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

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.

Tom fields a call from pirate-radio DJ Travis Edgkin. At first I thought this was a character played by Jeffrey Jensen (comedy partner to MAGNET’s very own Andrew Earles), but now I’m sure it’s Patton Oswalt. One of the funniest calls of the year. Edgkin petitions Tom for a high-paying job at the “marshmallowy cocoon” of the (listener-sponsored) WFMU corporate machine. He explains himself thusly:

“I certainly wouldn’t call myself a DJ. I’m a sonic bard, a doorway, a philosopher king, a fog wanderer, a monkeywrench, a warrior-poet, pocket savior, guttersnipe, a paladin of the lost hour, a night dancer on the ruined balustrade of the forgotten citadel of impossible secrets. I have, like, 50 more; that’s just the intro to my show.”

Later, Tom plays puppet master and lets a four-way conversation between the craziest callers descend into madness. Apparently, the segment is called Fredericks’ Den. It’s about as much fun as Marvin’s Room.

For the third week in a row, the debate rages on: Who is the dumbest member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young? Being a music magazine, we decided to do some real journalistic legwork on this one. A trip to the CSNY website and a beeline to the online store netted all the information we needed to determine the answer: their fans. Cheap-looking CSNY flip-flops for $20? A T-shirt that reads “Catapult The Propaganda” for $35?

Big changes in The Best Show format are promised for 2009; let it be noted that 2008 delivered too many golden moments to list (but here’s a start): the on-air composition of a song called “The World Is In The Turlet” by Ted Leo; guest co-hosts Paul F. Tompkins and Zach Galifinakis; the ongoing gag about Tom’s struggle to write a 33 1/3 book about Styx‘s Cornerstone; idle threats of playing the entirety of Miles DavisPangaea; and Philly Boy Roy.

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