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MaxFunCon Podcast Ep. 9: Andrew WK at WNYC

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We guarantee the always epic Andrew WK will be ready to motivate and inspire you at this year's MaxFunCon. Need to get pumped up now? Head over to the MaxFunCon site to hear his live interview and performance on an episode of The Sound of Young America in NYC.

TSOYA Classics: Zines! (November 17, 2006)

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This week's guests are two writers. First, we welcome V. Vale, legendary underground publisher behind Re/Search Publications, a series of zine-like books on the counter-culture, including ZINES! Volume One: Incendiary Interviews with Independent Publishers.

We also talk to acclaimed author Josh Karp, who wrote A Futile and Stupid Gesture, an exploration of the history of National Lampoon and how it changed America's comedy scene.




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Me & KCPW

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Jeff Robinson from our Salt Lake City affiliate KCPW was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk to me while we were out there for Sundance. Sadly, the David Hyde Pierce interview I allude to was canceled at the last minute, but it may be rescheduled.

Sundance shows start February 9th!

MaxFunCon Podcast Ep. 8: Al Madrigal

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Al Madrigal is a super guy. He's hilarious, for one: You've probably seen him on Conan or on Craig Ferguson, and he was the Jury Award winner for Best Stand-Up Comedian at the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival.

We've actually known Al since our college radio show days... and even then he was always helpful, friendly and all-around awesome. And that is the kind of folks we want to surround ourselves with at MaxFunCon. He was recently a guest on Jordan, Jesse Go! - head over to the MaxFunCon site for a sneak of his standup as "Smiling Al Madrigal" at MaxfunCon. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

TSOYA: The AV Club 2010 DVD Recommendations

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tasha Robinson
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

Our pals from the AV Club: Nathan Rabin & Tasha Robinson join Jesse to recommend a few great films which are new to DVD.
Tasha's picks were the scifi tale Moon starring Sam Rockwell, and the drama/thriller Julia starring Tilda Swinton. Nathan's picks were the dark comedies: World's Greatest Dad Bobcat Goldthwait's newest film, and Extract which is Mike judge's newest film.

Sundance!

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This is my first day back from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It was our first time out - we set up camp a few miles east of town (thanks to a couple serious snowstorms, it was a nightmarish few miles), and put up a studio in a bedroom generously donated by Insignia Inc.. Nick White, our editor, flew in from Chicago, and Benjamin Harrison was kind enough to volunteer his time to shoot video. My wife came a long for the better part of the weekend as well, helping with setups, takedowns and logistics.

Scheduling was incredibly complicated. Publicists were often surprised that I wanted to see the films before we talked to the artists involved, and many films didn't open until several days into the festival. We did talk to some amazing people, though - Kevin Kline, Jeffrey Blitz, Taika Waititi and others.

Of course, it wouldn't be a roadtrip unless I got a million migraines - I ended up having three in five days. That's life, I guess.

Ben and Nick did amazing work, and we'll have all kinds of great stuff for you in the coming weeks. Our shows from Sundance start February 9th with our interview with Kevin Kline.

Salmon Grab

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Our pal the great Andy Daly hams it up on Late Night.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: The Mustache Rangers

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Since the medium of podcasting has opened up wide new channels for both improvisational comedy and old time serial radio drama, it's only natural that the two would cross. While some old time radio podcasts make attempts to be funny — typically landing square in the realm of what, around here, we call "dad humor" — and some comedy podcasts bust out the occasional adventure serial parody, The Mustache Rangers [iTunes] [RSS] combines full-time improv comedy with full-time rough-and-tumble OTR pastiche.

This is a rich vein indeed for twentysomethings equipped with microphones and audio filters, the perfect setup in which to lampoon such barbarically outmoded concepts as "truth," "America" and "unironic advertising." The show follows the exploits of the titular Rangers, a pair of facially-follicled space explorers who drift to and fro, stumbling their way into adventures. Actually, more often, they stumble their way into discussions about adventures, discussions about discussions of adventures, psychotherapy sessions about discussions about discussions of adventures and other vortices of unproductive chatter. Sometimes the onboard computer gets involved. Sometimes a communiqué drifts in from the far reaches of known space (or cellphone here on 21st-century Earth), which renders our protagonists, Commander Major Alastair Q. Bastidious and First Lieutenant Rutuger G. Phooneybaum, even more confused and ineffectual.

Not that they don't produce a lot of the bluster needed to compensate. Bravado, of course, is what sustained the well-groomed, red-white-and-blue intergalactic radio heroes of old — bravado and little else. While the Rangers' creators understand this — a reasonably decent grounding in OTR comes across — something abstract but important would seem to be missing. There's a hesitancy, an unsureness of verbal footing, to Bastidious and Phooneybaum's lines; it's as if they're only ever 75% sure what to say or do next, and brother, that was never a problem for Captain Midnight. But of course, these two aren't really space heroes from 1950 — they're deadpan podcasters.

This reveals a yawning but hopefully not unbridgeable gulf between the form The Mustache Rangers satirizes and the form it actually takes. What makes those old adventure serials so distinctive — and, to modern ears, so amusing — is their iron confidence, their driving, unstoppable sense of purpose. By its very nature, this sensibility is difficult to transpose into, if not absolutely unsuited to, the unscripted, unpredictable world of improv. Some liken the art of making up comedy as one goes to a dance: you've got to decisively give, decisively take and say out of your partners' way. The worst improv feels like heinously uncoordinated dancers violently writhing in a ball of tangled limbs. This show is not like that, but a lot of toes do get scuffed.

Make no mistake, the sheer mismatch between no-nonsense midcentury American broadcasting and the "uhh"-riddled, bloopers-at-the-end podcasting of 2010 can be funny in itself, though maybe not for 139 episodes and counting. But hey, read that last sentence again — 139 episodes. They've been at it since the dawn of '07. Whatever quibbles your Podthinker might make with their not quite having their rhythms worked out, these guys are definitely in for the long haul. Whatever isn't polished now will get polished in time, and certain shining moments — one thinks specifically of the speech-impeded ship computer's performance, especially when demanding of the Rangers, "Keep saying things that I am!" — indicate real laugh potential. And Captain Midnight's show ran for eleven years, so hey.

Vital stats:
Format: improv OTR pastiche
Duration: 9m-15m
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Got a podcast to suggest for Podthoughts coverage or any other sort of question and/or comment for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

I'm on team Dave.

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TSOYA Classics: Entertaining with Amy Sedaris and Jimmy Carr (November 11th, 2006)

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On this week's show, we entertain two wonderful (and entertaining) guests.
Jimmy Carr is one of the UK's most popular standup comics. Here in the US, he's hosted the game show Distraction on Comedy Central and appeared on Late Night and The Tonight Show. His new book, written with his long-time friend Lucy Greeves, is "Only Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh?

Then we talk with Amy Sedaris.
She's a rabbit lover and taxidermied squirrel owner, as well as the author of "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence." The book provides domestic advice of many types, ranging from recipes to costumes to how to make fake food out of felt.

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