The Week of March 15-21

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“I feel like I have the normal worldview. The normal worldview is when somebody stands on stage and says ‘This happened to me,’ I think it happened to them, unless it’s clearly labeled as ‘Here’s a work of fiction.’” —Ira Glass to Mike Daisey, This American Life

“This show is not becoming a book podcast; I am becoming Oprah.” —Julie Klausner, How Was Your Week?

“I’ve seen KISS, and they bled, and it wasn’t that rewarding.” —Greg Proops, The Smartest Man In The World

“I haven’t been at eye level with this much plaid since I blew the guards at Edinburgh Castle.” —Dana Gould, beholding Greg Behrendt’s closet studio, Walking The Room

“You work in comedy? Really? Tell me more… I’m funny, too: [racist joke].” —Marjorie Malpass, Stop Podcasting Yourself

“‘Boo hoo, I can fly!’ That’s you.” —Paget Brewster as Sadie Doyle, admonishing a teenager with magic powers, Thrilling Adventure Hour

NEW (TO US)

The Dana Gould Hour
The vast universe of comedy podcasting is strewn with shows composed of long, meandering conversations. And while that format certainly has its merits, there’s something really refreshing about a show like The Dana Gould Hour, a carefully crafted program that takes full advantage of post-production. Comedian and former Simpsons writer Gould sits down with some of his friends as they tell stories and riff, usually on a vague theme. The resulting conversation is then cut up into segments and interlaced with written pieces and character bits, most of which relate to the quasi-theme of the episode. There’s obviously a lot of work going into each hour, which explains both its sporadic release schedule and the very high quality of the content. Frankly, it’s a bit surprising how effective the fragmented riffing is when combined with the other segments, but somehow all the pieces are edited down into a tight 60 minutes that’s often more cohesive than other, more straightforward podcasts.

Episode 3 features return guest Eddie Pepitone, along with comedian Matt Weinhold and his wife. The show is at its funniest when Pepitone riffs with Gould, and there’s plenty of that here. Everyone shares compelling tales of brushes with law enforcement, and most of the written bits reflect that theme, including a little girl’s recitation of letters written by Charles Manson and Jack Ruby while they were serving time. The recurring segment “Political Talk With Two Guys From Boston” also pops up, which features Gould and actor/comedian John Ennis as two air-conditioning repairmen shootin’ the shit. It’s another excellent installment of a very promising podcast. [CG]

Caustic Soda
Life is full of terrible things, and hosts Joe Fulgham, Kevin Leeson, and Toren Atkinson believe the best way to deal with this is to study and mock it thoroughly. Each episode centers on the most horrible parts of existence, from totalitarian dictators to sci-fi monsters to epidemics. The informative hosts provide background information on each subject, including etymological origins and general history, and then tear into each “monster” with jokes, quips, and humorous “what-if” scenarios that make most regular folk feel uncomfortable. The end result is not only educational, but also highly entertaining for those who don’t mind the occasional Holocaust joke. The highlight of each episode is the “would you rather?” segment, which pits a scenario related to that week’s theme against another equally terrifying scenario. The way the hosts squirm and try to rationalize whether it would be better to be eaten for robot-fuel or by a cannibal is the perfect blend of sick and hilarious. 

A recent episode on the Hoarding phenomenon sheds light on the root cause of this popular affliction and includes some of the most frightening and hilarious stories to date. The front end is more information-heavy than usual, exploring the connection between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and hoarding as well as the case history of the first official hoarders: the Collyer brothers. The humor kicks in halfway through with a seemingly innocent question about the taste of hoarded rabbit meat versus wild rabbit meat, a prime example of Caustic Soda’s sense of humor. [AJ]


OUTLIERS

Model Rail Podcast 
Model railroad enthusiasts Ryan Anderson and Craig Bisgeier discuss the latest model railroad news as they detail the more intricate aspects of this eccentric hobby. The hosts’ level of dedication to model trains makes for a well-informed conversation despite regular tangents that can derail the conversation (pun intended). Complex episode topics like Arc lamps, battery systems, and miniature landscaping make the show seem to be for experts only, but the hosts have a talent for explaining things in layman’s terms so as to not exclude anyone. Episode 160 with Rob Hinkle focuses on the small group of hobbyists dedicated to recreating the Reading Railroad to scale. Hinkle does an excellent job of shedding light on the community aspect of model railroads with his stories of club meetings and advice on how to find your own local club. Bisgeier also proves his talent for teaching when he explains the otherwise foreign concept of a “turn back loop” clearly in all of 15 seconds.  [AJ]


THE BEST

The Best Show On WFMU
Tom Scharpling comes out swinging at bush-league radio stations coming out of Midwestern liberal-arts colleges, and that turns into an ongoing theme throughout the night. A kvetch about Crank Yankers’ midday reruns winds into some Kevin Smith trash-talking, and then he goes off on Mit Hamine, probably getting five more people to buy the band’s record in the process. Jon Wurster calls up as Pudge, asking where he can find some Misfits records, because he’s the latest singer for the band that isn’t Danzig—after beating out an impressive cast of other possibles (from the guy from Monster Magnet to Gov. Chris Christie, who was eating a hoagie during the audition). Kurt Braunohler calls up to talk about his new show, Bunk, and admits that Scharpling has given him the heave-ho in the past. A few minutes later, he gets hung up on again. It’s a funny show overall, with probably the best Wurster call in months, especially the sound effects that come with a Jerry Only beating. [JD]

Comedy Bang Bang #149: Live From SXSW: Tim Heidecker, James Adomian, Seth Morris
When scheduled guest Nick Offerman drops out at the last minute for the live Comedy Bang Bang at South By Southwest, Tim Heidecker steps to the plate with a whole lot of conceptual shtick involving his new position as lead singer of Wilco (ostensibly so Jeff Tweedy can focus on his new love, the saxophone) and the strangely under-reported death of Newt Gingrich. Heidecker is amusingly confrontational, bailing out on the Wilco bit early and mocking Offerman for appearing in 21 Jump Street, but the real meat of the podcast consists of appearances by Comedy Bang Bang fixtures Merrill Shindler and Bob Ducca. Shindler, James Adomian’s corpulent food-critic, remains an acquired taste: He’s essentially a fudge-encrusted, bacon-wrapped, deep-fried Twinkie of a man whose sickening culinary predilections require a lot of patience and a strong stomach. But Ducca is a delight as he rattles off some of his SXSW-centric afflictions (Richard Linklater Sour Belly, Daniel Johnston Gallstones, Terrence Malick Panic Disorder, Roky Erickson-Derived Demonic Genius), shares his unfortunately titled Texas hang-out spot, and drops an explosive revelation that throws his relationship with host Scott Aukerman into question. With all this activity, who needs Offerman? [NR]

Doug Loves Movies: Greg Proops, James Adomian, Ti West And Joe Lynch guest
It seems for much of this SXSW-taped episode like the audience just isn’t picking up what Doug Benson and his guests are laying down. Though Benson has blamed poor miking for the seemingly tepid response, several awkward comments from Greg Proops throughout the episode suggest not all the chilliness is imagined. It does seem incongruous, though, considering the overall strength of this week’s episode. Proops and Comedy Bang Bang voicemaster general James Adomian predictably provide a lot of onstage energy (and dueling impressions), but filmmakers Joe Walsh and Ti West are two of the more vocal non-comedians the show has featured, and they hold their own both in the opening banter and during the games. As with most longer-than-usual DLMs (this one runs 90-plus minutes), things occasionally meander beyond the point of interest, but fans of Build-A-Title will be pleased with this episode’s two impressive outings, which are indicative of the overall caliber of this panel’s combined movie knowledge. [GK]

Hang Up And Listen: The Lot Of Crying In Basketball Edition
There’s no crying in baseball, but the tears shed during March Madness time in college basketball are Natalie Portman-esque in their effusiveness. The HUAL crew take that clever tack into a discussion of the tournament’s dramatic first weekend, speculating that, among other things, college athletes have a harder time than pros in understanding that it’s just a game—though the stakes are admittedly higher for those who will never play at the pro level. When Mike Pesca drops out after this segment, two capable replacements are brought in: Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim discusses his profile of NCAA women’s hoops star Elena Delle Donne, who for personal reasons chose to play for the dinky University Of Delaware program while helping to take care of a severely disabled sibling. Then the always-fun Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog talks about Sidney Crosby’s tentative comeback from his horrible head injuries and the league’s laudable attempt to promote gay tolerance. Of the “Afterball” bits, Josh Levin’s rundown of unfiltered tweets allowed into March Madness on Demand’s “Coke Zero Social Arena” is alternately hilarious and horrifying. [ST]

How Was Your Week #54: “The Crunch Factor”: Rickie Lee Jones, Kambri Crews
Julie Klausner starts out by talking about Stephen King’s “shit aliens,” then brings up that time we wrote about how “How Was Your Week? could be one of the best book podcasts out there,” by saying that HWYW is not becoming a book podcast, but that she is, in fact, becoming Oprah. Klausner then talks to a beret-less Rickie Lee Jones, which is not only a good listen but an opportunity to get your parents to listen to the episode so they can hear a musician they probably made out to talk about making bras for men’s testicles. Between interviews, Klausner gets to say things about Rush Limbaugh that people in “regular” media can’t say about the topic, and also gives good reason to dislike a certain public-radio figure. Then Klausner talks to Kambri Crews about her memoir, Burn Down The Ground, and once again gets us interested in a book. [JD]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #52: Sexually Inappropriate Parents With Barbara And Steve 
In taking a disturbing issue as its title, this episode steps away from one thing that keeps The Mental Illness Happy Hour from feeling voyeuristic or prurient, but it’s in name only. A couple, one of whom host Paul Gilmartin knows from a support group, visits under pseudonyms to discuss everything from parental weirdness to outright sexual abuse. As an interviewer, Gilmartin is just present enough, and has the finesse to focus in on the honesty “Barbara” and “Steve” develop in the context of their relationship. This episode marks the podcast’s one-year point with a reminder of just how much Gilmartin can accomplish within a simple format. [SG]

The MothJoyce Maynard: Something Is A Breast
Joyce Maynard’s entry is a classic Moth story, in that it clearly involves a mild-mannered person flinging herself into somewhat quirky subject matter—in this case, the drawn-out tragicomedy her breasts have endured over the years. It’s impressive how she maintains that balance through the sometimes grotesquely literal ups and downs, even finding a tasteful way to discuss her mother’s and daughter’s breasts. The story’s soft landing is a bit disappointing, but Maynard provides a fine example of how to find the overlooked side of an obvious subject. [SG]

Nerdist #180: Baratunde
Noted political writer—and The Onion’s Director of Digital—Baratunde Thurston joins the Nerdist crew to discuss his various endeavors, most notably his recent New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. Baratunde’s résumé leads Nerdist in directions that are rarely covered, as he challenges Chris Hardwick to analyze his political ideologies and discuss weighty topics like racism. The episode retains the podcast’s signature lightheartedness, but never backs off from the political discussions that Baratunde brings to the forefront. Proving to be one of the most versatile guests the Nerdist has ever had, Baratunde is able to jump effortlessly from topic to topic without ever stumbling, while Hardwick and Matt Mira are taken out of their natural habitat. It’s a noticeably different approach, and immensely improves the podcast as a whole. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1015: Massaging The Numbers With Matt Walsh
It seems odd and just a little selfish for Jimmy Pardo to spend so much of #1015 talking about himself. In discussions of guest Matt Walsh’s career, Pardo laments his own casting mishaps, demands work from Walsh, and in a seemingly honest way, pats his own back for not being like other stand-ups because “he’s funny.” One of Pardo’s best acts is his faux-pomposity, but these bits are missing the outlandishness that separates the funny from the factual. It’s doubtful Pardo’s self-involvement is intentional, and more likely a subconscious result of his friendship with Walsh, a master improviser who can be relied upon to prop up just about any premise—which he does, to winning effect: When Pardo demands a guest spot in ASSSSCAT, Walsh replies he’ll need to see Pardo’s Second City transcript to make sure his credits are transferrable to UCB. Some fun guessing games and trivia balance out the latter half, and Walsh shares some insight into his work on Veep and a reveal about an episode of Dog Bites Man that never aired, which dovetails nicely into the morality of fake interviews and Pardo’s fascination with Sarah Palin. However imbalanced, their shared history and sensibilities help create some of the best riffing of the season. [SM]

Sklarbro Country: Thomas Lennon, Matt Paxton, Nick Kroll
If citizens of Sklarbro Country were to do a shot every time the phrase “flat cat” comes up on the latest episode, they’d likely die of alcohol poisoning before the first half-hour passed. That’s because one of this action-packed episode’s fascinating and often stomach-churning guests is Matt Paxton of Hoarders, who discusses his battle with gambling addiction, bottoming out, and the sheer volume of dead animals—included the dreaded “flat cat”—he encounters in his peculiar line of work. Paxton also deserves credit for delivering perhaps the single most disgusting anecdote involving a kitten in podcasting history. Paxton shares the podcast with the ever-delightful Thomas Lennon of Reno 911!, who shares his own disturbing tale of bottoming out, this one involving smoking a cigarette with his nose. All this and a hilarious cameo from a security-minded Mark Wahlberg and Nick Kroll as Randy Moss’ dog. For listeners with a bottomless curiosity about the disposal of dead critters, this is essential listening. [NR]

The Smartest Man In The World: #150: Lobsters
Nothing captures Greg Proops’ simultaneous love and disgust for kitsch like this week’s extended riffing and rambling about classic rock (or at least what serves as filler on “classic-rock” radio). It also shows the pitfalls of his mispronunciation-for-fun habit. (“Foreigner” becomes “for-ig-a-nor,” and don’t feel bad if you miss that he’s talking about Lykke Li.) But he makes it rewarding with the “How did we get here?” changes of subject, namely a fevered discourse on George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. Yes, you’ll learn for the millionth time that Proops smoked a lot of pot in his youth, but you’ll also learn a bit about the dystopian novel. [SG]

Stuff You Should Know: How The Donner Party Worked
Even vegetarians who listen with a sense of moral superiority will experience immediate skin-crawling from this excellent recounting of the Donner Party—settlers who drove their wagons to California and split in half, with one half descending into hell. The various warnings and signs indicating that the Donner Party should have turned back could make this seem like a ridiculous story, but Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant humanize the experience and the minds behind it (and throw in perfunctory Simpsons references). In the end, the Party was completely fractured, with some trying to escape and some gnawing on corpses. There are a lot of perspectives on how it really ended, and hearing the hosts explain the likelihood of each perspective is quite helpful. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: Should Chimps Be Used For Medical Testing?
Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant try their hands at unpacking another moral quandary, making it a bit suspect as a “thing you should know,” but the hosts make sure to address which biased tones they might accidentally adopt. They also make a strong case that we have amassed huge amounts of data by experimenting on chimps, and that that sum adds up to more than its morally loaded parts. The more suspect areas start near the bottom: Since it has long been illegal to grab chimps from the wild, almost all test chimps are bred in captivity, descended from chimps who were grabbed generations ago. They have also been an endangered species for a long time. But the combination of their genetic similarity to ours, the space race, and the fear of AIDS has made civilization all the more intent on continuing the experiments. It’s a decent primer for anyone interested in this niche of animal rights, outlining a very specific but very high-stakes corner of the broader topic. [DT]

Stuff You Missed in History ClassFrida Kahlo: An Introspective Life (Part 2)
Part Two of Frida Kahlo’s life is far more palatable than the first, with much more discussion of her art, politics, and love life. Kahlo was unquestionably a huge figure in the history of both painting and Mexico, following the preceding 19th-century art trends yet also producing material far more individualistic than anyone expected from a woman of her era. She painted on sheet metal, married a man twice her age, and created a vivid and unforgettable representation of her miscarriage. Deblina Chakraborty and Sarah Dowdey broke this story in half because of how epic Kahlo’s life was, and it’s here listeners will appreciate what made her a real personality. Her borderline disgust with Americans is presented perfectly, coming off downright adorable (she claimed all Americans had faces like “unbaked rolls”), and her life, though full of pain, was thrilling and adventurous. Diego Rivera, her husband, could be seen as a sort of insulting villain, but Kahlo was such a force of nature that she had casual affairs with the likes of Trotsky. [DT]

This American Life #460: Retraction
Late last week, This American Life stunned the media world by announcing that Mike Daisey’s popular story about visiting Foxconn, a plant in China that manufactures Apple products like iPads, was egregiously fabricated and the show was retracting the story. Though the producers had asked Daisey to adapt his ongoing one-man show, The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs, into a story that met journalistic standards, Marketplace correspondent Rob Schmitz found Daisey’s translator and refuted many of the colorful anecdotes that made it onto the air. On “Retraction,” an episode as tense and riveting as radio gets, Ira Glass talks to Schmitz about his discoveries and uses Act Three to reveal some hard truths about Apple practices in China via New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. But it’s Act Two, a squirm-inducing confrontation with Daisey himself, that serves as the Main Event. It’s here that Glass’ broadcasting style—terse, direct, to-the-point—proves singularly effective at cornering a fabulist like Daisey, who dissembles and equivocates when he isn’t searching for answers in long, agonizing pauses. His shame (and Glass’) is palpable throughout. [ST]

Thrilling Adventure Hour #63: Beyond Belief: Teenagers Of The Corn 
Even by Thrilling Adventure Hour standards, this week’s episode is virtuosic in the number of things it attempts to parody at once. Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster return as alcoholic explorers of the supernatural in a Children Of The Corn-type story that spirals into madness with plenty of help from James Urbaniak. But the episode’s funniest excess has little to do with old-time radio or occult powers: It’s John DiMaggio taking a vocal scouring pad to Joe Cocker’s version of “With A Little Help From My Friends,” in a preposterous nod to The Wonder Years. [SG]

The Todd Glass Show: James Adomian
Play is the order of the day when vocal chameleon James Adomian of Comedy Bang Bang and Sklarbro Country visits The Todd Glass Show for a manic 105 minutes of impersonations, shtick, goofy riffs, musical meanderings about the creepy gender politics of “Gentle On My Mind,” and other assorted nonsense. Not every bit works—that would go against the ragingly imperfect nature of improvisation—but when Adomian and a clearly delighted Glass sink their teeth into a bit, the results are spectacularly funny. An extended bit where Adomian offers a posthumous remembrance of Glass cobbled together solely from information on his Wikipedia page is very funny, but it’s nothing but a warm-up to a gut-busting segment in which Adomian slips inside the smug, hateful persona of talk-radio yakker and obnoxious provocateur Tom Leykis and belligerently cold-calls strangers to announce his return to the airwaves. Adomian is quickly approaching a Paul F. Tompkins-like ubiquity; let’s hope we haven’t heard the last of him or his killer Leykis impersonation. [NR]

Uhh, Yeah Dude: Episode #315
It’s well established that there’s no better way to start an episode of Uhh Yeah Dude than by roping in John Larroquette. In his youth, UYD host Jonathan Larroquette struggled to enjoy a particular Playboy without stumbling onto the feature where his father was described as “the sexiest man in the world” by a “robust blonde.” More puberty woes are explored later on with a round of “Ask Jonathan” devoted to an 11-year-old boy who “mainlines crazy,” and Seth Romatelli brings shame on his mother’s name by watching old men fall down escalators. [CW]

Who Charted? #68: Flatstock
Who Charted? hosts Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack have a knack for booking guests who seem inherently likable and comfortable in their own skin. Or perhaps Kremer and Vilaysack are just especially easy to be around. Either way, guest Seth Morris comes off as both exceedingly likable and naturally at ease. Although he’s an accomplished comic actor, Morris is probably best known to podcast listeners as Bob Ducca, the former father-in-law of Comedy Bang Bang host Scott Aukerman. Most of the podcast plays out like a really lively brunch conversation, but there are a few, intermittent comedy bits, namely an improvised conversation between Morris as a sexy mouse and Kremer’s prickly older brother Lee. Although the episode clocks in at just over 90 minutes, Kremer, Vilaysack, and Morris are able to keep things moving at a brisk pace. 

Walking The Room #95: Dana Gould
It takes a bit for the combination Dana Gould, Dave Anthony, and Greg Behrendt to become as good as it should be, but the phrase “hot-chocolate backpack” serves as catalyst. From there on out, standup and former Simpsons writer Gould joins Walking The Room’s hosts in an uncommonly even blend of weird banter and comedy-career musings. Gould also helps bring some fresh angles to the hosts’ ongoing talk about career frustrations, making it funnier and even a bit more healing than it usually is. [SG]

WTF With Marc Maron #263: Mary Mack
Maron chats with comedian and musician Mary Mack, whose high-pitched voice and quirky musical style evoke what Maria Bamford and Nellie McKay’s love child might sound like. Maron and Mack don’t discuss comedy much (for which Mack apologizes, in an odd addendum to the podcast), but her folksy tales of growing up in rural Wisconsin sound like a real-life Prairie Home Companion. Highlights of the episode include Mack getting Maron to accompany her on a polka tune and a darkly entertaining tale at the top of the show about Maron’s attempts to secure blow via FedEx. [CZ]

WTF With Marc Maron: Fred Willard
Fred Willard is sort of the fun uncle of alternative comedy—a genial, endlessly agreeable pro who just about everyone seems to like. Willard cuts such a wholesome, well-scrubbed, All-American figure that it can be a little jarring hearing him talk about Doc Severinsen giving him cocaine (the only time he ever indulged) or being invited up to a room where Little Richard showed guests a picture book of nothing but vaginas. That said, those are rare risqué moments in what’s otherwise a pretty clean-cut, meandering conversation. Marc Maron posits Willard as something of a Zelig figure whose life and career have intersected with seemingly the entirety of comedy over the past 50 years, from Second City and SCTV to Monty Python, Christopher Guest, Lenny Bruce, Fernwood 2 Night, and the oddball world of Tim & Eric. Willard is comedy history personified and a ceaselessly engaging, upbeat guest, even if he doesn’t have many demons to unleash. [NR]

You Made It Weird #32: Greg Proops
Greg Proops claims to be the type of person who knows a small amount about a vast array of topics, but a long standup career has given him a very thorough knowledge of comedy, and he imparts a lot of that knowledge across most of this episode. He and Pete Holmes start by talking about how Proops’ act evolved from telling jokes to revealing himself onstage in a humorous way, including his tendency to, in Holmes’ words, “self-validate” by telling audiences that they are wrong when they don’t laugh at his jokes. A consideration of the phenomenon of comedy podcasting follows, as does an analysis of the structural differences between the jokes of British and American standups, which manages to be relatively interesting. [CG]

You Made It Weird: #33 Live From SXSW
Pete Holmes is such a friendly and well-liked fellow that he’s able to draw from an awfully big pool of comedy pals. Sure enough, his first guest on his first live episode is his best friend Kumail Nanjiani, who serves as a hilarious sidekick/foil. But the episode’s big attraction is a stranger: comedy superpower Judd Apatow, whose presence dramatically alters the energy and momentum of the show, in a good way. Apatow has the power to make careers, and panelists like memoirist, stand-up comedian, and improv teacher Chris Gethard seem to be playing to Apatow as much as to the crowd. While Apatow is a rock-solid anchor, this is an otherwise loose and rollicking affair, featuring an old-school Bob Hope-style walk-on from Doug Benson. Incorrigible smartass Todd Barry also scores a whole lot of big laughs at Holmes’ expense, and the affable host couldn’t be happier about it. [NR]


THE REST

Freakonomics Radio: “Show And Yell”
This week’s hourlong episode is another in the series of “mashupdates”—mashups of two earlier podcasts. “Show And Yell” includes an episode we already reviewed, where host Stephen Dubner asks whether booing—at sports events or opera performances, for example—is the last true expression of democracy. The first part of the show is “Hey Baby, Is That A Prius You’re Driving?,” which examines the idea that people drive Priuses because they’re a symbol of environmentalism, not for purely altruistic purposes. The episodes are interesting on their own, but skip this one if you’ve already heard them. [MM]

Monday Morning Podcast: 3-19-12
Bill Burr recorded this episode very late on Sunday night, and he sounds exhausted. He goes out of his way to say that he would rather be doing pretty much anything other than recording a podcast. Great moments have come from his negative attitudes in the past, but his fatigue renders it mostly fruitless here. [CG]

Nerdist #181: Rob Riggle
For those who have heard Rob Riggle’s appearance on WTF With Marc Maron, nothing new comes up on this episode of Nerdist. While the hosts are certainly more affable than Maron, the subject matter has a fair amount of overlap, specifically the topic of Riggle’s time in the Marine Corps. When Riggle speaks about his struggles to break into the industry, however, it’s engaging, notably his stories of auditioning for The Daily Show. But there’s little here that makes for a necessary listen. [DA]

Nerdist: #182: Neil Patrick Harris
In one of the longest episodes of Nerdist in recent memory, Neil Patrick Harris joins Chris Hardwick for a nearly two-hour discussion that covers the brunt of Harris’ career along with his personal life. The interplay between the two lends itself to humorous anecdotes and deep conversation, but not every topic covered is essential. Hardwick attempts to end the episode, but Harris wants to press on, leading to another half-hour of back and forth. The episode serves as a thorough autobiography of Harris that will be more than sufficient for fans, but overall, it’s a bit of a chore. [DA]

Stuff You Missed in History ClassFrom Brontë To Bell And Back Again
It’s difficult to deny the Brontë family was remarkable and talented. But this episode sounds a lot more like an out-of-context biography than some kind of historic gem. The Brontës are presented as basically well-off people who wish they could love who they loved. Charlotte’s dedication to her family while trying to publish novels like Jane Eyre is a good story, full of 19th-century passion, but the drama is still more social than immediate. It’s skippable if you’re not in the mood. [DT]

Stop Podcasting Yourself #209: Marjorie Malpass
Marjorie Malpass, a self-described “slash,” is a comedian/actress/mom/corporate communication coach/Second City instructor. But this week’s Stop Podcasting Yourself has too much improv for its own good. The regular “Hulk Hogan News” segment recounts co-host Graham Clark’s rapturous report about his online exchanges with Hulk Hogan, and it runs longer than Malpass’ teaser anecdotes about teaching levity to executives, aspiring to own a zombie-proof cottage, wrestling with ambivalence about the prospect of appearing in a Wal-Mart commercial, and exploiting her “accessible level of hotness.” [DXF]

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