Week of Nov. 10-16 

Podcast fans, don't forget to check out The A.V. Club podcast, Reasonable Discussions, every Wednesday.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

‬“People think there’s an epidemic of suicides with children, gay children particularly. I don’t think there is. I think there’s much less of it; it’s just now, society has decided to listen… I hope this isn’t going to get me in trouble, but it probably will. But maybe partly it’s because we’re raising a real hothouse-flower generation. Children that don’t expect any bumps. Nowadays, you get a gold star for not waking up dead. So when they get bullied, they’re like ‘Oh my God, how can this be happening to me?’” —Scott Thompson, Scott Free

 “They all reminded me of the people who would be at the dinner party in Beetlejuice.” —Paul F. Tompkins on Work Of Art contestants, How Was Your Week? 

“It seems like part of your campaign is to advocate people go down to the chamber of commerce and fuck people in your name.” —Jason Mantzoukas on Chip Gardner’s (Andy Daly) campaign for honorary mayor of Hollywood, Comedy Bang Bang

“When I record this podcast, I am using a Coleco Adam computer add-on that I have forged onto an Intellivision console using Odyssey controllers. And then I am using tin foil attached to a Timex Sinclair as a kind of antenna to wirelessly broadcast this to you throughout the country.” —John Hodgman, Judge John Hodgman

“In four moves, we got ‘jism’ together. Not jizz, not cum, not semen, hold on, I’m not done. Not man-juice, not booby-batter…” —Scott Aukerman on playing “What Am I Thinking?” with Jimmy Pardo, Never Not Funny

Imperfect, But Hard To Dislike: The T.J. Miller Story.”—Doug Benson, Doug Loves Movies

“What is this, British politics? You’re trying to take the show from me?” —Tom Scharpling after a string of bad callers, The Best Show On WFMU

“‘Oh, fuck, shit, titties.’ That’s a sentence now.”
“It means ‘I’ll see you later.’” —Lisa Beth Johnson and Baron Vaughn, on Deep S##! With Baron Vaughn

“They hired an assistant, and she has boobs, and that’s a plot line.” —Dan Fienberg on Parenthood, Firewall & Iceberg

NEW (TO US)

This Is That 
A parody of public radio with a Canadian focus, This Is That takes a similar approach as The Daily Show and The Onion to skewer life in its home country—albeit politely, with less bite. Every week, writer-performers Peter Oldring and Pat Kelly (both of whom did a lot of time at Second City) follow a format with headlines, listener feedback, interviews, and a field report. Because the show airs on Canadian public radio, many people don’t realize the show is satirical, so their confusion can make the listener feedback segment especially funny. The rest of the episode features cartoonish Canadian accents and outlandish Canuck stereotypes that may go over the heads of their neighbors to the south. 

Episode 19 of This Is That’s second season makes a bold claim for Canada being the ultimate redneck country—seriously?—with tales of illegal beaver fighting in British Columbia (including a graphic description of the almost sexual acts committed during the fights) and a hick town getting its first limousine. There’s also a funny segment about a Toronto University snob wanting to bring all of the nation’s significant cultural artifacts to Toronto because he’s never left the city. Across the board, the acting is really well done, and it’s a testament to the talent of the performers that so much of the improvisation works. [AJ]

Deep S##! With Baron Vaughn
Even if you’ve seen just a little of Baron Vaughn’s stand-up, you know he’s eager to stretch the form and achieve his punchlines through unlikely leaps and Aziz Ansari-like jolts of energy. If he’s not yet as equally challenging in podcast form, Deep S##! With Baron Vaughn is at least working toward that. Launched in September, it follows the semi-casual “comedian talking to comedy buddies” format, with guests like Kyle Kinane, Eric Andre, and Eliza Skinner. But each episode attempts to go deep on a given subject. Last week, Kinane came on to discuss “longevity” and the challenge of staying relevant in comedy. This week, Lisa Beth Johnson visits as Vaughn’s first repeat guest—“which is going to happen more,” he says—for a respectably thoughtful discussion of vulgarity. Johnson’s a little more cautious about profanity and its spread to casual situations and kids’ mouths: “Kids don’t give a fuck now. They don’t give a fuck about saying ‘fuck’ in fucking public.” It’s not Mental Illness Happy Hour-level probing, but there’s enough focus that Deep S##! warrants following. Vaughn is, after all, the guy who developed a good bit from the KKK having a website. [SG]


OUTLIERS

Buddhist Geeks 
Vince Horn and Ryan Oelke are tech-savvy Buddhists seeking enlightenment via podcasting—specifically, through talks with notable Buddhists and Eastern philosophers about their own spiritual path and the issues people face on their way to the spiritual awakening. The heady show features the kind of deep, abstract discussions that occur after bowls get cashed in dorms everywhere, but the hosts are good at asking questions and providing answers that leave room for listener interpretation. Then there’s Episode 236 with author and spiritual expert Terry Patten, who bizarrely claims some teachers may need to have sex with their students in order to transmit what they’ve learned by ascending to a higher plain. Oddly, he then goes on to blame some female students for seducing their teachers out of some devotional subservient relationship. Come for the deep thoughts, stay for the sexual intrigue. [AJ]


THE BEST

The Best Show On WFMU
Why do all the dud callers decide to dial up The Best Show so early in the episode? It’s a phenomenon worth examining, considering Tom Scharpling broke last week’s hang-up record in the first 30 minutes of the show. Luckily Jon Wurster calls as one of his characters—Ross from Newbridge Tonight—and things quickly improve. But the real star of the show is Vance the puppet (who still sounds like Chumlee from Pawn Stars) talking trash about AP Mike and Pink Floyd reissues. Somebody really needs to get this puppet his own podcast. [JD]

The Bugle #172: Berlusconi Bows Out
In what’s an ideal episode for Bugle fans, Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver say goodbye to Bugle favorite Silvio Berlusconi—sadly, before Oliver had a chance to deliver proper fuckology in his honor. The former Italian prime minister is dispatched quickly so that the duo can focus on a favorite pastime for Brits and Americans for decades: mocking the Russians. A simulated trip to Mars—where scientists studied the mental states of six astronauts living in confined quarters for 17 months straight—recently ended outside of Moscow, and it’s such great Bugle fodder that it almost seems fabricated. The highlight of the show arrives with Zaltzman’s third pun-run in a row, which leads to Oliver actually dropping his mic and screaming like a primal beast. [AJ]

Comedy Bang Bang #131: Mayor Of Hollywood: Jason Mantzoukas, Andy Daly
Episode 131 is practically an improvisation clinic, as the “Yes and…” dictum takes Scott Aukerman, Jason Mantzoukas (co-host of How Did This Get Made? and the funniest part of The League), and always-reliable Andy Daly in bizarre and unsurprisingly dark directions. Aukerman and Mantzoukas have an easy chemistry that comes from knowing each other and working together for a long time, and they play off each other so well—see the amazing “What Am I Thinking?” moment about 50 minutes in—that it throws some of CBB’s recent episodes into sharp relief. Daly appears in his best old-time broadcaster voice as Chip Gardner, a former actor/game-show host hoping to be the next honorary mayor of Hollywood. This being Daly (eagerly abetted by Aukerman and Mantzoukas), Gardner soon reveals his sordid past as a leader of a child army, his bizarre medical experiments on vagrants, and his devotion to Satanism. The threads all come together perfectly in an ending bit that plays on one of the episode’s running jokes and Gardner’s secret shared past with Aukerman and Mantzoukas. Comedy Bang Bang at its best. [KR]

Hang Up And Listen: The Case Of The Kidnapped Catcher Edition
A week after an all-special-guest edition, Hang Up And Listen does it again for all three segments this week, which would be a problem if the guests weren’t so compelling. Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim brings his expertise to the first two segments: One returns to the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, about which Wertheim is writing an SI cover story; the discussion not only explores the latest developments, but also gets into the tricky business of writing dispassionately about the volatile scene in State College. The other deals with UFC’s successful primetime debut on Fox and the long-term prospects of a sport that some (like Mike Pesca, for one) consider too fringy for legitimacy. The week’s other big story, the kidnapping and subsequent rescue of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in Venezuela, gets a boost from reporter Rafael Rojas Cremonesi, who broke the story in the States and speculates about the dim future of Winter League baseball in the Venezuela. [ST]

Judge John Hodgman: #41 Out Of REC-order
There’s not much to the actual dispute on this week’s episode: Anthony (nicknamed “T”) has a basic-cable package and no DVR. His friend Joseph (nicknamed “Pippen,” after the Lord Of The Rings character) has a DVR and a more expansive cable package. T asks Pippin to tape shows for him on his DVR—specifically, two reality cooking shows, Hell’s Kitchen and The Originals With Emeril—that feature a contestant that he knows personally, but once they’re taped, T doesn’t come over to watch them, and they take up space on Pippin’s DVR for months. Judge Hodgman’s ruling isn’t much of a surprise—he takes the position of a sensible human being—but the open-and-shut case allows Hodgman to riff hilariously on silly nicknames, fantasy marginalia, and do a bracingly profane Gordon Ramsay impression from the bench. Best of all is a docket-clearing decision on what makes a computer outdated—a subject about which Hodgman, the Personal Computer himself, knows a little something. [ST]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #34: Paul F. Tompkins
Perhaps it’s the way he wears those daring suits, but it’s hard to think of comic Paul F. Tompkins as someone who doesn’t have it together. This week’s episode unravels his masterful suavity in typically compassionate yet exhaustive Mental Illness Happy Hour style. Well, that’s not entirely true: What he gives host Paul Gilmartin is a well-articulated mix of personal and professional inventory, from his tough parental relationships to the time he alienated Jeff Garlin. One of the funniest, and most human, moments comes when Gilmartin and Tompkins swap tales about their romantic failures, including the time Gilmartin asked a woman to take a bath with him. [SG]

Nerdist #141: Dave Attell
Dave Attell joins Nerdist to discuss his new show on Showtime, Dave’s Old Porn, and, by extension, all things pornographic. The new series sounds just as fascinating as his old show on Comedy Central, Insomniac, but with nakedness, sex, and discussions with some of the classic adult film stars more than a few of us grew up watching (usually in five- to eight-minute increments). Attell and the Nerdist gang discuss the appeal of pornography and swap stories about their first viewings, their favorites, and how there is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting in a room full of people watching hardcore pornography. That said, pornography is a shared experience in that people may recognize names, faces, and titles, without realizing others do as well, because it’s not a frequent topic of conversation. Attell goes above and beyond in porn knowledge, but as Nerdist listeners know, everyone’s passionate about something—even retro porn. [BL]

Never Not Funny #924: Scott Aukerman
In what’s ostensibly the season-nine home stretch with the immediate Never Not Funny family, Scott “Fourth Chair” Aukerman’s familiar presence sets a looser, sillier vibe with a few distinct tones: patient political and comedy insight, meta commentary, and dick jokes. Aukerman’s wonderfully jokey with the last, shoehorning euphemisms at a Jimmy Pardo-like speed, but when he discusses his prankster past—in which a false name and performance-piece-turned-poker-game got him kicked out of art school—he reveals a major root of his comic sensibilities. After committing to a full minute of silence (reminiscent of Aukerman’s countdown in #826), the conversation excels when they spot—through a window unknown to listeners—a visibly post-coital couple smoking on a nearby balcony, leading to a surprisingly fresh riff on a well-worn topic. It’s a testament to all involved that Never Not Funny still reaches such heights with even its most frequent guest. [SM]

RadioLab: Patient Zero

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich look into the origins of AIDS and learn the true story of Typhoid Mary in an entertaining, engaging hour that starts out talking about the various “patient zeroes” for diseases and epidemics, then wonders if the same techniques can be applied to ideas. There are portions of the hour that don’t quite work—an entertaining discussion of which athlete invented the high five gets diverted by an superfluous story of a man able to touch his girlfriend for the first time with help of a robot arm—but the vast majority of the discussion is fascinating. Of particular interest is a long, long segment on the history of AIDS, which delves into the various urban legends about a man spreading the disease in the early ’80s (urban legends that have a basis in reality) and then takes a trip to Africa to see if the origin of the disease can be found among chimpanzees who chow down on monkeys. It’s a gruesome, involving segment, one of the best the show has done. [TV]

RISK!: The Best Of RISK! Part 2
Is it tacky for the host of a show to include his own work on a best-of episode? RISK! host Kevin Allison, never one to shy away from the spotlight, must not think so. In the second installment of RISK!’s best stories, Allison details yet another sexual misadventure: hooking up with man whose kink may be unknown to most people. It’s worth a few laughs—and not nearly as drawn out as one of his recent RISK! Extra monologues—but it’s not the highlight. The two best stories bookend the episode, which begins with Sara Barron describing a 50-page pornographic book she wrote as an 11-year-old in 1991—a solution to sexual curiosity only a bookish kid could’ve invented. The pop-culture references, Barron’s lack of understanding about sex, and words she uses to describe it make the story that much funnier. In Barron’s young mind, the height of male sexiness involved Kirk Cameron in black Umbros. David Crabb closes out the episode with his touching story about his gothy teenage years in a small Texas town, and an unlikely friendship he forged with a self-described non-bigoted skinhead. [MM]

Scott Free #14: We’re Back!
Kids In The Hall’s Scott Thompson returns to podcasting for the first time since July, bringing in guest comedian Dave Merheje and feinting at interviewing him, but mostly free-associating, without filters as usual. Topics include Thompson’s attraction to Uday Hussein (he named a cat after him), the rarity of comedy couples where the women are funnier, a threesome Thompson had with some fans on the road (and why telling the story onstage unfortunately leads to more women hitting on him), and why hecklers are great because they let Thompson create new material and avenge himself against childhood bullies. Speaking of which, Thompson expands on his recent, much-ballyhooed statement that picked-on gay kids need to “grow a pair” and fight back, possibly with humor—“Comedy is violence for physical cowards.” He also jokes about being masturbated by Jesus, discusses skin tags and warts, and suggests that the whole show should just be about Merheje’s attractiveness. The episode is an industrial-strength blast of hilarious inappropriateness, though Merheje steals the limelight a little toward the end when he talks about his strategy of being a shitty lay so his groupies will leave—disappointed, but quickly and willingly—after sex. [TR]

Sklarbro Country #68: Beware Of Falling Fat Guys: Will Forte
For a man who specializes in intense, conceptual comedy and strange characters like Tim Calhoun, the affable Will Forte cuts an awfully clean-cut image in real life. He seems like the quintessential guy it’d be fun to grab a beer with. That holds true of his visit to Sklarbro Country, as Forte talks genially about performing at a Tom Petty tribute concert and accommodating the, um, different talents and skill sets of athletes who host Saturday Night Live. As is often the case, the podcast peaks with the closing celebrity phone call: Chris Cox’s Owen Wilson explains that he attempted suicide a few years back because he needed to get the public back on his side after Drillbit Taylor. In another context, that might come across an unconscionably cruel, tasteless joke, but it’s delivered with daft sweetness—even when the Sklars are being mean, it registers as niceness. [NR]

Sound Opinions: #311 Wild Flag
Wild Flag isn’t exactly a new band; this “supergroup” comprises former members of indie-rock favorites like Sleater-Kinney, Helium, and The Minders, and sounds like a natural evolution of those acts. But the group has clearly wowed Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, whose giddiness over Wild Flag’s in-studio performance for this week’s show makes them sound more like love-struck fanboys than critics. Wild Flag’s self-titled debut is one of the year’s most overt ’90s rock revival records, but the group attacks the formula with energy and infectious joy, which also is apparent in the interview. The most affecting part of the podcast comes when guitarist Carrie Brownstein talks about how she re-discovered her love of playing music after several years of burnout in the wake of Sleater-Kinney’s break-up. Brownstein sounds like an artist reborn, which makes Wild Flag seem like a real band and not a one-time diversion. [SH]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Maximilian, Mexico’s Habsburg Prince
Sarah Dowdey and Deblina Chakraborty let listeners know right away that Ferdinand Maximilian falls under one of the show’s favorite themes: puppet rulers. But he was so bent on modernization and liberalization that he was removed from Austrian rule and went on a tour of the planet that resulted in his being “invited” to rule Mexico. Treating the clearly sketchy invitation like a super swell job offer, Maximilian dove in headfirst and did his best to bring progress to a country torn apart by civil war. But as a puppet for Napoleon III, he had his work cut out for him and was immediately opposed by liberal forces. His eventual death actually seems sad due to the affection of the hosts who know the value of historical legacy. Their understanding of the Monroe Doctrine makes political schemes and violent battles seem like foul portents for the doomed Emperor Maximilian, and make this episode especially fascinating to those who may wonder how dramatic America’s bloody history with Mexico has been over the last few centuries. [DT]

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Stuff You Missed In History Class: How Vincent van Gogh Worked
It’s not often that Stuff You Missed In History Class focuses on the life of a historical artist, and Vincent van Gogh makes for the perfect subject. A poor alcoholic who tortured himself in more ways than one, van Gogh worked hard to understand success stories in art history as a youth, but also suffered a mental breakdown at an early age and attempted to escape art altogether. Almost against his will, he was repeatedly dragged back into art by witnessing poverty, pain, and more academic study. Sarah Dowdey and Deblina Chakraborty don’t treat van Gogh with the bloated reverence of fans, but give his triumphs and failures detailed descriptions and a fair amount of editorializing. His long, drawn-out death is incredibly depressing as well, but the hosts don’t let it become macabre. This is especially useful when Dowdey and Chakraborty examine his alleged murder with as much impartial interest as possible. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Presidential Debates Work
Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant make their point early that primary debates are not official debates, no matter how poorly the media refer to them. This becomes the underlying truth of everything debate-related here: Debates are built to be hostile and strange, and they have become an inside game unrelated to voters’ needs. On the bright side, historic debates make for some fascinating stories. Perhaps most interesting is that the two-party system of Republicans and Democrats created “The Memorandum of Understanding” that blocked independent groups like the League Of Women Voters from forcing them to work too hard. What we were left with is a bipartisan organization that keeps third parties out, and perhaps leads to much of the self-parody Americans see on their televisions. This could all just be a bummer if not for the hosts keeping it breezy and knowing better than to bring their own agendas to the table. [DT]

This American Life #450: So Crazy It Just Might Work
Long-shot stories are so incredible that there’s an entire world of clichés to support them—they’re the underdogs who, against all odds, come from behind in a surprise upset to achieve some goal no one thought possible. Those stories are easy to tell, and here, TAL does something different: It looks at failure. This week’s episode focuses not on improbable victory, but on the process, and more important, what type of character goes after such a ridiculous goal. Act One follows a music teacher and a cancer researcher who team up to explore killing cancer using frequencies, and Act Two profiles a closeted gay guy who sets his sights on a straight colleague. Both feature affable (if quixotic) romantics whose enthusiasm really propels the storytelling. [EW]

Thrilling Adventure Hour #47: Sparks Nevada, Marshal On Mars, The Return Of Croach The Tracker And The Introduction Of Two New Important Characters!
The LA-based creators of Thrilling Adventure Hour not only relish the pure corniness of old-time radio drama, but, like any good parodists, have an excellent grasp of the form’s capabilities. Writer/producers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and their spirited cast (which has included James Urbaniak and Paul F. Tompkins) have created a spirited array of regular characters and running stories. This week’s episode features Marc Evan Jackson’s character Sparks Nevada, a Western-style lawman patrolling the wilds of Mars. The segment’s fusion of sci-fi cheese and John Wayne bravado proves particularly inspired when Patton Oswalt appears as the murderous Billy The Bot. More than just fusing lovable clichés, the show finds eccentric strength in its dialogue, what with all this week’s heavy talk about space-western novel-writing and releasing sidekick Croach The Tracker from his “onus.” [SG]

Uhh Yeah Dude #297
This week’s episode starts off with a relatively quick series of laughs—not that Uhh Yeah Dude lacks for them, just that Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette are generally laid-back in their approach. Early on, the two meander through such subject matter as muscle-building workouts, super-hip, super-capable kids “flying into the Castro for the Gaga show,” and the weirdness of going to a hotel Thanksgiving buffet in Beverly Hills. In more constructive moments, the two propose moving Black Friday to Halloween and read what are apparently some letters from their new Korean pen pals, two things made for an UYD field day. Oh, and don’t seek an Oscar for a motion-capture performance on Romatelli and Larroquette’s watch, “you rubber-faced fuck.” [SG]

Walking The Room #77: Wigtown And The Lice Family 
This week’s Walking The Room must be appreciated solely for showcasing what happens when Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt get on each other’s nerves, or at least talk like it. Sure, the extended discussion of Behrendt’s abortive talk-show career might not be the funniest of WTR segment, but at least there’s a good setup: “Oprah once wanted to give you a fucking television show, and now look at you,” Anthony says. “You’re in a closet talking about dollops... you are like the story of a man gone mad.” Of course, you might get punchy too if you found yourself in a closet with Behrendt constantly saying something about “creme sauce” in a creepy Stewie Griffin voice. Second to the button-pushing this week is some grotesquely fascinating talk about wigs. [SG]

Who Charted? #50: DJ Robbi Scrab: Rob Schrab
It’s always refreshing when Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack reach outside of the usual pool of Earwolf regulars/L.A. alt-comedians, though Rob Schrab—best known for his work on The Sarah Silverman Program—isn’t too far removed from that world. The gregarious Schrab nearly steals the episode from Kremer and Vilaysack, who almost struggle to keep up with him. One of the highlights occurs in the music segment, where Schrab legitimately can’t differentiate Mariah Carey’s vocals from Justin Bieber’s in their cover of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” The trio analyzes the song with a precision typically reserved for the Zapruder film, and they still can’t pinpoint the difference. The music segment leads to some interesting tangents, such as Schrab’s compelling argument for casting Jon Stewart in a Fantastic Four film. All in all, Who Charted? seems to be on a promising upswing after last week’s excellent Ben Schwartz episode. [MS]

WTF With Marc Maron #226: Neil Hamburger, Molly Shannon, Harris Wittels, Jim Earl, Eddie Pepitone
Live WTFs are ostensibly an opportunity for host Marc Maron to get outside of his head for a little while and explore the outside world, yet the two most memorable moments of the latest live WTF revolve around Maron’s persona. First, professional kvetch Andy Kindler offers a dazzlingly spot-on impression of the pre-interview segment of WTF. Perhaps because he traffics in a similarly staccato, aggressive form of neurotic Jewish comedy, Kindler absolutely nails Maron’s signature rhythms, even as he leaves the details purposefully vague. It’s a hilarious deconstruction of Maron’s shtick, as is Jim Earl’s Hell’s Kitchen parody later in the podcast. Elsewhere, Kindler and Maron reminisce about their Dead days, Harris Wittels shares the short, sweet story of his rise to success, and Neil Hamburger waxes bitter. It’s not the strongest WTF, live or otherwise, but Kindler and Earl’s hilarious takes on the host’s cult of personality make it worth a listen. [NR]

WTF With Marc Maron #227: Adam Scott
With Adam Scott’s integration into the L.A. comedy community now complete, it’s only fitting that he get his own episode of WTF. His visit is more akin to Inside The Actors Studio than the average episode of WTF (without Marc Maron asking to hear from, say, Henry Pollard from Party Down or Derek from Step Brothers), with the bulk of the conversation devoted to Scott’s transition from “actor actor” to comedic straight man. Delving into that transition adds a nice layer to Scott’s humble perspective on his place within the Apatow-McKay-UCB Theater nexus, a humility his new nicotine-lozenge buddy Maron attempts to inflate into something resembling a sense of achievement. Because, really, if you can just pop into a Doug Loves Movies taping on your way back from work (and your work is Parks And Recreation), then you’ve made it, man. [EA]


THE REST

The Adam Carolla Show 
This week, Podmass abandons The Adam Carolla Show. Although most of the five weekly episodes are labeled and promoted with a guest’s name, it’s almost always a cruel bait-and-switch. In nine out of 10 episodes, Carolla fails to deliver any kind of memorable insight into the guest’s work or life. If they stick around for 30 minutes, they’re getting more time than most. The ’cast itself usually amounts to half-assed, poorly planned bull sessions whose sole reason for existence seems to be as a stepping stone to something bigger. Granted, Howard Stern doesn’t put on a show just to enhance his listeners’ lives—but they get something when they tune in. Carolla is no broadcaster; he’s a gawking tourist who blunders his way through uniformed interviews, then spends more time complaining about the same handful of topics, half of which are wealthy-white-guy problems. And when you listen to The Adam Carolla Show, it’s clear Ace would rather be somewhere else. For listeners who want morning-zoo chit chat from a (supposed) regular Joe who’s bewildered by the ever-changing world around them, the show delivers. For the kind of pop-culture enthusiast with an active interest in his pet subjects, it’s a waste of time. This week is no exception. The only keeper episode is a compelling, but typically unresearched interview with singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. Carolla still can’t believe ’80s music is in regular rotation; Mann counts Duran Duran among “the worst of the worst,” and Ace ranks Depeche Mode among “the gayest.” The rest of the wide conversation spans from boxing to Mann’s restrained insights on the Penn family. (She’s married to singer Michael, and Carolla has a creepy fixation on Sean.) Robert Davi, who played steely-faced heavies in Showgirls and The Goonies, muses on the significance of the great American songbook and plugs his new album, Davi Sings Sinatra: On The Road To Romance. John Cho is a momentary presence who chats about immigrating from Korea and growing up in California. After Carolla rants about old football rules, Prime Suspect’s Tim Griffin joins in a short conversation about renovating and selling houses in L.A. Greg Fitzsimmonsreport from his adventures in Vegas prompts Ace to break out Adam Carolla Rant No. 6 (of eight): “Strip Clubs Are No Good Any Good Any More, Especially The Music.” You’ve heard it before. And if you haven’t, tune in next week — you’ll hear it again. [DXF]

Best Show Gems: The Son Of The Bassist From The Ventures Calls In
After Tom Scharpling directs his ire toward a Rolling Stone article about the children of rock stars and their griping about “not having anything to rebel against,” the son of Ventures bassist Bob Bogle calls in to explain just what form his rebellion took: water-fountain sales. Bogle Jr. cuts right to the chase, calling Tom an “idiot” for not knowing who he was, before dutifully outlining his plans for a multi-platform media blitz. (This is The Best Show after all.) Short and sweet but without the signature twistiness of an exemplary Gem, this episode doesn’t quite measure up to its forebears. [CW]

Culture Gabfest: Cultureballs Edition
June Thomas fills in for the absent Julia Turner on this week’s Gabfest, and the episode is so tailored around her specific expertise that it becomes less a discussion than an interview with occasional interruptions. All three shrug over Clint Eastwood’s new biopic J. Edgar, then it’s Thomas Time, with inquiries into her piece on Univision’s astounding success and a look at 50 years of the British satirical publication Private Eye. [ST]

Doug Loves Movies: T.J. Miller, Dan Telfer, and Pat Francis
The best episodes of Doug Loves Movies feature some sort of playful conflict—be it guest-versus-guest, guest-versus-host, or, like last week’s stellar in-character ep, entire panel-versus-host. T.J. Miller can usually be counted on to provide that second type of conflict, but he’s remarkably docile here. (Perhaps he was inspired by the amiable, shared-ties-to-the-Midwest nature of the panel, which includes Podmass contributor Dan Telfer?) Even the extra-length Leonard Maltin Game keeps things at a low simmer, though it does allow for an overdue rally from Miller’s mischievous streak in the form of a -17 bid in the final round. Spoiler alert: He can’t name all 17 credited cast members in Scream 3. [EA]

Firewall & Iceberg #102: Catching Up On Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, Prime Suspect & More
Hitfix.com critics Dan Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall recorded this episode before NBC released its spring schedule, so they don’t discuss Community’s hiatus, and their analysis of the Prime Suspect is basically moot. Read their web posts for analysis of breaking news, but tune in to the ’cast for lively, zinger-laced commentary on a crop of popular fall shows, including Fringe, The Good Wife, Parenthood, The Walking Dead, and Pan Am (which leaves them speculating whether Tim Burton ruined Christina Ricci as an actor), with a bonus look back at Scrubs. [DXF]

How Was Your Week? HWYW Live
Julie Klausner’s first live show sounds like it was a fun time, but unfortunately doesn’t make a seamless transition to an audio recording. Her return to the JCPenney Facebook page and interview with Fred Armisen are entertaining, but several bits, including her singing “Kissed By A Rose,” a visit from Jackée Harry, and a fictional roast of Miranda July, come off as “you had to be there” moments. Paul F. Tompkins is entertaining as always, however, riffing on his experiences with child actors and the time he met Tim Gunn. [CZ]

The Moth: Elif Shafak: Writing Amidst The Ruins
Turkish author Elif Shafak’s story has the misfortune of being a bit slow and deliberate in a format that favors brisk delivery and comic timing. Even if not made for podcast form, it’s a compelling account of Shafak’s time spent in Istanbul during a tough period of writing and an earthquake. [SG]

Nerdist #140: Dana Gould 
Although Dana Gould started doing stand-up at 17 and writes for The Simpsons, he’s better known among comedy geeks than the public at large. Here he talks about his obsession with Planet Of The Apes and collecting Hollywood artifacts, as well as his work on The Simpsons (of course). That said, the interview feels fairly typical, another in a string of solid if mostly unmemorable chats with funny comics. [BL]

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Meryl Streep’s Hair Beckons, As Does Dillon, Texas
PCHH’s periodic movie-season previews tend to be informative, but not particularly playful or lively, and this week’s is no exception: The participants (sans Stephen Thompson, so there’s no hopeful theorizing about Kung Fu Panda 3) spend half their time talking about upcoming movies they’re looking forward to, and the other half praising TV shows that used music particularly well. It’s all very calm and sincere, without the usual PCHH barbs—at least until Glen Weldon gets into what makes author readings good and bad. [TR]

The Smartest Man In The World: Diamonds
A special set from Lewis Black’s comedy cruise in the Caribbean provides Proops plenty of material, like a funnier (but still bleak) stand-up version of David Foster Wallace’s famous “A Supposedly Fun Thing” essay. Proops gets to flex his sharp observational muscles, particularly when he imitates the captain’s daily announcement. The downside is that there’s less pontificating about current events—Proops’ strength—and, aside from some facts about Egyptians at the beginning, fewer instances of Proops dishing out his smarts. [MG]

Stuff You Should Know: How Alcatraz Works
The opening of the podcast tries to tie in Alcatraz with the current Occupy Wall Street protests via the Occupy Alcatraz movement, but it doesn’t really hold up, given the outlandishly different scenarios involved. (It’s made particularly awkward by the episode being recorded nearly a month ago.) It’s almost 10 minutes into this 40-minute episode before we get to how Alcatraz truly “works.” While there are some fascinating stories, many are breezed over in favor of unnecessary tangents. [DT]

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