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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“Two women… wrote a book about the rules on how a woman should act to bag a man, which seems to be the most fruitless book you could ever write. It’s easy to bag a man: Have a vagina and be breathing.” —Greg Proops, The Smartest Man In The World

“Who was your favorite woman that you ever dated?”
“Hmm, that’s tough. That’s like picking a favorite child that you have a sexual relationship with who is an adult and not related to you.” —Scott Aukerman and Alan Thicke (Paul F. Tompkins), Comedy Bang! Bang!

“This one is remarkable for its duration of gestation. It’s like a vastly overdue child.” —Dr. Thomas Garvey, former Food And Drug Administration official, on the ongoing 36-year process of developing guidelines for safe usage of acetaminophen, This American Life

“I think it’s fun to be an asshole whenever possible.” —Kim Fowley being himself on The Fogelnest Files

“I’m assuming that probably there’s a few of you here who have never bombed in front of the writers’ room at SNL. So, just to give a sense of what it’s like, imagine that you’re having sex with somebody that you really like, but they’re not making any noise, no matter what you do to their body with your body.” —Jessi Klein, The Moth

“[Olympus Has Fallen] is so rote, too.”
“Yeah, someone wrote it.” —Dan McCoy and Elliott Kalan, The Flop House

“It’s My Little Bubble: Physics Are Magic.” —Tracy V. Wilson comparing My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to bubble-chamber physics, Stuff You Missed In History Class

Showgirls is rated ‘cameltoe.’” —Howard Kremer, Who Charted?



The Adventures Of Danny And Mike
Although the last episode of The Adventures Of Pete And Pete aired almost 20 years ago, the show still looms large in the hearts and minds of twenty- and thirtysomethings all over the country. Recent reunions—including one sparked by The A.V. Club’s recaps of the show’s episodes—have drawn thousands of fans clad in Petunia costumes and buffalo plaid hats, all out to see their childhood heroes all grown up.

Thankfully, it seems like the cast and crew still likes one another quite a bit, and it’s even more heartwarming to see that there is a real life brother-type relationship between Big Pete Michael Maronna and the now very gravel-voiced Little Pete, Danny Tamberelli. That kind of buddy energy sparked the new monthly podcast The Adventures Of Danny And Mike, the first episode of which is out now.

The episode opens and closes with a Mark Mulcahy song and a philosophical voiceover from Maronna, which might lay the schlock on pretty thick if the whole thing weren’t so charming. Corralled by pal Jeremy Balon, Tamberelli and Maronna dish on recent joint adventures. In episode one, that’s a trip to a Pete reunion in Portland, Oregon, discussion of which devolves into Portland’s obsession with strip clubs and slamming a guy that wouldn’t leave the cast alone. The Petes and Balon are then joined by fellow redhead Kurt Braunohler, a pretty big fan of the original Nickelodeon series, who debates the death penalty and plays “fuck, marry, kill: Big Pete, Little Pete, Artie” with the panel.


The show needs a little fine-tuning, but it’s incredibly charming to hear Tamberelli and Maronna play off each other. Tamberelli remembers—or at least pretends to—a remarkable amount of information about the show, from the call letters of his fake radio station (WART Radio) to the titles of different episodes. The episode ends with Maronna’s voiceover reminding listeners that “your fake TV brothers are here for you, and will always have your backs, adventure after adventure,” a statement so earnest and sweet that it feels ripped right out of a Pete And Pete script. Fans who didn’t attend the reunions might not have hung out with Tamberelli and Maronna in a while, but will find it easy to get back in the swing with their two weird old pals. [ME]



The Audible
Alex Smith was the relatively unassuming quarterback who nearly took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl two years ago before a concussion allowed the younger and exponentially sexier Colin Kaepernick to (literally) run away with his job. Since an offseason trade to the Kansas City Chiefs, Smith doesn’t appear on the highlight shows often because, although he’s among the most consistent quarterbacks in the league, he rarely does anything that dazzles. The Audible is a lot like Alex Smith. While it’s certainly not the flashiest fantasy-football podcast out there, it is among the most functional. Hosted by some combination of Cecil Lammey and/or Sigmund Bloom of footballguys.com (a legitimate indie powerhouse in the sports industrial complex) and with guests ranging from rival experts to NFL beat writers, it’s about as stripped to the bone as any podcast can get. The sound quality is murky, and the production values far lower than that of corporate competitors from ESPN and CBS, but it’s also refreshingly devoid of a lot of iffy off-topic banter. The Audible is a no-frills fix for hardcore fantasy addicts.

The rare fantasy podcast that keeps its football focus year-round, The Audible unveils a new hour or so nearly every day—even in the offseason—with an amount of information that’s just shy of overwhelming. Since the start of this NFL season, there have already been weekly previews, recaps, and live webcasts. There’s also “On The Couch,” which looks at “fantasy football from a deeper place,” and episodes geared specifically toward the waiver wire, those insane IDP leagues, and nearly all the other minutiae that exists in the realm of fantastical football. But regardless of the focus, listeners will know they’re getting the exact same thing in each installment: straightforward sports talk from experts who know more than most. But if you don’t know about Alex Smith, you’ll struggle to stay afloat in this undulating ocean of statistics. [TK]



The Bugle #247 Mind The Gap!
After what feels like a few disjointed weeks, The Bugle is back and raring to go. More than usual, this episode looks inward and offers a healthy dose of sarcastic self-criticism in the form of Rich, a special guest who used to produce the show. As an Australian, Rick is more than happy to rip into John Oliver’s inflammatory remarks against the country from both his Daily Show special report, and the golden segments of The Bugle earlier this year detailing the country’s hilariously open racism. Rich pipes in every now and again (most notably adding a stinger to Andy Zaltzman’s Straight In The Bin section), but the hearty laughs come from John and Andy’s faux-coverage of the misguided Op-Ed wars between Vladimir Putin and John McCain, the wealth gap, and continuing reports on compulsory screenings of The Smurfs 2. [MK]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #245: Poehler Ice Caps: Amy Poehler, Paul F. Tompkins, Neil Campbell
If ever there were a sure thing in the comedy-podcasting world, an episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! with Amy Poehler and Paul F. Tompkins as Alan Thicke would be it. Episode 245 delivers, in large part due to the obvious fun everyone involved is having: Poehler’s delightful cackling is matched only by Tompkins’ off-mic guffawing (particularly when Scott Aukerman mentions Engineer Cody couldn’t come up with a one-word suggestion for their last rap battle). Poehler, as always, is game for anything, and Alan Thicke plays to Tompkins’ felicity with showbiz bluster, aided by Thicke’s reputation as a poon-hound. Although Neil Campbell is also present—he drops another strong verse in the Rap Battle—Poehler remains GOAT. Make sure to check the Earwolf website to see a real ad from Campbell’s time as a child model in Japan. [KR]


The Flop House #135: Olympus Has Fallen
Though the Flop House hosts have proven themselves more than capable of turning in a brilliantly funny dissection of any type of movie they come across, Olympus Has Fallen falls right in their wheelhouse: an overwrought, self-serious, and profoundly stupid film that’s fun to hate. As such, the dissection of the film is especially hilarious, with all three hosts on their game more than usual. Not to mention the fact that there’s a song about the Flop House House Cat tacked onto the end, which is a downright earworm. It’s The Flop House operating at an even higher level than normal—a delight from top to bottom. [CG]


The Fogelnest Files #56: SEX, DEATH & ROCK AND ROLL: Kim Fowley
Jake Fogelnest prefaces this week’s episode with a disclaimer that the show will be a little different from usual. It’s entirely warranted. Not only is his interview with Kim Fowley performed out-of-studio (Fogelnest chats with Fowley at his bedside, where the legendary producer is recovering from cancer), but it’s also conducted refreshingly out of bounds of the usual Fogelnest Files format. Fowley, who is best known for producing The Runaways but has spent the majority of his professional career on the more alternative side of Hollywood, interrupts Fogelnest constantly throughout the podcast to generate impromptu songs with his bedside companion, The Fabulous Miss Wendy. It’s unclear how much of his self-analysis is meant to be provocative and how much of it is just him being himself, probably because Fowley’s identity seems so deeply ensconced in his own showmanship. Either way, he’s a delight to listen to, both because of his lifetime’s worth of stories (it’s clear that he barely skims the surface) and because he’s 74 and still has it. [AB]

Freakonomics Would A Big Bucket Of Cash Really Change Your Life?
What would happen if you gave $50,000 each year to a different family in need? With no way to set up such an experiment, the Freakonomics team tries to get to the bottom of a huge cash dump on those less fortunate. Luckily enough, there is a real-life example in the Georgia Land Lottery. In the Antebellum period, Georgia opened its territory to white males by lottery, literally pulling names out barrel. It was an equitable (for whites) way of dispersing good fortune. For many people, winning the land meant a dramatic change in their lives, moving them into the equivalent of the middle class at that time. Although the individuals who won the land saw a huge change in their personal wealth, there were no real changes in the outcomes of their descendants. That suggests, though certainly doesn’t conclude, that boons like $50,000 aren’t enough to create sustaining wealth for a family. [NC]



Hang Up And Listen The Come Sail Away Edition
It is not uncommon for an Afterballs segment to overshadow an entire episode of HUAL. That’s exactly what happens this week when Stefan Fatsis unloads a justified diatribe against the use of the “Y-word” in anti-Semitic chants surrounding Tottenham Hotspur F.C. in the English Premier League. It’s a fascinating and venomous takedown of anyone moronic enough to defend the chants from any angle. The transcript is great, though it doesn’t convey Fatsis’ impassioned rhythm when reading out his statement—it’s the best roll he’s been on in months. Segments highlighting the end of the MLB season and more America’s Cup news can’t hold a candle to that moment. [KM]


Improv4Humans Bonus Ep: Ask The UCB #3
Matt Besser has been on one hell of a roll this last month. Each episode of Improv4Humans has managed to top the last, but this week is a little different. There’s no traditional episode, but in its place is the immensely enjoyable “Ask The UCB #3.” It’s another edition of Besser answering email questions by himself, and it’s a must-hear. Often on his show, Besser will get going on a story or rant and have to cut it early once there’s enough for a scene. Luckily, there’s no impetus to stop here, so he gets to sound off as long as he wants. Most enjoyably, he responds to an improv-class listing that mixes bragging with improv jargon: Besser takes none of its nonsense. His extended discourse is as funny as it is brutally confident, and makes for great listening. [MK]

Improv4Humans #100: Best of Improv4Humans Vol. 3
Taking the place of this week’s episode is the third roundup of Improv4Humans’ best scenes. As is the case for most best-of episodes, this is a fantastic place to get started. Episodes of Improv4Humans tend to have a few off-moments, but only the best of the best make their way into this week’s broadcast. The scenes are as funny as they were the first time, if not better with benefit of hindsight. The only things to be wary of are the callbacks that tend to come at the tail end of the skits. In the context of the original episodes, they always function as callback-cum-punchline, but here they can seem out of the blue. Pay no mind, and move on to the next knockout situation. [MK]


Judge John Hodgman Horseless Miscarriage Of Justice
Sonia needs a car. She wants an automatic transmission. Her gearhead brother Abraham thinks she should buy a vehicle with a manual transmission, and he’ll gladly teach her to drive it, since stick shifts are—he alleges—economical and generally awesome. It’s not the first time the Hon. Hodgman has addressed the issue. Hodgman cites mileage statistics and considers the parties’ “grease monkey hearsay,” practical needs, medical considerations, and expected use, including New York traffic trends and Manhattan routing best practices. Hodgman clears the docket with two brief cases: In the first, the podcast court addresses the issue of when—if ever—it’s appropriate to be nice to neighbors you hate. In the second, the judge considers whether a man should allow his common-law wife to bring a new dog into their home on a trial basis. [DXF]


The Mental Illness Happy Hour #134: Pidgeon
Paul Gilmartin begins every Mental Illness Happy Hour by reminding his listeners that he’s not an expert. It’s that kind of openness that makes Gilmartin relatable to listeners and, in episodes like this conversation with transgender listener Pidgeon, allows the host to follow his curiosity where it leads him with little self-consciousness. The approach produces an engaging discussion that begins with Gilmartin asking general questions about gender-identity terminology before getting into Pidgeon’s personal story. The two share an easy rapport and, unlike some listeners who have appeared as guests on MIHH, Pidgeon sounds at ease behind a microphone. It’s an exchange that could serve as Transgender 101 for some, while also being the kind of effectively told personal history in which the show specializes. [TC]

The Moth: Jessi Klein: Tired, From New York
By now, the mythos surrounding Lorne Michaels’ cryptic demeanor is so operatic that it’s either one of Saturday Night Live’s longest-running inside gags, or he is genuinely one of the most steely and enigmatic producers in television history. Jessi Klein’s account of her short-lived stint trying to navigate the ins and outs of the show’s writers’ room, as well as her subsequent decision to leave, supports the latter. At a performance in Central Park, Klein relays how impossibly high stakes and minimal sleep can make faux-commercials for dog jockstraps sound like a good idea, and how the weight of needing to satisfy childhood dreams can outmatch the reality of what it takes to make them come true. Comedy nerds nationwide might cringe at her willingness to give up the holy grail of sketch-comedy opportunities in favor of better hours, but her story about why is entertaining as well as humbling. [DJ]


My Brother, My Brother and Me #169: Mr. Sweats
This week’s episode is worth a listen simply for the brothers’ discussion about swords. It’s classic MBMBAM, because the topic is so egregiously geeky (jumping into an analysis of different steel types with alacrity is pretty remarkable) and because it’s clear that they’re having fun milking the premise for as many jokes as possible. While this is arguably one of the cardinal sins of podcasting—and one no doubt facilitated by the complete lack of time limits on the medium—hearing the McElroys translate a question into their own language of endearing nerdisms is a feat to behold when they’re in their element. Other highlights include the intro, wherein the hosts celebrate seasonal cereals, and a group lamentation of how it feels to suck at table sports. [AB]


Nerdist #411: Metallica
It’s pretty clear that Chris Hardwick isn’t a diehard Metallica fan, but his lack of knowledge about the band’s catalog actually works to the interviewer’s advantage. Fortunately, he has music nerd Jonah Ray on hand when he needs to put a fine point on a question about the band’s career. Guests Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield are receptive to Hardwick’s broad questions, and they seem surprisingly forthcoming, lighthearted, and giggly. (But that could just be due to the fact that Lars Ulrich isn’t with them.) Hammett and Hetfield particularly enjoy Matt Mira’s fun fact on how much money Pablo Escobar used to spend on the rubber bands used to wrap his drug earnings. [MS]

RadiolabPoop Train
Despite sporting one of Radiolab’s worst episode titles, “Poop Train” is a solid exploration of what happens after the flush. Specifically, the Radiolab crew digs into New York’s troubled history with waste disposal, which started out as, “Let’s dump it in the river!” and eventually morphed into a treatment facility in the city that resembles Willy Wonka’s factory, with flowing brown waterfalls. Robert Krulwich and producer Pat Walters take a novel approach to the story that works here, and for once their coy amusement plays as genuine, because after all, they’re talking about poop. The two manage to keep the episode from flying off into grosser waters at every turn, and keep the running time brief enough to ensure no nausea sets in. [MK]


Stuff You Missed In History Class Luis W. Alvarez Pt. 1
Scientists often take a back seat to their accomplishments, and Luis W. Alvarez lives in the shadow of so many major world events that hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey wisely split up his story over two episodes. This first installment describing Alvarez’s early academic career was particularly entertaining given his snarky, defiant personality. Despite receiving an exceptional education, Alvarez described it as “atrocious” and later claimed, “A controlled disrespect for society is essential for scientists.” The major accomplishment Frey and Wilson then dig into is Alvarez’s contribution to nuclear physics and the development of the atomic bomb. Alvarez was a rare scientist who believed the weapon was necessary, and Wilson and Frey note that this alone makes him historically unique among his more peace-oriented (and less trouble-making) colleagues. [DT]


Stuff You Missed In History Class Luis W. Alvarez Pt. 2
Luis W. Alvarez is known for scientific contributions ranging from the invention of zoom lenses to bubble- chamber physics, and in this second of two episodes about his life, hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey attempt to cover as much as possible. Starting with the nuclear accomplishments covered in the first episode, the hosts spend the most time discussing his analysis of the Kennedy assassination and the extinction of dinosaurs. Bombs, assassination, and dinosaurs are such disparate topics that the episode causes a bit of mental whiplash, but Frey and Wilson tie things together well by taking time to digest their research. As fun as it may be to hear about Alvarez collaborating with his son late in his career to research the extinction of dinosaurs, the highlight of the episode is Alvarez’s letter to his then-4-year-old son justifying the use of atomic bombs against Japan. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know How Crack Works
Perhaps what hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant do best is provide levity to heady subject matter, but at the top of this episode they dive right into the serious end of the pool and accuse Nancy Reagan of being a liar. Though humor plays an essential part of this episode, Clark and Bryant make this an especially memorable one by detailing the research of Pulitzer-winning journalist Gary Webb, who tied the United States government to the original distributors of crack cocaine in America and was then ostracized by the entire news industry. The segment about crack babies involves a healthy dose of debunking as well, and when added to the fascinating science and economic data, it’s a hard episode to turn off. [DT]


This American Life #505: Use Only As Directed
If the best episodes of This American Life succeed because they illuminate a subject in such a way that it changes the way people understand it, then this week’s incredible exposé on the dangers of acetaminophen is an absolute triumph. In a thought-provoking and meticulously reported piece, Sean Cole tells the complicated history of how acetaminophen came to be the most dangerous over-the-counter drug on the market, unraveling how failures in regulation by the Food and Drug Administration and complacency by the drug maker McNeil Consumer Healthcare have obscured Tylenol’s true dangers. This is a shocking, infuriating, and at times devastating hour of radio that is ultimately one of the most important produced by This American Life so far this year. [DF]


Who Charted? #147: Zouks, There It Is!
The League’s Jason Mantzoukas is easily the most reliable return guest to Who Charted? This time around, Mantzoukas joins Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack as they count down the top five dance songs and dance-themed movies. As always, Mantzoukas can always be counted on for a few brilliant bits of improv, especially when he counts down his top five ex-girlfriends. He really comes alive during the movies discussion, which includes talk of Saturday Night Fever’s inherent darkness and Showgirls’ harrowing third act. This episode also includes Kremer performing the introductory raps to each segment live, which results in some delightful train wrecks. [MS]

You Made It WeirdTig Notaro
As Pete Holmes mentions in the course of his interview with Tig Notaro this week, she just has a baseline level of natural funny, even (or maybe especially?) when she is going through the worst times of her life. (Her fantastic Largo set from last year, Live, is required listening not just as a companion piece to this episode but also for everyday life.) So, yes, she probably would have been a pleasure no matter what, but hearing an extended Holmesian update on her life will no doubt excite fans to new heights because things couldn’t be going better for her. In addition to the well-earned publicity spike from Live, Notaro has also found love—a topic that dominates the entire front half of the episode. Her articulation of the “good enough” relationship is particularly resonant, as is the general positivity that suffuses the entire conversation (even if the discussion of raw food toward the end will probably elicit some groans from the skeptics in the audience). Hearing about how great someone’s life is would be intolerable in pretty much any other situation, but nobody deserves it more than Notaro. [AB]



The Bugle A Satirist For Hire
With John Oliver unavailable for Bugling this week, Andy Zaltzman dips into his hilarious and satirical one-man show for an enjoyably brief bonus cut. Don’t miss Zaltzman’s “punnihilation” of various Texas cities. [MK]


Doug Loves Movies Jeff Dye, Chris Cubas and Ti West guest
Unfortunately, Doug Benson lets the sparse turnout at Austin’s Fantastic Fest sap his enthusiasm as his panel struggles to find some semblance of chemistry or conversational rhythm. [MS]

Harmontown #73: From Kennedy’s Assassination, To The Beatles
Channel 101 co-founder Rob Schrab joins Dan Harmon and guest comptroller Erin McGathy for some audience-based games and interviews that will only appeal to the most devoted Harmon acolytes. [KM]

How Was Your Week #134: Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Emily Wick: “Eat A Carb!”
The interview with animal-cognition expert Irene Pepperberg about her work with African Grey Parrots is a bit dry and, consequently, less engaging than it could be. [DF]


Monday Morning Podcast
There are a few solid laughs throughout this week’s episode, but overall it is too inconsistent to fully recommend. [CG]

Nerdist #412 Ken Marino
Although Chris Hardwick and Ken Marino are apparently old friends from their days at MTV, this episode never finds a groove as either a funny reminiscence or a particularly insightful look into Marino’s career. Instead it’s a largely unmoored 80 minutes, with Marino eventually awkwardly spinning the conversation back to Bad Milo!, the project he’s there to promote. [CS]

Nerdist #413 Stan Lee Returns
Despite Stan Lee’s ingratiating personality and his obvious comfort with solo-host Chris Hardwick, this episode fails to offer many insights into the comic-book creator responsible for Spider-Man, X-Men, and much of modern-day nerd culture. Fans looking to learn more about Lee’s life and career should check out his original appearance on the Nerdist podcast in episode 14. [CS]


Never Not Funny #1311: Giving You The Business With Graham Elwood
Comedian Graham Elwood is a fun guest, especially when he and Jimmy Pardo get going about patriotism, but it’s not essential listening this week. [KR]

Professor Blastoff #123: Dreams
Listener questions and some charming conversation with a Professor Blastoff fan, a neuroscientist, and his mother keep David Huntsberger busy as he comes out swinging in another solo episode, but it’s easy to share his sentiment as he repeatedly pines for the return of his co-hosts. [NJ]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #70: Matt Goldich
Dan Van Kirk’s selection of stories this time around is about average. The second story (about roommates fighting about the Eagles) is worth a listen, but the rest is pretty skippable. [AB]


Sklarbro Country #166: Peter Mehlman, Jesse Thorn
Former Washington Post sports journalist and Seinfeld producer Peter Mehlman seems like he’d make for a perfect pairing with Randy and Jason, with their similar sports-and-comedy hybrid careers. He’s game throughout the quip-heavy episode, but there are few revelations that don’t sound like they’re better covered in Mandela Was Late, the book Mehlman drops by to plug. [DJ]

The Smartest Man In The WorldTemples
Proops goes long in Denver, annotating his references to Arthur Treacher, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Merv Griffin, and the guy who sang “Conjunction Junction.” Local hot topics like air quality and John Elway have the room laughing steadily, but it’s not contagious in the audio-only experience. [DXF]

Sound Opinions #408: Classic Album Dissection: The Replacements’ Let It Be
There is no disputing the mastery of the ’Mats’ Let It Be, but this episode, featuring a rebroadcast of an old interview with Minneapolis music journalist Jim Walsh, doesn’t provide enough new material to celebrate. [KM]


Stuff You Should Know Does Owning A Gun Change Your Behavior?
The influence of guns on human behavior is a timely and clever topic, but the discussion meanders too much for a true perspective to take shape. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #120: Daniel Kinno
Daniel Kinno returns after an extended absence for a welcome reunion, but he isn’t quite able to carry a three-hour episode. [MS]

WTF #426: Robert Wuhl
Robert Wuhl is a gregarious-enough guest, and his Dangerfield stories are a treat, but as a whole his interview feels insubstantial. [CG]


WTF #427: Monty Hall
Following comedy-history episodes with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Dick Van Dyke, Marc Maron’s conversation with Let’s Make A Deal co-creator and host Monty Hall feels perfunctory, and doesn’t contain enough insight to make it required listening. [KM]