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Podcast: Comedy by the Numbers with Dr. Gary Rudoren and Prof. Eric Hoffman


Prof. Eric Hoffman and Dr. Gary Rudoren are two of the world's foremost researchers in the field of humor. Their new book, "Comedy By the Numbers" contains "The 169 secrets of humor and popularity." They promise that you don't need to be funny to be funny -- just memorize their system, and you'll quickly be impressing the cool kids.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Patton Oswalt
Bob Odenkirk
Zach Galifianakis

Interview: Emily Horne & Joey Comeau of “A Softer World” by Aaron Matthews


Emily Horne is a Victoria, B.C. based photographer and Joey Comeau is a Toronto, ON based writer. Together they create the critically acclaimed webcomic “A Softer World”. In 2007, the comic won the first Web Cartoonist's Choice Award for photographic webcomic and Loose Teeth Press published “It's Too Late to Say I'm Sorry”, a collection of Comeau’s short stories. “A Softer World” celebrated its 5th anniversary earlier this year. I talked to Emily and Joey via email about the process of creating a strip and the strange power of cover letters, among other things.

Where did the idea for "A Softer World" come from?

Emily: Joey started making photocopied comics in 2001 using his own captions and
photos cut out from magazines about the British royalty. When the possibilities of that had run out, he decided photos might work, and I, being inclined to photography, had a good stash of them ready to go. We would take an old manual Smith-Corona typewriter and a stack of photos to the all night Kinko's in Halifax and make comics for the local 'zine fairs. We made two print editions and then decided in 2003 to put them online so more of our friends could see them. These comics make up the first couple of dozen that are currently on the website.

What's the process for creating a comic? How do you and Joey work on the
comic together?

EH: The process for creating the comic is very now different than it used to be. I live in B.C. and Joey lives in Toronto, so the process isn't as immediately collaborative as it used to be. Usually I will put together the visual elements of several comics, cut and paste as necessary, and send them to Joey every few weeks. That way he has a backlog of comics to caption. Usually he runs the text by me before they go up, either by email or via MSN.

Why do you think ASW's format is effective?

Joey: The format's good on a few practical levels. Having the photos illustrate the text directly would have been a nightmare for us, I think. We could have people acting out the scenes but we'd be limited in the kinds of stories we could tell. Zombies? Exploding stars? All impossible. So we chose a format where Emily and I try and find the same tone for the words and images, or different tones that work well and compliment one another.
For the text, having it be so short means that I have to work to fit everything into that one sentence or two. It makes the impact stronger. It's a lot of information at once sometimes, and that's great. I like writing for constrained space. I have to work harder to make everything work, but I think it comes off with more of a punch.

Joey, explain the concept of Overqualified for the uninitiated. Why is the cover letter the perfect medium for this strange combination of despair and hope?

JC: I've written so many regular cover letters while applying for jobs.
They're frustrating and useless and they are just lies, beginning to end. You are saying what they want to hear. These letters don't have anything to do with you as a person or with your hopes for the future, your dreams. Nobody reads these anyway. You could write the craziest things and nobody would ever read them.

So I did. I started writing batshit crazy cover letters and sending them out. At first they were just jokes and frustrations, but hopes and dreams started sneaking into them.
In December I signed a book deal with a publisher here in Toronto to release a novel based on Overqualified. It's going to come out in [Spring] 2009, and it is told entirely through the cover letters. It's probably the craziest thing I've written, and I am super excited about it.

Are there any common thematic threads joining your writing, between A Softer World, Overqualified, and your fiction?
JC: I got an email a little while ago from someone who attended a book club where they were reading my short story book. He said they liked it, but they were all pretty sure that I was a paranoid weirdo. A lot of the stories are about obsessions and people who do things without really knowing why, just knowing that they have to do them. But I think that most of my writing is optimistic in a weird way, too. Anyway, I feel optimistic about it. There's a lot of sex in my writing, too. I don't know about themes. There are a lot of zombies and dead moms and lesbians. That's sort of a running joke between Emily and I, but it never stops being true. There are a lot of zombies and lesbians and dead moms. One day I'll write a story about a zombie lesbian mom.

What’s the usual reaction to the strips? Sometimes when I read ASW, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
EH: Sometimes I feel like it's unfortunate that ASW is called a comic, because it means people go into the experience of reading it with the notion that it’s always going to be funny and end up disappointed. Even those that are overtly hilarious usually manage to make you feel a bit guilty about your laughter. It's a complicated world out there. Few things are black-and-white, funny-or-not-funny, and ASW reflects that. Reactions to the comic run the gamut from delight and recognition to (occasionally) vehement hatred, and while the angry reactions are hard to take, we do stand by what we've created.

Read a longer version of this interview at Aaron's blog here.

Podcast: The College Years: Fantasies

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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.

Comedian team the Sklar Brothers join Jesse, Jordan, and Maya Baldwin on this edition of The College Years. Also in the episode: gossip about Larry King.

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Podcast: The College Years: Winners Win Big


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.

Richard Montoya of Culture Clash guests on this episode of The College Years, hosted by Jesse and Jordan. Also in the episode: giving away a lot of tickets.

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Podcast: The College Years: All the World's a Stage


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.

Theremin player Joseph Minicello joings Jesse and Jordan for this week's action-packed show. In this show: Jordan's little sister calls seeking advice, "Mace Detective, Private Detective" episode "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," Running The Numbers, Myths and facts about homosexuals, and "Would You Rather?"

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"Into the boingle bucket!"


Is there anything not awesome about this commercial for an early-70s Rube Goldberg machine toy?

Thank you BoingBoing.

Podcast: Jordan, Jesse GO!: Ep. 56: Threesome.


This week on the show Jesse and Jordan are joined by rapper Ashkon. They discuss sex dreams, threesomes, burritos and drying steak in the refrigerator. Ashkon also performs his songs "Soldier Boy" and "Hey Keezy."

* Got a creative interpretation of JJGo? Call it in and we'll greenlight it or... whatever the opposite of greenlighting is!
* Vote in March of Time Madness!


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* Do you have a dispute Judge John Hodgman can solve on a future broadcast? Email it to us! Put Judge John in the subject line.
* Have personal questions for Jesse and Jordan? Call 206-984-4FUN and tell us what they are!
* Would you like to play Would You Rather with us on a future episode? Email us or give us a call at 206-984-4FUN.

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Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "Ask Mr. Biggs"

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If you, like Jordan Morris, takes comfort in the sounds of talk radio perhaps you'll be interested in Ask Mr. Biggs (iTunes link). The concept is that a team of audio experts take calls from actual radio shows, splice them up and play them on this fictional show hosted by Mr. Biggs, who sounds like The Thing looks.

On their description the team behind Ask Mr. Biggs say they're not going "for easy laughs, but rather for a more subtle, nuanced, character-driven humor." Listening to the show I got a sense that its all taking place in a small town full of strange people. Mr. Biggs talks about his restaurant Whiz Bangs which sounds like home grown version of Applebee's. He proudly tells of how they put on a Richard Greco look-a-like contest in hopes of getting Greco to show up to the restaurant (he didn't). Mr. Biggs's sidekick Roger sounds like the calm voice against his friend's bluster but he proves to be the type of person so bland it becomes disturbing. He loves learning and sharing stupid points of trivia and talks of his racist grandmother in ways that aren't entirely disapproving. This show clearly takes places in Anytown, USA and creates a strong sense of place with satirical wit.

I was surprised, given the premise of the show, is that the calls aren't particularly funny. The producers of the show usually take normal types of questions, people asking for technical or diet advice, and use that to spin Roger and Mr. Biggs into absurd debates. The comedy on the show ends up sounding like a lot of the low key humor a lot of improvisers practice. I'm thinking particular of the episode of Jordan Jesse Go! with invented presidential candidates. There are a few laugh out loud episodes. Show #0016 features Mr. Biggs talking down a disgruntled former Whiz Bangs employee that's a riot. But most of the time its just slight a glimpse into small town insanity.

We've got podcast review so why not podcasts news (becuase that's where you want to go for news, a guy who manages to write his column every two weeks with no set schedule). Former Never Not Funny co-host (and Jordan Jesse Go! guest) Mike Schmidt returns to the podcasting world with The 40 Year Old Boy. It will be on iTunes soon I hope but for right now Schmidtty's got all the info to load the first episode into your iPod. So far it's The Former Third Baseman in monologist mode. It's a bit different from NNF but Schmidt's such a classic storyteller that I think it's great stuff.

New Stations: Baton Rouge and (kinda) Austin & Las Vegas!

Baton Rouge, pictured before the invasion of awesomeness

I want to extend a hearty welcome to the Sound of Young America family to WRKF in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, KNPR-2 in Las Vegas, Nevada and KUT-2 in Austin, Texas!

WRKF is already airing the show Sundays at 6PM. If you're in Baton Rouge, you can find WRKF on the dial at 89.3 FM.

If you're in Vegas or Austin, you'll need an HD Radio to hear the show. HD Radio is a digital radio technology that allows for digital quality audio and multiple streams of programming on one frequency. In both places, we'll be on substations of the main station.

HD Radios have been the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in radio advertising, but rarely is one spotted in the wild. AND SO: free Sound of Young America t-shirt to anyone who emails me a picture of them with an HD radio in some place that's obviously Las Vegas (casino, whorehouse, cleaner simulacrum of another city, etc) or Austin (barbeque restaurant, alt-country concert, room full of people using the phrase "island of blue in a sea of red" etc). Ready, steady... GO!

If you don't get TSOYA where you live, ASK FOR IT!

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