TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 621: Live from Los Angeles

This week’s episode was recorded live in front of an audience at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles! Our first case is LINUS ITEM VETO. Sarah still sleeps with the tattered remains of her baby blanket. Her fiance J. Keith finds it very upsetting to see and touch. He calls it “The Monster,” and he wants it out of their bed. Sarah wants to keep sleeping with it! Then, Jordan Morris joins to hear TATER TORT: Lucas calls himself “the humble son of a potato farmer.” His wife Laura says this is wrong because his father was actually a manager for a large American potato chip company!

Guests: J. Keith Van Straaten Jordan Morris


[00:00:00] Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

[00:00:02] Jesse Thorn: Welcome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I’m Bailiff Jesse Thorn. This week’s episode, recorded live at the masonic lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

[00:00:14] John Hodgman: I’m not sure the listeners understand this, so I’m just gonna say it again. This was recorded in a masonic lodge in the middle of a Hollywood cemetery.

[00:00:24] Jesse Thorn: Like the most famous cemetery in all of Southern California has in it a Masonic Lodge.

[00:00:30] John Hodgman: Sure. Why wouldn’t it? Of course.

[00:00:31] Jesse Thorn: With thrones and all, as they say.

[00:00:34] John Hodgman: Thrones and all. And in addition to the throne, a very special guest. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this person, Jesse Thorn, Jordan Morris?

[00:00:43] Jesse Thorn: That’s my co-host from the smash hit Podcast, Jordan. Jesse, Go!, and folks might know him from Good Mythical Morning where he is, among other things, Cotton Candy Randy, which I know is your special interest, John.

[00:00:56] John Hodgman: I am obsessed with Cotton Candy Randy, Jordan Morris’s character on Good Mythical Morning. If you know what I’m talking about, as they say on the internet, you know what I’m talking about. But why don’t we—why don’t we get to the show?

[00:01:07] Jesse Thorn: Let’s go to the masonic lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

[00:01:11] Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

[00:01:14] Jesse Thorn: Los Angeles, you’ve come to us desperate for justice.

(Cheers and applause.)

And we are here at the masonic lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery to deliver it. Let’s bring out our first set of litigants. Please welcome J. Keith and Sarah.


[00:01:29] J. Keith: Hi, honey.

[00:01:30] Jesse Thorn: Tonight’s case, “Linus item, Vito”. J. Keith brings the case against his fiancé, Sarah. Sarah still sleeps with the tattered remains of her baby blanket.

(The audience “aw”s.)

J. Keith finds it upsetting to see and touch.


He calls it the monster. He wants it out of their bed. Sarah wants to keep sleeping with it. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Only one can decide. Please rise as Judge John Hodgman enters the courtroom and delivers an obscure cultural reference.

(Applause and cheers.)

[00:02:10] John Hodgman: I was very much in my room with my marionette stage, you know, creating these incredibly boring things that I felt were so fascinating and forcing my relatives to come and charging money for them to see my little productions. If anyone would’ve been paying serious attention to my puppet shows, I would’ve been sent to therapy, very young.

Bailiff Jesse Thorn, please swear them in.

[00:02:32] Jesse Thorn: J. Keith and Sarah, please rise. 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.

[00:02:41] J. Keith: I do.

[00:02:42] Sarah: I do.

[00:02:43] Jesse Thorn: Do you swear to abide by Judge John Hodgman’s ruling, despite the fact that he skipped childhood entirely?

(They laugh and agree.)

[00:02:51] Jesse Thorn: Judge Hodgman, you may

[00:02:53] John Hodgman: Let the record show that J. Keith waved at me and smiled. Indicating, Sarah, I’m sorry to say that J. Keith and I have met before. We have worked together before. And he is currently trying to use that connection to influence this court. I will not recuse myself, J. Keith!

(Sarah thanks him.)

[00:03:12] J. Keith: I was trying to be nice!

[00:03:14] John Hodgman: Well, stop it right now!

[00:03:16] Sarah: This is—the niceness ends here.

[00:03:19] John Hodgman: Sarah, it’s very nice to meet you. J. Keith, it’s nice to see you.

[00:03:20] Sarah: Nice to meet you!

[00:03:21] J. Keith: Nice to see you.

[00:03:22] John Hodgman: Let the record show that I am now smiling and waving to you.


[00:03:26] J. Keith: Hi, Jesse.

[00:03:27] Jesse Thorn: They’re definitely—they’re definitely masons. That’s what’s going on here.]


[00:03:31] John Hodgman: So, you are of course the host of Go Fact Yourself on Maximum Fun.


[00:03:35] J. Keith: Thank—you guys! Thank you. Who canceled tonight?

[00:03:41] John Hodgman: What’s that?

[00:03:41] J. Keith: I said who canceled tonight?

[00:03:43] John Hodgman: Paul Rudd.

[00:03:44] Sarah: Aww!


[00:03:46] John Hodgman: No way. (Chuckles.) Sarah, what podcast do you host?

(J. Keith giggles.)

I mean, you live in Los Angeles, right?

[00:03:54] Sarah: I—sure! No, sure. Um, I host a podcast about, um, our kitty cats that, uh—I was a dog person, but now I’m a cat person.

[00:04:09] John Hodgman: Is that so?

(Sarah confirms.)

But the—do you host a podcast about that?

(Sarah denies.)

Do not lie to me, madam! Do not lie. Just answer truthfully. It’ll go much easier for you.

[00:04:17] Sarah: You’re right. I just got sworn in.

[00:04:19] John Hodgman: It says here you met at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

[00:04:22] J. Keith: We did.

[00:04:23] Sarah: We did!

[00:04:24] John Hodgman: Um, how did that come about? Just dancing on some graves and you—

[00:04:29] Sarah: And we locked eyes.

[00:04:31] John Hodgman: Very nice.

[00:04:32] Sarah: It was a movie screening that they do in the summers.

[00:04:34] John Hodgman: Oh okay. That they do in the summer, right.

[00:04:36] Sarah: Moulin Rouge. And he was a couple blankets down.

[00:04:39] Jesse Thorn: And he said to you, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”


[00:04:45] Sarah: And I said, “Avec moi.”

[00:04:48] John Hodgman: Well, tres bien! J. Keith and Sarah, you may be seated for an immediate summary judgment in one of yours favors. Can you name the piece of culture that I referenced when I entered the courtroom? Sarah, what’s your guess?

[00:04:58] Sarah: Amelia Bedelia.

[00:05:01] John Hodgman: Amelia Bedelia. Okay. J. Keith? I’ll put that down.

[00:05:04] Sarah: Is it from that?

[00:05:06] John Hodgman: Is it from—? Well, we’ll find out. No. No, it’s not.

[00:05:08] Jesse Thorn: Yeah, I mean, that’s what we’re doing here.

[00:05:11] John Hodgman: This is like a trivia question. J. Keith. You ever—you have any experience with trivia questions?

[00:05:15] J. Keith: Well, I do, as you and Jesse know. I do a podcast.

[00:05:18] Jesse Thorn: Just answer!

[00:05:22] J. Keith: Sorry, I was buzz marketing. Uh, yes. What was the question? Yes, I’m familiar with trivia. And then what was the next question?

[00:05:27] Music: What do you think the cultural reference—?

[00:05:28] John Hodgman: What is the—who is—who was I quoting when I entered the courtroom?

[00:05:30] J. Keith: Oh! Uh, I believe—I’m gonna say David Sedaris.

[00:05:33] John Hodgman: David Sedaris.

All guesses are wrong, but I’m gonna give you—since you host a trivia game, Go Fact Yourself, with Helen Hong on the Max Fun Network, we’ll give you an opportunity to answer via trivia question. Okay?

[00:05:46] J. Keith: Oh! Mm-hmm.

[00:05:48] John Hodgman: This is for either one of you. The first who thinks they know the answer, buzz in by saying their name. The person I was quoting played François Truffaut’s interpreter in a movie called Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Does anyone in the audience know it? If so, say your name.

(Inaudible shouts from the audience.)

[00:06:11] John Hodgman: Martin and Lewis?


[00:06:15] John Hodgman: Wait a minute, are you ghosts? Are your bodies buried here? Martin and Lewis, say it at the same time on the count of three. 1, 2, 3.

(Inaudible shouts from the audience.)

Bob Balaban is correct.

[00:06:25] J. Keith: Ah, very nice!

[00:06:29] John Hodgman: And why did I quote Bob Balaban in this case? That is on the subject of a blankie, a security blanket? Why did I quote Bob Balaban, trivia master J. Keith?

[00:06:42] J. Keith: I Google the questions and the answers that we write in.

[00:06:45] John Hodgman: Oh, I see.

[00:06:46] J. Keith: Yeah, I don’t actually—I don’t actually know everything. No, okay.

[00:06:47] John Hodgman: I don’t mean to put you on the spot like that. Does anyone know? Anyone have a guess? Bob Balaban originated the role of Linus in You’re a Good man, Charlie Brown in the Off-Broadway production.

[00:06:56] J. Keith: Very nice. I played Schroder in my college production.

[00:06:59] John Hodgman: Oh, so you must know him then?


[00:07:02] J. Keith: Yes. Yes, all of the casts in amateur productions hang out with the original Broadway cast.

[00:07:08] John Hodgman: Tell me about this blankie that you have, Sarah—or what’s left of your blankie. Do you mind if I call it a blankie? ‘Cause that’s what I called my blankie.

[00:07:17] Sarah: No, I think you should, um—

[00:07:18] Jesse Thorn: Judge Hodgman?

[00:07:19] John Hodgman: Does it have a name? Does it have a different name, like Softie or—?

[00:07:22] Sarah: I was debating whether or not to say what the name was.

[00:07:25] John Hodgman: Oh, I’ve settled that debate.

[00:07:28] Jesse Thorn: In the affirmative.

[00:07:30] Sarah: It started out as a Mimi.

[00:07:33] John Hodgman: Mimi. Mm! That’s a good name.

[00:07:34] Sarah: Yes. And now, um—I mean is that embarrassing? No.

[00:07:39] Jesse Thorn: No, it’s awesome.

[00:07:40] Sarah: Only, you know, when people are around. But then, it became just the baby blanket. And it was—it was a piece and it—is it still fabric?

[00:07:52] John Hodgman: Well, you did send in a photo of the blanket formally known as Mimi.

[00:07:58] Sarah: Oh my god.

[00:07:58] John Hodgman: Can we see that photo now? I’m gonna do it. Family Feud style Show me Mimi!

[00:08:01] Sarah: Oh my—

(Shouts of disbelief from the audience.)

[00:08:07] Jesse Thorn: What we’re seeing here, just for the at home—


[00:08:13] Sarah: I didn’t think it be so funny! I thought people would be more like, “Aww, that poor girl.”

[00:08:18] Jesse Thorn: What we’re seeing here for the at-home listener, is what’s left over after the invisible man goes to the podiatrist.

[00:08:29] John Hodgman: I was gonna say something that fell off an extra in the Mandalorian.


It’s very—Mimi’s not looking so hot. Mimi’s pretty shredded up, there.

[00:08:37] Sarah: Well, listen, Mimi is like 45 years old. It was a piece of green flannel that was cut out of the nightgown that my mom wore when she was pregnant with my brother. And so that’s—

[00:08:56] John Hodgman: Oh! So, it has real sentimental value.

[00:09:00] Sarah: It really—it does. It really Does.

[00:09:01] John Hodgman: It’s not just one of these bullroar blankets that you get—that you get.

[00:09:05] Sarah: No, no, no. I mean, when I was 18, did my mom make me a new one? Just in case? She did. And she took a little piece of this one and put it in the corner as like a joke. It’s somewhere, just as like a backup, but this—

[00:09:20] Jesse Thorn: Wait. I have to ask you. You said that this was a piece of the nightgown that your mom wore when she was pregnant with your brother?

(Sarah confirms.)

Is this like when you get a second dog and you like rub a blanket on the new dog and have the old dog smell it?


[00:09:39] J. Keith: Honey?

(Sarah confirms.)

[00:09:40] John Hodgman: She hosts—she hosts a cat podcast, Jesse!

[00:09:43] Jesse Thorn: Sorry. Sorry.

[00:09:44] John Hodgman: She hosts an imaginary cat podcast. She doesn’t know that trick! J. Keith, why do you hate this blankie so much? (Interrupting him.) No, you know what? I’ll rephrase. Why do you hate Sarah’s beloved Mimi so much?

[00:09:57] Sarah: Oh my god!

[00:09:59] J. Keith: Uh, well, first I wanna stipulate I have no judgment about her having this blanket, about her wanting and loving this blanket, about needing this blanket to sleep. This is not an argument about that.

This is, uh—this is a dispute about the blanket itself. And I really don’t feel I have to say anything else, frankly.


Just looking at the photo, I find it jarring to look at. I find it jarring to touch, which I do by accident sometimes in the same bed. Uh, yeah! I just—I find it—

[00:10:28] Sarah: It’s as if these steps on a Lego when he touches it on accident.

[00:10:33] J. Keith: Yeah, no, it is a disruption when I accidentally touch it. It’s not just, “Ooh, what’s that?” It interrupts any kind of serenity that I might have accumulated in at bedtime, which is a particularly, you know, sensitive time where one would want serenity.

[00:10:44] John Hodgman: Sure. What sort of noise does he make when he accidentally touches Mimi?

[00:10:48] Sarah: Augh!

[00:10:49] J. Keith: That is not far off.

[00:10:52] John Hodgman: Alright, that’s fair.

[00:10:53] J. Keith: Yeah. I also have been known to leave the room.

[00:10:57] Sarah: And listen, I get that. I mean, growing up my parents would be like, “What are you going to do like if you get married?” And we’re engaged. For now. For now!

[00:11:06] J. Keith: And? What are you going do? Yeah. (Laughs.)

[00:11:09] Sarah: I said, “They will just have to learn like, you know, to deal with it.”

It’s because it’s wedged here, and it holds my head up, and it’s so comfortable, especially when it’s cold.

[00:11:22] John Hodgman: You still—you still—you still sleep with Mimi wedged up on the side of your face.

[00:11:29] Sarah: Usually when he leaves.


Otherwise, it’s just under the pillow.

[00:11:34] John Hodgman: Any moment that he leaves during the day, you’ll just run right over and go, (excitedly) “Oh, oh, oh my god. Oh, thank you, Mimi.”

[00:11:40] Sarah: Sometimes.

[00:11:41] J. Keith: No, to be fair, one of her—her initial solution had been to keep it within her pillowcase. But we all know a pillowcase is not a secure Mimi holding device.

(Sarah laughs.)

I mean, it’s gonna—there’s very—there’s very often slippage. Yeah.

[00:11:53] John Hodgman: It’s not—let me—I was gonna ask, it’s not sentient, is it? It’s not crawling around.

[00:12:01] J. Keith: Not exactly. But it definitely seems to have a life of its own.

[00:12:05] John Hodgman: But as you pointed out, Sarah, it does have sentimental value. It has history. You have a piece of evidence that displays this history. May we look at that now?

[00:12:14] Sarah: What else do you have?! Oh, yes, yes, yes.

[00:12:17] John Hodgman: True. You know what? You’re right. (Censor beep.) What else do I have? Jesus (censor beep) Christ. I just show slides and talk to people on stage. Oh my god. You know, it’s the end of the tour. I thought it was going well, but now I see what I’m doing.

[00:12:30] Sarah: No, it’s going so well!

[00:12:31] John Hodgman: You know, I used to do comedy on television.


I used to have an act. I wrote books and things, and now it’s—I’m talking about a baby blankie. Let me—

[00:12:42] Jesse Thorn: John, I host NPRs least popular program.


[00:12:46] John Hodgman: The only thing that’s gonna get me out of this soul hole, honestly, is if I turn around and see something very adorable. So, fingers crossed. Ohhh!

[00:12:54] J. Keith: Aww.

[00:12:55] John Hodgman: Look at that! That’s a historical photo. A real one, not one that Jesse’s friend from college made up.


What are we seeing? Can you say to the listeners at home what we’re seeing?

[00:13:06] Sarah: Sure, sure. So, this is a little bitty baby Sarah.

[00:13:10] John Hodgman: That’s you! Yeah. You’re cute.

[00:13:11] Sarah: That’s me! Um, you know, I’m probably like—you know, three or something. And that’s the original Mimi, when it was two sides of flannel.

[00:13:21] John Hodgman: You’re saying it only has one side now?

[00:13:23] Sarah: There are no sides.

[00:13:23] John Hodgman: This is a—this is a mobius strip?

[00:13:26] Sarah: It is now just strings and knots.

[00:13:30] John Hodgman: And who’s that? Who’s that with you?

[00:13:31] Sarah: And that’s my mom.

[00:13:32] John Hodgman: Someone who works at the airport?

[00:13:33] Sarah: Yeah.


With giant headphones from the ’70s.

[00:13:35] Jesse Thorn: I’m pretty sure that’s like a—I’m pretty sure that’s a stock photography model from a bank advertisement in 2005, always wearing those giant headphones.

[00:13:44] John Hodgman: Oh, okay. No, that’s Who is that really?

[00:13:47] Sarah: That’s my mom.

[00:13:48] John Hodgman: That’s your mom. And you’re—and you’re very cozy there. You’re not moved by this scene, J. Keith?

[00:13:54] J. Keith: Oh, I think it’s a lovely scene. I would be happy to have this photo in bed.


[00:14:01] Sarah: I mean, I don’t want that.

[00:14:05] John Hodgman: J. Keith, are you opposed to sleeping with comfort objects in bed?

[00:14:09] J. Keith: Not at all.

[00:14:09] John Hodgman: Not at all?

[00:14:10] J. Keith: No. I have no problem if this were a—if it, yeah—if it were a teddy bear, if it were—

[00:14:14] John Hodgman: Do you have a—do you have a teddy bear?

[00:14:16] J. Keith: I don’t think that’s what this case is about.

[00:14:17] John Hodgman: Do you have a—


Still, I’ll allow it. I’ll allow the question.

[00:14:22] J. Keith: Yeah. Uh, no. I do not. I do not—I do not have a—

[00:14:24] John Hodgman: You do not have a comfort—

[00:14:25] Sarah: That you sleep with.

[00:14:26] John Hodgman: You don’t have a comfort animal.

[00:14:27] J. Keith: I have—we have two actual animals. Two cats. Yeah.

[00:14:31] John Hodgman: Two cats. How do they feel about Mimi?

[00:14:33] Sarah: I know if they’ve ever met, because I really try to keep Mimi away from everybody.

[00:14:43] J. Keith: Knowing one of our cats, I do—I think it would lead to disaster. I think—yeah. (Chuckles.)

[00:14:45] Sarah: It would.

[00:14:46] John Hodgman: J. Keith, do you have a—do you ever sleep with like a body pillow? Like with a picture of me on it or something?

[00:14:53] J. Keith: No. (Chuckles.) Not anymore.

[00:14:53] John Hodgman: Okay. I mean, what I guess I’m asking is: would you, if they were available on the MaxFun store?


[00:15:02] J. Keith: I mean, if it helps the network, sure. Yeah.

[00:15:04] John Hodgman: Okay. I’m just—I’m just doing some market research, that’s all.

[00:15:07] J. Keith: Yeah. And to be clear, like I totally get about, you know, sleep is difficult and it’s challenging and whatever you can do to make yourself sleep better. I totally get that. I’m not—

[00:15:15] John Hodgman: You just want to deny that to your fiancé.


[00:15:18] J. Keith: It’s this particular object in this particular condition that I have a problem with.

[00:15:21] John Hodgman: And, Sarah, you—again, you sleep with Mimi sort of under your sort of—are you a side sleeper?

[00:15:26] Sarah: It’s—like if I’m on my back, then I like—it just like wedges my head right here. Otherwise, it’s like, how do you all do it? Your head just like falls to the side. There’s nothing there to sort of like hold it up. So, when we travel, I use a shirt.

[00:15:39] John Hodgman: So, would you say that this scrap of cloth is your primary source of personal and emotional support?

[00:15:44] Sarah: Sometimes I use a shirt. (Laughs.)

[00:15:48] John Hodgman: Well, how does Mimi feel about that?!

[00:15:50] Sarah: Probably not great!

[00:15:51] John Hodgman: And why is Mimi no longer Mimi? Was it ever a personality or was it always an it?

[00:15:58] Sarah: No. It was always—

[00:15:58] John Hodgman: We can take the slide down please, by the way, and bring the lights back up.

[00:16:01] Sarah: It was—it was always an it. I think it started probably in high school or college, and it just became a baby blanket that would just sort of live in my pillowcase. But somebody took it once and put it in my dorm trash can.

[00:16:17] John Hodgman: Whoa! And what happened? Murder?


[00:16:23] Sarah: I can’t say.

[00:16:24] John Hodgman: Okay! So—but you recovered it from the trash and now it’s in your bed. That’s also very comforting to think about.


[00:16:32] Jesse Thorn: Yeah, looking at the photograph, I was a little concerned that the adjective that would best describe this blanket is crispy.

[00:16:40] Sarah: It’s not crispy at all. It’s—it’s knotty (naughty). No!

[00:16:45] J. Keith: No, not—


[00:16:47] Sarah: It’s full of knots.

[00:16:49] J. Keith: K-N-O-T-T-Y.

[00:16:51] Sarah: It’s just—it’s full of knots and every once—

[00:16:54] John Hodgman: There are no accidents in this life.

[00:16:55] J. Keith: You might be right. You might be right. Dr. Hodgman.

[00:16:58] Jesse Thorn: We know she a nasty freak.

[00:16:59] Sarah: I untangle it like once a week.

[00:17:02] John Hodgman: You untangle Mimi once a week? And what’s the cleaning procedure? Does Mimi stink?

[00:17:07] Sarah: No!

(J. Keith makes an uncertain sound.)

[00:17:07] John Hodgman: Alright. How do you clean Mimi?

[00:17:09] Sarah: No! I will hand wash Mimi, because I think it will deteriorate and—

[00:17:16] J. Keith: It will?!


[00:17:19] John Hodgman: And what are you doing when she hand washes Mimi? Vomiting someplace, or—?

[00:17:23] J. Keith: Uh, I have not been privy to that. As far as I know, it has not been cleaned since we’ve been together.

[00:17:28] Sarah: (Laughing.) It has!

[00:17:29] J. Keith: Okay! That makes it kind of worse, ‘cause you can’t really tell.

(Sarah laughs.)

[00:17:34] John Hodgman: Sarah jumped in very quickly on the odor question, so I’m gonna ask you, J. Keith. Does Mimi have a smell?

[00:17:40] J. Keith: Uh, to be honest—

[00:17:41] Sarah: He would never get that close.

[00:17:41] J. Keith: Yeah. I would never get that close. You’re exactly right.

[00:17:43] John Hodgman: What is it that disturbs you about Mimi so much? Because this sounds a little bit like the repulsion I feel when I think about underwater robots.

[00:17:55] J. Keith: Underwater rodents?

[00:17:56] John Hodgman: Yeah, I have a phobia of—

[00:17:57] J. Keith: Like an otter or—?

[00:17:58] John Hodgman: What’s that?

[00:17:59] Jesse Thorn: Like in the submarine ride at Disneyland.

[00:18:01] John Hodgman: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know how there are those—you know how there are those animatronic mermaids and merman down there, just like constantly waving? And I could fall into that lagoon at any time. I’m worried about it right now. I’m closer than I’ve been in years falling into that oily water and knowing that they’re down there going like this. And it freak—literally freaks me out.

[00:18:24] Sarah: I relate to that.

[00:18:26] John Hodgman: Like, I honestly—my—I’m losing blood in my head right now. I’m gonna lean on this thing. It’s called submechanophobia. It’s in the books. It’s a real thing.

[00:18:33] J. Keith: Oh, okay! Well, maybe I have that.

[00:18:36] John Hodgman: Well, do you have that kind of reaction to this blankie?

[00:18:37] J. Keith: I think so. It is not—there’s definitely a big part of my reaction that is not logical. It is purely visceral. It is purely some sort of—some sort of trauma is triggered in me by touching and or seeing it.

[00:18:49] John Hodgman: How do you feel in your tummy-tum?

[00:18:51] J. Keith: Uh, my tummy-tum feels boom-boom. No, it, uh—


[00:18:57] John Hodgman: My tummy-tum feels boom-boom, your honor.

Oh no. That’s me. I’m the judge.

[00:19:03] J. Keith: Uh, yeah, I do have a bit of the same kind of visceral reaction like if I were to see a hard-shelled insect scurry across the floor, suddenly. Like I have a little bit of that kind of panic jump reaction. And yet it is in the place where I would like to, uh, go to sleep.

[00:19:19] John Hodgman: Jesse, make a—make a note that I need to get a hard-shell insect to scurry across J. Keith’s floor.

[00:19:24] J. Keith: No, please! Please, don’t do that.

[00:19:26] John Hodgman: No, no. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be fun. You’re gonna love it. Keep you on your toes. What would you have me order if I were to order in your favor, J. Keith? Destroy this blanket?

[00:19:35] J. Keith: No! No. God no. No, no. I’m a sentimental person. I keep a lot of things. I understand that—

[00:19:38] John Hodgman: Oh, no, no, no. I’m not just saying toss it in the garbage like you’re—like a roommate in a college dorm. I mean, destroy it in a very sentimental burning ritual or—

[00:19:48] J. Keith: No—

[00:19:49] Jesse Thorn: Viking funeral type situation.

[00:19:51] John Hodgman: Exactly, send it off in a little raft—

[00:19:52] J. Keith: I have no desire—

[00:19:52] John Hodgman: —into the lake and MacArthur Park or something. I don’t know.

[00:19:56] J. Keith: I have no desire for her to get rid of it. I would like to have it not be in the bed.

[00:20:01] John Hodgman: Not in the bed.

[00:20:02] J. Keith: Not in the bed.

[00:20:03] John Hodgman: Sarah—

[00:20:04] Sarah: Which I also understand.

[00:20:07] John Hodgman: Oh, good! But refuse.


Which is—which is fair. You can understand and still say, “No, I need to have it in the bed.” That’s what you would have me rule, right?

[00:20:18] Sarah: Yeah. I mean, I’m open to compromise.

[00:20:21] John Hodgman: What compromise would you be open to?

[00:20:22] Sarah: Like to put it in like a mesh laundry bag or something so that like he wouldn’t feel the strings.

[00:20:30] John Hodgman: We’re already having texture issues! Like I’m not sure adding mesh to these knots— And then, wrap it in sandpaper.

[00:20:41] Sarah: That might be true.

[00:20:42] John Hodgman: And then, dip it in silly putty.

[00:20:43] Sarah: Well, put it in its own pillowcase, maybe.

[00:20:45] John Hodgman: Put it in its own pillowcase.

[00:20:48] Sarah: Yeah. With a little knot at the end.

[00:20:49] John Hodgman: With a little knot at the end. A little naughty knot.

[00:20:52] Sarah: Oh boy.

[00:20:54] Jesse Thorn: Sarah, J. Keith. I have to ask something that the whole audience is thinking. The two of you are engaged and share a bed. When you are engaged in engaged activities, is the baby blanket in the bed? I’m talking about kissing here.

[00:21:12] Sarah: Sure, sure, sure. I make sure it is out of reach.

[00:21:19] Jesse Thorn: Do you put a little blindfold over its eyes?

[00:21:20] J. Keith: Which is not a—which is not a no.


[00:21:21] Sarah: I—yeah.

[00:21:29] John Hodgman: Would you like to incorporate Mimi into—

[00:21:31] Sarah: NOOO. No. God no.

[00:21:34] John Hodgman: Look, people like what they like! I’m just trying to—

[00:21:37] Sarah: Absolutely not.

[00:21:38] J. Keith: I would not yuck that yum. But that is not what I’m into at the moment.

[00:21:41] John Hodgman: I understand. Just wait till you see this hard-shell beetle that comes scurrying across your floor.

[00:21:47] Sarah: Oh boy.

[00:21:47] John Hodgman: That’s my love language.

[00:21:49] Sarah: Sure.

[00:21:50] J. Keith: (Laughing.) Your love language is triggering people’s phobias?

[00:21:54] Jesse Thorn: Right now, we’re working on building the world’s weirdest Only Fans.


Let’s take a quick recess. We’ll be back in just a moment on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

[00:22:04] Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

[00:22:07] Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

[00:22:09] John Hodgman: Do you believe, Sarah, that you would be able to successfully rest your little head and sleep soundly and have sweet dreams if Mimi were knotted up in a pillowcase?

[00:22:21] Sarah: Yeah.

[00:22:22] John Hodgman: Is it the knowledge that Mimi is there in the bed with you that’s important or the feeling of Mimi against your face?

[00:22:28] Sarah: That’s an excellent question. And I—

[00:22:30] John Hodgman: Thank you. I only asked the good ones.

[00:22:31] Sarah: It’s the feeling against my face—I think only because, I mean, growing up, it was like always something there that was comfortable, so it’s still comfortable.

[00:22:43] John Hodgman: Sure! I’m just saying, is the compromise that even you propose going to work for you?

[00:22:49] Sarah: I can try!

[00:22:50] John Hodgman: You could try, but it’s not satisfactory to you?

[00:22:53] J. Keith: That would be—that would be—you know, if that is what the judge rules, I will abide by that ruling.

[00:22:56] John Hodgman: Well, of course you’re gonna abide by my ruling!


[00:23:00] J. Keith: Would that be satisfactory to me? Uuuh, sure. I mean, if you want—

[00:23:05] Jesse Thorn: Let the record reflect that J. Keith said no.


[00:23:07] J. Keith: Yeah. No, no. If you want a solution where neither of us are satisfied, that sounds great.


[00:23:15] John Hodgman: J. Keith, do you cohabitate currently? Obviously, you do, right?

(Sarah and J. Keith confirm.)

This is not—you’re not getting ready to move into—you already have shared—

[00:23:24] J. Keith: We have, yes.

[00:23:24] John Hodgman: Share a house and a bed and a blankie and everything else, and these cats and whatever. Did you bring anything eccentric, unusual, very personal into this living situation?

[00:23:37] Sarah: (Decisively.) Yes.


[00:23:38] John Hodgman: I’ll allow Sarah to answer the question.

[00:23:41] Sarah: He’s a huge Badtz-Maru fan.

[00:23:44] Jesse Thorn: You talking about bad, bad Badtz-Maru?

(They confirm.)

[00:23:47] John Hodgman: Now, Jesse, you—I’m gonna—J. Keith, you’ve been set up. I was told about this ahead of time. I didn’t understand what it was then, and I still don’t understand after it was explained to me by Jesse. Can you explain, J. Keith?

[00:24:00] J. Keith: Not much, no. Uh, well, okay. Bad Badtz-Maru is a character—is a Sanrio character in the Hello Kitty family of characters. And for reasons that I cannot explain, I have been collecting items with Badtz-Maru on it for over 20 years.

[00:24:15] Jesse Thorn: He’s a naughty penguin who’s friends with Hello Kitty.

[00:24:19] John Hodgman: Oh. (Chuckles.) How many items are we talking about, Sarah?

[00:24:23] Sarah: I mean, when I moved in, we got rid of quite a few.

[00:24:26] John Hodgman: Oh, really?

[00:24:27] J. Keith: And there are still quite a few.

[00:24:29] John Hodgman: Did you get rid of them in a burning ritual of some kind?

[00:24:32] Sarah: We sold quite a few and got—yes, got rid—

[00:24:37] John Hodgman: How many items would you estimate now? Ballpark figure. Ballpark figure.

[00:24:39] J. Keith: Are we talking about just ones that are on display, currently?

[00:24:43] Jesse Thorn: Wait, do you have rotating exhibitions, like a museum!?

[00:24:45] J Keith: (Laughing.) Yes, there are some in cold storage.

[00:24:47] John Hodgman: Sounds to me like J. Keith’s got a storage unit.

[00:24:50] Sarah: I mean… I mean—

[00:24:52] J. Keith: We’re in the dozen, dozens, if not—oh! Okay! Sorry.

[00:24:56] Sarah: I was gonna say like 100, 150.

[00:24:58] John Hodgman: 100. What are we talking about? Figurines? Face cloths?

[00:25:00] Sarah: All of it. Uh-huh.

[00:25:02] Jesse Thorn: Where are they displayed?

[00:25:03] Sarah: Just name it; they’re there. We have primarily kept them—which, thank you—to the bathroom.

[00:25:10] Jesse Thorn: So, there’s a bad, bad Badtz-Maru bathroom in your home for when you go boom-boom.

[00:25:13] J. Keith: Yes. There is a—there is a Badtz-Maroom.

(Jesse laughs.)

[00:25:18] John Hodgman: Is there—bad, bad what?

[00:25:22] J. Keith: Badtz-Maru. So, we call it—we call the bathroom—

[00:25:25] John Hodgman: Is there a bad, bad Badtz-Maru bidet in your bad, bad Badtz-Maru bathroom?

[00:25:29] J. Keith: No, that’s one of the few things we don’t have. (Chuckling.) But I—but I would not be opposed to getting one.

[00:25:33] John Hodgman: Oh, okay. That’s not—I don’t—we’re already too close to your personal lives now. I’m sorry I brought anything that deals with your bum-bum. Let’s keep it to your boom-boom. Yeah, exactly.

(J. Keith laughs.)

[00:25:45] John Hodgman: So, you want—you want me to order him to get rid of a couple of dozens of pieces in return for—? I don’t know. I think he wants you to keep Mimi in like a safe or like a blankie jail.

[00:26:02] Jesse Thorn: One of those things from Ghostbusters they used to trap the ghosts.

[00:26:04] Sarah: Yeah, sure.

[00:26:06] John Hodgman: Very unstable. Yeah, very unstable. The EPA doesn’t want those.

[00:26:10] J. Keith: Mm-mm. EPA’s the bad guy.

[00:26:12] Sarah: I’d be happy if like, you know, there were 12 less Badtz-Maru things. Sure.

[00:26:18] John Hodgman: This is what you need to say, J. Keith. “I am not on trial, here.” Go ahead, try it.

[00:26:23] J. Keith: (Emphatically.) I’m not on trial here!

[00:26:26] John Hodgman: Yeah, you are.

[00:26:26] J. Keith: Oh.


[00:26:30] John Hodgman: I’ve heard everything I need to in order make my decision. I will go into my chambers, which means kneeling behind this beautiful mahogany masonic temple desk. I’ll be back in a moment with my decision.

[00:26:43] Jesse Thorn: Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.


[00:26:50] J. Keith: Good luck, honey.

[00:26:52] Jesse Thorn: Sarah, how are you feeling about your chances in the case?

[00:26:55] Sarah: About my what? I’m sorry.

[00:26:55] Jesse Thorn: Your chances in the case.

[00:26:58] Sarah: I feel pretty good. I feel pretty good. I’m mixed about how I feel about the situation. But I’m feeling pretty good. How are you feeling?

[00:27:13] Jesse Thorn: That’s my job, Sarah!

[00:27:14] Sarah: It’s your show. I’m so—(Chuckles.)

[00:27:16] Jesse Thorn: J. Keith— Stick to your cat podcast.


J. Keith, how are you feeling?

[00:27:21] J. Keith: Uh, I was feeling good ‘til the whole Badtz-Maru stuff was, uh, mentioned. And now it seems to be—I have to pay—(chuckling) I have to pay for this decision in Badtz-Maru item removal, which I’m not as much looking forward to.

[00:27:34] Jesse Thorn: You already knew that I was your boss at the Maximum Fun network. You didn’t know I was doing opposition research.

[00:27:40] J. Keith: I did not know about the oppo.

[00:27:41] Jesse Thorn: Uh, Sarah, how does it feel—Sarah, how does it change your feelings about the case to know that I have my blankie, Cubby, in my bed right now?

[00:27:51] Sarah: You don’t.

[00:27:52] Jesse Thorn: I do.

(Sarah gasps.)

That’s where cubby lives!

[00:27:55] Sarah: Where, exactly?

[00:27:56] Jesse Thorn: How could I sleep without her?!

[00:27:57] Sarah: Where, exactly?

[00:27:58] Jesse Thorn: Uh, right next to my pillow. Sometimes under my head, sometimes between my fingies (fingers). The feeling is very comforting to me. And sometimes, when I take a nap, I put her over my eyes.

[00:28:10] Sarah: Same.

(They “aw”.)

[00:28:12] John Hodgman: This is a really cute conversation, but I—


[00:28:16] Jesse Thorn: We’ll see what Judge Hodgman—!

[00:28:17] John Hodgman: I have to remind you that this is very uncomfortable.

[00:28:19] Jesse Thorn: We’ll see what Judge Hodgman has to say. Please rise as Judge John Hodgman reenters the courtroom and presents his verdict.


[00:28:30] John Hodgman: (Groans.) As the blood returns to my head, I’ve been thinking about this case. First of all, one question I might have asked is—your mom, is she still living?

(Sarah confirms.)

And how do you think she would feel knowing that your beloved is repulsed by her gift to you?

[00:28:52] Sarah: (Laughing.) She’d go, “Yeah!” That’s what she would say.

[00:28:57] John Hodgman: She agrees with him?

(Sarah confirms.)

Oh, okay. Good. Well, I’ve really enjoyed hearing about Mimi from you, Sarah. And J. Keith, I’ve really enjoyed hearing you say me, me, me, me, me, me, me.


No, I couldn’t help myself but make that joke. That’s not how—that’s not exact—that doesn’t exactly reflect my verdict. You know, I brought—I had a blankie named Blankie. Blankie came with me to college. Blankie was in bad shape at that point. Blankie was mostly—less blankie, more hole at that point. And I did not have any self-consciousness about it. But ultimately I sent Blankie home. And I don’t know where Blankie is right now. And now, I wish I had Blankie.

[00:29:56] Jesse Thorn: Blankie went to live on a farm.


[00:29:59] John Hodgman: Blankie went to go live on the blankie farm?

[00:30:01] J. Keith: Upstate. Yeah.

[00:30:02] John Hodgman: And so, it comes to me to decide whether or not to send Mimi to the blankie farm. To exile in a drawer. Do you think that Mimi has feelings?

[00:30:13] Sarah: No.

[00:30:13] John Hodgman: Okay, good. No, I like that! It’s hard not to anthropomorphize things that you love, like a blankie or a stuffed animal or a particular brand of gin. All of these become things that you trick yourself into feeling that they have feelings.

[00:30:31] Sarah: It represents something.

[00:30:32] John Hodgman: Yeah, but I’m glad that you don’t feel that this has feelings and that you’re willing—J. Keith, you should note that Sarah is willing to put her beloved thing into a suitcase and imprison it there for your comfort. That’s a big sacrifice.

[00:30:45] J. Keith: I didn’t hear suitcase as an option. (Chuckles.)

[00:30:47] John Hodgman: Oh, I’m sorry. Pillowcase is what I meant.

[00:30:48] J. Keith: Yes, yes.

[00:30:49] John Hodgman: Sorry. Sarah is willing to put her beloved object into a pillowcase and knot it up and imprison it there for your comfort. Now, J. Keith, I’ve had some fun saying that I’m gonna trick you by putting a beetle in your house and that sort of thing, but your comfort is important. Everyone’s comfort in a cohabitation situation, particularly if it’s one that involves hugging and kissing and sharing the same bed, is very important. And I am forced to believe you when you say, “This makes me feel sick to my stomach.” The fact that you have to leave the room, if not the house, sometimes when this thing comes out, is something that I take very seriously. Now, of course, my recommendation to all romantic partners who live together is to not share a bed.


If it’s within your means, get the largest bed possible so you have enough space to sleep and toss and turn and fart in. And then, you can come together when you want to. Of course, it is well known that the best arrangement for romantic partners is to have two separate king beds in villas that are separated by a reflecting pool, which is still an ambition for me. I just don’t want to deny Sarah her Mimi, I’m sorry. And I think that the sacrifice and the compromise that she suggests is not going to work for you, Sarah, ultimately. But I think you ought to take what you can get. I think that you need to put Mimi—you gotta put Mimi in a—better to put Mimi in a pillowcase than in a corner. You know what I mean?

[00:32:29] J. Keith: (Laughs.) Nobody puts Mimi in a corner.

[00:32:30] John Hodgman: No. And there are—there are pillowcase that zip up. Do you know what I mean? And some of them are, specifically, like barriers for pests and insects, because whatever’s living in Mimi wants to come out.


[00:32:50] J. Keith: Just turn it inside out.

[00:32:53] John Hodgman: That’s a big—I think that’s a big—that’s a big compromise. I will order you to get rid of six of these weird penguin items. Just put it in your storage unit! Put it in your storage unit.

[00:33:02] J. Keith: (Softly.) I don’t have a storage unit!

[00:33:04] John Hodgman: You don’t have a storage unit?

[00:33:05] J. Keith: I’ll get a pillowcase.


[00:33:05] John Hodgman: You know what? Yeah, that’s exactly right. Thank you, J. Keith. You’re a good podcast host! This is what’s gonna happen.

(J. Keith laughs and agrees uncertainly.)

You’re gonna put Mimi in a pillowcase and you’re gonna put six of these bad penguin items in a different pillowcase.

[00:33:24] J. Keith: With their sharp, cornered heads and—yeah.

[00:33:25] John Hodgman: Look, I don’t know, maybe you can get some washcloths or something with this character. And you’re gonna sleep with them, too. And they’re gonna have my picture on them. This is the sound of a gavel.

(Three gavel bangs.)

Judge John Hodgman rules. That is all.

[00:33:37] Jesse Thorn: J. Keith and Sarah, thank you for joining us on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

[00:33:43] Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

[00:33:46] Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

[00:33:48] Jesse Thorn: Judge Hodgman, we’re taking a break from the stage at the masonic lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in LA. We’ve got some things going on. Let’s talk about ’em—not least of which are a strike.

[00:34:01] John Hodgman: Yeah. Jesse, I literally have nothing going on other than getting a chance to speak to you and all of our podcast listening friends on Judge John Hodgman once a week. Thank you for being a member of Maximum Fun. But all of my entertainment writing, and consequently acting work is on hold as the WGA, both east and west, continue to strike for a fair living wage and to ban artificial intelligence robots from professional entertainment. Sorry, robots. But, uh, we literally need to eat. You don’t. So, there you go. And I’ll just say, I was out on the picket lines today and I saw our friend, Starlee Kine.

[00:34:40] Jesse Thorn: Oh, hi, Starlee Kine.

[00:34:41] John Hodgman: Television writer for Dave and Search Party, and also one of the greatest radiophonic creative minds in the biz, host of the late and lamented Mystery Show, which you can still listen to and should.

But Starlee has since—over the past couple weeks, Starlee has been shutting them down, shutting down productions. She and her friends stayed out picketing ‘til two or three in the morning, I believe it was, to shut down a shoot of the TV show Evil. And they learned and they were schooled by the teamsters, by the crew.

They’re like, “You have to pick it and you have to keep picketing. Don’t walk away. ‘Cause if you don’t walk away, we won’t cross your picket line.” Consequently, nothing against the show, Evil—nothing against the show, Evil. They’re great producers and Aasif Mandvi is on that show. But this is how we do it. We are—we are picketing, and we are stopping productions to make it clear that we won’t stop asking for basic living wage, dignity, and humanity—literal humanity—in the entertainment process.

And I just saw Starlee today, and it’s just been so exciting. So, thank you for all of you who have echoed our message. So, thank you for everyone who’s amplified the message of the strike in worlds in which—so thank you to everyone who’s amplified the message of the strike, in New York, Los Angeles, and all around the world in our listening audience.

And if you want to know what’s at stake and why it matters even to you, a person who may not actually be a professional television or film writer, go to the link in my bio at Instagram, it’s the quickest way to get to the WGA Writer’s Strike Hub, which lays out all of the things that we’re fighting for and all of the things that the studios are absolutely refusing, in the most egregious fashion.

So, that’s what’s going on. I’m glad to say it’s going well. I mean, we’re being heard and we’re being understood, and we’re being understood as part of a larger labor movement that is trying to claw a little back from—of the gains that have been made in—and we’re part of a bigger labor movement that is trying right now to claw a little back from the incredible gains and profits that have been made over just the past five to 10 years by big companies—you know who they are, both entertainment companies and otherwise—and get back some dignity for the workers.

So again, If you want to—if you wanna support people financially who can’t work during the strike, and that includes all of those workers who in solidarity are not crossing the picket line—the crew and the teamsters and so forth—and are not getting paid as a result.

This community fund helps them too. And I just wanna say to any members of IATSE out there or the teamsters, we thank you for standing in solidarity with us and helping us learn how to be better strikers ‘cause you’re really—you know, we we’re all in this together and I really appreciate your help.

[00:37:48] Jesse Thorn: Well, let’s get back to the stage of the masonic lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Judge John Hodgman live.

Let’s bring out our next set of litigants. Please welcome to the stage Laura and Lucas.

(Cheers and applause.)

Our second case of the night is “Tater Tort”. Laura brings the case against her husband, Lucas. Lucas calls himself the humble son of a potato farmer. Laura says that’s wrong. His father was actually the manager of a large potato chip company. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Only one can decide. Please rise as Judge John Hodgman reenters the courtroom and presents an obscure cultural reference.

(Laughter and applause.)

[00:38:41] John Hodgman: Potato chips, how my mouth just drips potato chips. Crunchy. Crunchy. Crunchy. Crunch. Crunch. I don’t want no lunch. All I want is potato chips. Potato chips. No matter where it is, you’ll find a bag around. Could even be at a bar or at a picnic. Jessie, even a baseball ground. Bailiff Jesse Thornton, swear them in. (Chuckles.)

[00:39:11] Jesse Thorn: Laura and Lucas, please rise. 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 confirm.)

Do you swear to abide by Judge John Hodgman’s ruling? Despite the fact that his 10-year campaign to be sponsored by Utz potato chips has been a total failure.


(They confirm.)

[00:39:31] John Hodgman: Oh my God.

[00:39:31] Jordan Morris: You’re wearing them down. You’re wearing them down.

[00:39:34] John Hodgman: Tom Utz—we had like, we had the Utz people on the line. I was DMing with Tommy Utz or whoever is running the place. And he is like, “Yeah, we’ll definitely sponsor your podcast.” And then that dude ghosted me.


Oh, I could have had the crab chip for free. I could have had those cheese balls for free. And also, potato chips. Oh, by the way, are you done with your thing?

[00:40:00] Jesse Thorn: I think so, yeah. Judge Hodgman, you may proceed.

[00:40:04] John Hodgman: Lucas and Laura, you may be seated for an immediate summary judgment in one of your favors. Can either of you name the piece of culture that I referenced as I entered the courtroom? It’s the lyrics to a song. Laura, why don’t you go first?

[00:40:14] Laura: Oh, it’s the lyrics to a song?

[00:40:15] John Hodgman: Yeah, that’s a hint for you. It’s a song called “Potato Chips”.

[00:40:19] Laura: I’ll say that it’s an Utz potato chips jingle from—

[00:40:23] John Hodgman: Okay. That’s a good—that’s a good guess. You’re picking up on a lot of context clues.


Lucas. Well, you come from a long line of potato chippers. Surely, you know all the songs about potato chips that have ever been recorded in this country.

[00:40:41] Jesse Thorn: Lucas, you’re chip people.

[00:40:45] Lucas: It wasn’t the B side—

[00:40:46] Jordan Morris: Salt of the earth, eh?

(Surprised laughter.)

[00:40:51] Lucas: It wasn’t the B side to the Buckner and the other guy Garcia’s, “Pac-Man—” Uh—?

[00:40:59] John Hodgman: No, it’s not Arcade themed.


[00:41:01] Jesse Thorn: It was the B side of Disco Duck!

[00:41:04] John Hodgman: By Rick Dees.

[00:41:05] Jesse Thorn: By Rick Dees.

[00:41:06] John Hodgman: Yes. I’m very old.

[00:41:08] Jesse Thorn: There’s a—there’s a sign for a bar near here that says Disco Duck Boogey and Cocktails. That’s true. That’s real.

[00:41:14] John Hodgman: They’re—I walked by there. They’re having a party in there tonight. Go check it out. I get nothing from them. No sponsorship from Disco Duck. No sponsorship from Utz. It’s a mess, Lucas. You know what it is? Well, you know. You’re a farmer. You know what it’s like to work hard, to dig in the dirt, to grow ideas, only to have them taken from you by coastal elites in Los Angeles, California.


All guesses are wrong. That is a song called “Potato Chips” by Slim Gaillard with an incredibly—incredible, fun recording artist that my friend Adam Sax introduced me to many moons ago. And honestly, I should have sung it. I should have sung it instead of read it. You wouldn’t have—you wouldn’t have recognized it, but it would’ve been more fun. Maybe at the end of the show. Meanwhile, Lucas and Laura, let’s hear your dispute. You’re a son—you’re a humble son of a potato farmer, I hear.

(Lucas confirms.)

Where did you do your farming?

[00:42:12] Lucas: I didn’t do the farming.

[00:42:14] John Hodgman: Oh, right. Your dad?

[00:42:15] Lucas: Yes, it was my father, yes.

[00:42:16] John Hodgman: Oh, your, your pappy, would you say?

[00:42:17] Lucas: No. No. Father or dad. Dad, yeah.

[00:42:20] John Hodgman: Okay. Where did your father do his potato farming?

[00:42:22] Lucas: Uh, in a little town in Sugar Camp, Wisconsin.

[00:42:26] John Hodgman: Sugar Camp, Wisconsin. This is pretty goddamn adorable so far. This is pretty good god-or-whatever-damn. Adorable. And why Laura, do you say that this is not true?

[00:42:40] Laura: Well, he uses this to introduce himself in polite conversation with, you know, coworkers or strangers. And that’s like the first impression that people get of him.

And it’s not—he’s not the humble—he’s not humble.


He is the son—his dad technically farmed a potato field. Yes. But he didn’t own the land, he didn’t own the machinery. He was the manager of the field. He managed like five guys. So, technically, yes, he was a potato farmer.

[00:43:13] John Hodgman: Wait. He managed a potato farm and a Five Guys?

[00:43:15] Lucas: No, no, no.

[00:43:17] Laura: (Cackles.) There were five—

[00:43:18] John Hodgman: They’re famous for their potatoes!

[00:43:19] Laura: From what I understand, there were five guys that he—that were—

[00:43:21] Lucas: That would only be during the busiest times of year planting. And uh—

[00:43:26] Laura: For a large—

[00:43:27] John Hodgman: So, but I assumed here that he was the manager of a potato chip factory or something?

[00:43:30] Laura: No, no, no, no.

[00:43:31] Lucas: No, that was incorrect.

[00:43:31] Laura: I must have misrepresented it.

[00:43:33] John Hodgman: There was some misunderstanding. I thought we were gonna have a fun conversation about potato chips.

[00:43:37] Laura: We can still have it!

[00:43:38] Lucas: They were used—okay, so the potatoes were used for a very big company. Yes.

[00:43:42] Laura: Large potato chip conglomerate.

[00:43:44] John Hodgman: Which one?

[00:43:45] Lucas: The big one.

[00:43:46] Laura: Should we say? Not Utz.

[00:43:48] John Hodgman: What’s the—?

[00:43:49] Jesse: Let’s just say—

[00:43:50] John Hodgman: I don’t—look, I’m—

[00:43:52] Jesse Thorn: Let’s just say! Let’s just say he worked for a certain granny goose.


[00:43:59] John Hodgman: I don’t know all the big potato chip conglomerates. I’m just a simple fan of Utz potato chips, a regional brand started by a family that doesn’t return my phone calls. Please, sir. What’s the big one? You can tell me what’s the big one.

[00:44:14] Lucas: Frito-Lay, which I think is owned by Pepsi, which is owned by Yum. Brands. Yeah.

[00:44:18] John Hodgman: Right. Of course. Yeah. Well, you sure do know you’re farming.


Why do you introduce yourself as—I mean, literally?! “I’m a humble son of a potato farmer.”

[00:44:33] Lucas: Yeah, so this started sort of as a joke, because it was probably some election season.


[00:44:42] Lucas: It was some election season somewhere. And you know how politicians always like to do the, “I’m a son of a diamond miner,” even though the (censor beep)hole owns the whole diamond or emerald mine and is a billionaire.

[00:44:56] John Hodgman: (Innocently.) Are you referring to someone?

[00:44:57] Lucas: Uh, maybe.


[00:44:58] Jordan Morris: Were you—wait, were you suggesting that diamond miner is a folksy profession? That was your—that was your pull for folksy profession? I get it. The lights are hot up here, but—

[00:45:12] Jordan Morris: I guess if you’re the one in the mine, maybe you can get crushed or whatever.

[00:45:14] Lucas: They don’t call ’em blood diamonds for nothing.

[00:45:16] John Hodgman: I think he was making an oblique reference to a certain owner of a certain social media platform and a guy who makes the jankiest cars on earth.

[00:45:24] Jordan Morris: Oh yes. (Laughs.) Well, sorry, I didn’t get it.

[00:45:29] John Hodgman: So, you started as a joke in election season. And also, it had the side benefit of annoying Laura.

[00:45:37] Lucas: Oh, always. Yes, of course.

[00:45:39] John Hodgman: Right. And, uh—and how often does this happen?

[00:45:42] Lucas: Oh, these days it’s far fewer, because everybody now knows me as the humble son of a potato farmer. So.

[00:45:50] Jesse Thorn: Your reputation precedes you.

[00:45:51] Lucas: Yes, exactly.

[00:45:54] John Hodgman: Laura, is it the case that this habit has dwindled?

[00:45:56] Laura: Oh, yes. Ever since he started working from home and there’s less and less new coworkers like—which, sad, but…

[00:46:05] John Hodgman: Yeah. But he could be going on into chat rooms and saying it. You know what I mean?

[00:46:08] Laura: That’s true. He could, he could if he would stop working sometimes.

[00:46:10] Jordan Morris: Do it for the Doordash guy.

[00:46:13] John Hodgman: Laura, why does it bother you?

[00:46:15] Laura: Ugh, well, originally it’s because I didn’t—when I met Lucas, which man, was like 20 years ago, his dad was not a farmer. He was not—he was like the manager of a—was it a senior living facility, right?

[00:46:32] Lucas: Senior care facility at that time. Yeah.

[00:46:33] Laura: And then—so, it was not—it didn’t occur—like it was not a thing when I knew him. And then, one of his coworkers came up to me, he was like, “Is he really the son of a potato farmer?”

I was like, “No, no, no. He’s just selling you—”

[00:46:45] Jordan Morris: Wait, he doesn’t explain it later?!

[00:46:47] Laura: No!

[00:46:48] Jordan Morris: He just—but you—so, you laugh at it privately?! It’s not a joke—you don’t explain it and get the laugh?

[00:46:55] Jesse Thorn: Everyone understands his reference to Lamar Alexander at the Iowa straw poll or whatever.


[00:47:06] Laura: No, I have to explain is the thing, I’m the one who has to explain to his coworkers that he’s not really—he is, but he’s not.

[00:47:12] Jordan Morris: You have to be the punchline to his setup.

[00:47:14] Laura: Yeah! And it’s like I don’t wanna do it. I don’t like it. He’s—to me, he’s not a potato farmer. Although, like technically is, you know, because he was. But it just annoys me. Also, he says “the humble—the humble son.” Totally lies.

[00:47:28] John Hodgman: It annoys you. I like the idea of people—(giggles) people knowing what his dad does for a living. And then you go to them— Which was managing a senior care center. And, and then—(chuckles) sorry, this is little roundabout. Getting—(groans) it’s the last night of the tour.


I don’t know English anymore. I apologize. I like the idea of you going to people saying—them saying, “Is his dad really a potato farmer?”

And you thinking, “Is that how his dad describes taking care of senior citizens?”

[00:48:01] Laura: Yeah, right?! (Laughs.) They’re like, “No.”

[00:48:08] Jordan Morris: “I just gotta give the Jell-O to the potatoes. Turn on Wheel of Fortune for the old potatoes.”

[00:48:14] Jesse Thorn: (With a southern drawl.) “One of the taters is acting up again.”


[00:48:18] John Hodgman: “Turn off the lights. They like the dark.”

[00:48:21] Jordan Morris: (Gruffly.) “The tater’s crying ‘cause he’s remembering the war.”


[00:48:28] Laura: Oh my god.

[00:48:29] Jesse Thorn: “Some of these taters’ kids don’t visit him.”

[00:48:35] John Hodgman: Well, I would say that your father was involved in two valuable professions: taking care of elderly people and making potatoes that I enjoy eating. But what the hell do you do, as his son? Are you running for office? (Inaudible.)

[00:48:51] Lucas: Not yet. Not yet. No, but I’m—no, I’m saving—I’m saving that in my back pocket for later.

[00:48:55] John Hodgman: Okay, good. What do you—what do you do for a living?

[00:48:58] Lucas: I’m a software engineer.

[00:48:59] John Hodgman: A software engineer. So, this is just a joke, right?

[00:49:04] Lucas: (Sighs.) It’s also like a sort of—it’s not—the “humble son”, yes. The humble part is definitely a joke. The potato farmer part is just a way for when I’m introduced to various California coworkers to be like, “I come from a very rural area,” I guess.

[00:49:23] John Hodgman: And is that true?

[00:49:24] Lucas: That is 100% true.

[00:49:26] John Hodgman: Have you visited—? What’s it called?

[00:49:26] Laura: Sugar Camp.

[00:49:27] John Hodgman: Sugar Mouse? West Wisconsin or whatever it is? Sugar Camp, Wisconsin?

[00:49:32] Laura: Yes. Yeah. I thought I was from a small town, but his town beat my small town, is way smaller.

[00:49:38] John Hodgman: Is it important to you to feel a connection to your rural growing up? Did you have a rural growing up?

[00:49:43] Lucas: Oh, definitely! Yeah. I was there the whole time until college.

[00:49:47] John Hodgman: Yeah? What kind of—would you go fishing?

[00:49:49] Lucas: There was a little bit of fishing, a tiny bit of hunting.

[00:49:51] John Hodgman: Okay! What was it like in Sugar Camp? Tell me all about it.

[00:49:54] Lucas: Oh, I think we just summed it all up. A lot of trees.


[00:49:59] John Hodgman: Yeah, I would think that there is probably some maple syrup making going on.

[00:50:03] Lucas: There is definitely, yes. That’s how it got its name. Yeah.

[00:50:07] Jordan Morris: You chase a hoop with a stick?


[00:50:11] Laura: You didn’t make any maple syrup though,

[00:50:14] John Hodgman: Did you—when the potato crops, you know, every year—when do the potato crops come in?

[00:50:19] Lucas: It’d be the fall.

[00:50:21] John Hodgman: In the fall. So, in order to ensure a good harvest, would you have a lottery?


[00:50:25] Lucas: Have a—John, a week from—

[00:50:32] Jordan Morris: John, I’m waiting for an Island of the Blue Dolphin joke next.


[00:50:36] John Hodgman: Was it that kind of rural community?

[00:50:38] Lucas: Yeah. No. Yeah.

[00:50:39] John Hodgman: Why is it important for you to maintain this connection to rural roots and even play them up with some folksy language?

[00:50:47] Lucas: Just sort of to remember, I guess.

[00:50:50] John Hodgman: Uh-huh. Would you ever move back there?

[00:50:52] Lucas: Hell no.

[00:50:57] John Hodgman: Right. You don’t have any standing here, do you, Laura? I mean, you’re just annoyed by your husband’s joke—your husband, right?

(Laura confirms.)

[00:51:03] John Hodgman: You’re just annoyed by your husband’s joke.

[00:51:05] Laura: Oh yeah. A lot. (Laughs.) Yeah. I don’t have any standing; I’m not a farmer. I know farmers and I know—like to say that you’re the humble son of a potato farmer like connotes a certain lifestyle growing up, you know, waking up with the chickens or whatever and—

[00:51:22] John Hodgman: You said—you mentioned that you knew some farmers, Laura? Excuse me.

[00:51:25] Laura: Oh, yes. So, I grew up in a—also a small town, not as small as Lucas’s.

[00:51:30] John Hodgman: Where would that be, if I may ask?

[00:51:31] Laura: Oh, it’s called Caro, Michigan. Our graduating class was like 150. His graduating class was 60.

[00:51:38] John Hodgman: Right, that’s quite small.

[00:51:39] Lucas: That was multiple towns to make up that 60.

[00:51:41] John Hodgman: Yeah, we’re not talking about your town anymore.


Where’s Caro, Michigan? Is that upper peninsula or lower peninsula?

[00:51:47] Laura: Eeeh, in the thumb.

[00:51:49] John Hodgman: In the thumb? You ever go—you ever go to a great lake?

(Laura confirms.)

Which one do you like to go to? Lake Michigan?

[00:51:55] Laura: Well, I mean, we used to go to Lake Huron and then the water level started going down. So, now you have to walk like—I don’t know, 100 hundred yards to get to where the water is. It’s really sad.

[00:52:05] John Hodgman: Boy, that’s, um—that’s not fun to hear about.

[00:52:07] Laura: No, it’s sad! But we both went to college in the upper peninsula, so we used to go to Lake Superior and stuff like that.

[00:52:14] Jordan Morris: Did you major in leaving pies to cool on windowsills?


[00:52:19] Laura: Yes. Yes, pasties.

[00:52:22] John Hodgman: Pasties. That’s right. That’s a mission. What is the pasty? I’ve read about them.

[00:52:26] Laura: A pasty is—well, actually Lucas is the expert on pasties.

[00:52:29] Lucas: I am quoted on Wikipedia for my pasty presentation in college. Yes.


[00:52:34] John Hodgman: Say that again. Say that again into the microphone.

[00:52:40] Lucas: My name is mentioned in Wikipedia as a reference because of a presentation I created in college that had to do with the pasty.

[00:52:49] Jordan Morris: DUDE! When you meet someone new, lead with that!


[00:52:51] Laura: Yeah, right?! That’s much better.

[00:52:54] Jordan Morris: You don’t need this confusing ass potato thing!

[00:52:59] John Hodgman: Jordan, I love you and I’m really glad you’re here. But—

[00:53:02] Jordan Morris: I love you too.

[00:53:04] Jesse Thorn: Guys, I love you!

[00:53:07] Jordan Morris: We all love each other.

[00:53:07] John Hodgman: In the—in the future, don’t (censor beep) steal my verdict.


[00:53:15] Jordan Morris: I have not seen the verdicts ahead of time!

[00:53:21] John Hodgman: But you got there first. The rule of comedy. Of course, I was forced to wait. I was gonna have to kneel behind that dumb desk and pretend that I didn’t know exactly what I was gonna say. Now, I’m gonna have to come up with something else. I can do it. I can do it.

[00:53:40] Jordan Morris: (Lisping.) Sorry, Daddy. I’ll give you a bag full of my teeth.

(Everyone collectively “augh”s.)

[00:53:46] John Hodgman: Out!

[00:53:47] Jordan Morris: Now they like it!

[00:53:47] John Hodgman: I know, I know. Before I make my verdict: Jordan, do you have any other questions that you want to ask? Or Jesse?

[00:53:57] Jesse Thorn: I don’t know. I don’t really have a specific question. I guess—I guess my question is to find out which of you two is a real farmer. And so, I guess I want know whether you drink buttermilk for breakfast? (Beat.) Like a real farmer does!

[00:54:17] Lucas & Laura: No.

[00:54:17] Jordan Morris: Yeah! Up on this stage, it’s

[00:54:27] John Hodgman: Let me ask you this question. In your rural communities, what did you call pancakes? Johnny cakes? Flapjacks? Flat breads? Sweet rounds?

[00:54:36] Jordan Morris: Mummies, sweet blankets.

[00:54:37] Laura: Just pancakes.

[00:54:38] Lucas: Just pancakes. Yeah, sorry.

[00:54:40] John Hodgman: Just pancakes. Alright.

[00:54:40] Jordan Morris: Breakfast roundies.


[00:54:43] John Hodgman: Laura, are you offended on behalf of the farmers that you know?

[00:54:46] Laura: Ugh. Well, yeah. Yeah. I kind of am, because I know farming families, like I have friends that I grew up with ‘cause I grew up in Caro. And—

[00:54:58] John Hodgman: Yeah, we’ve heard a lot about it.

[00:54:59] Laura: Yeah. Sorry.

[00:55:00] John Hodgman: Ooh! Brag.

[00:55:01] Laura: And it’s like they—everyone was like involved with the harvest, like the whole family. And they, you know, would—they know when the—when beans are planted and how to tell when it’s ready to harvest them. Like you don’t know when to harvest potatoes.

[00:55:18] Lucas: Oh, I didn’t claim I was a farmer though. I’m just—

[00:55:20] Laura: Yeah, that’s true.

[00:55:21] John Hodgman: He’s just the humble son—

[00:55:21] Lucas: Son. Yes.

[00:55:23] John Hodgman: —of a potato farmer.


[00:55:24] Laura: But like my friends are not farmers now or—well, one of them is. One of them was—she’s never not gonna be a farmer.

[00:55:31] John Hodgman: It offends—but it offends you.

[00:55:32] Laura: Yeah! I’m the farmer Lorax. I speak for the farmers.

[00:55:35] John Hodgman: There we go.

(Laughter and applause.)

Alright. I’ve heard everything I need to in order to make my decision. I’m gonna descend into my chambers. I’ll be back in a moment with my verdict.

[00:55:45] Jesse Thorn: Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.


Lucas, having heard the verdict earlier, how are you feeling about your chances in the case?


[00:56:01] Lucas: Wowie-zowie!

[00:56:03] Jesse Thorn: Laura, how do you feel?

[00:56:04] Laura: Slightly better than I did earlier, because he had come up with a thing that he wanted me to do. I might probably—I shouldn’t have mentioned it. Shoot.


Um, that if he won, he wanted me to wear like a t-shirt that said “the humble son”—oh no.

[00:56:18] Lucas: Wife of the humble—

[00:56:19] Laura: The—a wife of the humble son of a potato farmer. And I was like, I don’t wanna wear that shirt.

[00:56:26] John Hodgman: Oh, wait a minute! I’m—I happened to hear that.

[00:56:26] Laura: No, no, no, no, no, no! I know, I know. And that’s why I shouldn’t have mentioned it.

[00:56:31] John Hodgman: No, that’s okay. I could—it was written down here. I could have done my job. Lucas, you want—if I rule in her favor, you want me to make her wear a shirt that says a wife of the humble potato famer?

[00:56:42] Lucas: No, no, no, no, no! Not a wife. No.

[00:56:45] John Hodgman: What the hell is going on in Sugar Camp, Wisconsin?


[00:56:50] Lucas: Just wife of the son. There’s no plans for—

[00:56:52] John Hodgman: How many wives does a man need?!

[00:56:54] Lucas: No, no, no. The one. Just one.

[00:56:56] John Hodgman: To usher elderly people unto death.

[00:56:58] Laura: Oh my god! (Laughs.)

[00:56:59] John Hodgman: No. I’ll restate that. How many wives does a man need to raise a spud in Sugar Camp?

[00:57:05] Lucas: Just one.

[00:57:05] John Hodgman: Just one? Mm-hmm. Okay. Interesting. I’m still down here thinking.


Jesse, do you wanna ask any more questions?

[00:57:12] Jesse Thorn: Please rise as Judge John Hodgman reenters the courtroom and delivers his verdict.

(Cheers and applause.)

[00:57:22] John Hodgman: Laura and Lucas, I’ve given a lot of thought to the thing Jordan said.


[00:57:29] Laura: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.

[00:57:32] John Hodgman: I mean, it’s a genuine—it’s a genuine brag. You are quoted on the Wikipedia page for pasties, I presume?

(Lucas confirms.)

That’s a great brag. That’s a great convers—you know the best conversation starter there is? “What did you do today?” Because everyone did something. It’s a lot better than saying, “How are you?”

That’s not a joke, it’s just true. Try it out. You’re gonna see, suddenly it’s gonna be okay to talk to people. The 99.9% of our audience who say I’m an introvert, suddenly you’re gonna realize it’s fine. Just ask people, “What did you do today?” Now, all of a sudden they got a story to tell.

And then you also got a real brag. You got a real brag. A humble son of a potato farmer is a funny thing to say when people are aware that you’re making a joke. But it is—it does kind of make fun of your dad, kinda make fun of the farmers. Not cool. And also, it’s not meant sincerely. You have a real brag. You’re quoted on a Wikipedia page about pasties.

Then people are gonna say, “What’s a pasty?” And I don’t blame them, ‘cause I don’t even know. What is it?

[00:58:34] Lucas: Oh, it’s this meat pie that has potatoes and onions inside. Came over from Cornwall for mining.

[00:58:39] Laura: No, rutabagas. Not potatoes.

[00:58:40] Lucas: Rutabaga—okay.

[00:58:41] John Hodgman: Now, see how we’re getting to know each other?


Like I want—I want to know you, now. But if you—do the thing that you used to do.

[00:58:52] Lucas: Humble—do the line?

[00:58:53] John Hodgman: Hey, my name’s John Hodgman. How are you?

[00:58:55] Lucas: Oh, I’m Lucas, the humble son of a potato farmer.

[00:58:58] John Hodgman: What is wrong with you?


I don’t get what this guy’s up to. He is playing some kind of weird mind game with me, and I don’t want to get to know him better. I wonder—his wife seems nice. I bet she’s probably from Michigan. I’ll talk to her instead.

[00:59:11] Laura: Thank you.

[00:59:12] Jordan Morris: I wasn’t—I wasn’t into the joke until I heard his delivery.


I mean, it’s aaall in the delivery.

[00:59:22] John Hodgman: In any case, I rule in favor of Laura. This is the sound of a gavel.

(Three gavel bangs.)

Judge John Hodgman rules. That his all.

(Cheers and applause.)

[00:59:27] Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

[00:59:29] Jesse Thorn: That’s it for this week’s episode. Thank you to our litigants who joined us on stage at the masonic lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in Los Angeles. Thanks to the folks at the lodge who were wonderful and gracious hosts. A very special thank you to my friend and yours, John: Mr. Jordan Morris.

[00:59:48] John Hodgman: Jordan Morris, co-host of Shootin’ the Bries, Jordan’s and my somewhat annual podcast about cheese. By the time you’re hearing this, we will have recorded our big settling of all your cheese beefs for this year’s Shootin’ the Bries. So, look for it in your members only section of your membership. It’ll show up in the bonus content feed soon.

[01:00:16] Jesse Thorn: And even if you’re not already a member of Maximum Fun, anyone can listen to Jordan, Jesse, Go!, the show where Jordan and I do—there’s no premise to the show.

[01:00:26] John Hodgman: Zero premise.

[01:00:27] Jesse Thorn: But it’s won—it’s won awards. I promise people like it.

(John laughs.)

It’s a funny show. It’s the most meaningless show that exists, but it’s very funny. Evidence and photos from this show are posted on our Instagram account, at

Follow us there. Join the conversation about this week’s episode on the Maximum Fun subreddit over at Judge John Hodgman, created by Jesse Thorn and John Hodgman. This episode, recorded by Matthew Barnard and produced by Valerie Moffat, Richard Robey, and Jennifer Marmor. Our thank you to all of them. Richard was on the road with us, So grateful to have his help. We’ll talk to you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

[01:01:09] Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

[01:01:12] Sound Effect: Cheerful ukulele chord.

[01:01:13] Speaker 1:

[01:01:15] Speaker 2: Comedy and culture.

[01:01:16] Speaker 3: Artist owned.

[01:01:17] Speaker 4: Audience supported.

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