Earwolf Challenge Update: Week Four

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And then there were six. Another week of the podcasting competition Earwolf Challenge is now behind us, and another aspiring podcast has been sent packing. This week, the giants from the world of podcasting joining host Matt Besser on panel were Howard Kremer, host of Earwolf ‘s own Who Charted?, and WTF’s Marc Maron. Maron and Kremer are an interesting and well-balanced pair in that their shows are similar but different. They both host chat shows, but their podcasts are on opposite sides of the spectrum tonally. While Charted is light and silly, WTF is oftentimes deep and dark. Nevertheless, they saw eye to eye on this week’s podcast submissions, which made it simpler to determine which show to give the boot.

The challenge this week was “Using the Guest” and the competing podcasts were asked to submit a two-and-a-half minute clip that utilized a guest performer effectively. While the sketch shows struggled a little bit and didn’t earn any fans at the judges table, this wasn’t a challenge that put sketch programs at a disadvantage by its very nature like last week’s task. As noted by Matt Besser in Tuesday’s installment of the Earwolf Challenge, podcasts Totally Laime and The Little Dum Dum Club have emerged as the competition’s frontrunners. Totally Laime’s Elizabeth Laime decried being dubbed the leader of the pack on Monday and joked about throwing this week’s challenge. Judging by her Morning Zoo sound effects-laden submission this week, she might have been serious. Although the judges weren’t as wowed with Laime’s submission as they have been in previous weeks, her clip performed well enough to keep her out of the Bottom Three.

The Bottom Three podcasts this week were The F Plus, Bob and Dan Cast, and Television Zombies.  Bob and Dan Cast was perhaps most hindered by this week’s challenge since they don’t normally feature guests. Matt Besser said this was factored into the decision, as pretty much all of the other podcasts feature guests each week and are more experienced with the task at hand. The F Plus and Television Zombies have a lot in common in that, up until this week, they were the two longest running podcasts competing and they’re both saddled with sound quality issues. These sound problems stem from these being the only podcasts in the competition in which the participants live in different areas, using clunky speakerphone technology to podcast in unison across the country. Although these are two of the most experienced shows in the Challenge, I was expecting one to have been eliminated much earlier in the competition. Despite the Television Zombies hosts’ witty repartee with each other, it’s hardly a comedy program and falls more into the sci-fi/pop culture realm; and The F Plus’s goofy, codename-laden, insult-driven show doesn’t exactly gel with the Earwolf brand.

By the end of today’s episode of The Earwolf Challenge, Matt Besser revealed that Television Zombies has been eliminated. TV Zombies’ focus on sci-fi allowed for a greater feeling of variety amongst the competing podcasts, but it’s a stretch to consider it a comedy show, and it would be a travesty if the show had won the one year contract over all the other podcasts that fit in better with Earwolf’s genre of specialty. TV Zombies has been podcasting for an impressively-long time, since 2007, before the podcast boom and a full two years before any of the other nine shows that were/are in the Challenge began. The show has had a legion of devoted listeners, made up of sci-fi and fantasy fans, since long before Earwolf itself even existed, so it shouldn’t be hurt too badly by the elimination.

With only six podcasts remaining, it’s grown easier to keep track of the competing shows and to get a feel for their respective brands of humor. It’s evident that judging the podcast submissions has also become less difficult since there are fewer shows to evaluate. In the coming weeks, we’ll see this crop of podcasts dwindle even further as the stakes are raised and the luminaries of the podcasting world continue to drop by to crown Earwolf’s newest show.

Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.