TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 468: Live from SF Sketchfest 2020

This week’s episode was recorded LIVE in San Francisco! First up is “Night Night Court.” Then SWIFT JUSTICE!

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 468

Transcript

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

jesse thorn

Hey! It’s Bailiff Jesse Thorn. This week’s episode of the Judge John Hodgman podcast was recorded in my hometown: San Francisco, California. At the beautiful and historic Castro Theatre, as part of San Francisco Sketchfest. It’s a doozy! Let’s go to the stage. [Audio transitions to the San Francisco show. The roar of the crowd fades in.] San Francisco Sketchfest, you’ve come to us desperate for justice! We’re here to deliver it, at the Castro Theatre in San Franciscooo! [The audience cheers and applauds.] Please welcome to the stage: Noah and Kayden! Tonight’s case: Night Night Court! Noah files suit against his husband, Kayden. Noah is an early to bed, early to rise guy. Kayden is a night owl. Kayden often stays up until three or four in the morning, playing video games. Then— [Jesse is interrupted by scattered cheers from the audience.] —sleeps in late. Noah wants him to wake up earlier. Who’s right, who’s wrong? Only one can decide. Please rise as Judge John Hodgman enters the court room and delivers an obscure cultural reference. [The audience cheers.]

john hodgman

“Trashy. Brooklyn hipsters attempting and failing at being artsy once again. Performance art, in and of itself, is supposed to evoke meaning and emotion. This ‘show’ does neither and is genuinely a waste of time. I was coerced into going after someone pumped me full of booze, and even with the bonus of being in an elated, tipsy mood, that mood turned flat after witnessing the feces show they call: Judge John Hodgman.” [Everyone laughs.] Bailiff Jesse Thorn, please swear them in.

jesse

Noah and Kayden, 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? [They agree.] Do you swear to abide by Judge John Hodgman’s ruling, despite the fact that he never sleeps, ‘cause sleep is the cousin of death? [Everyone laughs. They agree.] Judge Hodgman, you may proceed.

john

Noah and Kayden, you may be seated for an immediate summary judgement in one of yours favors. Can either of you name the piece of culture that I referenced as I entered the courtroom? Let’s see, Kayden, why don’t you start?

kayden

I have no idea! [Laughs.]

john

No idea!

kayden

Uuum—something on Twitter?

john

Something… oooh!

kayden

More than 140 characters, so maybe a series of tweets?

john

Ooh! Well, let me just say this, Kayden—ya warm! [Kayden laughs and affirms.] I’m gonna give you—I’m gonna give you that—I’ll give you that hint, Noah. I’ll give you another—I’ll give you another hint, since Kayden is already ahead of the game.

noah

He’s a gamer!

john

I’ll give you—it’s not from Twitter. It’s from Yelp. [Everyone laughs.] Yelp, of course, being my favorite website for short fiction written by the most unreliable narrators. [The audience laughs.]

jesse

As a—as a person who lives in Los Angeles, Yelp is my favorite website for racist essays about whether parking is available. [Everyone laughs.]

john

It’s like the Library of Alexandria. So many stories. [Kayden and Noah giggle helplessly.] Would you—would you like a further hint, Noah and Kayden? I’ll give—Kayden I’ll give you another chance. [They agree.] Here’s another review of the same piece of culture: “Have no idea what this progressive play was about. I thought it was based on M-C-Beth? Tried my hardest. Still wondering.”

kayden

Was it a review of Hamilton?

john

Was it a review of Hamilton?! Who are you, Ken Jennings?! [They laugh.] Answer in the form of an answer! But I’ll put that second guess into the guess book. “A review of Hamilton [meekly] question mark?” Alright, Noah. What’s your guess? You can guess the same thing or something else.

noah

I’m gonna something else.

john

Yeah. I think you—I think you’ve got it.

noah

I definitely don’t have it. But the comedian Nathan Fielder did a great play that was not a play, at one point. And I’m gonna guess. A review of Nathan Fielder’s play that is not a play.

john

What is the name of the play that is not a play?

noah

Not a clue. He scripted a bar—observed a bar, saw what people were doing, and then roped off a little seat and told everybody, “Go look at the bar.”

john

I see. Oh, hang on. I just—I hadn’t looked here at your biography. I forgot that Noah is Nathan Fielder’s publicist. [The audience laughs.] [Screaming.] All guesses are wrong! I gave you a big hint! “I thought it was based on M-C-Beth!”

kayden

M-C-Beth?

john

Don’t say it out loud! Don’t say it—[laughs] the person wrote M-C-Beth. We cannot say the name of this play in the theatre. [They make sounds of understanding and laugh.] And the play that is based on M-C-Beth is a little somethin’ we call, in New York City, Sleep No More: an immersive theatre experience that I will never, ever go to. [They laugh.] Because it is… scary sounding. You go into this fake hotel and everyone has to put on masks, even you—and I know those masks aren’t gonna fit over my glasses. And then I’m gonna look like a dummy with glasses over my mask. And then you wander around and people do interpretive dance about this play, around you, and then sometimes they ask you to come into a little room. And I—I—just thinking about that, I was like, “If I go in there, someone is gonna do the worst thing possible. Which is touch my neck.” [Everyone laughs.] And so, the reason I, obviously, picked this particular reference is the term “sleep no more”—because, Noah, you would like Kayden to actually sleep a lot more! And Kayden, on the flip side, you would like Noah to sleep a little bit later. Is that right? [Kayden confirms.] Alright, so Noah, you bring the case, correct?

noah

Yes, your honor.

john

So, state the nature of your dispute.

noah

Well, your honor, Kayden likes to stay up very late playing video games.

john

You don’t have to called me “your honor”, by the way.

noah

[Stammers.] I mean, you’re wearing the nice new robes!

john

“Your” is fine. “Your” is fine.

noah

What’s the name on the inside of the robe, again?

john

Mr. Justice John Skowronski. [Noah laughs.] Yeah, you know what? Please call me that. [Everyone laughs.] Good point.

noah

Well, judge, Kayden likes to stay up late, sometimes during the weekday, sometimes during the weekend. And it’s an inconvenience for me and for other people.

john

Is—and you’re not Nathan Fielder’s publicist. What is your—what is your profession?

noah

I’m a political consultant. I raise money for the good guys.

john

For the—for the good guys?! [Everyone laughs.] By which you mean the libertarian party. [Everyone laughs.] [Clears throat.] But—for w-who—for—who are the good guys? In the year 2020?

noah

D-democrats, this—yeah.

john

[Dramatically.] I think both sides are terrible! [Noah laughs and agrees.] No, except—for democrats, well done! Thank you. And this an—

jesse

[Cheerfully.] I have no opinion.

john

That’s right. As a—as an NPR employee, Jesse Thorn is prohibited from having an opinion. [They laugh.] On politics. There is—there is nothing going on in the world that is so extreme that it would warrant an NPR employee from feeling a thing. [Everyone laughs.]

jesse

I signed a pledge of perfect somnambulance.

john

Well, thank you for the work that you do. Kayden, what do you—what are you up to?

kayden

I’m a technical program manager for a tech company.

john

Okay, cool! And so, you obviously have some flexibility, Kayden, in your workday. [Kayden affirms.] Because you’re staying up late. What I understood, from my Bailiff—Jesse Thorn—sometimes three or four in the morning, playing games.

kayden

On a good night. [Everyone laughs.]

john

On a bad night, you accidentally fall asleep at 2:30?

kayden

Yeah. Yeeeah. Those are the rough days.

john

What’s your game?

kayden

It’s not just games! That’s when I can read. It’s my me time. It’s when I can—when I can recharge, and nobody has to—nobody bothers me.

john

You, uh, you tricked me into feeling sympathetic for you. [They laugh.] ‘Cause I feel that, a lot, as someone—I’m often awake in the middle of the night and I’m thrilled about it. But I did ask you what are your games, ‘cause I am curious.

kayden

Uuh, so I’m a big console gamer. I play— [A few members of the audience cheer and whoop.] Yep, thank you. PS4, Xbox.

john

Those! Are! The names! Of consoles! [Kayden shouts and apologizes.] Name me! Some! Games!

kayden

Mass Effect, uh…

crosstalk

John: Can you not remember?! Or are you just in a hypnotic fugue state every night?! Noah: He’s playing Mass Effect through for the third time. Jesse: Atari, Jaguaaar.

kayden

Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Anthem. Sometimes Fortnight.

jesse

With all due respect, Anthem is a health insurance plan. [Everyone laughs.] I’m not sure about Fortnight, but it might also be one. If Dragon Age is one, then I’m definitely signing up for it.

john

And so, Noah, but—what about you? Are you a nine-to-fiver?

noah

Um, not reeeally. Uh. [Laughs.] So, typically—if I had my way, I would go to bed at about 8:30 and wake up about 4:30. [The crowd boos.] But!

jesse

Wooow.

noah

I don’t have my way. [Someone in the crowd boos very loudly.] Heeeey, yeah. [The noise swells.] But! But! I stay up late—usually about 10:30 or 11. [Someone in the audience yells, “What?!”] And wake up about 5 or 6.

john

How old are you? [The audience laughs.]

noah

29

john

Twenty… nine.

jesse

Once he’s had the 4:30 dinner special at Marie Callender’s… [Everyone laughs.]

john

Because you will have your way eventually—just, in 20 years, you’re gonna be…

noah

Well, I don’t want—I understand that I’m weird. I don’t want Kayden to be like me. I just want him to come to bed at a slightly more reasonable time than 3 or 4AM.

john

Yeah, we’ll talk about Kayden in a second. But I’m on you. [They laugh.] What—uh, have you always been such a— [Noah confirms.] A—a early to bed, early to rise type of person? [Noah confirms.] And—8:30, though, that’s quite early. I mean… that’s—you can’t even watch some of the more adult TV shows. [Everyone laughs.]

noah

Well, typically I go to bed about 10:30 or 11.

john

Right, but you’d like to go to bed at 8:30

noah

I would, definitely.

john

Would you like to be in bed at 8:30?

noah

[Sensually.] Yeeeah.

john

Or would you like to—wow. That was… [Everyone laughs.] Let the record show, that was an extremely sensuous response.

jesse

Yeah, that was like as close as a head-nod can get to [singing] bow-chicka-wow-wow. [Everyone laughs.]

john

Oh yeeeeeah. I wanna be in bed and feel those flannel sheets gently drift down onto my shinsss. Put my head back onto my buckwheat pillow and just go night niiiiight. Do you wanna be in bed at 8:30 or do you wanna be asleep?

noah

Be in bed. Be in bed at 8:30, yeah.

john

Be in bed. And you want—what do you wanna, like—read and whatnot?

noah

Read a little bit. Sometimes I fall asleep watching a TV show.

john

In bed?!

noah

[Quietly.] Mm-hm. [A long beat. The audience and Kayden break into laughter.] I’m aware of how the court feels on that subject.

john

For someone who seems to take sleep hygiene seriously, you are really messing up your head, that way. What are you watching in bed, at 8:30?

crosstalk

Noah: Uh, right now The Simpsons. John: Little House on the Prairie? Noah: The Simpsons, right now. The Simpsons. [Laughs.]

john

Yeah. Alright, alright, alright. And then you fall asleep—you wanna fall asleep at about 10:30.

noah

I’ll usually—if I was in bed at 8:30, I’d be out by 9.

john

You’d be out by nine. [Noah confirms.]

kayden

He’d be out by 8:35. [Jesse cackles.]

john

Yeah. And you’re—and you’re married. [They confirm.] How long have you been married, Kayden?

crosstalk

Kayden: Threeee years? Noah: Three years. [Jesse laughs.] John: Three years. And how long have you been together? Noah: Eleven. Kayden: Eleven years.

john

So, you were together—you’ve been together for much longer than you were married. So, you both knew what you were getting into. [They confirm.] Has this been a—has this been a dispute… like, did it take you by surprise that Noah liked to be in bed at 9 o’clock?

kayden

No. Actually, at the beginning of our relationship, we were long distance for a while. And I was in the Philippines and he was in Atlanta, and there was a 12-hour time difference.

crosstalk

John: Riiight. He tricked you! Kayden: It was actually— Noah: It was perfect. It was perfect. Kayden: I heard no complaints, then! Noah: [Laughing.] It was awesome. Kayden: It was—it was great. [Laughs.] But then we moved in together and that’s when this dispute started.

john

Yeah. Like, the—what the—the first day you moved in and you saw him getting into bed at 8:30, you’re like, “What the hell?!”

kayden

He has a bedtime alarm! He has a bedtime alarm at 7:45. [The audience roars with laughter.]

noah

That’s not true! That’s not true. It’s at 8:30. [The audience and Jesse laugh.]

john

This case is shaping up very differently than I thought. [They laugh.]

noah

Yeah, you know, me too.

john

I mean, you wanted to be here! So… I mean, I was asking about your work schedule to determine if Kayden’s gaming me-time, late-night, all night long schedule is disruptive to your sleep in some way.

noah

Uh, it can be. I fall asleep better when he’s in bed and, uh… [The audience “aww”s.] [Noah mimics the “aww” mockingly and laughs.] I do. I fall asleep better when he’s in bed. And sometimes—

john

I don’t think you have problems falling asleep. [Kayden cackles.]

noah

That’s true. I sleep better. I should say I sleep better.

john

I feel like you’re gilding the lily, a little bit.

noah

I sleep better when—when—I sleep better when he’s in bed. And sometimes he’ll ask me to spend time with him, at night. So, I’ll sleep on the couch while he’s playing video games. [The audience laughs and “ooh”s.]

john

Yeah, that went from [sweetly] “oooh” to [unhappily] “oh-hooo”. ‘Cause that—

noah

I mean, I have a case. [They laugh.]

john

[Laughing.] I have to say—Kayden, that’s a grim scene. To picture, like, you—you playing Fortnight at three o’clock in the morning while Noah, illuminated by the blue light of your video game… [They laugh.]

noah

[Almost incoherent with laughter.] That’s exactly

john

Is sacked out on the divan with a thin, grey blanket over him. [Everyone laughs. Noah and Kayden are inconsolable.] Let the record show that Noah and Kayden can barely collect themselves, due to the sheer, punishing accuracy of the word painting. Please, please giggle on-mic. And don’t fall over! [They sigh and titter as they try to collect themselves.] You obviously love to be together. Right? [They confirm.] So, have you tried to find some common ground? Have you tried to set different rules, in the relationship?

noah

We try. Much of our relationship is about negotiation. So, we—[laughing.]

john

Oh. [Dryly.] How unique. [They lose it again.] Usually, the most lasting marriages are based on a line drawn in the sand. [Kayden and Noah struggle to get it together.]

kayden

Uh, I find it hard to stay consistent because one of the things I hate most is just lying in bed, waiting to fall asleep. And for some reason, it’s just [chuckles] difficult.

john

Yeah. There was a—there was a [laughing] quote—there was a quote that I was going to read, from an author, about sleep. Until I found these Yelp reviews. [Everyone laughs.] And I—and I’m just—I have to remember it, ‘cause I’m not gonna find it right now, on my phone. But it was along the lines of, uh, “Why would I fall asleep—” You know. “If I fall asleep, then it is just tomorrow. If I stay awake for another hour, I have another hour of life. So, why would I ever sleep?” [Scattered applause from the audience.] And I was like, “I feel that!” But do you know who wrote that?

noah

Who?

john

Silvia Plath. [Everyone bursts into laughter. Scattered, sad, “ooh”s from the audience.] Kids, ask your mom, dad, or guardian to explain… the dark and tragic irony of that. Do you feel—and this question is for both of you—that this disconnect in your schedules prevents you from having enough together time? Noah?

noah

Yes. Absolutely. But not only—not only us. So, sometimes we like to hang out with friends, but all of your friends—you know, on the weekends, they have to—they can’t schedule anything with us until after 3PM, because—

john

Because Kayden sleeps until when?

noah

Kayden is sleeping, yeah. So—and, like, my family—for Christmas this year—had to rearrange the—oh, we were video conferencing them, in Georgia. And they had to wait until Kayden was awake, so everybody could get the family together. And he asked them to move it so that it was later so he could sleep a little bit longer. You know. It’s—[stammering] it, I would like to spend more time with him.

john

How late do you sleep on a—how late do you sleep on a weekday?

kayden

In fairness to that point, though, it was 7AM. I moved it from 6AM to 7AM. So, like…

noah

[Quietly.] Nooo, no. No, no, no, no.

jesse

Wooow.

john

That is—that is some germane information that you left out. [Everyone laughs.]

kayden

I mean, when we talk about telling the whole truth, nothing but the truth, you know.

jesse

Noah, you should become a political consultant. [They laugh.]

john

Is your—is your family a family of early risers? Does this come from your family experience?

noah

Most of them, yeah. [John affirms.] My sister is the exception. And she’s listening. Hi, Lydia. [They laugh.]

john

Also, say hi to your friend, Nathan Fielder. [Kayden laughs.]

noah

Hi, Nathan.

john

Uh, Kayden, would you say your family are more night owls? Is this a family difference?

kayden

Uh, generally yes. I think that they are—I’m the only one who has a job that’s flexible enough to allow me to be as… night owl-y as I am. I think—

john

So, on a weeknight, you’ll—Noah’s alarm will go off at 8:30. He’ll go, “Please, please, please come to bed.” And you’ll be like, “Uh-uh. You can sleep out here on the couch, if you want, dude.” And Noah’ll be like, “No, I’d actually like to sleep in a bed, like a human, thank you.” [Kayden cackles.] And then he’ll go into bed and fall asleep. And then what’s your first go-to? Like, immediately, like… put on your sunglasses and dance around in your underwear to Bob Seger songs? And then pop some popcorn and then start a cake and then read. And then play Anthem. And then play Fortnight. And then get online. Like, what do you do?

kayden

Normally, I have already… I have already started a book, or I’ve already started something, by the time I’ve gotten home. Sometimes I throw some work in there, if I—if I have a PowerPoint that I’m dreading, and I have to do. Then that’s probably when I’m doing it. So, it’s a mix. It’s time that I don’t have to adhere to a schedule. I can just do whatever I want to do or whatever I need to do.

crosstalk

John: Right, so you show— Noah: What percentage of that time is video games?

kayden

Hmmmm, 70%, probably. [Jesse laughs.]

john

Noah, that was a very condescending question. [Kayden laughs.]

jesse

Let the record reflect that Noah nodded condescendingly.

john

Is this an issue of virtue, for you? Do you feel that it is unvirtuous of Kayden—or, perhaps, not adult? Not 29 enough? Like a real 29-year-old—a real 29-year-old adult would be getting into bed at 8:30, actually.

noah

No, no, no. [Kayden laughs.] No, I have…

jesse

Are you concerned your family may not have enough worms? [They giggle.]

noah

The, uh—no, I’m fine with him playing video games. I just—if he has the option, I’d like him to play video games until, say, 11 o’clock or midnight and then come to bed with me. It’s the 3AM, the 4—last night he was up until 3AM and got up at 7AM. I don’t think it’s healthy for him.

john

When you wake up at 7, how do you feel?

kayden

Normally I’m tired, but by 8 o’clock, I’m okay. [John agrees.] But that’s not—in all fairness, that’s not the typical night. This was kind of an exception.

john

Yeah, you’re like, “Ah, I’m only going on a fairly popular podcast tomorrow. I don’t—I don’t need to be fresh or anything.” [They laugh.]

kayden

[Laughing.] Uuh, so you know, like, there are a lot of nights where I am in bed before midnight. But usually, I’m winding down. I’m still—I’m not asleep until 12:30. So, it’s not every night that it’s 4AM, because there are days that I have 8:30 meetings. And I get a lot of sleep. I—today was the exception. Normally, I get at least 8 hours. So, it’s not like—

john

Yeah, but you’re sleeping late. Like, how late are you sleeping to get that 8 hours?

kayden

Usually 9, maybe 10? [Noah agrees.] And then I’m at work.

john

2AM to 9AM is 7 hours of sleep. I’ve done that math. [They laugh.] I remember that one.

kayden

So, the 3AM to 4AM, that’s usually during the weekends. And that’s probably why it affects Noah the most. Because he’s already up at 4:30 on a Saturday, and he wants me to be awake as well—at 4:30, on a Saturday.

john

Right.

kayden

[Laughs.] But more than likely, I have been awake until 3 or 4 in the morning, on a Friday night. So, I won’t wake up until, like… 12 or 1.

john

Okay, it’s a lot of—it’s a lot of numbers for me to take in, Kayden. But do you know what? I’m not—I don’t begrudge it, because another husband might have come in with a spreadsheet. [They laugh.] And I appreciate your not doing that. Thank you very much.

kayden

I almost brought my spreadsheet, but I thought better of it.

john

I asked you both if you had enough together time. And, Noah, you suggested that your togetherness was a little challenged by Kayden’s late sleeping. Kayden, do you—do you worry that if you followed Noah’s strict and bizarre schedule… [Kayden laughs.] That you would not have enough “me” time.

kayden

I do worry about that. I have a job where I interact with people all day, and I’m an—actually a natural introvert, so the fact that I’m on this stage is kind of a statement of my love to my husband. [They chuckle.]

jesse

Aaand to us!

noah

That’s not true—uh, sorry Bailiff, just to let you know. He called you Judge John Hoffman just a couple of minutes ago.

jesse

Wooow.

john

He probably listens to Comedy Bang Bang.

jesse

More of a Rogan guy, are we?! Like to hear a lot of viewpoints, do we?

kayden

So… I do worry about that. I feel like we get enough time on the weekends, but I don’t think it’s just my sleeping in. I think it’s also that we have time with friends. We have times with—you know, our weekends are always packed. And so, it can feel like maybe we don’t have just two of us time.

john

Do you think that Noah has difficulty being alone?

kayden

I do. I think that would probably be very difficult for him.

john

Noah, do you have difficulty being alone? How do you feel when—

noah

Oh, definitely.

john

How do you feel when you’re up at 4:30 in the morning, on a Saturday, and you realize that not only your beloved Kayden is not with you, but most of humanity is not? [They laugh.]

noah

Well, on weekends I like to sleep in. But…

john

What does that mean? [Kayden cackles.] 5:15?

noah

9 or 10. [Sounds of disbelief from the audience.] I usually wake up at 4:30 because—I usually wake up at 4:30, ‘cause the cat wakes me up. [John agrees skeptically.] Yeah. The—

john

Now, see, another husband would have brought a picture of the cat. [Noah laughs.] But—

noah

There’s one floating around somewhere.

john

Let us stipulate that your cat isn’t—is adorable. Its name is?

noah

Primrose.

john

Primro—pfft. Forget it. [They laugh.]

noah

It’s really a good name.

john

One of the great names of cats. So, if I were to rule in your favor, Noah, how would you have me rule?

noah

I would just ask for midnight bedtime.

john

Midnight bedtime.

noah

Midnight on the weekdays.

john

On all weekdays? There’s a—there’s a lone applauder in the audience. [Everyone laughs.] Midnight bedtime on weekdays. Any other—any exceptions?

noah

No. I think that’s fine.

john

Kayden, is that doable for you? Or do you feel that that’s—[stammers] unreasonable.

kayden

So, one of the things that I have a hard time with is restrictions on my freedom. So, in theory… [The audience laughs and cheer

jesse

It’s like Gary Johnson said...

kayden

So, in theory that could sound good, but the fact—

john

Then why—if you don’t like restrictions on your freedom, then why did you marry a Democratic fundraiser? [The audience laughs and boos.] [Noah laughs.]

kayden

‘Cause he was cute, smart, and had a great family. [Noah represses giggles.]

john

Yeeeah. So, that feels—but that fees like a restriction—you wanna have the—

kayden

The flexibility to be able—

john

The adult agency to decide for yourself.

kayden

Yes. Exactly. Personal responsibility and, you know, personal choice is important to me.

john

Mm. I see. What would you have me rule, if I were to rule in your favor?

kayden

Um. [Sighs.] Maybe we could check in about it… periodically and decide [laughing] if it’s still working for the both of us? I don’t know.

john

Are you a sound sleeper, Noah?

noah

Yes, mostly.

john

You’re good at it? [Noah confirms.] Alright. I think I’ve heard everything I need to in order to make my decision. There are a number of mattress companies that advertise on podcasts. [Kayden and Noah cackle.] Not even one of them advertises on Judge John Hodgman. So, I’m going to go into my sleep chamber and lie upon my hated collection of Lisas, Caspers, and Sleep Numbers and I will not fall asleep, but will ponder my decision. I’ll be back in a moment with my verdict.

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exists the courtroom. [The audience cheers and applauds.] Kayden, how are you feeling about your chances in the case?

kayden

I think the judge is going to be fair, regardless of what he rules.

jesse

[Beat.] So bad?

kayden

[Laughs loudly.] I think the judge will be fair.

jesse

Noah, how are you feeling?

noah

Terr-i-ble. [They laugh.]

jesse

Yeah, I bet you didn’t expect it to turn on you like that, right at the beginning. [Kayden laughs.] To be fair, though, you have insane habits. [Kayden cackles again.]

noah

It’s a valid point.

jesse

Have you guys thought about having children and never choosing when you go to sleep or wake up ever again? [Everyone laughs.]

crosstalk

Kayden: [Laughing.] We have thought about this. Noah: It occurred to us, yeah.

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman reenters the courtroom and delivers his verdict. [The crowd applauds and cheers.]

john

There’s no way to solve it. [Kayden crows with laughter and has to step away from his mic.] There’s no solution. You’re doomed! you’re doomed. [Noah and Kayden giggle.] You didn’t know what you were getting into. You made—you both made a perfectly fair error. You [chuckles] you met on opposites sides of Greenwich Mean Time. You didn’t know. Never occurred to you, Kayden, that Noah was this strange-o who, as an adult, goes to bed at 8:30PM. [Laughs.] Like, some—like some kind of 7-year-old. [Kayden and Noah cannot pull themselves together. The audience laughs.] 7-year-old trapped in a 29-year-old’s body. Nor could you know, Noah, that Kayden was a 13-year-old trapped in a 29-year-old’s body. You know, this court has discussed bed and sleeping arrangements a lot, ‘cause it’s obviously such an important part of a loving relationship. But it is a paradoxical part of a loving relationship, because sleep is—is a brief moment of togetherness before utter apart-ness, where you each go into not merely your own—like, not merely your own figurative worlds, but your semi-literal dream worlds, where you’re only alone. Which is how you are born, and you are going to die. [Laughs.] The fact—the fact that marriage couples actually share a bed remains confusing to me. Since what you are sharing is not yourself and your love for each other, if you are asleep, right? What you are sharing are your farts. [Everyone laughs.] While you are unconscious with each other. And yet, there is something, Noah, that moved me when you said that you sleep better when Kayden is near you. I think that even on an unconscious level, the human body knows that they are with someone that they care about. And I’ve never, as a—as a father of human children, I do not sleep well at night, because unconsciously there—you know, there is an evolutionary impulse that I have to be on alert for wolves. [Everyone laughs.] And yet, once my family is awake, all I wanna do is sleep, because… then I realize they’re looking out for wolves, so I can now finally rest. And, Kayden, something you said also, though, moved me. Which is that while you are playing video games—and the case was presented by Noah as merely playing video games. That all you do is just play Fortnight until 5AM, every morning, and just eat Cool Ranch Doritos. In fact, you have a full—you have a full life of your own, in the middle of the night, where you are able to pursue some of the solitary things that every person in any couple has to nurture, in themselves, in order to then—when the other partner is finally awake—in order to share of yourself, you need to have time where you tend to yourself. Right? So, there—they are very meaningful but completely diametrically opposed, competing impulses.

john

So, Kayden, I’m going to introduce you to a concept that I learned from a great podcast called Stuff You Should Know—our friends Josh and Chuck—were doing a great show here, at San Francisco Sketchfest. Before there was—never mind electric illumination. Before candles were widely available, people went to bed as soon as it got dark. And then, when candles were available, they started to extend their evening hours. Obviously ‘cause they could. They could stay up late and play Fortnight, in the 17th century. [Kayden laughs.] Different kind of fortnight. [Jesse and Kayden cackle.] It was a two-week game of fighting. [Beat.] But they were still trained—their—biologically, they were still trained to wake up in the middle of the night. And a whooole—there’s a whole lost history of what’s called “second sleep”, and there—in 15th and 16th century literature and drama, there’d be often references, “I will meet you at second sleep.” And no one knew what they were talking about, because this part of human history had been lost to time, especially once electric illumination became available to everybody. ‘Cause people just stayed up late, at that point. They could—they could. But before that, the biological rhythm was to fall asleep more or less at dusk, and then [clicks tongue] wake up again. And that period of waking, between first and second sleep was this almost post-hypnotic state where you were awake, but very—but alone, untroubled by the world, ‘cause it had stopped. And contemplative. And people would wake up, they would work on a poem, they would make a little model, they might go do a little project. They might visit someone else, in the middle of the night. Maybe a—maybe a lover or a neighbor, or both. [Everyone chuckles.] And then they would go back to sleep. And when I heard this, I felt suddenly very seen and affirmed, because that is—that is completely my sleep pattern. I fall asleep and then I wake up and it had been happening to me since I was, like you Kayden, a 13-year-old. [Kayden and Noah laugh.] I would fall asleep, then wake up wide awake at 1, 2, or 3 in the morning and worry that there was something wrong. And worrying that I was worrying about the wrong thing. And going into this cycle of worry, because I was awake. And then I would eventually fall back asleep. And when I realized that this was a biologically very natural thing to have happen, it—this period of second sleep, for me, became this wildly comforting and productive period. I wouldn’t necessarily get out of bed and, like, make a cake or anything. But I would—but I would often get up and I would read a book or think about the day in a—in a—in a—and really enjoy a profound sense of aloneness in that quiet. And then I found it very restorative and nourishing. And I feel you when you say, “This is my time.” And I also feel you, Noah, when you say, “I want my husband with me, even if I have to go sleep on a rug in the living room. Next to Primrose.” [Noah laughs.]

john

Eventually, Noah, you will get what you want. As you guys grow older together, Kayden you will discover you can’t do what you do, anymore. Your body will begin to betray you and you will want to go to bed at 8:30 and your eyes, like mine, will wake up at 5AM and wonder, “Why can’t I get on an airplane, now, or something?” [Kayden and Noah laugh.] But until then, my advice to you is that you go to sleep with your husband and—once he’s asleep—get out of bed. [Everyone laughs.] This is the sound of a gavel. [Three soft clicks.] Judge John Hodgman rules. That is all. [The crowd cheers.]

jesse

Noah and Kayden! [The cheers and applause fade out.]

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

john

Hi, it’s me—your Judge John Hodgman—interrupting for a moment to say thank you. As you know, Judge John Hodgman is brought to you by you: our devoted MaximumFun member listeners. Thank you so much. But we’re also grateful to be supported by Sun Basket. Sun Basket makes cooking easy and convenient, with healthy, delicious, pre-portioned meals sent straight to your door. Now, you know me. You know how much I love Jensen’s, up there in Blue Jay, California. You know how much I love Tradewinds, Blue Hill Maine. I love groceries stores. I love going to them. Every time we stop at a grocery store, my family gets angry at me ‘cause they know I’m just gonna spend too much time wandering up and down those isles. I just love being in them. I don’t know why. But I also know that going to grocery stores right now? Not the greatest idea. In fact, what you wanna do is you wanna reduce unnecessary trips out. Reduce unnecessary trips to the grocery stores. And Sun Basket is a great and delicious solution for the times that we’re living in. Sun Basket has delicious recipes for all kinds of dietary preferences, including paleo, gluten free, Mediterranean, vegetarian. Honestly, I have a hard time thinking of vegetarian meals to make. And Sun Basket is totally upping my game and changing my repertoire. Their changing weekly menus—this week includes chickpea paella with artichoke hearts, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Yes. Why didn’t I think of that? Cauliflower macaroni and cheese? [Groans.] I wish I had thought of that! Creamy mushroom penne with baby spinach and almonds? Never thought of that at all. But I don’t have to! ‘Cause Sun Basket sends all the ingredients in beautiful, environmentally friendly packaging. This stuff is kept cold by frozen, recovered denim. I’m not joking! The frozen blocks that keep this cold are old jeans that they’ve chopped up and frozen! That’s totally recyclable! Totally sustainable! And totally delicious. Plus, Sun Basket facilities have the highest level of food and employee safety, to protect you and your family and their employees and everyone. So, Sun Basket. Right now, Sun Basket is offering $35 off your order when you go, right now, to SunBasket.com/judge and enter promo code “judge” at checkout. That’s SunBasket.com/judge and enter promo code “judge” at checkout for $35 off your order. I’ve done it. You can, too. SunBasket.com/judge and enter promo code “judge”.

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

promo

Janet Varney: Hey. I’m Janet Varney, host of The JV Club podcast. [School bell rings. The muffled sounds of talking in the hallway.] Janet: Ah, high school. Was it a time of adventure, romance, and discovery? Speaker 1: [Cheering.] Class of ’95! We did iiiit! Janet: Or— [Rain sound effect.] Janet: A time of angst, disappointment, and confusion? Speaker 2: We’re all tied together by four years of trauma, at this place, but enjoy adulthood, I guess! [A chorus of boos.] Janet: The truth is? It was both! Music: Bouncy music fades in. Janet: So, join me on The JV Club podcast, where I invite some great friends, like Kristen Bell, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Nunez, Neil Patrick Harris, Keegan-Michael Key, to talk about high school: the good, the bad, and everything in between. Speaker 3: My teenage mood swings are [voice dropping into something gruff and aggressive] gettin’ harder to manage! Janet: The JV Club. Find it on MaximumFun. [Music fades out.]

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

jesse

Heeey, Judge John Hodgman listeners. So, this episode was recorded in my hometown of San Francisco and it was recorded not that long after an old friend of mine—uh, a friend of mine from—actually from pre-school on, named Evan—died of an accidental overdose. And we partnered with the Homeless Youth Alliance, who do direct services for kids and teens and young adults living in the streets, in San Francisco, to raise some money for them in Evan’s name, as a memorial fund. Not only did we raise over $20,000 in online donations from people who went to MaximumFun.org/evan, but I talked a little bit about Evan onstage and we just had the volunteers from SF Sketchfest take buckets out to the—out to the doors, to the streets, and we got… over $4,000 in cash donations. Cash and cheques. Just right there, at that show. If you wanna join all those people—the Homeless Youth Alliance, I mean—it’s cliché to say it, but now more than ever, needs your support. There’s a lot of unhoused folks who are in danger from many things in their day-to-day lives, but now also covid. So, you can go to MaximumFun.org/evan. That’s MaximumFun.org/evan and it has instructions on how to support the HYA, and I’d love it if you did. If you’ve got $5, you got $500, you got $5,000, they—the money goes straight into helping kids on the street who need a hand so they can have healthy and productive lives. And, again, now more than ever. So, it’s MaximumFun.org/evan and I really wanna thank, from the bottom of my heart, all of those folks in the crowd in San Francisco, who raised all that money just—you know—they went to a comedy show and on their way out, put some money in a bucket. And it made a really big difference. So, thanks to everybody. And if you’re just hearing about this, MaximunFun.org/evan and you can join us. If you’re able. Thank you much.

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

jesse

Judge Hodgman, we’re taking a quick break from the stage of the historic Castro Theatre, in San Francisco, California, to update our listeners on what we have going on. What’s going on with you, John?

john

Well, of course, you know—sadly, neither you nor I can take the stage at the Castro Theatre, or any theatre, at the time being. But there are still theatres! And one that is very close to my heart is the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Coolidge Corner Brookline, Massachusetts, where I grew up. That is to say I grew up in Brookline and I basically, pretty much grew up in many ways at the Coolidge, seeing movies in one of the most beautiful movie houses in the world. And then ripping tickets and selling concessions for many, many a summer and spring break, when I was in college and home working amongst my very, very good friends, there, at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. And, obviously, they can’t show movies right now. However, if you go to the Coolidge website… Coolidge.org. C-O-O-L-I-D-G-E dot ORG, you’ll see that they’re hosting some screenings. You can rent movies from them. They have wonderful documentaries, art house films, Q&As, special seminars, people dropping in to talk about movies. You can support the staff, there. And! You might notice, on their calendar, a certain event featuring me—your Judge John Hodgman—on June 9th. I will be hosting a conversation with one of their great staff members about our mutual favorite documentary, the amazing film, Grey Gardens. If you’ve not seen Grey Gardens, please do yourself a favor, because if you’re improvising new outfits these days—in total social isolation—this movie is for you. You will—you will know what I mean when you see it. [Jesse wheezes a laugh.] G-R-E-Y Gardens, and then come see me and the staff of the Coolidge in a virtual seminar, talking about this movie and then a Q&A where if you wanna ask me anything about Grey Gardens or anything you like, I’ll be there live to talk to you. That’s on June 9th. And also, I’ll also point out that I’m doing a virtual event for the Brookline Booksmith, right across the street! Right across Harvard Street, there—in Coolidge Corner, my hometown—on the—June the 4th. So, you can—I will update my listings page on my website, JohnHodgman.com/tour, or do yourself a favor and go check out Coolidge.org, or Brookline Booksmith, which is a great bookstore. Great local bookstore. There’s a lot of local bookstores—is fulfilling orders by mail and it’s a great place to get a book for yourself or a friend. Jesse Thorn, what do you have going on?

jesse

Well, many of our listeners know that I host the arts and culture interview program, Bullseye, from MaximumFun and NPR. And we have had two very special episodes, this week and last week. This week’s episode is a look back at Coyle and Sharpe—our friend and MaxFun host, Mal Sharpe, passed away a few months ago at a very ripe old age. He had an amazing life. And Coyle and Sharpe were a man-on-the-street, put-on duo in early 1960s San Francisco that are one of the funniest things you could ever hear in a million, billion years. The special features some interviews that I did with Mal Sharpe over the years and a lot of great comedy from Coyle and Sharpe that you, I guarantee, will bust a gut at. My Bullseye producer, Kevin Ferguson, had not heard it and he’s been texting me just things that the—the crazy things they talk strangers into doing. Such as [chuckling] joining—joining—they talk someone on the street into joining what they call a triad, which is three people who become one person. And then they just get on the bus with him, when the bus comes so that they don’t have to divide their triad. There’s one where they try and talk a [laughing]—they talk a woman into renting out her children to childless couples.

john

[Laughing.] So—it’s so brilliant.

jesse

And that isn’t even—there’s one where they try—where they do convince a man to grow sugar bowls out of his head, by having tiny sugar bowls implanted under the skin of his skull. [Laughs.] And then, over time, as he eats, the sugar bowls grow until they can be harvested and sold. [They laugh.] So… Coyle and Sharpe retrospective, on Bullseye. And—one week ago, on Bullseye—the guest that people have been asking me to book, on Bullseye, as though it had never occurred to me for 15 years—every time I asked, “Who should I book on Bullseye?”—came on the show. Tina Fey. Tina Fey, a conversation with Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, who are the co-creators of Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock. Or, I should say, the co-creators of Kimmy Schmidt and the co-show-runners of 30 Rock. Two brilliant comedy writing geniuses. It’s a wonderful conversation and you can find it on Bullseye, if you like that kind of thing. Do I talk about “teeth are outside bones”? Yeah, I talk about “teeth are outside bones”. [They laugh.] It’s a song one of the characters on Kimmy Schmidt sings. [Laughing.] He says they’re like bats that hang from your lips. Anyway, all that is on Bullseye. You can just search for Bullseye in your podcast app, right now.

john

Fantastic!

jesse

Let’s get back to the stage!

sound effect

Three gavel bangs.

john

[Applause fades in.] Jesse, we found justice in the case of Noah and Kayden. Looks like our job here is done. All justice has been served, in San Francisco. This is a lawful land. Goodbye! [Scattered laughter from the audience.]

jesse

Wait. H-hold on, Judge Hodgman. I’m gonna—I’m gonna put this to the audience. San Francisco, do you think there’s more justice within your bounds? [The audience cheers and claps.] [Shouting.] I think, John, that we can find more justice! How ‘bout this? This is my pitch to you. [Someone in the audience shouts, “We can get better!”.] We’ll put just 15 minutes on the clock and see if we can blast through a powerful string of justice such as never been seen, in the city by the bay.

john

Sounds gross, but fair. [The audience laughs.]

jesse

[Laughs.] I call it Swift Justice!

crosstalk

John: Swift Justiceee! Jesse: ‘Cause that’s what it says on this piece of paper! [John bangs his gavel. The audience cheers.]

john

Whoooo seeks justice before me, Jesse?

jesse

Please welcome to the stage, Heidi and Neil!

john

Heidi… [The audience cheers.] And Neil. Please step forward. Who comes to this court to seek justice from me, your Judge John Hodgmaaan?

heidi

That would be me.

john

And you are Heidi?

heidi

I am Heidi.

john

Hello. [She greets him.]

john

What is the nature of your dispute?

heidi

Um, when we have visitors come to the Bay Area, when we get in the car to pick them up at the airport, there’s much tension between my husband and I. Because I looove the cellphone lot. [Sounds of confused laughter from the audience.]

john

I’ve heard that sentence many tiiimes.

heidi

And Neil feels that it’s important to either park and go in and greet our visitors ooor… circle around. [The audience laughs.]

john

Let the record show that some of the people in the audience hissed! At Neil’s circle around scheme. What is your relationship to Neil?

heidi

We are married.

john

And how long have you been married?

heidi

Um… um… [The audience laughs.] 30. 30 years.

john

Let the record show, Heidi has no idea. [Everyone laughs.]

neil

It’s true.

john

And looked—looked to Neil, either to confirm her memory or to confirm what lie she was supposed to tell.

jesse

Almost certainly the latter.

john

Heidi, if you need help, blink twice. [Heidi agrees with a laugh.] Okay.

jesse

[Laughing.] We’ll meet you in the cellphone lot.

john

Yeah. So, Neil, what is your—what is your scheme for picking up people at the airport?

neil

I was raised in the Chicago area, and my family taught me that what was best would be to make it as comfortable as possible for someone coming in from out of town. They’ve traveled five or eight hours. They’ve had three delays. And so, the idea was—

john

They should plan their travel better. [Everyone laughs.[

neil

So, the idea is that you are there to greet them and help them with their luggage and bring them to the car. Or, if appropriate, you just be there, magically, the moment that they arrive at the curb. [Scattered applause from the audience. John agrees skeptically.] That’s the goal, anyway.

john

And were—and Heidi, were you raised differently? [A loud laugh from the audience.]

jesse

She was raised in the cellphone lot.

john

Yeah, that’s right. That’s why you like that cellphone lot. Feels like home to you.

neil

She really does.

heidi

Neil’s idea of graciousness, from the Midwest I believe, is different than mine—where, for me, I like the—our guest to believe that it was effortless to get them. I don’t want them to worry about me paying for parking and I don’t want them to stress about me circling around while they’re… getting off the plane and getting their luggage.

john

Yeeeah. Well, I mean, whatever way I rule, I want—I want to relieve you of a burden that you have by letting you know most people aren’t thinking about you. [Everyone laughs. Scattered applause.] This is true in general. Most people are thinking about themselves. There may be some. There may be some, I don’t doubt. Perhaps there are some people going, “I hope Heidi’s okay.” Not, uh—not, “I need to find my luggage,” or “What happened—you know, I have to go to the bathroom very badly.” Maybe their first thought is, “Is Heidi okay? Is it cold in the cellphone lot? I don’t know! Is she circling around?” So, Neil, let me understand. First—I mean, obviously—I mean, one of the things is that you were—you were raised in a—in a city—a small town with a small-town airport. [Neil agrees with a laugh.] With no traffic whatsoever. Where it’s just easy to just pull up at any time.

neil

That was once true. In modern day airports, it does take a little bit of a different… attack. But yeah.

john

No, I mean, this is—this is an issue that I take with your scheme. Because if you—if you were to park in the parking structure and then greet them and then walk them to the parking structure, that’s one thing. But this circling around until they arrive is not merely imprecise—because you could get caught on this, you know—on the far side of the airport when they’re walking out. [Neil agrees.] Which is not much different than waiting in the cellphone lot, except you’re adding to the traffic going around the airport. [Heidi gasps. The audience laughs and applauds.]

neil

There are risks to the scheme. [Everyone laughs.]

john

May I—may I at least congratulate you for being the first husband in a heterosexual relationship to say those words? To acknowledge that there are risks.

neil

There are risks.

john

There may be flaaaws in the scheme.

neil

There may be flaws.

john

Now, you brought a spreadsheet, I’m sure! Let’s take a look! No?

jesse

I’m in love with the idea that Neil war-gamed this thing out.

john

What do you—you’re picking—you’re picking people up from the cellphone lot? We’re talking about San Francisco International Airport?

heidi

Yeah, any airport. Oakland. Mm-hm!

john

Any—yeah, but, I mean—what do you—driving to other states to pick people up? You live here in the Bay Area? [Heidi confirms.] The airport you’re talking about is San Francisco or Oakland?

heidi

San Francisco or Oakland, yeah.

john

Okay, right.

jesse

Not San Jose? Got a beef with Norman Mineta? [Heidi laughs.]

john

What do you do in the cellphone lot while you’re—while you’re waiting? How early do you get there? [Jesse cackles.]

heidi

Uuh. [The audience laughs and applauds.]

john

Let the—let the record show, for the listener at home, Heidi’s face lit up with great delight and then inward gasp of, “Oh, let me tell you!” About the joy she takes in being—sitting in the cellphone lot!

heidi

[Gasps.] I listen to a ballgame. I listen to podcasts. I play games on my cellphone. I draw. [Chuckles from the audience.] I—I—

neil

It’s me-time.

heidi

I think about—I think about the people flying in and flying out and once I even saw the dog sniffing dog playing fetch. [Laughter and “aw”s from the audience.]

jesse

Wooow. You’re living an entire Richard Scarry book in that—[laughs] in that cellphone lot.

john

Yeah, I’d like—I’d like to just amend an earlier ruling, if I may. Pursuant to the case of Noah vs. Kayden—an amendment to that ruling: Kayden, you have to fall asleep with Noah. When Noah falls asleep, you get up and drive to the cellphone lot. [The audience laughs.] ‘Cause that sounds… that sounds like a delight! [Everyone laughs.] Obviously, you both have different styles. One of which causes zero harm to the traffic patterns at the airport. One of which causes… harm. One of which adds traffic, rather than… the opposite. But! Neither style harms the other, in the sense that if Neil goes to pick someone up at the airport, you can go—you can stay at home and listen to the ballgame and watch service dogs catch—play fetch, or whatever. So, why should I adjudicate between the two? Why can’t you each have your own style?

heidi

We have our own styles when we’re independently picking people up. Although I have to admit that I still grill him about whether he’s just circling or—[Stumbles into a laugh as the audience hoots.] Or whether—

john

Well then, you’re thinking about it.

heidi

Yes. But when we’re together and picking people up, we don’t bring the subject up, but as we—as we approach the airport, the tension level—

neil

There’s a certain air of tension.

heidi

—rises a lot. [The audience laughs.]

john

Well, I can imagine so!

heidi

I wonder whether he—

john

Because you’re—if you’re going together, then Neil’s—and you go to the cellphone lot, then Neil’s being robbed of his cultural heritage. [The audience laughs.]

neil

Thank you for understanding.

john

And if—and if you—and if you circle around, then you’re being robbed of your baseball time, and also the anxiety of, “Why are we burning gas or electricity when we could just be sitting, having a good time?” You could even—I mean, how long have you been married?

heidi

Oh! 30 years.

john

30 years! But the magic is still there. You guys could be getting frisky in that cellphone lot. No? [The audience laughs.]

jesse

Yeah, John, I don’t know—

john

Let the record show, the withering contempt that Heidi had for that idea, as I stepped into the organ pit and never could leave.

jesse

John, I don’t know what Richard Scarry books you’re reading. [They laugh.] But…

john

You sayin’ Lowly Worm never found a lady worm in that apple garden? Come on. [They laugh.] Maybe not a lady worm. Just maybe another word.

jesse

[Chuckles.] John was reading Get Busy Down. Sorry! I thought of it and had to say it. [Scattered slow applause.]

john

Neil. [Scattered laughter.] Do you doubt the efficiency of the cellphone lot method? ‘Cause I got picked up by a volunteer named Lenore, here at SF Sketchfest. And I stepped out of that door and I texted her. I mean, you’re his—you’re ancient family practice, perhaps, pre-dates cellphones. [Neil confirms.] At that time, cellphone lots were just for growing corn. [The audience laughs, and Neil agrees.] I don’t know why they even called them cellphone lots. They hadn’t even been invented, yet.

neil

It’s a modern adaptation.

john

But now we do have cellphones and texts. [Neil agrees, laughing.] And I—and I got my baggage and I stepped out of door number 16 and I texted Lenore saying, “I’m ready to go.” And within three minutes, she was there. It was a pretty efficient practice.

neil

It’s a long wait.

john

But if you had been on the other—ugh. Alright. You know what?! [The audience and Neil laugh.] I had a great time. I listened to a ballgame. [Beat.] You asked for it, Neil. It’s gonna—now it’s gonna be put to the test. First of all, by the way Neil, what you’re doing is wrong. Second of all—but you have the right—but you have the right to do it. Second of all, when you go individually to the airport, you do whatever you want. And that’s—yeah. Third of all, to settle this once and for all, the next time someone comes to the airport it’s gonna be a race. [The audience laughs.] Heidi, you’re gonna go to the cellphone lot. Neil, you’re gonna circle around. [Neil agrees and Heidi gasps.] The person—

heidi

I’m up for that. [The audience cheers.]

john

I don’t know whether—I don’t know whether you have two cars or whether you can borrow one or rent a second car. They have to be comparable, right? They can’t—you know, you can’t—one can’t be faster than the other. [They agree.] The second that person lands or is ready to go, text both of you simultaneously. The first person who gets there and picks that person up? That’s the way you do it when you it together.

neil

I’m good with that.

john

Neil is supremely confident. [Five gavel bangs.]

jesse

Heidi and Neil! [Heidi thanks him.] Please welcome Matt and Wicky! [The audience cheers and applauds.]

john

Matt and Wicky. Hello. [They greet him.] Uuh, let’s see here. Who seeks justice before me?

matt

I do, your honor.

john

And you would be Matt? [He confirms.] And what do—and what do you—what do you do, all day long? As Richard Scarry might say, what do you do all day?

matt

I’m a professor and a filmmaker.

john

A professor and a filmmaker. [Matt confirms.] A professor of what? Filmmaking?

matt

Film and video production. Screenwriting.

john

Okay, cool. Where—where do you profess?

matt

Actually, on the other coast. Monmouth University.

john

Monmouth University. Okay, that’s—

matt

Yeah, Jersey! [Scattered cheers from audience.]

john

That’s in New Jersey! And yet you live here.

matt

Part time, yes. We’re bi-coastal. So, yeah. Summers and winter break, I’m here. The rest of the time, I’m over there.

john

Okay, and Wicky, you are a product designer at Expedia. You love to cook, learn new types of design, and play music. And, of course… Wicky, I know this because there’s a huge portion of the internet that’s organized just around facts about you. [The audience laughs.] Wicky-Pedia. You see what I mean? It’s a joke.

wicky

[Laughing.] Ooh, of course. Yes.

john

I’m a dad.

wicky

Check it out, everybody. [Everyone laughs.] Not sponsored.

john

Check out my website, Wikipedia. [Laughs.] [Slow claps from the audience.] Do you commute across the country like you’re—are you married? I’ve—? [They confirm.] Yeah. Do you commute across the country with your husband? Or do you live here fulltime and that’s why he comes back? Or what?

wicky

Yeah, so, Expedia—that’s where I work. My job is mostly here, but they’re very flexible—thank you so much. Not sponsored by Expedia but thank you. [The audience laughs.] So, I get to spend—

john

And yet you still managed to say Expedia three times…

jesse

Yeah, Wicky, I hate to say it, but…

wicky

I know, that’s what I do when I’m nervous. I just mention where I work all the time. It’s weird. But yeah. So, we’ve been married for a while, but he has to live there, because he teaches and it’s harder to get a job as a professor, I guess. Um. [The audience laughs.] And, like, there’s… so, I have—I’m based here, but during the summers, because he has the summers off and the winters off, so he really just works, like, [laughing] six months out of the year. And that’s—but he does a good work. It’s okay. So, when he’s not working, he spends time—

john

This is not germane to your case; it’s just run of the mill—

wicky

Yeah, just background.

john

Run of the mill contempt for your husband. [They laugh.]

wicky

Yes. But when he—

jesse

Yeah, this isn’t about the case. This is just a list of reasons you’re mad you’re married to your husband. [Laughs.]

wicky

[Laughs.] No, I love him! But when he is working— [The audience swells with laughter.] I spend half of my time there. So, I do, like, two weeks here, two weeks there. And so on.

john

So—but that—none of this has anything to do with your dispute. [The audience laughs.]

matt

It does not.

john

Which of you seeks justice?

matt

I do.

john

And what is the nature of your dispute, Matt?

matt

Uh, you can’t tell from the looks of us right now, but we dress eerily similar. So—

john

On purpose?

matt

[Chuckling.] No! Not intentional. Not coordinated. We will—

john

Okay. It just happens.

matt

We will enter the bedroom dressed—I mean, I’m telling you, near identically. So, I wish—

jesse

Wait. Enter the bedroom from—what? Your respective anterooms?! [Everyone laughs.] Once the ladies admitting—in waiting and gentleman’s valets have finished dressing you?!

john

She enters the bedroom from the bathroom. He enters the bedroom from the magical portal that leads to Monmouth, New Jersey. A fantasy land, where people only work six months out of the year. And goats and beavers talk. [Matt confirms.] I love—I love the picture of you guys entering the bedroom at the same time, dressed exactly alike, and going, “WHAT?!” As though… [The audience laughs.] As though it’s part of the opening credits montage of a 1991 sitcom.

jesse

I was imagining that same entrance and then [singing] do-do-do-dooo-dodo-do-waaaah! [John laughs.]

matt

Just trying to paint a picture. So—

john

Yeah! No, you’re both—you’re both freshmakers. I get it.

matt

[Laughs.] So, it—so, what I’m asking—

john

You’re psychically connected? Sartorially, psychically connected?

matt

Just—yeah. That—

john

That was hard for a person who had a whiskey a little while ago to say! [They laugh.]

matt

I think we both entered the relationship with a similar eye for fashion, if you can call it that. [Wicky giggles.] So, we both—

john

You both look—you both look pretty put together, right now!

matt

She looks—I mean, great. Yeah. I mean—

john

You’re hipster cajsh. And your—your sneakers are new. And Wicky, you got a cool leather jacket on and you’ve got some cool boots and stuff. You didn’t dress alike. It looks like, uh, what you’re saying is not true! [The audience chuckles.]

matt

Exact—we actually spent a long time, today, discussing if we should dress alike. Which was the original—we—yeah. We were wearing the same t-shirt.

john

That would have been—that would have been funny, for a stage show. [They laugh.] It would have been illustrative of your case. And amusing to see.

matt

For a podcast. [The audience cackles.]

jesse

You know… [Scattered applause.]

john

Don’t make me bang this gavel down!

jesse

Judge Hodgman, you know I hate to do this. You know this is the last thing in the world I wanna do. I’m here, in my hometown, my parents are here. My brother’s here. All these great citizens are here. They’re probably all Giants fans, too. [Cheers from the audience.] I don’t wanna have to do this, but I feel like I have to do this. [Screaming.] Shut your pie hole!

john

Let’s—since you—since you decided not to present any evidence in person, let’s look at the evidence that you did send in. [They laugh.] Exhibit A. Now… Matt. I’m not sure that you knew that this was possible, but we have visual material here. You heard the audience react to it. And it’s incredible that I, a professional writer, can actually describe to the listening audience… Do you remember the devastating word painting that I painted earlier?! I can do that, too, with your evidence. So, we have here two photos of adorable Matt and Wicky, together. On the left, there’s a photo of them on a couch. Both of them are wearing matching Asbury Lanes bowling alley t-shirts. Wicky, you’ve got a really jaunty kerchief on. And Matt, you’re wearing the same sneakers you’re wearing, tonight. Unless you have 35 identical pairs, which I would NOT put past you. And whether this was intentional or not, you’re sitting framed beneath a painting of a sad couple sitting exactly the same way. [The audience laughs with scattered applause.] Listeners at home, if that was not an adequate word painting for you, you may go to the Judge John Hodgman page, at MaximumFun.org, or our Instagram: @JudgeJohnHodgman. Then, there is a picture of the two of you in looks like pajama tops. Both of which are featuring the Grinch. And they are identical pajama tops. So, in both of these cases, you are dressed eerily alike. Is it eerie? Was it planned or unplanned?

matt

It was un—the—that was—it’s become such a joke, but—

jesse

To which are you referring?

crosstalk

John: Yeah, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Matt: I’m sorry! Sorry, sorry, sorry. [Laughs.] The pajama— John: We’re—I want you to remember, this is a podcaaast. [Everyone laughs and shouts.]

matt

The pajama tops. It’s become such a joke amongst our families, that my mom bought us matching pajamas just so, not only are we twins during the day, but at night.

john

While you sleep.

matt

Yeah, while we sleep.

john

And your Asbury Lanes shirts? Was that a coincidence or was that a plan?

matt

It wasn’t—no, it was—like, I had a bunch of those t-shirts, so I gave one to Wicky. But that’s one of her favorite t-shirts.

wicky

Forgive me for wearing the shirt that you gave me! I’m sooo sorry! Sue me! [Laughs.]

matt

Oh, lord.

john

How did this start happening? So, neither of these are actual evidence of what you claim happens, which is that you guys accidentally dress alike. So, here are my questions for you, Matt: how did this start happening? And why does it bother you?

matt

Okay. So, it started happening just ‘cause—I mean, I think beyond these photos, we—

john

These photos prove nothing, Matt!

matt

[Laughing.] I know.

john

Is there more? Next one? Okay. Here we see you both in sort of lumberjack style sweatshirts. Excuse me, overshirts. Wicky here, sporting that incredible red kerchief again. [Wicky laughs.] Matt, you’re wearing a Descendants t-shirt. You’re cool. And then— [Everyone laughs.] There are four people down here. Two—you and two friends, down here in the third pictures. Who are these guys?

matt

So, that’s Wicky’s sister and her boyfriend. But I do wanna note, for that picture of four, I put my jacket around my neck because when I wore it around my waist too, we looked like we were—like, “that” couple. [John affirms.] That, like, coordinates together. We’re both wearing jean shorts, black—like—graphic tees.

john

So, though these photos do not illustrate the problem that you bring to the court, of you guys dressing alike coincidentally, I will take it on faith that that happens. You are concerned that you look like you’re coordinating your outfits when you are not.

matt

Almost every night, yes.

john

And why does that bother you? Why would that worry you?

matt

I just don’t wanna be that couple that, like, walks out the door. You know—like, the couple you see at, like, a theme park or, like, on vacation together where they have, like “Team whatever the last name is of the couple”. And they just, like walk around—like that couple. Yeah. I don’t wanna be that couple.

john

No, I’m—but I’m getting a really good idea of what my sentence is gonna be. [Everyone laughs. Scattered applause.] Wicky, do you—do you verify that this is true? That you guys occasionally dress alike?

wicky

Well, yeah. So, just in general, I feel like I have a uniform and whatever. I admit it. I like to wear what I know I look good in, which is dark jeans.

john

Yeah, what’s your style?

wicky

Dark jeans. Like, band t-shirt. Sneakers. Like, plaid or, like, a jean jacket or this or whatever. And so—

jesse

You’re a cool rock and roll babe.

wicky

Yeah, I’m a cool rock and roll babe. And so, I think— [Everyone laughs.] I think what happens is when—so, we’re bi-coastal, so when Matt comes here, he brings a little suitcase with the same things that he knows that I wear all the time and that he has very little options. And so, when I come into the room [laughing] from this really mysterious other room—[laughs] he’s like, “What! You’re wearing what I’m wearing!” And I’m like, “Well, one, even before I knew you, dude, like, I was wearing this. So, you probably should have looked at my OKCupid pictures a liiiittle more carefully if you didn’t wanna come across this problem.” Like, I swear to god, I’ve just been dressing this way all my life.

john

Are you saying that Matt has been biting your style?

wicky

I—I kind of think so. But, okay, fair enough, like—

john

And so, if you dress up matchy-matchy, do you—do you mind being matchy-matchy? Or is that just Matt’s thing?

wicky

I really don’t mind that much, because, like, part of, like, my whole thing is like I like to wear hoops and I like to wear earrings. And I don’t know if you’ve seen, I like to wear like a handkerchief.

john

Let the record show that Matt has hoop earrings in, right now. [They laugh.] No.

wicky

Not right now, ‘cause I’m trying to change it up for Matt. Just kidding. Anyways, so I really don’t mind. And then, I—like, I’m not even thinking about that. I’m thinking about, like, what are we gonna eat? Or who’s gonna call the Lyft or, like, whatever the next step is. And he’s like, “Oh my god!” Like, “We can’t look alike!” And I’m like, “Who cares?” Like, and if— [Applause from the audience.] And also! [Chuckles.] Like, I don’t really—I don’t need to be, like, a cute couple, but like, if we—I’m not paying attention, so someone happens to mention, like, “Oh, you look alike,” I’m like, “Oh my god, that’s so cute!” Right? I don’t know.

john

Are you afraid of being cute, Matt?

matt

[Chuckles.] No, I love being cute. Yeah

crosstalk

John: Well, you’re both very cute! Wicky: He does not like being cute! Let the record show. John: When you dress alike, who changes?

matt

I think Wicky has a—has a—in terms of scale and scope of her wardrobe, uh… she usually does. I’m—I’m not tell—it’s not me telling my wife she has to change.

john

[Interrupting.] At your—at your request? Or she’s like, “Oh—” You’re like, “I don’t wanna be matching. You change, Wicky”?

matt

I—it’s literally—there’s another flannel I can put on. There isn’t much I can change into. Like, I think today is a good example of she can rock—like, she has, like—in terms—she’s a more adventurous dresser than I am. I think, generally.

john

Are you biting Wicky’s style? [Wicky laughs.]

matt

Am I what?

john

Biting. Wicky’s. Style. I’m 48 years old. [Everyone laughs.]

matt

I hope not. No.

wicky

Wait, can I say something? [John approves.] Okay. So. [Chuckles.] I love Matt. I really do. But, sometiiimes… [Everyone laughs.] Okay, the—okay, so here’s the thing. It’s like, I—the reason I wear the same thing all the time is because I can imagine myself in it and I feel comfortable and I don’t have to, like—that’s not another worry I need. But sometimes I’m like, “I’ll try something new!” And so, like, I have, like, a few things that I’m like, “Okay, maybe—” I’ve, like, created this image of myself and I’m like, “I think maybe I can do it.” And then he’s like, “WHAT are you WEARING?!” [Laughs.] He’s like— [The audience boos.] Not! No, no, no, no, no, no! [Laughs.]

john

I’ll allow it.

wicky

Okay, no, no, no—okay, not—okay, guys, again. Not a—don’t—it’s not a—like, it’s not a crazy, like—oh, he doesn’t—whatever. It’s just like—and I’m just like, “Okay, like—” It’s something that my, like, my mom would say. Like, “Really? [Laughing.] You’re gonna go out in that?” And I’m just like, “Okay, no, I’ll go back and put on my flannel and my jeans and my sneakers. Thank you.”

jesse

Yeah. Matt? I’ve seen a lot of pictures of the two of you supposedly dressed the same. In all of them, Wicky’s is wearing a cool neckerchief, and I haven’t seen you wear a cool neckerchief once. So, who are you to make fun of her, when you don’t even have a single cool neckerchief?

john

I think—I think his beard might be too long. You can’t see it.

jesse

[Offended.] I have a big long beard and I literally make and sell neckerchiefs! [Everyone laughs.]

john

Alright, here’s what. A) Matt, you should be proud of being team WickyMatt. They’re all—you guys are cute! [Applause from the audience.] B) There’s—it’s cute to be matchy-matchy. You shouldn’t care what other people think. But since you’re obviously someone who does, if you don’t want to be matchy-matchy, it’s on you! Bring more clothes! Get stuff that she doesn’t wear! [Laughs.] [The audience cheers.] Get wild things that Wicky does not have in her—you know, like, don’t get a neckerchief. Get your bandana and tie it around your leg like Scott Baio in Joanie Loves Chachi. Liven up your outfits and see—start wearing neckerchiefs, Matt! Get the—go to the Put This On shop.

jesse

PutThisOnShop.com.

john

Right! And buy—and I order you to buy a neckerchief for—a neckerchief—the most distinctive neckerchief that is available via Jesse Thorn’s men’s and person’s fashion website, PutThisOnShop.com. One that—one that Wicky would never, ever wear. And wear that neckerchief. Team WickyMatt forever, with pride. That is all. [Three bangs of the gavel.]

jesse

Wicky and Matt! [The audience cheers and applauds.] Please welcome to the stage, Jason Robertson!

john

Alriiight. Let’s see. Uh, who did you say?

jesse

I said, Jason Robertson!

john

And—and who? And who else?

jesse

Uh, on my paper here, it just says, “Jason Robertson”. [A loud laugh from the audience.]

jason robertson

Sorry.

john

Jason. [Everyone laughs.] Is there someone with you? Someone you have a dispute with?

jason

No. No, no. Not tonight.

john

Jason! You know the rules of this court, do you not? There shall be no disputes against society, A. B, me. C, yourself. Are you bringing a case against yourself, Jason?

jason

Kind of. It’s—

john

AH! You’re gonna make me drop this gavel! I’ll allow it. Tell me the nature of your dispute, if that’s what it is.

jason

Well, in first grade I won a state writing competition.

john

Oh, I see. It’s just a brag! [The audience laughs.]

jason

Uh, I—by plagiary.

john

It would be great if you just walked offstage at this point.

jason

Yeah, yeah, and that’s it! [Laughs.]

john

Okay, so in first—in first grade, you won a state writing competition.

jason

Yeah, yeah. And, um—by plagiarizing a very popular children’s book, which… [Disappointed laughter from the audience.] Which I—

john

[Chuckling.] Excuse me?

jason

Yeah, yeah. A very popular children’s’ book from the mid-‘80s. Doctor De Soto, which I learned that you like quite a bit.

john

Yeah! I love that book. By William Steig.

crosstalk

Jesse: That rules. Jason: Yeah, so when I heard that, I wrote you.

john

I—I know. Look, I know why you’re here. [Everyone laughs.] So, how do you mean you plagiarized it?

jason

So—I guess the assignment—you had to write a short story. I think in class, you didn’t get to take it home or—yeah. And I just copied the plot wholesale. Just the whole thing. Nothing original. I changed the two types of animals in it.

john

[Wheezing a laugh.] Well, that makes it fair-use. You—you brought some evidence. Let’s take a look at the evidence. Oh, there you are in first grade. [The audience “aw”s. Jason confirms.] Who’s that?

jason

That’s my dad.

john

That’s your dad. That’s—so, for the listener at home, this is Jason in first grade, on his dad’s shoulders, attempting to strangle his own dad. [The audience laughs.] And then what is the other thing there?

jason

It’s what I’m holding in my hand, here. And it’s the—my mom saved it. It’s the compendium of all the winning stories from that year. All the winners got to go to a, like, a multi-day writing workshop at the University of Iowa.

john

So, it’s the Irish Republican Army Prose Writing Contest. [Everyone laughs.] What—it’s the IRA—what does IRA stand for, there?

jason

I—International Reading Association.

john

International Reading Association! You’ve got some extremely beautiful dot matrix clipart of quills and scrolls, on either side. That speaks to the authenticity as this being a document from 1991 to 1992. Next slide, please. And here is your winning entry. [Jason confirms.] The Squirrel and the Wolf. Now, for those of you who do not know, Doctor De Soto is the story about a dentist who is a mouse, who… [Someone in the audience laughs.] Look, why are you laughing? Anyone can be a dentist.

jesse

Just like anyone can be a Dracula.

john

That’s— [The audience laughs.] Shhh! Anyway. Um. And—well, how would you describe the story of Doctor De Soto?

jason

Um, a—what—I forget—I forget what the animals was, in the original.

john

Fox.

jason

It’s a fox. A fox has a toothache, and so he goes to a widely renowned dentist, who’s very good at what he does, this mouse. And the mouse and his wife are nervous about accepting a fox as a patient, but they do. And then the fox gets hungry in the middle of the procedure.

john

And Doctor De Soto is so small, he’s gotta climb into the fox’s mouth to fill the cavity or do whatever work he’s doing.

jason

Yeah, that’s the suspenseful bit. The mouse is in the mouth and you’re like, “Oh my gosh! Is he gonna be eaten?!” Yeah, and—

jesse

And the fox is under the influence of the gas they’ve given him, for the procedure and starts to mumble to himself. What does he—what kind of thing does he mumble?

jason

He starts mumbling about how hungry he is and how delicious mice are and how easy it would be to have a quick snack while the dentist is in his mouth.

john

And, spoiler alert, that mouse gets ‘et up! And that’s the end of the story, right?

crosstalk

Jesse: Nooo. No! Jason: That’s it! John: Oh. [Jason laughs.]

john

How does Doctor De Soto avoid his fate?

jason

So, Doctor De Soto says, um… “Well, you know what? We’re not done with your treatment, yet. You have to come back tomorrow.” And he hatches a plot with his wife, overnight. And administers a glue in the—in the fox’s mouth, the next day. And then tells him it has to—it’s gonna keep his mouth shut for 24 hours, because it has to set into his dentine.

john

And then what happens?

jason

And then—and then the fox realizes that he can’t open his mouth and he’s frustrated, in his goals of eating the mouse. And he leaves. I don’t remember the exact ending. [They laugh.]

john

Seems like you’ve blocked it out for some reason. And what happens in your story? The same thing?

jason

Uh, pretty much. Uh, yeah. I just simplified it; you know. I didn’t hit all of the plot points, but I hit all the major ones. He sends him home. He comes back. And he glues his mouth shut. And everyone lives happily ever after.

john

When you say you simplified it, you’re trying to say that William Stieg used too many words? [Jason agrees with a laugh.] In a way, I made it my own. Because… I mean, it’s like jokes. Like, you—anyone can take them and put their own riff on them.

jason

Yeah. Yeah. Even if it’s, like, a national book award winner.

john

So, this… evidence of your misdeed will be available on the Judge John Hodgman Instagram page, and our show page. The change that you made was, instead of a mouse, you made it a squirrel. Which is ridiculous, ‘cause squirrels can never be dentists. [The audience laughs.]

jesse

At least not on my watch!

john

No! It would be ironic, ‘cause squirrels have disgusting teeth. And the fox becomes a wolf. And you submitted this and what happened?

jason

I won first place for first grade, in my county. It was like a hundred kids, or something, across the state.

john

And no one noticed that you had stolen this plot?

jason

No! Which—it’s so weird. I—like, even in the moment, when I won, I was like, “Nobody called me out.” And then I had to go to a county awards ceremony, in, like, a big theater, like this. And I—and I read the story out loud to tall these educators. [Sounds of chaos from the audience.] And parents of other children who lost and won and both and the whole time, I just let someone—

john

And no one stood up, at any point, and said, “Shame!” to you?

jason

I expected it, the whole time.

john

And how did you feel when it didn’t happen?

jason

Uh, you know. It was probably the beginning of the end, a little bit. [Laughs.] It would—probably made me a little more jaded, earlier than I would have been otherwise. Uh. [Chuckles.]

john

And what grade are you in now? Third?

jason

Yeah! [Laughs and clears throat.] I wish. I wish I was still in third grade. That was a great—

john

What—how old are—how old are you?

jason

Oh—how old am I? I’m 35. It’s almost 30 years ago.

john

Yeah. And has it haunted you?

jason

Yeah, yeah. I think about it—I think about it now and then, and I have no idea what I could do to atone.

john

Have you tried to atone for this?

jason

No, I don’t know what to do. I was too ashamed, in the moment. I didn’t do anything the rest of—

john

Ashamed? Or afraid of what would happen.

jason

Afraid. Afraid. It was fear. Yeah.

john

Right? ‘Cause you were cognizant of your wrongdoing. [Jason confirms.] I mean, you changed those animals for a reason. [The audience laughs, and Jason agrees.] You know what I mean? That’s evidence of knowledge of guilt.

jason

Yeah, I was—I was smart enough to do that.

john

And you changed some details. Do you think you did it ‘cause you were on the spot? Like, I sympathize with you. If you were told to write this story in class, you couldn’t even go home and work on it. Like—did you feel like you were put on the spot and you had to come up with something and this was the best you could do?

jason

No, I was always a good student, even in first grade, there.

john

Did you make a conscious decision to cheat?

jason

Ah, I can’t remember, to be quite honest.

john

But you knew that you did cheat.

jason

But I knew that I cheated, yeah.

john

And what do you seek from this court?

jason

Um, just—

jesse

The rights to the book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.

john

So granted.

jason

It’s just weighed on me all the—I’m like, what could I do, you know? I mean some other kid could have won. It was really cool. I got to go to the University of Iowa and there were all these workshops about writing and kids. And I thought it’d be so cool to go to a college. And be a writer.

john

You got drunk with Raymond Carver. You got—[laughs]. Got to hang with George Lish.

jason

Yeah. Yeah. So—

john

Gordon Lish. Sorry. [Scattered laughter.]

jesse

[Yelling dramatically.] Fraud! Shaaame!

john

But you haven’t answered my question. What do you want from me?

crosstalk

Jason: I don’t know. John: I mean, we’ve never had a case of self-recrimination on this pod. Jason: I know. I know! And I—when I wrote you, I just asked for your… injunction and punishment. [Murmurs from the audience.]

jason

And—and then I like immediately regretted it, when I realized it might actually end up here. [Everyone laughs.]

john

Yeah! Jason, you may not know this about yourself, but you have a history of doing things impulsively. [The audience laughs.] Not realizing that there may be ramifications. Well. I could order your thrown into this organ pit, there at the Castro Theatre, where you could live in darkness and shame, alone forever. But I instead have a—think that you need to process what you expected to have happen that never did happen. So, please stand up on the stage and face everyone here. [The audience laughs with scattered applause.] Come—come further. Come into the light. I want you to look at everyone here. Think about what it was like reading your obviously fraudulent story. At some point yo could have turned to your mom and dad and said, “I can’t take this award. I can’t accept it. I can’t go there and read this. I made a mistake.” And they would have understood. But you didn’t. And you expected to be called out and you weren’t. And now, I’d like everyone in the room to stand up. [The audience laughs. A shuffle of feet as everyone gets up.] Do not do anything yet. Do not say anything. Point with either your right or left hand at Jason. [Jesse cackles.] Jesse, do you have a phone with a timer on it?

jesse

I gotta get a picture of this. Yeah.

john

Uh, I’ve got it here. I’m setting a timer for 20 seconds. I want everyone in the room—this is for Jason’s benefit—to yell “shame” over and over at the top of your lungs. Starting three, two, one, now. [The audience chants “shame” over and over in unison. When John interrupts 10 seconds in, it takes the crowd a few moments to lose momentum and stop.] Hold on, hold on, hold on! Hold on! Hold on! Hold on! Hold on! I’m just pausing it here at ten seconds. You’re doing an okay job. [The audience laughs.] But… you’re yelling all in unison. As though you are automatons in my cult. And as much as I would like that to be true, I need Jason to feel the full force of your wrath. So, I need you to, like—some of—like, don’t do it all at once. And really feel, like, betrayed. Alright? Ten more seconds. And go! [The audience begins to yell shame out of sync. It’s a huge cacophony of boos and screams, like a mob.] Alright, alright, alright! Enough, enough, enough! Enough! Enough. That was too good. That was—I’m—Jason I have to apologize. Alright. Hang on, hang on, hang on, don’t worry! Don’t worry. I know. It’s coming. You may sit if you want. Jason, what do you—what do you do for a living?

??

First grade teacher. (this genuinely sounds like a completely new person? But I don’t know why someone else would be mic’d. I gave it it’s own cell that way it would have a timestamp, but there’s a chance it’s just John or Jesse doing a voice? I’m genuinely not sure.) [Everyone laughs.]

jason

[Laughing.] Uh, at the moment, I work for a small construction company in the East Bay.

john

Okay. So, here is—that was hard. For me as well as you. It hurt you more than it hurt me. [Laughs.] Did you—did you feel anything, in that moment?

jason

The second half was pretty good, but— [Everyone laughs.]

john

Oh, I didn’t realize this was some part of your weird kink!

jesse

John, we’re in the Bay Area. It’s all part of a weird kink. [Scattered applause and whistling.]

john

I hope that the second half, at least, was a little bit—I guess cathartic is maybe the word I’m looking for. Punishing, I think. Now for atonement: you have gotten the punishment. Now, you atone. And by atoning, I would like you to seek out one or more elementary schools in your community and offer to tell your story to a first grade. And explain to them why—what happened and how you felt and why it is wrong. [The audience laughs.] Because, truthfully? Truthfully, what you did was not precisely plagiarism, right? Because you did not use the actual words. You stole a plot. And yet, my wife is a high school teacher and plagiarism is something that kids do not—is a real problem, among high school kids. It is not necessarily seen as something that is bad. And it is—it is a problem that is getting progressively worse. And I think that if you were to tell your story and tell people how you felt about it and why it was wrong, that that would put some good in the world that would make up for the relatively petty theft that you engaged in. And it wasn’t merely that you, in the moment, made an error of judgment. It’s that you accepted… a reward and praise for something that you didn’t deserve. Right? And therefore, someone else didn’t get that prize. And they did the right thing and you did the wrong thing. So, you need to get that message out there into the world. And talking to kids—just one school. You—do one school, I think you’ll feel better. You might wanna do more. But I’m only gonna order you to do one. And you—will you agree to do that?

jason

I can do that.

john

Alright, good. Now, I want everyone— [The audience applauds.] Sure. That was spontaneous applause. That was not the automatons of my cult. That was real human beings appreciating you. But now, I would like the automatons to yell, for 20 seconds, “forgive”. Ready? Go. [The audience chants “forgive” largely out of sync, although occasionally syncing back together.] [Chuckles.] Stop, stop. [Beat.] That sounded weird. That sounded—you’re still in mob-mode. Let’s just say “we forgive you” all together: one, two, three—

crosstalk

John and the Crowd: We forgive you!

john

Jason, thank you for sharing that. [Jason thanks him. The crowd applauds.]

jesse

Jason Robertson!

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Three gavel bangs.

jesse

Thank you to all of our litigants for sharing cases. And to the staff at the SF Sketchfest and the Castro Theatre. You know, I used to work for the Sketchfest. Good people. Great comedy festival. Thanks to Mary Fassbender Gottschalk for naming the episode: “Night Night Court”. This episode, recorded by Mathew Barnhart, edited by Jennifer Marmor, produced by Hannah Smith. Backstage visit by my mom. Follow us on Instagram, @JudgeJohnHodgman, where you can see a little video that I recorded from the stage [laughing] of our litigant being shamed by the thousand or so people in the Castro Theatre. You can also follows on Twitter, @JesseThorn and @Hodgman. Submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho or email Hodgman@maximumfun.org. We’ll talk to you next time, on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

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Three gavel bangs.

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

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—audience supported.

About the show

Have your pressing issues decided by Famous Minor Television Personality John Hodgman, Certified Judge. If you’d like John Hodgman to solve your pressing issue, please contact us HERE.

Follow @judgejohnhodgman on Instagram to view evidence from the cases tried in court.

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