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Rob Schneider unloads on WTF and David Lee Roth takes over Mohr Stories

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

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


“Australia is a sensational place, and it really begs the question, why the fuck did we make that our penal colony when it’s nicer than where we live? We should have said to criminals at the time, ‘You’re all staying here, we’re off to live in paradise, albeit a coastal paradise around a rocky hell.’” —John Oliver, The Bugle

“I don’t like videos where people are trying to be funny. And people eating also makes me sick. So a guy eating and trying to be funny make me doubly sick.” —Matt Besser, Improv4Humans


Getting On With James Urbaniak
As evidenced by his popular Twitter feed, actor James Urbaniak—best known as the voice of Dr. Venture on The Venture Brothers and for his roles in American Splendor and Henry Fool—is a witty and vivacious raconteur. Urbaniak isn’t just actor-smart, he’s the real deal. So it’s not surprising that his podcast, Getting On With James Urbaniak, has an unmistakably cerebral, literary bent: Think of it as a smart party with an elegant host favoring his assembled guests with a series of droll vignettes. 

Getting On finds Urbaniak playing the raconteur and storyteller as he reads a series of short pieces written by different writers. Actually, “read” doesn’t do justice to Urbaniak’s performance, which is more acting than reading. On Getting On, Urbaniak brings a series of bitter cranks and oddballs to life, including a drunken, enraged academic who bitterly recounts how his professional career slid astray, and a disgruntled online contributor who struggles to understand his love-hate relationship with the dizzying speed, complexity, and stupidity of what passes for Internet culture. Getting On demands and rewards careful attention; it’s not a podcast to listen to passively in the background while doing dishes. It’s the podcast equivalent of reading a bitterly funny short story in The New Yorker (or, better yet, having it read aloud by a professional with a versatile, sonorous voice), which will be a powerful inducement to some and a warning to steer clear to others. [NR]


The Best Show On WFMU
Although the absence of Paul Vile, a.k.a. “Jelloman,” proves to be disconcerting (is he stuck in Coachella jail?), The Best Show carries on with the return of some veteran guests and callers. After striking down AP Mike’s claims of overt product placement on Mad Men, Tom Scharpling discusses the Troma Films documentary Tromatized: Meet Lloyd Kaufman and the strange appeal of Univision variety shows with longtime friend Auntie Christina. Also discussed are the misguided business ventures of Marky Ramone, including his meatball truck, “Cruisin’ Kitchen,” and ice-cream company, “Marky Ramone’s Cookies Gelato.” After last week’s classic 50-minute call, Jon Wurster earns a much deserved vacation, but two great calls from Andy Kindler and Jen Kirkman make this episode just as enjoyable as the last. Kindler’s call, wherein actor Stephen Dorff’s shameless shilling for e-cigarettes is justifiably roasted, stands out as a highlight. [AF]

The Bugle #230: The Baroness Bows Out
Making its triumphant return after a two-week hiatus, The Bugle finds itself back on the air just in time to make timely jabs at the recently deceased and widely hated Margaret Thatcher. Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver spend precious little time gabbing about Oliver’s bizarre trip to Australia (apparently the people there are oddly specific and open with their racism) before moving into their segments on Thatcher. Poking at the Iron Lady constitutes a very large portion of the episode, and works for the most part. It takes a little while for the two to get back into the swing of things, but by the time they deliver a eulogy laced with euphemisms, they’re back in top form. The two close out with the most enjoyable segment of the lot: a batch of pure, unadulterated, wholly incorrect Thatcher facts. [MK]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #213: Star Graves: Jerrod Carmichael, Horatio Sanz
“Star Graves” is a sleeper CBB episode, in that it takes a while to get going but sneakily becomes laugh-out-loud funny. Scott Aukerman and Jerrod Carmichael are funny up top, with Aukerman being humorously confrontational about mundane questions, but the game ball goes to Horatio Sanz. His Joe France’s character seems pretty ramshackle at first, but develops into something bizarre and engaging, especially once he describes his lifelong friendship with one of the Three Stooges (and coins the phrase “two stoogin’”). [KR]

The Fogelnest Files #31: The Professionals: Natasha Lyonne
Jake Fogelnest has known this week’s guest, actress Natasha Lyonne, for almost 20 years, and it shows. The two have the kind of rapport limited to the domain of old friends: They know the same jokes, lapse into each other’s mannerisms, and love the same weird movies. (Lyonne shares Fogelnest’s fondness for the obscure 1981 film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains). Rather than feeling insular or self-indulgent, however, the pair’s closeness is endearing and inviting. The clips they discuss are fine (the best is probably a snippet of “Black Betty” in which “Black Betty” is replaced by “Matt Lauer”), but they’re far overshadowed by how pleasant it is to be a fly in the room. And Lyonne’s rapid-fire, free-associative improv is a bizarre delight in its own right. She might be the first guest whose speed and energy outstrips Fogelnest’s, and it’s gratifying to see the perpetually manic host struggle to keep up with the guest for once. [AB]

Freakonomics: Help Wanted. No Smokers Need Apply
More and more companies nowadays won’t hire applicants who smoke cigarettes, citing future healthcare costs as their reason. By one estimate, smokers cost $4,000 more a year than non-smokers due to health costs and lost productivity. Twenty-nine states have passed laws that prevent smoking from being a deal-breaker in hiring, but the other 21 states still allow companies to screen for smokers. While the benefits to the company (and employees who contribute to the communal insurance plans) make sense, Steven Dubner argues that this could be a slippery slope. If long-term healthcare costs are a reason for not hiring someone (as they have been a reason for not giving someone insurance in the first place), why not screen the overweight, or those with diabetes? [NC]

Hang Up And Listen: The Golfier Than Thou Edition
CBS’ coverage of the Masters golf tournament is an insufferable blend of pomp and deference to a legacy of racism and sexism parading as a tentpole event on the sporting calendar. Thankfully, the best segment of this week’s HUAL grapples with that lunacy, and takes on the issue of Tiger Woods’ illegal drop on Friday. It’s a wonderful deconstruction of a sport that takes itself far too seriously and projects one image of morality while following another. [KM]

Improv4Humans #76: Food Terrorists: Billy Merritt, Andy Secunda, Betsy Sodaro
It’s a testament to Matt Besser’s abilities as a strong guiding figure that Improv4Humans pulls off a good show just about every week, with even half-baked, dead-end scenes riling up a laugh or two. This week, there isn’t a single scene that dead-ends, and the between-scene banter is fantastic. Betsy Sodaro (Animal Practice) reels in the laughs, especially as a club-kid poser navigating tricky goat-blood and poop-smearing rituals. Also on display: more silly aliens from Besser, always a welcome scenario. Every scene executes its bizarre premise with grounded character work that makes every bit a hit. And really, where else can a gross anecdote about a watermelon farm snowball turn into a tragic tale of a half-boy, half-watermelon’s search for his watermelon mother? [MK]

The JV Club #57: Lucy Davis
Janet Varney hasn’t had many guests on the show raised outside of the United States, which makes her conversation with actress Lucy Davis (The Office, Shaun Of The Dead) an enlightening peek into adolescence across the Atlantic. The discussion begins by emphasizing Davis’ British background, with her and Varney laughing about how the word “rug” and Angela Lansbury are connected because they’re both just so damn versatile. (In the U.K., “rug” can be used to refer to a blanket or a carpet, while serving as slang for a toupee in the U.S.) As a child, Davis had a fear of being wrongfully imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit, which kept her in line through her early years. Her best story comes when she recalls the time she watched one of her teachers beat a student, motivating her to clean the boy’s desk during lunch so that he wouldn’t get punished again. The two women have a strong rapport that keeps the conversation moving along, jumping from past to present as they cover topics ranging from their love of Emma Thompson to Davis not getting cast in parts where her Office character is used as a specific reference point. [OS]

Mohr Stories #150: David Lee Roth
There’s a good half-hour interview in this two-hour talk between Jay Mohr and Van Halen singer David Lee Roth. One of Mohr’s musical heroes, Roth was the coolest man on the planet a long time ago, in an age of excess. More recently, he worked as a paramedic, crashed and burned as a successor in Howard Stern’s talk-radio slot, rejoined the band, and launched a podcast. Roth hasn’t stopped talking since the early ’70s, and at first, his elliptical answers make him sound like a Stern-style impostor. But he emerges as authentically unstoppable between quotable non-sequiturs like “Hello, bwop, you can feel the boom in the room!” Mohr’s contributions feel like him trying to corral a tide wave, but he extracts choice bits—some vague, some specific—about Roth’s long and tumultuous days onstage and off. [DXF]

Monday Morning Podcast
Bill Burr recorded this week’s episode in the midst of one of the most fulfilling strings of shows of his long career, and that recent joy enlivens the entire thing, not only with amusing stories of tour-bus antics, but also with a vital energy that’s frequently absent on the Monday Morning Podcast. As a result, even Burr’s brief asides about things like the University of Michigan basketball team’s uniforms and the allure of retiring in Alabama are immensely entertaining. There’s also an uncommon (and unintentional) amount of depth, thanks mostly to Burr’s ruminations on his past mistakes and multiple listener emails about the difficulty that accompanies choosing a path in life. Altogether, it makes for perhaps the best episode of the year. [CG]

The Moth: James Braly: StorySLAM Favorites
This Moth episode features not one but two instances of frequent storyteller James Braly discussing his wife’s placenta and peculiar uses thereof. Because he lives amid “progressives”—which in this case means people who are willing to save and perhaps even eat their own placentas—he gives the Moth audience a chance to indulge in some gross-out humor. But as put out as he clearly is by his wife and neighbors, Braly works just enough curiosity and humility into his tone that he doesn’t come off as just another close-minded dick. As a result, both of his stories offer the pleasure of mocking bizarre habits without much of the attendant guilt. [SG]

Nerdist #346: Natasha Leggero
As Chris Hardwick states in the episode’s intro, he’s known guest Natasha Leggero for many years, and their friendship is instantly evident. This is beneficial, as they waste no time on general pleasantries, with Hardwick and Jonah Ray jumping right in to Leggero’s background, both personal and comedic, before discussing each person’s journey into the comedy world. This leads seamlessly into Leggero’s high-school experience in suburban Illinois, where she spent most of her time emerged in the music world before moving into comedy on what seemed like a lark. There’s nothing here all that surprising, but it proves a great indicator of what a good Nerdist episode should be. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1214: Dashing Away With Pat Francis
Episodes with regular guest/close friend of the show Pat Francis are usually good, and this one’s not an exception. The group gets a lot of mileage out of a criticism left on the show’s website (especially the guy calling Matt Belknap an “anchor” when he meant millstone), rating the filmography of Eddie Murphy, and a race Jimmy Pardo and Francis recently completed. Many podcasts aspire to sound like chummy hangouts among friends, but episode #1214 shows how that can’t really be faked. [KR]


Professor Blastoff #100: Atoms (w/ Christine Ochoa)
Low-key to the point of (supposedly) putting listeners to sleep, the hosts of Professor Blastoff still manage to be a reliable source of spirited merriment, so a 100th-episode celebration aired live on Earwolf’s YouTube channel all but guarantees an instant classic. From Kyle Dunnigan self-consciously reading live tweets to Tig Notaro nailing every chance for the “and wo-“ prefix joke to David Huntsberger ranting against clothes, this episode more than delivers in terms of laughs. But the real ace in the hole is two-time guest (and non-listener) Christine Ochoa, a Spanish-born actress and author with the wit and MENSA-approved smarts to keep up with an especially madcap game of “Name That Punky,” and the educational background to lead a discussion on atoms using bite-size anecdotes and plainspoken explanations. Professor Blastoff at its best. [SM]

Sklarbro Country #142: You Kids Want A Soda?: Jason Nash, Chris Cox
Jason Nash was one of the first comedians to commit to the podcast format, along with others like Jimmy Pardo. But in his interview with the Sklars, he vents a lot of pent-up frustration. Though he’s a regular on the show performing characters like Bruce Jenner and Bryant Gumbel, Nash talks about his days working for Saturday Night Live and his unsuccessful audition that left him without a clear direction. Add to that Nash’s unflinching and honest views of the negative aspects of fatherhood, and it makes for a rather depressing episode, saved by the Sklars’ frequent and funny interjections. [KM] 

Sound Opinions #385: Roger Ebert
Although the Sound Opinions interview with the late Roger Ebert is about seven years old, there’s never been a better time to replay it. Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot get Ebert talking about his reviews of famous rock documentaries and his screenwriting career for Russ Meyer on Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls and the never-produced Sex Pistols movie. Ebert breaks down why Don’t Look Back makes Bob Dylan look like a bully and a jerk, while Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home made Ebert reappraise his opinion of Dylan—and that’s just one highlight in an hour full of them. For those who’ve never heard this interview, it’s a wonderful facet of Ebert’s career to learn about. [KM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Loving V. Virginia, Part 1
Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson decide to hop on board the marriage-equality movement and focus the first of two episodes on Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case that made it possible for mixed-race marriages to exist in America. Frey and Wilson note early on how ironic and prejudicial the very premise of the case was, in that Richard Loving may have been white, but wife Mildred Loving was already part black and part Native American. The couple was forced to flee their own state, and judges made declarations about their union with alternately arcane and progressive language. Frey and Wilson stumble a bit in the beginning as they describe how the two-part story will be broken up, but this topic is clearly meaningful to them. The episode’s timeliness and vulnerable protagonists make it even more compelling. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Loving V. Virginia, Part 2
In part two of this civil-rights event, Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson focus on the tactics of the state of Virginia and the legal team for the Lovings. Racism and white supremacy come into the court proceedings quickly, and it’s startling to hear studies alleging that bigamy and incest were more common in interracial marriages. Eventually the Supreme Court justices were able to force lawyers for the prosecution to admit that this was truly about the purity of the white race, and that the law was definitely put into place to enforce institutional racism. Because this case took place in the 1960s, the themes of the proceedings are hauntingly familiar, and Frey and Wilson engage in a lively and compelling discussion about whether cases like this should be brought to court in the first place. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: Do Men And Women Have Different Brains?
Josh Clark is audibly nervous going into this topic, but co-host Chuck Bryant assures him that the discussion over the difference between men and women’s brains is about merely that—a difference. The difference has nothing to do with intelligence or cognitive ability; the differences are structural and only matter in a broader conceptual sense. There are two times more neurons and cells in the hypothalamus of a man, for instance, but a woman has a larger frontal lobe. Interestingly, all the research detailing those minor differences is relatively new, no more than 20 years old. Clark and Bryant excel at describing this touchy subject without getting condescending toward either of the genders. [DT]

This American Life #492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde
Episode #492 is classic TAL, the kind of long-form single story that seems tailor-made for the show with its mix of comedy, tragedy, mystery, and true crime. A small-town doctor gets a new job and realizes that the man he replaced—who coincidentally has the same last name—is in prison for murdering his father. Told via court transcripts and recorded phone calls from jail, the mystery that unfolds is lurid but well-told, and listeners are likely to change their minds about three times before learning the truth. [CZ]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #113: Cactoid Jim, King Of The Martian Frontier: Good Jim
This performance from the fall of 2012 gives Thrilling Adventure Hour the equivalent of a knighting, in that Weird Al (with help from Paul And Storm) is on hand to sing one of the show’s elaborate, dorky theme songs. This tale of Martian hero Cactoid Jim (Nathan Fillion) also musters all the ammo the show’s writers could possibly put into one segment, in terms of weird characters (a bloodthirsty soccer player) and convoluted plotlines. (Fillion’s character essentially must defeat an evil version of himself.) It’s Joshua Malina who makes the worthiest performance here, though, proving the unlikely longevity of the barkeep character, who, as always, says that he doesn’t want no trouble in his place. [SG]

Walking The Room #146: Cheadle Up And Gasoline Watermelon
The hosts of Walking The Room tend not to plan their material, which makes this week’s highlight all the more inspired. Early on, Dave Anthony suggests inviting Gallagher to the closet as a guest, an idea that neither host can shake, and for good reason: Taking society’s leftovers and wringing them for whatever value they have left is basically the show’s whole conceit. The two then veer through a number of gas- and fire-based riffs—how Anthony’s neighbor burnt her purse, what to save from a burning house, and different containment possibilities—before arriving at the explosive marriage of the two premises. While unconnected, the surrounding touches are still great gross-out filler, including a dog fiasco, a vomit party, and defense of the Fast And The Furious franchise. [SM]

Who Charted? #124: Duke Of Leon: DC Pierson
There aren’t too many people that could drop into a discussion of modern EDM music and keep the conversation more analytical than condescending, but Derrick Comedy member, YA author, and all-around delightful human DC Pierson is one of them. While counting down the Billboard Dance/Electric Digital Songs Chart, Pierson, Howard Kremer, and Kulap Vilaysack go on tangents to talk about Blue Man Group and Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s trip to Cuba. The movie chart countdown yields a lot of funny analysis of recent biopics like Lincoln and 42, while Kremer’s vague genre description of each film cracks everyone up. [KM]

WTF #377: Rob Schneider
Having Rob Schneider in the garage is a clear indication that this episode falls into the “redemption” category. It’s Marc Maron attempting to give Schneider, a comedian who’s been ridiculed for most of his career, a fair shake and a real chance to talk. Schneider delves into his personal history starting out a young comic in San Francisco, and shares brief insights to his time at SNL with Chris Farley and Adam Sandler. But his best moments come when he talks about the aftermath of colossal box-office failures like The Hot Chick and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, losing development deals with two different studios, and trying to rebuild his career. This is a less rambling version of Maron’s conversation with Pauly Shore, but it’s still a worthy attempt to give a reviled comic a place to explain without fear of reprisal. [KM]

WTF #378: Scott Conant
Marc Maron’s two favorite jobs that he doesn’t have are rock star and chef, so his interviews with either can occasionally trend a little wistful and inside-baseball. However, Chopped star Scott Conant comes off more down-to-earth than his colleague Anthony Bourdain, who seems to consider himself the Keith Richards of the kitchen, so food snobbery is kept to a minimum (aside from Conant’s grudge against raw red onions). Conant discusses his background, the truth and bullshit behind various cooking buzzwords, shocking levels of anti-Semitism in relatively modern-day European kitchens, and what makes him jealous. As a bonus, this episode includes a cooking segment with fairly lousy audio. [CZ]

You Made It Weird #142: David O’Doherty
Pete Holmes offers a glimpse into his recent trip to Australia in this bleary visit with Irish comedian David O’Doherty. Though it’s a long episode, it gets off to an entertaining start, with O’Doherty bringing his little keyboard to Holmes’ hotel room and playing one of his droll songs. (Naturally, the music comes with a healthy side of Holmes’ delighted cackling and clapping). There’s about three hours of conversation after that, but it’s hard to argue with such a goofy, giddy start. [SG]

You Made It Weird #143: Eddie Pepitone
Listeners of The Mental Illness Happy Hour or WTF already know that Eddie Pepitone can get some nice analytic distance from his apoplectic stage persona. In that, his talk with Pete Holmes might not offer Pepitone fans a whole lot that’s new. Still, it’s a meeting of two exuberant and frequently very loud comics, and You Made It Weird’s format is as fun a way to experience them as any. [SG]


Doug Loves Movies: Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott And Nelson Franklin
The particularly awkward chat portion seems to end before it even begins this week. Given all the recent outings in other cities, the usual time allowance at DLM’s UCB Theater home base is starting to feel insufficient. [MS]

How Was Your Week #110: “How Was Your Week Live”: Chris & Bridey Elliott, Aimee Mann, Siggy Flicker, Pichet Ong, Max Silvestri, more
While there’s plenty here that will delight fans, a heavier-than-usual reliance on visual bits and gags means that listeners miss out on the full experience of what no doubt was an incredible live show. [DF]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #109: Listener Claire Laffar
Claire Laffar gives an interesting glimpse into growing up with parents who are emotional opposites. However, the show continues to flounder with issues related to sexuality as a presumably well-meaning Paul Gilmartin tries to connect his guest’s bisexuality and a pubescent molestation. [TC]

Mohr Stories #149: Barry Katz
Barry Katz, Mohr’s manager and mentor, drops in for a conversation about the psychology of successful comedians, but it’s mostly inside talk about the work that goes into being Jay Mohr, dusted with some details from his movie career. [DXF]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #148: The Best Part Of Waking Up
This entire episode feels comedically flat, only perking up when goofs get particularly dark or particularly gross for funny, fleeting moments. [CG]

Nerdist #345: Dominic Monaghan
Considering it has a guest as versatile as Dominic Monaghan, this episode of Nerdist feels incredibly standard. Little is offered in the way of new information, and it essentially boils down to Monaghan and host Chris Hardwick exchanging pleasantries for the episode’s duration. [DA]

Radiolab: The Distance Of The Moon
In this episode, Radiolab teams with Selected Shorts to curate a live show, tapping actor Liev Schreiber to read a fantastical short story about jumping between Earth and the moon. [MK]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #47: The Walsh Brothers, Jason Nash, Dan Van Kirk
Recorded last week, before this Monday’s events at the Boston Marathon, the Sklars and Boston natives the Walsh Brothers nevertheless deliver some typically funny commentary to Dan Van Kirk’s roundup of crazy news stories. [KM] 

Stuff You Should Know: How Marriage Works
Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant know how to interweave the complex history of the institution of marriage and the topical threads that listeners will be eager to hear, but as this episode goes on, it sounds a bit like they’re stuck preaching to the progressive choir. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #98: Tom Martin And Henry Phillips
Tom Martin and Henry Phillips are competent guest hosts, but most of the discussion veers a little too inside-baseball when it comes to analyzing their stand-up and the performance of comedy. [MS]