and his guests can have a thoughtful and engaging discussion about rampant online misogyny and then gracefully transition into some goofy musical bits. It helps tremendously that Paul F. Tompkins and Jen Kirkman have amazing chemistry when it comes to riffing off of each other and rolling with all of the goofball setups Glass throws at them. Most of the premises provide opportunities for Tompkins and Kirkman to play out some impromptu characters, the members of a crotchety couple. Also, Tompkins’ musical comedy in the style of Frank Sinatra stage banter is nothing short of a delight. [MS]

Walking The Room #139: Dorse And Speedy Meats
The hosts begin this week’s episode with the announcement of a format change from “funny” to “interesting,” which is one way to describe a heated argument about Crock-Potting. That altered perspective does inspire Dave Anthony’s interview side to take over, leading to a legitimately interesting discussion of Greg Behrendt’s hosting gig at a dog show, in which Anthony offers his warped support and never resorts to bashing Behrendt’s career in the name of humor. Behrendt supplies that himself, which contrasts well with Anthony’s upcoming album-taping and a dissection of Walking The Room’s surprising popularity in Australia. While the first half is indeed interesting and has its share of funny moments, the hosts balance it out nicely with a welcome return to absurd news items that are hilarious even before the befuddled commentary kicks in, like a touring barbershop quartet named Storm Front or a reinterpretation of U2’s “One” to promote a bank merger. [SM]

Who Charted? #112: Hollywood’s Next Jew: Adam Pally
Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack switch up the music-charts segment a bit by exploring the top five hits in K-Pop. The hosts are joined by guest Adam Pally of Happy Endings, who gleefully participates in a discussion about a producer for one of the songs who blackmailed one of his artists by leaking a sex tape and is now serving time for making a video with an underage girl. Other than that, Pally tells some great stories about honeymooning in Southeast Asia and taking a disastrous road trip to a bed and breakfast in San Francisco. During the movie portion, Pally makes an excellent argument for why The Cable Guy is one of the few movies that does dark comedy right. [MS]

WTF With Marc Maron #353: Dave Grohl    
Marc Maron typically shies away from doing interviews with people on a press tour for a new show or movie, but after having a strong connection to Sound City, the new Dave Grohl-directed music documentary, he makes an exception. Grohl proves to be a kind of kindred spirit when discussing music with Maron, who believes in a lot of low-key mysticism when it comes to music, especially the legendary handmade soundboard from the former Sound City Studios that Grohl now has in his studio. They discuss all of the key records from Sound City’s history—most notably Fleetwood Mac and Nirvana’s Nevermind—and Grohl tells a few great stories, including teaching himself to play drums as a child and giving his daughter every Beatles album on vinyl. [KM]

WTF With Marc Maron #354: John Hodgman
As a former briefcase-carrying, D&D-playing youth, John Hodgman has certainly earned his geek stripes, but Marc Maron does a good job of digging beneath the persona of the Daily Show talking head, Mac anti-spokesman, and overly modest “I’m not really a comedian” guy. Perhaps most intriguing is the interlude where Hodgman discusses his flirtation with alcoholism and the benefits of “nonjudgmental honesty,” with segments devoted to actual literary theory and the fine line between interest in the esoteric and hipsterism. (Cough: Malort.) There’s also a good amount of “Who did you know in Massachusetts?” which grows into a funny recurring joke about how “Nostalgia was better in the old days,” deployed when things get a little too serious. [CZ]

You Made It Weird #118: John F. O’Donnell
Pete Holmes and his guest, comedian John F. O’Donnell, quickly work their way into dark and esoteric territory, discussing O’Donnell’s battles with manic depression and both men’s nuanced struggles to grasp religion. Not unlike a good Mental Illness Happy Hour episode, this one strikes a good balance of structure and free-form, rambling conversation, as well as a good balance of seriousness and severely warped, abrupt humor. (See the pair’s riffs about, yes, Jesus’ penis.) It’s easy to complain about YMIW’s frequently super-long episodes, but this is an example of how well they can work. [SG]

You Made It Weird #119: Joel McHale
The Soup host and Community star Joel McHale shows up for You Made It Weird in fine, springy form, ready to roll with Pete Holmes’ affable jokes, but also to make fun of Holmes here and there. This is one of those episodes that’s actually better for its tendency to skip around quickly, because the two seem to be in the same playful mood. In a slightly more focused segment, they manage to insightfully compare notes on The Soup and Best Week Ever. [SG]


THE REST

How Was Your Week #98: “All That Gurgling”: Richard Kind, Issa Rae
While this week’s episode starts off with a notably strong monologue, both interviews lack spontaneity and energy. [DF]

The J.V. Club #45: Morgan Walsh
It’s a father-centric episode of The J.V. Club as Janet Varney and her Burning Love co-star Morgan Walsh bond over the fact that their dads are basically the same person. [OS]

Mohr Stories #125: Greg Fitzsimmons
Jay Mohr rehashes Howard Stern’s one-sided beef with him, while his conversation with comedian Greg Fitzsimmons turns into a forum on the fellas’ favorite comics—Dane Cook among them—with re-enactments of their favorite bits. [DXF]

Mohr Stories #126: Uncle Dan and Ryan Sickler
Fan favorite Uncle Dan and Mohr network co-host Ryan Sickler sit for a post-live-show roundtable that plays like a spirited bull session recorded at a diner; topics include bowling alleys, Special Olympics, and cow-tipping. [DXF]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #137: Tangentz
Justin McElroy under the influence of Theraflu isn’t nearly as funny one might hope, and the two good goofs of the episode both fall within the last 20 minutes. [CG]

Nerdist #310: Amber Benson
With a turn on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Amber Benson is an ideal Nerdist guest, but sadly, the interview never gains traction, stalling out before it ever really starts. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1203: Turning A Phrase With Wendy Liebman
Though quick with the quips, Wendy Liebman isn’t much of a storyteller, often disrupting her otherwise charming appearance with feckless asides and too much name-dropping. [SM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Ned Kelly’s Last Stand
While it’s fascinating, this is not the first time SYMIHC has featured Australian bush ranger Ned Kelly, making this a skippable episode. [DT]

Uhh Yeah Dude: #356
It’s that rare episode where the topics—Burmese python invasions, phony African knick-knack stores used in sting operations, and pre-lotioned jeans—manage to outclass the commentary itself. [CW]

More Podmass