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Podcast: Tony Millionaire, creator of Maakies and The Drinky Crow Show

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Bullseye

Tony Millionaire is the creator of the comic strip Maakies, which runs in alternative newspapers around the country. The strip has also birthed two television adaptations: a series of shorts that ran on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, and now a new longer-form series which premiers later this year on Cartoon Network [adult swim]. The strips are known for their combination of distinctive and often complex line art and typically profane humor. The newest collection of Maakies strips is "The Maakies with the Wrinkled Knees."

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
New York Stories with Cartoonist Roz Chast
Tim & Eric
Joke Warfare with Terry Jones and Dino Stamatopolous

Errol Morris talks with Werner Herzog in The Believer

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Morris on Herzog: "...what I do understand in his films is a kind of ecstatic absurdity, things that make you question the nature of reality, of the universe in which we live. We think we understand the world around us. We look at a Herzog film, and we think twice. And I always, always have revered that element. Ecstatic absurdity: it’s the confrontation with meaninglessness."

OH SHIT, THESE DUDES ARE AWESOME DUDES.

Private to EM: Please make some more happy movies, the sad ones are freaking me the fuck out.

Previously: Believer co-editor/founder Vendela Vida on TSOYA

Bay Area Meetup is TONIGHT!

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Yay Area Representatives: MEETUP IS TONIGHT!

You'd better go to the Edinburgh Castle to check out Mary Van Note's awesome show "Comedy Darling," featuring MUSIC from TSOYA favorite Brent Weinbach, who in a previous life was a professional pianist! You can also check out the Edinburgh Castle, the only pub in San Francisco that is VERY CASTLE-LIKE.

More info HERE.

Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland this weekend...

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I've been corresponding on and off with the founder of the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland for a few months. He's a guy with a tremendous passion for comedy and a lot of resourcefulness, and he's put together a remarkable festival that's not to be missed. Many of the best alternative comics on the West Coast, both famous and not famous, will be at the festival, and it'd be tough to go to a show and not see something amazing. And hey... Patton Oswalt is headlining! Past JJGo guests like Chris Fairbanks, Jonah Ray and Bucky Sinister will be performing, alongside heavyweights like the very funny Tig Notaro, Brent Weinbach and Eddie Pepitone.

If you live in Portland, this is an event that is NOT TO BE MISSED. The tickets are on a wristband basis -- and wristbands are only twenty bucks. Be there or be square.

Pretty Women.

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Funny women weren't allowed to be pretty, huh? Someone should tell Tina Fey to find a new hero.

Alessandra Stanley, the New York Times' TV critic, has a huge piece in this month's Vanity Fair with this thesis:

"It used to be that women were not funny. Then they couldn’t be funny if they were pretty. Now a female comedian has to be pretty—even sexy—to get a laugh."

This thesis is not true.

Many of the women Stanley writes about in the piece are funny (nice to see the extremely talented Kristen Wiig getting some shine). Some are not (how is Chelsea Handler getting *more* famous?). Overall, though, the achilles heel is that thesis: it's fucking dumb.

Here's another section-leading paragraph to ponder:
"It’s hard to remember or fathom, but there was a time when Phyllis Diller had to dress in drag to attend a Friars Club roast. There has been a epochal change even from 20 years ago, when female stand-up comics mostly complained about the female condition—cellulite and cellophane—and Joan Rivers and Roseanne Barr perfectly represented the two poles of acceptable female humor: feline self-derision or macho-feminist ferocity. (The fact that both those pioneers are now almost as well known for drastic cosmetic surgery as for comedy is either a cautionary tale or a very sad punch line.)"

Huh? Twenty years ago, was Ellen Degeneres complaining about cellulite and I missed it? How about Paula Poundstone? Those are the first two female comics I thought of from the era, and they're both completely at odds with this crackpot assertion. Both pretty good looking, too, if not heterosexual. And you know what? Before she became a freak show, Joan Rivers was quite good looking as well.

Honestly, the article is such a fucking mess that I really have a hard time following it, much less criticising it. Amelie Gillette does a nice job mocking it over at the AV Club. Why not just read that? You won't have to hear about how the new breed of comediennes are "almost beautiful." (actual quote).

Anyway, none of this is an attempt to defend any of the hoary cliches about women and their alleged lack of funniness. Women most certain can be funny, and many, many women are hilariously funny. The worst part about the article is that it seems to want to make me choose between its inanity and that of Christopher Hitchens. So instead of buying into that baloney, why not check out this very old TSOYA with Dr. Joanne Gilbert talking about her book "Performing Marginality," a scholarly (and coherent) look at women in standup.

Jordan interviews Will Ferrel, Andre 3K, Will Arnett and Woody Harrelson

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I am a good interviewer. Jordan Morris "Boy Detective" is a great interviewer.

SEE ABOVE

QED

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "On the Page"

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So there I was checking out what listeners to Filmspotting and Creative Screenwriting also listen to. It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a podcast about movies. I didn’t want to do another show where two guys just go back and forth about what they've seen recently. I decide to check out On the Page (iTunes link). It’s about lessons in screenwriting. Good, something useful. I see the picture that displays Pilar Alessandra’s millionaire dollar smile. A female voice, that’s another positive sign. So I listen to an episode. Five seconds in I hear that sound. The familiar, rich tones of Matt Belknap the Producer’s voice. The man behind the greatest podcast on Earth, Never Not Funny was waiting for me as I embarked on a journey in screenwriting tips and exercises. Sometimes life just loves you.

The truth is of the all the podcasts Belknap produces On the Page is the one where he spends a lot of the time in the background. He may be silent for a lot of the show but you know he’s keeping those sound levels stable. No problem, Alessandra is a real fun host. She’s a screenwriting teacher who has taken her good advice to the world of podcasting. Each week she brings in at least one guest and together they’ll go over one aspect of the screenwriting craft and/or business. Writing competitions, writing for comedy and pitching a script (that comes up a lot) are tackled in a lively, informative manner. On the show Alessandra comes off as that one really cool teacher you had near the end of a school day whose class you really looked forward to. She sounds like she’s having a lot of fun and the feeling is damn infectious.

It’s refreshing to hear a screenwriting teacher who isn’t dogmatic in her lessons. Alessandra doesn’t spend a lot of time telling you exactly when X incident should occur on Y page. Instead we soak up the experiences of those who have gone before us, the show’s guests. For Never Not Funny fans some of the guests will be familiar. Pete Schwaba goes over what it’s like to create your own independent film. Pat Francis, Alessandra’s husband actually, tells his experience writing for reality television (oh yes, you have to listen to understand). On NNF Francis can be a little too schticky for my taste but as a guest on On the Page he’s great! Alessandra’s interview here and on other shows are knowledgeable and precise.

Alessandra and Belknap keep the shows to about thirty to forty minutes. That’s about the perfect running time for most podcasts. In that space you get a lesson, a ten minute exercises for your own screenplay and some listener mail is answered. With its fast pace On the Page is an educational podcast that’s funnier than a lot of comedy podcasts out there.

Podcast: Jordan, Jesse Go! Eps. 53 & 53A: Whipped Her False Lover

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This week on the show Jesse and Jordan are joined by comedian Jasper Redd. Much is discussed, including an article about a guy named "Jesse Thorne" in the New York Times. Be sure to download both parts of this week's episode: 53 and 53A. Only episode 53 is in the player below, and depending on your settings, iTunes may only download the most recent episode and leave 53A behind.

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Podcast: The College Years: A Family Affair

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The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program or two from our salad days.

"Hoaxpert" Alex Boese of MuseumofHoaxes.com joins Jesse and Jordan, talking mostly about PT Barnum. Jesse's brothers also call up seeking advice and telling jokes. Also, learn how to use a CB radio.

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CSUMB: Get it together.

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People are often suprised to hear from me that The Sound of Young America was on college radio just two years or so ago. The station that brought the show in from the cold was KUSP in Santa Cruz. KUSP is a vibrant local station with a commitment to the Monterey Bay Area, with great national and local programming -- and exciting new stuff like The Sound of Young America. Basically, it's the kind of station you'd love to have where you live (and maybe you do) -- high-quality, with lots of great programming that reflects both high quality standards and local tastes.

Until a few years ago, KUSP was the sole NPR news outlet in the Monterey Bay Area. Its main competition on the left hand side of the dial (besides my old college station, KZSC) was a community station called KAZU. KAZU was exactly the kind of fun, crazy community radio station you'd expect to find in Santa Cruz, but its craziness got the best of it and it ended up in a tough financial spot. In order to keep the station local, the license was sold to California State University Monterey Bay, a brand new CSU school which promised to maintain the station's commitment to localism.

They didn't. The new GM swept through the station and switched the format to what amounted to an NPR satellite repeater, broadcasting almost exclusively network content with only the barest of local staffs to keep the lights on. There was much protest in Santa Cruz, not least from KUSP, who correctly pointed out that there was no public benefit to KAZU running the same NPR news shows as KUSP had been running for 20 years, at exactly the same times. Suddenly KUSP and KAZU were splitting the NPR listeners of the Monterey Bay down the middle, which slammed revenues for both stations.

Over the past three or four years, KUSP (and increasingly station folks at KAZU) have worked tirelessly to fix the situation, with the goal of having stations that complimented each other, rather than competing. KUSP has also worked hard at improving their commitment to being distinctively Santa Cruz -- picking up The Sound of Young America from college radio a couple years ago was an example of their efforts in that regard.

Over the past year, KUSP and General Manager Terry Green put together two offers for KAZU, which has lost money consistently through the years CSUMB has owned it. KUSP offered either to buy KAZU from the university, or enter into a joint operation agreement with the school. Both of these solutions would make it possible for the stations to program cooperatively and
not competitively. For listeners, it would have meant that they would have more choices in programming, rather than the same network choices at the same time on different stations.

Yesterday, CSUMB rejected both plans. I see this as a huge setback for public radio on the Central Coast, and since that's still the spiritual home of The Sound of Young America, it feels like a kick in the gut to me.

It means increased costs for both stations, increased competition for donors and volunteers, and reduced program choice for listeners. It is a lose-lose. Public comment at the hearing was universally in favor of the merger, including supporters of both KUSP and KAZU.

This situation, not just in the Central Coast, but across the country, is completely untenable. There is no public service value in running the same program on two stations at the same time. It's long been the case in San Francisco, where I grew up, and it's often the case here in Los Angeles, where I now live.

For a public radio insider, I'm about as much of a public radio outsider as I could possibly be. I still think of myself first and foremost as a listener. And this situation, around the country, is bullshit.

Luckily, there is some hope. Both PRI and NPR have launched new morning news programs ("The Bryant Park Project" and "The Takeaway") which have bright futures. Podcasting and HD channels mean that there is new programming and talent on the way. But only if local stations are willing to accept the burden of a little bit of risk. If they follow the model they've followed for the last 20 years -- rely blindly on Morning Edition and All Things Considered -- they're not going to be long for this media landscape.

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