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Hot Mess: Taco Stop

Hot Mess

A sketch from Jordan Morris' sketch group Hot Mess, appearing at the SF Sketchfest January 14th and 15th and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles monthly.

Our Underwriters: January


This month, we're proud to continue to have the support of Ask MetaFilter and Humber College. If you haven't had a chance to learn about these organizations and what they do, you can find out about them below!

If you think you or your business might be interested in underwriting on The Sound of Young America and, visit our sponsorships page to learn more.

Of course, we wouldn't be here if it weren't for the dedicated support of our monthly donors -- listeners, like you. As always, THANK YOU. (You can donate here.)

Ask MetaFilter and its parent site, MetaFilter, have been supporting The Sound of Young America since 2007. Ask MetaFilter is an online forum where users can post questions about anything and everything, and the community answers. Topics range from technical questions to doctor recommendations to relationship and career advice, and beyond. You can learn more and set up an account at

Humber College
Coverage of the world of comedy on The Sound of Young America is underwritten by Humber College of Toronto, which offers North America's only diploma program in Comedy Writing and Performance. The program is aimed at students interested in pursuing careers as stand-up comedians, screenwriters, and film and television actors. Humber is now accepting applications and welcomes students from the United States to apply. has all the information you need.

Thank you!

Judge John Hodgman Episode 9: The Parenthetical Petition


Judge John Hodgman decides the case of a couple who disagree: do parentheses have a place in fiction?

Recorded live at The Talent Show in Brooklyn with guest bailiff Elna Baker.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: The Legacy Music Hour


Vital stats:
Format: 8- and 16-bit video game music showcase
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

When I first heard about The Legacy Music Hour [iTunes], a (a) podcast (b) devoted to video games but (c) mostly 20-year-old ones and (d) entirely to their music, I said the idea was so geeky that it almost comes around the other side to normal. But listening, I realized that, insanely geeky or just pretty geeky, it’s just the show me and the other members of a certain specific generational subgroup have been waiting for.

The program hosts, Brent Weinbach and Rob F., spend each hour trading off selections of video game music they’ve found particularly interesting in the past week. They will have spent that week searching for tracks from the games of certain developers, like role-playing titan Square [MP3]; certain composer, like Mari Yamaguchi [MP3] or Junko Tamiya [MP3] or “elevator” music [MP3]. And it's not just any old video game music; everything comes from what these guys consider "the golden age of video game music," the time of 8-bit and 16-bit consoles, roughly 1985 to 1995. (Golden age of video games themselves, if you ask me.)

The elevator music episode really started me thinking. Like so many Americans in their mid-twenties, I got into music itself by way of the music that happened to play in the video games I loved. This happened, of course, during Brent and Rob's golden age. Back then, game developers couldn’t just hire “real” musicians to record “real” music; their composers had to work with within very — often very, very — specific hardware constraints, resulting in a wide array of highly distinctive sounds and styles that are only now coming into real fashion. Except for the hosts’ voices, there’s absolutely nothing recorded with a microphone on The Legacy Music Hour: it’s all the razor-sharp arpeggios of the NES; the compressed yet sweeping samples of the Super NES; the forceful thumps and buzzes of the Genesis; the gritty washes of the Turbografx-16.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the only music I liked as a little kid was video game music. I usually latched onto the kind of tracks Brent and Rob discuss in their surprisingly insightful breakdown of what constitutes the much-maligned “elevator” style. I’d never thought it about it before, but this show made me understand: I never played video games to win; I played almost purely for the aesthetic experience. It was about the graphics, the design, the sound effects, but most importantly, the music. I suspect a bunch of us 8- and 16-bit habitués have come to realize the same thing.

So it makes sense that I’d fall right into The Legacy Music Hour’s target demographic, but I insist there are also widely fascinating issues at work here about the interaction between aesthetics and technology, between compositional creativity and electronic limitations. Brent and Rob know this, and you can hear it when they occasionally find their way into serious examinations of what, musicologically, makes these tracks tick. I wish they’d do it for every piece they play, even if it means they have to play fewer of them. After all, these compositions, once largely written off as a bunch of childish bleeps and bloops, shaped a big part of this generation’s musical Weltanschauung. I know it shaped mine.

(And yes, JJGO listeners, they play stuff from Herzog Zwei.)

[Podthinker Colin Marshall also happens to be the host and producer of public radio’s The Marketplace of Ideas [iTunes], the blogger of The War on Mediocrity and the writer of The Ubuweb Experimental Video Project.]

Lynda Barry, author of Picture This and What It Is: Interview on The Sound of Young America

Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry is a legendary comic strip author whose Ernie Pook's Comeek has run for many years in alternative newspapers around the country. Her two most recent books, What It Is and Picture This are about writing and creating art, respectively. The former won an Eisner Award, comics' most prestigious prize. The books take the form of a notebook, filled with text, collage and drawings. The content is based on a series of seminars Barry has taught on getting creative work done. In our interview, Barry talks with Jesse about activating the brain and the benefit of doing creative work that doesn't need to fall into the dichotomy of beautiful/not beautiful, good art/not good art, or being productive/being nonproductive.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is Lynda Barry. She’s one of the nation’s most accomplished comics artists, graphic novelists, comic strip writers, artists, etc. etc. Her comics have run in alternative newspapers across the country for many, many, many years and more recently she’s turned much of her time towards writing longer works. Her book of just a couple of years ago, What It Is, was about the process of writing, and her latest, Picture This, is about the process of making art. They’re beautiful multimedia comics collage works that, as I said, are about process.

Lynda Barry, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

LYNDA BARRY: I’m delighted to be here.

Click Here for a Full Transcript.

MaxFunCon 2011: Get on the Wait List


If you were waiting to buy your MaxFunCon ticket, you've waited too long... tickets are sold out!

We do, however, expect to release a few tickets over the next few months, once we have our full lineup booked. Last year, we even released one or two just a week or so before the event.

If you snoozed and are concerned you may have losed, get yourself on the wait list. Email and we'll let you know if any spaces open up before June 10. Please be sure to include your name, phone number, and whether you wish to purchase a single ticket or a ticket for a couple sharing a bed.

A Thousand Clowns (w/ Barry Gordon)

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01/27/2011 - 20:00
Los Angeles, CA
Venue Name: 
The Silent Movie Theater

The Sound of Young America and The Cinefamily are proud to present a screening of A Thousand Clowns, followed by an on-stage interview with Barry Gordon by Jesse Thorn. Released in 1965 and now out-of-print, A Thousand Clowns stars Jason Robards as Murray, a comedy writer who struggles to come to terms with growing up – something he must do if he wants to stop child protective services from taking away his adopted son Nick (played by a young Barry Gordon). The film is beloved for its funny, unique, and heartbreaking take on adulthood and conformity. It’s a favorite of comedy writers, and is also the all-time favorite of Jesse Thorn.

Tickets are just $10, or free for Cinefamily members.

Watch an excerpt from A Thousand Clowns!

Jordan Morris MaxFun meetup - Chicago

01/07/2011 - 20:00 - 22:20
Chicago, IL
Venue Name: 

Come hang out with Jordan, Jesse, Go! co-host Jordan Morris and your fellow MaxFunsters at Sheffield's in Chicago on Friday, January 7th, starting around 8pm.

Sheffield's is located at 3258 N. Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657.

It's sure to be a grand old time, so come on down.

The Alumni Newsletter: December 30th, 2010


Stop Podcasting Yourself 146 - Conor Holler

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Conor Holler

Comedian Conor Holler returns to talk lycanthropes, Christmas donkeys, and male burlesque. Then we get some drunk dials.

Download episode 146 here. (right-click)

Brought to you by: (click here for the full list of sponsors)

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