Hugh Likes Podcasts: The Flop House

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The Flop House
Dan McCoy, Stewart Wellington, and Elliott Kalan
The Maximum Fun Network

It should come as no surprise to regular readers that I’m admittedly kind of a podcast hipster.  I love shows about nerds telling jokes about bad movies.  I’m even a member of one.  It’s a nerdom that for me goes all the way back to watching MST3K on the Sci-Fi Channel Saturday mornings.  There are a lot of bad movie podcasts out in the wilds of iTunes, but The Flop House is special because it brings so much more improvisational humor, lightness, and camaraderie to the recording.
Hosted by veteran Daily Show Producer Dan McCoy and writer Elliott Kalan along with their friend Stewart Wellington, each episode examines a different commercial bomb.  They talk about the aspects of the film and decide whether or not the flop is as bad as it seems or if it deserves another chance.
What sets The Flop House apart is the second half of the show, in which the hosts open up the mail bag, accompanied by an improvised and surprisingly long song by Elliott.  I can’t think of a way to appealingly describe it, and they seem like they should be terrible, but they are in fact delightful and charming.  That’s the best way I can explain the podcast as a whole.  The hosts are knowledgeable, funny, and have a real sense of friendship that is brought to the fore.  The Flop House is a podcast that seems like it shouldn’t work on paper, but is in fact a wonder that is more than the sum of its parts.
It also has a huge back catalog.  The Flop House recently celebrated its 200th episode, so there are plenty of old episodes to go back and find a movie you’d like to hear them discuss.
The Flop House is hosted by the Maximum Fun Network and can be found online at flophousepodcast.com.  It can be downloaded from iTunes and other podcatching services.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: We Got This With Mark and Hal

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We Got This With Mark and Hal
Hal Lublin & Mark Gagliardi
Maximum Fun Network
“We Got This” is a podcast that sets out to settle the very small questions.  Hosted by Thrilling Adventure Hour regulars Hal Lublin and Mark Gagliardi, it tackles the cultural debates that hover over bar rooms and gaming tables.  From what state has the best barbecue to Best Star Trek film, they hash out the data and come up with a definitive answer to life’s least pressing debates.
One of the things that makes this show really work is the chemistry between Mark and Hal.  As cast members of the long-running stage show and podcast “Thrilling Adventure Hour,” their camaraderie and friendship is in evidence.  And as working actors and bonafide nerds, their pop-cultural cred can’t be questioned.  While many of the show’s topics are suggested by fans through the Maximum Fun Reddit page, there is a sense that they are returning to arguments they have hashed out before over backstage drinks and diner food.
But where one of them is lacking expertise, they never fake it.  There is a genuineness to this podcast that is quite charming, even when you want to shout corrections into your player.  They have had an excellent set of guest experts as well.  A recent episode debating Star Trek vs. Star Wars, which was recorded live, featured Mythbuster Adam Savage and Internet Judge John Hodgeman, for example.
Thrilling Adventure Hour may be complete, but Hal and Mark are still making great podcasts.  If you’ve missed your Work Juice Player fix, this is a great show to pick up.  And even if you have never heard of the hosts before, their charm and sagacity is sure to delight.  So if you have some niggling pop-culture question, check their archives.  Chances are, They’ve got this.

Hugh Likes Podcasts: International Waters

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International Waters
Hosted by Dave Holmes
International Waters is a lot of fun.  Ostensibly a panel quiz show, host Dave Holmes pits teams of American and British comedians against each other to determine which country is better.  In reality, it’s a thin rationale for pop culture and current events jokes, it is still a joy to hear.  You cold think of it like ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ without the NPR respectability.
While the humor is often lowbrow, Holmes is a charming host, and the guests are usually quite witty in between the poop and dick jokes.  The show is divided into three rounds.  First, the panels answer current events trivia.  Then, there is a round of games in which the guests try and answer questions about odd bits of the other country’s pop culture.  Finally, there is the last and most important round which is a creative challenge of some kind, where the comics have to defend the worst bits of their own culture or attack something beloved of their opponents, such as Doctor Who or Spider-Man.  There is a nice variety to the games, and they are quite entertaining.
International Waters is available from the Maximum Fun network and comes out twice a month.  It’s a great addition to stand-up fans, Anglophiles, and ex-pats alike.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: The Adventure Zone

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The Adventure Zone Flat_7

The Adventure Zone
Hosted by The McElroy Brothers & Clint McElroy
Maximum Fun Network

The Adventure Zone is a very recent podcast from Griffin, Travis and Justin McElroy, the hosts of the longer-running “My Brother, My Brother and Me” advice podcast.  They are joined by their father, comedian and radio personality Clint McElroy in this new podcast, in which they play 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons.
While all four are experienced improvisers and podcasters, aside from Griffin, they have very limited gaming knowledge.  This differentiates T.A.Z. from typical gaming podcasts, which tend to be hosted by passionate players with more limited technical or performing skills.  This also makes it a fun and engaging show for listeners of all levels of gaming interest.
As both GM and podcast producer, Griffin does a good job of keeping things moving along and teaching his players, and the audience, what they need to know to keep up.  This is a nice feature for listeners who have never played D&D before who would like to see what it’s like.  The personality of all four hosts comes through in their characters and choices.  This is engaging for experienced gamers who’ve all played with that guy, or been that guy themselves.  Clint, playing cleric Merle Highchurch is completely new to roleplaying, and is trying to figure things out and see what he can do.  Justin, playing the wizard Taako, pronounced like the food, is there to make funny voices and generally goof around.  And Travis, playing fighter Magnus Burnside, cheats like crazy.
The audio quality is great, and at about an hour long, each episode is a fine background for a commute, cleaning, or video game session.
The Adventure Zone is a great podcast for podcast listeners who aren’t sure if D&D is right for them, or gamers looking for a good laugh.  You can find in in iTunes, or subscribe via maximumfun.org/shows/adventure-zone.