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Episode 80 — Do You Sell Fuck Pillows?

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Hey Matt, did you know Jason Mantzoukas majored in religious studies in college and spent a few weeks living in a silent monastery on a Greek island? I'd love to hear you discuss religion with him sometime, I think that'd be a great convo, and guaranteed to be funny as well. Thanks.

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I will never abandon the "you wanna bet" debate style. I was raised on it.

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I'm starting up a Case Closed Fantasy League, and my first round draft pick is:

 

@mattbesser vs. @TimTebow: Why The Jets Suck

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I expected a lot worse with this Case Closed, having read the commentary here about it before listening. Sure, Matt talked over the guest a couple of times, especially when Matt's point was being ignored. Matt certainly believes more strongly in his point of view than the guest did for his own, common for Case Closed. However those are the only real "complaints" I'd have about the segment, I thought it was amusing but most importantly engrossing.

 

I like getting to know Matt better. I like that he's trying to get a little serious every once in a while on his podcast. I thought it was great that he made this debate a one-on-one rather than a group effort. Is it Matt's fault nobody substantial will appear on the show? I don't think it's because Matt isn't trying.

 

It's a shame that every time there is a Case Closed there's a lot of complaining in the forum, and then I and others feel obligated to hop in and support the segment. I'd rather have devoted my precious comment to defining what a "petard" is.

 

Spoiler: It's an old-timey French bomb. When you were "hoisted by your own petard" it was because the bomb blew up and threw you in the air.

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I'm glad that it was mentioned that Collins wasn't a terrible player. He's played more than DOUBLE the average career length of an NBA player. You can't do that and be bad at basketball.

 

He was on the Celtics for the first half of this past season and he played well. I wish he got more time because they lacked an inside presence. He's a veteran who bangs inside, gets boards, takes charges, and doesn't make bonehead plays. He's definitely still valuable to a significant amount of teams.

 

I'm surprised the response has been so positive to his announcement, and it will undoubtedly help future gay athletes and the gay community... But it's absurd what some people still think. I literally saw someone ask if Jason's twin brother was gay because they were twins. Holy fuck.

 

Anyway, good episode as usual.

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It's kind of interesting that this started with Brett B tweeting at me asking me to be held accountable for comparing Collins to Jackie Robinson.

 

I wish there had been more time to return to this issue. As the conversation eventually led to, both are heroes, but it's hard to compare what each had to go through (for Jason, still going to go through). But the original comparison Matt made in his tweet was about rednecks mad with Robinson and homophobes mad with Collins. And this is a totally fair comparison—the homophobic backlash to Collins IS going to look just as disgusting as the racist backlash to Robinson in 20 years. Brett missed the actual crux of the analogy in the first place. Not that he needed more things to get called out on, but his reasoning for engaging with Matt in the first place was flawed.

 

 

Also, just my two cents, but I don't think Matt should worry at all about having the other improvisers on during Case Closed. Usually, they lighten the mood a bit (because they're less invested and more likely to joke), throw in a few comments, or even clarify the caller's points. And if it does start to seem like a pile-on, he can always tell them to back off.

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Also chiming in to say this was a great Case Closed. I was blown away by how much backpedalling the guy did: he was completely refusing to stand by his words and kept saying stuff like "I have gay friends," and Besser completely called him out on his bullshit. I didn't think it was bullying, it was Besser trying to hold that guy accountable to what he said and the guy was a coward and wouldn't (Also he wants to come back on? Does he have any self-awareness?). Anyway, great episode.

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I love Case Closed, this was probably my 2nd favorite one (1st being the cyborg one obviously, haha). What you're doing is great Matt. There's nothing even a little bit wrong or unfair of bullying about asking someone to defend their position, in fact this sort of thing needs to happen more. The level of intelligent discourse in the world, and especially on the internet, is completely petarded.

 

I'll tell you the reason guys like this backpeddle so easily, it's because the arguments they present have nothing to do with what they're really bothered about. These arguments they create are just rationalizations for the latent bigotry within themselves that they don't want to confront. This guy is homophobic and doesn't realize it. He sees Jason Collins being called a hero and it just doesn't feel right to him, and the part of him that knows hating people is wrong- as a defense mechanism- creates these weakass arbitrary reasons to make him feel that he's not really being hateful. This guy was desperately grasping at straws trying to convince not only you, but himself as well, that he has nothing against gays. Of course though any intelligent person can immediately see through that and see that OBVIOUSLY this guy has an issue with gays. Of course he backpeddles easily, because those arguments on twitter aren't his honest reasons for what got "under his skin". It's also super telling how often he tried to downplay the actor Jason Collins (or anyone today) coming out as "no big deal", really shows how much empathy he lacks for gay people.

 

It's just ridiculous to see people act like they're just passionate about who is and isn't labeled a hero and that's all there is to it. Here's a great post showing Ben Shapiro and Tim Brando getting upset about the word "hero" being thrown around to describe Jason Collins coming out followed by examples of both of them liberally using the term to describe any person they like or agree with http://publicshaming.tumblr.com/day/2013/04/29 It's funny how important the meaning of hero becomes to them when they hear it used to describe a gay man.

 

Keep it up Matt, I personally think Case Closed is one of the things that distinguishes Improv4humans.

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I don't know if the Case Closed segment qualifies as bullying. It did feel "off" though.

 

In my opinion, Matt came in ready with some really strong counter-arguments and, even though the kid gave up after 60 seconds, he decided to still unleash all of them and have the debate whether the kid wanted to join him or not. I think that's where the imbalance may have been and maybe why it felt lopsided.

 

Personally, I hate confrontation but I think it can be entertaining if its a 1 on 1 debate and stronger opponents are chosen. This kid was just a young dummy and I felt sorry for him and believed him when he changed his mind and back pedaled. A less lazy homophobe with more conviction would have been on the money. Also, I like the choice to keep the guests from chiming in. Sometimes it has been entertaining/helpful but other times, and this is my anonymous uninformed opinion, it has come off as unnecessarily piling on.

 

It could be just me though. Dumb kids don't grind my gears as much as actual writers or people of some power who espouse racist/homophobic opinions. I wish that writer had agreed to do the show. I think it would have given Matt the debate he was trying to get from this dummy.

 

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The problem with this one was that the guy debating Matt was - sorry - not capable of intelligently debating him. It wasn't a fair match. It was like Mike Tyson fighting Screech.

 

I think the best one was the gun control debate, where the guy at least came back at Matt fairly strongly.

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If I'm being honest, I'll skip the segments where I know it's going to be more serious, and even entire episodes. I don't think Matt should stop what he's doing, he's clearly very passionate about these things and this gives him a platform to speak his mind. I just always find it very awkward to listen to, and it's not the podcast I signed up for so to speak.

 

I4H is still the best podcast in the universe, so congrats to Matt for reaching his new year's resolution.

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I always skip the serious episodes of i4h.

All serious! All improv! BLECH

No thank you.

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Listening to the Cased Closed segment -- despite the fact that I was more or less in full agreement with Matt and disagreed utterly with what the caller was trying to express -- because the caller was getting raked over the coals so thoroughly I had the rather odd sensation of mentally trying to come up with arguments that the caller could use to verbally fight back (I guess this is just because I have an innate love for an underdog).

 

In any case, it seems to me that when the debate got down to whether or not Jason Collins is a "hero" (and various bets were being thrown around to settle the question), it is ridiculous to ever think that anyone could ever "win" a bet to determine whether someone is a hero or not. That's a definitional question. You can't bet on something like that in the same way that you could bet on a question like, "How many Canadian provinces are there?" One could easily define the word "hero" in such a way that Jason Collins qualifies, and one could equally easily define it in such a way that Jason Collins would not qualify. The same would be true of Jackie Robinson. Or George Washington. Or Susan B. Anthony. Or whoever. This is one of those cases in which whoever controls the definition of what it means to be a "hero" will win the debate 100% of the time. The same is true in debates about what terms like "good," "fair," or "just" mean, and whether or not they can be applied to a given real-world situation. The power to define is an immense advantage, and -- as the host of the podcast and the guy steering the course of the conversation -- it seemed pretty clear that Matt was in a better position than the caller to do that.

 

Plus -- and again, I actually do agree with Matt in the substance of what he was saying -- I really don't think that doing a google search of "Jason Collins + hero" and finding a bunch of results is going to prove anything. For instance, I'm sure that there are plenty of websites on the internet (some of them in Chinese) which would identify Mao Zedong as a genuine "hero" who brought China into the modern world and helped to end centuries of feudal oppression through tremendous individual effort and conviction. That's a perfectly valid viewpoint. Other websites (some of them in Chinese) would identify Mao Zedong as a cold-hearted mass murderer who willfully promoted policies that cost millions of innocent lives. That's also a perfectly valid viewpoint. Deciding who qualifies as a "hero" is all a matter of interpretation. A lot of things are.

 

End of screed.

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@Chester That is a good point about placing bets in a debate. I could imagine a better equipped individual could have immediately brought up the subjectiveness of this approach, in effect neutralizing it as irrelevant. The bet was not necessary.

 

Debate is all about providing the best context for your argument, and so in this instance, the responsibility of defining what a hero is falls on the shoulders of the debaters. Matt created a better context, hands down.

 

"I believe it is a big deal for Collins to have come out and is a hero for doing so."

"I do not believe Colins is a hero for coming out because it's not a big deal anymore."

 

Obviously, it is still a big deal.

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@thestray: Wonderfully stated. My thoughts 100% on the money throughout your entire post.

 

I love the Case Closed segments for exactly this reason: calling ignorant bullies out on their shit. The guy wasn't smart, didn't have a real opinion aside from just knee-jerk criticism of both the praisers and the praisee, yet has a way of conveying his bigoted words to a wide group of people without real human interaction. So fuck the being content in just knowing you're better than this idiot, get him on the phone and verbally slap some sense into him. Hopefully he hung up that phone thinking, or his friends listened to it and are now thinking, "hmmm...maybe I should actually think before I speak".

 

 

I4H is the greatest podcast that exists right now. I'm a little biased because of my affinity for long-form but the number of great comedians that come through, and the comedy explored is just astounding.

 

I'd also like to ask Matt what he thinks of the new hosts of Stuff You Missed in History Class. I got turned onto that show through Matt's recommendation and went through the back catalog.The hosts at that time: Sarah & Dubleena,made a good tandem. This new crew doesn't do it for me. They just don't have pleasing voices and on girl talks with that "uptalk" where every statement sounds like she's asking a question. Just not doing it for me.

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I dont really think the issue at hand is bullying per se, and I dont think you are a bully, even though that is the word being used. I think the discomfort that some may have in listening to Case Closed is the imbalance of power both in terms of context and intelligence. A smarter person yelling at a less smart person is just often not pleasant, especially when the less smart person starts backpedalling from the get go. A wittier person or persons yelling at a less witty person is often not pleasant. And the guest of a show getting yelled at by the host of show is often not pleasant. That being said, I love the segment, maybe not so much this particular one as I thought the crux of the argument didn't really require indvidually going through all the guy's tweets and the guy was 100% overmatched anyway. I like the segment as being an occasional part of the main show as well. I just would maybe enjoy it more if it was more of an even matchup maybe.

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Hi Matt,

 

I want to discuss the idea of bullying, but first: a) I like your comedy; and b ) I like your politics, which I substantially agree with; and c) I think comedy is a great way to deal with serious issues.

 

That said, your "Case Closed" as currently run doesn't work for me. Again, because I like lists:

 

1) Most of the time, I think, people say all sorts of shitty stuff on the internet because it feels like a context- and social-free environment. So, yeah, most of the time you deal with serious issues, the people who you get to come on the show are going to start back-tracking because you're presenting feedback. That's fine and may change one guy's mind either substantially ("I never thought about it that way") or trivially ("I got a little carried away, I shouldn't have said that particular thing")--but don't kid yourself that you're engaging in a far-reaching debate by presenting one guy with feedback.

 

2) I find these segments bullying because you get to frame the debate by introducing the subject and you also seem to enjoy the conflict more. So even when I agree with you (which is pretty much always), I still find myself wishing you would stop seeming like such a yelly jerk.

 

3) Even if you're not being a jerk, you're engaging in textbook "punching down": by-and-large, the people you debate aren't in your weight class when it comes to public speaking; and if you do manage to get one guy to agree with you for as long as this debate goes on, what does that matter? Does that guy have a large twitter following? Is he going to go out and start talking about how he was wrong? Maybe and maybe that helps progressivism a little. But that seems pretty little to me.

 

4)

All the time, before the internet existed, I would often think about certain people on certain issues. "What the hell are those people thinking?!"

I'm going to call slight bull on this because I had the same feeling once. Around 2007, I started hanging out at some conservative websites because I couldn't believe anyone with the brainpower to continue breathing would still support Bush and want McCain over Obama. I started going because I was just interested in what they were saying. That lasted maybe an hour because I couldn't believe the ridiculous lies and terrible logic that was in evidence and I had to start commenting. I stopped being a neutral anthropologist, just interested in what people thought and became an engaged partisan. If you want to know what people think, then ask them without trying to convince them. If you really want to crush them (as you said you do), then you have to drop any pretense of neutrality.

 

So here's my thoughts on some ways to improve "Case Closed":

 

I) Just ask people what they think without trying to crush them. I think this might lead to better improv scenes actually, because right now you (and your guests) already tell us all about your feelings before the scene and then the scene (sometimes) merely rehashes what you just said.

 

Or...

 

II) Get serious ideological partisans to debate, either you or some champion. I'd love to see David Brooks arguing against Paul Krugman, and then for you to do improv on that. If you can't get Ben Shapiro (whom I hate--he's one of those guys that makes me less proud to be Jewish), then don't debate anyone. If you wanted to, you could just talk to us about the news (Jason Collins came out, some response has been positive, some negative) and then do improv. No need to make me feel personally bad for you bullying some guy who I don't agree with.

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I consider my yelling comedic. That's not how I yell when I'm in a real argument. I think some of you are are a bit sensitive. I'd say everyone (except one guy) who has debated me on Case Closed has a had great time and has asked to do it again. Obviously someone slamming me on Twitter doesn't mind a tussle. And Benjamin, don't some people deserve to be taken out in the alley and have their ass kicked? I know I have had my ass kicked through the years and I deserved it at least half the time. I'm having Randy Cohen on the next show to discuss this so I will not comment further til then.

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I consider my yelling comedic.

 

I think you sound like you're having a fun time yelling. But I don't have a fun time when I listen to you yelling at or over a debate opponent.

 

 

And Benjamin, don't some people deserve to be taken out in the alley and have their ass kicked?

 

Sure, but the internet version of the alley is called Twitter. You're confusing "a brawl in an alley" with "a brawl in the front window of Macy's." Go, kick ass on Twitter for good--you have not just my tacit support but my occasional participation.* Alley ass-kicking doesn't need a podcast audience.

 

But I'm looking forward to what Randy Cohen has to say.

 

*Seriously: I once wasted a morning yelling on Twitter at a conservative science fiction author who thought Biden was a shitty Catholic because he didn't enforce Catholic-teaching on non-Catholics.

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Had to finally put in my two cents on "case closed" as a long time listener.. I guess first and foremost, I believe the podcast to be one of the only places left where an artist can run free and do as they please. While I appreciate Matt taking the opinions of listeners into consideration, he should probably continue doing whatever he thinks is best for his show.

 

However, I just don't think people on the other end of the line are prepared enough for it to be a good segment. Either the person comes off as reasonable (because the audience hasn't always read the person's tweets and whatnot) and Matt seems overbearing, or the segment just comes off as boring. I think it can work if i4h talks to the people first to make sure they are able to make the segment interesting.

 

Who knows, I may end up liking it. At first I was so annoyed by Eric the (un)paid intern, but then I realized I was just jealous that he got to be the i4h intern and I started to like that segment.

 

Improv4humans will remain one of the best podcasts out there with or without "case closed".

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This case closed was a great segment, but I think something got missed in all of the craziness. This guy actually thinks the 'gay issue' isn't a big deal anymore? He probably also thinks racism ended in 1870 when blacks were given the right to vote.

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The only thing I don't like about Case Closed segments is when you do a skit based on it afterwards its kind of a straw man argument and it feels unfair

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