Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg stop by everywhere, Alex Winter talks Bill & Ted, and a history of drag queens

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg stop by everywhere, Alex Winter talks Bill & Ted, and a history of drag queens

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“Next week you might be shaping the future of Democratic discourse in America, I’ll be taking my son to look for a squirrel in the woods.” —Andy Zaltzman, on John Oliver guest-hosting The Daily Show, The Bugle

“[Tom Waits] recorded a couple albums where he didn’t sing like that, and one day, he decided to ride the rails. That dude wouldn’t last five minutes on the rails. Some train-yard dick would cave his head in with his billy club.” —Tom Scharpling, The Best Show On WFMU

“Is that an annual event?”
“It is at my house, you know that! I always inflate those inflatable buildings in my front yard and have [my son] throw party planes at them.” —Mike Schmidt and Jimmy Pardo talk his 9/11 festivities, Never Not Funny

NEW TO US

Worst Gig Ever
On Worst Gig Ever, musicians and comedy performers Geoff Garlock and Mike Pace talk to fellow musicians and comedy performers about especially nightmarish experiences at gigs and on the road. At least that’s the premise. In actuality, the podcast is almost completely unstructured, with discussion of specific hellish gigs typically only popping up here and there within the confines of a 65-minute chat about the guest’s life and overall career. That’s not a bad thing, however; rather, it gives the show a very natural, conversational feel as opposed to one of a straightforward interview. Garlock and Pace also have a strong rapport, and they generally do a commendable job of looping their guests into that chemistry as well, making their conversations entertaining (or at least engaging), no matter the subject matter.

That tendency to meet the guests at their own wavelengths means that the guests usually dictate the energy and overall vibe of any given episode. So when Jake Fogelnest makes an appearance and brings along his somewhat manic energy along with a great deal of funniness, it makes the entire episode funny and manic, particularly when Fogelnest is talking about the whirlwinds of his career and dealing with David Lee Roth. Similarly, Bear In Heaven guitarist Adam Wills brings a much more low-key presence to the show, which is apt, considering that he talks extensively about the doldrums that accompany being in a touring indie-rock band in this day and age, which is more fascinating than it sounds. [CG]


OUTLIER 

The Randumb Show
Game shows aren't just for housewives, grandparents, and people who don’t have jobs to go to during the day anymore. The genre has earned its own 24-hour cable channel and more are popping up with each new TV season as an effective way for networking to bring in audiences and cut production costs. The Price Is Right and Let’s Make A Deal producer and former Pyramid host Mike Richards and co-host Beth Triffon, a development assistant turned actress and writer described by Richards as the podcasting world’s “shortest moral compass,” are well versed in the game-show world and television production and provided an entertaining forum for discussing both as well as anything else that randomly pops into their mind while the episode is being recorded. They provide a unique peak at what goes on in Television City—the true fragility of network shows as they struggle to maintain their foothold on their time slot, the tension that can breed against their rival shows, Richards’ view of The View when he worked on the short-lived guy-infused spinoff The Other Half. They also bring on some of the contestants who won the big, shiny prizes to talk about how their very lucrative 15 minutes of fame affected their lives, including Price Is Right winner Josh Silberman, who expressed his enthusiasm for his brand new car with his pelvis, a moment that also won him an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. [DG]


THE BEST

The Best Show on WFMU
A hallmark of The Best Show has been Tom Scharpling’s wide frame of pop-culture reference, which gives the show the energy to entertain equally with an anonymous weirdo or a well-known guest as the host’s sidekick. One week after reveling in the syndicated depravity of Morton Downey Jr., Scharpling pivots to discuss the minutiae of Star Wars and Star Trek with John Hodgman. The author and humorist has become the show’s most consistently excellent guest over the last four years. He’s developed a solid rapport with Scharpling and a clear affection for the show’s cast of characters. Jon Wurster checks in as Philly Boy Roy with an amusing reading of a steamy letter Alexander Graham Bell allegedly wrote to Penthouse Forum. It’s another satisfying episode for a program that’s been on a roll in recent weeks. [TC]

The Bugle #237: Istanbul’s Hit
After a brief break, The Bugle returns this week in eager anticipation of John Oliver’s hosting duties at The Daily Show, which began on Monday. While the first half of this issue is slightly brought down by a palpable nervousness on John’s part, it hits its stride when he intros a section with a full-on falsetto cover of Joe Esposito’s famous pump-up anthem “You’re The Best.” Though reciting in a fit of snarky glory, the song lightens the mood, and the two hosts fall back into their hilarious rhythm. Later, in a moment of sheer brilliance, John and Andy Zaltzman reflect on a recently unearthed letter documenting a drunken meeting between Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin that results in a must-listen, hilarious but brief reenactment. [MK]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #223: Roll Over, Seth Rogen
For the second time in the space of eight weeks, Scott Aukerman goes one-on-one, WTF-style with a guest, but this time it’s a little frustrating. The last time, Aukerman did it with Marc Maron, which made a lot of sense, but this feels like a wasted opportunity to have a guest with such a strong background in improvisation come in and casually shoot the shit. It’s certainly enjoyable; Seth Rogen has never been on the podcast before, and he couldn’t be more affable—which, again, feels like a missed opportunity. He probably would’ve been game for anything one of CBB’s characters threw his way, but instead listeners get a rounds of Fart/Mary/Kiss, What Am I Thinking?, and Would You Rather? Rogen enjoys himself, and he makes the episode work (particularly when he gets to his Randy Newman impression), but, oh, what could’ve been… [KR]

Doug Loves Movies: Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, And Rory Scovel
Sarah Silverman may just be the perfect Doug Loves Movies guest: She’s movie-savvy, always has great stories to share during the conversation portion of the show, and is a varsity-level Leonard Maltin Game player. So an episode featuring her is bound to be good, and the addition of Zach Galifianakis (in particularly gregarious form, no less) and Rory Scovel ensures a fun listen. Sadly, Silverman doesn't quite pull off one of her signature last-minute Leonard Maltin Game reversals, but it doesn’t really matter; it’s still a good, competitive game, and the discussion portion is the real highlight of this episode anyway. Everyone seems comfortable and in high spirits, which leads to a lot of friendly ribbing and easygoing chatter that makes this episode feel more like a fun living-room hangout than a performance in front of an audience. [GK]

The Fogelnest Files #39: The Documentary Files: Jeffrey Schwarz
Jake Fogelnest’s interview with documentarian Jeffrey Schwarz offers further proof that the host is at his best when focusing on a specific topic instead of pulling randomly from the annals of YouTube. Schwarz and Fogelnest still manage to discuss a range of issues; talking to Schwarz allows Fogelnest to tackle the history of homosexuality in Hollywood (Schwarz was an apprentice editor on the seminal film The Celluloid Closet), his own experiences with AIDS protest culture during the ’80s in New York City, and the rise of DVD commentary. Within his realm of expertise—namely, marginalia and underground cultural phenomena—Fogelnest is an incredibly knowledgeable person, and he finds uncannily good company in this week’s subject. The show is required listening for anyone unfamiliar with the plight of gay men on the silver screen, but it’s also just a fascinating look at someone whose work is well known but whose identity probably isn’t. [AB]

Hang Up And Listen: The Overly Lasered Edition
The NBA season continues to drag on forever, making the opening segment of breaking down the first two games of the NBA Finals a dire slog. But hey, nothing makes playoff analysis exciting like a second segment about even more details of another performance-enhancing drug scandal in Major League Baseball. To HUAL’s credit, the panel talks about the effect of seemingly constant steroid chatter on weary sports fans. And the final segment, about the proliferation of sports technology and the possibility of using lasers to project things like first-down lines live on a football field confronts how sports have lagged behind the times in terms of embracing modern tools to improve what are now multibillion-dollar industries. [KM]

How Was Your Week #118: Shelby Fero, Bridget Everett "Wayne and Garth"
Bridget Everett is a big personality. She’s bold, energetic, and larger than life: everything one might expect from a cabaret singer. Everett’s outgoing personality also makes her an ideal HWYW guest, and her appearance gets things back on track after a couple of off weeks. Julie Klausner’s live shows have routinely featured bits that mix comedy and song, and Klausner's passion for cabaret--and admiration for Everett’s work—means that the two get along fabulously as they discuss various aspects of Everett’s act and life. Klausner’s loose conversational style and ability to move seamlessly between topics means that listeners—regardless of whether they are fans of cabaret—will leave the interview with a better appreciation for the form. [DF]

Improv4Humans #84: Double Or Nothing: Todd Glass, Anthony King, Alex Fernie, Ben Rodgers 
Improv4Humans has been on its best roll these last few weeks. Following a few bigger name guests, Matt Besser brings in a round of four talented though not instantly recognizable fellows for a solid episode this week. For episodes with more than three guests, it can be hard to keep track of who’s saying what, especially when all five voices speaking are of the same gender. Despite that, more than a few memorable characters take root, especially in the hilarious titular scene based on the doofus who spent his life savings on a carnival game and received a dreadlocked banana. Before that, they do an inspired take on Southern Civil War re-enactors fed up with losing each year. In spite of an early South Park episode carrying a similar premise, they it take in a wonderfully weird and Shakespeare-infused direction rounding out a strong episode. [MK]

Judge John Hodgman: Fitness for the Prosecution
This week’s case hinges on fun and punishing fitness. Melissa wants boyfriend Henry to participate in an extreme obstacle race so he can bond with her longtime friends. The “obstacle course” is a shin-scraping, forearm-bashing 5K run through mud and portions of a lake—shallow ones, she thinks, but can’t say for sure—with challenges that may include scaling a wall and fighting through a group of costumed combatants (possibly Vikings or DC superheroes; once again, she’s not certain). Melissa tries to spin it as “a charitable event,” but Hodgman disallows all suspect rhetoric. Hodgman and bailiff Jesse Thorn write off the race as a zany LARP festival, setting up Henry—a physically fit, bicycle-riding homebrewer—to reject the athletic event on aesthetic grounds, but the Californian defendant cites environmental concerns. The physical and social considerations barely factor in, and it’s a wonder either side wins. [DXF]

The J.V. Club #65: Sara Benincasa
Janet Varney continues to explore adolescent mental illness as she brings on comedian and Agorafabulous! writer Sara Benincasa to discuss the birth of her depression and agoraphobia as a teenager. Benincasa has to make her way to rehearsal after the show so their conversation is light on filler, diving immediately into the meaty material as they chat about the ways their mental illness has impacted their adult careers in comedy. That quickly leads to discussion of the guest’s childhood and the ways she initially coped with her psychological problems. Her story is less intense than last week’s episode but more similar to what Varney experienced herself as a teen, giving the two women common ground to explore. While there’s a good amount of medical talk, that doesn’t dictate the content of their conversation, which gets sillier as the podcast continues. It starts in a serious place, but by the end of the show, the women are talking about the time Neil Gaiman tweeted that he stole Benincasa’s vibrator. [OS]

Nerdist #367: Alex Winter
If this episode is any indication, it’s downright criminal that the guy best-known for playing stoner Bill from the Bill & Ted movies isn’t widely known for being a smart and interesting guy. The Nerdist crew delves into Alex Winter’s post-acting career as a director and documentary filmmaker. For the most part, the interview focuses on Winter’s documentary on the rise and fall of Napster, which gives Chris Hardwick and Winter ample opportunity to reminisce on the early incarnations of the Internet. It’s one of the episodes that really lives up to the “nerd” portion of the podcast’s moniker. Aside from the documentary, Winter also tells a great anecdote about his Bill & Ted audition with Keanu Reeves. [MS]

Never Not Funny #1222: Souping It Up With Mike Schmidt
Never Not Funny goes old-school this week, bringing in former co-host Mike Schmidt (now of The 40 Year Old Boy), who Jimmy Pardo fired not long into the show’s run. That’s all water under the bridge at this point, and Schmidt and the NNF crew settle into a comfortable groove immediately. Schmidt has a great voice for podcasting, and the shared history he has with Pardo and Matt Belknap makes for fun listening. [KR]

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Professor Blastoff #108: Infinity (w/ Abe Kunin)
Hard-to-grasp topics tend to be undermined by the Professor Blastoff hosts’ tangential banter, and the allure of a captive audience means live episodes are especially prone to bailing on complex ideas for some light improv. This week, however, does well to inject silliness into the topic rather than replace it, avoiding an easy joke about the episode’s runtime and defining all 100 minutes as essential listening. It’s most commendable for the fact that Kyle Dunnigan’s half-drunk trolling doesn’t derail the conversation on infinity and its myriad applications, but rather heightens the level of playfulness established pre-Professor and spurs all sorts of jokes pertaining to death, the universe, and Hitchhiker’s Guide. Both high-concept and lowbrow, this episode lands right in Professor Blastoff’s sweet spot. [SM]

Radiolab Adoptive Couple V. Baby Girl
It’s been nearly a month and a half since Radiolab’s last proper episode, the heartbreaking “23 Weeks 6 Days.” This week the program returns in strong form with a thought-provoking story detailing a straightforward adoption that snowballs into a Supreme Court case—one that could potentially call into question every federal law enacted to protect American Indians. It’s a huge story, but Radiolab producer Tim Howard navigates the narrative brilliantly. Howard guides the listeners through the story of a 2-year-old being transferred from an adoptive family and given over to her biological father, who is long out of the picture. He weaves in threads of historical implications, human perspectives, and what this case could possibly mean for the future. The case has yet to go to court, so the episode leaves on a cliffhanger of sorts, but is well worth a listen. [MK]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #55: Rich Eisen, Dan Van Kirk
Former ESPN and current NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen is the perfect guest to sit in with the Sklar Brothers: he’s incredibly knowledgeable about sports, used to performing, and has something funny to say on nearly every topic. The Sklars pick his brain about the future of NFL expansion—locations, expanded seasons, taking over the television calendar—and have him list his top five Michigan sports moments in yet another moment of Wolverine homerism. (How’s that record against Ohio State working out lately?) Outside of the interview segments, Eisen holds his own when riffing on Dan Van Kirk’s various stories of sad people doing drugs and becoming a hassle for police. [KM]

Stuff You Should Know: How Drag Queens Work
Though the first few minutes of this episode are an awkward attempt by the hosts to verbally dress themselves in women’s clothing, Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant do a fine job of explaining the world of drag to layman listeners. Beginning in vaudeville as a high-paying spectacle and continuing for years as a family friendly source of entertainment, drag shows influenced everything from gay-friendly speakeasies during Prohibition to more restrictive anti-cross-dressing laws in the 1950s. But the modern style and vernacular get equal attention from Clark and Bryant, who explain what a fishy act is and why it’s not considered appropriate to use the term transvestite anymore. More liberal listeners may be sensitive to assumptions about the sexuality of performers, but as long-time supporters of the LGBT community, Clark and Bryant are more than capable of making these comments with compassion. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: Capgras Syndrome: You Are Not Who You Think You Are
Capgras syndrome is an alarming disorder, and few people are better suited to find lighthearted moments in a heavy topic than hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant. Once thought to be rarer than it actually is, Capgras strips the afflicted of all their hope and faith by convincing them that everyone in their lives have been replaced with impostors. Particularly common in Alzheimer’s patients, part of what is so strange about the disorder is that it also affects younger people without signs of dementia. What is particularly unsettling is that rationally, patients can recognize people, but they do not feel an emotional stimulation that would comfort a normal person into believing they were looking at a loved one. Clark and Bryant are careful to include psychological and scientific accounts and take no cheap shots, making this episode a fascinating insight into some uniquely troubled minds. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #106: Troy Conrad
In this episode, Todd Glass introduces his friend Troy Conrad into the rotation of guests, and Conrad is all too happy to indulge Glass’ vacillation between silly and serious subject matter. Glass goes off about homophobia within the Boy Scouts before revisiting a common thread throughout many of the recent episodes, his growing admiration of Mr. Rogers. It’s hard not get choked up during the YouTube clip where Rogers recounts the experience of meeting grown-up fans on the street. Glass also gets a lot of mileage out of the live performance of a “High Hopes” jingle parody. However, some of the best moments come from when Glass and Conrad get nostalgic for the days when they used to prank bartenders by scamming non-alcoholic drinks out of them. [MS]

Uhh Yeah Dude: #375
Having just rebranded themselves as the one-stop LGBT podcast, the hosts of Uhh Yeah Dude work themselves into a lather in preparation for the high altitudes and higher stakes of the Denver live episode. This episode happens to be an especially good showcase for the pair’s talent for railing against the most trivial of injustices: The first thing sticking in Seth Romatelli’s craw this week is the shittiness of today’s sports merchandise, the second is the corner-cutting endemic to the world of competitive Ferris-wheel riding (bathroom breaks and Call Of Duty are allowed, apparently). Then, he trains his gimlet eye on the suspect study equating diet soda mouth to meth mouth. Jonathan Larroquette provides his own sage analysis of the rise in accidental ingestion of weed brownies in the wake of modified marijuana laws and shares stories of fans recognizing him by voice alone. There’s a surprising amount of “back in my day” reminiscing here, but for all that, it’s an especially rich, entertaining, and focused hour of conversation. [CW]

Walking The Room #154: Greg Proops
With his San Franciscan upbringing, slightly warped sensibility, and a T-shirt featured on Estoy Merchandise, it’s kind of a wonder it took 154 episodes for smartest man in the world Greg Proops to make it to the closet. The first segment alone is worth the wait, though, as Proops’ poignantly funny lead-in sets off a rapid tour through some distinctly WTR territory, starting with a comedian’s funeral and pausing only to consider whether a gabfest on the attractiveness of Duran Duran fundamentally changes the podcast. Later moments prompt the repeated phrase “41 and over club,” and many references may be lost on those born after 1972 or outside the Bay Area, but the surefire wit and strong rapport between the old friends—particularly the two Gregs—is never less than solid, and at times transcendental. (Proops’ guess of a comedian’s name based on Behrendt’s “crazy eyes” is especially impressive.) Also, be sure to check out Dave Anthony’s excellent new album, Shame Chamber. [SM]

Who Charted? #132: Not Jared Leto Good
In an all too brief edition of Who Charted?, guest Patton Oswalt tells the backstory of the incredible picture of Oswalt and his daughter posing as Spidergirl and Doc Ock. Oswalt also shares some insight into the much-appreciated Parks And Recreation outtake where he filibusters with some intense Star Wars criticism. As usual, Oswalt is a warm, affable and charming guest and it seems as if there’s nothing the man can’t talk about. As the title suggests, Howard Kremer, Kulap Vilaysack, and Oswalt have a lot of fun at the expense of Jared Leto, particularly the fact that one of his band’s songs literally debuted in space. However, the most shocking revelation occurs in the final chart, where Oswalt reveals that he was a member of a fraternity in college. [MS]

WTF #396: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Marc Maron’s interview with comedy collaborators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is a lot like the projects that those two have become famous for—raunchy, light, sophomoric, and undeniably engaging, even if ultimately without a whole lot of substance. The topics covered are similar as well—sex, masturbation, and marijuana, among others—and the duo talk somewhat candidly about the ups and downs of their careers (The Green Hornet in particular) coming off as honest and grounded along the way. There’s nothing really revelatory or even all that insightful to speak of, but the episode does transcend being a promotional appearance in support of their new film, This Is The End, and it makes for nice and breezy early summer listening. [CG]

You Made It Weird: Live From Bloomington, Indiana!
Despite its strangely segregated structure (the two female guests, Tig Notaro and Maria Bamford, are there and gone before the three male comedians take the stage), this week’s live show sees Pete Holmes in fine form. Being in front of a large audience instead of in a studio clearly provides a big boost of energy for the host, who’s able to keep things moving at a brisk pace throughout. The episode undoubtedly peaks early with Notaro, whose skeptical deadpan balances perfectly with Holmes’ effusive enthusiasm. Even so, there are few dead patches, if any at all. As a bonus, the final panel with John Roy, Al Jackson, and Stewart Huff proves to be a fascinating study in contrasting comedic backgrounds, since all three have had radically disparate paths to the big time. This week’s shorter, snappier show should also be a boon for those who have trouble mustering the patience to listen to Holmes’ usual two-hours-plus podcasts. [AB]


THE REST

Doug Loves Movies: Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, Evan Goldberg, Moises Arias, And Nick Robinson 
An overstuffed panel combined with Seth Rogen’s ubiquitous chortle makes this episode feel a little oppressive. It’s a shame, because there are a lot of funny bits and missed potential for even more; it’s clear from the too-short Leonard Maltin Game that Rogen could be a great player if given more opportunity. But there are so many voices and points to hit, everything gets lost in the muddle. [GK]

Freakonomics: Why Family And Business Don't Mix
This week looks at the role that family plays in economic development. Turns out that strong families actually hamper economic growth, but Dubner doesn't have much information to provide beyond that. [NC]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #117: Dr. Mike Sebahar
Paul Gilmartin sits down with his best friend in a conversation that has interesting moments, but it’s rarely fun being an uninitiated third wheel around two people who have been close for decades. [TC]

Monday Morning Podcast
It’s Bill Burr’s birthday this week and, as is often the case when he’s in a good mood, the laughs are silly but sparse. [CG]

The Moth: Chris Tombline: Wrong Side Of The Grass
Funeral director Chris Tombline only remembers one lesson from his college psychology class: Mourning brings out both the best and the worst in people. Both are highlighted in Tombline by this story about one critical mistake on the job, which is amusing, but light enough to be missed. [DJ] 

Nerdist #366: Aasif Mandvi
As the episode nears its end Chris Hardwick posits that he’s had a lot of fun recording the podcast but that it’s “probably almost unlistenable.” It’s sad just how accurate that observation is. [DA]

Nerdist #368: Rick Moranis
Rick Moranis has a wealth of experiences that would make for an engaging podcast, but his level of diplomacy and nonchalance makes it unenthusiastic and pedantic at best. [DA]

Sklarbro Country #150: Physical Business: John Ross Bowie, Jason Nash
John Ross Bowie’s story of his father’s job as a paper salesman and a discussion of Barbra Streisand are highlights of an otherwise skippable episode. [KM]

The Smartest Man In The World: Staples
Most of this week’s topics fly by too quickly for Proops to settle into a groove. His long riff on psychedelic rock plays like a bad trip, but you’ll never look at a menu the same way after his takedown of hipster cuisine. [DXF]

Sound Opinions #393: The Best Albums Of 2013 (So Far)
Avid listeners of Sound Opinions will be able to predict Jim and Greg covering Savages’ debut album, Chance The Rapper, Parquet Courts, Rhye, Foxygen, and others. Unless you missed a wide swath of episodes so far this year, it’s a retread of previous conversations about the best music of the past six months. [KM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Paul Poiret
Though Poiret is credited with forcing corsets out of style, for each of his accomplishments the hosts are quick to qualify him as only one of several innovators, making him seem less compelling. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker’s life story is an inspiring case of a black man fighting for recognition in colonial America, but there is little time spent delving into his actual accomplishments. [DT]

WTF #395: Tommy Stinson
Tommy Stinson of The Replacements is a fantastic get, especially given the news of the first shows by The Replacements in 22 years, but Marc Maron’s musician interviews are only occasionally mandatory listening, and this episode drags on too long to fit that bill. [KM]

You Made It Weird: Max Silvestri
While Silvestri comes off as a solid riffer and an affable guy, Holmes fails to draw out much about his life that would distinguish him from any of the other stand-ups that ran in their New York circle. There are some funny callbacks later in the episode, but it’s not worth waiting an hour and a half to hear them. [AB]