In Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends 10–15 of the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in the 2011 classic Comedy Bang! Bang! episode “Farts And Procreation,” Chelsea Peretti quipped, “Seriously, the bit saturation in this room is crazy.” The saturation reaches nearly lethal levels this week in “CBB: The Movie,” featuring Hollywood Handbook’s Sean Clements and Hayes Davenport. The duo has been joining Scott Aukerman for ad reads in recent episodes, but Clements and Davenport have finally made it to the show, and their history with Aukerman clearly comes across with their shared excitement to explore every ridiculous tangent, no matter how much it derails where they were headed. Their repartee is packed with Comedy Bang! Bang! and Earwolf in-jokes (particularly with Hollywood Handbook’s small audience), which should delight obsessive fans of the show. Once Ben Rodgers and Hayley Huntley join for a table read of Clements and Davenport’s “script” for a Comedy Bang! Bang! movie, the bits come more rapidly and with maximum silliness. “CBB: The Movie” is practically fan service for people who have been with the show (and Earwolf) for a while.
100th Episode Live: Randall Park, Gil Ozeri
Gil Ozeri congratulates Doug Mand and Jack Dolgen on reaching the 100th episode of Doodie Calls by quipping, “That’s a lot of people who shat themselves.” It’s a milestone that Mand and Dolgen, podcasting’s preeminent curators of destroyed toilets, ruined underpants, close calls, and all things poop related, are proud to be celebrating. Perched on the toilet that Mand bought for the show, Ozeri returns for the third time to kick off the festivities recounting a frantic race home from his accountant’s office. While the ordeal itself is a fairly typical story of poor planning and overconfidence, Ozeri shares video of his drive home, marking the first time in the show’s history that footage of a shit attack has ever been shared on the show. Hearing—and watching—Ozeri’s rising panic as he fails to hold it in makes this one of the top moments in Doodie Calls history, even better than Ozeri’s previous two appearances. Fresh Off The Boat’s Randall Park closes out the episode by sharing a messy and humiliating story about a middle-school bathroom emergency, a fitting way for Mand and Dolgen to put a cap on their first 100 episodes.
The Flop House
Fifty Shades Of Grey
In the crowded field of criticisms leveled against the film adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey, one of the most common and most damning was that its purportedly transgressive, illicit sexual content turned out to be surprisingly and disappointingly vanilla. The Flop House hosts raise this critique, too, but also seemingly set out to rectify the dearth of eroticism in the film by recording very probably their filthiest episode to date. There’s endless discussion of butts and Stuart Wellington even sings a little ditty about jizz coming out of his dick—and it’s all done with such glee that one forgets the hosts are even talking about a bad, boring movie in the first place. Dan McCoy might still be the number one “pervazoid,” but the gang’s treatment of Fifty Shades Of Grey proves his cohosts are right up there with him in the number two and number three spots.
Gilmore Gabs: Scott Patterson
As their podcast’s name would suggest, the Gilmore Guys love Gilmore Girls. And while the podcast is mostly dedicated to episode by episode chats about the long-departed show, occasionally hosts Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe will land someone once associated with the show for what they call a “Gilmore Gab.” This week, the two landed their biggest fish yet, hooking Scott Patterson, or, as Gilmore Girls fans know him, Luke. In an amiable 85-minute chat, the trio looks back at the show’s seven seasons both on-screen and off-, with Patterson reminiscing about backstage practical jokes and how honored he was to share screen time with the late Edward Herrmann. Patterson never drops any real bombshells, unless you believe the long-running rumors that he and Lauren Graham hate each other—not true, as he tells it—but he does vaguely hint at something in the works that fans will adore, whether that’s a Netflix season, a reunion movie, or just the gang’s upcoming appearance at the ATX Television Festival. Bonus points to Porter for keeping his shit together and not totally nerding out on Patterson, even though he’s been a huge fan for about 15 years.
I Was There Too
Léon: The Professional: Adam Busch
Many of the guests on I Was There Too were only in one scene of their respective films, meaning their stories, albeit fascinating, center on a handful of interesting moments rather than an entire shoot. While Adam Busch’s part in Léon: The Professional—he played Manolo, the teenage runner for Danny Aiello’s crime boss—wasn’t exactly huge, director Luc Besson placed considerable importance on even the smallest roles of the movie. As a result, Busch got to hang around set quite a bit, and shares some fascinating insider information with Matt Gourley, the most notable tidbit being the sexually charged nature of the film. As Busch points out, Besson’s wife at the time was only 16, which he believes not only informed the just barely platonic relationship of the two protagonists (Jean Reno as the titular hitman and Natalie Portman as Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl), but the personalities of the background players as well. As he points out, every last male character—from the henchmen to the corrupt DEA agents—are, at best, patronizingly paternal toward Mathilda or, at worse, downright icky to her. It’s important to note that Busch and Gourley actually see this as a unique, distinctly European strength of the film, and whether or not you agree with them, this is easily the deepest I Was There Too has reached in its cinematic analysis.
In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg
Josephus: Tessa Rajak, Philip Alexander, Martin Goodman
In Our Time is a BBC Radio history podcast with more scholar guests per capita than any other. The topic of this episode, The Jewish War author Flavius Josephus, was a Roman scholar near the time of the 1st century’s Jewish uprising who helped to architect the war. And the war took many dark turns, perhaps most significantly the fall of Jerusalem and Josephus’ claim that God led him to support the Romans. The podcast focuses on the political clumsiness that led up to the war, and how Josephus was seen by many as a traitor for switching sides. He claimed to have a divine vision while in prison predicting the next Roman Emperor, a man who then took Josephus on as a slave and eventually made Josephus a free man when the prophecy was realized. His first-person narrative of the war is better documented than nearly any other of this famous time in history, but his visions and skewed perspective get a thorough deconstruction here. The guests, Professors Emiritus off Ancient History and Jewish Studies, make a note that Josephus’ prophecies seemed rather convenient and self-preserving in nature. And a layman might even argue he had a Tyrion Lannister knack for barely escaping death at the expense of personal reputation.
Never Not Funny
The vast world of comedy podcasting becomes more and more difficult to navigate as it continues to expand considerably with each passing day, but one rule of thumb that will seldom steer one wrong is this: Instantly download anything with Lauren Lapkus on it. And although her debut appearance on Never Not Funny does at points feel like a debut appearance—her comedic rhythms don’t align exactly with Jimmy Pardo and the crew’s the whole time—one could hardly be disappointed with it. Just by virtue of the sheer amount of proven funny in the room, the episode couldn’t miss. And although the game segment at the end is perhaps the highlight, the remainder of the two-hour running time is totally delightful as well, with the only possible exception being the glut of Nashville talk at the top, before Lapkus even shows up. Now begins the long wait for Lapkus’ second appearance on Never Not Funny, which promises to be even better than her first.
The Projection Booth
Star Wars: With Roger Christian, Michael Kaminsky, Chris Taylor, Alexandre O. Philippe, Harmy
Star Wars has the power to turn even the most scholarly film buff into an anxious 11-year-old kid, and the The Projection Booth hosts (as well as their laundry list of guests) are no exception. Their latest episode, the finale to their staggeringly informative “Maudit May” run, is a case study in this dichotomy. On one hand, the thing is six hours long and packed to the Mon Calamari gills with thorough, academic interviews about the Vader-like rise, fall, and possible redemption of George Lucas—from talks with professional fans such as Michael Kaminsky (author of The Secret History Of Star Wars) to an inside-baseball chat with Episode IV Art Director Roger Christian. On the other hand, you could cut the palpable nerd outrage with a lightsaber whenever the Special Editions come up, as virtually everyone on the show bemoans the tragedy of the original versions supposedly being lost forever (we’ll see if that’s true). As The Force Awakens’ December 18 release date inches closer, it seems that no one is immune to The Force—or The Dark Side, depending on how good the film ends up being.
Stop Podcasting Yourself
Storyboard artist Emmett Hall sits down with Dave Shumka and Graham Clark to talk about his recent adventures in Japan, most of which involve experiences with capsule hotels and being overwhelmed by Tokyo’s automatic toilets. It’s the perfect riff material for Shumka and Clark. Things reach an apex when Hall—like any good Canadian—tells of a barroom conversation he had about Rush’s Geddy Lee, who’s apparently referred to as “the witch man” by at least one Japanese person. When the Japan talk dies down, the conversation shifts to an internet radio station compiling bad covers of TV theme songs (mostly Seinfeld, oddly enough), which quickly leads to Shumka and Graham singing the lyrics they wrote for their favorite themes (“Indiana, last name Jones”). During Overheards, Graham, in the episode’s best moment, uses the social networking app Yik Yak to riff on the classic Degrassi storyline where Yick Yu has a wet dream and calls sex educator Dr. Sue Johanson (who Clark calls “Sexy Sue”) for advice. Combined with another the other Overheards—especially one about a toddler laughing hysterically at the word pizzeria—it’s easy to see why the segment is consistently one of the best in podcasting.
TERRA: The Nature Of Our World
Junk Studio: Abe Samuel Quilling
This Webby-Award-winning video podcast focuses on short, free documentaries about the planet Earth. This particular episode is about a painter and photographer in Montana, Abe Samuel Quilling, the son of a logging family. Many of his family and friends have been forced to move away due to the shift in the economic climate, and he has stayed in an attempt to make art inspired by rural Montana and find a way to communicate the lush mountains and forests. But mixed in is the junk that Manifest Destiny has left behind, a century of Coke bottles littering abandoned homes. The visuals presented by both filmmaker Kier Atherton and Quilling’s photographs are stark and impressive. There is perhaps a chance that a casual glance might make Quilling dismissable. He is a thin, young, bearded man with arm tattoos and a flannel shirt, taking photos in the woods with allusions to decayed civilizations that seem to invoke Mad Max. But Quilling is working with what he has, and documenting real collapsing buildings while using eager construction workers and stay-at-home moms as models. What lies in the photographs is not snarky, urban, or hollow. It is a representation of a Montana that is slowly slipping away, and Quilling is still there.
A Taste Of The Past
Roman Food Culture: Elizabeth Minchilli
Buying vegetables in Italy is a privilege, not a right, and the quality of produce shoppers are handed largely depend on their apparent cooking know-how and relationship with the market vendors. Customers who, say, stray and cheat on their regular farmer may end up with a rotten turnip or two at the bottom of their bag on the next visit. And as for tourists who pick up fruit with their own hands off a table before purchasing, they may as well have given the seller a chin flick, it’s so rude. Author and city guide app-producer Elizabeth Minchilli breaks down some of the more arcane modern day Roman food customs, like the three-step ordeal it is to order a cup of coffee and why would-be cappuccino drinkers get side eye ordering after lunch, in this week’s conversation with Linda Pelaccio. By Pelaccio’s normal standards, there isn’t much historical chatter, save for a breakdown of how slaughterhouse workers who were once paid in offal (the organ-based “fifth quarter” of an animal) led the way for signature dishes like the minty trippa alla romana. Instead, Pelaccio and Minchilli focus on how the ancient city has changed in the past few decades, and to no surprise, they offer mouthwatering insight.
When it comes to parsing current events, few offer commentary simultaneously as smart and hilarious as that of Feminasty Erin Gibson and Homosensual Bryan Safi. Even though it’s first and foremost a show about issues—ahem, ’ssues—pertaining to ladies and gays, Throwing Shade doubles as an improv podcast because of Gibson and Safi’s sharp, zippy senses of humor. In this episode, they dart between the whereabouts of Marlena on Days Of Our Lives, people who don’t think women can run the country, marriage equality in Ireland, and the feminism of Mad Max: Fury Road. The key to Safi and Gibson’s success is how they remain committed at full throttle to the bits, but they also offer thoughtful and piercing analysis of the ‘ssues they choose. This week has some useful words of wisdom, like “men are from Mars, and women are leg shavers,” and even a Bible lesson: “John 12:18: Dumb cunts will never take the office of President Of The United States Of America, you know, the country that exists in this time of Jesus.” Safi even teaches you how to boil the perfect egg. Throwing Shade is one of those podcasts that will have listeners laughing a little too loudly on public transportation, but they’ll also walk away with new knowledge.
[Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya]
“The [Bread Of Christ] was the first selfie, really.”—Hayes Davenport, Comedy Bang! Bang!
“That’s the second sitting-on-a-lap story on here that’s made me slightly uncomfortable.”—Matt Gourley on the filming of Léon: The Professional, I Was There Too
“I don’t want to make a rape joke right here, but I will make a golden-shower joke. I just feel like George Lucas pissed on my childhood.”—Mike White on George Lucas’ work, The Projection Booth
“Have you ever heard Elizabeth Hurley talk? She has such a British accent that she might as well be from another planet, it’s so posh… It sounds like a body of water is trying to speak to you.” Paul F. Tompkins, SPONTANEANATION
“They’ll give it to you, but they’ll be very discouraging and worried.”—Elizabeth Minchilli on ordering cappuccino in Rome after lunch, A Taste Of The Past
“All these lost things. All this cultural flux. People getting uprooted. Young people aren’t really here anymore except maybe summer jobs, come see family. I’d make a joke here that if you see a local we’re kind of like an endangered species.”—Abe Samuel Quilling on what it’s like to stay in his area of Montana despite the population shifting away, TERRA: The Nature Of Our World