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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“Why was there an imbalance of matter and anti-matter? There had to be an imbalance, I’m assuming—”
“And why isn’t there any uncle-y matter?! Guys! Guys! Uncle-y matter!” —Tig Notaro interrupting Kyle Dunnigan, Professor Blastoff

“The mountain now currently stands at 20,237 feet, which is clearly pathetic. That’s like the height of when you stand on top of a chair or something. It’s nothing.” —John Oliver on Mount McKinley’s recently reduced peak, The Bugle

“It was like that rave scene from The Matrix, except if everybody smelled like cabbage and had a sword.” —The MBMBAM brothers on what the Huntington, West Virginia, Gamestop was like when the town’s anime convention coincided with the release of the new Pokemon game

“It takes two to toxic.” —Marc Maron, adding some levity to the news of his recent breakup, WTF

“‘At least I’m honest!’—that’s when you know you’ve said some ignorant shit.” —Bill Burr, Monday Morning Podcast

“She encouraged me to enter every beauty contest that came to the state of Alabama, and I did, and some of them I won: Miss Talladega 500 Raceway [Audience laughs.]—I’m not finished—Miss Cotton Crop, and Miss Escalator." —Trisha Colburn, The Moth

“The sitcom Dads on Fox: It’s been such a massive hit. It’s taken over TV, and IFC noticed that. They are not stupid; they do read the trades over there. So they immediately, very quickly developed their own show that is kind of based on that sense of humor, and it’s called Horrible, Shitty Idiots. And it’s about eight sons and 12 dads who live together in a shoebox.” —Bob Odenkirk talks upcoming IFC shows, Comedy Bang! Bang!

“If the Cowardly Lion were on RuPaul’s Drag Race, so much of my childhood would be less nightmarish.” —Julie Klausner, How Was Your Week



Eban Schletter’s Fantastical Musicorium
Best known in the podcast world for the essential musical accompaniment he provides on The Pod F. Tompkast, Eban Schletter has a long history writing music in Hollywood, from Mr. Show to SpongeBob SquarePants. As a professional score-writer and general musician-for-hire in show business, he has tons of pieces of music the public never heard, like themes for TV shows that weren’t used or scores for films that didn’t finish, and miscellany he comes up with on the fly. He also has a wealth of music that ended up in films or shows, or that he released on his albums, or that he wrote for himself.

That is to say Schletter has plenty of material for his new podcast, Eban Schletter’s Fantastical Musicorium. Launched in August, it has posted three episodes, one every month. As such, it’s still finding its voice, but so far each episode finds Schletter having a conversation with his antagonistic “inner voice” around a loose theme. In the premiere, it was Schletter sorting through his past projects and grappling with the eternal struggle of art vs. commerce. The second episode found him imagining a future ruled by robots that play his music. The third episode is “sponsored” by Schletter’s latest album, and he argues with his inner marketing manager (a Jewish-sounding guy who says “schmuck” a lot) about how to publicize it while playing songs from the album.

Schletter is a versatile, gifted musician, which seems too simple of a way to describe him. He’s able to write in myriad styles for seemingly any theme, which takes considerable skill. The Musicorium nicely showcases his musical talent (particularly his barbed, satirical songs), but his comedic skills don’t quite match up. The humor can be a bit hokey, and the relentlessly sarcastic exchanges with his “inner voice” are grating after a while (ditto the repeated references to no one listening to the podcast). It all feels like Schletter’s trying a little too hard to be clever, which is the opposite of his other podcast. (Come back, Tompkast!) As a showcase for his music, though, the Musicorium succeeds. Hopefully the other stuff will come in time. [KR]




Netflix Junkies
When it comes to making personal recommendations, Netflix can have the worst taste. (Sure you watched The Avengers, but it’s awfully brazen to presume you’d subsequently enjoy Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.) That’s where Andy and Nick—a graphic designer and a freight broker—enter the picture. Self-described movie fanatics, they sift through the Netflix catalog in an effort to help listeners more easily justify that monthly $7.99. Although they have far more in common with two of your more boring uncles than Siskel and/or Ebert, they have an easy-to-comprehend rating system based on whether either of them gives “a shit” about that day’s movie (if neither approves, then Netflix Junkies officially doesn’t give two shits about it). Pulling occasional audio from trailers and relevant sound bites, the duo does its best to maintain a spoiler-free environment, but it does slip up some—after all, Andy and Nick drink during each episode. Still, while discussing Primer, they debate whether or not Groundhog Day counts as a time-travel movie. While reviewing Get The Gringo, Andy can’t help but point out that you don’t need to cock the hammer on a semi-automatic weapon in an effort to intimidate a hostage. Basically, anyone looking for a critical analysis of mise-en-scène can safely look elsewhere. But for a decent movie recommendation, this podcast is worth giving a shit about. [TK]



The Bugle #249: America Stands That Little Bit Smaller
The continuing saga of putting The Bugle’s co-hosts in off-character locales continues this week as John Oliver phones in from Chicago and Andy Zaltzman checks in from Bangalore. This unusual link leads Oliver to proclaim the two cities as “twinned in bullshit.” It’s not often that The Bugle leads off this strong, but the two capitalize on the goodwill and churned out another great issue. They get in more than a few potshots, toward the Cubs’ continuous losing streak, and the inanity of history’s first film—ridiculed for being 2.1 seconds long. It doesn’t take long for them to launch into a glorious takedown of the ridiculous government shutdown. While the jokes are fresh, a handful of last issue’s topics are covered again without much new information. Despite this, it’s a solid entry through and through. [MK]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #249: Ice Cold STaB: Bob Odenkirk, The Birthday Boys
Bob Odenkirk helped get The Birthday Boys their own sketch show (on which he appears as well), so “Ice Cold STaB” unites two generations of his protégés: the sketch group and Scott Aukerman (who employs a few of them as writers for the CBB TV show). This episode could stall out in Odenkirk worship from his adoring acolytes, but it thankfully doesn’t. Odenkirk and Aukerman riff on a very silly ending to Breaking Bad (whose finale hadn’t aired when this was recorded), and the Birthday Boys bit—about the formula-keepers of Coke, Pepsi, and Tab—escalates perfectly. As a pair of incestuous brothers who don’t realize they’re gay, the Tab guys allude to one of Mr. Show’s all-time greatest sketches, “Wycked Sceptre,” but also recall It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s hilariously creepy McPoyle brothers. It’s a solid episode all around, and for fans of Comedy Bang! Bang!, the Birthday Boys’ show is required viewing. [KR]


Doug Loves MoviesTig Notaro, Garfunkel And Oates, Samm Levine
This episode is sure to be polarizing, what with the presence of two guests about whom most Doug Loves Movies listeners have strong feelings. But while Tig Notaro is at her Tig-iest, delaying the game for long stretches of time with her resolute inability/refusal to play the games, and Samm Levine is in fine know-it-all form, the two opposed ends of the DLM spectrum balance each other out in a somewhat odd but ultimately listenable way. (The ever-pleasant Kate Miccuci and Ricki Lindhome provide a neutral, good-natured center.) Notaro’s delay-of-game shenanigans—which hold up the proceedings for minutes at a time while she searches for her movie-savvy girlfriend to provide her assistance—might be annoying if not for the fact that they so clearly enrage Levine, ever the stickler for the rules. And Notaro’s lack of interest in Levine’s fervent interest in the game undermines him to hilarious effect. The opening chatter is more tangent-filled than usual, and the Leonard Maltin Game is a bit of a dud, but a spectacular round of Build-A-Title more than makes up for it, as does a round of the Seth Rogen Game that basically devolves into a pissing match between Doug Benson and Levine. [GK]


Doug Loves MoviesGreg Proops, Moshe Kasher, John Caparulo
Doug Loves Movies listeners who are in it for the Leonard Maltin Game should love this episode, which is full of audacious, borderline-insane bidding—particularly a game-ending gambit that’s almost crazy enough to work, and is worth listening through to the end of the episode for. It might have been even better if Doug Benson didn’t keep screwing up his clues, resulting in some confusion—but it also might have been worse. Such is the ramshackle charm of DLM. Master improviser Greg Proops manages to spin Benson’s flubs into one of the many running gags that keep this episode chugging along. Proops is the driving force of the episode, as is usually the case with his DLM appearances, though Moshe Kasher makes the most of his time on the mic. First-timer John Caparulo is more of a mixed bag, vacillating between charmingly odd and annoyingly odd, but he fits in well with this slightly tweaked panel. [GK]

FreakonomicsThe Troubled Cremation Of Stevie The Cat
What if the cremated remains of a beloved family pet are not, in fact, the ashes of that pet? This week, Freakonomics dives into the strange world of pet funerals. Unsurprisingly, it’s a weird episode that eventually leads Stephen Dubner to build a fake cat out of rabbit fur and hamburger meat in a sting operation on a pet disposal company. There’s also a colorful cast of characters (more so than usual), from the pet cremator that alerted Dubner to potential “pet cremation fraud” to a woman who wears a USB drive with videos of her pets around her neck. If that weren’t enough, the Freakonomics team looks into the legalities of pet burial: If someone doen’t receive her pet’s ashes, is that grounds for litigation? Buried in all the oddities is an interesting discussion on how we deal with the dead (both animal and human varieties), and those little creatures we keep as companions. And the ending is a bit of a gut-punch, too. [NC]


Hang Up And ListenThe Cardinals’ Sins Edition
The St. Louis Cardinals—and their insufferable fan base—attempting to police baseball is the kind of story that illuminates HUAL’s partnership with Deadspin. Red Sox fans get some well-deserved scorn as the Harvey Dent of MLB as well. In a much happier segment, the panel discusses Iceland’s chances at becoming the smallest country by population to ever qualify for a World Cup in soccer, made much better by the fact that the country made it into a home-and-home UEFA playoff earlier this week. [KM]


How Was Your Week #137: Chris Elliott & Jason Woliner: “Houdini’s Waffles”
This is a near-perfect installment of HWYW, one that will certainly rank among the best that Julie Klausner will release this year. An energetic and animated monologue, in which Klausner talks about everything from losing her wallet to New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s weird earlobes, is one of Klausner’s best in recent memory, setting things up nicely for a dazzling interview with Chris Elliott and Jason Woliner. Elliott and Woliner have proven to be a very funny duo in the past (notably on The Best Show last year), and they are true to form here as they discuss the new season of Eagleheart, the finer points of casting extras, and, in a standout moment, the finer points of interactive theater. She keeps up with them, making the episode a joy to listen to an example of Klausner at her very best. [DF]

Improv4Humans #103: LIVE From LA Podfest: Ian Roberts, Lauren Lapkus, Joe Wengert
Ian Roberts episodes always make for interesting entries in the Improv4Humans pantheon, and this week’s episode is certainly lively. While Matt Besser usually extends his hosting duties to guiding many of the scenes, Roberts is just as capable of starting a scene and instantly taking it in a bizarre, but perfect, direction. Lauren Lapkus and Joe Wengert round out the assembled crew of “LIVE From LA Podfest,” both of whom are at the top of their game from front to end. Maybe thanks to Roberts—or maybe to the crowd’s electric energy—the four improvisers start the show by zipping through memorable scene after memorable scene. And best of all, the callbacks runneth over without ever seeming like lazy punchlines. [MK]



Judge John Hodgman: May It Breeze The Court
This week’s featured case is a domestic dispute, and unlike most of Hodgman’s rulings, the resolution feels like as a sudden reversal of the hearing’s momentum. Adrienne can’t sleep without the noise from a box fan. Patrick, her husband, has been listening to the hum for six years, and he can’t take it anymore. The night fan was a part of her life long before the man. Patrick rationalizes his needs with the desperate, creative vigor of a teenager. After hearing extensive evidence, a conflicted Hodgman hands down a surprising verdict. [DXF]


The Moth: The Moth Radio Hour: Beauty Queens, The LBJ Library And Holdups
Full one-hour episodes are here to stay, according to Dan Kennedy, who sounds particularly giddy—or at least his own calming, muted version of it—with listeners’ overwhelmingly positive feedback on the new format. Special complete radio broadcasts will be dropped in between shorter single-presenter episodes, which will stick around in part to share stories otherwise deemed unfit for airing by the FCC, which raises the question: Exactly which heartwarming, introspective shorts did the FCC think were too blue for general audiences? This week’s collection out of the Austin Paramount Theatre features three examples of Southern courtesy, for better or for worse. Trisha Coburn’s account of her charm-school mentor bending her own rules of decency to give her a better life is a must-listen. [DJ]

My Brother, My Brother And Me #172: Juggalo Church Camp
The brothers exercise their observational comedy skills to the max on this week’s episode. Luckily, the questions they pick lend themselves well to the kinds of insights they have to share. In fact, they often get at some embarrassing truths about how to live a responsible adult life. Highlights include a discussion of what to have for lunch (if not a sandwich) and an honest talk about setting your own bedtime (in which the repetition of “Mr. Man” is used to pretty brilliant effect). The episode ends with a bit of a whimper, as the titular bit fails to gain much traction, but the front two-thirds or so finds the brothers in top form. [AB]


Nerdist #423: Andrew W.K. and Marky Ramone
Andrew W.K. and Marky Ramone seem just as eager to ask questions as to answer them, which turns this episode into a fascinating discussion about staying grounded in the music industry. The performers—who are currently touring together—come from two different places in their musical careers. While Ramone has the calmness of a seasoned professional, W.K. is still confused and awed by his success. This is one of the more serious Nerdist episodes, and the conversation touches on post-performance depression, self-confidence issues, and finding creative fulfillment. Throughout, both guests seem grateful for their success, appreciative of their fans, and genuinely shocked that they get to do what they love for a living. [CS]


Nerdist #424: Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael
Although the conversation lingers a bit too long on fro-yo and personal trainers, Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael are enjoyably self-deprecating about their “luxury problems,” as well as the rocky process of making their first independent film, Ass-Backwards. After the original financier defaulted on payments, Wilson and Raphael were forced to close down production and re-raise the funds; it took two years before the cast and crew finally reassembled to finish the film. There’s remarkably little bitterness to their discussion about the setback, and Wilson is similarly gracious about her time at SNL. Nerdist is a male-heavy podcast, and Wilson and Raphael are exactly the kind of female guests it would do well to showcase more often. [CS]

Never Not Funny #1314: Janet Varney
The crew from the unfortunately named laffster.com sits in for a live stream of episode #1314, providing plenty of material for Jimmy Pardo, from the site’s regrettable name to their low energy in the room. Janet Varney, as always, is a delightful presence, charming and funny and not afraid to tease Pardo in his own dojo. They get a lot of mileage from the poor soul who posted on Pardo’s Facebook about Dennis Farina’s cousin, as well as the soundtrack from Some Kind Of Wonderful. It’s another two-hour episode, but enjoyable the whole way through. [KR]


Professor Blastoff #126: The Universe (w/ Dave Goldberg)
The best episodes of Professor Blastoff leave listeners with as many unanswered questions as they do new bits of scientific knowledge. That ratio is in rare form this week as Dave Goldberg, professor of physics at Drexel University, joins Tig Notaro, David Huntsberger, Kyle Dunnigan, and Aaron Burrell for a session of frequently asked questions about the universe. The conversation is dense but light thanks to the physicist’s easy rapport with the comedians, and for every time Goldberg explains something like how quickly Earth would perish should our sun explode, the Blastoff crew stump him with inquiries to whether or not we could evolve to face the heat. There’s no question some of these threads will be picked up in future episodes—especially Notaro and Huntsberger prodding Dunnigan for answers about why mother didn’t visit him more often while he was in New York—so be advised to get in on the ground floor. [NJ]


Sound Opinions #411: Willis Earl Beal
Not many musical acts get their start quite like Willis Earl Beal did, on self-distributed low-fi recordings around Albuquerque and posting flyers encouraging anyone to call him and ask to hear a song. Found Magazine is at least partially responsible for his rise to signing with XL Recordings and fiddling around with honest-to-goodness recording equipment for the first time. In his Sound Opinions interview, Beal discusses unusual influences—older, wiser Bob Dylan, for instance—and how his inexperience as a musician led him to questioning his legitimacy making music. It’s an eclectic introduction to someone who has been accepted into the fold but still makes music like the ultimate outsider. [KM]

Stuff You Should Know: How The Maori Work
The Maori are a fascinating indigenous culture, and hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant do an excellent job of keeping their tradition a part of the public discussion. The name “Maori” may sound familiar to Rihanna fans as the source of a chisel-based tribal tattoo, but more fascinatingly they are considered to be the first settlers of New Zealand. The name means “ordinary” or “common,” but this is in reference to themselves when compared to white settlers. Thirty years of bloody fighting with those British settlers reduced the native population to nearly 45,000, and the following attempts by British government to indoctrinate them threatened their history even more. But traditions such as Whakapapa and mana are well researched by Clark and Bryant, proving to be an unforgettable part of global culture whose oral history has permeated popular Western culture. [DT]


This American Life #507: Confessions
After a bit of a misstep last week, Ira Glass and company return in full force with this compelling examination of guilt. The episode begins with an interview with a priest who shares a story of scrupulous parishioners who compulsively confess to even the slightest perceived sin. It’s a light and intriguing start to an episode that strikes a much more somber tone as attention turns to the criminal justice system. In telling the experiences of two people suspected of murder—one who falsely confesses, and another who refuses to confess to a crime he did not commit—the program shows how the presumption of guilt can be disastrous and make victims out of innocent people who must carry the stigma of crime long after their names have been cleared. It’s a powerful and affecting episode filled with the kinds of outrageous moments that may make listeners shout at their radios in exasperation. [DF]


The Todd Glass Show #123: Jen Kirkman
If this appearance is any indication, Jen Kirkman has more fun on this episode of The Todd Glass Show than any other guest in the show’s history. She is clearly in the mood to get as silly as possible and is more than game to jump around from character to character and bit to bit. It’s especially great when she spontaneously uses Todd Glass’ “You fuck that shit?” gag on him. Although Glass’ show is usually about three hours, this particular episode flies right by thanks to Kirkman’s boundless energy, relentless enthusiasm, and willingness to riff on any and all musical cues. [MS]

Who Charted? #150: Warrior Pose: Paul Scheer
Back in the studio, Paul Scheer is particularly eager to talk about his ArScheerio Paul web series where he recreates classic Arsenio Hall interviews. While he is talking about how amazingly unrehearsed and freewheeling the old Hall interviews were, it’s hard not to pause the episode and fall down a YouTube rabbit hole. Vilaysack and Kremer are also getting really creative with the charts they assemble. The top five creepy songs culled from an NME.com list is a nice change of pace from the current pop charts the show usually uses for discussion. [MS]


WTF #432: Natasha Lyonne
In his pre-interview spiel, Marc Maron very vulnerably reveals that he has broken off his engagement with his long-time girlfriend, Jess, and emphasizes how awful and heartbreaking the whole situation is. And then his interview with Orange Is The New Black’s Natasha Lyonne begins and things get even heavier. The two dwell at some length on the Holocaust, the nature of drug addiction, the daily struggle of recovery, and having emotionally abusive parents, among other similar topics. And yet, by the end of the episode—which is funnier than it sounds—it becomes genuinely life-affirming, with Maron and Lyonne having lived to see the light on the other side of some fairly horrible shit. In some ways, it’s WTF at its very best. [CG]


WTF #433: Simon Majumdar
Marc Maron is having a banner week for the best and worst reasons. On Monday he made the frank, honest admission that his engagement is over, a crushing blow that he acknowledged while pushing through with the best week of back-to-back episodes in months. His interview with author, food critic, and The Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar is one of the best foodie-related episodes Maron has produced. Sometimes the host’s diet compulsions take over, but unlike so many of the music-history episodes where Maron simply sits in awe of a career path he fantasized about, he’s much more intellectually curious with food personalities. Majumdar’s story is intriguing, and his anecdotes about various aspects of British food—especially the Glaswegian origins of chicken tikka masala—make for a silver lining on a tough week. [KM]

You Made It Weird: Keith And The Girl
This week’s interview with podcast hosts Keith Malley and Chemda (a.k.a. “The Girl”) may be jarring at the outset for those unfamiliar with Keith And The Girl, since Pete Holmes gives little in the way of introduction. But that’s no impediment: Malley and Holmes operate on such a similar wavelength in terms of sensibility and energy level that it’s actually a relief to get away from, say, hearing about Lorne Michaels from an SNL alum. Silly voices abound, most of which are genuinely hilarious. And while it would otherwise be unfair to label Chemda as, well, “the girl,” her contributions prove to be essential to the discussion, not just when the men compare opinions about male comedians, but also when the group starts to talk about gender determinism. (Chemda is engaged to a transgender man.) Holmes’ stock questions provide some decent, if seemingly stale, answers, but that’s where the gang gets at some real insight. [AB]



The Fogelnest Files #59: What A Story, Mark!: Greg Sestero
Greg Sestero of The Room fame chats with Jake Fogelnest about his life and career through filming the infamously terrible movie, but there’s the sense throughout that he’s only acting as a proxy for the truly interesting character in the story, Tommy Wiseau. [AB]


Monday Morning Podcast
A slightly inebriated Bill Burr offers up some choice throwaway lines and brief asides, but overall the episode is non-essential. [CG]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #137: Aisha Tyler
A live episode with Aisha Tyler results in more wisecracks and advice than vulnerability, which likely made for a better in-person experience than audio download. [TC]

Nerdist #422: Daniel Radcliffe
Chris Hardwick is clearly in heaven since he’s a big Harry Potter fan, but this is yet another pleasant showbiz conversation where Daniel Radcliffe describes almost everyone he’s ever worked with or come into contact with as “amazing.” [MS]


Nerdist #425: Danny McBride and Jody Hill
This hour-long conversation about Eastbound & Down is a must-listen for fans of that show, but the focus is probably too narrow to appeal to anyone else. [CS]

Radiolab Short: Quicksaaaand!
Quicksand proves to be an interesting topic for the Radiolab team, but this “Short” edition doesn’t quite spend enough time with it. [MK]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #73: Nate DiMeo
This week’s installment feels light on truly wacky stories, and while the group’s discussion about the merits of different baseball stadiums is interesting, it’s not particularly funny. [AB]


Sklarbro Country #169: Rob Delaney, Jason Nash
Comedian Rob Delaney isn’t quite sure how much his family influences his material, and discussion about that, his new book, and plugs, takes up most of this pleasant, but light on laughs, episode. [DJ]

The Smartest Man In The WorldSpecimens
This week’s epic episode plays like an annotated rerun of recent weeks, going long on W.E.B. Dubois, short on Duran Duran and The Beatles, longer on a pre-Debt Deal summary of the Tea Party’s role in the government shutdown, and much longer still on a show-ending Q&A. [DXF]

Stuff You Missed In History Class Elsa Lanchester: Becoming The Bride Pt. 1
The first part of the life of the actress who played The Bride Of Frankenstein includes a dramatic child-labor event, but will likely only be of interest to fans of old Hollywood. [DT]


Stuff You Missed In History Class: Elsa Lanchester: Becoming The Bride Pt. 2
Though her marriage and acting career take sharp turns in this second chapter, the life of Elsa Lanchester seems as if it could have been consolidated into a single podcast episode. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: 10 Easy Ways To Save Money
There are some handy tips in this episode for financially inefficient young people, but the episode’s instructional nature would have made it better suited to be in text form. [DT]