QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“She’s a triple threat! She can sing, she can dance…she’s fuckable!”
“I thought she sounded good in Elf.”
“She would have been like 1-year-old. How old was she when Alf was on?” —Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap argue against Gary Lucy’s dismissal of Zooey Deschanel, Never Not Funny
“You got fooled by your very specific functional illiteracy!” —Cake Boss (Paul F. Tompkins) to the acronym-averse El Chupacabra (Nick Kroll), Doug Loves Movies
“The accent isn’t the thing. We have to link to the video, because you have to see the bubble-helmet hair, the dark roots, the fingernails: This show is Carmela Soprano, Ghost Whisperer. And for a woman who makes a living rrrrrrending the veil between the lllliving and the dead so that we may commune with their unquiet spirits, she seems remarkably fazed by a squirrel.” —Glen Weldon on Long Island Medium, Pop Culture Happy Hour
“There’s just no good way to eat bright-red pudding.” —Michael Ian Black, Mike And Tom Eat Snacks
“Oh, rubber-faced George Bush is going to tell me that it’s time for my cat to go!” —Dave Anthony, discussing his Halloween visit to the vet, Walking The Room
NEW (TO US)
Earwolf Presents: Gelmania
fans know stand-up comedian and actor Brett Gelman as the controversial guest who was “banned” from the program for reading a short story that began as a dead-on, knowing parody of pretentious writing before segueing hilariously into flat-out pornography. It was a stunt performance rooted in Gelman’s intricately crafted persona as a blustery, self-important would-be intellectual and his love of quirky conceptual comedy. Gelman’s an acquired taste and a flagrant provocateur, but fans of his appearances on Comedy Bang Bang should enjoy Earwolf’s Gelmania. (It’s part of Earwolf Presents, an occasional series showcasing popular guests from the network’s flagship shows—it’s also the home of Harris Wittels’ Analyze Phish.) As his Comedy Bang Bang appearances attest, Gelman thrives on being hated. He goes on the offensive here with a hilariously profane dis song about conservative Christians before bringing on guest Tim Heidecker for a beyond-meta bit in which Heidecker introduces his new persona—an explosive combination of Robin Williams’ animated physicality and Dennis Miller’s right-wing politics—before favoring the crowd with roughly 20 seconds of his new material. Elsewhere, Gelman reads a short story that’s similar enough to the one that got him “banned” from Comedy Bang Bang to suffer a little by comparison, and introduces “Complaining James Gandolfini.” Through it all, Gelman maintains the pompous, superior air of a man convinced he’s fighting a one-man war for art, beauty, truth, and justice. It’s a character, to be sure, but like Stephen Colbert’s, one with potential. Gelmania ends much too soon, which is always the mark of a good podcast.
Daytime JusticeJudge Alex
or Judge Joe Brown
, so she decided to start a podcast dedicated to these shows. The focus is often on crazy stories about the litigants who desperately want to appear on TV, and Houston passes her own judgment on what seem to be the trashiest people in America. Episode five, “Here Comes The Judge,”
features an interview with Judge Alex Ferrer where Houston asks common questions like how he got on TV and how he prepares for cases—and, um, how Ferrer feels about being the “hot” judge. It’s a weird shift, but understandable considering Houston’s comic background. Her show is young, but interesting and has real promise.
The Best Show On WFMU Tom Scharpling
may have set a record for heave-hos this week, the stream of calls that begins this week’s Best Show
is terrific, as callers cover topics like Portlandia
superfans yelling “Put a bird on it!” at Wild Flag concerts, people drinking from cartons of milk containing dead mice, and the connection between Glenn Danzig and Morrissey. Scharpling also introduces a green three-eyed puppet named Vance
, who sounds a lot like Chumlee from the television show Pawn Stars
—one of Scharpling’s favorite targets. Does that all sound weird? It shouldn’t. It’s just another great Best Show
The Bugle #171: A Greek Tragedy John Oliver
and Andy Zaltzman begin with such a story. Equating the debt crisis to a soap opera starring the EU, the boys call out former Prime Minister George Papandreou as a nut bag, while accusing everyone involved of too much “economic wang-dangling.” They move on to liken the crashing stock markets to children spoiled by their parents, and Zaltzman executes a second Greek-themed pun-run that leaves Oliver in shambles and vowing to quit the show if it happens again. The whole thing wraps up with a (hopefully recurring) new segment in which the duo awards brass balls to the ballsiest people in current events.
Doug Loves Movies: Cake Boss, El Chupacabra and Don DimeloDoug Loves Movies
—new Leonard Maltin Game rules, mini-sodes, in-studio and on-location episodes—his decision this week to invite in-character guests might just be the most fruitful. Bringing three Comedy Bang Bang
recurring characters into the mostly sketch/improv-free environs of DLM
is a recipe for chaos, but when those characters are Nick Kroll as the linguistically creative El Chupacabra, Andy Daly as the ever-more-lascivious theater director Don Dimelo, and Paul F. Tompkins
as the Cake Boss (Cake Boss!), that chaos results in one of the podcast’s all-time funniest episodes. That the three guests provide hilarious pre-game riffage—involving Dimelo’s current tower-bound production/imprisonment of Rapunzel
, El Chupacabra’s inability to process acronyms, and Cake Boss’ (Cake Boss!) aversion to the word “precog”—is no surprise, but hearing them incorporate the bits into a regular (and regrettably short) installment of The Leonard Maltin game is delightful.
Freakonomics Radio: Boo...Who?Wall Street Journal
drama critic Terry Teachout, who thinks there should be more booing in Broadway theaters. The most entertaining bit is the visit to the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night, where booing and cheering are a way of voting on performances. During the visit, a group of audience members discuss whether they should vote a man performing a gospel song off the stage. They decide singing gospel is a copout—no one wants to boo gospel, after all—and booed. “I’m not scared to boo in the name of Jesus,” says one.
Hang Up And Listen: The Happy Valley Horror EditionHang Up And Listen
, and while that subtracts from the thoughtful banter among the regular hosts, it deepens the discussion. Last Saturday’s marquee match-up between Alabama and LSU, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in college football, ended in a 9-6 score with four missed Alabama field goals—it could euphemistically be called a “defensive battle,” but Stefan Fatsis declares it one of the most boring football games he’s ever seen. Fatsis brings on LSU special teams coach Thomas McGaughey—who coached him as a kicker with the Denver Broncos—for context (and some surprising lessons from Australian Rules Football). The biggest story of the week, the terrible sex abuse scandal within the Penn State University football program, leads to a properly sobering talk with Kansas State professor Dr. Robert Shoop on child abuse and institutional lapses. The last segment is an enjoyably contentious session with Christopher McDougall, whose provocative New York Times Magazine piece
about barefoot running techniques has topped the paper’s most emailed articles list.
Mike And Tom Eat Snacks #41: Very Cherry Jelly Belly Pudding SnacksMATES
hosts’ reactions as they actually try the stuff, but mercifully can’t smell or see it. And what with MATES
being a comedic food-review podcast, this episode is exactly the kind of beautiful disgust-fest it ought to deliver every so often.
The Moth: Terence Mickey: One Family’s GarbageMoth
story seems to heave on a bit too long near the end, but balances that with the beginning, in which a man jumps out of a garbage truck to harass Cindy Crawford. Writer Terence Mickey’s entry details the unlikely, tense summer he spent working in his family’s New York City garbage business. Although he was an English major who “could never sit on a toilet seat,” Mickey also came to terms with the fact that he has “garbage in my blood.” He also unwittingly helped to undo the family-owned business. His telling softens the inevitable loss and betrayal with just enough humor, proving that sometimes the sucker in a story can offer the best take on what happened.
Nerdist #139: Neil deGrasse TysonChris Hardwick
and Matt Mira enter previously uncharted realms of nerdiness in this interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. As a scientist with a comic’s mind, Tyson operates on a similar level as Hardwick and Mira—only he can, you know, explain a four-dimensional cube and back it up with book-learnin’. He’s an argumentative but jovial guest, willing to indulge a few sophomoric questions about sex in space, so long as he can also make a few playful jabs at the flimsy portrayal of the night sky in Titanic
. And, naturally, as the media’s go-to source for when the “universe flinches,” he ends the ’cast by suggesting the asteroid Apophis
might collide with Earth in 2036. So make sure to brush up on Tyson’s work on the forthcoming Cosmos
remake before that.
Never Not Funny #923: Gary LucyRock Solid
co-host proves to be a clever, excellent guest for one of the more consistent episodes this season. The conversation follows a more streamlined path through the music and comedy world than last week’s companion episode, as it’s concerned mostly with finding the funny in the contradictory nature of The Munsters, Dancing With The Stars,
and the fact that Pat Francis is the judgmental one on the podcast. Though the “hipster indie” of the two, Lucy has a respectful attitude toward musical tastes, but that reverence drops the moment Zooey Deschanel
’s musical career pops up. That results in some of the conflict Matt Belknap urges of Rock Solid
, and yet another case of the Never Not Funny
curse. Though his delivery often turns into hurried rambling, Lucy’s unrelenting eagerness, sound opinions, and wheezing laugh ultimately win out. (He’s a writer, not a comedian, after all.)
Pop Culture Happy Hour: We Regret Our Own Underestimations, EtceteraPCHH
crew tease each other, it’s probably time to ease up on the firehose-strength outpouring of scorn that hits Trey Graham whenever he praises a costume drama, as he does this week with Bleak House
: The second he mentions it, Glen Weldon starts fake-snoring, while A.V. Club
founder Stephen Thompson says “We’re all just smirking, and I feel like we should be smirking audibly.” This happens amid a discussion of artists the participants regret underestimating; hey, Weldon and Thompson, Graham didn’t fake-snore while y’all were defending Lisa Kudrow and Russell Brand. Perhaps it’s because normal host Linda Holmes was out this week (replaced by Barrie Hardymon) and Graham was running the show, and the sub always has to put up with a bunch of shit. Holmes-free episodes sometimes drag, but this week’s is pretty intriguing, between the surprisingly convincing praise for Brand, the freewheeling discussion of game shows past and future (where, strangely, low-culture fan Thompson and high-culture fan Graham find plenty of enthusiastic common ground), and a round of Regrettable Television Pop Quiz that lets Weldon cycle through an amazing assortment of funny accents while discussing Long Island Medium
Sklarbro Country #67: Maria Bamford, Jason NashMaria Bamford
as a cheerleader, let alone a tobacco-chewing cheerleader on a third-rate squad. Yet remarkably, Bamford cheered in her younger days and shares anecdotes of her misbegotten youth in a stellar episode of Sklarbro Country.
Bamford dishes with the hosts about terrible gigs, fans whose devotion veers headfirst into craziness, and how attending a high-school reunion made her feel better about herself because she realized that everyone
is broken inside. It’s not generally good when a guest on an ostensibly sports-themed podcast doesn’t know anything about sports, but Bamford’s enthusiastic curiosity about everything sports-related is refreshing and a little surprising. Bamford isn’t cynical about sports, and the Sklar brothers’ eloquent meditation on why sports matter and how they connect generations is unexpectedly poignant. The Sklars and Bamford both have very high-intensity acts, but the nature of that intensity differs: The Sklars are all about control, while Bamford’s act has an exhilarating element of danger and anarchy. The podcast ends on a timely and hilarious note with a guest visit from an unusually disconsolate Bruce Jenner, who blames the divorce of stepdaughter Kim Kardashian on TiVo mix-ups and an unfortunate canoe incident.
The Sound Of Young America: Patrick Warburton Seinfeld
character David Puddy, a role he scored by making Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld laugh during his audition. These days he co-stars with David Spade in Rules Of Engagement
, and Warburton and Jesse Thorn spend some time here discussing Spade’s inscrutable sex appeal. Warburton, unsurprisingly, comes off as dry and lovable in real life as he is in character, only smarter and more down-to-earth. It’s nice to know that he’s as appreciative of his roles as a voice actor for Disney ride lines as he is of his work in classic sitcoms.
Sound Opinions #310: Brian EnoBrian Eno
his own podcast? He won’t even need guests; judging by this fascinating installment of Sound Opinions
, Eno is plenty entertaining and erudite on his own when speaking on pretty much any subject. This interview, of course, focuses on Eno’s musical approach, as it applies to his own music and his work as a producer for superstar patrons like David Bowie, U2, and Coldplay. Proving that he has the mind to be a great music critic if he ever tires of creating music, Eno asserts that changes in technology necessitate a new word for music in the 20th century, as the sculpting of sounds in the digital world is more akin to painting than performance. Not that Eno disregards the potency of traditional forms; he speaks most convincing of his love for black music. “If it’s just clever or loud or has all the right software, I’m not interested,” he said. “What I want, what I’m looking for always, is soul.”
Stuff You Missed In History Class: Blood Work: Part 2Blood Work: A Tale Of Medicine And Murder In The Scientific Revolution
. If part one was heavy on dense details, part two is much more about Tucker’s journey solving a cold case from the 1600s. After repeated failures, Tucker cracked the case after finding some old files, and she goes into detail about her investigative process. Tucker wanted to get the look, smell, and ambience of 17th-century France perfect, and her enthusiastic love of details drives her narrative well.
Stuff You Missed In History Class: The Gunpowder Plot: Part 2
Stuff You Should Know: What Saved The American Bisonand
, evidence suggests, Native Americans) drove their numbers down to a nearly non-existent 500, but their population has exploded (relatively speaking) over the past century. True to their enthusiasm, Clark and Bryant treat the animal with reverence and quirky anthropomorphism for another strong episode.
Stuff You Should Know: How Gene Patents WorkSYSK
episode are in for more anxiety in this discussion about how the building blocks of life are already being bought up legally. It’s not a new phenomenon; people have been desperate to get their mitts on our micro-guts for well over 150 years, and Josh Clark and Chuck Bryan offer detailed, easy-to-follow summary of the history of that creepy space race. Currently huge laboratories and corporations own life-saving treatments, and that chilling reality drives the hosts to add in perspective with each legal argument. It’s a fascinating listen and required listening for young activists everywhere.
Uhh Yeah Dude #296Uhh Yeah Dude
episode like this week’s embodies the inane made charming. Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette get in some of their better riffs on studies that question the “Freshman 15” weight-gain myth (“I think all these studies have added an extra pound”), as well as on Kevin Federline’s qualifications. (“I like to backup dance and drop seed. It’s what I do.”) They’re also brave enough to take on the FBI’s decision to officially designate Juggalos as a gang, charitably pointing out that Juggalos tend to live in “the Beirut of America.” But it’s all about the quality of the overall topical grab bag, and from National Sleep Comfort Month to people being set ablaze during surgery, this one hits more than its share of weirdly engaging points.
Who Charted? #49: Pop Quiz: Ben SchwartzParks And Recreation,
and here he talks about the remake of Soapdish
he’s written as well as the Emmy he won for his writing on the Oscars. Schwartz is clearly a rising star in the comedy world, but he also comes across as remarkably easygoing and affable. Plus, he’s such a forthcoming conversationalist that Kremer and Vilaysack don’t have to rely on the charts to facilitate the discussion. Although the episode clocks in at just under 90 minutes, this installment somehow doesn’t seem long enough.
WTF With Marc Maron #224: Chris RockChris Rock
episode of WTF
begins with a rhetorical device beloved by the decidedly un-Marc Maron-like Paul Harvey: the big reveal. He discusses a recent article on the WFMU blog
about a pair of unknown but influential comedians from the ’60s who had a lasting impact: Joe Ancis, a formative influence on Lenny Bruce, and Jack Roy, whose material was too dark to connect with an audience. Roy left the business but returned after a decade with a new name: Rodney Dangerfield. It’s a bit corny, but it speaks to one of the themes of episode 224 and WTF
in general: the stand-up community and the art form’s oft-overlooked history. Maron and Rock go deep reminiscing about Rock’s early days as an enthusiastic sponge who couldn’t get enough of what Maron calls “insecure guys standing in front of brick walls.” Rock has a unique perspective as both one of the biggest, most successful men in comedy and someone with a deep reverence for comedians. Maron and Rock are particularly fascinating discussing their early careers as “satellite comics,” Maron as part of Sam Kinison’s posse and Rock as a protégé of Eddie Murphy (back when Eddie meant something, man
). Rock discusses race, In Living Color
and the racial politics of Saturday Night Live
compellingly, if cautiously. He’s not the type to bare his soul, but Maron gets him to open up and speak relatively candidly about his life and work.
WTF With Marc Maron #225: Rainn WilsonThe Office
’s Dwight Schrute. One anecdote that ought to be added to Wilson’s personal Wikipedia entry: Had the early ’00s ABC sitcom he and Maron were cast in gone to pilot, he wouldn’t have been available to audition for The Office
The Adam Carolla Show
Carolla phones it in all week long. In order of descending interest: After an hour of meandering updates from the life and times of Ace, Relationship Calls provides a protocol for breaking up with someone who’s making suicide threats and addresses evergreen issues like finding a soulmate—and is finding that soulmate worth no longer having your house to yourself? When Carolla leans on the reliable David Alan Grier for the third time in a month, Grier is exceptionally hyper, but it’s just white noise. After Ace complains about Arabs, he sets his sights on Adam Sandler’s Jack And Jill, complaining that the upcoming comedy doesn’t look funny. (Physician, heal thy self.) Orbit Gum spokesperson Vanessa Branch explains that her beguiling British accent from the commercials is fake and—in an American accent—talks about breaking into modeling and working in China. Larry Miller sits in for news on the Michael Jackson verdict and a round of hypothetical road trip, but the meatiest part is a discussion of tipping etiquette for valets, massages, and car services. After a lengthy update on sidekick Bald Bryan’s brain tumor, Carolla takes listener calls in a round of What Can’t Adam Complain About? While Bryan absorbs his medicine, Ace stresses out about how drinking fancy-schmancy coffee practically makes you gay; poor Ace always winds up with the shit end of the stick.
Comedy Bang Bang #130: Tall Napoleon: Bobby Moynihan, Jenny Slate, Elizabeth Laime
With former SNL cast member Jenny (or Jerry?) Slate, Totally Laime podcast host Elizabeth Laime, and SNL’s Bobby Moynihan as Charles Barkley and Fagin Platt (son of actor Oliver), episode 130 ambles along pleasantly enough. Scott Aukerman packs three games—“What Am I Thinking,” “Who Said It,” and “Would You Rather”—into its 78 minutes (as well as a couple incredibly annoying songs). It’s an enjoyable, if not terribly memorable episode, with Moynihan producing its funniest parts.
Culture Gabfest: I Want My Happy Ending Edition
Discussion of two TV shows, Brian Greene’s NOVA series The Fabric Of The Cosmos and the fairy-tale drama Once Upon A Time, eats up the two-thirds of the podcast this week, and only the former, an attempt to meld hard science with Jeff Spicoli trippiness, wins much respect from the Gabfesters. The episode improves when the gang tackles Slate’s recent “New Classics” survey of cultural highpoints since the year 2000, but even this veers uncomfortably close to the navel.
How Was Your Week? #35: “Full Petula”: Mink Stole, John Mulaney
In a Halloween-themed edition of How Was Your Week, Julie Klausner chats with SNL writer and standup comic John Mulaney about his thoughts on ghosts and haunted houses, but the conversation is most entertaining, predictably, when it veers toward comedy and Mulaney’s secret double life as an old gay man. Then Klausner interviews camp/cult actress Mink Stole, which should be a treat for John Waters fans, but may go over the heads of those unfamiliar with her work.
Judge John Hodgman: The Abuse Of Flower Power
On many Judge John Hodgman episodes, including this one, a dispute between couples in a committed relationship leads Judge Hodgman to reflect thoughtfully on the promises and compromises that come with that level of intimacy. So in addition to providing grist for jokes about squatters in Los Angeles, this solid episode about a lesbian couple arguing over a potted Mexican daisy with intolerable aromatics deals with the give-and-take that goes into any functional relationship. In other words: Consider losing the stinky flower.
The Mental Illness Happy Hour #33: Mike Phirman
Host Paul Gilmartin deliberately chooses a milder subject this week, as comedian Mike Phirman walks him through the rough but not necessarily traumatizing experience of having a lot of stepdads. This installment is lighter on The Mental Illness Happy Hour’s usual sense of psychic mission, but frees up the two to riff on some side topics, including the pitfalls of fame (hearing a lot of “racist knock-knock jokes,” Gilmartin says) and “that kind of all-American good-looking that you kind of want to punch in the face.”
RISK! #304: Eek!
As the show’s Halloween episode, this disappoints on the creep factor. Some of the stories start out promisingly spooky, only to fall flat at the end, and some suffer from the storytelling itself. Case in point: Comedians Kumail Nanjiani and Pete Holmes tell a story about footsteps Nanjiani and his roommates heard in the attic, but it would’ve been more compelling if only one person told it. Highlights include a family ghost story by R. Ben Garant and one by Heidi Rosebrugh about working her first DOA case as a rookie cop.
The Smartest Man In The World: Knives
In a departure from his usual format of recording in front of an audience, Greg Proops spends the entirety of this episode answering listener-submitted questions like his favorite places in the world (San Francisco, Paris, London), if baseball should ban chewing tobacco (no), and the popularity of football versus baseball and what it says about America. Without the live audience, the episode has a quicker pace, allowing for a more rapid-fire delivery from Proops, but it feels a little airless.
The Sound Of Young America: Rob Baedeker’s Chemistry Lecture
TSOYA offers a tiny comedy treat this week in the form of a lecture from Rob Baedeker of the comedy group Kaspar Hauser, who was asked off the street to provide an impromptu chemistry lecture to Cal Tech students. Kaspar Hauser’s comedy is usually rooted in extreme silliness cloaked in dryness and clever audio production, and this clip is no different.
Walking The Room #76: The Cat Witch And Skin Mountain
It’s hard to take a Walking The Room episode for granted when it involves talk of Greg Behrendt having a “sparkly butthole” and Dave Anthony’s story of taking his cat to get put down on Halloween (by a vet in a sexy-witch costume, no less). That said, the pair’s lovable weirdness can still get the better of them, especially when Anthony goes off on a tear about his father’s girlfriend (a.k.a. “skin mountain”) and the two meander into some confusing material about “putting your pussy in a pony.”