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Episode 8.2 — Using a Famous Guest: Day 2

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Both Doug Benson and Harris Wittels are experienced podcast guests. Knowing what they know about podcasting and Nick Thune, what will they think of each show's four minute submission? Only four shows remain, so no nit will go unpicked as we prepare for tomorrow's elimination episode. Tune in tomorrow to see who is going home and which three podcasts will continue in the search for Earwolf's next great podcast!

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Getting to know Frank more was good stuff, keep doing that.
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TOTALLY LAIME - Nice clip. Good flow, some fun little stories and props to Elizabeth for admitting to the tramp stamp. That's the kind of honesty and vulnerability that gabfest connoisseurs such as myself and Matt Besser are drawn to like suave and intelligent moths to a flame. It wasn't funny per se, but it was fun. I adore me some Doug Benson but his negative notes were nonsense.
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LEFT HANDED RADIO - These guys and gals speak my language even when they're barely speaking because Nick Thune is hogging the limelight. This time it was Harris, of whom I'm also significantly enamoured, who gave the nonsense notes. Bonus points to LHR for using "sensei" comedically mere hours after I masterfully did the same in the thread for 8.1. That's a braggy brag. Also, "Hungry Hippo Eyes"!!! A smooth, funny, joke-heavy sketch with A-grade hogging from Nick.
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THE LITTLE DUM DUM CLUB - Props for the three-way international flavour. Straight into the commercial radio vibes with the listeners engaging in promotional Wiki vandalism. The Bobby Slayton 20 Pizzas story was funny and compelling and the lads riffed well off it. This time Doug's notes were right on the money, refering to how they dumped a couple of lead questions in Nick's lap - the very thing Besser has been saying he doesn't like - but Lady Luck smiled on the Aussies this round with Nick being just that good that he was able to launch anyway.
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BOB & DAN CAST - The judges notes were dead on. Nick seemed more engaged than he did with Totally Laime and overall it was a more interesting bunch of information that came out of him, but Totally Laime's fluffier chat was more fun. And if this thing's a comedy podcast Challenge I have to give Totally Laime the edge over them. Disappointing, because having listened to several full shows of each of the remaining four contestants Bob & Dan's clip this round this was the least indicative of what they really do. It really didn't sound much like them at all.
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It's a toss-up for me whether the judges will deliver Totally Laime or Bob & Dan their marching orders but for me it was the gents from Chicago who landed at the bottom this week.

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I found all of the clips interesting to listen to, but I thought that the Little Dum Dum Club was the funniest. They seemed to be able to get in there, find a funny "game" the fastest, and start riffing.

I was also impressed that LDDC did as well as they did, because I thought it was possible that the three-way Skype conversation could hurt their chemistry, but it certainly did not.

Also, I appreciated Harris and Doug's feedback. It seemed that they had heard some past episodes of the Challenge, or at least pieces of it, which made for the clearest judging episode of the Challenge thus far. I do understand that not all judges are able to do as much prep work, but I think it really showed that Harris and Doug had taken the time, or the producers at least, took the time to familiarize themselves with the Challenge and the contestants before taping.

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Feels like this week the "bottom 3 format" might be a little unnecessary because I thought there was a clear top two and bottom two this round. I think it should definitely be between Bob & Dan and Totally Laime. It's a tough call, because I think Bob & Dan's clip was more entertaining, but Totally Laime showed better interview skills.

But then it isn't really Bob & Dan's thing, so maybe they can be forgiven for not being so great at interviewers.

Thanks to Doug & Harris for doing some preparation beforehand, it really helped them give more informed judgments.

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Hands down, Little Dum Dum was the funniest and made the best use of Thune. It's been said before, but the fact that they're both experienced comics shines through.
I'd bet Bob & Dan don't make it through (Doug kind of gave it away anyway), though Totally Laime wasn't great even though this challenge is exactly what they do. But Bob & Dan haven't seemed to show why people should listen to them over this whole competition, at least in the judges eyes. I was more entertained by their interview than Totally Laime, though, but it had more to do Thune's responses being interesting.

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Frank, you went to CMU to study acting? Dude, that is an engineering school!! That's a lot of money to pay to learn acting!

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The "interviews aren't in Bob and Dan's wheelhouse*" argument is fair, but no one told them they had to interview Nick Thune. They could have done a 5 minutes of research about him online, found some topics he's discussed in his comedy or in interviews, and then just done their thing but included him in the riffing.

I think all 3 interviews had a few stumbling points in terms of what the hosts gave Mr. Thune, but the Dum Dums got things rolling and kept it funny. Totally Laime was a little spottier but still entertaining. Bob & Dan just asked some standard template questions and didn't reveal anything about themselves or their own sense of humor.

Left-Handed did a good sketch. In fact, the only thing I think that could have improved it is if they'd found a way for a member of their own troupe to be on the cassette, like interacting with the Guitar Sensei in some way.

The Earwolf folks did a good job with their critiques, and I dug the "meet your producer" segment. I'm glad they're finding ways to bring some bits into the studio portion of this podcast.

Nice work, everyone!

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As expected, I find this to be the hardest week to cut someone. Between BADcast and TL it is nearly a coin flip for me. I personally enjoy the BADcast more, but that clip had nothing that they bring to their show. I mostly think TL is on the same level as them because this is exactly what they do, and should have done it better. That being said I have a feeling being via skype hurt them the most because their show is very intimate. It is heads or tails for me.

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Interesting how some of these shows manage using Skype better than others, sound-quality-wise.

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I think it would have been interesting to get Nick Thune's take on how he felt as a guest on each of the contending podcasts. Maybe give him a call after the judges listened to the submissions and have a quick conversation about his perception of how he was used as a guest.
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In any case, I don't think there was a perfect submission this week, but for sheer entertainment, I think LHR wins it. Played to Nick's strength, seemed to be well-written (even if Nick did a lot of improvising, LHR provided him with the script and premise from which to jump off), and showed off the possibilities of an audio sketch. I echo Harris, though, in wishing there was more interaction with the LHR members.
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Nick Thune didn't sound very excited at the beginning of TL's segment... well, actually, he didn't sound that excited at the beginning of any of the chat show segments. TL and LDDC, however, found a way to segue into interesting bits, while BaDcast never really found a groove, probably because they asked standard interview questions. I wish they'd been able to stay true to their podcast, and incorporate Nick into their free-flowing conversation.
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Btw, I disagreed with Doug that Elizabeth was inserting herself too much into the convo; I think part of TL's style is to have Elizabeth and Andy talk about themselves a bit in order to find something for the guest to latch onto or use as a jumping-off point. It's more friends hanging out shooting the shit than a strict interview chat show. Instead of relying on open-ended or hyper-specific questions (which they do sometimes, but not exclusively), telling personal anecdotes can lead to the guest opening up and riffing on a tangent.
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By contrast, the LDDC found the game via open-ended questions. The first (wikipedia) didn't exactly hit, but they picked up on another open-ended question with Nick's story about the Bobby Slayton rumor. I can see how those types of questions are dangerous because it might lead to a dud, but Tommy and Karl have such natural charm and quick timing that they are often able to navigate their way through those.

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@Mike Q> "I echo Harris, though, in wishing there was more interaction with the LHR members."
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Saw a couple people mention this...check out tomorrow's show for some insight on this issue (nothing bad, no drama). And thanks for the kind words on the sketch!

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Some great feedback so far on the forum. Although I think I am more naturally drawn to enjoy listening to LDDC, LHR really hit it out of the park again. For the short time constraints, they had the perfect sketch idea and edited it very well. I agree with Matt that the list lost a little steam at the end, but the initial intro by sensei Nick was just great.
Even though the BADcast was my underdog pick and I had fun rooting for them, they clearly felt the weakest of the three chat shows. Not necessarily all their fault, but I do agree with some of the other suggestions as to them maybe not doing a straight forward interview with their time.
From Doug's final comments and Harris's love of TL, I don't see anyone else but BADcast leaving. Don't worry, I don't think its fixed. TL deserves not to get elminated, they showed some good interview chops this week.

Brendan L

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Great, thanks Matt, NOW WRITE ABOUT IT ON TUMBLR (I'm bummed that you didn't do a Tumblr recap of last week).
If you guys don't follow Matt on Tumblr: http://mattlittle.tumblr.com/
He writes really interesting insider recaps each week (except for last week, apparently) that I love. Too bad he didn't do one last week (am I pushing too hard now?).

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I didn't agree that the sketch should have used more of the LHR cast, I think trying to force in more parts would have overcomplicated things, and I think they've had notes before about a sketch sounding too busy (although maybe that someone else's podcast. There's nothing wrong with a sketch that does just involve one person.

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The LHR criticism (which seems to be a very minor criticism, both on this board and with the show's judges) seems to extend from not knowing how much Mr. Thune improvised and how much LHR contributed to the sketch. I would dock points if it were determined (say tomorrow, if Matt calls them) that LHR handed him only an outline or concept and Mr. Thune did all the work. I certainly would not send them home for it. But in the context of the competition, I want to know how they "used" him, and their own contribution is key.

By the way, this is sort of why I think Bob & Dan go home this week: their contribution was simply some standard interview questions. They provided no comedy or insight. Mr. Thune did his best to give good answers, but the hosts stepped outside of what they usually do, and replaced it with nothing at all.

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I'm very interested to hear how LHR worked with Nick on the sketch, because like everyone else, they only had 10 minutes to collaborate on their segment. Given the time constraint and the fact that they had to prep and perform the sketch over the phone, they did a fantastic job.
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Matt Little says we'll be hearing about how/why they decided to use Nick mostly by himself - hopefully it's because we're down to 4 contestants and they'll all be hearing notes from the judges, and not because they were relegated to bottom 3 this week. (And thanks to Caroline, btw, for plugging Matt's Tumblr, it was interesting to read some behind-the-scenes info from a contestant's perspective.)

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I don't think the fact that they didn't write all of Thune's material should matter anyway, because the point is they presented him with a premise that allowed him to excel. So in a sense they can take some of the credit for his improvisations. It's a similar thing with Superego, they've created a format that can allow their guests to come up with good material themselves. It's not really important to me, who came up with what, it's the end result that's important.

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I'm interested in the judging going forward. I think that the rotating judges actually hurts the competition in the end. there needs to be more consistency in the judging and hopefully the last episodes will reflect that.

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RE: the revolving judges. If any of this season's judges would be available to return full time in future seasons, I'm all for it. I think they did a good job.

RE: Left Handed Radio and improv. I agree it's still good work (and pretty amazing given the 10-minute constraint), but if I were judging, the "winner" would be the podcast who involved the guest in the best, most entertaining way, and I'd personally give the edge to Little Dum Dum Club.

As the episode description states, we're picking nits here, but that's what happens when you're down to the Final 3/4/however many on a competition show. You're dealing mostly with strengths, so you've got to consider which weaknesses send a strong performer home.

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Fingers crossed for Two Guys, A Girl, Bobby Slayton and a Pizza Place

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This post is mostly in reply to yesterday's episode, where Matt discussed getting guff for using the word "wheelhouse".

I made a comment a few weeks ago that "Hearing Matt use the word 'wheelhouse' is my wheelhouse'," I tried to make it not sound negative, because it really is a neat word. After hearing it several times it stuck out in my mind. I hope Matt didn't take it as negative, it was meant as light-hearted teasing.

That said, I loved the this week's theme, Doug is insightful, Harris is funny, Nick Thune is charming, and Matt is a good host.

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