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Judge John Hodgman Episode 54: Die Flederhaus


Hodgmaniacs, we're into the final week of the annual MAX FUN DRIVE, and the time to donate is now. It's your donations that make the show possible, so if you love this show, please take a moment to support it. We can't make the magic happen without your help, and there's a level of support to fit any budget. Thank you.

Brothers Adam and Noah share a home bought out of foreclosure. They are slowly fixing up the house together and the rent is cheap, but it comes at a cost: bats! The webbed-winged creatures seem to be entering the house through the cracks in the unfinished roof of the bathroom. Animal-lover Noah is spooked by their presence, but would rather keep the bats confined to the bathroom than see them come to harm. His brother Adam meanwhile has a lust for blood matched only by vampire bats, and would like his brother to join him in beating them to death.

Should the brothers run in fear, or face their phobias head-on? And just what is the solution to this flying mammal mess? In this battle of the bats, only one man has the answers: Judge John Hodgman!

Aching for an update on the Bat Brothers? Listen to our follow-up interview, conducted in December 2013.


Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bob Newhart, Mister Rogers and Me, Video Game Picks and God On Sports

Bob Newhart
Benjamin Wagner
Christofer Wagner
Kumail Nanjiani
Heather Anne Campbell

A friendly remind that our annual MAX FUN DRIVE is happening right now. If you love this show, please take a moment to support it. Your donations make this show possible, and there’s a level of support to suit any budget. Thank you.

Video Game Picks with Kumail Nanjiani & Heather Anne Campbell

This week's pop culture recommendations come from the realm of video games, and sharing their expert opinions are comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell, as well as comedian and host of gaming podcast The Indoor Kids Kumail Nanjiani. Heather urges you to check out the inconceivably gorgeous hand-held adventure Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PlayStation Vita, while Kumail endorses the side-scrolling platform throwback Rayman Origins.
(Embed or share Kumail & Heather’s video game recommendations this week!)

Comedian and Actor Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart is an actor, stand-up and legend of American comedy. A pioneer comedian in every sense, Bob began his comedy career when he and a friend improvised over-the-phone comedy routines to kill boredom at work, and subsequently sold the bits to radio stations. The "phone sketch" would be a schtick that would last throughout Newhart's career, and featured quite prominently in the release of his 1960 comedy album debut Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart. The album was an unprecedented hit as a comedy recording, outselling Elvis Presley and winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. Its success eventually led Newhart to television, first with a variety sketch show in the early '60s, and then a pair of sitcoms: The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s, and Newhart in the early '80s.

Bob joins us to reflect on his comedy career, from how he honed his craft as a solo straightman -- leaving the wild responses on the other end of his phone conversations entirely in the minds of the audience -- to what keeps him going today when he's accomplished so much as a performer. Newhart still performs dozens of nights a year as a stand-up, while acting in both film and television. You can find him at
(Embed or share this interview with Bob Newhart)

God on Sports

A January poll found that 43% of people believe God was willing Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos to improbable victories, while many more were flabbergasted by the implication that God might be deciding sports games. Has the Almighty ever swayed athletic outcomes? Does He even care for sports at all? Get the straight truth from The Man Himself. The answer may surprise you.

This excerpt is from The Last Testament: A Memoir By God, with David Javerbaum.

David Javerbaum is an Emmy-winning comedy writer and former executive producer of The Daily Show. You can see more of his work with God on Twitter @TheTweetofGod.

Our voice of God is provided by comedian and Funny or Die writer Seth Morris, who is also on Twitter @SethISMorris.
(Embed or share God on Sports)

Directors of the documentary Mister Rogers & Me

Christofer and Benjamin Wagner are brothers and the co-directors of the documentary Mister Rogers & Me, about children's television personality Fred Rogers, and the effect he had on the lives of generations of kids. For Ben -- who moonlights as a documentarian between his day-job as an executive with MTV News -- it was a project that began more than ten years ago, when he discovered Mister Rogers really was his neighbor, living next door to him at a vacation home in Nantucket, MA. Rogers' heartfelt sincerity, and his ability to truly live in the moment, compelled Ben to learn more about the man and about the countless lives he'd forever changed.

The Wagner Brothers sit down with Jesse to discuss the film, the overwhelming experience of meeting Mr. Rogers in person, and the way he helped so many grow up in ways they might not even have noticed. Mister Rogers & Me is currently available on DVD, and is airing on PBS stations across the country.
(For an EXTENDED version of this interview with Benjamin and Christofer Wagner or to share with friends, click here!)

The Outshot: Boy

On The Outshot this week, Jesse looks back on the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and finds his favorite film of the fest is only now getting the theatrical release it so richly deserves. The film is Boy, from Māori writer/director/star Taika Waititi. It tells the story of a young Māori boy named, well... Boy. Boy is given the chance to reconnect with his deadbeat father (Waititi) after years apart, as Dad's been away in jail. You can see and hear our interview with Taika Waititi and James Rolleston here.

It's a story bursting with youthful optimism, while the darkness of adulthood creeps in around the edges. It's in theaters now.
Got a little-known film of your own you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.
(Embed or share this Outshot on "Boy")

Subscribe to Bullseye in iTunes or the RSS feed!

Stop Podcasting Yourself 211 - Charlie Demers

Charlie Demers

Comedian and writer Charlie Demers returns to talk about book clubs, Adele, moving, and Bob Balaban.

Download episode 211 here. (right-click)

And don't forget to donate to the MaxFunDrive.
Brought to you by: (click here to see the whole recap)

My Brother, My Brother and Me 98: Two til' Tulsa


It's our second, super long MaxFunDrive special! We're celebrating by introducing our new Wrestlemania-themed podcast within a podcast, and by talking about which common household objects are dangerous for you to press your genitals into.

Suggested talking points: Wrestlemania, Annoiding, Truckin', Conversational Currency, Sexting, Sleep Death Pods, Skyscared, Butter Doesn't Work

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Travel with Rick Steves


Vital stats:
Format: a travel guide talks to travelers and tourists
Episode duration: exactly 53:30
Frequency: weekly

Growing up in Seattle, I thought of Rick Steves as a guru for locals aspiring to European travel just as I thought of Dan Savage as a guru for locals suffering sexual complications. But even though both men initially became famous in western Washington state and continue to reside there under auras of regional heroism, they’ve eluded the attentions of that cruelest mistress, “Seattle fame.” Unlike the work of, say, Ted Narcotic, Savage and Steves’ writing has spread across pretty much the entire Anglophone world. Both have reached even wider audiences still by launching first radio shows, then podcasts. I wager that most Max Funsters already know about Savage Love (reviewed by my esteemed predecessor Ian Brill here), but stand to benefit by learning about Travel with Rick Steves [RSS] [iTunes].

Just as Savage’s sex-advice column, reliably printed each and every week in Seattle’s “cooler” weekly paper, quickly became a fixture of my adolescence, Steves’ television program Rick Steves’ Europe felt ever-present. Yet I never really sat down and watched it, since I got from some of Steves’ fans the vague impression of a certain detached, cheapskate Europhilia, the kind that obligates Joe and Jane Washingtonian to go somewhere rustic in Italy or France, marvel photographically at boulevards and cathedrals, fumble through a phrasebook, and after two weeks return essentially unchanged to Microsoft or Boeing or wherever. This impression sounds uncharitable, I realize, but surely you understand the essential distinction of in-depth travel versus perfunctory tourism. While Steves is not to blame for the attitudes of his less intellectually engaged followers, I do faintly recall seeing him, in one of his shows, provide tips on how the busy traveler can best wash his underwear in the sink. This still horrifies me.

Yet possessed of the native amiability every advice-giver needs, Savage and Steves, both highly experienced men in their respective fields, outstretch their hands to pros and novices alike. Travel with Rick Steves brings in guests, more and more famous over the years, who have become icons of worldliness: Adam Gopnik [MP3] on France, David Sedaris [MP3] on France and Japan, Bernard-Henri Levy [MP3] on France and America, Paul Theroux [MP3] on more or less the entire world. Steves tends to spend time talking one-on-one with his guests, then bring callers into the mix. Phoning in from places like Des Moines, Eau Claire, and Minot, these people have what you might call a different set of concerns and sensibilities than, say, Bernard-Henri Levy does. But the collision between the guests’ slightly world-weary public-intellectualism, the callers’ but-will-they-understand-English practicality, and Steves’ own mixture of the two creates a conversational spark I rarely hear elsewhere. In its most fascinating moments, the show brings together three disparate perspectives on approaching the world: the traveler, the tourist, and the travel guide.

The world “avuncular” has lost a few threads to overuse, but I can’t think of a more appropriate word to describe Steves’ on-air persona. He comes off like your unfailingly friendly, goofy uncle — the one we always assume we had, but probably didn’t — who happens to know a lot about Roman budget lodging. Perhaps this very quality led me to find him a little bland in my formative Seattle years. Yet as with any television or business personality, you have only to pay close attention to discover Steves’ more distinctive qualities. Listen to enough Travel with Rick Steves and you’ll notice, for instance, his hair-trigger awareness of cannabis culture (not that “hair-trigger” and “cannabis” come as naturally associated concepts). I mean, he makes correct inferences about David Sedaris’ pot-smoking years from nothing more than the way the man phrases a single particular descriptive sentence. Read up, and you’ll learn that, chief among his many activist-type pursuits, Steves advocates for marijuana decriminalization. The decision to do it so publicly must have taken no little bravery on his part, if my assumptions about the conservative, grandmotherly slant of a large segment of his audience are valid. (Hey, maybe we did have this uncle after all!)

Charmingly, Steves produces this show from the small town of Edmonds, Washington, where he grew up and still makes his home. Maybe he draws a feeling of balance from incessantly globetrotting as a career yet basing himself within shouting distance his junior high school. For a program built around senses of place, it comes as no surprise that he occasionally mentions Edmonds, but it did at first come as a surprise that those mentions triggered fond memories for me. I never had any reason to make the 25-mile drive there except to eat Korean food, but I now realize that one particular Edmonds restaurant — Ho Soon Yi, I believe — got me interested in Korean food, which got me interested in Korean cinema, which got me interested in the Korean language, which got me interested in traveling to Korea. I haven’t actually gone there yet, but that cascade of enthusiasms did its part to break my long-standing travel trepidation. Maybe I’m just waiting for a Travel with Rick Steves episode on the country. So Rick, I know it ain’t Europe, but what’s stopping you? Haven’t you tried Ho Soon Yi yet?

[Podthinker Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture [iTunes]. Contact him at colinjmarshall at gmail or follow him on Twitter @colinmarshall.]

Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 218: Friends, Romans, Hulkamaniacs with Gene O'Neill

Gene O'Neill

Gene O'Neill joins Jesse and Jordan to explicate a surprisingly dark porno, discuss birthdays with Gene's dad and more.

International Waters Episode 2: And the Prince of Thieves

Susan Orlean
Susan Orlean
Isy Suttie
Dan Antopolski
DC Pierson
Elizabeth Laime

Special guest Susan Orlean joins Isy Suttie, Elizabeth Laime, Dan Antopolski, DC Pierson and host, Jesse Thorn in the transatlantic comedy quiz where land laws do not apply. We learn what Katy Perry took Russell Brand under, compare Hunger Games quotes with 80s pop lyrics and chat about Alsatian-themed fashion. Plus, since it’s the Maxfun pledge drive, some bonus Jordan, Jesse Go!

Think you've got what it takes to write a round of International Waters? Pitch us your round – email it to Give us the theme and some sample questions, and maybe it'll pop up on the next episode. Or donate to our pledge drive and we'll write it for you.

And please go and "like" us on Facebook!

39.6% of the way there!


Illustration by Mr. Jesse Thorn

We had a kick-ass day in the MaxFunDrive yesterday, and rocketed up to just shy of 40% of our goal!

If you haven't given already, give you old so and so!

And if you have: THANK YOU!

#MaxFunDrive: 22% of the way there!!


Illustration by Jesse Thorn

The Maximum Fun Drive is in full swing!

Our goal is 1000 new monthly donors to, and we're well on our way. As of this posting (Wednesday morning), we're at 216, or just a little under 22% of our goal! In addition, nearly 100 continuing donors have upped their donations!

A consortium of ONE HUNDRED existing monthly donors have also issued a challenge: for every new donor during the drive, they'll give a total of over SEVEN DOLLARS to Maximum Fun.

How could you not support something this awesome?

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