The Blog of Young America

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Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Belushi!

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We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

Jesse speaks to Judith Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby editors of Belushi, a book about the life and times of comedian John Belushi. Also, clips from The National Lampoon Radio Hour featuring the man himself.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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Chris Hardwick is The Nerdist

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Our friend comedian/writer/TV host Chris Hardwick, who is both one of the funniest and one of the nicest fellas around, has started a NEW ENTERPRISE. It's a blog called The Nerdist. He seems to be trying to convince us to watch something called Odyssey 5, which I'm not ready to get involved in, but I have subscribed to the blog.

Bryson, Fields & Anderson from The Elders of the Dark Tower (of Xxoron)

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I didn't see The Elders of the Dark Tower (of Xxoron) at Sketchfest NYC, but they saw me, liked my suit, and sent me this fucking hilarious video.

I LOVE IT!

FRISCO ANTHEM

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All those who know me know I rep the Sco to the fullest.

So, it would appear, do Traxamillion, Big Rich, San Quinn and Boo Banga. FOR THIS I SALUTE THEM!

UK's Word Magazine writes up TSOYA

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The UK music magazine The Word has a kind blurb about The Sound of Young America in a larger piece about what to listen to instead of radio.

The Sound Of Young America
From Japanese toy experts to Miles Davis's missus, it's like Start The Week with cool people

Let's face it, UK radio doesn't talk well about fun stuff - the glowering spirit of Lord Reith tends to make Radio 4 err on the side of worthiness. When pop culture does get a look in, it constantly has to justify its presence while someone like John Humphrys or James Naughtie sniffs disparagingly in the background.

Jesse Thorn's The Sound Of Young America is the complete antithesis of this. Billed as "a public radio show about things that are awesome", it features the San Franciscan comedian-presenter simply talking to people who make or do cool stuff. Whether it's crime novel king Elmore Leonard, porno-soul legend Swamp Dogg or Tank Girl/Gorillaz creator Jamie Hewlett, Thorn talks to them all in an easy, informed style that assumes the listener is hip to their output or at least the field in which they work. While that can make conversations with some of the more obscure stand-up comics a little excluding, most of the time it means there's a connection and a conversation worth listening in to. MATT HALL
http://www.maximumfun.org, podcasts via iTunes

Thanks Matt! (By the way: Blowfly is porno soul, Swamp Dogg is... Swamp Dogg).

Rock & ROFL tommorow: Futureheads, Birbiglia, etc

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I try to push Rock & ROFL, the show we sponsor, which is presented by Brooklyn Vegan and Klaus Kinski, but I don't know if you're paying attention.

Let me say it: this is an awesome show, every month.

This month, they've got a super-secret show from The Futureheads, plus comedy from Mike Birbiglia, Dave Hill and others. The show's tommorow night at 8 at Piano's in New York. You can always find the latest Rock & ROFL info here, and there may still be some tickets for tommorow night here.

Kent Haines' "That Guy"

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MaxFunPal Kent Haines, who we first met at Project Breakout's comedy contest, has just started a new series for something called CSpot. I dunno what that is, but the series is funny, and Kent's a funny guy with a lot of drive and talent. Here's to young people working hard on making good things.

The Best and Worst Thing of All Time

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Regular readers of this blog may remember that Fremantle Media is planning an updated TV version of the Match Game, the minor-celebrity-driven 1970s game show. Friend of MaxFun Mr. Jimmy Pardo has been hosting an amazing live version of the program at the UCB Theater here in Los Angeles, and fans of that show signed a petition en masse to have Jimmy considered to be host of the new TV show.

Well, there's good news and there's bad news.

The bad news is: Jimmy didn't get the job.

Normally, I'd say this is because all television people are idiots. Jimmy is second only to David Letterman as a host in my book. He's fantastically funny, quick, gracious and generous to his guests. Watching him perform is the most fun I've ever had. It's a travesty that he's not on TV these days, and the Match Game is the perfect venue for his talent.

That said, there is good news.

Andy Daly got the job.

Andy Daly is a past TSOYA guest, not to mention star of our version of George Saunders' "Ask the Optimist," and might be my pick for funniest person in the world. I mean that entirely sincerely. He's so funny it hurts my toes. I've never seen him host anything, but I bet he's amazing at it.

Both Jimmy and Andy had classy things to say about it over on AST:

Hey everyone,
Since the petition was started here on AST, I feel I should let you guys know what has happened. I am sad to report that I did not get the job.
Obviously, I am very disappointed but ASTers can rejoice in knowing that the producers picked a great talent in one Mr. Andy Daly.
Andy is a great friend and will do a super job.
I don't have to tell anyone on this board how funny Andy is and I'm sure the show is going to be a great success.
JIMMY

Thanks for the kind words you guys, and especially Jimmy.

As a friend of Jimmy's and a HUGE fan of his and an eager signer of the petition, this is a weird moment.

Like anyone who's seen Match Game Live, I always alternate between cackling at Jimmy's jokes and staring slack-jawed and dumbfouded by the supernatural quickness of his mind. I don't expect to do this as well as he does. I just hope to do the show justice in my own way.

That's all I'll say for now, except that JP is four and half feet of pure class!

I'm still processing this, but here's the part of the take-home I've figured out so far:

* America deserves Andy Daly.

* America also deserves Jimmy Pardo.

We're 50% there, television industry. Let's make this happen.

Do you work at a public radio station?

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I often hear from public radio folks who love The Sound of Young America. Rarely, though, are they the ones who make the programming decisions. Those people have usually never heard of The Sound of Young America. More typically the people who who contact me are cub reporters, associate producers and other strivers.

A couple weeks ago, I met a guy who works at a major public radio station (that does not carry TSOYA). He told me all about how at this station, there are lots of TSOYA fans, and they all wish the station carried the show. So I made him an offer: go back to your station, and find out who's a fan of the show. I would give each of these people a free TSOYA t-shirt, as long as they would wear it to work and talk about the show when people looked at them funny.

This was a great success. Right now, there are eight or ten people walking around this major station in TSOYA shirts. Hopefully the program director is noticing.

So: do you work at a public radio station? If you do, I will give you a free t-shirt. All you have to do is send Chris the intern an email with your mailing address (at the station), shirt size and a promise to wear the shirt to work. His email is chris at maximumfun.org.

It's that easy.

Ready, steady... GO!

Sketchfest NYC: The Full Report

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I got back last night from a great weekend at Sketchfest NYC. Some highlights and lowlights:

I was dead tired the entire weekend. It turns out that Sketchfest NYC runs till like 3AM every night. I usually go to bed at around 10:30. So, even with the time difference, you can see how that'd work out.

I saw a pile of shows over the two nights I was there, and missed a pile more. Los Angeles' Birthday Boys took the "we're goofing around, being silly, don't you love us" model of much LA sketch these days and really knocked it out of the park. Their show, which originated at the UCB, had consistently strong sketches and execution. There weren't any standout performances, but with only a year in existance, they're poised for growth.

Portland's Third Floor put on a really remarkable show full of bizarre twists and turns. They opened with one of the strangest (and best) high school reunion sketches I've ever seen, and closed with one of the best dance numbers I've ever seen in a comedy context.

Troop!, from Los Angeles, performed what amounted to a play in sketches, about a post-apocalyptic world where condiment packets are money and the most valuable commodity of all is toilet paper. I was impressed at how well the show held up over a full 45-minute-or-so runtime, with full characterizations and high production values.

The highlight for me was a consistently hilarious new show from New York's Elephant Larry (above). Every sketch was inventive, hilarious and more than ably played. Geoff Haggerty stood out with compelling performances as a self-conscious, bumbling drill sergeant and a suburban vampire, getting huge laughs while uttering nothing more than what you might call a "vampire noise." (Blurgh? Bloor?) I honestly couldn't tell you why these guys aren't on television.

A bizarre moment: a "sketch" during the closing night "Sketchfest Craptacular" (a collection of the performing groups strangest material) from Kurt Braunolher of Kurt & Kristen. Kurt ran on stage and started to pump the audience up for the greatest experience of his life. He had decided that a great sketch would be a "doing whippets fight," for which he'd purchased $75 worth of whipped cream cannisters. Then he'd decided that that wouldn't be too exciting to watch on stage, so he added a "fighting fight." He cued Andrew W.K. at full volume on the sound system, and several muscled sketch players ran on stage, topless, and started to wrestle (pretty sincerely). He and the lovely New York comic/writer Jane Borden then commenced whippetting at a disturbing rate. Is it possible for pandemonium to be infectious?

All in all, a great weekend. It'll be a couple weeks before the show goes up, but if all goes according to Hoyle, we'll be able to offer some video in addition to the audio on the podcast.

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