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Episode 8.1 — Using a Famous Guest: Day 1

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There is a good chance that some of you listeners found this show because of Paul F. Tompkins, Marc Maron, Paul Scheer, or some of our other well-known guests. This week we see how each of the contestants handle 10 minutes with comedian Nick Thune. Matt gives the contestants valuable advice on approaching guests with respect, so tune in tomorrow to hear how everyone fares with guest judges Doug Benson and Harris Wittels. Also, let us know on the forums if you would like a bonus behind-the-scenes episode.

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Besser!,
I love the shit out of you. The UCB show on Comedy Central defined my taste in comedy. It's been a while since I was in a Psych class, but if I remember correctly, we tend to focus more on negative things than positive things. I believe the ratio is 7 positives is equal to 1 negative. Maybe someone can back me up here?
Anyway, fight against human nature and don't let the negativity get to you.

Edit: Maybe Matt's catchphrase in the vein of "What's Up Hotdog?" could be "Hear Ya Later, Wheelhouse!"

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Matt, don't sweat the forum b.s.
I have a friend who constantly splices turns of phrase into new, non-sensical (but also somehow sensical) phrases, or he just messes words up outright, and he has no problem saying what he needs to say. Even under a fickle listener forum microscope he would not falter in just plowing ahead with however he is able to express himself.
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I mention all this because my friend's crowning achievement was "It's totally in your ballpark." I call it a crowning achievement because he was able to combine THREE phrases, instead of his normal two: " in your wheelhouse," "ballpark figure," and "the ball's in your court." It may sound like I'm reaching for the three, but I assure you, in context he hit all three phrases.
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Gah. I'm off topic. ANYWAY. BESSER! Fuck the haters! Hack the planet! The wolf dead!
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ON A DIFFERENT NOTE— and probably too late to make a difference with tomorrow's episode's entries— I'm crossing my fingers that the Jesse Thorn/Paul F. Tompkins advice is heeded and master copies of Nick Thune's audio for each entry is sent out to the contestants to be edited in during post-production, thereby optimizing sound quality for all the shows.

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I listen to 35-50 hours of podcasts a week but I'm not a comedian (or very smart) - I almost never know WHY I think things are funny. So one of the things I LOVE about The Challenge has been hearing super-sharp comedy minds like your Jesse Thorns and your Marc Marons talk about the whys.
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So 8.1, with super-sharp comedy mind Matt gabbing up a storm, was one of the best things from The Challenge so far. Matt starts saying he likes that the Dum Dum Clubsters are seasoned comedians and compares them to fellow seasoned comedian podcast Walking The Room. I loved what he said about how WTR can be thrilling sometimes because they may say stuff that's "burning bridges" - they're not playing it safe, they're trying to play it honest and real and taking risks and it gives them that "edge". Maybe that's a big part of why Carolla and Maron are these runaway hits - they're hosts with very strong, fearless, honest points of view. They're not afraid to hurt feelings or step on toes. You don't have to agree with them to find it fascinating to hear them articulate things nobody else has the balls to articulate. Plus they're funny bastards.
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Although, come to think of it, I actually don't think any of the remaining 3 gabfests are that type of show, they're more the flippant, goofy, Jordan Jesse Go types of dealios. Which is fine - Jordan Jesse Go might even be my favourite of all. Nothing wrong with just being sillygooses who're good at gabbing.

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Also, the first half hour of this episode is further proof that I was right on the money a while ago when I said Earwolf should sign Matt up for his own gabfest for when The Challenge is wrapped up. Forcing me to endure this crazy world with no Besserfest each week would be an act of wanton cruelty unparalleled outside of Ghadaffi's compound.
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Also also, the lack of famous New York based podcasts was mentioned while talking to Left Handed Radio - give "Keith and The Girl" a whirl Matt. They are of that WTF/WTR/Carolla mould of the fearless, honest, probing kind of funny and they're successful enough to be full-time podcast hosts. They've also been doing it since early 2005, which makes them seasoned as heck. In fact the magnificent Tig Notaro herself was on with them a couple of weeks ago so look up her ep for a whole bunch of wild NYC hilariousness mixed with the always delightful Tig.

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Hey Matt, kudos for a job well done! I'm sure you'll get a lot of this today, but you did ask for it! I appreciate the job you're doing as host and the fact that you are constantly working to get better. While I'm at it, might as well praise Frank & Jeff and the judges too! And of course, all the podcasts. It's not easy to be criticized, even when it's constructive.
As to commenting etiquette, it's unfortunate, but bad commentors happen not simply because of anonymity, but because of the lack of possible physical cconfrontation, as Matt pretty much said. Also, a lack of maturity fits in, though I think most of us have made shitty comments at any age that we'd like to take back.
Also, the shittiness can go both ways. I made a post on the Apple Sisters board a while back that commented on this because people unfairly ripped apart a commenter who very politely said why they didn't like the show. It's all opinions and people need to voice them respectfully.

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I am so sick of the anonymous bullshit that goes on too Matt. I will completely say that it is my generation doing this and it's getting worse every. It is even amazing to talk to someone in real life who wont say anything to you to then have them be an asshole online, its like talking behind your back to your face.

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This was such a great episode! Keep up the great work, Matt and Frank!
This was the first time I've listened to the Coaching Session and wasn't worried for one of the contestants-- I don't know if it's because Matt was working with them so well or if it's because they really are the top four, but I think they'll all do a good job this week. This really made for great listening.
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P.S.: I'm sorry for only suggesting things that can't realistically be implemented (I feel kinda dumb about that) and I'm sorry for acting like a colossal dick on the forums. Everybody come punch me in the face. I live in Milwaukee, maybe I can come meet you at the airport.

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Wow, what an episode. Some of the criticism here has been nitpicky IMO, but your discussion was compelling.
 
I've heard a forum poopy-pants get his moment on a podcast. The guy was incredibly tedious.

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First and foremost, I really enjoy the show.

I think one route that the show could take to deal with the flaw created during coaching session is to double up the podcasts on a conference call. This way the host will not feel like he is repeating himself, as much or changing the criteria for each podcast. Also, the each podcasts will be able get a feel for their competition and would be able to hear questions they would not have asked, which could possibly help them in the competition. The best way that the this system could work is to out similar podcast on the same line, i.e. Totally Laime and Little Dum Dum Club.
This is just a suggestion you do not have to take my advice.

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I'm 20 minutes in to the episode and Matt has inspired me to register for the forums and post. I really enjoy the Earwolf Challenge. I think it's a very interesting show, and I like hearing the different judges give their opinions and suggestions. I don't usually seek out new podcasts on my own, so I rely on recommendations, and EC has given a ton of exposure to 10 podcasts I possibly never would have heard of without it. I have tried out each of the shows that "lost" the challenge so far, so even though they didn't get the big prize at the end, I'm one example of the show "working" for them.

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When I downloaded this episode and saw that it was 1 hr+ I knew something was up since the previous coaching sessions have gotten shorter as the number of contestants dwindled. I think we're all lucky that Matt and co. take the time not only to respond to the listeners, specifically from this forum, but also to genuinely consider their suggestions. It's been a great listening experience to hear the podcast evolve as the competition goes along, and I think Matt and the producers are doing a bang-up job of fine-tuning the show.
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Regarding the phenomenon of internet assholery, I liken it to experiencing road rage. Behind the wheel, clad in their car's steel armor, people can behave much differently than they do walking about face to face. Granted, jerks will be jerks, but that additional layer between driver and environment seems to grant this false belief that boorish behavior is acceptable. Even normally mild-mannered people can get heated and suffer from road rage.
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Similarly, I think online anonymity grants this feeling of being allowed to let one's inner asshole out without fear of consequences. The thing to remember is that the majority of people actually are pretty civil and offer constructive commentary, but it's the negative comments that really sting and stick in the memory. Especially with a competition format, passions can get inflamed, and this sometimes results in taking potshots at the podcasts or at the judging/showrunning. For the most part, though, I think forum members have been pretty respectful in showing support and/or offering critical feedback.

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While I'm sure all of the podcasts are going to do well in this challenge, I'm the most worried for LHR. The other 3 shows can prep some good questions or play a fun game and kind of roll for the 10 mins—picking the best 3-4 mins. Prep work just ensures making Nick funny.

If LHR wants to do a great sketch they have to be so incredibly prepared to pull it off well. Even a simple 1 min sketch might take 5 mins just to read through and give notes to Nick, and that's a huuuuuuge time crunch. Then they have just 1-2 takes to get it perfect and every second counts. I'm really really hoping they can pull it off, but to produce a clip that works in the style of their show and uses Nick well is going to be a tremendously larger feat for them than the other podcasts. I'm hoping that goes into the judgment.

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Wow, what a great episode to start this week off. I'm sure the fact that this was the first coaching episode taped recently helps make it feel more interactive, but Matt definitely had some raw rage shit that he needed to voice. I just turned 30 a few months ago and I completely agree that its my generation and the next who are festering this internet bully disease. Case in point - I play quite a bit of Halo/COD on Xbox Live and I don't think there is a better example of how bad our youth needs a collective ass-kicking. The worst mouths / tempers / bad sports / racists / homophobs are almost exclusively teenagers and kids in their early 20s. I like your solution Matt, but that may just work for just a select few likes-to-fight guys. The assholes who say hurtful things without regard are weak for a reason, they are trying to make up for something.....usually the lack of verbal or physical altercation skills.

I really feel this forum has gotten better about policing its own and not giving credence to these paraihs, lets just hope they get the point and spew their poor self-esteem elsewhere. Note - JW....good to hear you acknowledge some of your poor comment choices....even though you haven't been really "the" bully, I'm sure we can all get better at saying nice things.

Just a suggestion to all - By saying nice things about the casts you like and neglecting to comment on others will allow us insight on who you aren't feeling. It's that simple.

Brendan L

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My god, nothing beats Besser on a runaway rant. I can only imagine how many chairs were destroyed.
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As entertaining as all that was, it's kind of annoying when people who perform voluntarily get annoyed when people say shitty things about them. Oh, it sucks to hear someone doesn't like you? Shocking! I've got another surprise for you: that goes with the territory.
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It's amazing that people blame the internet for a new-found incivility, especially among "the young people". Guess what? People have been saying that famous people suck for as long as there have been famous people. The only difference is, instead of just saying it to their friends, family, and co-workers, they now have a way to say it to EVERYBODY. People haven't changed one bit. The ONLY difference is, now you can SEE what hundreds of people are saying about you, whereas before, you only heard maybe .01% of smack talk from your audience.
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Of COURSE most people aren't going to tell you they hate you to your face. Because, despite the erroneous conclusions people draw from the internet, most people AREN'T uncivil, and don't go out of their way to hurt people's feelings. The people who are talking shit about shows they hate in their living rooms right now wouldn't say the same thing to the stars of that show in person. Would I tell Totally Laime that I think they suck to their faces? Not if I could help it. I wouldn't even tell them that I didn't care for their show, unless they asked me for my honest opinion. Because I don't have anything against them PERSONALLY, I just don't like their show. I feel free to say I hate TL on the internet precisely because it's anonymous, and I don't believe anyone should ever take ANYTHING any anonymous poster says on the internet to heart. All the internet basically IS is a bunch of people talking about stuff they like or don't like, which is also going on RIGHT NOW in countless discussions being held between friends and family all around the world. You don't pay any mind to the thousands of people who are trashing you anonymously where you DON'T hear it, so why should you pay any mind to the anonymous trashing you DO see?
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I could go on with my fabulous dissertation about how the internet is a wonderful societal Id that allows all of us to say what's on our minds in ways we wouldn't dream of doing in a face-to-face context, but it really boils down to this: I can see HOW people would get their feelings hurt on the internet, but there's really no good reason WHY people should get their feelings hurt. You're free to take whatever you want from any anonymous post on the internet. You can enjoy the good, and ignore the bad. You can obsess over the bad and ignore the good. It's totally up to the reader.
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I know the question most people ask is "why are people COMPELLED to be mean on the internet?" (although the REAL question they're asking is "why are people compelled to be mean to ME on the internet?"). And that, of course, is inflating the issue. Very few people are COMPELLED to post shit on the internet. They don't give any more thought to it than they would if they were discussing a show with a friend or two in person. That's all the internet IS: a larger-scale means of communicating petty shit. No, no one HAS to be mean when discussing show biz on the internet, but no one HAS to be mean discussing show biz in real life, either. That's just how many people ARE.
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That said, I agree that mindless hate-posts are boring and dull. While I've indulged in my fair share of mindless TL-bashing, I generally try to offer some actual constructive criticism with at least a majority of my posts. I DO appreciate the drive of ANYONE who's willing to share their version of art with the public (EVEN Totally Laime), and although I'm not necessarily COMPELLED to leave nice comments for everyone, I do try and express my appreciation for efforts where I believe it's warranted. I think that's true of most people who comment about performers. Personally, I find the fawning "OMG UR THE BEST!!!" posts much more annoying than the "OMG U SUCK!!!" posts, because while both are equally vapid, at least the latter is merely obnoxious, rather than obnoxious brown-nosing. I credit whoever reads my posts with the wit to appreciate not being pandered to, to let my snark pass with a roll of their eyes if they find it too much, and to take any honest efforts at criticism I may be making in the spirit they're intended. If anything I say comes across as overly harsh to a reader, well....they're free to dismiss me as just a trouble-making dick. Lord knows I've been one in the past, and will be in the future, as will every other person on Earth, at some point or another (and with shocking frequency).
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I will say this directly to you, Matt Besser: I love when you get your chain yanked, because I love to listen to you fly off the handle. But I DO enjoy the way you are hosting this podcast; your "we're winging it here, folks" approach is both hilarious and a way to keep the contest from being too intense. While I don't want to belittle the level of commitment and/or desire the contestants have to win, it is, after all, a podcast contest, not the Super Bowl. The point being, not only should the audience be having fun, but the contestants should be as well, and I think you do a nice job helping that along. I DO think you could organize your thoughts a little better about various ways to approach the challenges BEFORE you talk to the contestants, but I agree with a previous poster that the best way to approach the coaching sessions would be a conference call, where you talk to each podcast in turn, but they can all hear what you're saying. I'll admit that it would be a logistical nightmare, particularly when you have more than three or four podcasts to deal with, but if they're all committed to the contest, it shouldn't be that hard to at least get MOST of them online at the same time (and the ones who don't make it you can talk to later).
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And for ALL the podcasts (especially Totally Laime, about whom I've had very little nice to say), thank you for your efforts to entertain us. I hope that whatever the outcome of the contest, you continue to work on your shows and enjoy the process. If this forum is any indication, there is an audience out there for ALL of you, and that should hopefully provide all the incentive you need to keep getting better at what you're trying to do. And if for some ungodly reason you actually care about anything hurtful I've said about you and you don't want to call me an asshole here on the forum, send me an email at kissmydishrag@gmail.com, and I'll be glad to listen to you unload on me to your heart's content. Fair is, as they say, fair.

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I appreciate your eloquence, Mark, but I hate your logic. As someone who is equally as confused and frustrated by anonymous bad-mouthing as Matt is, and someone right in the target age range for troll-ism (21), I just can't agree. I don't think that saying mean things online is the same as saying mean things to someone in person. In person you have context, you have security, you are hopefully having an immediate back-and-forth with someone. It's not the same on the internet. Everyone can read what you say and they don't anything about you. If I say, for instance, "LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE OF PARKS AND REC WAS THE WORST THING I'VE EVER SEEN!" (which I would never ever say), people might not know that I'm employing hyperbole or that Parks and Rec is my favorite show of all time. If I say "Last night's episode of Parks and Rec was probably the weakest to me, but I still liked the storyline with blah blah blah" it gives a bit more context. But the best option? Thinking to yourself "That wasn't my favorite" and then doing something productive.
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I get frustrated when I see negative comments about podcasts because, simply put, you are opting to listen. It's free, and you are choosing to listen. Same with television, books, movies, etc. Now, I will sometimes complain about billboards that I find offensive, awful music being played in grocery stores, etc. But those are things that I have no control over. I also like to limit it to when I'm truly offended by something, not just "I don't like it."
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You said:
"I know the question most people ask is "why are people COMPELLED to be mean on the internet?" (although the REAL question they're asking is "why are people compelled to be mean to ME on the internet?"). And that, of course, is inflating the issue. Very few people are COMPELLED to post shit on the internet. They don't give any more thought to it than they would if they were discussing a show with a friend or two in person"
Sometimes I will get very frustrated (usually with a negative comment) and I will type up a big long negative retort. And then about halfway through I'll realize "What am I doing?" and stop. And then I'll go do something that doesn't make me angry.
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I think, for me, it boils down to this: I'd rather spend my time doing something I love than fixating on the things that I hate. Snarky, hateful internet culture seems to love devouring that which they hate. Look at Jessi Slaughter. And I'll admit, I do chuckle when I read a particularly funny AV Club article about The Black Eyed Peas and I do spend too much time watching Courtney Stodden videos, but that contributes nothing to the world. I'm not doing anyone, including myself, any favors by doing that.
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If you don't have anything nice to say, go create something else that is to your liking. I THINK that's the saying.

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^holy cow long comment, but i must say with the past 2(i think its been 2) episodes being recent and up to date has made them extremely engaging. If this show does get another season it would greatly benefit the show to have all the episodes recent, it may be very hard to do, but i think in the end it would be worth it. Having them up to date gives it a true interactive feel, which i why i think shows like americans got talent x factor american idol and so on so engaging to those who watch. But to talk about the actual contest i really want LDDC to win I seriously cant get enough of hearing those little guys go at it.

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I don't want to jump the gun or move off the string of discussion, but Mark ran onto something. Have you thought about how to avoid an anticlimactic ending?

I think Besser and the rest have set the right tone, that this has important benefits and is worth taking seriously but isn't an immediate 6-digit cut check or potential career-ender. However, if the show ends with 3 people self-consciously, half-heartedly whooping it up before ending a conference call, it would be unfortunate. I don't know how much time the Earwolf staff has or if the following is a good idea, but I like it. The final decision could be made in the morning and the last 2 could set aside time later in the day. Matt could travel to/call the winners afterward to catch a contemporaneous reaction, go over the highs and lows of their time in the contest, suggest some episodes for new listeners, brainstorm how they might alter the show for Earwolf, and then go into a standard 1/2 episode of whatever their show does. It would certainly top a fizzle out, 2-week gap, and sudden appearance on the front page.

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I signed up with the explict reason to address my growing frustration with what is a otherwise good show. For one While I don,t think that Totatally Laime is going to win because that was the plan all along I do think that they are getting the hometown discount with two different guest challenges and the fact that the judges are set up to be confused by any podcast that has a premise that extends past "we shoot the shit with comedians". Also the idea that a fix is impossible as why would they have the show and just hire who they want is silly. this show is getting listeners and getting people fired up for the new show. I love matt and the idea but to think of this as a reality contest is silly as its impossible to bring new people up to speed on shows and judge them on being clear. How can a show like f plus or tv zombies compete with laime who is a cute sounding girl talking or australians talking. next time only have talk shows or have a mix of high minded ones but dont mix the two. Its like a sprinter racing a marathon runner both are great but depending on the distance of the race one is out of his depth.

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also the complaing about trolls made me mol(meh out loud) I think you can go toe with a troll online and not take the bully pulpit and cry about people being mean. IMO anyway i dislke when people get all bent out of shape over stuff like that. call me whatever(i am black so I have been called whatever especially on X-box live) and most times is really funny other times its weak but in a not funny weak not a (call the Waahbulance way)

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Caroline, I just wrote a long and brilliant reply to your post which I tragically lost by stupidly flipping to another page before saving. I don't have the heart to try and recreate the whole thing, so I'll just boil it down to a few key points:

1. Your point about context is excellent; however, the very fact that the internet provides little to no context should make it easier, not harder, to disregard hurtful posts, no? If you don't "know" the person "speaking", they theoretically have less power to hurt you verbally.

2. Why people don't "go do something constructive": some people ENJOY begin assholes on the net. It's not an anger thing, it's recreation. While I wouldn't place myself in that category, I do enjoy using the internet to be blunter and more intellectually honest than I would otherwise be in a face-to-face conversation. The internet is a thing unprecedented in human experience: a way to interact anonymously with potentially millions of people. We're still figuring out the rules of the road here, but I'd rather take advantage of the freedom to speak unrestricted by traditional societal propriety than attempt to apply traditional societal propriety to a medium that exists, by definition, outside conventional standards of communication.

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Thing about trolls is you get to choose whether they have the power to affect you. As much as posting negative nonsense on the internet is as easy as breathing, it's just as easy to dismiss those types of posters as labouring beneath your regard. Generally snark is a sign of self-loathing anyway, so instead of feeling attacked by it the correct emotional response is pity toward the snarkist. They're as feeble and impotent as you wish to render them.
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Besides, this forum is Earwolf's living room. You guys get to decide the quality of the decorum. Fire the Warningtorpedoes, wield the Deletesword and swing the Banhammer as you wish. The vibe is in your hands.

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About the whole "troll" thing, i don't think everyone who makes a negative comment is out there to be an ass hole. The problem is is that it's so easy to voice your opinion, with just a couple clicks your talking directly to someone whether you realize it or not. And with the ease of voicing your opinion someone is bound to say "I don't like...". If everyone thought that you or your podcast or w/e is good and worth listening to then everyone would listen to your podcast. hell look at Marc Maron he has one of the greatest shows and is one of if not the most popular and he gets shit on left and right by random people. Point is you have to do what you do and do it the best you can, because if 90% of people hate you 10% of 300,000,000 is a lot of people who will complete adore what you do.

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