To Jeff's points: I don't think ANYONE expects the judges to listen to the podcasts ahead of time (I certainly never suggested that). And I'm sure we all appreciate that they're giving up free time to do this. However, it's ridiculous to suggest that summarizing the format of the shows before you run the clips would add "10 minutes" to the run time. As others have stated, Besser spends a good deal of time explaining the format to the judges AFTER the clips, usually resulting in a lot of extraneous "Oh, THAT'S what that was about" kind of talk. The not-explaining thing is clearly NOT designed to save time (it clearly ADDS time), but rather a policy to let the judges hear the clips to see if the show format would come through on its own. Besser pretty much says as much in the first few weeks of the challenge. However, as has been discussed previously, not all formats work when taken out of context, and while that may be a weakness for a radio show, it's not for a podcast. If you're going to judge everything by chat show standards, you should have restricted the entries to just chat show podcasts. It's unfair to those with original premises to have no prior explanation - which the judges would obviously prefer (and which the target audience will almost ALWAYS have). If you're going to stubbornly cling to this silly policy, I suggest the podcasts that aren't chat fests follow my advice and include a brief format description in their introductory remarks so they don't unfairly lose points.
I didn't say that the Totally Laime hosts were "friends" with the judges, I said they KNOW them, which they obviously do. And while I don't believe there's a conscious bias, I do think that KNOWING someone is enough to create an UNconscious bias. If you've worked with someone before, however briefly, and they show up for a job interview with a bunch of other applicants, they CLEARLY have a leg up if you have a favorable impression of your time spent with them, as damn near EVERY SINGLE JUDGE indicated they have. I'm sure that all of the judges are absolutely bursting with integrity, but claiming that all the judges APPEARING ON THEIR PODCAST doesn't create an advantage for TL is asinine. As far at the "free pass" business goes, well...we've heard the judges criticize some other podcasts for not having a hook. What exactly is TL's hook? Their self-proclaimed mission statement is that they ask stupid questions. Wow, that's some powerful kind of hook right there. And back to my original point about the brow-beating Bob and Dan took for their drive-by questions, while that Totally or Lame shit got roses....seriously? I know that Matt Gourley and Paul Scheer are two different people than Howard Kremer and Marc Maron, but c'mon. The TL bit got framed as silly fun, while the B&D bit got framed as uncreative laziness. And I DEFY you to tell me that Totally or Lame shit was funny.
I think it's pretty clear that I don't care for Totally Laime (although I'd be happy to discuss it further with anyone who still has lingering doubts about how I feel). I'm certainly biased against chat shows, which are a dime a dozen on the internet, and Totally Laime brings absolutely nothing new to the table. However, I think my observations of the competition so far are vaiid. Do I think the contest is rigging in favor of TL? No. Do I think they've been unfairly handled with kid gloves while other podcasts were not? Absolutely.
Finally, I'm not suggesting that Matt, or you, or anyone else connected with the show is doing a bad job....I'm just expressing my opinion on the contest to this point. If I didn't find it worthwhile, I wouldn't be listening, and I surely wouldn't be commenting.