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)._  

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“What drove you to a colonic, Fiona?” —Marc Maron to Fiona Apple, WTF With Marc Maron

“Well, I have my Rants & Slants show.”
“Oh sure, where you rant for a little while and bring out Asian girls?” —Paul Rust discusses his show with Scott Aukerman, Comedy Bang! Bang!

“Libor scandal, another massacre in Syria… we need the Olympics to take us by the hand, anesthetize us, and ask us to countdown from 10 until we slip into the blissful dream-state of sport.” —John Oliver, The Bugle

“This should be a subway ad, there are so many opportunities to draw dicks in it. I see at least five. It’s beautiful.” —Todd Levin on a new NNF T-shirt, Never Not Funny

“Fool me 12 times, shame on you.” —Sara Benincasa, WTF With Marc Maron

“[The French] don’t fix their animals, so it’s a dog-testicle culture.” —Dave Shumka, Stop Podcasting Yourself

“If you get my heart, you get my ass.”  —Marc Maron, WTF With Marc Maron

"I’d say ‘Maybe I should try crack.’ That’s like the one moment where you’re like, ‘I think crack’s the safer choice. —Randy/Jason Sklar on bath salts, Sklarbro Country

"Can you have kids after six tasings?"
"Should you have kids after six tasings?"
"If you’ve been tased six times in your life, over your lifetime, you should not be allowed to have children." —Jason/Randy Sklar, Janet Varney, and Jason/Randy Sklar, Sklarbro Country

"A man may yell from the top of the hill, but the fight is in the alley.” —Steven Seagal (Dan Van Kirk) offers an inscrutable proverb, Sklarbro Country


Nerdist Writers Panel
As this is the Information Age and a new Golden Age of television, there’s never been a more ideal time to pick the brains of the creative people behind the small screen’s very best programming, and Nerdist Writers Panel exists to serve that purpose. The panel episodes feature a group of TV writers who gather at NerdMelt in Los Angeles, as a benefit for the non-profit 826LA, to answer questions from the live audience and discuss their craft with Supernatural writer, Thrilling Adventure Hour co-creator, and host Ben Blacker. The panels are often somewhat large and there is always a cornucopia of audience questions to be fielded, but Blacker makes an effort to keep things on-topic and relatively structured. Recurring topics of discussion include influences, breaking into the business, and recounting of notably good or bad experiences on the job.


Panels featuring only drama writers tend to be a bit less entertaining than those featuring even one or two comedy writers, but they’re rarely uninteresting, especially for anyone interested in the craft. For pure entertainment value, one panel, featuring Parks and Recreation’s Harris Wittels and Community’s Megan Ganz, along with dramatic writers Steven S. DeKnight (Angel, Smallville, Spartacus) and Tim Minear (Firefly, Terriers, American Horror Story), ranks pretty high. For those looking for a more focused, in-depth interview, the occasional one-on-one discussions that Blacker does—Damon Lindelof and Vince Gilligan being the most notable examples—are hard to beat. [CG]



Cigar Snapshot
Roughly once a week—at least up until the current hiatus on account of personal reasons—host Bill Berris presents deliberate but brief reviews of a different cigar he’s recently smoked. Although it can be a little dry at times, Berris has a decent presence on the mic and he certainly seems to know what he’s talking about. Even though each episode is only 15 minutes long, the short bits before and after the reviews—introductory notes, overview of listener feedback, previews of upcoming episodes, plugs—sometimes still feel superfluous. Because each episode relates to a specific cigar, it’s better to pick and choose which to listen to based on personal interests rather than go through the backlog chronologically. For anyone specifically interested in hearing mildly erudite reviews of various cigars, this is probably pretty great; for anyone else, there’s likely little of interest here. [CG]



The BS Report With Bill Simmons: Chuck Klosterman (part one, part two)
While ESPN’s Bill Simmons spends many of his podcasts delving into the intricacies of NBA trades or the ongoing struggles of his beloved Red Sox, he also brings in pop-culture figures—like Lena Dunham and Louis C.K.—to talk about their careers and larger topics. One semi-regular guest who always makes the show worth a listen is writer and pop-culture provocateur Chuck Klosterman. While Klosterman can sometimes be self-indulgent, he’s one of the few guests willing to push back on Simmons’ half-baked theories, which makes for some lively back-and-forth discussions. In part one, the two spend a lot of time on music, from trying to identify eras of music to the world’s touch-and-go love affair with The Doors. While a segment in which Klosterman expounds on his issue with a live performance by Japandroids gets a little too navel-gazey, it’s a rollicking discussion that quickly shifts gears, with Simmons and Klosterman keeping each other in check. At the end of part one, the discussion shifts to the Penn State scandal and, for once, a carefully nuanced discussion on the topic unfolds. Part two is more focused on sports, including NBA commissioner David Stern’s newfound swagger, Jeremy Lin’s move to the Houston Rockets, and the upcoming Olympics. While there’s less pop-culture discussion, the sparring still makes the listen a fun on, even at more than 100 minutes combined over both parts. [MG]



The Bugle #200: The Horn Dog Returneth!
After a few weeks off from full shows, John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman return for their bicentennial episode rested and full of comedy vigor. After some celebration and comparing 200 episodes to other numerical landmarks—Brazil’s five World Cups and Jack the Ripper’s victims—the pair take on “leathery sex pest” Silvio Berlusconi, the scandal-plagued former Italian prime minister who plans to run for office again. It’s a delightful segment that gives the pair plenty of opportunities to make jokes about Italian scooters and sex parties. A discussion about North Korea supreme leader Kim Jong-un’s love life and alleged paramour also leads to some inspired comedy including some analysis of her musical career. A small bit in which Tom the Producer calls in from Australia and gets killed off doesn’t quite land but may provide a chuckle for long-time listeners and doesn’t otherwise distract from a solid episode that kicks off The Bugle’s next chapter in strong, funny fashion. [MG]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #167: New No-Nos: Jessica St. Clair, Paul Rust, Jerrod Carmichael
If it weren’t already official, it needs to be: Marissa Wompler is one of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s best personalities. Jessica St. Clair’s bubbly intern character belongs up there with the creations of Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Daly, James Adomian, and Seth Morris—one of those guests who practically guarantees a solid episode. This one seems a little more haphazard, like Scott Aukerman just invited some people down to hang out because nothing else was really happening, but it works well because of the chemistry among Aukerman, Wompler, Jerrod Carmichael, and Paul Rust. Granted, that doesn’t always carry an episode—see last week’s sequel to “Farts And Procreation”—but Wompler’s goofiness (and Aukerman’s obvious delight in enabling it), Rust’s “New No-No” non-sequiturs, and Carmichael’s ability to go with the flow make for a very enjoyable episode. They were probably joking about giving Marissa Wompler her own podcast, but that’d be awesome, even if it were just an Earwolf Presents. [KR]


Doug Loves Movies: Brian Redban, Dan Hardy And Graham Elwood
This live edition of Doug Loves Movies was recorded in Las Vegas, and the change in scenery naturally prompts Doug Benson to engage his guests in an entertaining discussion of their favorite movies set in Sin City. The panel also gives a fun and fresh breakdown of the mediocre Spiderman reboot, as well as an analysis of the current movie projects of filmmaker and The League star Mark Duplass. Perhaps the audience member who contributes to the audience edition of Watch This Not That at beginning of the show should have been credited as a guest, considering that his breathy mention of Weird Science becomes a recurring gag throughout the episode. Here’s hoping Benson gets booked at The Louie Anderson Theater again, considering all of the crass jokes he makes at the namesake’s expense. [MS]


Hang Up And Listen: The Fire Joe Morgan Edition
With Stefan Fatsis taking the week off, HUAL gets a more than capable replacement in Parks And Recreation showrunner Michael Schur, who’s known among hardcore sports junkies (and Twitterers) as “Ken Tremendous,” one of the minds behind the late, lamented Fire Joe Morgan blog. The episode is funnier than usual—Mike Pesca will never be out-zinged, even by a comedy professional—and Schur has great insight into issues like Jeremy Lin’s surprising departure from the New York Knicks and the appropriate punishment for Penn State in the wake of the damning Freeh Report.  The world of sports and comedy come together for a great final segment on Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s On First?” routine, which Schur compares to the “Flight Of The Bumblebees” in terms of its virtuosity. Schur also argues fervently against baseball traditionalists who are resistant to instant replay—no reason to settle for bad calls when we have the technology to get them right. [ST]

The Moth Joe Limone: The Magic Nail
Joe Limone’s story about his best friend isn’t heavy on revelations. What it does well is start with a sense of boyhood adventure and carry it through to adult life. The friendship began with Limone and a classmate cheating on a Latin exam, but comes to center on a nail that almost killed the friend in an accident. As the friends try to use the nail to bring luck to the sports teams of their native Boston, there’s a real fondness that emerges underneath the boys-will-be-boys absurdity. [SG]


My Brother, My Brother And Me #112: The Channing Switcheroo
After last week’s somewhat middling installment, the McElroy brothers return in fine form to deliver a strong episode that starts right off the bat with goofy mispronunciations and then manages to get even sillier over the next 58 minutes. There’s no real throughline binding each advice segment together—though dancing weirdly pops up numerous times—but they all seem to fit together nicely in the buildup toward the spectacularly absurd and disgusting climax at the end involving male strippers, the spreading of “buttholes,” and Channing Tatum/Stockard Channing. The only lull is a slight one and it comes in the form of riffing about alternative post-graduation ceremony uses for caps and gowns, and that only suffers in comparison to the strength of the material that comes after it. [CG]


Never Not Funny #1104: All Hands On Deck With Todd Levin
Conan writer and comedian Todd Levin joins colleague Jimmy Pardo in the NNF studio during their two-week hiatus from the show, and the two, particularly Levin, seem to be growing creatively anxious during the downtime. Whether the quality of the episode is due to their recent lack of output isn’t clear, but the 100-minute, nearly-clunker-free show is so consistently engaging, it really doesn’t matter. The conversation touches on how Levin is spending his break and offers insight on the show, but the highlights come during their lengthy ribbing of videographer Eliot Hochberg, and don’t relent until Pardo, Levin, and Matt Belknap hang up with Marty—a listener who purchased a package replete with a live call from Pardo—who’s playfully accosted for his poor reception and odd relationship with his family. Levin certainly warrants a spot as a NNF regular; Pardo would be wise to remember it during the next break from their main gig. [SM]

Sklarbro Country: Sklarbro County 8
An incredible story from guest Cole Stratton about Terrell Owens playing in his co-ed softball game kicks off an especially strong episode of the “County.” The funniest segment tells of a candy-sponsored staring contest at a CVS pharmacy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where participants were asked to sit in front of a black curtain for 30 seconds. Then the curtain was pulled back to reveal their opponent: Three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. (Stratton’s barb cuts the deepest: “I’m sure Brady dominated until they pulled back the curtain and Eli Manning was there.”) Brady declaring it “the Super Bowl of staring contests” has Dan Van Kirk wondering whether Brady thinks every event is “the Super Bowl of something” if he happens to be participating. [ST]


Sklarbro Country #103: Monkey Trumpet: Janet Varney, Dan Van Kirk
This week is a sort of charm offensive, with the always-welcome Janet Varney joining the typically jovial Sklars for an especially jocular episode. An actor, host of Nerdist’s The JV Club, and comedy pal of the Sklars from way back, Varney jumps right into the fray, riffing with the guys and generally being a delight (though Randy or Jason seems a little too interested in which projects she’d be willing to go topless for). Aiding the proceedings are some good news stories, including a naked, cannibalistic man under the influence of bath salts on a golf course, more shenanigans with Michael Jordan’s son, and a long discussion of the cherry-pit-spitting championships. A call from Steven Seagal (Dan Van Kirk) tops it off nicely—just the way he answers his phone sends the Sklars into a fit of laughter that takes a little while to abate. [KR]



The Smartest Man In The World #167: Filibusters
There’s something about risk that tends to pay off for Greg Proops, namely the risk of just riffing freely on typical comic-on-the-road crap. He gets one of his most improbably strong starts of late by simply complaining about the air conditioning in his Sacramento hotel room, employing such odd phrases as, “It’s like an inference from a beetle.” Plus, he earns special Proops-restraint points for doing ambivalent riffs about the Fourth of July without immediately getting preachy. It even earns him enough patience for the inevitable dip into rambling anecdotes about growing up in a boring California suburb. [SG]

Sound Opinions #346: Kelly Hogan, Reviews Of Emeli Sande And Hot Chip
Kelly Hogan visits Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis this week to perform songs from her recent album I Like To Keep Myself In Pain. The hosts’ interview with the singer offers just enough background to make the episode worth it for those who’ve already gotten familiar with the album, from Hogan’s work with Neko Case to her time working at a record store in Atlanta. Plus, this being Kelly Hogan, performances are sharp, especially that of the Robyn Hitchcock-penned title track. Even on repeat listens, it’s a little shocking how well Hogan channels the late Vic Chesnutt on his contribution to the album, “Ways Of This World.” [SG]


Stuff You Should Know: How Lightning Works
A brief clip of The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm” that starts this episode moodily makes way for a terrific and rather unnerving unpacking of lightning, also known as the terrifying sky plasma that can quite literally melt your face. Statistics make a great segue into the science, so listeners can guess just how likely they are to get struck while being ripped asunder by 6,000-degree bolts. (Watch out on Wednesday afternoons in Florida.) But don’t worry, there’s also discussion about on how to avoid becoming a walking conductor, what being a walking conductor feels like, and why you might not want to cheer “Woo!” when lightning strikes the tree next to you instead of you. Turns out getting struck by lightning involves getting struck 40 or 50 times, so now’s a good time to catch up on your facts and stop relying on the old saying about this stuff. [DT]


The Thrilling Adventure Hour #79: Captain Laserbeam, Tinker Taylor And Tyler Too
Thrilling Adventure Hour’s Captain Laserbeam segments can quickly become exhausting, what with all their compulsive play on superhero, supervillain, and sidekick names. Then again, it’s pretty irresistible when the plot and gags are up to the over-stimulated framework, and when there’s help from John Ennis and Chris Hardwick. In this installment, not one but three teenage sidekicks get kidnapped by the congenially British-accented Tinker Taylor, interrupting the titular hero’s Passover Seder. (Yes, there’s somehow a little extra room for Judaism jokes here.) Stuffed to the gills as it is, it keeps up the show’s usual sharp comic timing, with help from one sidekick’s ridiculous Italian accent. [SG]

Uhh Yeah Dude #330
This live show offers some interesting variations on the standard UYD rhythms: Seth Romatelli tends to clam up, and Jonathan Larroquette happily fills the space, turning up the charm while punching up his punchlines and making his stories more succinct. But if the delivery feels fresh, the content is much the same. For all the lead-up in the weeks preceding this episode, #330 is surprisingly light on personal recollections or tales of misspent youth. Instead, the rowdy audience gets treated to a strong but by-the-book rundown of classic bits—Chinese product recalls, Dear Jonathan, filthy local Craigslist ads—paired with pet topics like today’s rage-filled teens and elders on the Internet. There’s none of the welcome gimmickry of #309’s live poetry reading, but Larroquette does stumble on a way to make reading tweets from the stage entertaining: Just make sure they’re by Andrew Dice Clay. [CW]


Walking The Room #112: Matt Besser’s Cadillac Blowout
With the first segment dedicated entirely to one-upping each other’s masturbation stories and porno jokes, it’s surprising how many thoughtful, sincere moments there are throughout this week’s episode. The episode starts with Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt trading touching yet backhanded compliments, but quickly hits its stride in the second segment when guest Matt Besser comments on last week’s rude driver run-in. From there, the three discuss the philosophy of confronting those who deserve it (which delights Anthony to no end) and the many ways that can be a bad idea. This lends itself naturally to the third segment, which contemplates the relationship between comedians and patrons, and who’s at fault when there’s conflict. The episode’s many laughs are heavily frontloaded, but frank discussions of the hosts’ own personal behavior bring its best moments. [SM]


WTF With Marc Maron #296: Sara Benincasa
Comic Sara Benincasa wrote a book about her experiences with panic attacks and agoraphobia (hence its title, Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom), so mental illness gets plenty of attention in this interview. This is well-worn conversation fodder for Marc Maron, however, so listeners who are a little tired of that topic may prefer the segments that focus on Benincasa’s experience as a sex columnist, her Catholic family, and Maron’s close encounter with a possum. [CZ]

WTF With Marc Maron #297: Fiona Apple 
Fiona Apple is both as weird and yet not nearly as weird as you’d expect in this interview, which examines her various compulsive behaviors (partially through an extended anecdote about some hummingbirds she became obsessed with). The friendly, jokey chat focuses more on mental-health issues and family background than music, but perhaps most interestingly, Apple reveals herself to be a podcast fan and also seems incredulous that so many people find her to be such an unusual creature. [CZ]


You Made It Weird #67: Jerrod Carmichael
The Jerrod Carmichael episode of You Made It Weird feels like the heterosexual-friendship equivalent of a first date that goes very, very well. Pete Holmes sits down with hot young comedian Jerrod Carmichael (who was recently heard on Comedy Bang! Bang!) to discuss the craftsmanship of comedy and their different approaches, and decides he likes Carmichael a whole bunch. It’s easy to see why: Carmichael is a relaxed, amiable, and amusing presence, and the two have some great riffs about their Rat Pack live-performance fantasies and launching a ho-based comedy ministry. [NR]


The Best Show On WFMU
The final hour of this week’s Best Show features a delightful Breaking Bad-as-The Three Stooges critique that’s worth seeking out in an episode that gets off to a slow start. [TC]


Judge John Hodgman: Call In The Family
Judge Hodgman considers the Seinfeld-ian question of whether a missed-call notification is good enough to get the “call me back” message across without having to go through voicemail. It’s a case more for docket-clearing than a full airing. [ST]

The J.V. Club #19: Grace Bonney 
Janet Varney is joined by Design*Sponge founder/reformed hippie Grace Bonney for an episode that’s light on adolescent talk, but will make listeners want to check out Bonney’s website. [OS]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #69: Dwayne Perkins
Comic Dwayne Perkins visits Paul Gilmartin for a congenial but just slightly too comfortable conversation about race, childhood troubles, and breaking the cycle of poverty. [SG]


Monday Morning Podcast
Bill Burr’s chat with Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, produces one of the least interesting and least funny episodes of the Monday Morning Podcast ever. [CG]

Nerdist #230: Matt Braunger
In an episode that focuses heavily on Braunger’s work in Chicago and Portland, the episode lacks anything substantial or all that humorous. [DA]

Nerdist #231: Live From SDCC
At nearly two hours in length, the episode fails in thinking it can replace jokes with raunchiness. [DA]


Stop Podcasting Yourself #226: Erica Sigurdson
Listener “Overheards” outshine comedian-writer Erica Sigurdson, who returns for a quippy freeform conversation that covers Magic Mike, European culture, and traits of the Canadian homeless. [DXF]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Listener Mail Roundup: Collector’s Edition
SYMIHC has an incredibly intelligent and inquisitive audience. Unfortunately, this is more book collectors’ love letters to the show than a real episode. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Disco Works 
This extra-long episode has highlights like Disco Demolition Night and how disco’s literal beat is still alive, but most listeners won’t find much here that’s surprising. [DT]


Stuff You Missed In History Class: The Amelia Earhart Mystery (Update) 
There’s an important update at the end of the episode about credible radio transmissions Earhart must have made, but its yet another classic rerun. [DT]

This American Life #469: Hiding In Plain Sight
In an enjoyable if not all-time-great episode, Act I focus on a woman who fools people into believing she has two arms. The main story about a drug cartel snitch feels buried beneath a light but fun tale of a woman whose attempts to be a good Samaritan are thwarted by Facebook. [CZ]

The Todd Glass Show #55: Greg Proops And Daniel Kinno
This potentially great episode never quite finds its groove. [MS]


Who Charted? #85: Live from Bridgetown w/ Brett Gelman and Brody Stevens
This recording of a live episode at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival doesn’t quite translate to the listening experience. [MS]

You Made It Weird #66: Michelle Buteau
Pete Holmes and comedian Michelle Buteau seem to have a good time and more than enough energy, but the conversation is never gets below surface-level. [CG]