Week of April 21-27

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

The Phoenix is a glossy magazine devoted to the ileostomy lifestyle. Who knew? And you go through The Phoenix and it’s like GQ, all these sexy people and they’re at the beach and they’re at a barbecue and they’re playing tennis and they’re dancing; but presumably, underneath their clothing is a fucking bag of shit.” —Andy Borowitz, The Moth

 “Why don’t people make love anymore?”

“Because of AIDS.” —Julie Klausner and Rachel Shukert, How Was Your Week? 

“I originally wanted to have you on as my first guest, but then I thought you didn’t suffer from depression or mental illness—what was I thinking?” —Paul Gilmartin, Never Not Funny

“The thing just never ended. It was like the Shoah of horns.” —Mike Pesca on the Buffalo Sabres’ goal horn, Hang Up And Listen


THE BEST

Comedy Death-Ray Radio #102: Tim Heidecker, Neil Hamburger
A Tim Heidecker-Neil Hamburger double team on CDR sounds like a blockbuster, and episode 102 mostly delivers, with Heidecker hilariously antagonizing Scott Aukerman in a peevish interview for the first half hour of the show. That first segment makes the whole episode, which surprisingly loses steam when Hamburger shows up and Heidecker drops the prick shtick. It recovers some in the bizarre final segment, when Heidecker and Hamburger pretend to be Elton John and his longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin, respectively, and perform some of John’s hits as Taupin originally imagined them. Heidecker plays keyboards while Hamburger shouts and moans atonally—exactly as abrasive and strange, yet amusing, as would be expected from these. At an hour and 40 minutes, though, #102 overstays its welcome a bit.

Extra Hot Great: Dames Get Boned
The gang feels obligated to comment on HBO’s Game Of Thrones, but probably should have recused themselves, because Tara Ariano, for one, has little interest in the fantasy genre. Not surprisingly, Game Of Thrones turns out to be not her thing—ditto Joe Reid, who liked The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and seems more open to the prospect—but it leads to a good discussion anyway about the show’s similarities to historical soap operas like Rome and its disturbing “rape-y” qualities. Reid and David T. Cole also took in the new Morgan Spurlock product-placement documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, but weren’t buying what he’s selling about selling. The other regular segments are entertaining, including another Ariano “I Am Not A Crackpot” rant that makes a lot of sense (reality shows should limit themselves to only one hour maximum per week) and a strong consideration of The Office’s first “Dundies” episode for the Canon. But it’s Game Time that’s the real highlight this week, as Cole asks the other hosts to guess movie titles based on their silly foreign (mostly Chinese) title. (e.g. Six Naked Pigs = The Full Monty.) 

Hang Up And Listen: The Swedish Hockey Twins Edition
With the Chicago Blackhawks taking the No. 1-seeded Vancouver Canucks to seven games after being down 3-0, hosts Josh Levin, Mike Pesca, and Stefan Fatsis speculate over why the NHL playoffs are more unpredictable than those of other sports. Two words: hot goalie (a term that applies to virtually everything in life, as it happens). They also sort out the complicated case of shady Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who lost control of the team to Major League Baseball. The most entertaining segment, however, is a riff on the NFL Draft, particularly the odd and hilarious spectacle of young QB prospects like Heisman winner Cam Newton getting grilled by the overexcited Jon Gruden on ESPN. Two of the “afterball” segments take fascinating angles on marathon running, with Pesca enthusing over the amazing life of marathoner/motivational speaker Patti Catalano Dillon and Fatsis noting the disparities between how different record-keepers consider the legitimacy of marathon courses. Levin then brings the fun back with an evaluation of NHL goal horns, inspired by a list in The Awl. 

The Moth: Andy Borowitz: An Unexpected Twist
It’s one thing to approach life-threatening illness with good humor; it’s another to make it downright hilarious, which is what Andy Borowitz does this week. The fact that the malady in question has to do with his colon obviously lends some easy scatological humor to the mix, but Borowitz gets much more mileage out of impersonating his amusingly terse surgeon, Dr. Ho. (“[He’s] sort of like Confucius on Twitter.”) Jokes aside, Borowitz came perilously close to death—spoiler alert: He made it through—so there’s an undercurrent of pathos that elevates his story and warrants its earnest closing epigram. 

The Nerdist #82: Jimmy Fallon
Over the past two years, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon has risen out of the ashes of the Second Late Night Wars to become one of the most innovative, daring shows in late night, and this chat with Chris Hardwick—recorded in front of a live audience at this year’s PaleyFest—reveals why: Fallon is a charming, generous guy who’s smart enough to surround himself with other creative, funny people and let them go nuts. Hardwick spends a little time covering the requisite “how did you get to this point” backstory—which gives Fallon an opportunity to do a bunch of impressions—but most of the discussion is given over to dissecting a handful of Late Night’s insta-viral sketches, including the “Neil Young”/Bruce Springsteen duet of Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” and the Glee spoof featuring the cast of Parks And Recreation. (These bits are also played in their entirety on the podcast for those who missed them.) Hardwick and Fallon have an easy, genial chemistry throughout, and the audience questions at the end are surprisingly astute—especially the woman who asks Fallon about his notorious propensity for breaking during SNL sketches. 

Pop Culture Happy Hour: In Which We Ponder Villainy And London Separately
This week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour starts off with a long round of advice on London, ahead of Linda Holmes’ trip there to cover the royal wedding for NPR. She’s never been, and her fellow podcasters offer tips ranging from serious to seriously facetious. PCHH has rarely felt this much like eavesdropping on someone else’s private restaurant conversation; it’s funny and a bit intimate, but also not relevant to anyone besides those traveling to London. (Or interested in helping Linda plan hers; she does make a call for general audience suggestions via Facebook and the NPR site.) This week’s more programmatic/pop-culture discussion revolves around everyone’s picks for “meanest” characters in culture; after ruling out serial killers and other mundanely “evil” villains, they discuss characters like Addison DeWitt (from All About Eve), Alan Arkin’s role in Wait Until Dark, and the entire main cast of Seinfeld. Finally, in What’s Making Us Happy, Glen Weldon lusts over a cinematic dwarf and Trey Graham waxes rhapsodic over Peeps.

Sklarbro Country #39: Bill Burr and Chris Cox 
Randy and Jason Sklar only send out good vibes into the world, so it’s rare for there to be any friction on their show. Yet the brothers are willing to stand their ground when guest Bill Burr waxes reactionary about the world around him. As he acknowledges, Burr likes to get a rise out of people. The most riveting part of the podcast involves Burr quasi-heroically taunting a heckling crowd with such zeal and defiance that a clip of the event has become a YouTube favorite, while creating the expectation that he’ll delight fans in future cities by insulting them as well. Things tend to go smoothly on the calming shores of Sklarbro Country, but there’s an appealing tension this week between the Zen brothers and the blue-collar, prickly Burr. Snoop Dogg is one of Chris Cox’s weakest characters—he doesn’t really seem to have much of an angle on him—but his 4/20-themed guest appearance redeemed itself with the beyond-absurd “première” of a Sklarbro Country-themed Chris Cox/Snoop Dogg parody collaboration, “Please Go Or Don’t Go Punch A Waterfall.”

Sound Opinions #282: Drive-By Truckers
Kudos to Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis for shining a light on one of America’s best (if also unsung) rock bands, Drive-By Truckers, by devoting a good portion of this episode to an interview with leader Patterson Hood. While DBT hasn’t attained the level of commercial success typical for artists prominently featured on Sound Opinions, Hood rewards Kot and DeRo’s enthusiasm by thoughtfully and humorously discussing the band’s career—including its somewhat unfortunate moniker—as well as performing “Ray’s Automatic Weapon” and “The Thanksgiving Filter” from this year’s fine Go-Go Boots. 

WTF With Marc Maron: #169: Greg Fleet and Simon Munnery
Like attracts like, so it’s understandable that the sentient black cloud that is Marc Maron tends to converse with tormented souls whose hardscrabble pasts and battles with addiction make him look pristine by comparison. That’s certainly the case with Australian cult comic Greg Fleet, who matter-of-factly shares some of the details of a traumatic childhood that involved such colorful shenanigans as a father who faked his own death to evade his responsibilities. Of course, WTF listeners don’t have to brace themselves for the heavy stuff; it comes with the territory. Still, it is a little jarring hearing Fleet casually discuss, with just the right note of embarrassment, performing a one-man show about getting off heroin while actually high on heroin. Simon Munnery, meanwhile, stops by to discuss absurdist comedy and some of his extraordinarily conceptual ideas, like a restaurant that offers all the hassle and pointless formality of a restaurant without actually serving any food.

THE REST

The Adam Carolla Show
If you’re backed up on podcasts, this week’s Adam Carolla Show is consistent but skippable. In order of descending interest: Former call-in cohort Dr. Drew and Carolla take listener calls and debate how to raise non-entitled kids, the ethical considerations of fathering children when you’re old, whether gay parents can truly offer the same parenting experience as straight ones, and how to talk your wife into anal again if she didn’t like it the first time. When Carolla, Bald Bryan, and Alison Rosen hold down the fort without a guest, Ace tells a detailed story about his publishers essentially talking him out of making a sequel—for them, at least—to his wildly successful audio book. Glee’s Mike O’Malley, who plays Chris Colfer’s dad, gives Carolla a chance to voice his ongoing concerns that his son will be gay. They discuss the double standards of having a gay son vs. gay daughter, and Ace concludes, “The no-cock option is always good for a dad. Dads fear the cock.” Marina Orlova of Russian dating site anastasiadate.com and etymology site hotforwords.com recounts coming to America as a nanny and building her Internet presence later. David Koechner (Anchorman, The Office) barely makes an impression; more interesting is a brief debate between Ace and regular color man Larry Miller regarding whether successful people like LeBron James and Donald Trump are truly dim bulbs (albeit talented ones), or merely inarticulate. 

The B.S. Report With Bill Simmons
Simmons stuck to all sports this week in his two podcasts, first welcoming in Jonah Keri of, among other publications, ESPN and the New York Times. The pair discuss the NHL playoffs (mainly the Boston-Montreal match-up), the NBA playoffs, and the current MLB season. But most interesting is Keri’s commentary on the nature of cycling talent, particularly in the MLB and NBA, which also happens to be the topic of his recent book. Less interesting is the second podcast of the week, featuring NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi and ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who both talk about the NFL draft and the NFL’s current labor situation. It’s nothing that hasn’t been discussed elsewhere in the sports-media universe: Lombardi continues the annoying pattern of pundits questioning Cam Newton’s “character” issues while being an apologist for Ryan Mallett, and Schefter, though offering some good perspective, treads on well-worn territory of the NFL lockout situation.

Culture Gabfest #136: “Why All These Stupid Altruistic Urges?” Edition 
The Gabfest trio begins this week by gathering around the panning piñata that is the new Atlas Shrugged film adaptation. “We’re a free culture, but there are some people who want to elevate that fact to a quasi-authoritarian ideal,” Stephen Metcalf says as the conversation turns a little more serious. But do skip ahead to the final third of the episode, in which historian Adam Goodheart talks about writing about the Civil War for the New York TimesDisunion blog and his new book, 1861.

Doug Loves Movies: Kristian Harloff, Mark Ellis, and Samm Levine
Kristian Harloff and Mark Ellis, a.k.a. Schmoes Know, know movies. Doug Benson loves movies. Samm Levine knows the Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide app, so Benson keeps him around when he needs someone else to run The Leonard Maltin Game. (Not really, but it’s a funny bone of faux-contention between the two in the episode’s early goings.) It all leads to the most movie-centric episode of DLM in a long time, where the Schmoes, Benson, and Levine discuss such subjects of great import as the movies inside Quentin Tarantino’s head, Natalie Portman’s ass, and a bearded Levine’s resemblance to the star of the unrealized Marvel franchise “Lil’ Wolverine.”

Firewall & Iceberg #70: Steve Carell leaves The Office; The Voice & more
Hitftix.com’s Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall cover all the bases this week, talking about TV, art, business, and commerce. To commemorate Steve Carell’s departure from The Office, they review his seven-year run on the tentpole NBC sitcom. Other topics include talent-contest shows The Voice (“Idol… with a different set of judges”) and the faltering American Idol, followed by Archer, Survivor, and the instantly axed Paul Reiser Show. Responding to listener mail, Fienberg and Sepinwall discuss quick cancellations, shows that nail (or miss) local flavor, and what it takes to fix a floundering series.

How Was Your Week? #7: “The Pottery Scene From GREASE
What’s Rachel Dratch been up to lately? Taking care of a new baby, writing a book (no title or release date yet), and disappearing down a pop-culture rabbit hole with Julie Klausner, who asks questions about SNL but veers off into the Real Housewives franchise and the art of the celebrity autobiography. Dratch sounds down-to-earth and possibly a little tired, maybe due to the book-writing and small human in her life. Klausner also revisits comments on the JC Penney website, which is funnier than it sounds. The episode also includes Klausner’s review of the quickly closed Kathleen Turner play High (“The worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life”) and an in-depth discussion of the movie Tootsie with writer and playwright Rachel Shukert. 

Jordan, Jesse, Go! #172: Face/Off
More “go” than “go!” this week, the guys are a little more downbeat than usual thanks to a no-show guest, recovery from the Midwest tour, and Jesse turning 30. Much of the episode is dedicated to Thorn’s birthday, which has him philosophical and a tad morose in a way that those over 30 may find either charming or irritating. The two grumps complain about rich kids and people who have terrible taste in culture before Thorn provides some fascinating glimpses into his family, which is more interesting than yours, but probably not in a way that would make you jealous. 

Judge John Hodgman #21 You Say Tomato, I Say Justice
Faced with the issue of the “proper” way to pronounce words like “often,” “Boise,” and “shibboleth,” Judge Hodgman offers a lesson in linguistics that could be torn from the pages of The Areas Of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require. Hodgman wisely identifies an arrogance in how the elite throw around labels like “uneasy half-literate” or “working class dum-dum” to disparage those who pronounce the “t” in “often,” but don’t understand the malleability of language. 

The Nerdist: #81: Whotopia!
The good news: There are no spoilers in this bonus Nerdist episode recorded at a live Q&A following a screening of the first two episodes of the new season of Dr. Who. The bad news: There’s little here that will be interesting to non-fans, though Who-vians should find plenty to slobber over in Hardwick’s discussion with writer/producer Steven Moffat, Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillian (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Alex Kingston (River Song), director Toby Haynes, and executive producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis.

Never Not Funny #822: Paul Gilmartin
Around an hour into their conversation, after admitting to investing $35,000 in Internet domain names and another $35,000 on a cellar of vintage wine, guest Paul Gilmartin asks, “Why do anything halfway when you can do it to the point of embarrassing yourself?” It’s a moment to which any completist can relate, and one that well summarizes Gilmartin and Jimmy Pardo’s leavened view of their past mistakes and deep-seated issues. As sufferer of depression and host of The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast, Gilmartin is adept at playing both doctor and patient, roles that he and Pardo alternate between while one-upping each other with evidence to their own insanity. This may sound like a downer, but even the deepest Never Not Funny still brings the funny, especially with a host that admits, “I’m the guy that tosses a golf club in anger, and is laughing about it before it lands.”

Savage Lovecast #236
Forget Fox News: Savage Love may be the most fair and balanced broadcast there is. At the top of this week’s podcast, Savage takes aim at the GOP members who he perceives as not only anti-choice but also anti-abortion and science. Yet he also chides a caller who’s on the fence about whether to commit to his single-mom girlfriend (“If you love this woman, love her child”), and he even throws monogamous couples a bone when he advises a lesbian in an unsatisfying open relationship. (Monogamous partners have less confusion when it comes to these types of discussions.) The episode also includes some very practical advice for dating a hot crazy person: Fuck him/her one last time and then move on.

The Sound Of Young America: Peter Sagal, Colt Cabana & More
Taped live in Chicago at Second City, this episode of TSOYA finds Jesse Thorn chatting with comic/wrestler Colt Cabana and Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! host Peter Sagal, with comedy from Cameron Esposito and musical interludes by Robbie Fulks. The whole setup, from Fulks’ folky music to the numerous public-radio anecdotes, makes this feel like Prairie Home Companion—just with an audience that only laughs when things are actually funny.

This American Life #306: Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time
This episode originally aired in 2006, but if you haven’t heard it, it’s definitely worth the download. Glass takes a look at good plans gone awry—a cop who accidentally locks himself in the back of a squad car, a Riverdance touring company that stakes its future on the lottery, and a freelance writer who entrusts his taxes to an unstable accountant. It’s one of those awesome episodes that deals with foolishness and folly, and, with the exception of the last five minutes, it delivers. 

WTF With Marc Maron: #168: Live At SXSW 
It’s a podcast gang-bang as Marc Maron takes on all comers at a guest-packed live WTF broadcast from South by Southwest. With so many guests on the roster— Shane Mauss, Ben Garant, Brett Gelman, Kurt Braunohler, Jena Friedman, Nick Yousseff, and Doug Benson—Maron isn’t able to go too deep with anyone, but the show remains lively and engaging, if more than a little overstuffed. 

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