The Blog of Young America

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Kasper Hauser at SF Sketchfest

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Tuesday, Jan. 22, Mill Valley (shorter set)

Seriously, just go. On the 18th if you can, when they'll be stretching out and performing with another favorite of mine, the acerbic "Oh, You & Your Bone Spurs." On the other hand, you shouldn't miss them on the 24th, either, with mad genius Will Franken and the very charming Apple Sisters. Buy the ticket now, and get your ass out to the show. It will be amazing. There is no better sketch group in the country than Kasper Hauser, and there is no better place to see Kasper Hauser than at the SF Sketchfest.

The Onion weighs in on TSOYA Live!

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The Onion's show preview of Monday's TSOYA Live! in San Francisco show:

"The Sound of Young America calls itself 'a public radio show about things that are awesome,' but the show is pretty awesome in and of itself. Made in the living room of "America's Radio Sweetheart" Jesse Thorn, a host whose voice sounds way too seasoned to belong to a 26-year-old, The Sound of Young America is everything a podcast (or public radio show for that matter) should be: insightful, funny, snappy and above all, not stuffy. The show covers all forms of entertainment, from books to music to TV, but casts an especially focused eye on comedy, which means lots of interviews with comedians like Louis CK, Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, and even Shelley Berman. Here, Thorn tapes a live TSOYA program with guests Morgan Murphy, Rogue Wave's Zach Rogue, Merlin Mann and others."

Thanks to the Onion's SF staff, especially Marc!

Michael Feldman's Whaddya Know

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I really like Michael Feldman's Whaddya Know. I think it's very funny, very charming and authentically Midwestern in a way that makes me feel like I'm looking through a peephole at a whole other culture.

This isn't a response to anything in particular, I've just been missing it a bit here in LA. Luckily, every weekend I have approximately 18 opportunities to hear a certain other weekend "comedy" variety show.

The Athens Banner-Herald Lauds TSOYA

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How do you know you've made it? When you make it into the pages of the Athens Banner-Herald, that's how!

Public Radio International's "Sound of Young America" is one of the best podcasts I've heard. The wife discovered the free podcast on iTunes and it was literally all we listened to on our long drive through Florida this Xmas. Hosted by self-proclaimed "America's Radio Sweetheart" Jesse Thorn, the show features interviews with all manner of hip cats like comedians Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis, authors Nick Hornby and Simon Rich and scads of others. It's available for free from Maximumfun.org and iTunes.

Thanks Ryan Lewis!

Maximumfun.org

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Over a two and a half million podcasts served... and counting.

SF Sketchfest Begins Tonight!

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The Sound of Young America is proud to once again be a sponsor of the San Francisco Sketchfest. In my book, SFSF has grown to be the best comedy festival in the country, and I couldn't be happier about both performing in it and supporting it.

Among the performers are The Kids in the Hall, the former cast of MST3K, the Match Game crew featuring Jimmy Pardo, our own Kasper Hauser and many, many, many others. I really strongly reccomend buying a Eureka Theater pass and going to every show. Seriously, it's that good, that wasn't even a joke.

Here's the full lineup. I'll see you there!

And hey, don't forget to buy tickets to TSOYA Live!

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "Skeptoid"

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It disturbs me that in this day and age, when Charles Darwin and Stephen Jay Gould are hallowed names in academia, there are still forces in our country and beyond that have as much a grasp on science as people in the dark ages did, forces that seem to reside in the White House amongst other important areas. We all benefit from scientific advances but the scientific mind, one that demands firm evidence behind arguments, feels like it is in the minority. A nice breath of fresh air is Skeptoid (iTunes link), a critical analysis podcast. Host Brian Dunning takes ten to fifteen minutes outs of your day to turn a skeptical eye towards the ideas whizzing around our culture that compensate their lack of sense with sensationalism.

The first two episodes of Skeptoid I'd recommend anyone listen to is Dunning's two-part examination of logical fallacies that he did on Nov. 5th and 11th. Dunning refers back to these items in all his other shows, discrediting illogical theories by pointing to the non sequiturs and conflicting facts their proponents employ. Dunning's Dec. 17th show devoted to the stories about Area 51 and Roswell is one example of how he proves his points with cold hard logic. The recollections of one witness, which the Area 51 believers have based most of their conclusions on, are systemically rendered suspect when Dunning gives exact dates that prove the witness has his timeline jumbled, as well as concrete proof that contradicts the more outrageous claims made.

I do wish Dunning's podcast was longer. The issues he is tackling deserve more than half the running time of a prime-time sitcom. Imagine the case for science that Dunning could make if he delivered his arguments in greater detail. I would also like it if Dunning had his sources a bit more upfront, as people could be skeptical towards his skepticism. I was glad to hear that end of the Area 51 show the government documents that Dunning drew from were mentioned. I would prefer if all shows had "audio footnotes." That may sounds like I'm asking too much but the tendency for so much literature on the Internet to be sketchy when it comes revealing the origin of their findings is the reason why skepticism is so important in the first place.

If you're a fan of the urban legend busters Snopes.com, Penn & Teller's Bullshit or just plain sick of getting chain e-mails from your parents that tell you how dangerous microwaves are (Dunning has a whole show on that one, too) then give Skeptoid a try.

The Venture Bros Creators Put Colbert "On Notice"

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For the first two seasons of Cartoon Network's "The Venture Bros.", the character of Professor Impossible was voiced by Stephen Colbert. The show's putting together its third season now, and show co-creator (and past TSOYA guest) Jackson Publick tried to get in touch with Colbert, who is now famous. After bouncing from manager to agent to assistant to assistant, he got this snide reply:

"Stephen has neither the time nor the interest in participating in your project."

James Urbaniak, one of the show's stars, had this to say:

As my wife noted, it's an open question why the assistant who wrote that email didn't add the word "little" before the word "project." (One also wonders if Mr. Colbert's lack of interest in the show applies retroactively to the two seasons he's already recorded. The assistant fails to clarify.) Ah well. Such are the consequences of Mr. Colbert's much deserved success. I realize that the person who wrote the email was probably not quoting Mr. Colbert directly and may very likely have had no idea what The Venture Brothers is. Nevertheless (and no one's unhappier about this than I am) I am left with no choice but to put Mr. Colbert on his own board. Guess what, Prof. Impossible-For-Me-To-Do-Any-More-Cartoons? You're on notice!

I mean really... "the interest?" He did do it for the last two seasons. Sheesh. It's complicated to be famous, and it's hard to find good help these days, but this gets a big thumbs down from me.

Hang it up, Silverman.

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Ben Silverman, head of NBC, has compared writers deciding they would picket the Golden Globes (if they were televised) to "the nerdiest, ugliest, meanest kids in the high school are trying to cancel the prom."

Or maybe it's more like "legally organized workers protecting their rights and compensation."

One or the other.

To summarize: hang it up, Ben Silverman.

Andy Kindler's "The Hack's Handbook"

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In 1991, Andy Kindler wrote an article for an issue of The National Lampoon which centered on the impending demise of the comedy boom. It was called "The Hack's Handbook." The piece was a compendium of every cliche that the boom had dragged up -- from inane observations to celebrity gags to "I'm half (ethnicity) and half (ethnicity), so (racist punchline)" jokes.

It was believed to be lost.

OK, so, not really, but it wasn't free on the internet, you had to go to the library or whatever.

However, it HAS RETURNED.

Thanks to the efforts of AST's BillBrasky, who presumably pulled it from the National Lampoon DVD magazine collection, and the hosting of Nathan Smart, the man behind Indie BlockedAPpella, it's now available for the first time.

Here she is, in all her printable PDF glory.

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