The Cornetto boys on Doug Loves Movies, Mike and Tom return to snacking, and a must-listen sports roundtable

The Cornetto boys on Doug Loves Movies, Mike and Tom return to snacking, and a must-listen sports roundtable

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Note: Certain podcasts released on Friday may be added on Monday morning.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“[Snakes On A Plane] is the old-school Sharknado.” — The Hon. John Hodgman, Judge John Hodgman

“Nick and me used to watch the WWF back when it was the World Wildlife Fund, and we saw Vince McMahon stab that panda to death.” —Simon Pegg reminiscing with Nick Frost, Doug Loves Movies

NEW TO US

The Answering Machine
There are many ways to get to know a fictional character. Some podcasts go the direct route, and have freewheeling interviews that build characters over many episodes (Comedy Bang! Bang!), and it’s how Paul F. Tompkins’ satire of Garry Marshall slowly evolved from washed-up director into an extra-dimensional being married to Gillian Jacobs. The Answering Machine goes a bit of a different route, building its characters in a fascinatingly roundabout way: through archived voicemail messages. Each episode focuses on a single character, who doesn’t make an appearance, and stars the folks who can’t seem to get a hold of said character. 

Scripted, produced, and narrated by L.A. stand-up Don Takano, The Answering Machine is an out-there podcast. Each episode has a bevy of performers portraying rich characters, some based on broad fictional sketches of actual minor celebrities. Takano’s main conceit is that he’s been collecting these voicemail tapes for years, which smartly allows the show to skip around from episode to episode (clocking in at just the right length). The inaugural show centers around a missing punk from the early ’90s, delighting in building bizarre figures in the punk’s life, but it doesn’t quite manage to tell a satisfying story by the end. The following episodes eschew the mystery, which pays off in spades, especially in episode two, “Barbi Foxx.” The standout episode centers on a wannabe Playboy model trying to make it big in Hollywood, and features a host of insane pastiches of Hollywood lowlifes trying to get in touch with her. Takano has something here. [MK]


THE BEST

The Best Show on WFMU
Over the course of three hours, Best Show episodes tend to build on early greatness or frustration. Regular listeners will recognize this installment’s mounting sense of defeat as one bad call after another pile up on an exasperated Tom Scharpling. The shoddy calls become so relentless that the flops transform from a snooze into an entertaining debacle. With Jon Wurster only making a brief appearance, Scharpling makes the most of the situation until Fred from Honolulu and Hannah from Brooklyn check in with fun calls about food connected to KISS and Jon Bon Jovi’s dad. The show also gets a reprieve from rotten calls with another stellar Scharpling sound collage and the fun fiasco of Gary The Squirrel’s Breaking Bad recap show, Breaking Nuts. This isn’t a good introduction for new listeners, but the converted will appreciate Scharpling at his most beleaguered. [TC]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #239: New Dad: Jay Mohr, Matt Besser
As Jay Mohr explains, he has a reputation for being an alpha-male type who steamrolls guests on his own podcast, so he tries to tone it down during his first visit to one of his favorite podcasts. He’s only partly successful, but it works, particularly when he and Matt Besser’s New Dad pull a “Mayor Of Hollywood” on Scott Aukerman, putting him in the Andy Daly role of having everything he says shut down. As a fan of the show, Mohr enthusiastically goes with every tangent, and Besser nails the obnoxious fawning that can accompany new parenthood. Mohr’s sensibility doesn’t quite match CBB’s, but his enthusiasm is charming. [KR]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #240: #TheWorldsEnd: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Scott Aukerman welcomes Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End director Edgar Wright, along with stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, for an unusually giddy b-b-b-bonus episode. The whole affair has a slapdash feel to it—the three were unable to record on a regular day, so Aukerman accommodated and went off-schedule—especially during their lighthearted discussion of the new film. Best of all, the three aren’t joined by a character-cum-comedian, but instead interrupt their own interview to become Michael Caine and Sean Connery. Not since Bobby Moynihan’s Fourvel has a celebrity guest’s character worked this well. There may not be a knifegrab moment, but it’s well worth a listen. [MK]

Doug Loves Movies: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, And Edgar Wright
The Cornetto Trilogy guys took over podcast land in the week or so leading up to The World’s End, but their appearance on Doug Loves Movies was presaged back in May, when Simon Pegg raised the enticing idea of having him and his two cohorts on next time they were all in town. Raise a glass to fulfilled promises, then, because Pegg has indeed returned along with fellow DLM favorite—and perhaps the best Leonard Maltin Game player the show has seen—Edgar Wright and first-timer Nick Frost. Going in, there was very little chance this episode wouldn’t be great, and it handily lives up to expectations: The three guests’ easy camaraderie is on full display as they ping-pong between joking with each other, an absolutely delighted Doug Benson, and the audience. They warm up to the main event via a simple but fun new game with the working title The Seth Rogen Game, but the Leonard Maltin Game is where the real action is. The relatively mellow Frost is seemingly more concerned with holding his own than impressing anyone, which is a good strategy for a first-time player against two such fierce competitors. Not that there’s any apparent rivalry between the two pros; in fact, Pegg and Wright take an almost collaborative approach to playing, which results in a lot of good-natured side chatter and trivia tidbits that make up for the fact that the game’s outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion. [GK]

The Fogelnest Files #51: REWIND THIS!: Josh Johnson
This week’s discussion of the home-video revolution is an apropos follow-up to last week’s interview with @dogboner, providing an illuminating portrait of Jake Fogelnest’s interests. And while documentarian Josh Johnson isn’t the most compelling guest the show’s ever had, he more than makes up for his lack of charisma with clear expertise in the subject area. In other words, the episode sits squarely under the “educational” heading of The Fogelnest Files annals, a fact meant more as a disclaimer than a criticism. It’s a fascinating history lesson, particularly for those too young to remember the rise of VHS and the outpouring of low-budget, straight-to-tape movies it facilitated. But for those in possession of a collector’s edition of Basket Case or who prefer Fogelnest’s goofier, clip-driven episodes, this one is probably skippable. [AB]

Hang Up And Listen: The Rainbow-Colored Fingernails Edition
In the dog days of summer, the HUAL panel throws together a can’t-miss list of topics that forms the best episode in months. First up is the anti-gay policy in Russia ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympics, where the panel breaks down the bind that athletes are in and how the International Olympic Committee’s inaction damages the competition. Next is a brief but intelligent discussion of NBC’s new coverage of English Premier League soccer, and finally a thorough interview with The United States Of Football director Sean Pamphilon about his role in the Saints Bountygate scandal and head injuries in football. This is a front-to-back must-listen episode. [KM]

How Was Your Week #129 Gaylord Fields: “A Hanna-Barbera Cartoon About Carnage”
Julie Klausner describes WFMU DJ Gaylord Fields as a “pop-music historian.” The label speaks to his vast knowledge of the music, which he developed by going to shows at legendary clubs like Max’s Kansas City and the Mudd Room in the ’70s and ’80s. In a stand-out segment, Fields speaks to what it was like for him as a young black man to be a part of a mostly white music scene, leading to a fascinating discussion that touches on the racial politics of punk. It’s a highpoint in an interview that’s essential listening for anyone with even a passing interest in popular music. [DF]

Improv4Humans #95: I Pet A Tiger! Eugene Cordero, Pamela Murphy, Billy Merritt
“I Pet A Tiger!” may not be Improv4Humans’ best episode this year, but it contains one of 2013’s funniest moments on the show. The episode features a cast of improvisers on their A-game, to the point that host Matt Besser included their warm-up conversation as a cold open in the episode, something that hasn’t happened in ages. That starts the episode off swinging with an unbeatable scene, which casts the crew as a bunch of fish in a townhall-style meeting confronting a hard-headed fish ramming and eating the coral reef. Building on that momentum and goodwill, Pamela Murphy has one hell of an ad-lib, starting the titular scene about a guy at a party who pet a tiger, and what follows is pure magic. After a host of funny scenes, the episode drags a bit toward the end, but the first hour is golden. [MK]

The J.V. Club #75: Sara Watkins
Janet Varney doesn’t often have musicians on her podcast, but Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins had the type of childhood that makes her an ideal guest for this show. Considering she was a member of a traveling bluegrass group starting at the age of 8 and was home-schooled after the sixth grade, Watkins’ experience is foreign to Varney, so they spend a lot of time in the past. Varney is a huge fan of Watkins’ music, and she’s fascinated with the path that brought Watkins to the fiddle and how her work as a musician affected her social life. The conversation has a great give-and-take; after Watkins tells Varney about being betrayed by her friends on matching clothes day, Varney shares a story about the time she stole her friend’s Swatch and how she still feels shame to this day. That segues into a discussion of why children are motivated to steal, showing how the personal experiences detailed on this show tie into larger ideas. [OS]

Judge John Hodgman: Emergency Podcast System
This week’s cases are all science and anger. In the major item on the docket, Kristen claims her husband Justin does not react to local tornado warning system alerts—more likely tests—with sufficient alarm. Justin, a movie theater manager, may have a civic obligation to be more cautious. Kristen recites proper emergency-preparedness protocol. A melee of conflicting evidence follows from both parties—some anecdotal, some scientific, some Wikipedial. But when one party makes an outrageous claim, Hodgman loses his signature rational cool, and the tone and trajectory of the proceedings take a drastic turn. An agitated justice clears the docket with two additional rulings: one on a distinct kind of academic-world dispute, another that’s a follow-up to a previous case involving a DNA test on a dog. [DXF]

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Nerdist #397: Kurt Braunohler
Kurt Braunohler’s familiarity and comfort with the three Nerdist hosts results in a chaotic, unfocused, but always entertaining conversation that tumbles between such disparate topics as the now-defunct Super Deluxe website, Snow’s 1992 patois hit “Informer,” and the logistical problems inherent in using blue body paint for Smurf porn. The four friends briefly touch upon Braunohler’s new stand-up album, How Do I Land?—which the fellow Nerdist Channel podcast host is presumably promoting—but the hour is filled with pleasant nonsense. Most memorable is Jonah Ray’s spontaneously created, indescribably weird Miami Vice bit-player character, Bruce Gutter. You will hear more from Bruce Gutter in future episodes. Be sure of that. [DD]

Nerdist #399: Bill Hader
One of several Saturday Night Live cast members to announce their departure for this upcoming season, Bill Hader talks frankly about his motivations for leaving the show, as well as what kept him around for all those years. Hader’s discussion about the difficulties of balancing a family with a stressful, high-profile show humanizes him and his SNL peers—the show is so ingrained in American pop-culture it’s easy to take that for granted. It’s a tight hour that offers a glimpse into a world that few know, much less could handle as gracefully as Hader. [DA]

Sound Opinions #403: Josh Homme
Queens Of The Stone Age mastermind Josh Homme stands out from his hard rock peers as an eloquent and entertaining guy willing to indulge nearly any line of questioning. Which is good, because all Jim DeRogatis wants to talk about is Homme’s former band Kyuss, which broke up when Homme was 21. Homme’s other stories—meeting John Paul Jones at a Medieval Times in particular—are more enlightening, and his experiences growing up playing music in the California desert make for an informative interview. [KM]

Stuff You Should Know: How Ejection Seats Work
It’s unlikely most listeners have a practical use for ejection seat knowledge, but hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant make the concept plenty thrilling for civilians. The episode starts with Clark recounting the tale of a pilot who survived a stunning B-17 escape that involved no ejection seat or parachute. After World War II, however, jets made such daring escapes a physical impossibility—within a second, the pilot goes from a sitting position to being 200 feet above the jet. One of the fascinating medical risks involved is something called “limb flail,” a disturbing side effect of ejection that is compared to a deadly version of a dog sticking its head outside a car window. And even though ideas like environmental sequencers include engineering speak, they are placed within amusing contexts and Top Gun references.  [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: History’s Greatest Traitors
After stepping into their “Wayback Machine” via amusing sound effects, hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant take listeners through an entertaining Brady Bunch reference and some of history’s most notorious traitors. Benedict Arnold, one of the best-known names in betrayal, profited from selling American military secrets during the Revolutionary War. Though he fought winning battles in the British Army, he discovered that not even his new allies in England liked being around a traitor, and he spent the rest of his life looking for a country to comfortably call home. The episode dips a bit with history’s more distant and difficult to document traitors—the story of Judas is told a bit like a dark fairy tale. Thankfully the stories of Norwegian Nazi sympathizer Vidkun Quisling and NBA free agent LeBron James are riddled with irony, and end the episode on a high note. [DT]

This American Life #503: I Was Just Trying to Help
The Planet Money team returns this week with a probing piece on the start-up charity Give Directly, which fights poverty in rural Kenya. David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein’s report on how Give Directly’s model of providing no-strings-attached cash grants has been successful in improving the lives of many poor Kenyans; it’s most compelling when highlighting the ways these grants have created new, unintended tensions in many of the villages. The second act, on Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman’s attempts to regulate legal marijuana farms in his county, has some lighter moments, but still shows how quixotic efforts can result in innovative ways of helping people. [DF]

The Todd Glass Show #115: Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme
Longtime listeners of The Todd Glass Show know that Glass has a tendency to go on angry and extended rants about issues that are essentially no-brainers, like child abuse or homophobia. This time around, Glass rightfully takes issue with people who text while driving as well as people who use the word “retarded.” The key to preventing listener exhaustion is having a guest who can undercut Glass’ overwhelming earnestness with some pointed humor. Thankfully, Broken Lizard members Kevin Heffernan or Steve Lemme break up the intensity of Glass’ rants, including a spot-on Gilbert Gottfried impression. [MS]


THE REST

The Bugle: Bonus Bugle: Guide To Parenting
Despite being on a self-imposed exile from a regular schedule, Andy Zaltzman managed to put out a hushed parenting-centric bonus episode of The Bugle. The result is brief, but enjoyable. [MK]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #128: Alison Baziak
This conversation between Paul Gilmartin and listener Alison Baziak jumps from topic to topic without devoting enough time to any single issue. [TC]

Mike And Tom Eat Snacks #81: Tim’s Potato Chips
After three months of silence, Mike and Tom return with an episode that ditches their podcasters-on-the-run shtick, and all their charms along with it. [DA]

The Moth Jamaica Kincaid: The Letter
A professor looks back at her contentious childhood relationship with her then-newborn brother and her subsequent banishment to her aunt’s home. Kincaid’s story takes a little too much exposition to build traction, but her payoff and singsong delivery are absolutely charming. [DJ]

Monday Morning Podcast
While Bill Burr is able to return to the fruitful tone of last week’s episode, the goof-per-minute ratio is down significantly. Even at a mere 55 minutes, the comedy is still spread too thin. [CG]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #164: Gaperboy
While the brothers seem to have fun among themselves for the majority of the episode, they don’t hit on anything worthwhile until the last 20 minutes. [AB]

Nerdist #398: Brie Larson
This slog of an episode sees Chris Hardwick and Matt Mira ditching conceits and just having fun with guest Brie Larson. Though it’s joyous, its discussions of Animal Crossing and off-key renditions of Savage Garden songs are alienating instead of inviting. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1306: Serving It Up With Pat Francis
The Third Chair comes by for a typically casual chat, with, as usual, a whole lot of discussion about ’70s and ’80s performing artists. (Jimmy Pardo sings some Chicago clunkers at one point.) At 146 minutes, it’s a long one, and not essential listening this week. [KR]

Professor Blastoff  #118: Live From Seattle (Bioenergy w/ Kathryn Cogert)
This week picks up once Tig Notaro commandeers the podcast to field questions from the crowd, and the riff on “Tiggleby” is great. Though it shouldn’t take an hour to wrangle David Huntsberger. [SM]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #65: Dan Van Kirk
The Sklars are on set filming a television appearance, so Dan Van Kirk brings the road mics for a stripped-down, guest-less episode that ends up feeling perfunctory. [KM]

Sklarbro Country #161: Tom Arnold, Jason Nash
There aren’t many people looking to relive the glory days of The Best Damn Sports Show Period, and Tom Arnold has told all his best True Lies and Roseanne stories elsewhere before. [KM]

The Smartest Man In The WorldKinks
Live from Scotland, Proops ponders the country’s dense history, contemplates venue naming rights, briefly impersonates Lou Rawls and Joey Ramone, then eulogizes Eric Clapton collaborator J.J. Cale and Michael Jackson/Frank Zappa/Sheila E. keyboardist George Duke. And he’s never far enough from America that he can’t work in a baseball reference. [DXF]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: The Chesapeake Bay Oyster Wars
The piracy involved in 1800s oyster farming is shockingly violent, yet the episode feels over-scripted for a subject so ripe for amusing tangents. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Paxton’s Crystal Palace
Hosts Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson do their best to describe this epic work of botanical architecture, but in the end such a visual topic does not lend itself to being described on a podcast. [DT]

Uhh Yeah Dude: #385
Jonathan Larroquette is tired of being treated like a second-class citizen simply for being male and in a tank top on this sometimes uneven, sometimes hilarious episode that also doubles as a crash course in the perils of the CFNM (clothed female, naked male) kink. [CW]

Walking The Room #164: Barely Human and Dark Canadians
Though the banter is tighter and more coherent than past episodes, the jokes feel a little too forced this week, leaving only career and HoboTang updates of note. [SM]

Who Charted? #142: Bullshark
This edition of Who Charted? broadcasts live over video feed, which can’t be any more compelling to watch than it is to listen to. [MS]

WTF #416: Maynard James Keenan
Marc Maron’s 80-minute chat with Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan would be easy to dismiss as Tool-fans-only material, but then the two begin casually condescending to Tool’s fan base, and it becomes unclear who exactly it’s supposed to appeal to at all. [CG]

WTF #417: Tom Segura/YACHT
It’s a strange split to have comedian and Joe Rogan Experience contributor Tom Segura on the same episode as Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans from YACHT—the band that just put out a charity single with Maron on guitar. It’s a jovial episode, but light on compelling information. [KM]

You Made It Weird: Whitney Cummings
Holmes and guest Whitney Cummings’ opening discussion about the distinction between alt and mainstream comedy is worth a listen, but the remainder of this week’s 3-hour YMIW will be a snoozefest for those already familiar with the host’s favorite discussion topics. [AB]

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