Entries in paul scheer (10)

Monday
Jan302012

Paul Scheer Likes Podcasts & Sharing

One of the more talented and nicest guys in comedy, Paul Scheer, is giving his fans even more thanks to his recent blog feature, "Podcasts I Like." Announced last week, Scheer will share a podcast he likes via his blog. The first one up was The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith. Scheer knows what's he's talking about. I'm looking forward to seeing what other shows he's into.

You can also catch Scheer and friends via their fun movie show on Earwolf - How Did This Get Made?

Sunday
Aug072011

The Earwolf Challenge Recap - Week 4: Recurring Segments

Hey, who loves semantics? Who doesn’t, right? This week’s Earwolf Challenge sure does.

Blame the show’s murkiest premise yet. The judges and producers’ inability in each Challenge episode to really nail down what a “recurring segment” means betrays a challenge that probably sounded good on paper. But we get awkward instead of “good.”

Along with some fun awkwardness, The Challenge produced two classic Matt Besser moments. (Hmm...that might be a recurring segment right there!) The first was his attempt to express enthusiasm by intoning, “Oh my gosh, it’s getting exciting.” Besser clearly has a ton of fun doing the show intro in classic game-show-host mode, but for whatever reason his energy just immediately drops off the minute the show proper actually begins. Maybe he’s pacing himself. It’s a marathon, I guess, not a race.

Matt Besser *Photo by Liezl EstiponaThe other hilarious moment comes early on when Besser offers up a format shift to Producer Frank Cappello:

BESSER:  Could we start out with one contestant and add every week add a contestant, until at the end there’s ten contestants?

CAPPELLO:  I think you just completely broke the mold, Matt. I think you’ve got a one million dollar idea right now.

BESSER:  Okay.

CAPPELLO: I think we oughtta lock this audio recording down right now before anyone finds out.

BESSER:  Okay.

Besser’s initial semi-lucid weed dream juxtaposed with his remorseless, lead-balloon “Okays” are comedy gold. And we haven’t even gotten to the coaching session yet!

Episode 4.1: Coaching Sessions

Right off the bat, we define what seems to be the “platonic ideal” of a recurring segment: the Leonard Maltin game on Doug Loves Movies. WTF with Marc Maron? doesn’t have a recurring segment, and it’s widely regarded as one of the best comedy-oriented podcasts around.  So just how necessary is a recurring segment in a successful podcast? The answer is probably “not that necessary.” But The Challenge is going to make the competitors come up with some anyway.

This is edging oh-so-closely into busywork territory. However, much like the previous two weeks, the stated challenge isn’t the actual challenge. This “refillable” task is actually an examination of how well the competitors know their own shows and their listeners. Can they invent (or find within their archives) two minutes of material that both fits with the rest of their show and can serve as an effective variation on a theme?

This is a worthwhile investigation to undertake. Unfortunately, it’s constantly undermined by Besser & Co.’s growing uncertainty about what a recurring segment really is. By the end of the episode, it all feels very fuzzy. 

In the meantime, the competitors run their ideas by Besser. The only real standouts here are The Little Dum Dum Club, for Karl’s List of Small-Town Weirdos, which sounds very promising, and Totally Laime’s Oprah Game. This game actually sounds partially, if not totally lame. Besser’s not a fan of “the shit that fails on purpose,” but the description itself is funny. It does seem like its unworkableness (not a word) could be played up in a different way to make it work, as is hinted at by Elizabeth’s meek “Thoughts?” prompt. Something like Between Two Ferns. But that might be prohibitively difficult in a pure-audio medium.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Ham Radio. Poor Brett Hamil. I feel for the guy. He’s definitely doing something different and personal, but Ham Radio’s wheels-within-wheels aesthetic is obviously not doing it for Besser. Those Podcast Consultant characters of his were problematic enough back in Week 2 -- why would he want to bring them back? Although, his entry that week didn’t land him in the Bottom 3, making it his most successful one yet. Going into Tuesday, I have a bad feeling about Ham Radio.

Episode 4.2: The Challenge

The streak of impressive guest judges continues. If you listened to the last episode of Superego, one of them is no surprise. Pray silence, please, for Superego’s Matt Gourley. He’s listened to the first three episodes, which means he must’ve heard Left-Handed Radio’s minor dig against Superego last week. Will this factor into his judgment of them? The suspense is killing me!

Paul Scheer *Photo by Morgan KeulerMatt GourleyJoining him is Paul Scheer of How Did This Get Made? I’m digging NTSF:SD:SUV, and Scheer seems like a genuinely nice guy. If you heard his life story on WTF?, you know that it’s probably a miracle he isn’t a total bastard. But frankly, his HDTGM? is a fairly uneven show with a consistently unsuccessful recurring segment: the bi-weekly listener “game.” This “game” involves the audience with coming up with new catchphrases, poems, sequel pitches and so forth for the next episode’s stinker of a film. These are, almost without exception, painfully unfunny. And sure enough, Scheer’s advice on several of the entries is to get the audience involved more. It’s still unclear why he thinks this segment is working.

Before we get into it, take note: the Leonard Maltin Game is now not a recurring segment on Doug Loves Movies. Justification: it happens every week, so it’s part of the show’s format, not a mere “segment.” Also, it’s too long.

So, for those playing along at home, a recurring segment is now being defined as one that happens regularly, but not too often and doesn’t last too long. A recurring character does not count as a recurring segment, nor does something as broad as “news” or “an interview.” Oh, and it can’t be exactly the same every time - it has to be flexible enough to change things up, but not so broad that it isn’t focused. And it needs an intro. Got all that?

It’s pretty clear going in, Besser and the producers each had their own assumptions about what makes a recurring segment. Through the course of the week’s challenge they’ve had to do quite a bit of unpacking to make sense of it all. Ultimately, this is a good thing. But in the short term, it doesn’t exactly make for a compelling podcast. Part of the problem here might be we just don’t have an established vocabulary yet to talk accurately about a medium as young as podcasting. This language issue will no doubt improve in time, but until then...yeah.

And now the judging! First up is Left-Handed Radio, with one of the show’s characters answering listener voicemail. Lucky for Matt Gourley, it’s not very good. So, it sounds perfectly reasonable when he’s reluctant to lavish praise on it. Neither Scheer nor Besser go for it, either. It’s a funny idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Other likely candidates for the dreaded Bottom 3 include The F Plus, The Fort and Ham Radio: F Plus because it sounds too much like the rest of the show (again with the confusion about the show’s format), the The Fort segment because both the premise and the audio quality are murky and Ham Radio’s segment because it’s well-done but almost completely devoid of humor. I’m especially disappointed by Ham Radio - I kept expecting the movie trailer to take a left turn somewhere, but it played its ridiculous-but-not-that-ridiculous premise relatively straight up until the very end, with “Rated NC-17.”

At the top: Totally Laime, Television Zombies and The Little Dum Dum Club, all of which I’ve doubted could win this thing. Totally Laime’s “Laime or Totally?” game is a real winner, from its easy-to-grasp concept to its breezy pacing. It’s everything a good recurring segment should be (assuming we still know what that means). Scheer’s idea to use the game as a jumping-off point for further discussion with their guest is great. Though a bit confusing at first, TV Zombies’ entry combines the fun of a trivia contest with the thrill of hearing nerds shout out the names of relatively obscure TV actors. And yet it works! But it’s The Little Dum-Dum Club, though, with Karl’s list of Maryborough weirdos, that really stands out. Bonus points: the two Aussies set up the bit with some context, giving the judges (and us) an idea of what their show is like and how this segment would fit in. Smart. Maybe they’re not the underdogs I pegged them for a while back.

This, of course, leaves out The Bob and Dan Cast, which is really growing on me. This week they’re in the middle of the pack. Like Left-Handed Radio, they have a solid premise: answering weird questions on Yahoo! But something’s not quite clicking. The funniest part of the segment, actually, is the hosts going into exacting detail about the minutiae of a cake’s dimensions. They should totally keep it up, and call it “BAD Answers to Yahoo! Questions.”

Episode 4.3: The Judgment

Is this a reality show or a game show? By all means, let’s equivocate over some more terminology! We didn’t get enough yesterday. Besser & Co. anticipate my request by talking yet further about how to define a recurring segment. “Weekend Update” - no. Amy Poehler and Seth Myers’ “Really?” bit on “Weekend Update” - yes. Besser muses this ongoing debate is “interesting semantics.” He’s half-right.

The judges come in with their official Top 3: Totally Laime, The Little Dum-Dum Club and The Bob and Dan Cast, with an honorable mention for TV Zombies. Left-Handed Radio is spared Bottom 3 fate on the strength of their entry’s concept and potential. Gourley suggests a “McLaughlin Group”-style roundtable discussion with three of the show’s characters, which is a great idea.

That leaves Ham Radio, The F Plus and The Fort to duke it out. Actually, turns out to we don’t get to hear much duking. It’s no big surprise when Ham Radio bites the dust. Brett’s been on the ropes for three weeks in a row. It had to catch up with him eventually.

Look, Ham Radio isn’t doing anything wrong. The amount of time and energy Brett puts into each and every episode is impressive, and, like last week’s guest judge Jesse Thorn said, what Ham Radio produces is clearly “a thing.” He should definitely keep it up. Gourley compares Brett’s work with early Superego episodes, sending him off with some kind words. Brett is gracious in defeat. I’ll bet he’s a nice guy. So, I celebrate you, Ham Radio, with a listen to your last episode.

Friday
Aug052011

The AV Club: Podmass July 28-August 3

The AV Club scaled it down this week with their podcast praise via the Podmass recap. A lively Sklarbro Country episode and two unorthdox WTF episodes are highlights. The AV Club also gave a mention to The Earwolf Challenge. And, of course, another monthly Superego episode plops to great acclaim. The comedy shows/episodes making the list this week:

Comedy Bang! Bang! #116 - featuring Todd Glass, Jessica St. Clair
Sklarbro Country #53 - featuring Paul Scheer, Kevin Seccia, Langhorne Slim
Superego #3:6
Uhh Yeah Dude #282
Walking The Room #62 - featuring Jonah Ray, Man Tennis
WTF with Marc Maron #196 - featuring Wyatt Cenac, Horatio Sanz, Tom Scharpling, Sam Lipsyte, Kevin Allison
WTF with Marc Maron "Just For Laughs Keynote Address"

Check-out the full Podmass list of recaps here.

      

Thursday
Aug042011

Splitsider Top 5 Comedy Podcasts: August 4

     

Splitsider's comedy podcast authorities, Jesse Fox and Joe Berkowitz, released another fun-packed Top 5 list. Recaps included, too. Bonus. It's the beginning of the month, which means Superego earns another round of raves. The rest of the Top 5:

Comedy Bang! Bang! #116 - featuring Todd Glass, Jessica St. Clair
Superego #3:6
Uhh Yeah Dude #282
Who Charted? #35 - featuring Scott Aukerman
WTF with Marc Maron #196 "Live" - featuring Kevin Allison, Sam Lipsyte, Tom Scharpling, Wyatt Cenac

Honorable mentions include another stellar week of Affirmation Nation with Bob Ducca, a lively Sklarbro Country #53 (featuring Paul Scheer, Kevin Seccia) and a guestless Jordan, Jesse Go! #186.

Check-out the complete lowdown on the episodes here.

Monday
Jul112011

Earwolf Weekly Update: July 11

Paul Rust *Photo by Carlos SerraoIt's Tuesday - which means there's already a days worth of quality Earwolf programming out in the world. More to come the rest of the week, too. Via their weekly newsletter, Earwolf announced some fun shows this week. The the launch of The Earwolf Challenge takes center stage. Other highlights include a Vegas-themed Apple Sisters, Bobby Moynihan from SNL guesting on Comedy Bang! Bang!, Paul Rust talking with Paul Scheer and gang about Green Lantern on How Did This Get Made? and a long overdue full-episode visit from comedic voice talent all-star Chris Cox to Sklarbro Country

Check-out the full Earwolf scoop here.

Tuesday
Jun282011

Earwolf Weekly Update: June 27

Nick Kroll *Photo by Anya GarrettEarwolf keeps rolling along with another week of fun shows. Via its weekly newsletter, Earwolf announced a bunch of great guests on their shows. Highlights include Nick Kroll appearing on Professor Blastoff, an eclectic and crazy funny guest lineup for Comedy Bang! Bang! featuring Colin Hanks, Paul Scheer and Myq Kaplan and The Apple Sisters getting a visit from Miss Manners (Eliza Skinner).

Earwolf is also giving the fans a shout-out with a special episode of The Wolf Den featuring visits from three of their favorite fans.

Check-out the full newsletter here.

Monday
Jun132011

Earwolf Weekly Update: June 13

David Koechner *Photo by Mandee Johnson - www.mandeejohnson.comThe Earwolf team has another slew of great episodes coming your way this week. According to their weekly newsletter, some of the guest highlights include:

Matt Walsh guests on How Did This Get Made? as Paul Scheer and company discuss the lows of The Love Guru.

Comedy Bang! Bang! features visits from Childrens Hospital's Rob Corddry and Erinn Hayes, along with James Adomian debuting a new character.

David Koechner talks charts on Who Charted?

Get the full scoop on this week's shows and other Earwolf happenings from the full Earwolf newsletter here.

Tuesday
May312011

Earwolf Weekly Update: May 31

The big news on the Earwolf front this week is the launch of their new website - loaded with a bunch of extra features. The weekly Earwolf newsletter announced the new site along with the start of two new character-based shows, Affirmation Nation with Bob Ducca and The Apple Sisters. Other highlights on the week's shows include: Comedy Bang! Bang! concluding the fun two-part episode featuring Andy Richter and Paul F. TompkinsNatasha Leggero rehashing the craziness of The Tourist with Paul Scheer and Gil Ozeri on How Did This Get Made?,  the always funny Ken Marino guesting on Who Charted? and more.

We'll have more to say on the new Earwolf shows and website very soon. The new Earwolf shows and sites means it's an exciting day for comedy podcast fans.

Check-out the full newsletter here.

 

Monday
May232011

The AV Club: Podmass May 12-18

The A.V. Club released their weekly Podmass recap, highlighting their favorite shows and moments from podcasts of all types. Once again, the comedy shows occupy much of the mindscape of the A.V. Club writers. The A.V. Club highlights the latest great episode of the joyful Doug Loves Movies. Benson’s latest episode featured Paul F. Tompkins, Jen Kirkman and Tony Thaxton (drummer for Motion City Soundtrack) battling wits in the playfully over-hyped kick-off for the Leonard Maltin Game Tournament Of Championships.

Another mention from the A.V. Club writers goes out to How Did This Get Made? for their Adam Pally-guested episode discussing the ridiculousness of Mac & Me. Hosts Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukous enjoy some classic rants on the films' numerous proposterous set pieces.

Another highlighted show was the friendly and thoughtful visit from Demetri Martin to Randy and Jason Sklar's Sklarbro Country. The episode also featured music from Army Navy and some great inpersonation work from the uber talented James Adomian.

Marc Maron earned gold A.V. Club stars for his engaging interview with George Carlin's partner, Sally Wade on WTF with Marc Maron. They discuss Carlin's life, career and Wade's recently released book, The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship Of Sally Wade.

Check-out the full Podmass post here.

    

Monday
Apr182011

Earwolf Weekly Update: April 18

Another week of great Earwolf ahead. Check-out their handy-dandy newsletter for the full scoop.

The week is highlighted by Chelsea Peretti stopping by How Did This Get Made? to join Paul Scheer and the gang in trashing the recent film gem, Sucker Punch. There's a hint that Peretti might make an attempt at defending the film, too. Bill Burr is also guesting on Sklarbro Country, which is sure to make it a lively episode.

Also, a temporary moment of silence for the end of Mike Detective's sometimes thrilling but mostly silly Season 1. Looking forward to the next adventure, whenever that may be.