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Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "KCRW's The Business"

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Who is Claude Brodesser-Akner?

The man is the center of discussion on many episodes of Jordan Jesse Go! for his corny humor and stringent Media Bistro guest lists. He is the host of KCRW’s The Business (iTunes link), the Santa Monica public radio station’s show that takes a distinct look at the entertainment biz. So does the notorious Mr. Brodesser-Akner live up to his reputation?

Most of what passes for entertainment journalism seems to be Hollywood gossip, Hollywood gossip given fancy dress and number crunching the weekend’s box office gross. It takes hundreds of people to create a film but glossy magazines and tabloid talk shows only seem to care about pretty movie stars and how glamorous they are (or if they’re “just like us”). The fact that the latest vehicle for Jessica Alba had an army of writers, producers, editors, sound people and people manning the craft services tables goes forgotten. The Business concentrates on that side of show business and seems to have a lock on finding real interesting stories about that other side of Hollywood.

The October 1st episode of The Business spent most of its half-hour talking to Mad Men executive producer and creator Matthew Weiner about product placement in television shows. Mad Men concerns the drama happening in an ad agency circa 1960. Weiner discussed how he had to strike the right balance to make his characters and their world realistic. He couldn’t have his characters eating from generic boxes marked “Cereal” but he didn’t want the mentions of brand names to seem like they were put there for pay. It’s an interesting topic and this was the most I have heard of it in the media. It’s an example of the intelligent programming on The Business.

Brodesser-Akner is unmistakable as a host (a fact made clear with his absence for the past two shows, although producer Matt Holzman does a good job filling in). He starts shows by covering the industry headlines, tagging each story with a piece of what Jordan Morris accurately described as “dad humor.” If you’re a fan of groan inducing puns then pay attention to the first five minutes of each edition of the show. When I first started listening to The Business I worried that this would be a show filled with the mild humor you hear on a lot of public radio shows. I was glad to find out that when it comes time for an interview Brodesser-Akner is all, well, business. He’s a great interviewer, able to get right to the most interesting thing about a subject and allow the both host and guest to examine it from all angles. It was nice to hear Bruce Dern tell Brodesser-Akner what a good interviewer he is when his segment ended, telling the host how well prepared he was.

Don’t wait for Brodesser-Akner to co-host JJG, although that will be awesome when it inevitably happens, and search through the archives of The Business and enjoy a take on Tinsel Town that’s far from what you see on Entourage.

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Ep. 25: Dringititis

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In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. Today, their humor is a cultural touchstone for artists as varied as Henry Rollins and The Upright Citizens Brigade.

These recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

This week, Coyle and Sharpe diagnose the rare ailment dringititis

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The Sound of Young America Holiday Extravaganza

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Gather round the yule log, for it is time for The Sound of Young America Holiday Extravaganza.

Amazing Prizes

Two complete series sets of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.

Two complete series sets of Chappelle's Show.

Two copies of The Onion's all-new, all-original atlas, Our Dumb World.

Two copies of The Dangerous Book for Dogs, a parody of the Dangerous Book for Boys by more Onion folks.

And two of our new Sound of Young America posters.

Eligibility

In order to enter this contest, you have to be a Sound of Young America monthly donor. If you're not one already -- don't worry! You can become one easily. Just visit our donation page, and start giving. You can give as little as a few dollars a month, and the impact of your donation will be huge. It's the holiday season, why not support something you love?

The Contest

Here's what you have to do: create an expression of the spirit of awesome in the holidays. It can take (almost) any form. Here are some suggestions:

* Haiku
* Visual art or photoshopping
* Short video
* 50-word essay
* Lanyard
* Rube Goldberg contraption
* New animal (invent your own!)
* Discover new country, name it Maximum Funistan

When you make your piece, send it (in some internettable form) to our intern Emma with the subject Holiday Extravaganza. Her email is her name @maximumfun.org. Please also include your prize preferences in order and your mailing address.

You can make up to three entries, but the contest will be judged on merit, not by random drawing. Of course, there's a lot of merit in anyone who donates to The Sound, so we'll send a small prize to any TSOYA donor who enters the contest.

Deadline

All entries must be received by the end of the day on Thursday, December 20th. We'll pick winners on Friday!

Space Bed!

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Snoop Dogg + Vocoder Tube in Mouth + Little Dance + Space Bed = Video of the Year

This would be a contender for Video of Ever if it weren't for The Jacksons' "Can You Feel It" clip.

RIP Mel Tolkin

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Legendary writer for Sid Caesar's various television enterprises.

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Ep. 24: Werewolf

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In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. Today, their humor is a cultural touchstone for artists as varied as Henry Rollins and The Upright Citizens Brigade.

These recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

This week, Coyle and Sharpe do another 'Meet the Celebrity' and bring the Werewolf to the streets of San Francisco.

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YouTube Comments on Ask the Optimist

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The two parts of "Ask the Optimist" on Youtube have over 300,000 combined views. I estimate that of those 300,000, about 3 got the joke.

Here are a few prime comments:
"I hate to be an ass, but that was not good dude.I'm not saying you should give up, but go back to the drawing board pls." - ShaneYnclan
"Boo!" - WaveRunner2008
"okokok reeeaaaaallllly not funny." - tmg36
"SHOW OFF. I MAKE MONEY SELLING GUM" - lynden95
"this is very strange . dont really like it" joeyisme36
"Dear optimist,
Your videos are boring and provide no useful advice never once did you do a segment on what you should do if your best friend is a nickel named Phillip and you don't know what you should get him for his bar mitzvah. Bored and Confuzzled" - Hockeyprincess87
"boring peice of cunt" - Smithy3713
"one thing this is the freakest shit ive ever seen dont make any more videos u fucken freak" - cool247

and perhaps most trenchant of all:
"PANTERA RULES!" - lolshax

See the video that everyone's been buzzing about above! Part one is embedded, you should be able to click through to part two.

TSOYA Presents: Brent Weinbach and Jen Kirkman in Chicago Saturday Night

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I don't go around attaching The Sound of Young America name to any comedy show, just the good 'uns.

If you're in Chicago, don't miss Brent Weinbach and Jen Kirkman at the Lakeshore Theater Saturday night. Two MaxFun veterans and two HILARIOUS comics. Brent will blow your mind and Jen will win your heart.

Tickets and more information right here. Below, some older Brent video:

Stand Up or Sit Down Video Submissions

Podcast: Simon Rich, author of "Ant Farm & Other Desperate Situations"

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Show: 
Bullseye


At the age of 22, Simon Rich published his first compilation of humor writing, the hilarious "Ant Farm & Other Desperate Situations." He's a former editor of the Harvard Lampoon and a current writer for Saturday Night Live. We interview Simon and hear him read several pieces from his book.

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You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Satirist George Saunders
Artist/Writer/Filmmaker Miranda July
Comedian Dave Hill

Podcast: Sarah Lamm, director of "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox"

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Show: 
Bullseye


Sarah Lamm is the director of the documentary "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox," which examines the Bronner family and their counter-culturally iconic soap. She talks about the original Dr. Bronner, who created his famous soap in a tenement apartment after being briefly committed to a mental institution. The soap's text-dense label includes wisdom from Ghandi, Jesus and Olympic champion Mark Spitz. Sarah also discusses the second and third generations of the family, who've built the soap into an international force and more recently into a leader in the field of sustainable business practices.

Discuss this episode on the forum!

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You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Goofaround Gang with Tim & Eric, Paul F. Tompkins and Will Franken
Baseball with Bill Lee and Tim & Eric
Joke Warfare with Terry Jones and Dino Stamatopoulos

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