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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Podmass snubs the patriarchy this week with dispatches from women in comedy, craft brewing, and music

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Leslie Jones From SNL Visits Friends

FriendsLikeUs has long been a gem of podcasting, providing women (and particularly women of color) a place to sit down and unapologetically discuss their lives in the world of comedy. These conversations are often quite frank, touching as much on the issues of the day as the minutiae of the stand-up scene and all with a great deal of humor. On this episode, host Marina Franklin is joined by Leslie Jones of Saturday Night Live, along with multi-hyphenate comics Tracee Loran and Alvin Irby. The panel’s discussions wend a wonderful path across the episode’s 90 minutes, though it is unmistakably Jones’ hand on the rudder. Listeners get an education in Jones’ stand-up bona fides as she recounts the lessons she learned about the craft during her days as a touring comedian and how none of it prepared her for the experience of doing SNL. Jones’ candor and outsize personality are on full display, but so too is a sense of sagacity, imparting a great deal of wisdom that any young comic would do well to heed. The episode is marked by a tone of introspection on ageism, failure, and dedication, taking it beyond the realm of typical celebrity interviews. [Ben Cannon]

Beers With(out) Beards: Women In Beer In NYC


Within a year of opening Brooklyn-based brewery Cuzett Libations with co-host Chris Cuzme, author and fermentation whiz Mary Izett announced to Heritage Radio Network listeners last week that Fuhmentaboudit! will be returning for regular episodes in September (one fabulous-sounding show topic that they teased: domestic sake brewing). In the meantime, Izett and Rachel Jacobs released this special episode recorded just prior to Hop Culture’s Beers With(out) Beards Week, a first-of-its-kind lineup of events celebrating the women who work in the expansive array of sectors in New York’s prosperous and still-burgeoning craft beer scene. Grace Weitz of Hop Culture, Jess Tabac of Brooklyn Brewery, Heather McReynolds of Guinness, and Anne Becerra of Treadwell Park discuss the pervasive assumptions about the industry that stymie would-be brewers, and how more visibility will inspire more women to see themselves as candidates to influence the business. As Weitz points out, “You don’t have to be a lumberjack.” Another point of agreement: The trend of dumb, bro-y, misogynistic beer branding need not be changed; it lets drinkers know which ones to avoid. [Dan Jakes]

Guys We F****d

Without wasting any time, hosts Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson start of this episode of Guys We F****d by sharing an article from The Independent titled “This is How Artificial Intelligence Is Undoing Women’s Rights.” Hutchinson and Fisher’s commentary kicks off a fascinating conversation on the feminized voices of AI assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, examining how the feminization of subservient technology serves to “naturalize sexism” before shifting to the brand of comedy that the Sorry About Last Night duo is best known for. This episode the hosts are joined by comedian Sandy Danto, and the trio reads and discusses listener mail and promote their “Guys We Fest,” an awesome-sounding daylong festival fundraiser with proceeds going to New Alternatives (an organization that supports homeless LGBTQ youth) and The Reproductive Health Access Project. Guys We F****d is a hilarious and insightful podcast whose hosts unabashedly embrace its mission as “the anti-slut-shaming podcast,” putting their money where their mouths are. [Jose Nateras]

Here To Make Friends
‘Bachelorette’ S14 Finale With Allison Williams


If you’re still struggling to process the fact that (spoiler alert) Bachelorette Becca Kufrin dumped a survivor of a school shooting to marry a man who mocks school shooting survivors as “crisis actors,” Here To Make Friends is here to help. In this episode, hosts Emma Gray and Claire Fallon are joined by frequent guest and Bachelor franchise superfan Allison Williams (Girls, Get Out) to break down the good and the bad (mostly bad) of Becca’s finale. As always, Gray and Fallon bring an enjoyable mix of affection and disdain for ABC’s uber-popular dating series. And detail-obsessed Williams makes the perfect third chair for their discussion of tropical sweat, emotional intelligence, and inopportune boners. Most importantly, Gray, Fallon, and Williams weigh in on the Instagram controversy surrounding winner Garrett Yrigoyen and the disappointing way ABC chose to address it during the finale. This trio might love the Bachelor franchise, but they’re also the first to call out its flaws. [Caroline Siede]

Justice In America
Who Built Mass Incarceration? Prosecutors


Anyone arrested today is more likely to be charged with a felony than anyone arrested 30 years ago. This data point is central this week’s Justice In America, a new show that examines the byzantine workings of America’s legal system through a precision lens seldom used in media. The hosts are both highly informed court observers and hardcore reform advocates, and on this issue at least, they make a compelling argument: prosecutors are largely responsible for America’s overcrowded prisons. It’s not that modern prosecutors are more punitive. It’s that their ranks have swollen and grown more professionalized even as the overall crime rate has declined. And the position wields tremendous power through determining criminal charges, recommending bail and controlling the plea bargain process. That such a consequential role is overshadowed by debates about policing and prisons has led some to suggest prosecutors comprise an invisible middle in the criminal justice system in need of new oversights. [Zach Brooke]

Song Exploder
Neko Case - Last Lion Of Albion


This week on Song Exploder, host Hrishikesh Hirway hands the reins to Thao Nguyen of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, who chats with alt-country luminary Neko Case. Case recounts the inception of the song “Last Lion Of Albion” from her seventh solo release, Hell-On, which debuted this summer. This tune began with Case jotting down notes and looking for history in England, but started to come together when she stole a riff from her boyfriend, Jeff, who was simply messing around on a nylon string guitar. From there, Case expounds upon the process, explaining the influence of Foreigner on the track as well as working with k.d. lang on back-up and harmony vocals. One of the most interesting parts of the show is Case explaining how she “chases” a sound. A songwriter by trade, Case never saw herself as a producer, even though her recording mentor explained to her that being a “control freak” and simply having opinions on what should be turned up or down is, at its base, producing. [Mike Vanderbilt]

The Wraith


A woman in green with a bowl cut haunts the childhood memories of Teresa Moorleghen. She appeared over the girl’s bed at night for years, sometimes alone, sometimes with a group of small children standing silently in the background. This woman wasn’t like the others who visited. Those were people Teresa knew, family members coming to say goodbye and that they loved her. This woman was different. She was cold, saying things like Teresa’s parents didn’t want her and ordering her to leave the house. Teresa never obeyed, but the woman still came, even after Teresa grew up and moved out. One night Teresa’s boyfriend saw the woman too, attacking Teresa’s body as she slept. Something had to be done. But first, Teresa needed to find someone else that saw the woman even better than her. The story how she does that and what comes next kicks off season two of Spooked, a macabre gallery of supernatural-seeming real-life experiences that dares people to suspend disbelief and listen. [Zach Brooke]

The Great God Of Depression
Chapter One: The Night Kingdom


For a long time, mental illness simply wasn’t talked about. Recently, albeit very slowly, treatable conditions like depression are becoming less taboo. It’s impossible to talk about this change in public perception without mentioning William Styron’s memoir Darkness Visible, in which he frankly discusses his own years-long struggle with suicidal depression after finding international success as the author of Sophie’s Choice. The first episode of this new five-part miniseries from Radiotopia introduces Styron’s story by way of another mental illness narrative: that of neurologist Alice Flaherty, who suffered from bouts of extreme mania, depression, and hypergraphia following the miscarriage of her twins. The intertwining tales of these two strangers attempting to chronicle their illnesses in real time paints a vivid and arresting picture of the intersection between psychosis and creativity. Flaherty is unexpectedly poetic in her descriptions of her mania, while Styron’s depressive episodes made it physically impossible for him to create his art. Both stories provide an unflinching look at life with mental illness, in which “crazy” isn’t a dirty word but rather an apt description of reality. [Dan Neilan]

What’s Your Sign?
The Gay Power Half Hour


What’s Your Sign? is a “comedy podcast for astrology lovers and haters” akin to the wildly popular Twitter account Astro Poets. Both take an extremely fun approach to astrology, with What’s Your Sign? going long-form to unravel the universe in a way that’s applicable to daily life. This week’s a twofer as What’s Your Sign? and Gay Power Half Hour team up. It makes for a full house as hosts Julia Loken, Stevie Anderson, and Lisa Chanoux mingle with guests Tony Soto and Casey Ley to enhance their chart explorations while bonding over mutual Midwestern roots. In addition to consistent hilarity, the podcast provides comfort through the astrology aspects and the candid conversation that draws listeners in and keeps them engaged throughout the longer runtime. Come in a cynic and leave feeling like a chum of the ’cast. [Becca James]