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)._  

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 podmass@avclub.com.

Hollywood Handbook
Two Birthday Boys, Our Close Friends

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Sean Clements and Hayes Davenport are good enough improvisors that they don’t need anyone to help them carry a show. They can spin a first class bit out of a snippet of an idea or a slip of the tongue and sweep even the flattest guests along in their comedic current. But when they do have people of a similar caliber in the studio with them, as they do for this episode, then Hollywood Handbook gets kicked up a level or two. Mike Hanford and Dave Ferguson are two members of The Birthday Boys, the seven-strong sketch group in which Bob Odenkirk took a special interest and helped land them their own show on IFC. Their sensibilities gel so perfectly with Clements and Davenport’s that they seem like they could bounce a concept back and forth across the net for as long as there was memory in the recording equipment’s drive. [Dennis DiClaudio]

How Did This Get Made
Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

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It seems almost unfair to criticize a Tyler Perry film as though it were a regular film. He’s clearly got his own agenda, and the prosaic notions of “storytelling” don’t much enter into it. Making fun of Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor for making no sense is a little like complaining that your Ikea end table gets terrible mileage on the open road. It’s not really its thing. Still it is technically a movie, so the hosts of How Did This Get Made? are within their rights to make it the subject of this week’s episode. That they knock the commentary out of the park doesn’t hurt their cause. Along with Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas’ co-star from The League, Katie Aselton, the How Did This Get Made? team seems to have an incredible amount of fun trying to tease out the signal from the noise in Perry’s bizarrely anti-feminist morality play. Oddly, we get an​unexpected insight into Scheer and June Diane Raphael’s marriage when they discuss what kind of response a wife should expect from her husband when she gets catcalled by groups of unsavory men on the street. [Dennis DiClaudio]

There’s No Such Thing As A Fish
No Such Thing As A Terrestrial Sweetcorn

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This podcast of British panel show researchers continues a big winning streak with an episode mining the comedic veins of insanity, criminality, and agriculture, all in under 35 minutes. In the 19th century, novel reading could send you to an American asylum, as they were an altogether new concept to the Western World. And as the hosts read through a list of reasons for institutionalization, the hilariousness only builds, climaxing with “deranged masturbation.” But the inclination to focus on the psychology of women leads to a great discussion of Jane Austen and the 2,000 suicides in Europe blamed on her novel. Much of this episode focuses on hysteria and madness, such as a segment about the paranoia of professional chess players that skips the more infamous cases and focuses on the oddballs who feared aliens and robots were using chess to take over the world. The Mechanical Turk is particularly fascinating, as it was a fake 18th Century chess-playing robot that predates the industrial revolution and was operated by a man hiding under a desk. The highlight is perhaps the second segment, however, detailing the Greenland shark. It swims so slowly that it lives off of animals it can catch sleeping, and this discussion leads to some hilarious posturing over how fast an animal has to swim while the stomach it’s trapped in is swimming also. [Dan Telfer]

RuPaul: What’s The Tee?
Granny Chaser With Chi Chi LaRue

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Listeners who aren’t familiar with Larry David Paciotti’s drag name “Chi Chi LaRue” are, whether they cop to it or not, likely familiar with his work. The raucous club host and director is credited with some of the most popular and industry-defining porn films, gay, bisexual, and straight. Not unlike John Waters, he’s also a fabulously entertaining and insightful member of the gay and sub-pop culture intelligentsia who make profound connections chatting extemporaneously on topics as minute as body hair or Botox. Ten years ago, he gave a fascinating look into the porn industry as a talking head in HBO’s late night documentary series Pornucopia. This 75-minute conversation with RuPaul and Michelle Visage largely serves as an update, and things are apparently dire. Everybody pirates, production standards are sloppy, and Paciotti’s 28-year crusade for voluntarily-enforced safe sex in films (he’s never shot a feature depicting a bareback star) is being jeopardized by AB 1576—a well-meaning but controversial piece of legislation mandating condoms for performers—driving shoots out of jurisdiction to Las Vegas. Thailand sex operations, Goddess Bunny, and LaRue’s L.A. drag competition from decades ago serendipitously named “Drag Race” also get time in the packed conversation. It piques Visage’s interest enough to invite herself to a Channel 1 shoot—God help those porn stars. [Dan Jakes]

Science Friday
Do Chimps Have Culture?

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The longer we observe chimps, the more we notice their multitude of tools. Jane Goodall first realized chimps were fishing for termites with sticks. But each tool is apparently unique to their geography, and social learning is a common event. The idea that animals learn at all is a groundbreaking concept, making humans ask: Are stories being told? Are there such things as chimp trends? Ugandan researchers give up us the answers: It’s all true. And similarities with human culture are so vast that we may have to rethink whether there’s anything special about what we do at all. Author Catherine Hobaiter describes her years of experiments with chimps in captivity and how they compare to observations in the rainforest. Social learning in the wild is being quantified and broken into data that is surprising everyone. Especially startling is the recent discovery that chimps are using moss as sponges and teaching their young to mimic them across different populations. Interestingly, Hobaiter also notes which behaviors are unique to chimps and which aren’t. Chimps, for instance, do attack and kill each other, but it appears that’s not learned behavior so much as biological behavior. However, hunting tactics that chimps use are also seen in humpback whale pods with similar social hierarchies. There is also video of a baby chimp stealing its mother’s moss sponge on the website that listeners will find particularly charming. [Dan Telfer]

Serial
Leakin Park

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Serial is unique among podcasts in its obsession with pulling back layers. No aspect of its central investigation, if it can be so called, is too small to question for in it might be an overlooked exculpatory detail. Host Sarah Koenig is so wonderfully flawed in her objectivity that it further sends the listener on their own slaloming path down the rabbit hole that is the murder of Hae Min Lee. This week’s episode backtracks a bit, returning to the particular period of time wherein Hae’s body is discovered in Baltimore’s notorious corpse-dumping ground Leakin Park. Digging deeper into the details surrounding the discovery gives several red herrings, none bigger than the soft-spoken maintenance man who stumbles upon the body while looking for a place to pee. Known only as Mr. S, he has several secrets and a distinct unwillingness to be direct that leads to more questions than answers. This is a startling, unnerving entry into what is proving to be a necessary evolution of podcast storytelling, and there are still so many more layers to go. [Ben Cannon]

Seven Second Delay
Tonight’s Twisted Video Experiment

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By all accounts, it should be easy for Andy Breckman to give away his money to people on the streets. This is the premise behind the stunt on this week’s show: When someone takes Breckman’s cash, a remote speaker hook-up will allow him to protect it by letting him yell at the taker. When finding takers proves immediately difficult, Breckman and Ken Freedman quickly change tact and actively encourage passersby to help themselves. No surprise, this also proves largely unsuccessful, providing an unexpected complication that is the hallmark of so many great Seven Second Delay episodes. As their pleas continue to fall on mostly deaf ears, the tone of the show alternates between total despair and outright joy, with Breckman becoming more unhinged and defensive as Freedman develops a successful sales pitch for free money (itself an absurd and satisfying high point). Freedman and Breckman have become experts at pulling comedy from moments of failure, which always makes Seven Second Delay interesting, at the very least. And, when things come together as well as they do here, there’s not much that’s funnier or more entertaining. [Dan Fitchette]

Stuff You Missed In History Class
Sylvia Rivera

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In this episode Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey detail the events in the life of Sylvia Rivera, a transgender activist from the 1960s who had a hot temper and a boiling passion for the equality of the gay and transgendered people before transgender was a word that had taken a wider cultural hold. Rivera is often compared to Rosa Parks due to her actions in the Stonewall Riots, though her famous act of throwing the first bottle at police and her overall personality could not set her further apart from Parks. She left her broken home at age 11, choosing to enter the sex work industry at a disturbingly young age and finding camaraderie within the drag queen community. Though she maintained a loving relationship with her grandmother, she quickly had to build her own identity and personality without a stable home environment. She became excluded from many mainstream organizations because of her angry edge, but she never lost her focus on bringing respect to everyone’s common humanity. Her story is dark and compelling, especially in an age where gay and transgender rights are being fought for more vehemently than ever. Wilson and Frey are compassionate and smartly manage the language of the past and the present to make clear that they are not using any terminology out of ignorance or a lack of awareness. [Dan Telfer]

Stuff You Missed In History Class
The Dyatlov Pass Incident

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Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey are big fans of eerie tales, and as the Halloween season deepens Stuff You Missed In History Class traditionally delves into creepy and unnerving incidents in history. Although there is nothing outwardly paranormal about the doomed 1959 hiking incident at Dyatlov Pass, its dark deadly mysteries have inspired hundreds of paranormal explanations. A group of young Russian hikers and skiers were enjoying a recreational trip in the Ural Mountains. Losing one of their most experience travelers to sickness and starting in bad winter weather, they almost immediately got lost. The medical examiner ruled these students had been killed by a “compelling and unknown source,” athough evidence that the bodies had had their tongues severed and skulls crush while they were alive led to heated debate over what really happened. Wilson and Frey reveal much of the hotly debated evidence hinting that something supernatural and sensational occurred, though they are of course quick to point out these could be, as Wilson says, just a straight-up “crackpot theory.” The hosts are also wise enough to avoid outright delight in the horrors, instead focusing on the impossible odds that any unsolved aspect had a pleasant resolution. [Dan Telfer]

SModcast
Porn Pilot

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In typical SModcast form, Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier are all over the board for the first 20 minutes—discussing the perceived failings of Hanna-Barbera and questioning what R2-D2 stands for—before they stop on this episode’s main point: pilots using porn during their flights. Stemming from a CBC news piece, Smith shares the headline, “Air Canada grapples with ‘explicit’ material in cockpit.” Met with some giggles, the guys immediately debate the “obvious and easy” use of the word cockpit instead of flight deck, and discuss the over-the-top imitations of a newsroom editor’s desire to “insert” innuendo into each story. The meat of the story reveals that flight crews may face termination for placing porn in the airplanes. Smith poses an important question, “You know how many hours they have on the ground to think of boobies and wee wees?” Mosier responds with a punny quip about the appropriateness of reading at all while operating a plane, whether it be Moby Dick or “Great Dick.” The two continue to look at the possibility of in-flight porn from numerous angles in this humorous take on Air Canada’s “porn plague,” with an especially funny bit about time travel based on the use of paper porn as opposed to the high-speed stuff of today. [Becca James]

We see what you said there

“In those early days with Bob [Odenkirk], I know that you guys were doing sketch comedy with him, and he was also having you pick pockets sometimes.”—Hayes Davenport to The Birthday Boys, Hollywood Handbook

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“What happens if you cheat on your husband? You will get AIDS! And he will marry someone else and have a beautiful baby.”—Katie Aselton, How Did This Get Made

“We know from captivity what apes are capable of. But that’s not a full representative of what happens in the wild or what happens evolutionarily.”—Catherine Hobaiter, Science Friday

“I’ve only been mugged four times last year. It’s because I only call everyone brother.”—Andy Breckman, Seven Second Delay

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“The only time you’re allowed to fucking jerk off is when the plane is plummeting toward a mountain. Then you have my blessing. And even then you should be trying to save our lives, but if you’re like, ‘Look that’s impossible.’ and you can tug one out before you go, aye aye, captain.”—Kevin Smith on jerk-off etiquette for pilots, SModcast