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That's a fair point, and for what it's worth, I apologize. I actually do understand that some people like TL AND LHR. I shouldn't have responded to Ron's post at all; I'm just still smarting from the shitty judging this week. Sorry, Ron.

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This was a tough week to listen to. Up to this point, the Challenge has been all about the elements of a good podcast, challenges that test basic podcasting skills, and pro tips from guest judges-- with Matt using his "Socratic approach" to figure out the platonic ideal of a comedy podcast. That's a big part of what made this show fascinating as a frequent podcast listener; It was a discussion of the form, disguised as a reality competition show. Why are good podcasts good? Matt will tell you, and the contestants will show you (by failing or succeeding in the challenges).
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All of that went out the window this week (and last week, too) as the focus has shifted to "Who's funniest?" It's a question that none of us can reasonably answer, including Matt and the judges. And predictably, the forums have erupted with anger. I sympathize with the judges, but there's got to be a better way of ending the competition than changing the criteria in the final rounds to subjective judgement.
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This would be my suggestion as to how to end a competition like this:
1)Once the final four (or three) is figured out, each finalist records a 10-15 minute long final submission with no overarching directive from Matt & Frank.
(You could present it in the normal way, where we hear all the entries on Day 2 and critique/deliberation/judgement on Day 3, or break it out into smaller episodes where we hear a final submission followed by its critique, with a mass deliberation/judgement finale thing.)
2) The judging panel in the final stages should be bigger than just Matt and two guests. We need more judges, and preferably some of the guest judges from earlier in the season. Not only would they not need to be introduced to the contestants or the Challenge, but they'd be the best judges of how the contestants have improved.

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This was a tough week to listen to. Up to this point, the Challenge has been all about the elements of a good podcast, challenges that test basic podcasting skills, and pro tips from guest judges-- with Matt using his "Socratic approach" to figure out the platonic ideal of a comedy podcast. That's a big part of what made this show fascinating as a frequent podcast listener; It was a discussion of the form, disguised as a reality competition show. Why are good podcasts good? Matt will tell you, and the contestants will show you (by failing or succeeding in the challenges).
.
All of that went out the window this week (and last week, too) as the focus has shifted to "Who's funniest?" It's a question that none of us can reasonably answer, including Matt and the judges. And predictably, the forums have erupted with anger. I sympathize with the judges, but there's got to be a better way of ending the competition than changing the criteria in the final rounds to subjective judgement.
.
This would be my suggestion as to how to end a competition like this:
1)Once the final four (or three) is figured out, each finalist records a 10-15 minute long final submission with no overarching directive from Matt & Frank.
(You could present it in the normal way, where we hear all the entries on Day 2 and critique/deliberation/judgement on Day 3, or break it out into smaller episodes where we hear a final submission followed by its critique, with a mass deliberation/judgement finale thing.)
2) The judging panel in the final stages should be bigger than just Matt and two guests. We need more judges, and preferably some of the guest judges from earlier in the season. Not only would they not need to be introduced to the contestants or the Challenge, but they'd be the best judges of how the contestants have improved.

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I agree with a lot of what is being said here. I'll do my best to respond on the show that we record today.

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I agree with a lot of what is being said here. I'll do my best to respond on the show that we record today.

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Mark's point: "The fact that you were "fooled" about who was going to eliminated this week, when it was painfully obvious to EVERY OTHER PERSON WHO HEARD THE PODCAST, automatically renders your opinion moot," couldn't have been more incorrect but I understand that you may have been venting some. Matt fooled me because he seemed to accentuate that the slate would be wiped clean/clear and that nothing that had happened before would count... so that would have meant one of the two that have dominated the season could have been eliminated... and, I'm not a Totally Laime fan but do recognize that they were clearly the best a few of the weeks. I actually didn't think they were the best this week but the judges seem to respond well to discussions of teenage girl sex so why not give them what they want?! 8)

I also was listing my preferences for the judges.. seriously though, you can't say anyone I listed as my dream team or honorable mention wouldn't be great... impossible to get? Maybe.. But definitely great!

And to Matt's post: I agree 100%

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Mark's point: "The fact that you were "fooled" about who was going to eliminated this week, when it was painfully obvious to EVERY OTHER PERSON WHO HEARD THE PODCAST, automatically renders your opinion moot," couldn't have been more incorrect but I understand that you may have been venting some. Matt fooled me because he seemed to accentuate that the slate would be wiped clean/clear and that nothing that had happened before would count... so that would have meant one of the two that have dominated the season could have been eliminated... and, I'm not a Totally Laime fan but do recognize that they were clearly the best a few of the weeks. I actually didn't think they were the best this week but the judges seem to respond well to discussions of teenage girl sex so why not give them what they want?! 8)

I also was listing my preferences for the judges.. seriously though, you can't say anyone I listed as my dream team or honorable mention wouldn't be great... impossible to get? Maybe.. But definitely great!

And to Matt's post: I agree 100%

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I think Jeff and Scott should guest-judge the final show. It's their network, and they should be a part of the final decision. It'd be very... climatic, I guess. That said, they should also incorporate fan voting into the final call, a la the Harris's Foam corner vote, to pre-emptively cut the legs out from under any assholes tempted to cry conspiracy or what have you. Also because it seems like the fans should have some say as to who the winner is.

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I think Jeff and Scott should guest-judge the final show. It's their network, and they should be a part of the final decision. It'd be very... climatic, I guess. That said, they should also incorporate fan voting into the final call, a la the Harris's Foam corner vote, to pre-emptively cut the legs out from under any assholes tempted to cry conspiracy or what have you. Also because it seems like the fans should have some say as to who the winner is.

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I just had a small suggestion for the next season. Why don't you have the contestants create a itunes description of their podcast at the beginning? Then each week hand the judges their descriptions, along with challenge description for that week.
This way, they are essentially getting what a person deciding whether or not to download a podcast would have. (The description of the podcast overall and a description of that specific episode.) This may reduce some of the repitition of explaining it over and over. Having said that, I would like to say I have really enjoyed this competition. I enjoy listening to it as is and if nothing changes, I am cool with that and will continue listening. I didn't even mind this weeks challenge, I thought it was clever and a little evil, which I found to be hilarious. Having recently read the forums and seeing some people consider this a negative, I like the fact that it is different judges every week, because they are going to have different ideas and are less likely to develop a bias as the weeks go on. I know some of the judges come in with a "bias", just because they have heard one of the podcasts before or have been guests on them , but I don't think this really is an issue. I know I first was finding podcasts to try, the first ones I downloaded were ones with people that I recognized, The first one I ever downloaded was "The Bugle", based entirely on the fact that I thought John Oliver was funny on the Daily Show. I loved it and that is what encouraged me to go and try other podcasts based on their subject material. I love movies, so when I saw a podcast called "I love Movies", I downloaded an episode to see if I would like it. It is one of my favorite podcasts now. In addition, just because I like one podcast, that doesn't stop me from hearing something new and liking that too if not more sometimes. For example, based on Scott Aukermann(him not being someone I had heard of before.) being a guest on Doug loves movies, I decided to give Comedy Deathy Ray(now Comedy Bang Bang) a try. I listen to both now and find them both funny. So in a way, I look at the different judges coming in each week are acting like new listeners, who have their own biases, deciding which podcast they are going to try next. Different people are going to have different tastes, and by having the same people every week, we are only going to hear about their taste, which may not match mine. So in conclusion, please keep the multiple judges format (and Matt Besser, he makes me laugh which when deciding which podcasts to subscribe to is very important to me)

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I just had a small suggestion for the next season. Why don't you have the contestants create a itunes description of their podcast at the beginning? Then each week hand the judges their descriptions, along with challenge description for that week.
This way, they are essentially getting what a person deciding whether or not to download a podcast would have. (The description of the podcast overall and a description of that specific episode.) This may reduce some of the repitition of explaining it over and over. Having said that, I would like to say I have really enjoyed this competition. I enjoy listening to it as is and if nothing changes, I am cool with that and will continue listening. I didn't even mind this weeks challenge, I thought it was clever and a little evil, which I found to be hilarious. Having recently read the forums and seeing some people consider this a negative, I like the fact that it is different judges every week, because they are going to have different ideas and are less likely to develop a bias as the weeks go on. I know some of the judges come in with a "bias", just because they have heard one of the podcasts before or have been guests on them , but I don't think this really is an issue. I know I first was finding podcasts to try, the first ones I downloaded were ones with people that I recognized, The first one I ever downloaded was "The Bugle", based entirely on the fact that I thought John Oliver was funny on the Daily Show. I loved it and that is what encouraged me to go and try other podcasts based on their subject material. I love movies, so when I saw a podcast called "I love Movies", I downloaded an episode to see if I would like it. It is one of my favorite podcasts now. In addition, just because I like one podcast, that doesn't stop me from hearing something new and liking that too if not more sometimes. For example, based on Scott Aukermann(him not being someone I had heard of before.) being a guest on Doug loves movies, I decided to give Comedy Deathy Ray(now Comedy Bang Bang) a try. I listen to both now and find them both funny. So in a way, I look at the different judges coming in each week are acting like new listeners, who have their own biases, deciding which podcast they are going to try next. Different people are going to have different tastes, and by having the same people every week, we are only going to hear about their taste, which may not match mine. So in conclusion, please keep the multiple judges format (and Matt Besser, he makes me laugh which when deciding which podcasts to subscribe to is very important to me)

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There are two things I think you MUST do if you are to run a second season of this show:
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1. Get another permanent judge. I like the "new blood" element every week, but lack of familiarity with the podcasts has proven unfair time and time again to many of the shows, and it's brutal on the audience. So you compromise. You bring in one more permanent judge, and have the last judge spot be filled by a different comedian each week. And the second permanent judge doesn't have to be a comedian; in fact, I'd prefer it NOT be a comedian. Get someone who works behind the scenes, who views podcasts from a unique perspective, neither host nor audience member. I'd rather hear from that individual about podcasts than from a dozen Harris Wittels. Let Besser and the other comedian worry about the funny. In fact, let the CONTESTANTS worry about the funny: they're all supposed to be COMEDY podcasts, right? The single biggest problem with this show has been lack of familiarity with the podcasts from the judges. You need a second permanent judge.
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2. Establish clear criteria for judging each challenge BEFORE you get on the air, and have the judges follow that criteria. As amusing as it can be to hear Besser fumble through his half-assery three days a week, it's infuriating that you people don't know from minute to minute what you're basing your judgment on. It's maddening, it's unprofessional, and it's terribly unfair to the podcasts.
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You had your test run. Now it's time to get serious. You can pout because so many people called you on your winging it and vow never to put yourselves through something like that again, or you can acknowledge that the concept is good, the execution was shaky at best, learn from your mistakes, and put out a much better product next time around.

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There are two things I think you MUST do if you are to run a second season of this show:
-
1. Get another permanent judge. I like the "new blood" element every week, but lack of familiarity with the podcasts has proven unfair time and time again to many of the shows, and it's brutal on the audience. So you compromise. You bring in one more permanent judge, and have the last judge spot be filled by a different comedian each week. And the second permanent judge doesn't have to be a comedian; in fact, I'd prefer it NOT be a comedian. Get someone who works behind the scenes, who views podcasts from a unique perspective, neither host nor audience member. I'd rather hear from that individual about podcasts than from a dozen Harris Wittels. Let Besser and the other comedian worry about the funny. In fact, let the CONTESTANTS worry about the funny: they're all supposed to be COMEDY podcasts, right? The single biggest problem with this show has been lack of familiarity with the podcasts from the judges. You need a second permanent judge.
-
2. Establish clear criteria for judging each challenge BEFORE you get on the air, and have the judges follow that criteria. As amusing as it can be to hear Besser fumble through his half-assery three days a week, it's infuriating that you people don't know from minute to minute what you're basing your judgment on. It's maddening, it's unprofessional, and it's terribly unfair to the podcasts.
-
You had your test run. Now it's time to get serious. You can pout because so many people called you on your winging it and vow never to put yourselves through something like that again, or you can acknowledge that the concept is good, the execution was shaky at best, learn from your mistakes, and put out a much better product next time around.

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I've been thinking strengthening the backbone of the show with two regular judges and having the single rotating guest in the third seat would make the show stronger and more consistent and, therefore, more satisfying too. Matt has said he doesn't like being the Seacresty "anchor" type judge, so why not bring in someone who could do that and let Matt and his diabolical mind run more freely? I know Scott's a busy sonofagun but he'd be my first choice.
 
Clear criteria is vital. Like Matt and several other judges have said over the last couple of months - make sure the audience doesn't get lost. EVERY week you're judging comedy podcasts the number one question the judges ask themselves should be "How funny was it?". Maybe even give each a grade from A-F or 1-5 stars or something. Movie and music critics use grades as a component of their communication in order to be as clear as possible, why not comedy critics too? Maybe it's just crazy enough to work and would have the added bonus of generating even more forum discussion in the same way movie nerds like to argue over movie ratings and give their own ratings.
 
The "why was this funny or not funny" part of the discussion where Matt and other experienced pros dissect the entries is where the meat/gold/meaty gold of each episode is at, but the part of the contest where one is evaluated relative to the others still needs to be communicated in the clearest way possible.

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I've been thinking strengthening the backbone of the show with two regular judges and having the single rotating guest in the third seat would make the show stronger and more consistent and, therefore, more satisfying too. Matt has said he doesn't like being the Seacresty "anchor" type judge, so why not bring in someone who could do that and let Matt and his diabolical mind run more freely? I know Scott's a busy sonofagun but he'd be my first choice.
 
Clear criteria is vital. Like Matt and several other judges have said over the last couple of months - make sure the audience doesn't get lost. EVERY week you're judging comedy podcasts the number one question the judges ask themselves should be "How funny was it?". Maybe even give each a grade from A-F or 1-5 stars or something. Movie and music critics use grades as a component of their communication in order to be as clear as possible, why not comedy critics too? Maybe it's just crazy enough to work and would have the added bonus of generating even more forum discussion in the same way movie nerds like to argue over movie ratings and give their own ratings.
 
The "why was this funny or not funny" part of the discussion where Matt and other experienced pros dissect the entries is where the meat/gold/meaty gold of each episode is at, but the part of the contest where one is evaluated relative to the others still needs to be communicated in the clearest way possible.

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For a possible future challenge, that would take every one out of the there wheelhouse.
As a lot of people start trying out podcasts having heard the hosts in other podcasts, 1 challenge could be to have the contestants as guests on another podcast. This overall would test the podcasters ability to reach out to a new audience and gain extra listeners.

They could be marked on:
1: Their ability to adapt and engage to the podcast
2: Displaying their humour
3: Appropriately plugging their own podcast.

(Sorry if something similar posted previously)

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For a possible future challenge, that would take every one out of the there wheelhouse.
As a lot of people start trying out podcasts having heard the hosts in other podcasts, 1 challenge could be to have the contestants as guests on another podcast. This overall would test the podcasters ability to reach out to a new audience and gain extra listeners.

They could be marked on:
1: Their ability to adapt and engage to the podcast
2: Displaying their humour
3: Appropriately plugging their own podcast.

(Sorry if something similar posted previously)

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@Mark Thompson Do you live in LA? I'd really like to meet you more than anyone in these forums.

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@Mark Thompson Do you live in LA? I'd really like to meet you more than anyone in these forums.

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Sorry, Matt...I'm on the East Coast. Let me know next time you're playing in the Philly area, and I'll be happy to show up and let you take a swing at me. (I really do love you!)

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Sorry, Matt...I'm on the East Coast. Let me know next time you're playing in the Philly area, and I'll be happy to show up and let you take a swing at me. (I really do love you!)

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So I started listening about a week ago and just barreled through all these episodes. I'm behind on most of my other podcasts, and I'm learning a ton about podcasts, and comedy in general, so I love a lot about this. I'm also starting to here "Here you later" in my sleep, which I should see a doctor about.

One suggestion, which may be terrible, is maybe having a listener vote. I think someone mentioned this, but I don't like it as a weekly thing. I like that the judges can get rid of whomever they like, since we don't want the team with the biggest fan base to just barrel to the finish line. But I think something like a "listener vote" week, or better yet, a "listeners save" like the "judges save" on American Idol, allowing teams to get a reprieve. It would only work for the first four-six weeks, but it might add a nice element of listener engagement. It'd be bad it became all listener voting, because I don't trust the animals of the internet not to be terrible people, but it might be a nice condiment... like a touch of Rosemary.

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So I started listening about a week ago and just barreled through all these episodes. I'm behind on most of my other podcasts, and I'm learning a ton about podcasts, and comedy in general, so I love a lot about this. I'm also starting to here "Here you later" in my sleep, which I should see a doctor about.

One suggestion, which may be terrible, is maybe having a listener vote. I think someone mentioned this, but I don't like it as a weekly thing. I like that the judges can get rid of whomever they like, since we don't want the team with the biggest fan base to just barrel to the finish line. But I think something like a "listener vote" week, or better yet, a "listeners save" like the "judges save" on American Idol, allowing teams to get a reprieve. It would only work for the first four-six weeks, but it might add a nice element of listener engagement. It'd be bad it became all listener voting, because I don't trust the animals of the internet not to be terrible people, but it might be a nice condiment... like a touch of Rosemary.

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