TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 463: Live From the Murmrr Theatre in Brooklyn, NY

LIVE from Brooklyn: Denise says her husband’s super-smelling is too disruptive! Plus Swift Justice: anniversaries, pies, and playlists. 

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 463

Transcript

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

john hodgman

Hi, it’s me, your Judge John Hodgman. This week’s episode was recorded live, at the Murmrr theater, on Eastern Parkway, in my home borough of Brooklyn, New York. Let’s go back in time, shall we?

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

jesse thorn

[The audience cheers.] Brooklyn, New York City, you’ve come to us desperate for justice. And we’re here at the Murmrr theater to deliver it! Friends, let’s bring out our first set of litigants. Please welcome: Denise and Jeremy. [The audience applauds.] Tonight’s case: fragrant abuse of the law. Denise files suit against her husband, Jeremy. Jeremy has a keen sense of smell and is often sniffing around the house and commenting on how things smell. [The audience laughs.] This bothers Denise. She’d like him to stop talking about smells. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Only one can decide. Please rise, metaphorically, as Judge John Hodgman enters the courtroom and delivers an obscure cultural reference. [The audience erupts in cheers and applause.]

john

Now, follow along: Monkey, chicken, chicken. Monkey, chicken, duck, duck. Chicken, monkey, monkey, chicken, monkey. Chicken, chicken, monkey, duck, monkey, duck, chicken, duck, monkey, monkey, duck, duck, chicken, monkey, chicken, chicken, monkey, chicken, monkey, duck. Got it? [Scattered laughter from the audience.] Bailiff Jesse Thorn, swear them in.

jesse

Denise and Jeremy, please rise and raise your right hands. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God or whatever?

denise

I do.

jeremy

I do.

jesse

Do you swear to abide by Judge John Hodgman’s ruling, despite the fact that he lost his own sense of smell in a discotheque accident in 1979? [The audience laughs.]

denise

[Chuckling.] I do.

jeremy

I do.

jesse

Judge Hodgman, you may proceed.

john

That was a terrible [breaking on a laugh] night. When I lost my sense of smell at a discotheque?!

jesse

Discotheque accident. Yes.

john

Yeah, that’s right. ‘Cause I fell—I fell, nose-first, into that pile of cocaine drugs. [Jesse agrees. The audience laughs.] Jeremy and Denise, you may be seated for immediate summary judgement, in one of yours’s favors. Can either of you name the piece of popular culture that I referenced as I entered the courtroom? Denise, let’s start with you.

denise

It’s a Dr. Seuss book.

john

A Dr. Seuss book. I’m gonna write that down, into the guess book here. That’s a pretty good guess. Could be right. Could be wrong. But we’ll see. [The audience chuckles.] Any particular Dr. Seuss book? Chicken, Monkey, Duck, Chicken?

denise

Absolutely.

john

Monkey, Chicken, Duck? Okay. Well. Alright.

denise

That one.

john

Horton Hears a Chicken Duck? Alright. Jeremy, do you have a guess?

jeremy

Uuh, I have no idea. I’m gonna go with Cats? [John snorts a laugh. The audience goes wild.]

jesse

It was pretty Jellicle!

john

I—I have not—I have not seen that show or that movie, but I’m gonna go ahead and say you’re correct. You win. [Three bangs of a gavel.] [Denise giggles.] No. All guesses are wrong. That was the first verse of a song called “Chicken, Monkey, Duck” by an artist that you know, Jesse Thorn. Mike Phirman, the very funny musician, singer-songwriter and performer, from his album, The Very Last Songs I Will Ever Write (Part 1). [The audience laughs.] And do you know why I chose Mike Phirman to be the obscure cultural reference? Because Mike Phirman suffers from a condition called anosmia. Can’t smell anything. His nose— [Someone in the audience gasps.] I know, gasps! One gasp. [Laughs.] Or maybe one incredible inhalation by someone who is grateful to have a sense of smell. Anosmia is—and he was born without a sense of smell and he can’t taste food, either. Isn’t that sad? Remember that this is being recorded. This is an audio podcast. You can respond. Thank you.

crosstalk

Jeremy: That’s sad. Denise: That’s very sad. John: Yeah. Right. Very sad.

jesse

But Mike Phirman isn’t sad. He’s happy.

john

No, he’s happy.

jesse

He’s a nice man who’s happy.

john

But, Denise, you’re sad.

denise

I’m sad.

john

You’re sad because Jeremy’s smelling too many things. He has the opposite problem. He’s not only a nosmatic, meaning he has a sense of smell. But he’s nosm-ing all the time.

denise

He’s a super-smeller, yes.

john

Tell me—tell me about the problem at home.

denise

Uh, so he talks about smells a lot. [John affirms.] Outside the house and in the house. And he smells things that most other humans don’t smell. Certainly, I don’t smell. And… this is a problem for so many reasons. It makes me feel like I live with a slightly crazy person. And now that we have a kid, she is picking up on this and thinks not only is it okay, but we should talk about smells a lot. [The audience laughs.] And it’s becoming a problem.

john

Talk to me about the smell talk. Like, what—what’s the smell talk sound like?

denise

[Laughs.] “What is that smell?” “What does it smell like in here? Vinegar.” There’s a lot of vinegar talk. Things smell like vinegar a lot. It’s just a constant curiosity about… what is this smell, when there is no discernable smell to anybody else around.

john

Is this a smell that you also smell?

denise

No!

john

There’s just a smell that only Jeremy smells.

denise

Jeremy and… some—a few other select people who suffer from this condition.

john

What is the condition you suffer from, Jeremy?

jeremy

Um. I… I don’t—I don’t know. I think vinegar smells bad. So. [Denise and the audience laugh.] I mean…

john

You do or do not think that vinegar smells bad?

jeremy

I do. I think it smells bad.

john

Do you smell vinegar right now?

jeremy

[Laughs.] No.

john

Do you smell toast? [The audience and Jeremy laugh.]

jeremy

I feel like my sense of smell is normal. Well, it—

crosstalk

Jesse: Jeremy, can you describe— John: Wait, wait, is—oh, sorry. I’m sorry, Jesse. Is or is not normal?

jeremy

Is normal.

john

Is normal. And let the record show that Denise is shaking her head wildly.

crosstalk

Denise: It’s… not normal. John: Jesse, what was your question you wanted to ask?

jesse

Jeremy, describe what you smell in the room, right now? [John agrees.] You can’t just say “nerds”. [The audience laughs.]

jeremy

Um… I actually can’t smell anything. [Laughs self-consciously.] I’m a little stuffed up.

john

You can’t smell anything? [Jeremy affirms.] You’re stuffed up? [Jeremy agrees with a laugh.]

jesse

You came to our show stuffed up?! [Jeremy laughs and apologizes.] Smelling’s your whole deal, man!

john

Everyone knows Jeremy’s thing is smelling! Now you’re worth nothing to us. You’re not even worth—you’re not a human being to us, now. You’re just a non-smelling husband. You guys are married? [Denise and Jeremy confirm.] And you have—and you have one child?

denise

We have—yeah, we have a three and half year old. And almost…

john

And you’re—and you’re—it would seem that you’re expecting as well. Congratulations. [She thanks him.] Fantastic. So, [stammering] describe a situation in which Jeremy’s smelling and talking about smelling is disruptive to your life.

denise

Mm-hm. So, he will open our fridge. Which is very clean and stores clean, unmoldy food. [Titters from the audience.] And he will select some Tupperware and he’ll open it and bring it up to his nose and not say anything and just put it back down. [The audience laughs.]

john

Does he know that he’s being observed?

jeremy

No. [The audience and Denise laugh.]

crosstalk

John: So, that’s just something you do? Jesse: [Dejected.] “Honey, that was my special time.” [John and the audience laugh.]

john

This is just something you do for yourself?

jeremy

I—I usually smell food to see if it is—has gone bad.

john

Smells like vinegar?

jeremy

[Chuckling.] Yeah, or smells like vinegar.

john

Do you have—you brought in some evidence, including a photograph of the refrigerator. Is that correct? [Denise affirms.] Let’s take a look at that, please. Exhibit A. Yeah.

denise

You see? It’s clean! It’s—you wouldn’t expect that anything in there habitually, on a daily basis, smells bad.

john

I’d probably give… I’d probably give that Tupperware in the bottom shelf a sniff. [Denise and the audience laugh.] I mean, the refrigerator is clean, but I’m just—I hadn’t thought about it ‘til now, Jeremy, but I was like, “Yeah, I’d probably give that one a sniff. Probably that other Tupperware on the left, on the—on the second-to-bottom shelf, underneath that old ricotta cheese or whatever. I’d probably give that a sniff.

jesse

That one that you’re describing, John—the most interesting thing to me about that is it’s, like, a 84-ounce Tupperware containing, like, two ounces of quinoa. [The audience laughs.]

john

Yeah. Looks like—yeah, it looks like that tablespoon of orzo you have in that one Tupperware’s probably ready to go. Now, I noticed that you store your walnut oil in the refrigerator. [The audience and Denise laugh.] Which is great! You’re—you know, you’re—that prolongs the life and the freshness of oils. Where do you store your vinegar? Sprinkled all over the house?

denise

We have a little section for oils and vinegars.

john

Yeah. So, when you catch Jeremy sniffing the fridge, does it merely gross you out? Or are you, to some degree, insulted?

denise

I am insulted, because he knows this food went in there one or two days ago. So, I know it’s not about checking for “has it gone bad”. It’s because of this innate curiosity about smell. And, just—and he has confessed it, prior to tonight. He’s just intrigued and wants to know what’s in there. And I’m like, “It’s the same thing that was in there yesterday, when we ate it!”

john

Wait, he’ll double-sniff a Tupperware?! To see if it’s changed? Jeremy, answer the question. [Jeremy and the audience laugh.]

jeremy

Um, sometimes I like—I like the smell of food. [The audience laughs.] And so, I like to—sometimes…

jesse

Jeremy, does this ever get you into trouble, as befits your reputation as the Curious George of sniffing things?

jeremy

[Laughing.] I—I mean, I feel like, I—one of the things I like about food is how it smells. It’s…

john

What’s it like going to the restaurant—“the restaurant”, you know the restaurant? [Jesse affirms dubiously.] What’s it like going to any restaurant, with Jeremy?

denise

Uh, terrifying, because he also will occasionally do it at restaurants. He’ll do it at my mother’s house, which I find highly insulting. And it’s different—if he picked it up and then commented on the smell, like, “Mmm! Delicious!” But it’s just the silent sniff. [The audience laughs.] And puts it back down! And everyone’s wondering, “Wh-what’s the verdict?”

john

With that—with respect, Denise, I’m—I feel like I’m getting two versions of the story from you. One in which the problem is that Jeremy is sniffing without talking, and one in which he is sniffing and talking too much.

denise

So, it’s both. One is just wondering around the world, about smells that I don’t smell. And then the other, specifically, is to food. So, it is two very distinct problems.

jesse

Denise—Denise, what was the most unusual smell that he has ever remarked upon, out in the world?

denise

[Beat.] Hmmm.

john

Let the record show, Denise is breaking down into tears. [The audience, Denise, and Jesse laugh.] That’s not true. I thought for a moment it might be.

denise

I don’t know—I don’t know that there’s anything unusual. And he often can’t answer what it is, but he just expresses that there’s a smell and it is strong and what it is it? And I can’t play the game! Because I don’t smell anything!

john

D-d-do you mean that you smell smells that you don’t know how to describe?

jeremy

Sometimes.

john

Do you ever smell colors and words? [The audience laughs.]

jeremy

[Chuckling.] No.

john

Do you think that you have—that—it says here that I should ask you about smelling gas in the apartment. Did that happen?

jeremy

Oh, uh, yeah. For, like—maybe a month ago. I smelled gas.

john

Did you do anything [laughing] about it?! It was—maybe you’re a little—still foggy.

jesse

[Smugly.] Well, he had smelt it and dealt it! [The audience laughs.]

jeremy

I almost didn’t, ‘cause I knew Denise would get mad at me. But I did ask her if she smelled gas, out in our hallway of the apartment building. And asked her to smell it. And I think the second time I smelled it, so did she. And somebody had left a pilot light up.

john

And—oh, okay. And so, what ended up happening? Did it get—did you—did you deal with it?

jeremy

Yeah, she lit the pilot light and it was fine.

jesse

That’s what you’re supposed to do, when you smell gas. [The audience laughs.] Just…

john

Just light a match as quickly as possible. That’ll clear it all up. [Jesse agrees with a laugh.] So, it seems like Jeremy saved your life.

denise

But that was a real smell!

john

Did he or did he not save your life, madam?

denise

He did. He saved all of our lives. But it was a real smell! And when he said—he really was hesitant to point it out, ‘cause he thought I’d get mad. But once he did, I went out to the hallways and it did smell like gas.

john

Let me investigate. You said, “That was a real smell.” Do you think he’s faking his smelling?

denise

No. So, my concern—in light of the fact that his father and brother also admit to being super smellers, I’ve done some research. And while super smell is not in and of itself a problem, other than it drives smell crazy, it can be indicative of underlying disease.

crosstalk

John: Now, do you have evidence? Denise: And this is one of my concerns. John: Do you have some evidence to point to that? Let’s go to the next exhibit, please. Right.

denise

[Laughing.] That is not the disease.

john

That’s not the super smelling—? [Denise denies it.] Who’s the—who’s this person?

denise

This is the one of the innocent victims of all this talk. This is the child.

john

Let the record show that this is a photo of their daughter. I presume.

denise

This is our three an half year old daughter, who will get on the subway—which, admittedly, can be a stinky place—but because she thinks we should talk about smells, she will stare at somebody and say, “Mooommy, what’s that teeeerrible smeeeell?” While she stares somebody down. [The audience laughs.]

john

So, this is causing social problems on the subway?

denise

Social problems. She will do it in taxis. At Jeremy’s birthday party, we had a small group around the table, and she declared, “Mommy, I can’t sit here. Somebody smells bad.”

john

Are you of the parenting opinion that children should be smelled and not heard? [Denise and the audience laugh.] Next exhibit, please. Okay, this is what you were talking about. This is a—let the record show, for those listening at home, it is a… a  couple of paragraphs of texts. Some real homework for me. I don’t appreciate… but it’s the Monell Center, Advancing Discovery in Taste and Smell. And I’d just like to draw the audience’s attention to the logo of the Monell Center, which is an ‘M’ for Monell with a big nose in the middle of the ‘M’.

jesse

And a slightly agape mouth, which we can only presume is tasting.

john

That’s right! That’s right. Good point, Jesse. Thank you. “At Monell, world-class scientists are unlocking some of the most fundamental mysteries of what makes us human. How do we use our chemical senses to communicate? What are the cellular underpinnings of taste and smell?” What a scam this center is! [The audience laughs.]

jesse

You can tell it’s a scam, because there are three pieces of what is clearly stock photography on this page. And someone just—obviously just typed in, “Science, science, noses.” [John cackles. The audience laughs.]

john

Now, look. I’m sure the Monell Center, at 3500 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—telephone number (267)519-4700—is—they’re reputable scientists, studying smell and taste. And what is the purpose of this infodump that you gave to us, here?

denise

Well, so this is—and this came to me from a reputable journalist friend who has done research on smell, when I asked her, “Remind me that place you went to.” So, this is just to say: this is a thing. People study smell. And there’s a place Jeremy could go to get evaluated. This is not the slide that talks about the disease I think he might have. [Scattered laughter building in the audience.] But this is just to say: this is an actual field of study and just a short train ride away! We could get some answers.

john

So, you’re suggesting that you—that Jeremy should subject himself to some tests, like a laboratory animal, in Philadelphia?

denise

Ooor, they can refer us to somebody in New York. But—[laughing] I think—

jesse

I think—I think, John, what she’s suggesting is that there’s a place where Jeremy and people like him are wanted. [The audience laughs.]

denise

So, the—this is not just a matter—

john

He should be institutionalized, is what you’re saying?

denise

[Laughing.] No! It’s not just a matter of personal annoyance and worry about what my children are learning, but if there is an underlying disease, I’d like to know! So, we can be proactive. Because there’s another slide that will show—it’s scary stuff!

john

Let’s go to that exhibit. Okay. This is a slide—more text on a screen, for a podcast. Thank you for bringing this challenge to me. I appreciate it. [The audience laughs.]

jesse

I like that you’ve highlighted the information on this page, in the style of a political attack ad. [The audience and John laugh.]

john

I will read it like a political attack ad.

jesse

[Aggressively.] Fact!

john

[Singing.] Bum-bum! [Intense and dramatic, like a smear-campaign ad.] “Fact! ‘Hyperosmia is a heightened—or increased sense of smell,’ explains ENT specialist and rhinologist, Raj Sindwani, MD. ‘People can experience it all the time, or occasionally. [Echoes “occasionally” several times, getting softer.] And while hyperosmia doesn’t always require treatment, it can signal an underlying health issue that does. [Repeats “does” several times in an echo.]” Okay, so the underlying—

jesse

[Interrupting, using the smear-campaign voice.] Not only is Bernie Sanders not Henry Rollins, he’s not one of the many other lead singers of Black Flaaaag! [The audience and John laugh. Scattered applause and hoots.]

john

So, it says, Hyperosmia—hyperosmia, which is the opposite of anosmia—is relatively rare. Doctors usually don’t know why someone develops it, but there [chuckling] are a seemingly endless list of things that may be to blame, including: epilepsy, Addison’s disease, psychiatric conditions. That’s a little throwaway. Could be anything. [The audience laughs.] Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis. Your concern is that your husband might be suffering an undiagnosed condition for which the only symptom is him sneaking into the refrigerator to smell Tupperware.

denise

I—in light of the fact that his father and brother also have this, I think it’s possible that he falls into this category of “it’s indicative of something else”. And not on this list, but I also read in a lot of places, Parkinson’s is on that list. So, I’d rather know now!

jesse

Jeremy, do you believe that this is a sincerely held concern of your wife’s? Or do you think this is a trumped-up line of argument for the purposes of this podcast? [Beat.] [The audience laughs.]

john

Let the record show that Jeremy’s face suggests it smells a little fishy. [Jesse, Jeremy, and the audience laugh.]

jeremy

Um, I think it’s… there’s… something genuine. Some genuine concern.

john

Are you open to being tested for hyperosmia?

jeremy

Um. Sure.

john

Great! ‘Cause I have a little unscientific test of my own. I brought along some smells. [Jeremy chuckles.] I’d like to see if you can identify them. Take your glasses off, please. And put this knit cap over your eyes. Pull it down over your eyes, please. Don’t worry, I—the only—last person to wear it was me, and I don’t have… great. Now you look like first season Daredevil. Just realized. Can you see anything? [Jeremy denies.] So, I have here a series of smells—famous smells of Brooklyn. [The audience laughs.] I’m going to place this smell under your nose. Please trust me, none of it is vinegar. Nor—[laughing] nor is it natural gas. And tell me what, if anything, you can smell.

jeremy

Okay. [Beat.] Smells like… chocolate?

john

Chocolate is correct! Specifically, a famous Brooklyn chocolate egg crème. Good job. Would you like a sip? It’s not poisoned. [Someone in the audience cheers.]

jeremy

[Laughing.] Sure.

john

I’m putting it in your hand now. Guess what? We switched Jeremy’s regular egg crème with poison! [The audience laughs.] Denise, I just solved your problem for you. Good test, so far. If I’d asked you to identify it as an egg crème, would you have been able to? [Jeremy denies.] No. Alright. Seems like pretty normal smelling to me. This is a paper bag. You can put your nose—I’m putting it in your hands. Don’t mush it up or anything. Just put your nose into the top of the paper bag and smell.

jeremy

[Beat. Scattered laughter from the audience.] I can’t—I can’t tell what it is.

john

Can’t. Tell. What it is.

jesse

The plot thickens!

john

Would you like—would you like to smell it?

denise

I’m afraid it’s a dead rat.

john

It’s—a dead rat?!

denise

You said it’s Brooklyn smells!

john

Who do you think I am?! Jared Leto? [Beat.] You can see in—what did you say?

denise

Just smells like a paper bag.

john

Well, it does—it is in a paper bag. Good job. [The audience laughs.] It’s a Junior’s cheesecake. Yeah, it smells like paper bag to me, too. So, that’s… can I hand this off to super producer, Hannah? Here, just give that to someone in the audience. It’s not a big—it’s not—it’s a Junior’s—a little mini one. They call it a Little Fella. Let me see if there’s one that has a real smell to it. Nope. Oh yeah. [The rustling of paper.] How about this?

jesse

Just for the at-home listener, these are the kinds of paper bags you would put a dog poop in to light it on fire and put it on someone’s—that’s why everyone’s so nervous!

john

[Pleasantly.] Yep! Alright, I’m putting another paper bag. And, you know what, I’m gonna—here, will you hold my microphone for on second? Tear the top of off it, so you can get—closer to the—closer to the smell.

jeremy

[A beat. The shuffle of paper. Scattered laughter from the audience.] Is that bagel?

john

It is a bagel! What kind of bagel?

jeremy

Everything?

john

Everything bagel is correct! [The audience cheers and claps.] Now, Sherlock. Can you tell me the provenance of the bagel? Is it, uh… North Slope? South Slope?

jeremy

South Slope.

john

[Laughing.] That’s correct. I mean, that was a 50/50, but that’s pretty incredible.

jesse

When it comes to bagels, there’s nothing more important than what the French call “terroir”.

john

[In a cartoonish French accent.] Terroir! I will rule in your favor. Whatever it is you want. If you can tell me where this bagel comes from. South Slope.

jeremy

The—The Bagel Hole.

jesse

[Crowing with laughter.] YES! [The audience cheers.] Holy cow!

john

Wow! Wooow!

denise

Y-you should rule in my favor, after that!

john

Well, that’s not the promise that I made! [Denise and the audience laugh.]

crosstalk

Denise: But that’s what it proves! John: I mean, there are a lot of—there are a lot of decisions I’m questioning, now, for sure! [Denise laughs helplessly.]

john

Alright, my heart is beating very fast! [A beat. The audience laughs.] The Bagel Hole, if you don’t know, is a South Slope bagelry. It’s a—[laughing] it’s a—it’s a bagel chateau. The House of Bagel Hole. And it is the best—they are the best bagels. Do you live near there? [Jeremy affirms.] Oh, have I seen you on the street?

jeremy

Probably. [The audience laughs.]

jesse

You’d be the one who knew.

john

Yeah, let me rephrase. Have you seen me at The Bagel Hole?

jeremy

Uuuh, no, but… on the street.

john

My favorite thing about The Bagel Hole is it’s really—and I apologize Michaela—aside from its beautiful bagels, it’s a [censored] hole. It looks… it looks like a place where you would be murdered. And yet, on Union Street and 7th Avenue—this is some really Brooklyn stuff—on Union Street and 7th Avenue, there is a super, super high-end, gourmet store, which is lovely. But very, very fancy. And at the front of—at the counter, they always have, like, five bagels. And they say, “Bagels from The Bagel Hole”, like they were imported. [Everyone laughs.] Like they had been imported 15 blocks. Uuh, what is it—what is it that you want me to rule, if—now that I am ruling in your favor?

jeremy

Um. I just want Denise to not get mad at me when I talk about smells. [The audience chuckles and “aww”s.]

jesse

Let the record reflect that he said that so sweetly, he got sympathy points over a visibly pregnant woman. [Everyone laughs.] Everyone here is, like, trying to give him their seat on the subway, right now.

john

Denise, what would you have me rule if I were to rule in your favor?

denise

I would like him to not smell food so frequently, in my presence. Especially food that I’ve made or that is in our communal fridge and hasn’t been there long. I would like him to talk less about smell in front of our children. And I would like him, sometime in 2020, to go to a specialized ENT to get confirmation of what’s going on. Three things.

john

I have—I have a question. One question for each of you, before I go into my chambers. I had so many other smells, down here. Maybe I’ll try another couple with these other smells. The question I have for you, Jeremy, is how—when you are… I mean, you have an acute sense of smell, whether or not you are hyperosmic. Would you agree? [Jeremy confirms several times.] You smell a lot and you like smelling things and you like talking about it. You often smell things that Denise can’t smell. Right. And so, when—how does it make you feel when you’re talking about smells and she cannot… she cannot hear you? And you can’t talk about it with her, because you’re a man of very few words. Which has been very challenging for this podcast. [The audience and Jeremy laugh.] You did say two important words: Bagel and Hole, that will go down in history, so I appreciate that. But, you know. What—you’re living this life of the nose. How does it feel that you cannot share that? Or you’re being asked to not share it, with your wife?

jeremy

I mean, I like talking about whatever I’m noticing, with Denise. I talk more to Denise than to most people.

jesse

Clearly.

jeremy

[Laughs.] Yeah. So, I like—um, like talking to her about whatever it is I’m noticing or smell. So, that’s a little sad when I can’t talk to her about it without her getting a little upset, but I also don’t, um, like upsetting her.

john

Right. And Denise, you’ve—you’ve asked me to order that Jeremy not talk about smells and his inner life, in general, in front of your children. Have you ever caught him—I mean, some people read to their babies, in utero. Have you ever caught him with, like, a scratch-and-sniff book, while you’re asleep? [The audience laughs.] Scratch-and-sniffin’ over your belly for that new baby?

denise

Not yet.

john

Okay. I think I’ve heard everything I need to in order to make my decision. I’m going to descent into my stinky cheese cave. I’ll be back in a moment with my verdict.

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom. [Cheers and applause from the audience.] Jeremy, are you proud of your sense of smell?

jeremy

Yeah. It’s kind of like—

jesse

Does it bring you benefits, in life?

jeremy

Yeah, it, uh—sometimes I do a little writing and it’s helpful to, like, notice smells. I like it when Jojo, our daughter, smells—talks about what she’s smelling, too. I think it’s kind of fun.

jesse

What about when she smells someone stinky? [Titters from the audience.]

jeremy

I like that less.

jesse

I assume you don’t aspire to bring her to any cons. I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled those. [They laugh.]

jeremy

No.

jesse

How are you feeling about your chances in the case?

jeremy

Pretty good. I think I made my case pretty well. [The audience laughs.]

jesse

Plus, you did that one [censored] amazing thing. Denise, how are you feeling about your chances?

denise

Hmm. Well, I think he made my case pretty well. But I think the judge thinks my request is too extreme. So, I would—what I would is for him to talk about smells less. Not zero. Um. And not just to me. Spread it out. [The audience laughs.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman reenters the courtroom and delivers his verdict. [Cheers and applause.]

john

First of all, I have to pick this Bagel Hole bagel up off the floor. That’s hurting my feelings. I love you, bagel.

jesse

Last time I flew home to Los Angeles, from Brooklyn, I brought, like, 20 Bagel Hole bagels, in a bag, on the airplane. Like some kind of bagel smuggler.

john

[Laughing.] That’s right. They’ll never sponsor us. Oh well. So, Jeremy. I’m a judge of my word. I posed a challenge to you. A smelling challenge. And you passed. I said that I would find in your favor, and I will. I’m going to order Denise to not be so mad at you, all the time, about the smelling. [Beat.] But that’s all you asked me to do. [Jeremy laughs.] So, while I am ordering—so, while I am officially ruling in your favor, officially, I am—there are some orders that I can make that do not counteract that ruling. First of all, smelling’s great. It is one of our greatest senses. And yet— [The audience chuckles.] Why are you laughing at that?! It’s one of our greatest senses!

jesse

Top five, at least.

john

[Cackles in an over-the-top, performative way.] You’re right that if I had to lose one, smelling would be the first one to go. ‘Cause we don’t rely on it that much. I mentioned before that you looked like—when you pulled that black, knit cap over your eyes—you looked like season one Daredevil on Netflix’s Daredevil. RIP, REP? RIP. Never mind, forget that. But, so—smelling is one of the wonderful ways that we—I mean, without smelling we don’t taste food. And food is fantastic. We eat—I don’t mean to brag, but I eat it in order to live. [The audience laughs.] And yet, it is associated, culturally, with suspicion and even disgust. It’s a warning sense, right? It’s how you—it’s the first sense you deploy to figure out if something is rotten or poison. You—there is the term “smell-test”, where you put something to the smell-test and if it smells fishy, it’s wrong. Smell is associated with… with impure foods and poisons and stuff. Smell is a way, you know, the—smelling is a way of conveying condescension. Being sniffy about something. It is a disruptive thing to do, all the time. If you are constantly going, [takes three deep, loud, exaggerated sniffs]. It’s gross, right? I’m doing it for you. [Sniffs again.] I don’t know if you can hear so good, but it’s gross. You smell what I’m cooking, though, right? [Jeremy chuckles.] Uh, it's gross. [Laughing.] Smelling is gross. And I think that it is reasonable that Denise would feel a little bit—even though I don’t think it’s your intention—to feel a little bit critiqued, even—when you are constantly going in the fridge, day after day, to smell the same Tupperware. Similarly, when you go over to her mom’s house and you hold the plate of food up to your nose. You do it, don’t you? You hold it up to your nose, don’t you? Don’t you, sir? Don’t wait for the translation. You do it.

jeremy

I—I usually don’t.

john

Usually don’t!

crosstalk

Denise: He’s not aware! Jesse: Yeah, sometimes he does that thing with his hands where he brings the smell up. John: [Laughing.] Yeah, right. [The audience laughs.]

john

Do you smell with your hands? Do you waft the odor into your nose?

jeremy

I would never do that. No. [John affirms.]

denise

No, he lifts the whole plate up.

john

He lifts the whole plate up. I see. Right. [Denise agrees.] So, that’s gross and bad manners. You shouldn’t do that. And you certainly shouldn’t, like, go—like, pretend this delicious bagel is some of your mother-in-law’s gross food. [The audience laughs.] I’m sure it’s delicious. Like, one thing you shouldn’t do at the table is, like, lift up the food to your nose and go: [sniffs deeply], and then just silently put it back down. Like. That—that would suggest that the food is lacking in some way. [Jeremy chuckles.] These are just matters of politeness. Now, what you do in your own time, in the middle of the night with that refrigerator, is up to you. [Everyone laughs.] And while I think that it is unlikely that you have multiple sclerosis, Addison’s disease, psychiatric conditions… I think you deserve to go and to put Denise’s mind at rest and go to a specialist ENT and be tested to find out if you’re some kind of superhuman mutant. ‘Cause that would be awesome! If you had super smelling and it was—and it was—it was diagnosed? That would be an incredible skill to own, even though it would probably compel you to fight crime. Which is dumb. I agree. I don’t know why Daredevil has to do it. I don’t know why, when he gets super smelling, suddenly it’s on him to stop human trafficking in Hell’s Kitchen. But he did it. But you deserve to know if you are a superhuman mutant. And I think that it would put everyone’s minds at ease if you ruled out that you might have some underlying health condition. But you seem like a very nice, if somewhat silent, person. And I stick by my word that I’d find in your favor. And, Denise, don’t be mad at this nice, silent, smelling man that you married. And don’t deny his influence upon your daughter. She might be a super smeller, too! She might need his guidance! Do you know what I mean? To deal with her superpowers!

denise

They spent two hours alone, yesterday, and he came home and reported that she had four smell comments in a two-hour period, in our neighborhood.

john

Yeah! He’s sharing with his own daughter! It’s beautiful and I allow it. This is the sound of a gavel. [Three gavel bangs.] Judge John Hodgman rules. That is all. [The audience cheers and claps.]

jesse

Denise and Jeremy!

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

promo

Music: Upbeat rock plays in the background. Announcer: Dead Pilots Society brings you exclusive readings of comedy pilots that were never made, featuring actors like Patton Oswalt— Patton Oswalt: So, the vampire from the future sleeps in the dude’s studio during the day, and they hunt monsters at night. It’s Blade meets The Odd Couple! [Audience laughs] Announcer: —Adam Scott and Jane Levy— Jane Levy: Come on, Cory. She’s too serious, too business-y. She doesn’t know the hokey-pokey. Adam Scott: Well, she’ll learn what it’s all about. [Audience laughs.] Announcer: —Busy Philipps and Dave Koechner.  Dave Koechner: Maybe this is family. Busy Philipps: My Uncle Tal, who showed his wiener to Cinderella at Disneyland, is family. Do you want him staying with us? [Light audience laughter.] Dave: He did stay with us, for three months. Busy: And he was a delight! [Audience laughs harder.] Announcer: A new pilot every month, only on Dead Pilots Society from Maximum Fun.

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

promo

Music: Cheerful banjo music plays in the background. Biz Ellis: Hi! I’m Biz. Theresa Thorn: And I’m Theresa. Biz: And we host One Bad Mother, a comedy podcast about parenting. Theresa: Whether you are a parent or just know kids exist in the world, join us each week as we honestly share what it’s like to be a parent. Biz: These are really hard questions! Theresa: They are really hard questions! Biz: [Voice getting louder and more agitated] I don’t have any answers for that! Theresa: I don’t either! Biz: [Yelling] Sack of garbage! Theresa: I know! Biz: [Yelling in frustration] Ahhhh! Ughhh! [Laughs wildly.] Ahhhh! The end of the show will just be five minutes of Biz— [Theresa giggles.] Biz: —and Theresa crying and screaming until the outro is played. So, join us each week as we judge less, laugh more, and remind you that you are doing a great job. Theresa: Find us on MaximumFun.org, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts!

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

john

[The audience applauds.] That was great. We got to hear some real justice, there. But we have more justice to dispense. We also have more Brooklyn smells to dole out. So—

jesse

But hold on, John! We do not have much time left. If we’re gonna dispense more justice, I think the most we could give it is 15 minutes.

john

Yeah! Let’s dispense some swift justice! Put 15 minutes on the clock and call the first case!

jesse

Okay! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Karia and Mwezi!

john

Karia and Mwezi!

jesse

Karia files suit against her wife, Mwezi! Mwezi believes their relationship anniversary’s on February 14th. Karia believes they should celebrate on February 7th. That was, technically, their first date.

john

So… Karia and Mwezi. [They affirm.] Who seeks justice before me? Who brings this case? And you are?

karia

My name is Karia. [John echoes her name.] This is my wife. And I bring justice—I bring her here. She’s never heard the podcast, by the way.

john

That’s fine. [Karia laughs.] How’s it—how has it seemed so far, Mwezi? Do you get the gist?

mwezi

It’s alright. [The audience laughs. Karia cackles.]

john

Okay.

jesse

Somebody’s playing to win!

john

I think I’ve heard everything I need to in order to make my decision.

karia

[Laughing.] So, we—we—there’s two issues kind of very tightly connected. We dated for a while. We broke up. We got back together, and we started dating February 7th of 2008. [Mwezi hums in reluctant agreement.]

john

Oh! [Laughing.] Okay. This is the point of the dispute, obviously. [They agree.]

karia

So, this is—this is the point of dispute. So, the main dispute is whether or not we celebrate the day we went on our first date—or, some—

john

Which would be February 7th, 2008.

karia

Which would be February 7th. Or some other date that she has picked out. [Laughs.]

john

Some random date called February 14th.

jesse

Yeah, what’s that? Arbor Day or something?!

john

Yeah. [Karia giggles.] So, just—just threw—just threw a dart at a calendar.

karia

So, that’s—that’s the main dispute. And the secondary dispute is—

john

Oh! Secondary dispute!

karia

Is whether or not the time that we dated, in our previous relationship—when we—before we broke up and got back together and have been married for 11 years. [The audience cheers.] Whether or not that previous time—whether or not that previous year and half counts towards our relationship total. I think it obvious doesn’t, and other people disagree.

john

So, you mean the time that you were broken up shouldn’t—in your opinion, Karia, should not count towards—

karia

No, no, no—but, the year and a half when we were dating, before we broke up, should not count towards our total.

john

Oh, it should not count at all.

karia

No, no. Should not count it.

john

You restart the clock after the break and then reunion. [Karia agrees.]

mwezi

I disagree with that.

john

Okay, Mwezi, what’s your side?

mwezi

So, February 14th is when I felt like I began to have feelings for her, and I felt like we were really a couple again. February 7th—

jesse

Did you mark it in your date book?!

mwezi

[Laughs.] No, but, like she said, we had broken up. So, I did think a lot about us getting back together. So, on February 7th, which she insists was our first date—

karia

Because I asked you out and you said yes! And we went to dinner! [Laughs.]

mwezi

But, in my mind, it was still trying to work things out. So, I was not very clear about how it—how I felt comfortable, going forward. Even though I went out on the date, yes.

john

May I—may I just clarify the timeline? [Mwezi agrees several times.] So, February 7th—this date in contention—Karia’s calling it your first date, but let’s just call it February 7th. This is after you had broken up? You had been together, broken up, and this was the beginning of starting to get back together.

mwezi

Yeah. So—and we were separated for four years. [Karia and John agree.] So, it was not something that I took lightly, that we were—maybe—

john

But your implication is Karia was taking it very lightly. [Karia and Mwezi both start to speak and then laugh.] Your implication is, the first time you saw each other again, on February 7th, Karia’s like, “We’re dating.”

mwezi

Something like that. [Laughs.]

karia

We had—we had—no, to be fair, to me—we had seen each other before that time, and when we saw each other previously, I asked her out on a date and I said, “Would you like to go on a date-date with me?” And she said yes. And that date was February 7th.

john

What did you do on this maybe-date, February 7th?

karia

We went out to…

john

Oh, you don’t even remember. Mwezi, do you remember?

mwezi

We—I remember! [John affirms.] We went out for sushi, on Smith Street, in Brooklyn. [Karia agrees.]

jesse

Now, Mwezi, I wanna get—I wanna get your line of argument straight in my head. Your line of argument is that the two of your officially became an item when you got comfortable with the idea? [Everyone laughs.] Because this is just for a little bit of context for you, I’ve been with my wife for 22 years. [The audience cheers.] And if the point where I got comfortable having a life partner and being in love and all of those things was our anniversary, our anniversary would be two weeks ago. [Mwezi cackles.]

john

Congratulations, by the way. [Jesse thanks him with a laugh.] It’s a good time to take a break and go on tour. [Jesse agrees. The audience laughs.]

jesse

Let’s! Sink! This! Boooat!

john

You went—you went on this sushi date. Or sushi meal. [They agree.] Just call it “neutral meal”, for now. Until I decide. And then, February 14th, of the same year? Seven days later? [They affirm.] You were like, “You know what? I’m into this, now.” Did you do something on that day?

mwezi

Can I add—can I add that, on that day, she told me—she said, and I quote, “I am not looking for anything serious.” [John affirms.] And I—and my first piece of evidence is the picture of our wedding date, August 8—August 2nd of that same year.

john

Oooh! Let’s take a look at that! Oh, look at that. [The audience “aww”s and applauds.] Wow. It’s a beautiful photo of you together, on your wedding day. You even—I mean, this was 2008? [They confirm.] You even sprung for the Instagram bubble filter, which is amazing! I don’t even think that was developed at that time. So, that’s—no, it’s a beautiful—that was a beautiful day. Where did you get married?

karia

Uh, just, like, a friend’s house in New Jersey. Like, we just—

mwezi

Friend’s backyard.

john

Friend’s house in New Jersey. Perfect place.

jesse

You’re all—yeah! Where everyone gets married. A friend’s house in New Jersey. [Everyone laughs.] New Jers! The wedding state!

john

But again, let the record show that Karia did not seem sure, at first, where she got—it’s like, “Uum… it was a friend’s house? In… I don’t knooow. What does it matter?” Is this the only piece of evidence you have? Or is there more?

karia

I have additional evidence that is not necessarily related to the case, but I think the Bailiff will really enjoy.

john

Let’s see. [Collective “aww”s from the audience as well as Jesse and John.] It’s Karia—

jesse

For the at-home listener—

crosstalk

Karia: That’s our— Jesse: We’re looking at a picture of a pretty kitty. John: Yeah.

karia

That’s her cat who hates me, as you can see [laughing] from her eyes. [Everyone laughs.] As I’m giving her the hug, she’s not happy.

john

Yeah. No. She clearly has not had a moment where she’s like, “I feel comfortable with this relationship.” [The audience laughs.] That date is yet to come. What is her name?

karia

That’s Lady Bellatrix… uh, La Fluffypant—no. No, Bellatrix—

crosstalk

Mwezi: La Fluffypants. Jesse: Jellicle. Karia: La Fluffypants, uh, Esquire… something, something. It’s long. It’s long. I forget. John: Maybe—yeah. Right. Sure, well, it’s a Jellicle cat, so she’s got a lot of names. Right. Next slide please. [Jesse and John erupt into laughter.]

john

Another cat!

mwezi

That is her cat!

karia

That’s my cat. That is Sir Steward Ford Fluffypants Esquire.

john

[In disbelief.] Sir Steward—?!

karia

And he is adorable.

john

Sir Steward… Ford Fluffypants?

karia

As in the car, yes.

john

As in the car, sure. That makes sense. In the context of that whole name, and a cat. Fluffypants Esquire. And, may I just say, this cat is sitting on top of a cupboard, staring down the camera, wishing it to die. [Karia and Mwezi laugh.] One of the greatest, wide, cat stances I’ve ever seen. Like, this is the closest I’ve ever seen a cat standing arms akimbo, before. Do you know what I mean? Like, there—their elbows should not be able to do what he’s doing, right now.

jesse

His title is Esquire, but he appears to work as a bouncer?!

john

He’s a door—he’s a door cat at the Jellicle Ball. [Jesse cackles.] He’s like, “No. No, you’re not getting in tonight. No.”

karia

And this is how he sits. [John affirms.] And I just—[laughs] this is just him. Yes.

john

Any more delightful evidence, or is this it?

karia

[Laughing.] No, that’s it. That’s it.

john

Wonderful. Well, obviously I find in both of your favors. But let me ask this question—

karia

Oh, I wanna add something. My wife is a public school teacher. [The audience cheers.] And she came out here on a school night, on a Monday, and I really appreciate that.

john

Thank you very much! That’s fantastic.

mwezi

No problem.

john

Yeah! [Everyone laughs.] I don’t believe you. I think some problems! It’s like… it’s not easy—it’s not easy to be a public school teacher. I happen to know. I’m not one, but I know one very well. Karia, what do you—what do you do, all day?

karia

I have a YouTube channel called Crafting Karia.

john

Yeah. No problem. [Laughs.]

karia

And I do really long-form reviews of things like pencil erasers. Like 30-minute reviews.

john

Yeah! I like this a lot! Long-form videos that—reviews of pencil erasers?

crosstalk

Karia: And colored pencils. Jesse: You could have just shortened that to, “I live in Brooklyn.” [Everyone laughs.]

john

What’s your YouTube channel? Tell—give us all—tell us how to find it.

karia

It’s Crafting Karia. K-A-R-I-A. Crafting and then Karia.

john

That’s fantastic. Alright, I’ll check it out. So, why… why is it important to you to locate this anniversary on this particular date?

karia

Because it just—it just matters, and I just want to be able to plan our anniversaries and to just—

mwezi

And we argue about it every year.

karia

Every year it’s an issue. [Mwezi laughs.] And some years, nothing happens because we’re, you know—we’re debating over—now, this year she… she unfairly—

mwezi

I got her a really good gift, this year. So, she can’t—

karia

Yeeeah. She was—really unfair. Like, it was so good it was not—it’s not fair. Um. Sooo—so, that’s this year. But other years, like, we don’t really know, like—there’s no—you know, so I would like to be able to plan and say, “This is what I’m doing. This is the date it’s gonna happen.” And not have it be, like…

john

Is it important to you that you locate the date on February 7th because that was the date that you chose to invite Mwezi back into your life? [Karia confirms.] But isn’t it the case that the 14th is the date that Mwezi mentally chose to accept you back into her life?

mwezi

Yeees.

john

I say you celebrate them both! Karia Day and Mwezi Day. [The audience cheers.] You know, normally it’s that—it’s the opinion of this court that once you get married, that’s the date you share, and you forget dating anniversary. ‘Cause that’s kid stuff. [Mwezi and Karia both reluctantly agree.] Sorry, kids. [Everyone laughs.] But if you’re gonna celebrate two anniversaries, anyway, might as well be three. There’s gonna be February the 7th, which is Karia Day. February 14th, which is Mwezi Day. And then August the 8th? Is that right?

crosstalk

Mwezi and Karia: [Slightly out of sync.] August 2nd.

john

The 2nd, excuse me. August the 2nd, which is… Karia and Mwezi Day, together. This is the sound of a gavel. [Five clicks of a gavel.]

jesse

Karia and Mwezi! [The audience applauds.] Please welcome to the stage, Karen and Jamie!

john

Karen and Jamie. Hello. [Jamie and Karen both greet him.] Which—who here— [John is interrupted by a member of the audience screaming, “What is your bowl?”] Hang on. [The audience laughs.]

jesse

We’ll get to their bowl, sir!

john

I have—I know it may not seem like it, but I have this under control. [Everyone laughs.] I also have noticed that Jamie has brought to the stage a large bowl-looking object. So, be calm. We shall take care of it.

jesse

This guy’s like, [alarmed] “A bowl!? That’s one step too far!

john

Jamie? [Screaming] What is your bowl!? [The audience laughs.]

jamie

It’s a pie, man!

john

It’s a pie?! That’s a deep—that’s a deep-dish pie, that you’ve got right there.

jamie

It’s a pie.

john

Alright. Who comes—I mean, I see that you brought a pie to the court. Who comes to seek justice before me?

jamie

I do.

john

And what is the nature of your dispute?

jamie

I like to bake pies.

john

[Snorts a laugh.] Can you ever be separate from them? [Everyone laughs.]

jamie

Occasionally. [John affirms with a laugh.] I seek a ruling that I can make as many pies as I like, for Thanksgiving, without being made to feel guilty about it.

john

I see. And Karen, you feel differently?

karen

I feel that there should be a two-slice per person estimate, and that when you actually make one-third of a pie per person who are coming to Thanksgiving, that’s too much. [Someone in the audience boos.]

john

Karen. [Everyone laughs.]

karen

But I have a reason!

john

No—no, Karen. [Karen affirms.] I’m on your—look. [The audience laughs.] What is your profession, Jamie?

jamie

I’m a judge.

john

Yeah. [Uproarious laughter from the audience, followed by applause and cheers.] Would it be ethical, at this point, for me to say to Karen, “I’m on your side”?

jamie

Not in the slightest.

john

Not ethical. Okay. Good to know.

jamie

No, not even a little bit.

john

Good to know. Just a—that’s a hypothetical. [Jamie laughs.] Karen, what is your profession?

karen

I’m a prosecutor. [Everyone laughs.]

john

COUNSELOR?! Provisionally speaking: I’m on your side. [Laughs.] I only say that because… you’re not making, for a prosecutor—you’re not making a very strong opening argument here. You—what I would expect to be a strong opening argument is, “My husband makes too goddamn many pies.” But you’re already deep in the weeds of, like, [weakly] “There should be a rule of two slices per person at Thanksgiving. All I’m asking is for some, small accommodation. I’ve—I’ve—I think—"

jesse

If each person got half a baby… [Jamie laughs.]

john

It just makes me feel like he’s already—he’s already sucked you into his worldview. And I want you to step out of his worldview for a second, where you have to appease him, and simply say—how many pies does this guy make at Thanksgiving?

jesse

I think you need to answer a really deep question. Which is: at what point and in what manner does pie become a problem? [The audience laughs. Scattered applause.]

karen

It was a problem because he actually hid his sixth pie from me, this year. [The audience roars with laughter.]

john

So, he made five and hid one?

karen

I had to go to the refrigerator and start counting. I said, “You didn’t make five pies!” Which was already too much. “You made six!”

jesse

At least he didn’t—you didn’t, like, find it, like, taped under the top of the toilet. [Everyone laughs. John struggles to get a hold of himself.]

jamie

There was one—we had to reach up to the toilet.

john

They say that any relationship that you have to hide or lie about is not a healthy relationship. Did you hide a pie from your wife?

jamie

I didn’t—I didn’t hide a pie. I just didn’t advertise that I was making a pie—

john

[Interrupting loudly.] Your honor!

jamie

The ingredients were out in the open. My shopping list was out in the open.

jesse

[Continuing the list.] You were not present with your family on an important holiday.

karen

The—can I just say that while he’s baking these pies, I’m not doing nothing. I am peeling. I am chopping. I am prepping. I am doing the boring stuff of Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, so that on Thursday, everything can go into the oven so we can host.

john

So, you’re doing—your contingent is you’re doing all of the work of Thanksgiving, while Jamie is just going… pie mad. [Jamie laughs.] [Karen confirms.] I see. Let’s take—you have evidence? [They confirm.] Let’s take a look at the evidence. [The audience laughs.] Please forgive me, listener at home, for not initially describing this photo. There’s a lot to take in. [Karen and Jamie laugh.]

jesse

First of all, they apparently live on the set of a reality cooking show. [Everyone laughs. Scattered applause.]

john

I mean… this kitchen’s amazing. This is—like, so for the listener at home, there’s a long counter that is… has… ugh! [The audience laughs.] Sorry, I’m gonna get there. There is a large, huge counter down the middle of this kitchen, with a beautiful ceramic sink on either side. The counter itself seems to be surfaced with a chalkboard type material, so you can write things on the—! This is like a Nancy Meyers kitchen! This is an amazing kitchen! [Screaming.] And it’s full of pie! One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! And then, this pie casserole in the shape of an American flag. What is going on?! [Jamie laughs sheepishly.] In this scene?! How is this not a portrait of obsession?! Which one of you chooses to describe it?

jamie

Alright. It’s—it’s Harold’s Picnic. There’s nothing but pie. But there’s all nine kinds of pie we like best.

john

[Distressed.] What do these words mean?! [The audience howls.]

jamie

It’s from Harold and the Purple Crayon!

john

Oh, is that? Oh, I see. [Jamie affirms.] Harold and the Purple Crayon. That’s not a long—

jesse

The American pie literature classic.

john

It’s been a long time since I read that book. [Someone in the audience hoots.] Is this—Karen, what is the story in the Harold and the Purple Crayon? I thought he just drew with that purple crayon. Drew a dragon and went home, or whatever. Was there a pie—a big pie scene that was torn out of my copy?

karen

There is.

john

Okay, what happens? I don’t remember, honestly.

karen

He’s on a boat and he reaches or draws a beach and he lands and he decides to have a picnic. And, for his picnic, there was nothing but pie. But it was all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best. And Jamie would kind of get stuck on that line, say, “I might know my top three pies, but what are my top nine pies?” [The audience laughs.] And so, we started a tradition of having Harold’s picnic and Jamie would make his nine favorite pies, that year. And we would invite all of our— [She’s interrupted by several bangs of the gavel. Everyone laughs.]

jamie

And we get a bunch of kids over, sugar ‘em up, and send them home to their parents!

john

Wait a minute. [Jamie laughs.] This is a lot for me to take in. So, this pie festival, this Harold and the Purple Crayon, nine-pie feast—this isn’t a thing you did once? This is a tradition?

jamie

Eh, sorta.

john

How many times have you done it?

karen

Four?

jamie

Four. [Scattered hoots from the audience.]

john

Wow. And then you kidnap children? [The audience laughs.]

jamie

Briefly. [A single member of the audience guffaws loudly over other scattered laughter.]

john

Do you have children of your own? [They affirm.] What happens to them? They just watch the other children eat the pie?

karen

There’s always enough pie for everybody.

john

Okay, good. But you’re into this, Karen. Look, you’re wearing the Harold and the Purple Crayon shirt!

karen

I am supportive of him! I even made him the shirt he’s wearing.

john

Which says, “Do you want some pie with that?” And you’re holding—and Jamie, you’re holding the four-and-twenty blackbirds pie book. That’s a great Brooklyn reference. [Scattered applause.] Great pie. How did you get into baking pie?

jamie

I don’t know. My mom—my—my—

john

No, you probably know. It happened.

jamie

My mom baked a lot. I decided to try baking.

john

What’s that?

jamie

My mom baked a lot. I decided to try it.

john

W-when? When was this, that your mommy taught me to bake?

jamie

Oh, well my mom baked when I was a kid. [John affirms.] And then, uh…

karen

About ten years ago?

jamie

Yeah. Ten years ago. Circumstances changed. I needed to pitch in more to do the cooking, at home. And I liked doing it. And then I decided to make dessert.

john

Right, so you are the designated…

jesse

So, what you’re saying, basically, is about ten years ago, you recognized the need to pitch in a little at home. [Scattered laughter.] And you thought to yourself, “What’s the least practical and helpful thing I can do, that would lead to me getting the most credit?” [The audience laughs.]

jamie

That’s about it, yeah.

john

I mean, you have to acknowledge that pie making is all about flair. Do you know what I mean? Like, whereas peeling a rutabaga is, like, quiet scut work for which no one is applauded.

jamie

You know, I’m working all—

john

If you come out—if you come out with a pie, everyone’s like, “Oooh! Pieee!” Or, like, [screaming] “What’s in the bowl?!” Everyone’s excited about it. [Everyone laughs.] How do you answer—how do you answer the accusation that you’re not helping enough, say, at Thanksgiving, because you’re making extra pies that no one asked for?

jamie

Okay, well, here’s why it’s not an extra pie: it’s enough pie. [John agrees dubiously.] [Everyone laughs.] I looked at our pie menu and I realized, you know, we have to have pumpkin. We have to have apple. But now my brother’s coming. And he likes the bourbon pear pie that I’ve brought you, ‘cause I know you’ve got an alcohol mouler. He’s not gonna be happy with the other pies! I wanna satisfy all my guests. We don’t need two different kinds of turkey! But we do need different kinds of pie.

john

Next slide, please. [The audience laughs.] Was this your Thanksgiving spread? [Jamie confirms.] One, two, three, four, five—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven… wait a minute. Two, four— [The audience laughs.] Five, six—seven! Seven pies! And two of them look identical. Why did you have that—what’s the—what’s the red one? Tomato soup cake pie?

jesse

Is that some kind of Dracula pie?

karen

It’s a cranberry curd tart, which we have trouble saying because we keep wanting to say, “cranberry turd cart”. [Everyone laughs.]

john

I now remember when I initially received your email, regarding this case, you wrote out—and I will post this in my own evidence, on the Judge John Hodgman Instagram: cranberry turd cart. And that’s why I was like, “Well, I have to hear from these people.” For how many people?!

jamie

18?

karen

Eh, close to 20, this year.

jamie

Close to 20. And we gave one—

john

So, is this the right amount—

jamie

And we gave one away to our neighbor.

john

I—what’s that?

jamie

We gave one away o our neighbor.

karen

One of the cranberry.

john

Before you served Thanksgiving or because you had an extra one?

jamie

[Beat.] Weeell—well. We… [The audience laughs.]

john

Next slide please. There you are, with your shirt and your beautiful kitchen, again. And this is just more evidence—

jamie

That’s another Thanksgiving. We had—there are a few of those.

john

The incredible flair. Right. Okay. Pies are—let’s face it, pies are—pies are bragging. Next. What the?! Oooh! This is—at first, I thought this was a horrific pig’s head stuffed with fruit. But now I see it is a—a—a pastry cornucopia stuffed with fruit.

karen

A challah. A challah cornucopia.

john

Challah cornucopia. [Karen confirms.] With sesame seeds. And you made this as well, Jamie?

jamie

No! Karen made this on the day when I’m making pies! [The audience cheers and applauds.] So, she’s got her flair going.

karen

I can add value, if I had time. [The audience laughs.]

john

Are there any more exhibits that I should be looking at? Is that it? One more?

jamie

Well.

john

Oooh nooo. This is a—

jesse

Let the record reveal that the, uuh, evidence is the spreadsheet of a madmannn. [The audience laughs.]

john

[Laughing.] Imagine if John Doe from the movie Seven made pies. This—this is the notebook they would find in his walls. But it’s not just—it’s not just pie. It’s actually just—it’s all of Thanksgiving! You have carefully timed out procedures for Veg One, Veg Three, Veg Two. Pie One, Two, Three, Four, Five! Turkey One! Sweet Potato Two! What is happening?! You said you had children?! How can you live this way?! How is your kitchen clean and huge and beautiful?! How can you have the time to do this?! Just throw it in the oven! And duck! That’s what Thanksgiving is in a real household! I should be a real judge! You get to live this way?! [The audience laughs and applauds.] Next slide!

crosstalk

John, Jesse, and Jamie: Oooh.

john

This is more like it. It’s a beautiful—it’s a beautiful dog, and a cat that is getting out of the picture! As soon as possible. Who are these guys?

jesse

And this is—this is a picture of a cat and dog who are best friends for the time between when the cat is thrown at the dog and the cat escapes the dog. [The audience laughs.]

john

Who are these—who are these lovely animals?

jamie

The cat is Ruby—short for Rhubarb. [John snorts a laugh.] And the dog is Buttercup—‘cause there are two sticks of butter in a pie. [Everyone laughs.] And I didn’t make the spreadsheet.

john

You made the spreadsheet?

jamie

I did not.

john

No, I’m—I—I’m looking at both of you. Trust me. I’m looking hard at both of you. [Everyone chuckles.] Did you name these—are these your children?! [Karen denies.] Do you have human children?!

jamie

We have real children.

john

That’s good. They’re very—your fur-babies are adorable. Anything else for me to look at? No. [Jamie confirms.] Good. Alright. So, you would have me order—what’s that?

jamie

And Exhibit A.

john

Right. And also, your bowl—your bowl—your pie bowl. It’s a very deep pie dish. And this is pear bourbon?

jamie

This is bourbon pear, yeah. [The audience erupts with laughter and scattered applause.]

john

I’ll allow it. [Jamie giggles.] What would you have me order if I find in your favor, Karen?

karen

That he needs to keep the number of pies reasonable, as I suggested. Estimate two slices per person and you can round up. But don’t make extra pies when we have a lot of work to do.

john

That seems imminently reasonable, Jamie. What’s your counter-offer? Let me do whatever I like.

jamie

I get to make a lot of pie. And not feel bad about it. [Scattered laughter.]

jesse

John, I think we—I think we need to try the pies, if we’re gonna decide this thing. [John agrees. The audience cheers.]

john

Jamie, bring the pie over here. We don’t have time to [clears throat] cut into it. [The audience laughs.] The—very… unyielding crust. It looks beautiful. Beautiful latticework.

jesse

Nice flakiness. I can see that from here. So, John is now, uh, lifting that pie to his mouth.

john

Now, I’m going to—to taste it. What kind is it, again? [The audience chuckles.]

jamie

I forget.

jesse

Looks pretty good. I’m gonna—I’m gonna take mine. John, would you mind holding my hat? [Scattered laughter.] Could you, uh, hold my fork? [The audience roars into laughter and cheers.]

john

Let the record show, braaave Bailiff Jesse Thorn observed the rules of comedy… pied himself in the face, and now has drowned in bourbon and pear. Or! Pear and bourbon. I’m not sure, anymore. That was wonderful. And it’s a delicious pie. But do you know what? Like all pie filling… uh, fully flavored. Savory. I daresay rich. It is what makes pie always better than cake. Eat it. [Cheers from the audience.] If I ate two slices of that? I would not be alive. [Everyone laughs.] And, as you know, I’m a Dracula. It’s almost impossible to kill me. I think two slices is plenty, for your guests. As a—as a rule of thumb. So, Karen, you came in with that argument that I felt—made me feel like you had been… gaslit to the point of surrender. [Jamie laughs.] But now I’m glad that you made it, ‘cause I do think that that’s a good guideline. Jamie, pies are a gift of generosity. But also, they are reflected glory onto you. You can’t have all of it. Two slices of glory per person. That is my ruling. [Four bangs of the gavel. The crowd cheers.] Thank you for that pie.

jesse

Please welcome Ryan and Dan! [The audience cheers.]

john

Ryan! And Dan! Who, apparently, have brought fans with them.

dan

Pardon me?

john

There is a whole contingent of people who applauded very specifically for Ryan and—

ryan

It happens everywhere.

dan

Oh, I had no idea. [Laughs.]

john

Who comes before me to seek justice?

ryan

I do, your honor.

john

And you are?

ryan

I’m Ryan.

john

You are Ryan. And this must be Dan. [Dan confirms.] And my understanding is that you are identical cousins.

ryan

Yes. We had a—we went to the same high school. We had a teacher who thought we were brothers and my brother was adopted. So, yes.

john

Your teacher thought your brother was adopted? [Ryan confirms.] Right, okay. That must have been fun. You play tricks?

ryan

[Laughing.] Fun for my mom, yeah.

john

Yeah, where is your brother now? Crying somewhere?

ryan

No! Oh, no. He’s a very successful engineer, in Philadelphia.

john

Oh! Fantastic! Does he work at the Smell and Taste Center? [They laugh.]

ryan

Uh, he may have designed their HVAC system? [John affirms with a laugh.] Sooo—which sounds like a complicated project.

john

And you—sorry, you are—?

ryan

Ryan.

john

Ryan, thank you. That’s right. Ryan.

ryan

Yes, your honor.

john

And so, Ryan, you and I have a connection as well, right?

ryan

Pardon me?

john

You are a camera operator?

ryan

Camera operator, yes, that’s true.

john

And for what particular show?

ryan

Well, so—longtime listeners of the podcast may remember last season, there was a reference, a cultural reference, to The Great Christmas Light Fight? Wow. [Scattered hoots from the audience.]

crosstalk

Jesse: It’s a very popular show! Ryan: Fell flat, just felt flat! Dan: Total silence. Jesse: Guys, I just found a pair on hand. Ryan: Help our ratings out!

ryan

Yes, but I was so excited—I was screaming in my car, “Carter Oosterhouse, Great Christmas Light Fight,” while you read that cultural reference. And everyone in traffic probably thought I had problem, but—

john

If you don’t know—if you don’t know, and apparently don’t, because you’re uncultured philistines, Great Christmas Light Fight is a show on television. It’s a seasonal show on network television, broadcast channel, I don’t care to say which.

ryan

One of the top networks. [Someone in the audience shouts, “ABC!”]

john

Thank you, ABC. Thank you very much.

ryan

And their—and their other network, yes.

john

And—in which people decorate their houses for Christmas, in wildly elaborate and environmentally unsustainable ways. And then they fight to win a prize.

ryan

Right. And then they hire people like me and Dan to film it.

jesse

Wait, so they decorate their houses, then they fight for a prize?!

dan

The fight—yeah.

john

Well, they don’t personally fight.

ryan

The houses fight.

john

It’s a competition. [Jesse laughs an “oh!” in understanding.]

dan

Friendly competition!

jesse

I was like, “Wow! That is a real stretch on the meaning of Christmas!” [The audience laughs.]

john

So, Ryan—

jesse

[Laughing.] Mary and Joseph wore no gloves!

john

Ryan, what is the nature of the justice you seek?

ryan

So, the nature of this dispute is: last year, at our family reunion, we were—Dan is generally in charge of the music. He sets a playlist. He had a—he had a Bluetooth speaker going. And my sister-in-law asked, at some point—like, the music really wasn’t hitting the vibe of the room. So, she asked if I could take it over. Which, I—it wasn’t even his speaker. It was his girlfriend’s speaker, and I had access to it. So, I started playing my own music.

john

So, you jacked the Bluetooth speaker to start playing your own stuff, at family reunion. Yes or no?

ryan

At—at—yes, your honor. At the request of my sister-in-law, I started playing music that was more, uh, in the vibe.

john

You jacked it! Yes or no?!

ryan

Uh, yes, your honor.

john

That’s right, you jacked it.

ryan

But I did have previous access to it!

john

I don’t care who requested it! You jacked the Bluetooth speaker. How’m I gonna find in your favor?! You jacked it! [The audience laughs.]

ryan

So, the reason you would find in my favor—first of all, this was not made out of malice, this change. It was made out of—according to my sister-in-law—out of love. The request. She finds Dan to be another brother in our family, so she asked.

john

I know—I know—I know words like cousin and brother don’t have meaning in your family. I understand, now.

ryan

And the music was falling flat in the room. It really wasn’t fitting the vibe of the party. [John affirms.] So, I started to bring the beat up a little bit and make it a little more entertaining and cater to the room—cater to everybody there. Not just Dan’s personal taste.

john

Why does Dan’s music suck so bad? [The audience laughs.]

ryan

I—generally, we have overlapping musical tastes. Wouldn’t you say? We’ve been to a few concerts together. I think—I think we do have overlapping music tastes. But he’s been in charge of the playlist for, like, four years of the family reunion. So, there’s time for change.

john

How often does the family reunion happen?

ryan

Once a year, and it’s an annual tradition of the last four years.

john

So, you all get together and then you change your relative positions to each other? Like, you’re my cousin, now. Now, you’re his brother.

ryan

We also play Boggle, which I realize is frowned upon by the court.

john

What do you play?

ryan

Boggle. I—I knew—that’s the face I expected.

john

Boggle, if you don’t know, is the—it’s almost worse than Bananagrams. [The audience laughs.]

dan

He also has Bananagrams, I’d like to point out.

john

Yeah. There’s a game. It’s called Scrabble. Learn it. Play it. There’s only one tile word game—one tile letter game that you need to know. Alright, Dan, what’s your defense? Or what is your accusation?

dan

So, the playlist in question, here, is a playlist—you know, I know we all have our playlists, on Spotify—this is a playlist that I specifically designed for family reunions. This is a group of about twelve or so people, ages ranging over the course of about 50 years. We have a 20-year-old in the group. We have people who are past their 60s. So, this is a playlist specifically designed with that group in mind. So, pretty much every song on the playlist is added to that playlist thinking someone in that group is probably going to enjoy if this song comes on there.

john

Yeah, you seem like a lot of fun. [The audience roars with laughter.]

dan

Y-yes! So, the playlist design— [Ryan laughs.] It’s a playlist. It’s over 800 songs.

john

How long is the reunion?! What is this, Midsommar?!

crosstalk

Dan: S-sometimes it feels like that! Ryan: The music is playing for 24 hours a day for the entire week.

john

Alright, Dan, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be mean to you.

dan

No, no, no. So, I—it’s just—you know—it’s—

john

It’s clear that you’ve given it a lot of thought.

dan

It’s a playlist designed to put on shuffle—

john

It’s—you definitely made a spreadsheet. And, if not in fact, at least in theory.

dan

The idea is that any song that comes on the playlist, someone in the group—you know, people in the room—it’s changing. So, it’s—the idea is that someone in our large group is going to appreciate the song that comes on. And everyone—

john

Only one—only one person may dance at a time. [Laughing.] Yeah, I understand.

dan

Exactly. It’s a very strict rule.

john

You have some exhibits that you wanted to share? [Dan confirms.] May I see the first exhibit. Oh, there you guys are. Wearing your identical getups.

ryan

That’s the two of us. We work together, as we mentioned from The Great Christmas Light Fight. This is us at the Superbowl, last year. So, we do work together a lot. We are… buddies? [The audience laughs.] The point is, this is not a malicious—

dan

Work acquaintances.

ryan

There’s no—there’s no malintent here. We’re friends.

john

I don’t understand. I just see the two of you standing in front of a blank field. You know?

dan

It’s sports ball. It’s the—

john

It’s just—no, I just see, like, a blurry grey background. And you don’t have anything around your necks at all. Weird. Next. Why would you show that to me?

ryan

So, this is us all—it was just to show that we are—we work together. We’re friends. We’re not—this is not an angry thing. It’s a dispute simply over the Bluetooth speaker complaint.

john

No, I understand the intention of the photograph. But why would you show me a sports thing?

jesse

This is a—this is a picture of—

ryan

It’s a good point. That’s a good point. So, this is us and the cousins singing karaoke at a family reunion a couple years ago. And my point would be, from the songs I picked, they’re songs that the entire family would sing along to or really enjoy. A couple of songs on my playlist—I got the whole family singing and going. Whereas, with Dan’s playlist, they were asking me to change it. So…

john

Where—where is this happening?

ryan

Oh, Nardi’s? Can I—oh, I buzz-marketed a bar on Long Beach Island. [Someone in the crowd boos loudly.] I know. [John tries to stop him with a series of “woah”s.] But they—well, they have a pink school bus.

john

St-stop. Stop. I didn’t hear the name of the place. All I heard was someone booing it, strongly. [Ryan laughs.] What is the name?

ryan

Long Beach Island. It’s on Long Beach Island. Nardi’s. They have a pink school bus. They drive you back to your house in the pink school bus, when you’ve had one too many. [John affirms a little uncertainly.]

dan

It’s great, right?

ryan

So, my point—the point of this picture is, the songs I would play on my playlist were songs that were from our karaoke repertoire, that would get the whole family excited about the music that is playing.

john

I see you raising your finger, Dan. You look like you have something to say.

dan

I’d like to point out: there was a time for karaoke. Obviously we all enjoy karaoke. The playlist is meant to be played throughout the day, while we’re hanging out at the house. I don’t think good karaoke songs are the kind of music you want to hear all day long.

ryan

No, you sprinkle ‘em in.

john

Let the—let the record show, that wherever this place is… it is featuring a tiled stage and a very low, drop-popcorn ceiling. And a bunch of—a bunch of American flags with the wrong numbers of stripes, it looks like to me. [The audience laughs.]

ryan

This is a much more regal venue.

john

It—it has all of the visual appeal and welcome of Buffalo Bill’s basement, in Silence of the Lambs. [Ryan laughs.] It’s a weird—I don’t like this picture anymore. Are you gonna show me one that isn’t going to make me nauseated at some point?

ryan

I hope—I sure hope so.

john

Next please. The—this is a text exchange.

ryan

Oh, so this is a text message thread. This is my sister-in-law explaining that she had asked for it. My brother replies with her phone and says, “Dan has a—” and I put a poop emoji.

john

Ry-Ryan.

ryan

Oh, pardon. Pardon me.

john

My podcast. Okay. [Scattered laughter.] Oof. Okay, let me—let me sum this up.

ryan

Yes. Yes, your honor.

john

It’s about 5000 words of text. And as far as I can tell, it’s texting between you and your sister-in-law. [Ryan confirms.] Ryan’s, note—‘cause you’re cousins. Right, I forget. I don’t know what this crazy family is all about. But this is the sister-in-law who invited you to jack the Bluetooth signal and take over the party with your musics? [Ryan confirms.] Alright. And she is—and she is saying—you are saying to her, “It’s for—” Right, you’re saying to her that you’re gonna go on Judge John Hodgman and defend yourself. She is saying, “Is this for real?” “Absolutely. Stealing the Bluetooth was warranted, and I regret nothing.” And this is your sister-in-law saying that, “Dan’s music was repetitive and boring. Basically”—and they’re using a poop emoji to hide the word—"basically, he has a [censored] taste in music.”

dan

Family friendly.

jesse

You probably have sweet taste in music.

john

Dustin sent the last part. Who’s Dustin?

ryan

He’s my brother. Uh, Dan’s cousin.

john

[Exhausted.] Okay. Next slide.

crosstalk

Jesse: And then, at the end— Ryan: I can give you a family tree. Jesse: There’s a picture of two white people who look sad, ‘cause they have to drink beer.

john

Okay, so we’ve established that your sister-in-law asked you to do this. [Ryan confirms.] And that she shares your opinion that Dan’s taste in music is poop-emoji.

ryan

Or—or—well, that was my brother replying, but with her phone. But, in general, the idea was that it wasn’t fitting the vibe, at the time.

john

Right, of course, the sister-in-law handed it to the brother. Okay.

ryan

And of course, the court has ruled that taste is not something that you can rule on. So, it was really about the time and the moment. It wasn’t—Dan, in general, we share many tastes in music. It was just, at that moment, it wasn’t hitting the room in the right way.

john

And this final piece of evidence is—obviously you’re all dressed up for your May Queen ceremony?

ryan

At our—at our last [chuckling] family reunion.

john

Why are you all wearing the same shirt? Who’s that other one, now?

ryan

Dan forgot all of his shirts. He didn’t pack any, for the family reunion. We went to South Carolina. So, we went to a Marshall’s and all got matching shirts. It’s pretty simple, I think.

jesse

It’s part of their Midsommar preparations. [Everyone laughs.]

john

Let the record show, you’re now wearing the shirts onstage.

dan

Yes, your honor.

john

And what is on the shirts?

ryan

Uh, they’re martini glasses, but it looks like there’s a Cosmo in them?

dan

It’s a pink drink, but there’s also an olive in the glass. And so, we don’t know.

john

[Flustered.] Look—!

dan

It’s an artistic Marshall expression, I’m thinking.

john

Your family—your family is obviously a lot of fun. Confusing? Yes. [Scattered laughter.] But obviously, your cult-like family is fun. You have a good time together.

dan

We would love for you to join us!

ryan

If—I do have—and I don’t—

john

Nooo! I don’t want to go to your compound!

ryan

I’m not trying to pander to the court, but there is a minimum order on visors, at our last family reunion. I do have some with our family name on them. And they are yours, if you’d like them. I can’t give them to a thrift store. They won’t accept them. So, by all means, please.

john

If I put this— [Ryan cackles.] Let the record show that Jesse took a visor and is wiping the pear and bourbon out of his beard. “We are… Bal-tons?”

ryan

Boltons (ball-tuns), your honor. [John repeats the pronunciation.] Yes, it’s an Americanized Lithuanian name.

john

And if I put this on, then I become a member of the community?

ryan

Uh, you will probably get an email from my aunt, inviting you to our family reunion next year, at Long Beach Island.

john

And so, if I go through a trauma, you’ll hug me and scream through the trauma?

ryan

Yes, but you will have to play Boggle.

john

[Beat.] Is it—is there anything else I need to see?

ryan

Oh, these are our playlists! Oh, boy!

dan

This is fantastic. So, I submitted this piece of evidence just to give you the idea of the playlist, in—

ryan

Oh, this is the wrong playlist, though. This is not my playlist.

dan

No, this is my evidence. Um. This is a— [The audience cheers and applauds.]

john

Yeeeah! [Dan thanks him.] Dan with the subtle knife! Coming—coming—coming back! Pushing back against the talk-train that Ryan has given us!

ryan

This—this evidence should be thrown out, your honor. It has nothing to do with the case.

dan

So, uh, Spotify profiles are public. I was able to find Ryan’s Spotify profile and, as we see, we have a Spotify playlist titled, “Drive Dan Crazy”.

ryan

This isn’t for you! It’s for Dan DeNedo!

dan

I’m Dan. So, I—

ryan

Different Dan! Oh, boy.

dan

I’m just—to give an idea, Ryan and I—for work, sometimes—have to drive long distances in the same car. And so, we share—you know, we’ll play podcasts and different kinds of music. So, Ryan has—even though the playlist was designed for a different Dan—this playlist was put on in the car. And it’s a playlist designed with malintention; I would say. [Scattered laughter.] Based on the name.

john

It is a play—let the record show, it is a playlist called “Drive Dan Crazy”.

ryan

Wrong—different Dan. Different Dan.

john

But now—you’re saying that it’s a different Dan.

ryan

Let the record show, it’s a different Dan.

john

[Incensed.] Also a cousin!?

ryan

No—well. I mean, he’s—

john

Oh, boy.

dan

No. No!

ryan

He’s basically a part of the family at this point, but not by blood. Your honor.

john

I—this is beyond my comprehension. There’s only one thing we can do, which is trial by smell. [The audience laughs and applauds.] I have—I have three—yes. Three Brooklyn smells.

crosstalk

Ryan: We—we do find our family roots to Brooklyn, so. John: What? What? What? Ryan: We find our family roots to Brooklyn. So, this would be a good test.

john

I don’t wanna hear about your family, anymore. [Ryan cackles.] You all—you all seem adorable. But I think you might fall under the—sometimes, close families have this fatal flaw, which is that they don’t realize everyone [censored] has one. A family, that is. Sorry, Michaela, I apologize.

dan

Wait, you have one too?

john

We all—we all have cousins and sisters and aunts; you know what I mean? [Dan agrees.] Okay, this is a Brooklyn thing. You can’t look in. You have to—you, I mean, just close your eyes and… you have to really put your— Ugh. I have to help you. [John’s voice gets softer as he leaves the microphone.] Here. Hold that for a second. I’ll tear off the top. [The crinkle of paper. Scattered murmuring from the audience.] You can both get a smell of this and you can tell me. It’s a—[John returns to the microphone.] You both smell this thing and you can tell me—it’s a—I’m gonna tell you that it’s a sort of archetypal Brooklyn smell. And you—and if you can guess what it is, you win. You have three chances. Okay? You got the smell? [The audience laughs.]

jesse

Now, remember, it’s winter. So, it’s not a pile of garbage bags.

john

Don’t look at it. Close your eyes.

dan

I only can see out of one eye, so I will close one eye. [John agrees, sounding slightly confused.] [Laughing.] I’m blind in one eye! I don’t know! I was just—

john

No, no, I understand. I understand. It would be—it would be wild if you were faking being blind in one eye in order to catch a look at this thing. Alright. Do you smell something?

ryan

It’s a little woodsy? Cedar, maybe?

john

Cedar. Okay, interesting.

dan

I’m gonna say a receipt from a bodega.

john

I think you might be catching more of the paper bag.

dan

Probably true. Yeah. [The audience laughs.]

john

No, you’re both wrong. The answer is, it’s a very Brooklyn thing, CBD cat treats. [The audience laughs.] They don’t really have a lot of odor. No. I wanted to get CBD beard oil, which exists and would have been better for this. But it’s not—okay. Here’s the next one. No winner there.

jesse

Just helps your beard chill out, you know? [The audience laughs.]

john

Okay, did you catch a—you catch a whiff? Alright. [Beat.] Any guesses?

ryan

I’m gonna let you go first. I went first last time.

dan

It, like—smelled like chips? Some kind of chips?

john

Okay. That’s pretty close.

crosstalk

Ryan: Baked… Dan: Uh, kettle? Kettle chips?

john

Kettle chips? Brooklyn famous kettle chips?

jesse

From one of Brooklyn’s famous kettles!

john

No, it’s a—it’s a misdirect!

dan

Baked CBD chips?

john

No. I wish. Uh, it’s—it’s a little bit of a misdirect, because this does come from a Brooklyn bodega. Specifically, the one on my block. But it’s not a Brooklyn product. [Rustling.] It’s Utz brand Red-Hot Potato Chips. They don’t sponsor the podcast, but I enjoy them.

ryan

Are they—are they finally sponsoring the podcast? [A silence, followed by a laugh from the audience.]

jesse

Don’t sidetrack the program, for the 7 thousandth time!

john

So, you’re in the winning position. Chips was pretty good. You can hang onto this. Here’s the last one. [Rustling.] It’s a flask of a liquid. [Beat.] Okay. Hold onto that. You can keep your eyes open, ‘cause you can see. It’s a—it’s a liquid. Any guesses?

dan

Would you like to go first?

ryan

Uh, is it the whiskey from the last live case, in Carolina? [John denies.] Oh. Alright.

dan

It actually smelled more like gin, to me.

john

Smelled like gin to you.

dan

This is starting to show that our family clearly has a problem.

john

How would you feel if I told you that it was water from the Gowanus Canal? [Everyone laughs. The audience applauds.] Good or bad? How would you feel if I told you that that’s what it was?

ryan

How would I feel?

john

No, I’m asking someone else. You don’t have to worry about it. It’s not from Gowanus Canal.

ryan

I would feel indifferent but puzzled why smelling is a part of a case about music. Not to question the court!

john

Were you here for the—were you here for the rest of the evening? Seems like you’re questioning the court. Guess what? It’s not water from the Gowanus Canal! I’m not gonna risk my life for this podcast! It’s Moxie soda that I got, in Brooklyn. [The audience cheers.] Dan was the closest. And Ryan, you’re both—look, you’re both wonderful. You’re both adorable. You both have exactly the same shirts. You look alike. You sound alike. Sometimes you even dress alike. You could lose your mind, [singing] “’Cause they’re cousins! But they’re two of a kind!” You guys don’t know that show ‘cause you’re not old. Um. I don’t understand what you’re fighting about. It’s between the cousins, kay? But you guessed potato chips, so [chuckling] Dan wins. [Three bangs of the gavel.]

ryan

Oh boy. Thank you. [The audience cheers.]

john

Holy Moley. Thank you so much, Dan and Ryan.

dan

Thank you for having us.

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

john

Thank you to our litigants for sharing their cases, and especially to the staff at the Murmrr Theatre, they were so kind. Thanks to Veradee, Jorgans, and Lane for naming the case, “Fragrant Abuse of the Law”. This episode was recorded by Mathew Barnhart, edited by Jennifer Marmor, and produced by Hannah Smith. As always, you can follow us on Instagram @JudgeJohnHodgman, and on Twitter. I’m @Hodgman. My bailiff is @jessethorn. You can submit your cases—and I hope you will—to MaximumFun.org/jjho or just email me, won’tcha? Hodgman@maximumfun.org. We’ll see you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast!

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

music

Cheerful guitar strum.

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—audience supported.

About the show

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