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Judge John Hodgman Renders Judgement

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Judge John Hodgman was due to render a decision in the upcoming episode of Jordan, Jesse GO!, but because of severe illness, explained below, he has chosen to issue a written rather than oral decision.

Ilia writes in:
Do my boyfriend and I have an obligation to let his mother, brother, and two small yappy dogs stay at our (600 sq. ft.) place during the holidays?

Boyfriend says yes but a few Christmas' ago when we let them and their dogs stay one of her dogs was senile, had no teeth, and wore a diaper and when I tried to change it she tried to bite me. I say get a hotel.

Judge Hodgman responds:

First, let me apologize for not being able to provide you with a live answer, but I am very sick. I have lymph and blood draining from my left ear due to an infection. (How are you?)

But do not be concerned about my lymph and blood loss. Even with a low-lymph supply, I am able to quickly and fairly render judgment.

From an ethical point of view: you are not required to house your boyfriend's menagerie of relations and their dogs, no matter how small and yappy they all may be. This is, of course, a standard and accepted obligation of marriage. But you are not married: you are merely living in sin. If he wants to force his family on you for the holidays, I say he can come up with a ring first.

From a practical point of view, you may still be tempted to offer them lodging, insofar as it is the nice thing to do and will keep the peace between you, your boyfriend, and his family. But this is only putting a diaper on a dying, senile dog, as we say in Hollywood. It is a matter of physics, not of opinion: 600 square feet is not enough to house you all.

It may suit your boyfriend to deny this reality in order to avoid conflict with his own mother; but it is your job as his life companion and sinful co-habitant to help him grow up and explain to his family what any sane adult could see: five sane adults and two dogs cannot share such a space comfortably.

If THEY resist this logic, you will know that they are insane, but I suspect you know this already. Under no circumstances are you required to house insane people--unless you are married.

But never mind the ethical and practical implications: what's the classy thing to do? I'd suggest apologizing for not being able to accommodate them and then buying them two rooms in a clean, dog friendly, inexpensive hotel or motel nearby. It may hurt to spend that kind of money, but consider the cost of doing business as a sane, unmarried adult.

That is all.

This is NOW, not A LONG TIME AGO!

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From a recent UCB Newsletter:

Top 5 Things That Have Got to Stop!
by tell-it-like-it-is road comic Jerry O'Hearn (Andy Daly)

1. Guys who come up to you and tell you "hey, this is how it is." Really? Excuse me, but I thought it was NOW, not a long time ago!
2. People who go out of the house looking just unbelievable! Hey pal, somebody called, they want their thing back!
3. This idiot who's always up to the same bullshit. Hey, I got an idea - get your act together!
4. Whoever invented that thing everybody's doing these days. I'd like to get my hands on that guy!
5. Those types of places.

(thanks Carol!)

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: The Podcast Travels of Paul F. Tompkins

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The alternative comedy scene in L.A., centered around the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, is rich with creative people trying new things. I’ve noticed the amazing amount of podcasts that seem to come from people associated with UCB and/or the invaluable website Instead of just cataloging a series of shows for you I decided to weave them together with a common thread. You might know Paul F. Tompkins (the F. stands for “hilarious”) from his appearances on VH1’s Best Week Ever or his recent appearance on The Sound of Young America to promote his excellent stand-up album Impersonal (available here). The man has the wonderful ability to enter into any situation and make it funny. He can get people laughing with a pop culture reference, observation or just a silly tone of voice. It’s the reason why he’s so great on podcasts and probably the reason why he’s been on so many of them. Let’s follow Tompkins’s various appearances to discover so many of the shows recording from L.A.

A lot of Tompkins’s appearance date back to 2006 and actually can’t be found anymore. He appeared a few times on Guys With Feelings (iTunes Link), where hosts Jason Nash and Jeff Bumgarner share personal stories and get as personal with their guests. This can cause some friction with the guests and I remember Nash talking about a falling out with Tompkins, although I believe their relationship has repaired a bit. I looked around the archives on the GWF page and their iTunes page but the best I found was the Jan. 2nd, 2007 show where during the award show “The Feelies” (co-hosted by Jen Kirkman and Tami Sagher) the interview that caused all the drama is discussed.

One of Tompkins podcast appearances of 2006 that is readily available is his interview of AST Radio (iTunes Link), which as you probably guessed is the podcast spin-off of The interview is from May 22nd, 2006 and it’s a great career spanning interview from Matt Belknap a.k.a. In Search of Sasquatch a.k.a. Isos. It’s over an hour and a half and features Tompkins explaining his approach to comedy as well his growth as a comedian. Tompkins has another great appearance on AST Radio. Doug Benson usually hosts a show called The Doug Benson Interruption where he interacts with comics while they perform their acts. The August 8th, 2006 show features Tompkins taking over the Benson role, working with Kirkman, Chris Hardwick, Eugene Mirman and Graham Elwood. Belknap and Tompkins play clips from that show and offer lots of commentaries. That’s another mammoth show but it’s funny as Hell.

Tompkins has lent his presence to two spin-offs of AST Radio. Michelle Biloon’s Walking With Michelle (iTunes Link only) started as a segment on AST Radio but has since posted three shows of its own for October 2007. Biloon visits a different Southern California tourist attraction and bring her funny friends with her. Belknap and Tompkins join her on a trip to Disneyland (apparently Tompkins has connections, being friends with the Mayor of Disneyland). Not unlike the Tompkins Interruption episode of AST Radio this show featured clips of the three walking around the amusement park cut with after-the-fact commentary. The best bit has Biloon and Tompkins discussing the situation in Darfur while riding on Splash Mountain. It’s absolutely brilliant.

Tompkins has been a guest three times on the other AST Radio spin-off. Never Not Funny (iTunes Link). As I’m writing this I’ve found NNF has been chosen by iTunes as one of the best podcasts of 2007. I know I consider it the greatest podcast being produced. Belknap and comedian Jimmy Pardo, along with Michael Schmidt for the first season, create these sprawling conversations that feel like verbal pinball. Stories of life on the stand-up circuit rub up against references to ‘80s hair metal, reality TV and anything else Pardo’s hair trigger mind can come up with. Tompkins appeared on the twenty-eighth episode of the first season, all of which is now available for purchase (that’s $19.99 for over sixty hours of entertainment). He fits right in with the rhythm of the show. Tompkins’s work on the short-lived sitcom DAG is discussed as well as his love of all things Hollywood. Tompkins has appeared twice on the second season of the show, 202 and 214. Both episodes are great. I especially love the conversation in 214 about viewing “Faces of Death.” To learn from Pardo that Gary Coleman has a collection of gruesome videos astounded me.

Tompkins has appeared with his girlfriend Janine on The Shit Parade Show (iTunes Link), hosted by Joel Church-Cooper, Erin Gibson and Blake Walker. It’s not too different from the conversational shows like Never Not Funny or Guys With Feelings but this one concentrates on discussions of music. The two episodes Tompkins did, Sept. 26th and Oct. 3rd of 2007, only deal with music for a little bit. There’s plenty of talk of The Wire, which is of course the best show on TV, as well as the eccentrics found in drama school. Janine actually steals the show with a story about a “bird-man.”

For more Tompkins goodness I recommend the Comedy Death Ray CD from Comedy Central Records and his HBO Workshop special Driven to Drink which I believe can be found with HBO On Demand. Keep your eyes on his MySpace page and his own thread on to see when Tompkins is coming to your town.

Dammit, America.


Just give Paul Reubens the money to make his fucking Pee-Wee movies. For fuck's sake, people, he's not getting any younger. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Ep. 27: Musical Animals


In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. Today, their humor is a cultural touchstone for artists as varied as Henry Rollins and The Upright Citizens Brigade.

These recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

This week the duo explore the idea of using animals as musical instruments.

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Best of 2007!

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Woo hoo!

The editors of iTunes have selected the best podcasts of 2007, and we've got not one but TWO winners! The Sound of Young America was selected as one of the 25 best "classic" podcasts of the year, and Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters was selected as one of the 25 best new podcasts of the year!

I also want to extend my hearty congratulations to all the other winners, especially our friends at Never Not Funny. Plus a few of my other favorites, like RadioLab, This American Life and On the Media.

Dave Hill + BoingBoingTV = Great News!


Dave Hill rocks Boing Boing TV and the Blip Fest, which seems to be a party for people who make gameboy music.

I am JESSE THORN, TALENT SCOUT TO THE BLOGERATI... MATCHMAKER TO THE INTERNET STARS... DAVE HILL GOSPEL SPREADER WORLDWIDE. I take FULL credit for this alliance, with honorary mentions going to BB having fantastic taste and DH being fucking hilarious.

Dave Hill on The Sound of Young America

Action Circle on Funny or Die


Here's a new video on Written by Jordan Morris "Boy Detective" and Eugene "Big Time" O'Neill, featuring Jordan as the gamer and me as the voiceover (and random sight-gag guy). Watch, enjoy, and vote "Funny!"

Podcast: Chris Elliott

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Chris Elliott is an alternative comedy legend. He began his career as a runner on Late Night with David Letterman, before becoming an iconic writer/performer on that show. He turned his fame into a bizarre sitcom called Get A Life and a perhaps even stranger film called Cabin Boy. More recently, he's appeared in films like There's Something About Mary, Groundhog Day and Scary Movie and in many TV shows, including The King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond. He's now an author, with a new novel called "Into Hot Air: Mounting Mount Everest."

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You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Satirist George Saunders
Artist/Writer/Filmmaker Miranda July
Comedian Dave Hill

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