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David Mitchell on The Queen's English

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If only the grammar-related emails from public radio listeners were as charming as past TSOYA guest David Mitchell.

Via Hodgman

That's Gay - Video Games


A delightful explication of every gay thing in every video game ever (there aren't that many).

via Jordan's Tumblr

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Too Much Information


Vital stats:
Format: weirder, looser, more varied This American Life
Duration: ~55m
Frequency: erratic, unless I'm missing a pattern
Archive available on iTunes: last 20

This American Life, as this column's readers have surely wearied of hearing by now, has spawned a whole damn slew of imitators, in the form of "real" radio and podcasts alike. Each of these shows faces the challenge of distinguishing itself, a task second only in steepness to the same one confronting the even more teeming TTWGBAC stable. Debuting in 1995, TAL came of age before internet culture had quite formed into the shape we know and tolerate today. Too Much Information's [RSS] [iTunes] distinctions comes from its inseparability from the randomized, internetted-out world in which we find ourselves.

Need I say much more than that one episode [MP3] is a TAL-style fully soundtracked, multitude-of-voices exploration of ROFLcon, the convention dedicated solely to internet memes? The show gets the voice of the denim-shirted inventor of Rickrolling. It gets the voice of the dude who somehow monetized LOLcats. (And yes, the phrase "monetized LOLcats" alone begs me to reach for the razor.) It gets not only the voice of the snarky fellow who famously reviewed Three Wolf Moon, but the Bulgarian woman who designed it.

Sometimes Too Much Information will have a boldly defined theme like that, and sometimes it seems like a bit of a hodepodge. Either way's good, really. The latest episode [MP3] includes a bizarre Wiretap-like phone conversation about an old man's suspicions of meth-addled neighbors, a girl's monologue about looking for a boyfriend among beer pong players — including a hilarious aside about the identical behind-tooth permanent wire retainers on suburban frat boys — and a monologue about Chatroulette.

That last one comes from the program's host, Benjamen [sic] Walker, who often contributes comic, slightly obsessive solo material. It's not initially clear who or what this guy is, but the overwhelming mental image is of an alternate universe wherein Ira Glass is younger-sounding and kind of nuts. It turns out Walker's radio career reaches surprisingly far back, to the beginning of the last decade. His curious touch has caressed the signals of WNYC, KUOW, WBEZ and WZBC. He and his brainchild have now alighted at New Jersey's WFMU, the most interesting professional freeform station this country has; or, if you prefer, its most professional interesting freeform station.

Still, it's surprising how close Too Much Information actually gets to the TAL aesthetic. Not necessarily in subject matter — this show's best moments come when it's covering stuff that show wouldn't touch with a ten-foot radio pole, which is fairly often — but its style. Startlingly often, its production values are indistinguishable from its presumptive inspiration's. Given the steepish per-episode production costs (by public radio standards) I've heard about TAL racking up, it's either very impressive or a little scary that Walker and his tiny crew somehow manage to produce something just as crafted-sounding on the regular.

I am a little pained that I seem to have to describe this show almost entirely in terms of its congruities with or divergences from another, more established public radio program, but the aesthetic similarities cannot be ignored. Think of it as a push on it's predecessor's boundaries: a little more eclectic, a little looser, a little more formally varied, a little weirder. Quite frankly, I'd like to see the same outward pressure applied to the entire medium.

[Want to hire Podthinker Colin Marshall to Podthink at your staff retreat? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

W. Kamau Bell, Comedian and Social Commentator: Interview on The Sound of Young America

W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell is a San Francisco-based comedian who soaks up politics and pop culture and filters it through a racial lens, using his irreverent thoughts and critiques as fodder for his comedy.

He's released several comedy albums, including Face Full of Flour and One Night Only.
He recently ended a run of his one-man show, The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour. His television appearances include performances on Comics Unleashed and Comedy Central, and he is a co-founder of The Solo Performance Workshop.

Comedian Kyle Kinane: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Kyle Kinane

Kyle Kinane is an emerging stand up comedian who mixes a honest, self-deprecating delivery with his natural story-telling ability.

He's recently toured with Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn. Kyle has also been a guest on several comedy podcasts, including Doug Benson's Doug Loves Movies, Marc Maron's WTF, Comedy and Everything Else, and The Adam Carolla podcast.

His debut album, "Death of the Party", is out on AST Records.

You can find out about his stand up shows across the country and read his observations about day to day life at, and for more laughs, see another of one of his blogs, I'm Dead and It's All My Fault.

Stop Podcasting Yourself 117 - Erica Sigurdson

Erica Sigurdson

Comedian Erica Sigurdson returns to talk Hedonism, Dave's trip to LA, and sustainability.

Download episode 117 here. (right-click)

Brought to you by: (click through for rundown)

Nick Thune, Stand Up Comic and Actor: Interview on The Sound of Young America

Nick Thune

Nick Thune is a stand up comedian, actor, guitarist and writer. His observational humor often interlaces storytelling and music.

He's made the late night rounds doing stand up on The Tonight Show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and as a correspondent on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He's also had his own Comedy Central special and created the web series "Nick's Big Show".

He recently released his debut album, Thick Noon, on Comedy Central Records.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: The Signal

Vital stats:
Format: crafted, hosted, almost old-school hybridized electronica, freaky folk, avant-garde jazz, post-rock (and so on) music mixes
Duration: 1h
Frequency: every Thursday
Archive available on iTunes: all

Okay, full disclosure: I did once interview Laurie Brown and Andy Sheppard, host and producer, respectively, of CBC Radio 2's The Signal. But in my defense, I did it because I think the show is awesome, and thus it only stands to reason that I'd review the podcast version of the show once it inevitably emerged. Plus, as you've surely gathered from my previous reviews of Canadian podcasts, I am a stealth Canada fan — a traitor to mom and apple pie, practically.

The Signal Podcast [RSS] [MP3] is, just like the nightly "real" radio program that spawned it, a music show. But what kind of music are we talking about? Tricky question. That's actually part of the reason I invited the program's creators onto my own show; even after many hours of fandom-driven listening, I couldn't produce even a marginally descriptive answer. Here's what I got:
Laurie Brown: It's just as hard for us as it is for you. We've got lots of different names, and because we play so many genres of music, it's really easy to spout off a whole bunch of different things: "Oh, it's ambient, it's electronic, it's electronica, it's sort of freaky folk, it's avant-garde jazz, it's post-rock..." The thing that makes the most sense to me is, just think about late-night radio and think about the kind of music and the places you really want your brain to go at 10:00 through to midnight.

Andy Sheppard: We're programming a lot of music that exists at the intersection of different styles. We're not going to play straight folk music or straight singer-songwriter or neo-classical music but music where the lines cross. You'll have a classical musician paired with a DJ or a world musician and an electronic artist.
"Late-night radio" might not sound so descriptive as a musical aesthetic, but in this case it turns out to apply quite well. The Signal isn't exactly all about the music; it really is the sort of crafted, continuous-yet-discrete radio experience that's so awfully difficult to come by in this day and age. Each show begins with the most accessible edge of the particular sort of theme or subgenre or sensibility of hybridized electronica, freaky folk, avant-garde jazz, post-rock, etc. being explored, and then it gets deeper, obscurer and — natch — more interesting. In our interview, they liken it to first offering the gateway drugs, then sliding into the hard stuff.

Brown comes in between the tracks to talk a little about what's being spun, sure, but mostly to exist as the quintessential friendly, intimate, unconventionally and sometimes inexplicably cool DJ presence. Her persona is inseparable from the musical sensibility, and vice versa. Maybe I've simply been desensitized by all the — no kind way to put this — doofuses one finds announcing on mainstream music radio, but Brown just seems like this perpetual tidal wave of wit and urbanity in comparison.

Though us non-Canadians wouldn't necessarily know it, she's a veteran of the Great White North's art media business: she's hosted a bunch of shows and put in her time, I believe, as a DJ on that country's equivalent of MTV. This storied life has given her much to talk about; when she's not discussing the emotional nuances of the experimental cut just played, she's delivering one in her seemingly bottomless barrel of quirky personal anecdotes.

While I've essentially been describing The Signal in its traditional broadcast incarnation — which, as a southern California resident well out of the CBC's range, I routinely stream on Internet — the podcast is more or less exactly a shorter, "podsafer" version of it. The songs it features are of the very same barely-describable flavor, though there presumably the ones that happen to have been authorized past all that nasty copyright business. But frankly, I'm just biding my time until the creaky apparatus of intellectual property law comes crashing down, bringing us all a music podcast paradise. At least that's what I think Cory Doctorow promised me. He's Canadian, right? He knows about this stuff.

[Want to hire Podthinker Colin Marshall to Podthink at your frosh mixer? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 135: Excerpts from the MaxFunMarathon with Andy Richter, Sarah Thyre, Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer

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Andy Richter
Sarah Thyre
Rob Huebel
Paul Scheer
Dave Shumka

Two selections from the MaxFunMarathon comprise this week's Jordan Jesse Go. Jordan and Jesse are joined by Dave Shumka from Stop Podcasting Yourself, plus special guests Andy Richter, Sarah Thyre, Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer

Make Your Thing with Jesse Thorn

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07/21/2010 - 19:00 - 21:00
Venue Name: 
Cantos Music Foundation

Spend an evening with me, Jesse Thorn, at the Calgary Folk Festival. I'll be presenting a talk called "Make Your Thing," about how people I know, like and admire have used the new media landscape to become financially independent while making what they love. I'll also be taking questions about whatever once that inevitably runs out of steam.

Tickets are available here for $20.

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