Podmass_In [Podmass](https://www.avclub.com/c/podmass),_ The A.V. Club _sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at [podmass@avclub.com](mailto:podmass@avclub.com)._  

To listen to these and other podcasts, visit Podmass Central, our podcast hub.

Podmass comments and suggestions for future coverage can be directed to podmass@avclub.com

Note: Certain podcasts released on Friday may be added on Monday morning.


“This is our most surly podcast.” —Kyle Dunnigan, Professor Blastoff

“We’ve been passed up in terms of crazy-ass food.”
“No we haven’t. Go to any state fair. Also the fact that it comes in at under three pounds makes me think, ‘Oh Japan, how quaint.’” —Dan Van Kirk and Will Weldon, discussing the Mega Burger Pizza, Sklarbro Country

“That’s too crazy for the movie Road House.” —One of the Sklar brothers, on a story of a man riding into a bar on a horse, lassoing a patron, and dragging him out of the bar, Sklarbro Country



Janie And Aaron Does Hollywood
Janie And Aaron Does Hollywood is endearingly unprofessional, a quality that, like its grammatically incorrect title, seems intentional. The loosely structured weekly conversation ostensibly chronicles the industry adventures of Janie Haddad Tompkins and Aaron Ginsburg—an L.A.-based actress and a TV writer, respectively. But it’s really about is their 17-year friendship. And that’s what makes it such a pleasurable listen. While other podcasts strive for radio-quality production value, the two charismatic hosts seem perfectly at ease sitting around a kitchen table and playfully bickering with each other into Garageband in between snack breaks. There’s nostalgic reverie and in-joking, which is to be expected between two people who have known each other so well for so long, but their mutual comfort is infectious and they never neglect the audience. In fact, listener interaction is strongly encouraged, as Tompkins and Ginsburg directly address social media-submitted “Twalking Points” in a weekly segment.


Though the hosts are not creative partners, their relationship does intersect with business from time to time, such as when Tompkins spent a good chunk of an episode openly annoyed at Ginsburg for bragging about recommending a mutual friend for a role that Tompkins felt she would’ve been perfect for. Guests drop in occasionally, including Tompkins’ husband, comedian Paul F. Tompkins—particularly if he happens to be walking through the kitchen. But, usually, it’s just these two old friends, drinking and pushing one another’s buttons, laughing and filling each other in on the latest news from their world. Then, inevitably at some point, Tompkins runs off to find the power cable to her laptop so the recording isn’t shut down mid-show. [DD]



Comedy Bang! Bang! #242: Veggie Dongs: Thomas Lennon, Rob Huebel, Neko Case
Aside from an early, brief appearance by Thomas Lennon’s loved/loathed Little Gary, “Veggie Dongs” is a character-free episode, but that’s fine: Lennon and Hell Baby co-star Rob Huebel play off each other amusingly, and singer-songwriter Neko Case is pleasingly game. Backed by the excellent Kelly Hogan and Eric Bachmann of Archers Of Loaf (whose work in one of the best bands of the ’90s goes unacknowledged), Case performs a couple of songs while joining in CBB’s general lunacy. That eventually leads her to sing a sarcastic version of “Santa Baby,” to great effect. Good stuff this week—maybe ask Bachmann to play “Wrong” while he’s there next time? [KR]

Doug Loves Movies Patton Oswalt, Horatio Sanz, Scott Aukerman and Sean Jordan guest
It’s been far too long since Patton Oswalt appeared on Doug Loves Movies, and his return alongside fellow longtime veteran of the show Scott Aukerman is a nice throwback for fans who have been listening to the show since its early days. But there’s more than just nostalgia driving this episode, which makes the most of its extended time in front of an enthusiastic Bumbershoot crowd. The return of The Seth Rogen Game ends up being just a list of all the movies the Coen brothers have made, thanks to a not-particularly thought-through audience suggestion; but the fact that the four panelists are able to collectively name the filmmakers’ complete oeuvre speaks to the film knowledge on the stage. This makes for a raucous Leonard Maltin Game outing, though a lot of that segment’s energy is attributable to first-timer Horatio Sanz, who makes up in gumption what he lacks in correct answers. The episode starts to show the wear of its hour-plus runtime a bit toward the end, but it’s a pleasant ramble nonetheless. [GK]


Doug Loves Movies Adam Pally, Gillian Jacobs and “Werner Herzog” guest
Former Happy Endings star Adam Pally brings a somewhat Pete Holmesian energy to the Doug Loves Movies panel, with his distinctive laugh and eagerness to improvise on any and all inspirations that float his way, regardless of whether it’s his turn to talk. But his debut on the podcast is far less oppressive than recent Holmes outings have been, as he plays exceptionally well with fellow expert riffers Gillian Jacobs and Paul F. Tompkins, returning once again in his hilariously grim “Werner Herzog” guise. Werner and Pally make an especially inspired odd couple, but Jacobs does her part as well, playing “hype man” throughout the episode to rouse a sleepy UCB crowd. They wake up, though, when Pally, a Leonard Maltin Game newbie, makes an audacious play against the two veterans. Pally’s quick grasp of the game’s particulars and willingness to go all-in makes it a shame this wasn’t a longer “away game” episode, but it bodes well for future appearances. [GK]


How Was Your Week #130 Beau Willimon: “I’ll Chew On A Dog” 
Before becoming a screenwriter, House Of Cards creator Beau Willimon worked on a few political campaigns, including Howard Dean’s ill-fated 2000 presidential run. In telling Julie Klausner about these experiences, Willimon explains how his time on the campaign trail provided insights into the ways that narratives drive politics and the fortunes of politicians, many of which were incorporated into House Of Cards. Klausner’s informal and enthusiastic interview style makes for a captivating conversation that moves seamlessly between this general discussion of politics and House Of Cards, with a good chunk dedicated to dissecting the motivations of Francis and Claire Underwood. Overall, it’s a must-listen for political enthusiasts and House Of Cards fans alike, though anyone not caught up on the show might want to save this for later, as spoilers abound. [DF]

The J.V. Club #77: Ursula Whittaker
It’s going to be hard for any future guests on this show to top actress Ursula Whittaker in the horrible ex-boyfriend department; for a brief time in high school, she dated Erik Menendez, who, along with his brother, is currently serving a life sentence for killing their parents in 1989. During the fortuneteller segment, when she’s asked for her worst high school experience, she talks about the time she held her hand to the glass when she visited her parent-killing ex-boyfriend in prison. Whittaker has a delightfully relaxed attitude that keeps the conversation light even when dealing with heavy material, which includes a good amount of time spent on Whittaker’s mother, who suffered from delusional disorder. When not sorting through serious adolescent drama, the women fawn over Julie Andrews and try to guess the plot of a rock musical based on a banned 19th-century German play, resulting in a great discussion that seamlessly bounces from Victor/Victoria to true crime. [OS]


Judge John Hodgman Weight Weight… Don’t Judge Me!
Something unhealthy is going on here, and it’s not this couple’s diet. Married seven years, 40-year-old Chad and Elizabeth challenge each other to weight-loss competitions. As usual, the stated issue may be incidental: Chad thinks they should judge the winner by gross pounds. Elizabeth believes they should measure percentage of body weight lost. As the competitive couple starves and sweats, the two engage in a sabotage campaign that they claim is friendly, but seems downright evil. All that undermining can really burn some calories. Hodgman clears the docket with quick domestic disputes about dividing bed space and whether alums of an artsy college can, in good conscience, support their alma mater’s new football team. [DXF]


The Mental Illness Happy Hour #129: David Hirohama
The Mental Illness Happy Hour’s website features an all-caps affirmation to listeners that they “are not alone,” which has become a mantra of sorts for the program. This conversation with psychologist David Hirohama is an interesting look at someone whose mere job description is often isolating: Hirohama, who counsels sexual predators at a California mental hospital, talks openly about the conflicted feelings of working with individuals who have done horrific things and often have been the victim of horrific trauma. It’s a heavy discussion reminiscent of Paul Gilmartin’s exchange with a child-protective-services worker earlier this year, which also focused on a widely misunderstood occupation full of red tape, wheel spinning, and few positive outcomes. Some of the most fascinating moments come when Hirohama talks about finding ways to maintain his own sanity and humanity amid insanity and inhumanity. [TC]


Monday Morning Podcast
Bill Burr’s Labor Day dispatch is a big, 90-minute mixed bag. On the one hand, there are his jokes about the holiday and recounting past Rose Bowl tailgating misadventures, all of which are fine, if a bit tired. On the other hand, there’s Burr and his road opener, Jason Lawhead, talking about which human body type would be ideal for eating should they be forced into cannibalism. Even better, Burr tells stories from his pre-comedy days working with alcoholics and various other characters at different plants and factories. The good outweighs the bland, making this the best episode of the show in a while. That being said, the last 15 minutes, which consist of the two talking sports with no apparent regard for being entertaining, are entirely skippable. [CG]


Nerdist #402: Neko Case
This episode has a bit of a slow start, which is understandable since Neko Case admits that she’s feeling the fatigue of the promotion cycle for her new record. However, she comes alive fairly quickly, especially when she delivers a visceral and profane screed on how she’d like mangle frat guys, sorority girls, and hecklers at her shows. The best moments of the episode come from the points when the topics veer away from Case’s career, like when she bursts into a spot-on Courtney Love impression, causing Chris Hardwick to join her in a “Dueling Courtneys” bit. In the introduction, Hardwick builds Case up as being exceptionally funny, and Case manages to exceed Hardwick’s considerable hype. [MS]


Never Not Funny #1308: Taking The Bus With Danielle Koenig
It’s been a while since Jimmy Pardo’s wife, Danielle Koenig, has been in the guest’s seat. On another podcast, having the host’s wife be the guest might seem lazy—and maybe it is—but Koenig is so charming, and Pardo is so charmed by her, that it’s enjoyable nevertheless. Given that Pardo is married to Koenig, this episode is especially self-referential in its discussion, but listeners don’t have to be diehard NNF fans to understand what’s being said. Koenig is funny and game, and Pardo’s riff about having sex with parking meters makes for one of the best moments in recent episodes. [KR]

Professor Blastoff #120 Live from Portland/ Law
Though dealing with a particularly rambunctious crowd in this live performance from Portland (taped earlier this year), the hosts of Professor Blastoff never lose control, delivering a characteristically lively and distraction-heavy show, complete with a 15-minute intro sequence that will embed CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” in your head all day and an observation that will change the way you look at air quotes forever. Guest host Aaron Reichenberger, editor-in-chief of the Willamette Law Review, does his best to explain the legal system and its many quirks, but mostly he dodges heckles from the audience and works to keep up with Tig Notaro’s many welcome divergences, such as her impersonation of a lawyer suing herself. For a non-pro performer, he does a decent job of it. Stay until the end, as beloved PB character Swamp Rock opens up about his sexuality. [DD]


Sklarbro Country #162: Put On A Nightgown: Owen Benjamin, Jason Nash
Owen Benjamin—of TBS’ sitcom Sullivan & Son and recently his own Comedy Central special—has a wealth of stories to tell that interest the Sklar brothers. He played lacrosse in college, loves sports, and hung out on tour with Vince Vaughn. Randy and Jason also break down a stupid arm-wrestling match between Hulk Hogan and the mayor of Toronto, and rip into everything wrong with the upcoming Sochi Olympics. Benjamin does resort to knee-jerk simplicities in his delivering a few bits during his interview, but he’s quick enough to keep up with the Sklars as they barrel through a myriad of topics. [KM]


Stuff You Should Know How The Rosetta Stone Works
Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant decode the legend of the Rosetta Stone, a rock the size of a medium flat-screen TV that translates hieroglyphics into simpler languages. The ability to read hieroglyphics was lost when Cleopatra ended her reign over the Egyptian empire. For more than a thousand years, the languages laid dormant, until French exiles discovered the stone almost completely by chance in the late-18th century. Scholars soon realized that the stone contains multiple languages and uses royal names as guideposts. To put things in perspective, Clark and Bryant remind listeners that the culture of ancient Egypt was a complete mystery at the time of the stone’s discovery. When the hosts explain how the stone’s code was finally cracked through a massive effort by France’s Jean-François Champollion and England’s Thomas Young, it’s clear why that rivalry didn’t die with the original translators. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know How Much Money Is In The World?
With the world economy in what feels like an endless tailspin, Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant attempt to add some much-needed perspective to the situation. The technical answer to the titular question of the episode is 1.2 trillion American dollars, and if it were divided equally each American would have $3,800 cash in their pocket. But when it comes to how much wealth is distributed in credit, assets, and cash all together the question gets much more complicated. Clark and Bryant enjoy playing with the terminology, noting the correct spelling of “moolah” and why “mo’ money” ought to be pronounced in the hip-hop fashion. But the factual chapters of the podcast are interesting as well. The situation in Zimbabwe, where dollars were over-printed to the point of insanity, means rolls of toilet paper cost millions and their government’s loans are worthless. [DT]


Uhh Yeah Dude #386
The boys of Uhh Yeah Dude hatch a beautiful plan to have Jonathan Larroquette incarcerated (with Internet access) as the ultimate podcast hook, and Seth Romatelli soldiers on with the welcome, recurring bit of reciting Miss USA pageant answers. Crackerjack segments abound in this episode, as a well-curated list of the most awesome names in the NFL ups the energy level early on. Informative bits on lucid dreaming and the science of hating round out the edutainment portion of the hour, all of which adds up to an especially excitable, charming dose of UYD. [CW]


Who Charted? #144: Voice Rolls
Kulap Vilaysack finally returns from an extended absence filming a part in a movie and kicks off her return with a delightful episode. Of course, it’s always a good episode when a guest admits that she probably shouldn’t be telling a story after she’s halfway through it. The guest in question is voice-over artist Grey DeLisle, who boasts an interesting and diverse career from singing to voicing cartoons to working as the voice of The Playboy Channel. DeLisle is intelligent, charming, and affable with about a million stories from her multifaceted career. Plus, she shows off her various voice talents and tells an endearing story on how she married her Twitter crush. [MS]

WTF #420: Ben Sidran
As Marc Maron’s interviews with rock musicians have become more and more commonplace, the novelty has worn off slightly, so his chat with relatively unknown jazz pianist Ben Sidran is a welcome departure. Beyond that, though, Sidran ends up being a spirited and quick-witted guest and his stories of interacting with various rock and jazz legends throughout his long career just about match up with those of anyone else whose been on the show. His views on the nature and spirituality of performance align neatly with Maron’s, so there’s a lot of interesting talk about their respective approaches and processes when it comes to performing. Sidran is also unrelentingly and contagiously passionate about jazz music, so, if nothing else, the episode will make listeners want to revisit Kind Of Blue and A Love Supreme, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. [CG]



The Fogelnest Files #53: Best Of Year One
While this week’s show is a great starting point for anyone who’s wanted to start listening to the podcast, there’s little value added for longtime fans. [AB]


Hang Up And Listen The Opinions And Funyuns Edition
A special Labor Day call-in special edition covers listener questions on artificial crowd noise in stadiums and the athletic talents of the respective panelists. [KM]

How Was Your Week #131 Michael Urie, Jonathan Tolins: “The Poetry Of Her Tchotchkes”
Featuring an exhaustive—and sometimes exhausting—conversation about Barbra Streisand’s life and career, this is an episode that will mostly appeal to Babs diehards. [DF]

Improv4Humans #97: LIVE from DCM 15 Pt. 2
There are tons of strong moments in this live episode, but a constantly rotating cast makes it hard to keep the ball rolling despite a few strong starts. [MK]


The Mental Illness Happy Hour #130: Cameron Esposito
Paul Gilmartin meets a kindred spirit in comedian Cameron Esposito, who shares his tendency to attempt to rescue others. There are moments of connection between the two, but the conversation drifts and drags at times. [TC]

The Moth Brian Finkelstein: Perfect Moments
The typical duration of a stint at a suicide hotline is six months; Brian Finkelstein lasted four years. His story about a life-changing call is told with the sort of gallows humor and pathos the subject merits, but his lesson about life’s redeeming moments comes across as underdeveloped. [DJ]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #166: Boys In The House
The brothers admit without qualification that this week’s episode features their least funny intro ever, and the rest of the show unfortunately follows suit: The boys are just off their game this time around. [AB]


Nerdist #403: Katee Sackhoff
Though it’s not an egregiously bad episode, it’s one that lacks anything memorable. It elicits a few stray chuckles, but fails to rise above the rank of “pleasant yet inessential.” [DA]

Nerdist #404: Doug Jones
The episode finds its focus around Doug Jones and host Chris Hardwick planning ways for the two to work together for the Nerdist empire, and while those things sound enjoyable, this episode feels like a lengthy preamble instead of standalone work. [DA]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #67: Will Weldon, James Adomian, Daniel Van Kirk
Will Weldon is the latest comedian to discuss a divorce on Sklarbro and receive a mix of encouragement and jealousy for a now-untethered life from the hosts. The best story of the week is about a restaurant in Japan serving something called the Mega Burger Pizza, which is just as ridiculous as it sounds. [KM]


Sklarbro Country #163: Jeff Garlin, Chris Cox
A missed opportunity to ask Jeff Garlin about how his role on Arrested Development comments on the film industry curdles into Garlin stepping on a soapbox to defend his recent limp directorial effort Dealin’ With Idiots. [KM]

The Smartest Man In The World Spurtles
In another U.K. edition of Proops’ cast, Proops calls out American foreign and domestic policy again, praising NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and chronicling the shortcomings of Obama, Bush, and Dick Cheney—it gets repetitious, but so do the Gulf Wars. [DXF]

Sound Opinions #405: World Tour: South Africa
Artists from Paul Simon to Vampire Weekend have been inspired by musical styles from South Africa, but this stop on the Sound Opinions world tour doesn’t yield many intriguing artists from the diverse genres mentioned. [KM]


Stuff You Missed In History Class The Nazca Lines
These huge and ancient animal-shaped glyphs are carved into the Andes, and though they are clearly precious, their origin story is too ambiguous to sustain the 37-minute episode.  [DT]

Stuff You Missed In History Class Thomas Morris Chester
Thomas Morris Chester was the first African-American journalist, and he deserves a more philosophical discussion than this fairly rote retelling provides. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #117: David Koechner
This episode of The Todd Glass Show is really fun, but it probably doesn’t need to be almost as long as the running time for Dances With Wolves. [MS]


Who Charted? #143: Normies
Natasha Leggero does a great job filling in for Kulap Vilaysack, but the conversation with comedian Kumail Nanjiani is a little too laid back to make for a memorable episode. [MS]

WTF #421: Kathryn Hahn and Jill Soloway
Marc Maron has welcomed guests looking to plug current projects before, but bringing on Afternoon Delight star Kathryn Hahn and writer-director Jill Soloway in the same episode feels a bit too calculated. Maron genuinely likes the film, but neither interview lasts long enough to sufficiently dig in. [KM]

You Made It Weird: Nick Swardson
Pete Holmes’ struggle to get Nick Swardson to reveal any vulnerability whatsoever is palpable, and while he does manage to wring out a few stories from his guest, most of the interview is just frustrating to listen to. [AB]