International Waters is a pop culture comedy quiz show where land laws do not apply. Join host Jesse Thorn and competing teams of world-famous comedians from the US and UK in a hilarious and lively test of pop culture knowledge (and the ability to make up baloney when that knowledge fails). It's part panel show, part trivia quiz and all laughs. It's also a little embarrassed it wrote that last sentence.
There’s a lot of harking back to the Olympics, talk of various celeb's "outside the beltway" credentials and do you know which film features "Dennis Quaid as Steve Martin as Bill Clinton"?
Plus British Satirist Craig Brown calls in to talk about his new book which is either called One on One if you’re British or Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings if you’re American.
Our theme music is USA Vs. White Noise by Ladytron and we’ve used
under Creative Commons license. Thanks to both for letting us use their work.
For extra photos and occasional outtakes please sign-up to our Facebook page.
Engineered by Nick White, Lindsay Pavlas and Chris Morris, guests booked by Julia Smith, development by Theresa Thorn. Written by Sarah Morgan and Jordan Morris, produced by Colin Anderson. Special thanks to Rosanna Arbon for helping to mix this episode.
By Chris Bowman
In a continuing effort to initiate the uninitiated, we bring you a brief conversation with the UK side of this month’s installment of International Waters. Holly Walsh may be best known as the comedian who broke her elbow on a very public stage. Or possibly for her Edinburgh Fringe Best Newcomer nominated show Hollycopter. She’s appeared on many British panel shows including the pop music quiz show Nevermind the Buzzcocks and 8 Out of 10 Cats. Tom Allen is a Fringe festival veteran. After six consecutive appearances, he decided to sit it out this year. He’s a regular cast member on the BBC Radio Four show Bleak Expectations. He also writes and presents the show Dictionary Corner.
There’s a disturbing trend with the comedians who have been on this show. They are all exceedingly nice. Which begs the question: "What do they know that we don’t know?" For now, I think it’s residual Olympic fever.
International Waters: Holly, you are only the second repeat guest to appear on International Waters. Please describe how it feels.
Holly Walsh: Well, I feel like the first time I learned a great deal. Also, I’ve watched a lot of the Olympics, so I’m going to use some sporting phrases. I feel like I did enough in the first to get me through to the second one. But right now, I’m going to dig deep, I’m going to look forward, and I’m just going to do the best I can.
Strap-in for conspiracy theories, national delicacies and an argument over cheese as special guest, Jon Ronson, joins contestants Holly Walsh, Jordan Morris, Ron Babcock and Tom Allen at the Leicester Square Theatre in London.
With both teams on the same continent for the first time ever we learn about British “mine food”, Gentleman’s Relish and The Big Dog Theory.
We’ve got more photos on our Facebook page and if you missed out on this one, we’ll be taping live International Waters episodes at MaxFunCon East and at The San Francisco Comedy and Burrito Festival.
Join Jesse, Jordan, Colin and dozens of your new best friends for the official London meetup after our shows.
We're marking the start time as 7:30 at the Phoenix Artists' Club - non-members are admitted until 8, so be there on time.
The Phoenix Artist Club
1 Phoenix Street
Tel: 020 7836 1077
Get ready for half-fictional, fluffy cat-rabbits and Frankenstein drug-mule pigeons, as Team USA take on Team United Kingdom in another stupid battle of transatlantic pop-cultural knowledge.
Featuring Asterios Kokkinos, Ava Vidal, Eliza Skinner and Neil Edmond, plus special guest, author Joel Stein, who’s new book, Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity is available from the internet or old-timey “bookshops” right now.
Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook and if you’re in EUROPE don’t miss our MaxFun meet-up this Saturday, from about 7.30pm at The Phoenix Artist Club, just off Charing Cross Road. Non-members need to get there before 8pm to ensure entry.
This interview was conducted and written by Chris Bowman.
The U.K. team for this month’s episode of International Waters is composed of Helen Zaltzman and Michael Smiley. Helen Zaltzman hosts an award-winning podcast with Olly Mann called Answer Me This! It’s a funny and insightful show that is definitely worth your time. She is also a writer and maker of things which are available for your perusal at helenzatlzman.com. Michael Smiley is a stand up comedian and award-winning actor. Some may recognize him as Tyres O’Flaherty from the geek-friendly sitcom Spaced. His role as Gal in the Ben Wheatley film Kill List garnered him the award for Best Supporting Actor from the 2011 British Independent Film Awards and should not be missed. It’s twisted and graphic, but man, is it good. The common thread here is that they are both lovely people. Not to mention funny.
International Waters: Helen, you’re a writer and podcaster, what comes more naturally to you: writing or talking?
Helen Zaltzman: Well, talking takes much less time, so I’d say that.
IW: How often do you hear back about the advice you give to listeners who write in?
HZ: Oh, they’re quite vocal. Some of them are quite grateful, I think others are a little bit hurt. But we’ve probably saved many lives in our podcasting career.
IW: Do you have a particularly memorable bit of feedback?
HZ: We had this 17-year-old guy who wrote to us a few years ago and said, “I’m thinking of having an affair with my 43 year old neighbor who’s my mum’s friend. She sent me some sexy texts so I know she’s up for it”. We said, “She’s your neighbor and she’s married as well. Don’t shit where you eat, basically. And she’s your mum’s friend so they might talk about your sexual performance. Very traumatizing.” He wrote back and said, “Actually I did decide not to do it because she sent me some photos of herself undressed and I decided I didn’t fancy her and also her husband is really frightening.”
IW: Oh God.
Helen Zaltzman, Janet Varney, Michael Smiley and Bryan Safi join special guest A.J. Jacobs and host Jesse Thorn for the pop-culture quiz where land laws don’t apply and the only way to ensure silence in the home is an all-out war on squirrels.
We also discuss a fifty year old British Busta Rhymes, find out what an Omoplata Crossface might be and get to visualise Helen and Michael in a London studio lit only by vintage screensavers.
A.J. Jacobs' new book is Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection.
Thanks to listener Steve Bernard Jr. for this episode’s Superfan questions - if you think you've got what it takes to write a round of International Waters then drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org and don't be shy, you can like us on Facebook too!
Holly Walsh, Rob Huebel, Sarah Thyre and Steve Hall join special guest Jonathan Coulton and host Jesse Thorn to talk baby punk makeovers and Cockney rhyming slang in another bid to work out which country is best.
Andy Daly, Erin Gibson, Humphrey Ker and Margaret Cabourn-Smith compete for their nations’ honour in the pop-culture quiz show where land laws do not apply. With special guests Kurt “Explodo” Andersen and the Guardian’s John Crace. Hosted by Jesse Thorn, written by Jordan Morris and produced by Colin Anderson.
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 email@example.com. 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!