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Episode 5.2 — Using the Guest: Day 2


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#1 Earwolf Admin

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 11:00 PM

Marc Maron and Howard Kremer both use guests in a unique way on their podcasts. Let's hear what they think of our seven remaining challengers. With the competition thinning out we have longer submissions to judge and harsher critiques for the remaining shows. Hear who did the most poorly tomorrow on our elimination show.



#2 Gym Sockerman

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 12:44 AM

I love hearing this podcast progress from week to week. You can really tell Matt and Frank are taking criticism to heart. I loved Matt confering with the other judges and establishing at the top of the show what criteria they were going to be using in their critiques. I'm going to be sad when this competition is over.



#3 Cody Nelson

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 01:01 AM

Good to see Left Handed Radio excel in today's episode. Not only because I'm a huge fan of that podcast, because I think this week's challenge was quite unfairly stacked against them. The similarities to American Idol theme episodes are a bit farfetched, and 'Using The Guest' is a bit of a ridiculous challenge in a show like this.

With that said, Matt's slowly but surely becoming a better host, and he had a great rapport with the two guest judges this time around. Maron played a hard-ass quite well, and it was a good thing; he made no unfounded claims, and my opinion on Braunger as straight man pretty much exactly mirrored his. Howard was also a great guest judge, and it was nice to hear someone say (basically) 'Well, I liked it, but they should've done more with it.'

My thoughts this week: Little Dum Dum Club continues to kill it, LHR as well; Bob and Dan Cast really let me down, as did Totally Laime (which saddens me the most out of all of this). The F+ and Television Zombies are still confusing me with their existence, and the Fort has a ton of potential, they've just yet to find and release it.

My predictions for bottom 3: F+, TV Zombies, and Bob & Dan Cast. Continue to do great, Earwolf Challenge, I'm loving every ep.



#4 jmart

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 02:14 AM

Painful listen this episode outside of Matt, Marc and Howard. The F+ I thought actually had the funniest content (thanks to the guest) but they absolutely dropped the ball when they kept "interrupting" the guest especially after telling him that he could say anything he wanted. That completely backfired on them.

The only other memorable submission (mostly because it was last) was Totally Laime's, but mostly because of how disappointing it was. I really like their show, but out of all the clips from all the great guests they've had...this should've been a slam dunk for them (again). And even though I think they're used a little ironically, a sound effect heavy clip was a horrible idea, because it didn't come across like it normally does on their show. I think they're fine this week (which is fine by me because I like the show) but I almost feel like they should be in the bottom three out of laziness.

Cody's predictions for the bottom three are mine as well, with The F+ being the odd one out.



#5 Brian Zeolla

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 02:26 AM

as a clean slate who has not investigated into either totally laime or bob and dan cast yet, i feel like the criticism for bob and dan seems to be the through-line for totally laimes entire show, which every other week has been heralded as charming, but this week, was considered tired and weak. i didn't love the comedy this week from bob and dan, but the totally or laime game didn't really have any comedy last week, except that it was spastic. i don't know, the playing field just never feels level. because in regards to using the guest, dan telfer seemed engaged, which was what they needed to accomplish, i feel. that is my two cents this week... it's worth nothing



#6 Julia Hays

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 02:51 AM

The Little Dum Dum Club was my favorite this week. Their conversations are laid back and fun. They don't have to force the funny, it just comes naturally.



#7 Gym Sockerman

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 02:54 AM

I also feel like I should give Left Handed radio props this week. The sketch lost me almost instantly, I wasn't enjoying it, and I felt like I could see where it was going. But the more and more absurd it got, the more and more I had a good time listening to it. A turn around like that is a rare and special thing.
I was assuming that Totally Laime and Little Dum Dums were both going to submit clips of PFT, and I was surprised and delighted to be wrong.
Loved hearing more Wie Wie Kremer!



#8 Bucho

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 03:32 AM

F+ - Dodgy sound plagues them again. Really great notes from all three judges. I felt like the blatantly lcd humour shouldn't have worked but somehow, like Howard, I couldn't help laughing by the end, damn them.
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BOB & DAN - Pacey, and I laughed out loud at the comment that horses killed Superman before I realised it wasn't pure absurdity. Telfer seems fun. Again, really sharp, perceptive notes from all three judges.
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LHR - Brought it again, although it petered out a little as the ending didn't deliver on the heightened fun of the rest of the sketch. Won the round for me again.
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DUM DUM CLUB - Continue to remind me of a morning zoo and Marc's comments in that area really nailed it. Good momentum but I feel like I've heard the conversation about juvenile email addresses 50 times already and they brought nothing fresh to it. But, in full disclosure, it might be worth noting that I am from New Zealand, so their Aussie charm works opposite on me to how it affects North Americans.
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TV ZOMBIES - Washed over me like it did for Marc. Just not my bag.
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THE FORT - Again Marc nailed it like he was reading my mind. Too predictable too early. Howard mentioned liking that it was easy to follow, but it wasn't just easy to follow, it was easy to get ahead of and predict, and that's not successful comedy to me. In short - if I'm two steps ahead of it there's a problem because I'm not that funny or smart to begin with.
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TOTALLY LAIME - Great judge notes again on the poorly deployed sound effects. I've listened to three full episodes of TL now and the first two, which were from early and middle of their run, were very meh, but a recent show with Paul F Tompkins was chock full of delights, not just from PFT but from the hosts, and was far funnier than what they chose for this round's entry. They may be victims of the bad song choice virus that's infected a couple of other shows in earlier rounds.
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For me this round turned out to be front loaded, with laughs from F+, Bob & Dan and LHR but a drop off in funny from then on.
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And Marc's comments about the massive number of "host(s) and guest(s) yapping" formatted podcasts requiring a strong hook or personality to stand out as worthy was right on the money, except where he kept using the word "comfortable" as a positive I see it as a neutral. Ironically his own show is built on a certain amount of discomfort and that's a significant part of why the conversations he wrangles are so highly regarded. In such a flooded market "comfortable" just doesn't cut it for me. "Comfortable" is a dime a dozen in podcasting. "Stimulating" is where the A-leaguers play, and it's something in inconsistent supply at best from the Dum Dums, TV Zombies and Totally Laime.
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My bottom three this round: TV Zombies, The Fort and Totally Laime.



#9 Caroline Anderson

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 04:37 AM

As a fan of Totally Laime who has listened to nearly every episode, I genuinely want to know why they chose that clip. They mentioned being out of town, so maybe they only had limited time or files to work on? Seems like a weird choice. Maybe she wanted to avoid using any of the frequent podcast guests she's had (Harris Wittels, Jen Kirkman, Garfunkel & Oates, Casey Wilson) but...yeah, not the strongest pick.



#10 jughead

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 06:43 AM

I have to be honest, all of the submissions this weeks were terrible. The sketchs in particular were really bad. Not at any point in any of the submissions did I even crack a smile or even chuckle. I can't see myself tuning in to any of these podcasts as it stands after this week. I mean, I could pick 2 minutes out of any episode of CBB and it would easily blow them all away.



#11 Jason E

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 07:04 AM

I concur that F+, Bob & Dan, and TV Zombies are the bottom 3 this week. I think F+ is getting the boot, with a caveat: TV Zombies is probably a better pick to stay home, but I think Matt Besser's fondness for their show will keep them afloat for now, to the F+'s lament.



#12 Allison1326657705

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 07:24 AM

I am surprised people are being so hard on Totally Laime. I thought the sound effects were funny and Elizabeth even commented that maybe she was using to many but she was sound effect happy. That being said I really like the story about sleeping nude and the guest talking about divorce. Plus I could follow the story!
There was a lot of talk about why listen to just talk pod casts with talk and not having a hook. One thing about Totally Laime is that as they said in their intro they are a podcast that ask the most important people the least important questions. That is a hook and really separates them from other podcasts as you never know where they are going.
I thought the following

F+ - I didn’t like it all. It was not believable and I thought it was gross for just being the sake of gross

Bob and Dan- It was the same gang that Totally Laime did two weeks ago but not as funny.

LHR-Thought the sketch was kinda of boring. Maybe because I am not a regular listener

Dum Dum- Thought it was funny. I agree that they don’t have a hook though.

TV Zombies - Couldn’t' follow at all!! It seems like they really have a limited audience! I really agreed with the judges in that I recognized like two words. Looney Toons and Kristin Wig.
Also as mentioned they have been getting the same note about sound quality. The fact that they aren’t doing anything about it makes it seem like they really don’t care. This is a huge opportunity and I feel like it’s an insult to Earwolf challenge that they haven’t done anything. Like they don’t even care. I think anyone can get $140.

The Fort- Lame!!! So obvious



#13 Niall Rooney

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:10 AM

The F Plus, were by far and away the funniest today, surely thats all that counts no? Pretty brave move that worked imo.
Bob and Dan, no idea what was going on and didn't find it funny at all.
Left Hand Radio, sketch was ok, not a true guest segment etc. etc. but who cares? It worked.
The Dum Dum Club, I don't like Australians, liked the segment though. Ugh.
Tv Zombies, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?
The Fort, Medusa is French? Oh dear.

Also Earwolf Challenge likes wheelhouses. Don't think I'd listen to any of these podcasts. Ever.



#14 Foam Corner

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:39 AM

How can anyone not like Australians? They're awesome.



#15 Tim

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:49 AM

I liked Elizabeth's sound effects.



#16 Clint F

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 09:07 AM

I would have to agree that this week was overall pretty weak. There were a few bits and pieces that made me laugh (the danger of horses) but overall nothing very strong. I would have to say that this week the Dum Dums got it for me. It was funny and true to their style. Think their show would be a good fit for Earwolf although I wonder how much of their show will be lost on Earwolf listeners because of geographical references and guests that may be famous in Australia but unknown to us here. I was really disappointed by Totally Laime's choice and especially by the sound effects. SFX are great in a sketch show but not in a chat show. The other thing that bothered me about the SFX was that you could hear her doing it. You could hear the clicking and the SFX came in late most times which to me ruined any possible positive impact they may have had. I think if you are going to use them you should definitely have a producer doing that behind the scenes. At the very least get a quieter mouse.



#17 Clint F

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 09:08 AM

I thought the guest judges did a great job. I may be a little biased as I am a really big fan of Marc Maron but I thought he was great. He wasn't overly negative and I think his praise and criticism were on point. I would like to bring up something Marc said that I think is very important and overlooked a lot in podcasting. He talked about radio. It seems as podcasters and podcast fans that we strive to not be like radio but in my mind there is no way around it. Podcasts ARE radio. They are just delivered to the listener differently. We should take some cues from radio. The radio industry figured out what works and what doesn't long ago. While I can go along with bucking the system it shouldn't be done out of habit. If elements of radio work we should use them. I have been an audio producer for radio and TV as well as a voice over professional since I was a teenager. The thing that drew me to podcasting was that we could be different. But I would like to point out that three of the most popular podcasts today, WTF, CBB and Adam Carolla are all much more like traditional radio than the average podcast. All three of these shows hosts have radio experience and I think that experience gives them a clear advantage. The very first thing I noticed the first time I listened to CBB was the radio value that it had. It blends the best of traditional radio with the freedoms of podcasting. Brilliant and Scott is as skilled as any traditional radio host I have dealt with.
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The other thing Marc brought up that relates to radio is microphone choice. He mentioned the importance of quality mics which cannot be stressed enough. He mentioned that they were talking into the best mics available for podcasting and I agree (with maybe the exception of the EV RE20). He and Earwolf use Shure SM7B's which are legendary broadcast mics (the entire Thriller album was recorded with these) and I have always had at least one or two in my own arsenal. Broadcast is the operative word here. The thing I have noticed about most podcasts is that they are not using the proper equipment. As I said, radio figured out long ago what works and what doesn't. The typical mic being used by podcasters are not the right tools for the job, in spite of what the manufacturer may say and you will NEVER find one in a pro radio studio. This is in my mind one of the biggest reasons that Earwolf shows sound infinitely better than the rest. They produce it like a radio show and they use the right equipment. So he is right... if you want to sound like a pro, you have to buy pro gear. I am working on a little podcasting microphone and equipment primer that I hope to have finished tonight. It will cover the different types of mics and audio interfaces and what makes them suited for podcasting. If anyone is interested I will be happy to post it. Sorry for the overly long post.... Sometimes I get excited.



#18 Rutabaga

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 09:48 AM

I actually thought the stuff the F+’s guest read this week was very funny, but (once I heard it) I totally agreed with the criticism that they were stepping on the guest. I also think they could take a little more time to set up where things are coming from. Suddenly this guy is reading about what he was reading about, and it was obvious that Marc missed one or two words in the opening sentence and that lost him completely on the whole thing. I think he might have actually enjoyed that if it had been clearer to him. In none of the Challenge clips, as far as I remember, have they ever said this is from a forum about XYZ. Their sound was much better this time than previously and I think they deserve credit for at least trying. People say the sketch shows have a tough time integrating guests, but their show has it much worse. Isn’t there already like 14 of them?
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The Fort is baffling to me. Cody Nelson said in this thread: “The Fort has a ton of potential, they've just yet to find and release it.” I couldn’t agree with this more. I love everything about what they are trying to do, but I just haven’t really found any of it that funny. They seem like they want to be a more structured CBB, which is a fantastic idea. I have no right to criticize their comedy any further, but I would just really like them to come out and wow me in the coming weeks.
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TV Zombies is on the chopping block for me this week. They are the only podcast left that I wouldn’t listen to regardless of quality. The fact that their show has such a short shelf life is a deal breaker for me. In my mind, podcasts should be almost entirely evergreen. If I fall behind and have to listen to 6 week old news stories and TV show discussions, I am not going to catch up. Podcasting is pretty much the ultimate place for being niche, but they aren’t my niche I guess. I think this challenge could have easily been them interviewing a guest and disproving much of what I just said, but instead it was more a showcase that they seem to be one single thing.
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I say Totally Laime, TV Zombies and F+ in the bottom three with Totally Laime getting a lecture, F+ getting a shape up or ship out type final lecture, and TV Zombies eliminated with Matt not defending them too much because he is scared he is being impartial.



#19 Candice

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 09:49 AM

Here I am actually getting emotionally invested in this show! The only clip I really laughed hard at was Bob and Dan's, although I seem to be in the minority there. I do agree that their device wasn't the most original, but it didn't matter because it was still funny to me. I will be really bummed if they get eliminated tomorrow.
Overall I was a little disappointed in the entries. Totally Laime surprised me with their choice of clip, the sound effects weren't a dealbreaker or anything, I just wasn't that amused by the actual conversation. I believe they have better stuff.
Surprised to hear the judges were confident in which podcasts would end up in the bottom. Honestly none of the entries seemed to blow them away, so I wonder who will actually end up in the bottom three.
I'm guessing it might be the F+, Bob and Dan, and TV Zombies, but who knows!



#20 Swirly Bear

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 09:51 AM

I love the idea of a "Reality Podcast Challenge", and it really fits in with Earwolf's desire to infuse the medium with new and interesting things. I know that this is the first season, but some of these episodes are infuriating as a listener. Here are some thoughts that might help make it better. (Apologies if some of these have been discussed. I haven't read all the episode forums.)

- The guest judges should be told AHEAD OF THE EPISODE what each podcast is about. This could be done off-air so as not to disrupt the flow of the episode but should probably be done briefly before the segment for any new Challenge listeners. Ideally, the judges should listen to at least 5 minutes of each podcast still in the running before the Challenge judging episode, as this would give them a better feel for what they are getting into. It is frustrating when I hear what I feel is a good bit, and the judges are completely confused because they weren't told what the show was about. I cheered when Howard Kremer actually stopped Matt to get an explanation before listening to one submission because that should have been a no-brainer. I understand that having permanent judges is hard due to scheduling conflicts. At this stage of the game, the contestants should not have to re-introduce what they do every time. That is not the point of the challenges, and is not fair to anyone.

That is not saying that podcasts shouldn't find their voices. However, some of the sketch shows, F+ and TV Zombies need a little explaining before a listener jumps into them cold. Caroline made a good point that a listener makes a snap decision when they first listen to a podcast, but people listen to new podcasts from the beginning and not a random segment in the middle of it. The beginning usually tells you what you're getting into. These challenges are as if you've skipped ahead without hearing even the intro.

- I agree with others that the challenges are trying to fit each podcast into a mold. Everyone talks about how they don't want just another talking head podcast with guests, but each challenge seems to be tailored to those types of shows. I understand that this is probably a first season hurdle, but it needs to be said again. It makes it very unfair to those podcasts that are not in that format. Why not make the talking heads write a sketch for example. However, I have been enjoying what some of the contestants have chosen to do with these challenges. It shows flexibility.

Two pet peeves about this contest:

- Little Dum Dum Club and Totally Laime are already pretty professional and have a large following. It is obvious that almost every judge has heard of (or been a guest on) Totally Laime, and apparently the Little Dum Dum Club is a famous radio podcast in Australia. This leads me to ask why are they competing? Since they already have a set-up and would cost Earwolf little in the long run to have them in the family, it makes sense to have given them a contract. I like them both and am glad for the contest exposing me to their shows. I just feel that it's a little unfair to the rest of the contestants. These two shows should have been brought into the fold since they obviously already fit and would probably bring in revenue to Earwolf with their respective fan bases. Now, some would say that this just drives the other podcasts to do better, but right now I feel like PFT watching American Idol, knowing that the country dude is going to win it all. It makes for very boring listening.

- Matt Besser, I love you so much but please - PLEASE - stop playing dumb on certain things when discussing the segments with the judges. I'm not talking about the "What is a recurring segment" thing. The meta discussions are fine. I am talking about you knowing something and then pretending that you don't when the judges are on. This happens a lot because the judges aren't told what the podcast is about. Then, you act like you've also never heard the podcast before. I think you're trying to see if the segment is good enough for the judges to figure it out, but it's infuriating to the listener to listen to 2 minutes of stumbling every time. It can adversely affect the judging as Howard Kremer stated.

It also happens when a podcast tells you what they are going to do in the coaching session and then you act like the submission took you by surprise when they do EXACTLY what they said they would do. It's baffling why you're acting like this. As a seasoned professional, you know that your role is host AND permanent judge. You should be the one facilitating things, not confusing them. Again, I love you, but this is starting to seem like a bit. :)

I am really enjoying the judges and their input. I think that even if a contestant is eliminated, they are getting thoughtful and useful feedback from professionals not just in podcasting but in the industry. I hope that each group internalizes what they are told because it is really good advice. PFT and Jesse Thorn were great, but everyone has had useful and relevant feedback. I hope this makes each group a better podcast because it's obvious that everyone loves what they do. Don't take the criticisms to mean STOP. Take it to mean "this is a great idea that could be greater".

I know that you are ahead a few episodes in taping but hopefully these suggestions could be discussed for the next season. Thanks for all the hard work, (both Earwolf and the contestants)!