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Ep. 100: Old Home Week with Chris Hardwick

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Guests: 
Chris Hardwick

Guest Chris Hardwick joins Jesse and Jordan to talk about The Bonnie Hunt Show, Jesse's high school reunion, and more.

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Our theme music: "Love You" by The Free Design, courtesy of The Free Design and Light in the Attic Records

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Arrive Having Eaten"

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Longtime Podthoughts readers know that the podcast medium has spawned two basically-new genres of show. The first is the venerable TTWGBAC, or, for shorttime Podthoughts readers, the Two Twentysomething (or Thirtysomething) White Guys (or, occasionally, Girls) Bullshitting About Culture. (Content obvious.) The second, your Podthinker hasn't yet bothered to label, so he's just been calling it You Look Nice Today, which, for those really new to the podcast scene, is the name of the hi-larious program that pioneered the format, or in any case perfected it. In this genre, two or more co-hosts make comedy, or at least attempt to, by making preposterous statements in reasonable tones of voice, then improvisationally scale up the prepostrosity in conversation. It's usually broken up by short bumper tunes and titled with a phrase that doesn't make much sense. Perhaps we'll call it Ridiculousness Uttered Flatly, Segmented By Music (RUFSBM).

Arrive Having Eaten [iTunes link] is something of a hybrid of the TTWGBAC and the RUFSBM, though with a strong lean toward the latter. Linked up by Skype (presumably), Kentucky-based co-host Ben Compton and Ohio-based co-host Erica Minton trade ridiculous and/or preposterous lines about certain sectors of culture — Twitter, say, or movies like Con Air — and about life's vicissitudes — like being de-friended by real-life friends on Twitter and watching Con Air on VHS until the audio track wears off. Though Erica seems to drive the conversation and Ben picks up the rear with the quips-in-response, they operate on what it feels appropriate to call the Jenga model of RUFSBM podcasting: keep pulling out blocks of ludicrousness until someone, usually Erica, collapses. In laughter, than is.

With each RUFSBM — or, for that matter, TTWGBAC — your Podthinker listens to, it becomes clearer that their listenability hinges on how well one knows the hosts' particular tics and inclinations. As with regular friends, the more familiar you are, up to a point, the better time you have. Therefore, the success of an RUFSBM hinges on the prospective listener's willingness to hang in there while they get to know the hosts. Upon first play, Ben and Erica certainly seem affable and articulate enough. Jovial. Reasonably energetic. Few especially eccentric qualities — or positively or negatively distinguished characteristics of any obvious nature — emerge to latch onto, unfortunately, but there's nothing repellent either.

If you're in need of a new regular download, though, hang in there. Your Podthinker is pleased to report that he'd fully warmed up to Ben and Erica after no more than three or four episodes. There's laughs. There's good times. There's schemes, harebrained and otherwise. There's priceless phrases like "'tato stampin'." Ben sometimes works a tad blue, but the content is nothing one wouldn't share with an especially forward-thinking family. Plus, it's quite well-produced, which is often the Achilles' heel of these projects. While Arrive Having Eaten doesn't make much of an effort to come out and grab you, there's smile-inducing entertainment to be had on that there podcast if you're willing to swim on out to it. A mixed metaphor, yes, but you're hereby dared to prove it inaccurate.

Vital stats:
Format: TTWGBAC-y RUFSBM
Running since: June 2009
Duration: 15m-25m
Frequency: just about weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

[It's podthinker Colin Marshall you want? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

"America. All she stands for." - Hank Kingsley

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Episode one of the Larry Sanders Show. My favorite television show of all time, bar none. Even more than The Simpsons or Seinfeld or anything.

Click through for parts two and three, then buy the DVDs, download/steal the whole series, and for God's sake watch it.

I love Larry Sanders SO MUCH.

Zach Galifianakis in the New York Times

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The Times Magazine this week features an extended profile of Zach Galifianakis, Real American Hero and one of my favorite TSOYA guests.

I saw his new movie, The Hangover, last week, and thought it was very funny. Zach really couldn't be a more compelling figure on screen, and he just destroyed the packed audience in the screening I saw.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll

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Directed by IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade

Interview: Peep Show Co-Creator Jesse Armstrong

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Jesse Armstrong is one of the co-creators and writers of the BAFTA-winning BBC sitcom Peep Show. (A BAFTA is like a British Emmy.) Now entering its sixth series, with a US version in development at Spike TV, Peep Show is a funny, but cringe-inducing, depiction of the lives of two twenty-something flat mates, played by past TSOYA guest David Mitchell and comedy partner Robert Webb (above). Its first season recently became available in the US on Hulu. No less an authority on UK comedy than Ricky Gervais called it "The only British thing that I was really blown away by in the last few years."

Armstrong has also written for other acclaimed television series, including the sketch series That Mitchell & Web Look and the political satire The Thick of It.

MaxFun Contributor Matthew Phelan spoke with Armstrong from the UK.

Matthew Phelan: You've said that you and co-creator, Sam Bain, and the show's stars [David] Mitchell and [Robert] Webb, met in something called a "writing team experiment" within the BBC …

Jesse Armstrong: Yeah. [laughs] It was fascinating because there is a definite mystique around American writing techniques in the UK--the long runs, the more successful audience figures. We have a problem getting mainstream comedies to work and people often think that it may be something to do with [not using] the team system. I think there are interesting things about having teams of people on a show, but I definitely don't think it's a magic bullet.

So, this was a really ill-thought-through plan to create a British, team-writing situation. The people behind it thought that, to do a team show, you got six people (in this case who didn't know each other) in the room with a producer and a one-line idea--which was, "What if there was house that was squatted and these people all lived together." We wrote the script between the six of us. Each taking, one sixth of the script and we came up with this horrible, kind-of "Frankenstein's monster" as anyone would imagine. Anyone with any knowledge of the US system knows that you still have a show creator who writes the pilot, sets the tone.

So, that was disastrous, but we went into it not knowing David [Mitchell] and Robert [Webb] and came out knowing them quite well, as we sniggered behind our hands and went, "Oh, god. This is terrible what we're doing, isn't it?"

Click "Read More" for more with Peep Show Co-Creator Jesse Armstrong, including audio of the full interview.

Gay Talese: Dressing up for the story.

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"It's ceremonious, it's celebratory, it's important."

Legendary non-fiction writer and reporter Gay Talese on being suited & booted. My only disapointment: no discussion of his signature lapel shape.

Peter Serafinowicz is THE BEST

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CONTROVERSY STRIKES BRITISH ACTOR

Peter Serafinowicz is the comedian co-creator of Look Around You and star of The Peter Serafinowicz Show, both of which are fantastically funny. You may have enjoyed "Kitchen Gun," a sketch from the latter, which I posted a couple days ago.

Well, he recently posted this (spectacularly hilarious) tweet on his twitter account: "Went to the gym this morning. As I left, everyone said I was the best!"

Apparently Time Magazine, and a website on which they were reporting whose name I will not mention, do not understand what a joke is. In fact, they reported on that tweet as evidence that Serafinowicz is one of "Twitter's Biggest Egos."

Luckily, they asked Serafinowicz for a comment, and reported his response similarly literally and credulously:

In fairness, some of the more outrageous messages appear to be gags (let's hope so). But others, unnervingly, are not.

Peter Serafinowicz, an actor, says there's a perfectly good explanation for his tweet — "Went to the gym this morning. As I left, everyone said I was the best!" — an observation that earned him a spot on the site's all-time worst list. "At my local gym, most of the guys (losers) are jealous of me, as (I don't wish to boast) I'm in great shape. I'm pretty sure that they call me names when I'm not around," he wrote in an e-mail. So when his gym-mates congratulated him for bench-pressing 180 pounds, "I suppose I felt vindicated in some way, and wanted to tell the world about it."

Oh Time Magazine... your endless search for new angles on the Twitter story has bitten you in the rear.

via Graham Linehan

Kasper Hauser in the Wall Street Journal

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Noted humor publication The Wall Street Journal just published a lengthy story about one of Kasper Hauser's two (count 'em - two) forthcoming books, "Obama's Blackberry."

This is how Rob from Kasper Hauser describes their writing process: "It’s kind of like four clowns driving a clown car and each one has a steering wheel and at any time two of them are sad and there’s no food.”

You can check out the whole article here.

They even get a comment from Joe Biden's press representative. Apparently, the book isn't funny, because Joe Biden would never actually ask the President if he can leave at 4:45.

Interview with Comics Writer Brian Michael Bendis

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Brian Michael Bendis

Brian Michael Bendis on The Sound of Young America from Jesse Thorn on Vimeo.

Brian Michael Bendis is an acclaimed comics writer. His work has ranged from independent crime comics to the artist-controlled superhero imprint Image to helming some of the most important characters in superhero comics for Marvel. Several years ago, he re-created Spider Man for the 21st century with Ultimate Spider Man. He now steers Marvel's most important superteam, The Avengers. We spoke with Brian at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Oregon.

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