The Dice Man infiltrates podcasting, Casey Wilson chokes up on The JV Club, and Kumail vs. Maron

The Dice Man infiltrates podcasting, Casey Wilson chokes up on The JV Club, and Kumail vs. Maron

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“Already unlistenable.” —Harris Wittels’ early assessment of “Farts And Procreation 3,” Comedy Bang! Bang!

“An IFC executive just woke up in a cold sweat somewhere like, ‘The Portlandia guy and the Maron guy are fighting!’” —DC Pierson’s commentary on the battle of Kumail Nanjiani vs. Marc Maron, Doug Loves Movies

“When you shoot one of your own soldiers, it’s friendly fire. What is the term when you shoot yourself by accident?”
“Stupid.”  —One of the Sklar brothers and Marc Maron, responding to a story about a man who straps a bullet to the end of a pellet gun, Sklarbro Country

“They became like a porkpie-hatted, checkered-shirt and -skirted ska crime wave. They was skanking around town robbing people day and night.” —Jon Wurster as Philly Boy Roy on a riot incited by the 1981 ska documentary Dance CrazeThe Best Show On WFMU

NEW

Rollin With Dice And Wheels
According to comedian Andrew “Dice” Clay, there is a high demand for him to join the scores of comics who have launched podcasts. While it’s true that the “Dice Man” enjoyed a career resurgence after playing himself on Entourage, it seems doubtful the world was crying out for a regular dose of Dice sitting around with his opening act/comedian/sycophant Michael “Wheels” Parise and talking about how much he enjoys getting his dick sucked. While his rampant misogyny and predilection for the word “faggot” stopped being shocking almost 20 years ago, the truly offensive thing about Rollin With Dice And Wheels is that Clay apparently thinks his crassness is edgy, provocative, and boundary-pushing, when it’s just upholding a boorish status quo.

Despite this litany of uselessness, there are three genuinely funny aspects to the first episode, even if they’re unintentional. The first is Dice’s long-winded rant about being shut down by Jay Mohr after offering to appear on Mohr’s podcast. There’s something inherently ridiculous about listening to a macho man whine about a podcast snub. The second is Dice complaining about his wife criticizing one of his jokes, which bookends his signature hostility with the suggestion that wife stick to what she knows—helping produce the podcast and book guests. Finally, Dice closes out the show with a rap about his favorite topic, Dice. Sadly, Dice doesn’t perform it, but it’s fun to imagine any self-respecting MC swallowing his pride to rap lines like “Pissing off Republicans, bitches, and gays / ’Cause they too uptight to laugh at what he says.” [MS]


THE BEST

The Best Show On WFMU
While Jon Wurster’s calls with Tom Scharpling are the long-running standout on The Best Show, the program’s revolving door of real-life characters is equally impressive. The recent breakout star is “Jelloman” Paul Vile, brother of musician Kurt Vile and purveyor of alcoholic gelatin treats. Vile, a happy-go-lucky Philadelphian who sells shots for money or kisses from hand-picked ladies (“three for $5 or two for tongue”), is the latest in a series of oddballs, kids, and outcasts who have made their mark on the show over the years. Give the credit to Scharpling, who molds the larger-than-life callers and moves the show along after they have worn out their welcome. It’s a bit like a good-natured version of Howard Stern’s “wack pack” that’s more enjoyable for all involved. Vile’s call is a high point in a great episode, which also features a giddy re-imagining of The Invisible Man and the Newbridge mayoral resignation of Wurster’s Philly Boy Roy. Scharpling has predicted his association with “Jelloman” will end poorly, but it’s certainly fun while it lasts. [TC]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #219: Farts And Procreation 3: Adam Scott, Harris Wittels, Chelsea Peretti
Like a junkie chasing that first high, Comedy Bang! Bang! has tried to re-create the magic that was “Farts And Procreation,” a 2011 episode that found Adam Scott and Parks And Recreation writers Harris Wittels and Chelsea Peretti hilariously exploring new frontiers of self-referential bits and tangents. Last year’s “Farts And Procreation 2” couldn’t make lightning strike twice, and neither can the third installment. But hearing Scott, Wittels, Peretti, and Scott Aukerman crack each other up remains thoroughly enjoyable, and the Inception-like scene Wittels and Scott do is impressive. Like its predecessors, this “Farts And Procreation” is pretty much a fans-only affair, but for the CBB faithful who like their comedy meta and full of silly, inspired riffs, it’s essential listening. [KR]

Doug Loves Movies: Marc Maron, Kumail Nanjiani, DC Pierson, And Megan Neuringer 
Doug Benson’s prediction that we’d criticize Kumail Nanjiani and Marc Maron for “suck[ing] all the oxygen out of the room” results in a pretty funny running gag on this week’s episode, but he’s dead wrong. Nanjiani and Maron spend a large portion of the show lobbing and deflecting backhanded compliments in an exhilaratingly uncomfortable condescension-off that constantly threatens to cross the line into outright antagonism, but never quite does. (The fact that both are consistently hilarious in delivering their barbs helps.) Maron vs. Nanjiani nearly steals the spotlight this week, but anyone who’s heard DC Pierson on a podcast knows he’s not one to recede into the background, and he eagerly jumps into the fray. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for Megan Neuringer, but she makes the most of the times she manages to squeeze a word in, and she barrels into her first Leonard Maltin Game with admirable zeal. Throw in a very silly round of Lincoln Or Bane and a bunch of negative-names wagers during LMG, and it makes for a well-rounded and highly entertaining 86 minutes. [GK]

Doug Loves Movies: Jen Kirkman, Megan Neuringer, And Nick Thune
A substantial portion of the chat portion is devoted to the spectacle that is The Great Gatsby and Baz Lurhmann’s oeuvre in general. Doug Benson admits to never having read the book, but astutely notes that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is more awkward weirdo than “great.” Guests Jen Kirkman and Nick Thune have a lot of fun with how Benson can’t make heads or tails of what happens in the film. Speaking of Thune, he’s definitely become one of the most reliable of Benson’s repeat panel members. Once again, he strikes the perfect balance of allowing Kirkman and Megan Neuringer ample chant time before eviscerating the audience with a perfectly timed, deadpan aside. [MS]

Hang Up And Listen: The Dodgeball Dogetorum Edition
Though it’s the least interesting segment of the week, no other show would devote time to a discussion of modern P.E. classes. Steve Kerr joins the panel for an immediately dated conversation about the NBA playoffs that nevertheless includes an interesting discussion of Stephen Curry. And most interestingly, Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim helps break down the recent documentary about the Williams sisters, and how it raises more questions than it answers about the mystifying tennis stars and their family. [KM]

Improv4Humans #80: Do You Sell Fuck Pillows?: Sean Conroy, Jon Gabrus, Mike Still
This week’s Improv4Humans is sure to polarize and debate just what kind of program they want to hear from Matt Besser each week. While the front half sports some of the show’s most inventive scenes (particularly a spot-on deconstruction of schoolyard rumbles and an absurd anatomy course), Besser brings the funny to a screeching halt with another Case Closed segment in the back half. Whenever Besser takes a phone call from a listener to “debate” him—this week about Jason Collins’ coming out—it often turns into a petty argument with Besser trying to prove himself smarter. At least this week he addresses the possibilities of bullying his caller and tries to play nice. It’s good that he wants people to say less insane things on the Internet, but being overly confrontational is no admirable way to make it happen. [MK]

The JV Club #61: Casey Wilson
Casey Wilson probably isn’t taking the news of Happy Endings well if her mini-breakdown toward the end of this episode is any indication. Wilson tears up when she starts talking to Janet Varney about how arbitrary decisions in their business can be, and it’s a natural climax for a conversation that began with the two women discussing crying in the workplace. Their discussion gets heavier once they start talking about Wilson’s adult life, but the buildup to that is light and fun, with Wilson painting a portrait of an idyllic childhood and adolescence. Their conversation covers a broad range of topics, from the similarities between Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen to living in a house with two political parents and breaking into performance because of a childhood need for control, and it never dips in momentum. Wilson is a natural on podcasts, and hopefully Varney will reach out to some of her Happy Endings co-stars and go for a TV trifecta à la the Community ladies. [OS]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #113: Lynn Chen
The through-line of The Mental Illness Happy Hour has been Paul Gilmartin’s effort to document his struggle with depression and come to terms with sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Gilmartin doesn’t typically insert himself into the conversation as forcefully as Marc Maron, but the issues are still hovering in the background of many episodes. A moving episode with actress Lynn Chen changes that dynamic as the host finds a kindred spirit and a compassionate listener in his guest, who talks about her own healing process from childhood abuse. The result is a tender discussion that’s brimming with humanity and decency, despite Gilmartin’s on-air fretting that his vulnerability will be interpreted as narcissism. It’s an emotionally taxing episode that may be best heard in private for those with an aversion to crying in public. [TC]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #152: Heaton Up
While, at some point, the McElroy brothers are responsible for all of the humor of My Brother, My Brother And Me, the right type of question can serve as a comedy catalyst. Most of the Yahoo! Answers questions on this week’s episode tread on tired topics like “swag” and Pokemon, and generally go nowhere. None of the listener questions are exactly showstoppers, either, but there are a handful of offhanded, peripheral gems scattered throughout to make it a worthwhile episode—most notably the image of Justin McElroy as an expectant mother, a comment involving a jetpack, and the insertion of a new subtext to the climax of Seven. It’s uneven, to be sure, but never bad, and certainly among the better of their recent showings. [CG]

Nerdist #355: Steven Yeun
When the host of The Talking Dead sits down with a cast member of The Walking Dead, a whole lot of talk about the TV show is expected, but Chris Hardwick’s chat with Steven Yeun proves to be diverse. While it’s interesting to hear Yeun’s approach to Glenn on Walking Dead, it’s far more fascinating to hear him speak frankly about his battles with stereotypes and racism throughout his life and career. Even with such weighty topics, the episode doesn’t get weighed down, balancing the serious and humorous without losing Nerdist’s tone. The episode does derail near the end when Hardwick invites in friend and fellow podcaster Mary Lynn Rajskub, which takes the episode in a completely different direction. [DA]

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Never Not Funny #1218: Crunching The Numbers With Howard Kremer
Looking at the busy schedule of podcast appearances on his website—not to mention his own podcast, Who Charted?—it’s surprising that Howard Kremer hasn’t found his way to Never Not Funny before this week. It’s a shame, because Kremer’s a reliably good guest, full of peculiar anecdotes and references and generally game for anything. His NNF debut covers a lot of typical territory for the podcast—pop-music history, fantasy sports, baseball, Nashville—and it all comes together nicely. The guys have an easier time with the call-ins this week—completing, as Pardo notes, the show’s transformation into a morning zoo—making for another solid episode. [KR]

Sklarbro Country #146: Al Madrigal, Jesse Thorn
The best Sklarbro guests aren’t just comedians who have a great rapport with the Sklar brothers, they’re also sports fans. Bay Area comedian Al Madrigal fits the bill well, discussing the 49ers and the Golden State Warriors’ recent playoff run. The Sklars also get him to divulge some of his family history in the Bay Area, with his Sicilian and Mexican extended family providing fodder for some excellent childhood stories. Jesse Thorn drops in at the end to provide another ridiculous fantasy league update on YMCA instructors, which is consistently one of the best end-of-show bits. [KM]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #51: Marc Maron, Jason Nash, Dan Van Kirk
Marc Maron joins the Sklars in the studio, and the combined power of two of the comedy-podcast greats makes for a must-listen episode. The Sklars give Maron some advice about his impending decision to have a child with his girlfriend, and they talk about what’s changed now that he has an IFC show, a book, and has appeared on The Howard Stern Show. Dan Van Kirk also gets in on the action, starting a discussion of Maron’s unofficial project to catalogue the living comedy greats like Dick Van Dyke, Mel Brooks, and Carl Reiner. Riffing on ridiculous news stories is always funny, but it’s rare to have this many talented hosts in one place. [KM]

Sound Opinions #389: Tame Impala
Perth psych-rock outfit Tame Impala gets the Pink Floyd comparison often enough, but Kevin Parker brushes it aside with ease during the band’s interview with Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis. He doesn’t listen to the band very much, and his inspiration came from years of layering recordings atop each other on home tape recorders when he was still learning to play. Known as a sonic perfectionist, Parker constructs the band’s in-studio performance such that it’s probably the best Sound Opinions live set in a few years. Kot and DeRogatis also review Savages’ thunderous debut, one of the best records so far this year. [KM]  

Stuff You Should Know: How Foot Binding Worked
Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant do their best to stifle their giggles while recounting the awkward but disturbing practice of foot-binding in China. For more than 1,000 years, China endorsed nationalized foot fetishes, but at the expense of great physical anguish. Women’s feet were wrapped and hobbled starting at the age of 4, which led to grotesque deformation as they grew into unnatural shapes. It’s truly not Clark and Bryant’s fault for laughing; as the damage to women’s bodies became deeply entrenched in Chinese social and marital customs, bizarre rituals developed like lining a woman’s wedding shoes with ornate sexual drawings. At least the story ends happily, with foot-binding’s eradication. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works
The positive research surrounding electroconvulsive therapy seems to surprise Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, because of its cartoonish reputation as a nightmarish, violent punishment at mismanaged asylums. Once it became clear that pills only had a 60 percent success rate in treating depression, doctors discovered that properly administered electroconvulsive sessions were successful in 85 percent of depression cases. Surprisingly, there’s still no conclusive research on how any depression treatment works, which helps keep this fascinating, even-handed examination of ECT interesting. [DT]

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #117: Tales From The United Solar Systems Alliance, New Frontiers
Leaving no trope unturned, The Thrilling Adventure Hour follows one of its characters to a desk job. In his last appearance, spaceship captain Gene Peeples (James Urbaniak) lost his family and crew to a gang of Murdermen. Even while working his new job as a professor, he continues to write entries in his captain’s journal, channeled through Urbaniak’s reliably brilliant narration. As always, the episode quickly becomes far more elaborate than just a few clichés, and the show’s writers get in two uses of the term “space-Jewish.” [SG]

The Todd Glass Show #102: Tom Martin And James Adomian
Todd Glass buckles down for the marathon podcasting session that he splits into two parts, with the first part clocking in at a hefty two and a half hours. Setting the tone at the start, Glass suggests the world needs a “good Hitler,” but like many episodes, this one runs the gamut between silly and serious. Glass unloads a bit about his recent split with his partner and goes on one of his impassioned sermons on prejudice, before guest Tom Martin brilliantly undercuts Glass’ earnestness by asking him to repeat his lengthy diatribe. Also, the always-hilarious James Adomian injects some levity with his Tom Leykis impression. [MS]

Walking The Room #150: Hug Culture And Slooning
Lessons abound this week on Walking The Room. The first, prompted by a joke about Charles Ramsey’s interview, comes during a discussion about the sort of culture that enables rape and also a real-time study in how the hosts grasp the issue and evolve from skeptics to insightful critics. Plus, it’s a case example for any comedians looking to make jokes on taboo topics that won’t get booed, which for Dave Anthony means a criticism of society as a whole (“As a country, we’re tearing a blouse at all times”), and for Greg Behrendt, includes forcible hugs and ironic merchandise. Better yet is the other contributor to the episode title, Anthony’s reading of gourmet prison recipes. To close, the hosts share dating advice for amputees, why not to trust Jay Leno, and more terrible news from Florida. [SM]

Who Charted? #128: Hashtag Morris: Joe Mande
This week, Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack welcome one of the few guests who can make sitting around and talking about Twitter entertaining. Comedian Joe Mande kicks off the episode describing his adventures hate-retweeting laughably earnest platitudes from corporations and getting blocked by Cam’ron. Beyond that, he has good stories about almost getting into fights with Howard Kremer (Mande and Kremer are about as intimidating as a basket full of puppies) and being confronted by a waiter who was featured in his Tumblr-turned-book Look At This Fucking Hipster. [MS]

WTF #388 Noah Baumbach
Director Noah Baumbach has explored parental issues, awkwardness, and narcissism so baldly in movies like The Squid And The Whale and Greenberg that there’s almost nothing left, neuroses-wise, for Marc Maron to explore. That’s not a criticism: It just makes for a pretty straightforward WTF as the two go over Baumbach’s career and influences while Maron confesses that he has a soft spot for cinematic dance scenes. Avoid skipping through the beginning to hear Maron’s not-too-shabby Jay Leno impression and stay tuned to the end for a funny little Bill Murray anecdote from Baumbach. [CZ]

You Made It Weird: Rich Sommer
Pete Holmes and Mad Men’s Rich Sommer get into the serious stuff surprisingly early in this episode, each delving into his religious upbringings. Later on, they get into just as much detail about their early experiences with pornography and masturbation—which would be kind of pointless if not for how openly odd the stories are (and if Holmes didn’t point out that Garrison Keillor apparently has a story about masturbating). It’s not an episode that focuses particularly hard on being funny—or even on Holmes’ love of Mad Men—but it has its own likeably neurotic fascination. [SG]

You Made It Weird: Jay Mohr
Jay Mohr’s appearance on YMIW is relatively short, and he and Pete Holmes get into it here with refreshing urgency. This being YMIW, “urgency” means tearing through a lot of creepily good impressions right up front, including Morgan Freeman and Steven Wright. The episode’s also quick to get into more reflective talk about both men’s comedy careers, including Mohr’s period of having panic attacks onstage, and why Holmes would have been a good SNL cast member. At the very least, listeners can draw on Mohr’s advice about designating a “Klonopin pocket” for bouts of anxiety. [SG]


THE REST

The Bugle #234: Nuns, Guns, And Nutters
For an American audience, this week’s Bugle may feel a bit inaccessible, with its smattering of British political jargon. The back half still manages quite a few laughs, though, out of 3-D printed guns and news of a rebellious nun. [MK]

The Fogelnest Files #35: The Who Charted? Files: Howard Kremer, Kulap Vilaysack
The more Jake Fogelnest devotes his podcast to a detailed discussion of the career of one guest (like last week with Fred Armisen), the less fulfilling the “random clip/goof around” format becomes. This week’s show is entertaining enough, but it feels like a step back into material that’s beginning to be repetitive. [AB]

How Was Your Week #114: “Battling Bots”: Jean Grae & A Message from GLAAD
A timely message from GLAAD urging the overturn of the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay leaders segues into an interview with the multi-talented Jean Grae that covers a lot of ground but comes off a little thin. [DF]

Mohr Stories #157: Amy Schumer
Mohr and Schumer’s talk bounces between her new Comedy Central sketch show, aborted improv bits, and other short-lived talking points, like the difficulties of dating outside your profession when you’re a comedian. [DXF]

Mohr Stories #158: Fred Stoller
Jay Mohr’s podcast has become a victim of its own success. For more than a year, the actor delivered a string of mesmerizing interviews and gradually depleted his anecdotes from a long run in showbiz. The podcast led to a daily three-hour Fox Sports Radio show that kicked off in January, and since then, Mohr Stories has turned into a collection of scattershot conversations. In this case, it’s a freewheeling chat with actor-comedian-author Fred Stoller, where Stoller spends a lot of time talking about how he had sex with Kathy Griffin. But the bit is so disjointed, it’s unclear whether Stoller’s anecdote is true or a goof on a Howard Stern-style interview—and it’s so bland, the issue is inconsequential. [DXF]

Monday Morning Podcast
Bill Burr’s ignorance in his answers to listener emails is usually very funny; here, it alternates between bland and troublesome. [CG]

The Moth: Ivan Kuraev And Dina Pearlman: StorySLAM Favorites 
Neither fragmentary story really amounts to more than a bizarre anecdote, but they’re both odd and punchy enough to stand on their own. Ivan Kuraev recalls his grandmother destroying a fort to get revenge on his bullies, and Dina Pearlman talks about working at a mental hospital while dreaming of an acting career. [SG]

Nerdist #354: Rod Roddenberry And John Champion
It’s not surprising that two guys who host a Star Trek-themed podcast spend a lot of time talking about that very subject—especially when one of them is the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry—and while it’s a treat for fans of the series, everyone else may want to avoid it. [DA]

Nerdist #356: Fitz And The Tantrums
While many Nerdist episodes have benefited from having musicians as guests, this isn’t one of them. [DA]

Professor Blastoff #104: Live From Chicago/Music Vol. 2 (w/ Trevor Anderson)
As Tig Notaro repeats throughout this two-hour live episode, listeners’ enjoyment largely depends on a familiarity with Professor Blastoff. Fans should find plenty to enjoy in the established characters and running jokes, but a lackluster guest and stress on classical-music theory leave little else of interest. [SM]

Radiolab: The Septendecennial Sing-Along
The Radiolab crew talks with a musician who duets with animals. Their technical breakdown of the natural sounds isn’t nearly as engaging as they’d have you think, but the episode works fittingly as background noise. [MK]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Cannibalism At Jamestown
While the recent Jamestown findings are fascinating, the episode struggles to make much out of one centuries-old skull. [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: China’s Empress Dowager Cixi
The twists and turns in the life of this concubine-turned-empress are worth hearing, but too often the hosts admit that their research is mostly gossip. [DT]

WTF #387: Live At Trepany House In LA
Live shows are sometimes an opportunity for Marc Maron to bring on less-prominent comics without as much to talk about, all in a row. Christina Pazsitzky, Matt Kirshen, Jason Nash, Jeff Richards, and Jim Earl all get their moment in the sun, but this is skippable. [KM]

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