A weekly recap of The Best Show On WFMU, Tom Scharpling’s call-in/comedy/music show broadcast every Tuesday night from Jersey City. The three-hour program is available for free download at iTunes.
By way of belated introduction/inauguration of this now-regular feature on the MAGNET site, let’s give it up for Omar, the Best Show scrivener who does the official recaps over at recidivism.org. That’s where the holy texts are stored for the initiated. Those are the stone tablets. Listening To The Best Show is for the civilians, the unconverted and the more music-oriented audience that wastes time at the MAGNET site (and then doesn’t bother to subscribe or buy a back issue. Ingrates.) Even though Scharpling’s Army may rattle its sabres, we are journalists—at least in the same sense that the television critic for your local newspaper is a journalist; that brave, couch-bound voice who whines about too many CSIs, hails the return of American Idol every season and scratches his head over each new Lost plot twist. In summation, there will be hurt feelings. You always hurt the ones you love.
That said, this week’s episode hit a pothole with nearly back-to-back calls from DJ Terre T and Laurie from Miami. Do we really have to hear about Terre’s anti-Bush “underwears”? Why isn’t Laurie immediately dismissed after it’s revealed she’s watching TV while talking to Tom? They may be female (an underrepresented Best Show demographic). One may be a colleague. But these are terrible calls.
Switching over to praise, Tom does it again: He goes for 45 minutes on the topic of Elvis Costello’s talk show, Spectacle. A recent episode featured Costello interviewing the Police. Shooting fish in a barrel, indeed: There’s Costello’s well-documented oversinging, the unabated pretentiousness of Sting and Co. and, especially, the revisionist history that casts the Police as a punk band.
Tom: Can these guys say ‘punk’ one more time? I’m waiting for a duck to fall down from the sky. ‘The word is punk.’”
Comedy-wise, Costello and Sting end up doing all the heavy lifting themselves: The Spectacle program ends with the pair performing what they call an “Elizabethan blues song.” Wow.
Quote of the evening comes after Tom is encouraged by a caller to “chill out.” This results in a tirade of indignation and self-affirmation: “I’m an idea machine. I’m like Isaac Asimov!”