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For most of the past fifteen years, Tom Scharpling has hosted a free-form comedy show called The Best Show. It began on the New Jersey community radio station WFMU, and it grew into its own universe. That universe includes regular calls in character from Scharpling's comedy partner Jon Wurster, and a thriving community of listeners and callers.
A few years ago, the show moved from its home on the radio to a new home on the internet, where it still streams each Tuesday evening night and podcasts every week.
Tom Scharpling joined us to talk about his on-air personality, his community of listeners, and the creation of The Best Show's aesthetic.
A new box set from the Numero Group of Scharpling and Wurster's work is called The Best of the Best Show.
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Sara Schaefer is a comedian, writer and performer who's appeared on @Midnight, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Best Week Ever, and Inside Amy Schumer. You may have also seen her work with her comedy partner Nikki Glaser on MTV's Nikki and Sara Live.
On her new stand up album, she shared a memory of her treasured middle school years.
By the time The Police released "Roxanne", their first single from their debut album in 1978, guitarist Andy Summers had gone through several phases of his career. By sixteen, he was playing in local clubs and in short order he was playing with the London-based R&B group, Zoot Money's Big Roll Band. That group evolved into a psychedelic rock band in the late 1960s. Summers played a brief American tour with The Soft Machine, then rejoined Zoot Money to play with a new incarnation of The Animals before finally taking a break.
He studied classical guitar for a few years in Los Angeles, and by the time he formed The Police with Sting and Stewart Copeland in 1977, he had playing music professionally for over fifteen years.
Summers' story with that band is documented in the new documentary Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police. The movie is in theaters now.
He joined us to talk about the origins of some of the band's songs and the strange experience of being a rock star.
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Jesse tells us about one of the folks who made Conan O'Brien's show the weird and wonderful thing it is today. He's Brian Stack, nicest guy in showbiz.
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Amanda brings the case against her husband, Mike. Amanda wants to rearrange their apartment to better suit their live/work needs. Mike wants to keep things as they are. Who is right? Who is wrong? Only one man can decide.
Filling in for Jesse this week is Guest Baliff Tom Scharpling. Tom hosts The Best Show on WFMU every Tuesday from 9 PM to midnight EST. There are all sorts of different ways to listen to the show: those in the New York or New Jersey area can listen by tuning their radios to 91.1 FM or 90.1 FM respectively. Those not in the New York or New Jersey area (or those who cannot afford radios) can listen in live on WFMU.org. And for those who don't believe in live-streaming, The Best Show podcast (and its bite-sized companion, Best Show Gems), can be downloaded on iTunes.
Special thanks to listeners Danielle Stillman-Diederich and Julie McMurry for suggesting this episode's title!
Tom Scharpling, Maggie Serota, and Daniel Ralston from the Low Times podcast join us this week with music suggestions. Maggie recommends “What Have I Done to Deserve This” from Pet Shop Boys, Tom suggests “Stud Spider” by Tony Joe White, and Daniel thinks we should check out Bill Fox’s “Bonded to You.”
You may best recognize Stephen Tobolowsky from his role as Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day, but his considerable body of work spans several mediums. He's appeared as a character actor in hundreds of films and television shows, including the HBO series Deadwood, he hosts The Tobolowsky Files podcast, and he's now written a book called The Dangerous Animals Club.
The stories in his podcast and his new book are about his life, but they aren't Hollywood gossip. They're funny, intimate, and often profound recountings of things from his normal life – like falling in love for the first time, being held at gunpoint at the grocery store, and spending Christmas Eve tripping on acid. He joins us to share some of those stories.
The intrepid journalists of Kasper Hauser news team have their fingers on the pulse of fake news, and they return this week to keep you updated.
R&B has lost its edge in recent years, but Frank Ocean’s album Channel Orange is a new, exciting example of the genre. Ocean channels emotions and harnesses distance to create beautiful, memorable songs and a masterful record.
What's your favorite R&B album? Head over to the MaxFun forum and share YOUR outshot.
We're joined this week by the entire cast of the Low Times podcast for their music recommendations. Daniel Ralston goes with Rock Bottom by King Krule, Maggie Serota suggests Your Side by Fear of Men, and Tom Scharpling recommends The Diaz Brothers by The Mountain Goats.
Liam Lynch is a writer, director and musician who's made a career out of a certain kind of alternative musical and skit comedy -- the kind that is "funny the way your friends are funny with each other." That sensibility lent itself well to Lynch's directorial work in Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic and Tenacious D's The Pick of Destiny.
His sock puppet duo, Sifl & Olly, found a niche on late-night television on MTV. Joined by the occasional sidekick or home shopping network representative, Sifl and Olly ribbed each other, took calls from the public, and broke out into songs like Lynch's strange and catchy "United States of Whatever."
He's now revived the puppets, more than ten years after the last Sifl & Olly Show broadcast, to conduct fake video game reviews for the YouTube channel Machinima.
The Kasper Hauser news team is back with another update. If you’re tired of telling fact from fiction in your news, we'll make it simple for you: this news is completely fake.
Geoff Nunberg is a professor at UC Berkeley, the resident linguist of Fresh Air, and the author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years. He talks to us about his studies into the word "asshole," which began life as a bit of slang used by WWII servicemen and has come to envelop the concept of modern incivility.
Jesse shares his enjoyment of the analytical comedy of Bill Burr.
Who’s your favorite standup? Jump over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.
This week, the AV Club’s Assistant TV Editor, Erik Adams, shares his affection for Police Squad!, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker classic with Leslie Nielsen. His colleague Claire Zulkey recommends Law & Order.
R.A. Dickey is a pitcher for the New York Mets, and the only man in the majors currently throwing a knuckleball. His new memoir, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, is a story of perseverance more than anything. He had a difficult childhood marked by abuse and poverty, but found his gift in baseball. Early on in his career, the Texas Rangers offered Dickey a lucrative contract but retracted it when they discovered a physical abnormality that theoretically should have kept him from playing ball. Dickey then bounced back and forth between the major and minor leagues and says he floundered, personally and professionally. But he stuck with it, and worked on mastering the wildly unpredictable knuckleball pitch (and finally found stability and peace in his relationships with his family and friends). Now, at age 37 Dickey is just hitting the prime of his career while many players of his age have long since retired. If anything, the knuckleball means his best days may still be ahead of him.
R.A. sits down with us to discuss his search for peace from a troubled past, the art of throwing the perfect knuckleball, and exactly why he names his bats after fantasy swords. Wherever I Wind Up is available in bookstores now. This interview originally aired May 22, 2012.
To say Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe were ahead of their time would be putting it mildly. The duo produced hundreds of man-on-the-street interviews in San Francisco during the mid-1960s, always claiming to be something they weren't, all in the name of comedy. Their efforts would go mostly unappreciated for decades, though the dedication of Mal's daughter Jennifer would ensure their work would eventually find an audience.
In this classic clip, the pair try to convince a Navy serviceman to rob a bank for them. You can hear more from Coyle & Sharpe right here on MaximumFun.org, where their archives have been converted to The Coyle & Sharpe Podcast. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.
On the Outshot this week, Jesse makes the rather unconventional move of recommending a radio show that isn't this one -- but you'll want to check it out all the same. It's The Best Show on WFMU, the music show turned character-based comedy call-in program whose cryptic host Tom Scharpling can satirize the role of the radio host while perfecting it in the same breath. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.
Is there a show on the radio that you consider appointment listening? We want to hear it, so let us know on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.
This important video was directed by Tom Scharpling on behalf of our friend, Mr. John Hodgman. It concerns the lifestyle of a DERANGED MILLIONAIRE. Featured in this video are Vernon Reid of Living Colour, Brooke Shields, ?uestlove and OTHER MAJOR CELEBRITIES.
It is your duty to WATCH the video, and to VOTE FUNNY the video. It is an easy duty to fulfill, as the video is TREMENDOUS. Then, simply order Hodgman's final book in his trilogy of all world knowledge, THAT IS ALL.
Also: Dick Cavett behaves boorishly.
In my perfect world, Tom Scharpling would direct all the music videos.
This is his latest.
Hey, Friends of Tom, listen up! Tom Scharpling (former writer for Monk and host of The Best Show on WFMU) is working with a team of terrific journalists (including Bethlehem Shoals [founder of FreeDarko] and Lang Whitaker [editor at SLAM magazine]) to create an "Awl-like" website about sports called "The Classical."
The project promises to be smart, funny, creative, passionate and refreshingly independent. But like any independent creative start-up, they need help to get up and running. Please hit their Kickstarter page and help influence the future direction of sports coverage on the web!