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Maximum Fun is your home on the internet for things that are awesome. Our blog will guide you and our family of podcasts will entertain and inform you. About

Dave Chappelle on Man-on-Man Rape


So, uhm, if you don't like rape jokes, this ain't for you.

But it's nice to see Chappelle on stage being funny.

Hansen + Weird Al + Tailfeather Shaking


Thinking 'Bout Somethin'

HANSON | MySpace Music Videos

Ever since Andrew W.K. told us on Jordan Jesse Go! about hanging out at Hansen's songwriting fantasy camp, I have felt that the Hansen brothers are among The Good Ones. This exceedingly pleasant song and its accompanying video, which features both Weird Al Yankovic and an elaborate recreation of one of the best dance numbers in The Blues Brothers (the Ray Charles "Shake Your Tailfeather" scene) is further evidence.

Positive Day


Friends of MaxFun Joe Garden, Dave Holmes and John Moe are spearheading a wonderful movement today on Twitter: Positive Day.

If you're tired of negativity, griping and snark, from others or from yourself, take a second to support positive day by posting something positive on Twitter and tagging it #PositiveDay.

I just posted a link to "Everybody Loves Grampa," the blog of Grampa, Dave Shumka of Stop Podcasting Yourself's dog.

Pass it on!

A new underwriter: Humber College


I'm proud to say that for the next month, we'll have a new underwriter on The Sound of Young America: Toronto's Humber College. Humber is the only college in North America that offers a program specifically focused on comedy. It includes writing, improv, standup and acting, plus chances to perform in the vital Toronto comedy scene. They say they can't make you funny, but they do make funny people funnier. Comedy is about skill as well as talent, and I wish I'd had the chance to do intensive study like this (to say nothing of the networking opportunities).

I talked with the director of the program, who's a big Sound of Young America fan, and it sounds like they're doing wonderful work there. It's also very inexpensive, at least compared to American schools, even for foreigners.

Visit for more information on the program. I'm going to try and get up there to give a talk and check things out in person later this year.

Our thanks to Humber for supporting our work! You'll find them in the "With Support From" panel to the right for the rest of the month!

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: The Pipeline


Vital stats:
Format: one-on-one interviews with people who create and maintain internet things
Duration: 25m-47m
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

There's this particular breed of internet person. I run into them in pretty much all my usual lanes on the Information Superhighway. I've managed to hand-compile an extensive, Darwinesque catalog of their characteristics. They tend to wear glasses, though not classically dorky ones. (Usually black- and chunkily-framed.) Their interests include design, especially of the graphic variety. (They're likely to possess opinions on font kerning.) They are, through thick and thin, Apple users, though they know several orders of magnitude more about how computers actually work than most Apple users do. They have their hands in a confusing array of internet projects, and would almost certainly find the phrase "intenet projects" redundant. They seem bohemian, but they're also deeply embedded in operations that are undoubtedly businesses — often lucrative ones. They seem artistic, but they know a little too much about Python for that. They have Buddhist leanings. If they haven't attended TED, they've at least attended SxSW.

The enterprising Dan Benjamin seems to be of this breed, and his newish podcast The Pipeline [RSS] [iTunes] sounds as if it's under a mandate to interview all his brethren. Bannered as the talk show that spotlights "innovators, designers, geeks, newsmakers, and people who create things," it follows a simple but trusty format: Benjamin Skypes up to his guest of the week and asks them about what they do on the net, how they came to do it, how it's going now and where they plan to take it.

If you nodded in solemn recognition at this review's first paragraph, you're almost certainly familiar with several of The Pipeline's guests. Max Funsters will, of course, know 43Folders founder and reformed server-upper of productivity tips Merlin Mann [MP3]. Those who pay attention to Maximum Fun's sponsorship situation have surely encountered the work of Matt Haughey [MP3], the man who built MetaFilter. And if you're not already reading the "fine hypertext products" blogging pioneer Jason Kottke [MP3] has been putting up at, then jeez, I don't even know what to tell you.

Benjamin's a clear, solid, straightfoward interviewer, and the program itself shares those qualities. If he's as good at what he lists as his other lines — software development, entrepreneurship, Ruby on Rails usage, blogging about quality, efficiency, and mindfulness, and something called "screencasting" — he's set. I do find, though, that as good a production as he puts together here, it occasionally stokes an almost debilitatingly uncomfortable cognitive dissonance within me. As both an interviewer and as someone with an insatiable interest in other people who make stuff, The Pipeline spends a lot of time driving straight up my alley, but it also veers dangerously close to the abyss.

It might have something to do with the opening sponsorship plug, which promotes software meant to manage "e-mail campaigns" and do something or other with "powerful analytics," tracking "clicks to sales" and "conversions." This sort of thing gives me the sinking feeling of inner dread that, somewhere along the line, something went badly, terribly wrong with the internet. The magic of the 1990s web seems to have given way to a farrago of bewildering mini-applications, weird portmanteaus, social networking squirreliness, search engine optimization and the poisonous culture of "monetization." While Benjamin's guests are definitely engaging and possessed of a formidable creative spirit, a lot of the lingo they casually drop and the stories they tell remind me of my own saddening streak of net.disappointment. I feel like some tattered issue of Wired from 1994 promised me more — promised us all more — than so many mobile phone apps and passive income stream hacks.

[Got a podcast to suggest for Podthoughts? Got any suggestions as to how to take Podthoughts to the next level, no matter how wild? Send it all, without hesitation, to Podthinker Colin Marshall at colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Andy Richter Interview on The Sound of Young America

Andy Richter

Andy Richter is best known as sidekick to Conan O'Brien, on both Late Night and The Tonight Show. He's also a successful comic writer and actor. His acclaimed series Andy Barker, PI and Andy Richter Controls the Universe are both available on DVD. He's also headed out on tour with Conan O'Brien's "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television" tour, which begins April 12th in Eugene, Oregon.

Andy talked with us about his early days, touring with The Real Brady Bunch and eventually falling into the sidekick's chair on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He talks about why he left that show, and why he rejoined Conan for The Tonight Show, and about what it was like to man a sinking ship after the staff of Tonight found out they were being pulled from the air.

Podcast: The College Years: Mad Libs

Brandon Bird
Jimmy Pardo
Geoffrey Nunberg
Shelley Berman

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.

Today's theme: Mad Libs. Brian "Business, Never Personal" Lane and Arthur Gauss both co-host with Jesse on today's TSOYA.

Brandon Bird is an artist (and fellow UCSC grad) whose paintings reference pop culture and historical figures; he was an artist-in-residence at Risley Residential College at Cornell University and is a regular contributor to The Believer. He talks to us about creating a "Law and Order" coloring book and performs a dramatic reading of the frankly hysterical tale of "Butt Tinkie," dreamed up by his four-year-old self.

Jimmy Pardo, comedian and host of the weekly podcast Never Not Funny, talks about the gift of a Gentlemen's Chest, his mom, and his worst television performance ever.

We're joined next by Geoffrey Nunberg, Fresh Air's in-house linguist and author of Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Confrontational Times. Geoffrey shares his insights on popular language usage, from "nucular" to "like".

We close it out with the legendary comic Shelley Berman, winner of the first-ever Best Comedy Album at the Grammy Awards of 1960 and a founding member of The Second City.

TSOYA Classics: Live in New York, Part 2! (December 1st, 2006)


This week's classic is part 2 of our live show in NYC, and is just as jam-packed with guests.

Andrés du Bouchet is a comedian and comedy writer who most recently wrote for The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and was the host of the long-running "Giant Tuesday Night Of Amazing Inventions And Also There Is A Game". Andres warms us up with some riffs on vampires and Ikea.

Our old friends in the NYC-based comedy group Elephant Larry then take the stage for a sea-faring sketch replete with shanties. Elephant Larry recently released the awesome parody The Wow.

They're followed by a few songs from the singer-songwriter and geek hero Jonathan Coulton.

Finally, we're joined by Kurt Andersen, host of PRI's Studio 360 and author of books like Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America. Kurt talks about the founding and evolution of Spy Magazine and working with Graydon Carter.

Listen to This Week's Show

Download This Week's Show (mp3)
Subscribe to TSOYA Classic: iTunes / Feed

Curtis Mayfield "Get Down" on Soul Train


The Soul Train line gets down to one of my favorite Curtis tracks.

via BoingBoing (where else?)

Tracy Morgan on Tina Fey


Above is a clip of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Tracy Morgan. Morgan says something here that I found exceptionally powerful.

Oprah asks him what Tina Fey has meant to his career. She tries to lead into "she writes for my voice." Which is true - the staff of 30 Rock do write for Morgan's voice in a way that the staff of, say, The Tracy Morgan Show didn't especially well. They are, after all, the best in the business. They also write for Jack McBrayer's voice and Scott Adsit's voice and Jane Krakowski's voice. That's their job, and they're great at it.

So Oprah's headed towards some well worn territory with her question. Morgan's response, though, is so incisive. What he says is that Fey recognized he was making choices.

What he's saying is that despite his incredible success and remarkable talent, what was special about Tina Fey was that she recognized, simply, that Morgan had agency.

In a way, that's the opposite of what Oprah was driving at (and what people often seem to say about Morgan). People want to attribute Morgan's comic talent to writers. It robs Morgan of not just the credit for being as hilarious as he is (and he is hilarious), but of credit for creating at all.

Oprah's a great interviewer, and she catches herself and refocuses, recontextualizes her question. This isn't anti-Oprah.

What it's really about is something that it seems Morgan gets completely. When you suggest that a person doing creative work has no agency, that they are not making choices, you don't just hurt their reputation. It's closer in my mind to taking away their humanity. A person's actions can be judged for good or ill; a puppet is benign but it can never be human.

There are sharper race critics than I, but there's no doubt in my mind that race is part of this. My gut tells me that this kind of other-ization through a weird kind of infantilization that borders on taking someone's humanity is something that wouldn't happen to a white performer. I haven't sorted out all the implications in my mind, but I wanted to take a second to give Morgan credit for this insight. I know as an interviewer that I'm lucky if my subject thinks so sharply about themselves and their own experience.

(Video via The Vulture)

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