Category Archives: THE BEST SHOW

Listening To The Best Show: 3/17/09 Episode

bestshowlogobA weekly review 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.

It’s the marathon hangover show. Tom is tired from raising so much money for WFMU. Still, there are some highlights worth mentioning:

Around the 36-minute mark, a caller explains how a recent Paul F. Tompkins stand-up performance seemed to borrow one a Best Show meme; the caller is promptly ambushed on the other line by Tompkins himself. Apologies are demanded, given … then not accepted.

Here’s a new (possibly one-time) feature I’m going to call Anatomy Of A Call. Let’s break down the emotional rollercoaster of Tom’s exchange with the intriguing newcomer, Pastor Josh:

40:01
Josh calls to ask Tom, “Is Ted Leo always as awesome as he sounded on your show last week?” This is the kind of question one would find in the hallowed pages of Parade magazine. Why is Justin Timberlake so darn talented? How did the Ewoks get so cute? Infuriating.

40:52
It gets worse. Josh asks how to look for Ted Leo’s albums in the record store. Is it under T or L or P for Pharmacists? How did this guy manage to dial the phone number for the radio station?

41:20
After some bowing and scraping to Tom, Josh asks if it’s OK for podcast listeners to call the show. This is turning into the worst type of exchange: the sycophant and the master.

Can’t go on with this. Turns out that Josh is a United Methodist pastor and probably an all-around good guy who could prove to be a valuable addition to the show, provided the program takes a heady theological turn or needs marital counseling.

Tom to Fredericks from New Port Richey, who was nominated in several Best Show Awards categories a few weeks back: “You’re like the Slumdog Millionaire of creeps.”

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Listening To The Best Show: The Marathon Episodes

bestshowlogobA weekly review 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.

As previously mentioned, WFMU is a listener-sponsored station, and two weeks a year are dedicated to the fundraising marathon. So the past two episodes of The Best Show (3/3/09 and 3/10/09) are completely dedicated to that effort and consist largely of reading off pledges and trying to keep the phone lines busy with donations. Why bother downloading these podcasts? A few things come to mind:

Philly Boy Roy returns! Whenever PBR has an extended absence from the show, we like to start rumors of a new Superchunk album. Turns out we’re almost correct—there’s a new EP and some live dates happening next month.

Comedy guests include Paul F. Tompkins (host of VH-1′s Best Week Ever) and John Hodgman (the PC in the Apple commercials). Musical guests include Ted Leo and Aimee Mann. I was going to complain about Leo being a little too omnipresent on The Best Show, but he proved his worth by composing a Mike Show theme (Mike is the call screener whose antics threaten to usurp Tom) and a really solid version of “Timorous Me.” Tompkins joined Mann for a jokey version of Magnolia hit “Wise Up,” which went off the rails early and often. The show should’ve closed with Mann revisiting the song by her lonesome because, you know, it’s not going to stop. (The second show actually ended with a kinda-terrible group singalong of Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” apropos of nothing except that it uses the term of endearment “sugar bear,” which is funny.)

Worth visualizing: Tom commandeered the phone room in a yachting outfit inspired by Ted Knight’s Judge Smails character from Caddyshack.

And finally, you have to be the cynic of the century not to appreciate the ideas behind WFMU and the need for the fundraising marathon. Hearing Tom thank each and every caller who pledged money as their names are read is a nice touch. Let me know when he’s done stirring the Kool-Aid.

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Listening To The Best Show: WFMU Marathon Tonight!

bestshowlogobA weekly review 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.

Our take on the 2/24/09 episode of The Best Show after the jump, but an important announcement pre-empts the peanut gallery babbling: Tonight is your last chance to pledge your support of listener-funded, free-form radio station WFMU during Best Show hours. Call in if you’re listening live or donate online by March 15 to support the program.

Last week’s conjecturing proved true: For a $75 pledge, part of your premium includes a tribute to Paul & Linda McCartney’s Ram, with Death Cab For Cutie, Aimee Mann, Portastatic, Ted Leo, Dump (a.k.a. Yo La Tengo’s James McNew) and others covering the album’s songs. You also get a tote bag and an all-new Scharpling and Wurster CD—all this stuff is exclusive to the pledge drive.

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Listening To “The Best Show”: 2/17/09 Episode

bestshowlogobA weekly review 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.

It’s The Best Show Awards show! Scharpling announces the winners in various categories, including Saddest Caller, Most Delusional Caller, Worst Caller, Best Guest, Lifetime Achievement Awards and Best Scrivener. As to the last category, Tom declared that “the dude from MAGNET, who hasn’t done a recap in a while” placed second! What a thrill!

Second place is an honor, except there were only two nominees: me and Omar, who recaps the show at recidivism.org. This has my blood up a little bit. I have to do better. Dig deeper. Show up for work once in a while. Tom brings it for three hours every week; I was too busy converting MAGNET’s library of Chokebore vinyl to microcassette. (Really, you wouldn’t believe how much Chokebore product we have around here.)

Regarding awards that were actually won, Ted Leo was honored for “The World Is In The Turlet,” a composition penned during a Best Show episode, with lyrics contributed by callers. Laurie from Miami won Best Caller, inexplicably. And no awards show is complete without someone crying; Tom broke down in remorse and ended the show abruptly without presenting the final trophy for Best Call.

We also have some catching up to do. Without further a dude [sic], here are the (mostly music-oriented humor) highlights from the past few weeks:

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Listening To “The Best Show”: 1/20/09 Episode

bestshow142

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.

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Listening To “The Best Show”: 1/13/09 Episode

bestshow142

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.

Tom fields a call from a local proprietor of a chain of hot-dog carts; the entrepreneurial fellow has to be talked down from inking a distribution deal with Merge Records to sell a Scruffy The Cat five-CD boxed set at all his carts. Already in the works, however, is the hot dog vendor’s cassette release from a supergroup called MickNickPickMickNick:

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Listening To “The Best Show”: 12/30/08 Episode

bestshow142

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.

The beginning of the end of 2008 is commemorated with “Ding Dong,” George Harrison’s New Year’s song from 1974’s Dark Horse. Tom also plays a track from She’s A Heartbreaker, a compilation of U.K. soul from the ’60s put together by the Bevis Frond’s Nick Saloman. Not to belabor the point, but podcast listeners—who don’t hear the music portion of the broadcast—are missing out.

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Listening To “The Best Show”: 12/23/08 Episode

bestshowA 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.

In this week’s episode, our host makes the uncharacteristic move of allowing the inmates to run the asylum. Tom lets certifiable nutjob callers such as Charlie the Addict and Fredericks from New Port Richey babble. At least it’s more interesting than the nice-guy listeners who called in just to extend holiday wishes. Instead of wasting air time, next year just send a Christmas card.

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Listening To “The Best Show”: 12/16/08 Episode

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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. Shameless plug: Best Show caller Philly Boy Roy wrote a piece for MAGNET’s Philly scene report in our latest issue, which you can purchase here.
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