Mike Flinn (@realmikeflinn) isn’t just a podcast producer and engineer; he’s also an avid fan of the form. “My Pod Week” recaps and reviews the many varied comedy podcasts Flinn listened to or attended live tapings of during the previous week. Enjoy!
“If I wish to judge, why should I not?” John Hodgman listens to real-life disputes while asking many probing questions. His gavel is digital. His verdicts are decisive. Podcast bailiff Jesse Thorn swears in the litigants via Skype connection and both parties present their side of the argument. Defendant Brian would like to hunt on his new 17-acre property but his wife/plaintiff Claire would like him not to. While Hodgman is called many things — actor, author, and humorist — hunter is not among them. The judge brings in writer and outdoorsman Jonathan Miles for an assist. Miles Skypes in from the deep woods of New Jersey. “Now Johnny and I used to write for Men’s Journal magazine and I would write about fancy cheese and he would write about, like prison breaks and people punching each other.” Miles is the author of two celebrated novels, Dear American Airlines and Want Not. Miles names a great many animals that he has hunted in his life, raccoon and wild boar among them. Brian just wants to hunt a few deer or rabbit and feel like he is partially living off the land. He’s never shot a deer but now feels the calling to become a hunter. The judge is neutral on hunting and all in favor of landowners doing what they will, within the law of course. “Claire, when you married Brian did you know that he was a bloodthirsty monster.” “No sir, I just chose to see the sweetness in his face.” Miles tells the story of how he came to be a hunter. At age 12, he shot a dove and like any good 12-year-old Catholic, he started crying about it. He knew it would be sinful if he did not use the bird for food so he took it home and cooked up the only thing he knew how, Triscuit cracker pizza, with fresh dove meat. As he ate the Triscuit cracker pizza, his tears of shame gave the dove a nice salty seasoning and he came to the realization that meat is dead animals. Claire does not want to know where her meat comes from; she just wants to know it’s there and is willing to let Brian hunt if he hides it from her. Sounds healthy. This hunt is about Brian’s own psychological needs and the rusty grinding gears in his mind audibly squeal when the judge reveals this truth to him.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody joined Tig Notaro, David Huntsberger and Kyle Dunnigan for some interesting conversation about her life as a writer. She made the local news as a kid one summer by writing 144 book reports! Tig admits to not being very interested in attending class and I can relate to that sentiment as I had to be dragged to summer school programs year after year where the most creative thing I ever did was help draw a huge Millennium Falcon in the dirt with my fellow inmates. Cody worked as a stripper for 12 months and wrote a book about it called Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper. Diablo claims that she was no good at stripping and after a year, she marched those uncomfortable platform shoes right out the door mid-shift. She waited to tell her Catholic parents that she had been an undercover stripper until she got a book deal. It must have been kind of a bittersweet moment for Ma and Pa Cody. In 2007, Diablo won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Juno, starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera, made over $231 million. Kyle finds writing laborious and Diablo claims to not be as productive as one might think. Even successful writers like her have moments of doubt, but she has never given up or dropped out of anything. Tig and Diablo have been working together on an undisclosed project. Diablo likes working with a real character in the room and Tig tells Diablo that when it comes to writing “you’re like a machine.” We can only hope that they are telling Tig’s story. I’m new to Professor Blastoff but I’ve sought out most podcasts that Tig has appeared on as a guest. From what I’ve heard, her life so far would make for another amazing film by Diablo Cody.
Justin McElroy is about to become a dad and his younger brothers, Travis and Griffin McElroy, have suggestions as he talks through some of the prep work involved. He thought putting the car seat together would be a breeze but he could not have been more wrong. It turned out to be the single most frightening thing that he has encountered as he readies the world for his new arrival. “If the seat is leaning forward too far your baby’s head weight will make breathing impossible.” The instructions read like a bomb disposal manual and his brothers suggest trying it out on a test baby first. My Brother, My Brother and Me is an “advicecast” and they read letters from listeners seeking guidance. One father is dealing with his teenage son’s desire to trick or treat in the nude come October. The brothers read between the lines and are betting that this 14-year-old has found a creative way to get out of participating in Halloween. Justin, Travis, and Griffin are also joined by The Signature of All Things & Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. We find out that even when working from home she dresses for success while the brothers record the podcast like they are at a sleepover. Elizabeth is a regular listener of the show and enjoys it so much that she once used several episodes to pass the time on a flight home from New Zealand.
Mike Flinn is a podcast producer/engineer based in West Hollywood, Calif., for All Things Comedy. The views expressed in My Pod Week are purely his own.