Scharpling and Wurster

SCHARP humor and the BEST jokes you'll find anywh

Oh hell, his name's not Bester.

*special introductory paragraph!
*Rock, Rot & Rule
*Chain Fights, Beer Busts and Service with a Grin
*New Hope For The Ape-Eared
*Hippy Justice
*The Art Of The Slap
*At The Speed Of Sound

Sometimes in life, a laugh is an American necessity. You can't just sit around and listen to David Bowie albums all day; eventually, you're going to want to wipe all the feces off of your turntable and have yourself a smile. At times like these, we have to thank our stucky Lars for humormen like WFMU radio DJ Tom Scharpling and Superchunk/Caitlin Cary/Connells/Jay Farrar/Hazeldine/George Huntley/Pinetops/Portastatic/Rocket From The Crypt/Marah drummer Jon Wurster. They do a little funny thing together that happens as follows: Tom goes on the air to host a program called "The Best Show On WFMU" and Jon calls him on the air using the voice and persona of a made-up character -- playing a role, if you will. Tom and Jon have discussed this character beforehand, so Tom knows exactly what is going to happen. It's the WFMU listener who's "in the dark"! Sometimes the characters are obviously fake caricatures that make for simple-yet-hilarious radio comedy sketches, but in their more satirical moments, dumbass listeners totally fall for the lie and call in one after the other, getting angrier and angrier at the ridiculous attitude and ignorance of the "guest caller." And laughter occurs for one and all! (except the callers, who go down in history as dumbasses)

The key thing to note here is that Jon Wurster is one of the most quick-witted "comedians" on the drumming circuit today. Tom generally plays a fantastic straight man as well (and actually EXCELS in a few of the segments, particularly the "Tom's Daddy" sketch to be discussed later), but Jon is ear-bendingly sharp and hilarious. Not only are his voices and personas chuckly good from the getgo -- he's incredibly quick to respond to callers' comments with lines that are even funnier than the pre-planned ones. Here's just one example, so you'll see what I'm talking about. This exchange occurs when Jon's rock critic character Ronald Thomas Clontle is attempting to defend his argument that Madness invented ska:

Caller: "I mean, I love Madness, but they didn't invent ska."

Jon: "Oh, I disagree."

Caller: "If you go ask Suggs -"

Jon: "I'm not gonna go ask any street thugs what they think!"


And that's how it goes -- there are the pre-written jokes, the genius twists and punchlines, the entertaining give-and-take exchanges and then off-the-cuff made-up one-liners that you just want to listen to over and over again. Here, since we're just hanging out killing time until the reviews finally start, let me give you one more example:

Jon (as Tom's Daddy): "What bands have you played on your show so far?"

Tom: "Ummm, let's see.... Yo La Tengo...."

Caller: "Andrew W.K."

Jon: "Oh, your mother and I saw him! Kinda raunchy, but..."

Tom: "No, Dad. That was Andrew Dice Clay."

Jon: "Oh."

Okay! SHHH! The reviews are starting!

Rock, Rot & Rule - Stereolaffs 1999
Rating = 9

Rock, Rot & Rule, a 37-minute joke played on people who take music too seriously, is likely the most successful radio hoax in the history of the Scharpling/Wurster Comedy Extravaganza. Jon's character, Ronald Thomas Clontle, has a new book of music critique coming out called Rock, Rot & Rule that features NO actual criticism at all, instead simply listing columns of band names with the word "rock," "rot" or "rule" next to them, denoting whether or not the artists in question "rock," "rot" or "rule." But these aren't just HIS opinions, you understand. He put together a focus group of 100 people in Kansas and a few others in Florida (when he was visiting his grandmother) to make sure that his book was indicative of the overall tastes of all music fans. There are several rules that come into play as well -- no jazz artists can "rock" because there are no guitars, but they can still "rule." But a band can't "rock" unless they also "rule." David Bowie "rots" because "he's always changing." Neil Young "rots" because the albums Ronald has heard by him (Old Ways, Trans, Landing On Water and CSNY's American Dream) are terrible. Frank Zappa "rots" because "humor has no place in music." The Beatles only "rock," but don't "rule" because "they had too many bad songs."


Pretty stupid. Let's examine a little more evidence: Ronald is only half-paying attention the entire time because he has bet $1500 on the Orlando/Cleveland basketball game (in progress). When an angry woman praises Ira Robbins, Ronald asks if he's in Yo La Tengo. When another caller asks, "Can't we all just get along?," Ronald attributes the quote to Don King. When Tom asks why his book won't be out by Christmas, Ronald explains, "The holiday season isn't a big book-buying time." When asked what song "rocks the most," Ronald responds that it's a Meat Loaf song from the Roadie soundtrack -- he can't remember the title but it's 'Something Something The Road Something.'" How unbelievably smug, unironic and just STUPID do these people have to be to argue with him!?!?!?

As Ira KAPLAN of Yo La Tengo says in the liner notes, "Do the math: Scharpling + Clontle = TOUCHDOWN." The disc also gets kudos from David Cross, Gregg Turkington, Gerard Cosloy and somebody from the Upright Citizens Brigade, so you know what kind of pomoco(medy) you're heading towards if you lay down the green. The wit is extremely dry and not for everybody. Just like with that A Mighty Wind movie, you may think it's brilliant satire and laugh from beginning to end -- or you may just find it boring. I suppose it's obvious which Camp (Kill Yourself) I fall into! The greatest thing about the joke is that Ronald keeps stressing over and over again that his book is intended to be "The Ultimate Argument Settler." And although the callers don't realize it, it IS. It completely blasts the entire IDEA of people arguing over the merits of different artists. Regardless of snooty music snobs (including a younger version of me, I'm ashamed to say), the worth of an artist or his/her creation is completely subjective; certain observable aspects can be compared, but any declarations of "better than" or "worse than" will never rise beyond the limits of individual preference. Any attempt to prove through argument that your favorite band (say, Linkin Park) is better than another is the faux-intellectual equivalent of just saying "rock," "rot" or "rule."

Which is to say that my web site is pretty much worthless. Hey! Pleased to meet you!

Reader Comments (Dan)
I think the finest thing about this album, aside from the laughs, is the way it makes you feel inside. As an occasional doubter of myself and my standing this increasingly cold rock we call Omicron-V, I like to throw this on and listen to the ass-clowns who call in, and think to myself "well, at least I'm not the kind of person who'd do that anymore" - because the finest laugh comes from the laughing at yourself in the past, when indeed I was a snivelling dork who HAD to have the last word on everything. Both men are incredibly subtle and hilarious - Scharpling has the straight man role down pat, and shouldn't be underestimated, like all those people who helped secure Bush's second term! We love you, the people! And Wurster is just too fucking quick for a human being. That Don King bit is amazing, seriously. And I love guy who calls three times, yet can't respond to the ultimate beat-down of "yes, but this book is being PUBLISHED." Most of all, I love listening to my girlfriend criticising the callers one at a time - "who gives a fuck about Ira Robbins?", "not this guy AGAIN?", "GET A LIFE" "NO-ONE CARES ABOUT STEREOLAB ANYWAY!" & "STOP DICKWAVING ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW FROM GERMANY!"

I would describe this record not as holy, but we should certainly think of it as coming from 'on high'. You see, I'm paraphrasing the record there!
Thanks, Mark. "Rolled, Gold and Sold" is the funniest thing I've heard since the Jerky Boys.

"If you ask Suggs what he th" - "I'm not gonna go and ask any street thugs what the..."

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Chain Fights, Beer Busts and Service with a Grin - Stereolaffs 2002
Rating = 9

You thought after Rop, Ron & Roper that these guys were a one-shot destined for the one-shot bin, but you were so wrong. This is where the Wurstmaster really whips out his multi-character talent. FIVE different characters he plays on here, all of which are rip-roaringly assholish and hilarious. But before I describe each one in excruciating detail, let's stop for a moment to look at the sorts of people that Scharpling & Wurster satirize. Are they worthy of our scorn? Well, two of them are, for sure. Arrogance and corruption are two of the worst vices a people can display, and are smacked the lip up accordingly in "The Music Scholar" and "Citizens For A True Democracy." Descriptors are a bad way to go, but I NEED you to buy this double-CD so I'll go ahead and give them to you.

THE MUSIC SCHOLAR: This is the smug record store owner who is so positive that his taste in music is the correct taste that you are alternately in awe with his knowledge and enraged at his obnoxiousness. Aside from being a stone warm scream, this is one of those Wurster/Scharpling skits that has a punchline. Granted, it's a five-minute punchline, but after a 20-minute setup, it is one heck of a punchline.


Jon: "It was an exciting time in NYC. Got to see the Ramones many times, and uh... I'll always have a soft spot for Doug."

Tom: "Who's Doug?"

Jon: "Oh... YOU'D know him as Dee Dee Ramone."

Tom: "Yeah, I guess I know him as -"

Jon: "I mean, you probably don't KNOW him, like I did...."

Corruption waves flow deeply through the smarmy rich-boy dicksmoke who has created a corrupt Bush-backing organization called "Citizens For A True Democracy." Unexpectedly, the liberal WFMU listeners are too naive, stupid and STUPID to realize it's an obvious joke, and in fact one of the male callers is so dumb, he's zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! Nobody calls attention to him, but first he self-righteously announces that he didn't vote in the election because he doesn't feel that the two-party system offers any real choice. THEN, he goes on to say that he protested the Florida decision because Bush didn't really win and the whole thing was corrupt.


But the point is that the callers continously question the idea of "True Democracy," making it clear that none of them are all that familiar with the birth of our nation. Democracy was always meant to favor the rich and powerful; the "common man" was never meant to have a voice in his government.

Sample quote from this call:

Jon (to female caller): "Sweetheart, you're a victim of the liberal media."

Caller: "Stop calling me sweetheart!"

Jon: "Honey, you're a victim of the liberal media."

But that's really IT as far as satire goes, which may be why certain (wrong) people consider this to be a step down from Rock, Rot & Rule. The other calls are just really damn funny. Like Adam Sandler's early films, their humor is based on taking aggressive violence-prone idiocy to an absurd extreme. So let's discuss them! And by the implied "we," I mean "me"!

Character number V (2) is THE GORCH!!! YOU GOT THE GORCH!!! This guy was the inspiration for Happy Day's The Fonz. But see... in real life, he was a bit more...oh.... VIOLENT. And STUPID. And HILARIOUS. He has a new advice book for teens called The Real Life Fonzie's Guide To Real Life that includes such advice as "First of all, you gotta be cool! Then.... you gotta drink a malted!" He's also fond of hitting people with chains.

Then there's Mike Healy, who is COMPLETELY out of his mind, taking Tom to task for an off-handed slightly health-related comment about Mike's new baby. And continuing to take him to task. For like TWENTY MINUTES. Sample dialogue: "Well, I was just gonna request 'Baby' for my wife and daughter, but now I feel like I should request 'Doctor Doctor' by Robert Palmer and send it out to YOU!" Jon Wurster? More like "Funny Comedyster" if that's what his real name is!

The final call is a wrong number from an extremely pushy salesman with "Radio Hut," a store that is similar to Radio Shack except that they "don't really invite those comparisons." This is ANOTHER psychopath who keeps trying to convince Tom to buy horrible in-store products like the "POT-80" computer (stands for "Pride of the '80s," which it was named in 1976, back when it sounded futuristic), the "POT-80 Port-A-Ghetto" radio, a satellite dish that gets 25 channels and a ridiculously expensive computer that comes with Tetris and no other software at all. It's probably the "POT-80," but I've lost my "erase" key.

Sample dialogue:

Jon: "Our web site launches in May. We weren't able to get ',' but in the meantime you can go to ''"

Tom: "So that's if people wanna order something online, I guess?"

Jon: "No, you can't do that. You're not gonna be able to do that."

Short story long: I laugh my back off every time I play this CD, and so should you! It's a double-CD! "Come on, guy! Here we go! Come on, boy!" You have to like to laugh at fake phone calls though. Otherwise you've been defeated by the Gods of Hilarity. The head writer for The Onion gives them a big "Thumbs Up" on this one. Good night, Beatnawonwte. That old Bill Bixby show.

Look, it's hard to review comedy CDs. I gave you a basic overview of each character, along with some funny sample lines. The rest is up to YOU!

So when you're finished writing this review for me, please email it to Otherwise, we all die!

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* New Hope For The Ape-Eared - Stereolaffs 2004 *
Rating = 10

On disc three - actually discs 4 and 5, as both disc 2 and disc 3 (or rather, discs 2 & 3 and discs 4 & 5, but packaged as discs 2 and discs 3) are double-discs - Tom and Jon take an interesting shift towards focusing on the naivete of the arrogant (a ClearChannel alternative band leader not realizing he's being taken advantage of, an untalented loser thinking his horrible original song is going to be a hit, an audiophile calling Tom "ape-eared" without realizing how foolish he sounds), bringing them down to a sub-us level where we can laugh at their misguidedness. They also bring us more of that psychotic mean abuse we all love to laugh at ("Tom's Daddy"), as well as attacking corruption in both journalism and the pharmaceutical industry -- particularly timely considering (A) all the dumb fucking LIARS are being fired from top newspapers lately and (B) the fact that we are all being poisoned by Nutrasweet on a daily basis thanks to an unscrupulous FDA.

Jon Wurster plays eight different characters this time around, and every single one of them is awful.

AWFUL FUNNY, that is! (*violates rules of English and terms of probation*)

Five of the eight skits are music-related, but please be alerted that they do not fool any listeners on these discs. This is straight radio comedy. Satirical and parodicish, yes, but not in such a way that listeners would be driven to call in and argue. I will now discuss each and every call from beginning to end.

First off, there's Corey Harris from alternative band Mother 13, who accidentally calls Tom for an interview instead of 'Bobzilla and the Morning Zoo Crew' from the next station over (it's never explained why 'the next station over' would also have 'the next telephone number over' but comedy is about suspending your disbeliefs. And our civil rights! So thank you for the laughs, John "Hilarious Man" Ashcroft!). Corey is blind boy-band arrogance to a T, claiming that his band is "a cross between Zeppelin, the Clash, the Who, Nirvana and REM" before playing Tom their first single -- an uproariously cliched piece of Matchbox Thirteen-style 'alternative' faux-emotional jangle pop/rock. Tom Scharpling is a little too mean on this call though, somehow eliciting sympathy for Corey where none should exist in a fair society. Isn't it enough that Corey snidely compares WFMU to "public television that no one watches" before bragging about the fact his band is playing the "Puffs Tissues 'Fall Into Softness' Tour"? Do we really need Tom calling him names and bragging about how he saw Nirvana on the Bleach tour? Maybe I'm missing the point of Tom's anger, I don't know. How should I know? We're not pals, and never will be. (Tom hates white people)

Next up is Chocolageddon, a huge tasty dessert that helps the eater LOSE weight with every spoonful. The dude on the phone has sent Tom a big dessert, Tom eats it while on the air and the rest is comedy goodness! So, with no explanation or set-up at all, here's an exchange from the call that cracks me up to no end at all:

Jon: "What's going on in the stomach?"

Tom: "It's not good."

Jon: "Does it feel sorta like... you have a bunch of worms in there?"

Tom: "It feels like worms."

Jon: "Yeah. Those ARE worms."

On the Jayson Blair "tip," Jon gives us Bill Chippert, a music journalist trying to get a quote from Tom on the new phenomenon of Toilet Rock (led by the impossibly obscure bands Beatoff, The Snot and Pant Pudding). Of course, he has his own ways of getting quotes from people -- as evidenced by the quote from his Paul McCartney interview stating that Bill is "the coolest. Even cooler than John." But he's not out to deceive anybody -- he just wants a job at Fox News!

The folly of the arrogant is again explored in "Todd And The Audio Guru," a two-parter featuring a high-voiced, mind-blown idiot audiophile who has become the disciple of an "audio guru" (hence the title "Todd And The Audio Guru") It's impossible to go into detail about this two-parter without giving away the joke, so I'll just say that both parts are laugh-loudly-out biting attacks on this sort of person (ex. Todd's favorite records are Steely Dan's Aja, Paul Simon's Graceland and Peter Gabriel's So -- gold discs, of course.).


"The Gas Station Dogs" might be the funniest skit they've ever done. It involves a call from Barry Dworkin, lead singer for a band called The Gas Station Dogs, whose other members include guitarists Billy Knife and Brandon Heart, bassist Bryce Heaven, keyboardist Commander Giggles and drummer Kid Thunder -- none of whom he has actually hired yet!!!! He's calling Tom to try to get people to join his band and fit his incredibly tight restrictions for them. Actually, Jon Wurster described this call brilliantly in an email interview with me a year ago, so let me just quote that: "Another is about a guy who's 4' 11", bald, and has a handlebar mustache. He is trying to put together the ultimate band (he is beyond specific about what each player has to bring to the table -right down to string gauges and percentage of body fat) to play the ultimate song: "Rock 'n' Roll Dreams'll Come Through."

A sample verse:

Roddy's daddy Denny saved every penny to buy a new guitar for Rod Three jobs a day, he took all his pay and went down to Dawn's pawn shop Dawn said, 'Denny if you buy this guitar your son will be a rock and roll star' Roddy tried his best, he couldn't pass the test but he knew that he would someday

Roddy's baby Betty, she's got a baby that she had with Rod's friend Rog Suckin' on a jelly donut at the deli, Betty's baby cries for Rod Denny called Betty said, 'Betty get ready to stay away from my son' Bettty said, 'Denny, Rog and I are finished and Rod is my number one' Betty's dad Kenny talked to Betty's mom Jenny and said, 'What can we do?' Betty's dad Kenny, he called back Denny and said 'Betty and Rod are true' Betty too knows that it's true that it's gonna come true that rock `n' roll dreams'll come through"

Next up is Tom's finest performance ever and this release's sole example of "absurdly mean = funny". "Tom's Daddy" is a PRICK. And Tom begins the call as the underdog, the nervous son who does everything his father asks. But as it goes on, he becomes more and more angry at him. As he should! Tom's Daddy is a mean-spirited creep who has attempted to control his son's life for 33 years, fashioning him (as explained through anecdotes) into Tommy Doom (America's Youngest Daredevil), a member of "The Scharpling Five" singing group, Tommy Nation (America's Youngest Conservative Radio Talk Show Host) and Tommy Balls (America's Oldest Batboy). BOBBY KNIGHT of all people has apparently referred to Tom's Daddy as "a loudmouth bully"! Kudos to Tom for his nervous passive-into-aggressive approach on this call. He does SUCH a great job. And Jon, as always, is funny as a bunny. Granted, Tom and Jon write the pieces together, so it's likely that Tom writes some of the funniest lines too, but I'm not here to give credit where it's due.

Okay, then there's an answering machine message from an industry king with Consolidated Ball Bearings and the rest is what you want it to be.

Can I say something to you? Certain people rave about "the glory days of radio comedy." If these three discs are any indication, people, we are CURRENTLY living in "the glory days of radio comedy." I only wish that I had copies of every skit they've ever done! Although granted, the rest might suck a nut (or ball). But these - oh my god, GIVE UP on Saturday Night Live -- these guys have the "character sketch comedy" thing covered. Actually I shouldn't say that since I haven't watched SNL in ages, but isn't it funny that is SNL Financial? I actually had to visit that site for work the other day! (I work three days a week for a finance-related firm) And I was all like, "Where's Jim Belushi? I fuck Jim Belushi!" (I don't LITERALLY fuck Jim Belushi -- I was trying to bring "I heart" or "I love" into the New Generation.)

Bottom line: BUY THEM ALL. At very least, buy these last two, if you like smart comedy. The first one is smart too, but I suppose if you're not a music geek, it can start to seem a little tedious. But these last two are just FULL of great characters and hilarious ideas. Thank you, Tom and Jon!!!!

Pineapple extra cheese cheesy bread diet coke.

Three of these have great twists to them.

How about this -- one more line from the Gas Station Dogs segment.

Jon: "It's called 'Rock 'N' Roll Dreams'll Come Through'."

Tom: "'Rock 'N' Roll Dreams Will Come Through?'"

Jon: "No! 'Rock 'N' Roll DREAMS'LL Come Through!'"

How can you not buy this? Buy it! Go to and buy it! It's cheap!!! And you're literally MADE of money!!!

Reader Comments

Dan Brookes
Despite the lack of comments, I hope you impelled someone other than myself to check out these two - or the Best Show on WFMU (Tuesdays at 8-11!) - as these are some of the sharpest, most talented and downright hilarious people on the planet today. Comedy is a difficult one to put across exactly why it is vital, because it addresses unspoken and unconnected thoughts in our head - and seems to make those connections flesh in front of your eyes and ears. They flay hubris, self-righteousness and pomposity with a real unerring vision, and simultaneously are breathing new life into a format (longform radio shows) that I never thought I'd hear again as well as being supremely (and most importantly) side-splitting.

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Hippy Justice - Stereolaffs 2005
Rating = 9

And yet another double-CD of laughter comes rolling off the WFMU assembly line. This time out, Jon and Tom (or "TomJon") provide an enticing mixture of satire and absurdity that'll will'll have you alternately laughing your eyes out and thinking, "Man. That's a smart idea!" Let's start off with a few generalities before i get specific. First of all, five of these six calls (or 83%) begin as friendly as a bean but conclude with the caller threatening to murder Tom. (Strangely, the sixth begins antagonistically but concludes with Tom and the caller telling each other "I love you!") Secondly, there are absolutely no calls from any WFMU listeners on this release, and it's too late now so don't bother trying to dial in to the CD while it's playing. Thirdly, most of these calls are more conceptually-based than "funny character"-based, but the concepts are so clever, your funny bone will see no end of action. And finally, fourthly, Jon Wurster is not getting any less funny by the day. There are more great lines on these two discs than on the coffee table at Fleetwood Mac's house. Speaking of which, am I crazy or have those guys really come into their own since Lindsay Buckingham left? I mean, I know some people like the hard-edged punkiness of Rumours and Tango In The Night, but it's hard to think of another pop album that hits as many emotional chords as Behind The Mask. Also, my ears are buried in a pile of dirt in the backyard.

Now, brief track-by-track descriptions to whap your etitite:

"Hippy Johnny" - A Modern Lovers reference yes, but more than that. It is in fact a biting satire on the sort of "Hippie Hypocrisy" that led to the MC5 treating women like fourth-class citizens and Jerry Garcia launching a profitable capitalist tie company. Hippy Johnny is the leader of a local commune called "Mellow Grove." As the call progresses, we learn more and more unpleasant facts about this so-called 'free-living hippie community,' specifically related to Hippy Johnny's...umm... "vision" -- a vision that includes child labor, copyright ownership of 1250 tie-dye designs, and such questionable products as "Hippy Johnny's Farm Fresh Drain Cleaner" and "Hemp Bullets," as well as the occasional act of arson, robbery, and asinine litigation.

Sample dialogue:
Tom: "Who spiked his drink?"
Johnny: "I don't know!"
Tom: "Was it you?"
Johnny: "Yes. Why?"

"Old Skull" - Tom interviews a now-adult member of this legendary 'playground punk' band on the eve of the reunited band's new album and tour. Another smart-as-hell piece of satire, this skit attacks the trickery of such 'long-running' 'bands' as The Guess Who, TSOL and The Vandals. As the conversation develops and Tom plays a track from the new Old Skull CD Hot Dog Hell Revisited, it quickly becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Or perhaps everything is fine and the noisy child trio really did grow into a 7-piece band with an average concert length of 6 1/2 hours. I guess you'll have to listen for yourself and see!

Sample dialogue:
Caller: "I tried to get into the punk thing. Like I would wear a Police t-shirt during our concerts."
Tom: "Yeah, but the Police weren't really a punk band. Especially by the mid-80s? With all that slick pop stuff?"
Caller: "No no, not the band The Police. I mean I would wear a t-shirt supporting the local police department!"

"Darren From Work" - So genius, I can't even tell you anything about it lest I give away the joke(s). Suffice it to say, it involves Tom's conversation with a good buddy from work and its humor is built upon complete absurdity, not satire. Be sure to listen for this classic line: "It's not even happening now, so we're good, right?"

"Timmy Von Trimble" - The first of two utterly hilarious characters to be found on disc two, Timmy is a two-inch-tall genetic mutation -- an adorably high-voiced 32-year-old with a beard who charms Tom to pieces with his tales of living in a Barbie & Ken Dream House and driving around in Hot Wheels cars. Unfortunately, he also has a significant character flaw that soon comes to light. This piece is obviously absurd, but it's also a satire on 'small people with small minds.'

Sample dialogue:
Timmy: "Guess where I poop?"
Tom: "Where?"
Timmy: "In a thimble!"
Tom: "Well, that's -"
Timmy: "I use a piece of string as a jump rope!"

"Rock 'n' Roll Car Dealership" - In my opinion, this is the only spotty track on here. It's okay, and it definitely has some funny lines, but as a concept it doesn't seem to have much of a point. The concept is that Tom is calling a new auto dealership called Gene Simmons Toyota that is actually co-owned and co-managed by the infamous Kiss bassist. But from there, it's just a bunch of Kiss song references, the occasional witty line, and then all of a sudden the guy on the phone (the store's co-owner) starts acting like Jeff from Radio Hut. Whatever. It has some great lines, but as a whole it's not terribly well-developed or inspirational.

Sample dialogue (from memory):
Co-owner: "You do and I'll kill you. I'll bash you in the head with Gene's Axe Bass that he keeps here at the store."
Tom: "Yeah? Well, I would beat the living crap out of you when I saw you coming."
Co-owner: "Yeah, you'd try."
Tom: "How big are you?"
Co-owner: "5'2."
Tom: "I would crush you like a bug."
Co-owner: "Why? How tall are you?"
Tom: "6'1."
Co-owner: "Oh! Yeeesh."

"Kid Ebay" - The most ingenious Scharpling/Wurster sketch I have ever heard. This piece goes so far behind any type of humor I've ever imagined that it almost makes me feel stupid for even begin born. It's completely absurd, and I'm not going to say anything about it lest I ruin it for you, but pay close attention to exactly how many different layers of humor they pile onto this thing as it progresses. I could literally write down a list of all the different comedic themes that are presented throughout the half-hour, and it would go on for like a year! It's not even that it's that SOPHISTICATED a call -- it's just a very strange, interesting idea that is executed PERFECTLY. Jon's character is an absolute scream of funniness, and Tom's performance may actually surpass his work in "Tom's Daddy." It's not often that Tom is required to do anything besides call a character on his bullshit, but when he does, as on here, he shows an incredible gift for NEVER LAUGHING at the most hilarious and ludicrous comments that are thrown at him. And that's hard to do! If I'd been in his shoes during this call, I would have completely destroyed it by laughing so hard! Beyond the concept itself and Jon's funny-as-dirt delivery as online auction king/cheater "Kid Ebay," there are just so darn many LINES in this one. Lines to use for days! Like "She took forever in the bathroom and I really had to take a squeege - so I went in the kitchen sink!" And "Then she called me a jerk, and I called her the C-word!" Actually, those aren't funny at all written down. Go listen to it though, and you'll see why they're funny! It's the absurd situation. You'll see.

I don't feel like writing a conclusion, so I'll end with one of my favorite exchanges from "Kid Ebay":

Tom: "I liked Graham Parker a whole lot."
Kid: "The country dude?"
Tom: "No no no, not Gram Parsons. Graham Parker."
Kid: "From the Burrito Boys!"
Tom: "Well, it's the Burrito Brothers, but I'm talking about Graham Parker. The British guy."
Kid: "Oh, the guy that did 'Temporary Beauty!'"
Tom: "Yes, the guy who had The Rumour."
Kid: "Oh! What rumor?"
Tom: "No, the name of his backup band was The Rumour."
Kid: "No it wasn't!"
Tom: "No, it definitely was. Graham Parker & The Rumour."
Kid: "No, you're thinking of Brinsley Schwartz!"
Tom: "No, Brinsley Schwartz was the band that a lot of those guys came from."
Kid: "Oh! Like who?"

Reader Comments
You said in one of these reviews that you want to hear more S&W, or "every call they've ever done!". Well, if you search Scharpling Wurster on Soulseek then you can find MP3s of almost (I've found) 30 skits that aren't featured anywhere on the CDs. Isn't that GREAT? And while it's true that the WFMU archives probably have these backed up on the Realplayer streaming portion of their site, it's far better in my mind to have "hard copies" of the calls that I can carry around on my personal iPod, Poddy. The best thing about these MP3s is that they range from 4MB to 7MB even though they can contain just over 50 minutes length, so you don't have to wait too long for them to download or whatever. Here are some of the most notable in my opinion:

Mike Sajack (sic) pt.1+2 - First part starts off with the nonexistant (outside of WFMU) brother of Wheel Of Fortune host Pat Sajak heckling Tom for a Count Basie boxset, though Mike quickly goes off track into talking about his life the gutter-clogging, "coattail riding" sibling and ends very randomly, with the only real descriptor being that Mike threatens Tom in numerous (very funny) ways. It's not so much the concept here as the execution, and Jon does an exceptional job - the LINES he comes up with, the TIMING! Especially in pt.2 which I would argue is funnier than Kid eBay to an extent. Here's a quote from that part:

Mike: Can I have some money?
Tom: No!
Mike: Can I have some pot?
Tom: No!
Mike: What if money was made out of pot?
Tom: You're really starting to hallucinate now.

Billy Joel Artist of the Year 2001 and 2002 - Two calls in two years, both from a Billy Joel obsessive named Danny Phipps who drums for a tribute band (not a cover band, he insists) called Glass Houses, claims to play covers because "there's no point in writing our own stuff, Billy writes the best there is!" and refers to him chummily as "B.J". Includes a bonus guest caller vocal audition for Captain Jack.

Barry Dworkin 2 - A sequel to "The Gas Station Dogs"!

Gary Puckett Sleaziest Rocker of all Time - Wurster only calls at the end for a flimsy bit, but Scharpling takes the everloving piss out of Gary Puckett for about 10 minutes here. Not in a Weird Al way, but more of a Mystery Science Theater vein: "Young Girl", "Lady Willpower", "This Girl Is A Women Now" all get ripped into.

AND M.O.R! (Mainstream Oriented Rock)

Look, just get onto Soulseek if you haven't already. These will keep you occupied for yenks. If you've already heard them, let me know what you think anyway.

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The Art Of The Slap - Stereolaffs 2007
Rating = 9

I don't know if you follow the Royal Family, but I can't believe what Sir Elton John did the other day. The Queen Mother invited him to the Palace to perform his recent hit "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," and he changed the lyrics into an offensive homoerotic fantasy! As you know, the song's original first verse, penned by poet laureate Bernie Taupin, reads:

"It's gettin' late! Have you seen my mates?
Ma, tell me when the boys get here
It's 7 o'clock and I wanna rock
Wanna get a belly full of beer."

But check YouTube and you'll find the horrific image of a nude, disshevelled Sir Elton John screaming at the poor, gentle Queen the following sleazy exchange:

"It's gettin' late! Have you seen my mates?
Ma, tell me when the boys get firm
It's 7 o'clock, wanna suck some c*ck
Wanna get a belly full of sperm!"

I know! It was horrible! He kept yanking out his hair plugs and shouting "Look at me! I'm a cancer person!", then he urinated all over the floor and called it a "Yellow Brick Road," and finally for an encore he performed a putrid 'song update' entitled "Suckmyc*cket Man." I for one have always been pro-gay rights, but now I see homosensuals for what they are -- creepy bald old knights trying to check our children's brown oil with their pulsating dipsticks.

On a related note, I love doggies. They're such sweet little animals. And so silly! Let me share a true, real-life exchange with you to demonstrate the kind of creatures they are:

Some woman my wife works with: "I love my puppy. He's such a sweetheart."
My wife: "Awwww! What's his name?"
S.W.M.W.W.W.: "Well, we originally named him 'Max,' but that was before we knew his personality."
M.W.: "Oh. So what do you call him now?"
S.W.M.W.W.W.: "Noodles McGee."

SEE??? Now, that is not only a statement about the kind of person (intelligent, attractive) who loves dogs, but also about the nature of dogs themselves. What other animal would behave in such a manner that you would even THINK about calling him something as stupid as "Noodles McGee"? God, I love dogs.

Also, it's awesome that some day that woman's going to google her dog's name and find the passage "check our children's brown oil with their pulsating dipsticks."

And that's my review of Scharpling & Wurster's The Art Of The Slap. Goodnight, everyone!

(the next day)

Oh shit there's a CD in here.

This fifth S&W release is a time-chewing TRIPLE-DISC set of laughs! Like the last one, it's a mixture of satire and absurdity, with no listener calls nor reason for any. Those satirized include Stereotypical Jocks, Low-Budget Horror Movie Directors, and People Who Refer to Recent Events as 'Life-Changing' Before Enough Time Has Passed For Such a Conclusion to be Reached. And the absurd calls are even more off-that-wall than before -- with an on-air murder, dark humor so rich you'll be crying with gigglery, and one caller surpassing even "Timmy Von Trimble" in the Department Of Ridiculousness.

Furthermore, in their continuing effort to create a full-fledged parallel universe for their fans (one in which Kern Pharmaceuticals and Radio Hut are actual existing businesses, for example), Scharpling & Wurster have adopted a few new running gags that weren't present the last time out. The first involves the caller pronouncing a common word in a terribly incorrect fashion, for no reason at all. And sure it doesn't advance the plot, but it's still a hoot to hear callers (Jon Wurster) speak of such items as 'the juggler vein,' 'laser beans' and 'a handburger.' See? You're laughing right now, if I know you!

The second and final running gag involves using the catchphrases "Wait...Whuuuuuuuut?" and "Yeah!....Why?" as comedy gold in such exchanges as:

Corey Harris (from the band 'Mother 13'): "They were kinda star-struck by us, because we were all famous rock stars."
Tom: "Uh-huh. Well, not all of you, but -"
Corey Harris: "I know, Buddy Guy's not that famous in the rock world."
Tom: "Or... Y'know, whatev - Or Mother 13's really... not famous... yet."
Corey Harris: "Wait...Whuuuuuuuuuuuut?"

and Crap. I don't appear to have written down any of the "Yeah....Why?" bits. Believe you me though; laughs are therein!

Okay, now the whole track-by-track thing that seems to have worked so well for my previous reviews on this so-called 'page':

JOCK SQUAD: Parody of the "Geek Squad" computer technicians. The members of the Jock Squad are bullies who spend more time working out than fixing computers, and they're not very intelligent. It's basically a one-joke call with an unlikable antagonist, but the pre-written gags are really solid. Sample exchange:

Horse: "We went over to the Geek Squad house in Northridge the other day, and we caused maximum damage!"
Tom: "Wait - you went to the 'Geek Squad house'?"
Horse: "Yeah! And totally trashed it!"
Tom: "What do you mean? The place where they work?"
Horse: "And live, yeah!"
Tom: "Well, they don't live there. Was it a Best Buy?"
Horse: "It was almost like a warehouse-kinda place. It's where they live, right?"
Tom: "No, I think that's actually the store that they work at."
Horse: "Over at Northridge Commons?"
Tom: "Yeah. Yeah, that's a Best Buy."
Horse: "Well, that answers a bunch of questions we had. We couldn't figure out why they had 350 copies of Monster In Law!"

THE AUTEUR: Parody of gore-horror filmmakers. This director is responsible for such straight-to-video productions as Cub Scout Serial Killer, Boy Scout Serial Killer, Girl Scout Serial Killer and Webelo Serial Killer. He gives Tom an in-depth synopsis of his new film, The Toolbelt Killer. This is a great call, not only for the escalating set of over-the-top gory set pieces described, but for the director's (slowly-revealed) deranged sense of morality. Sample exchange:

Tom: "Movies like that, when they're really exploitative, I look at them as being part of the problem a little bit. They really are meant just to be gruesome and gross, and I honestly don't know what they do other than give people nightmares."
Trent: "See, that's what I've been up against for 15 years or so. I mean, from my standpoint, I'm doing the same thing as the guys that directed those great films I mentioned earlier."
Tom: "Like what movies?"
Trent: "Spielberg Schindler's List, Kazan On The Waterfront, Ford with The Searchers - that sort of thing, you know? Like, take Dr. Sleaze; Dr. Sleaze is black."
Tom: "So?"
Trent: "Well, I would like to think we broke the color barrier on that one. I don't think until Dr. Sleaze, there had ever been a black sadistic doctor serial killer."

PHILLY BOY ROY: A recurring character (I personally own 14 other calls from him, thanks to my MP3-sharing friend in Hawaii! A shout-out! Boooo-yers!!!), Philly Boy Roy is a strange-voiced Philadelphia champion who in this particular call discusses some events so absurd that I don't even want to talk about them for fear of ruining the joke. But just let me say that if you are a GG Allin fan, you must hear this call. It's also the first call on this set that makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it. Maybe I'm just a sucker for funny voices? Sample exchange:

Roy: "He had like a mini-catamaran on the top of the car. Turns out he called in sick at Wawa as me, and he went down the shore!
Tom: "And how did he get a mini-catamaran?"
Roy: "Well, he bought one with the checkbook I gave him. But y'know, the joke's on him!"
Tom: "Why's that?"
Roy: "'Cuz there wasn't enough money in that account to pay for it! They're gonna come after him for that money! E-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh. Ee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee! EEE-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee! EEE-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEE!!!!"
Tom: "I wouldn't exactly start celebrating yet. Because your name is on that checking account, right?
Roy: "Oh no."

ANDY FROM LAKE NEWBRIDGE: Another one so absurd that I can't say a thing about it without ruining the plot twist. Let's just say that they've never done a call quite like this one. Here's an exchange:

Andy: "Well, first time for everything! I ate what they call a 'Skittle' the other day. Someone had thrown -"
Tom: "Like the candy - a skittle?"
Andy: "Exactly, yeah. It was pretty good!"
Tom: "Ha! A skittle!?"
Andy: "I see ads for it on TV, but I'd never had one before. Hey, guess where I am?"
Tom: "Where?"
Andy: "Aquaman's place."

TORNADO TODD: A (fake) two-year-old recording of a WFMU in-studio interview sets us up for Tom's 'update call' with a born loser who decided to turn his life around after miraculously surviving a tornado. In the two-year-old recording, he tearfully expresses gratitude for surviving the storm, and vows that he will turn his life around and start caring for everybody. But in the 'update call,' he...uhh.... well, he doesn't live up to expectations. The twist in this one will have you on the floor (laughing, enjoying yourself), but the character is such a jerk that you probably won't want to listen to it more than once. Unless you like jerks, of course. Sample exchange:

Tom: "How did you film Joe Simpson?"
Todd: "I told him I was a King."
Tom: "What do you mean, a King?"
Todd: "I told him I was the King of Salty Arabia."
Tom: "The King of what?"
Todd: "Salty Arabia."
Tom: "What is that?"
Todd: "Well, it's like Saudi Arabia, but I said 'Salty Arabia' so I couldn't get in any legal trouble, and he didn't notice the difference."
Tom: "And did you say it nice and clearly?"
Todd: "Well, define 'clearly.'"

POSTAL SLAP FIGHT: This bizarre (and funny, funny) call jumps from ridiculous topic to ridiculous topic before culminating in the most jarring ending of all time. Sample exchange:

Caller: "You see the VP throw that ball out the other day?"
Tom: "Oh, for opening day? When Cheney threw that ball?"
Caller: "In DC, yeah."
Tom: "Yeah. Yeah, I did see that. That was hilarious."
Caller: "It was spectac- 'Hilarious'? It was spectacular!"
Tom: "How was it spectacular?"
Caller: "Well, you know they clocked that pitch at 96 miles an hour."
Tom: "There's no way that was 96 miles an hour."
Caller: "It was not only the fastest pitch thrown at that game; it was the fastest pitch thrown that day - in the whole league."
Tom: "No, stop. No, I don't believe it. That's just insane."
Caller: "I saw it on the news!"
Tom: "What news?"
Caller: "FOX! Why?"

MOTHER 13...THE FIRST ROCK BAND ON MT. EVEREST: This is, hands down, the most laugh-out-loud hilarious pair of calls that Scharpling & Wurster have ever done. They call it a 'bonus disc,' but for my money this is the 'MAIN disc' -- the one you will want to hear over and over again to relive the excessive insanity, stupidity and brutality of a misguided soft drink promotion gone way, way wrong. Jon's performance as the post-traumatic Corey Harris is Oscar material, and Tom's performance as a supportive, sympathetic character who can somehow manage to not bust out laughing at Corey's harrowing tale is Emmy-worthy. I refuse to cheapen the post-climb call by taking any portion of its genius out of context here, but I will provide a suitably entertaining excerpt from the pre-climb call:

Tom: "Please be safe. In all seriousness."
Corey: "We're gonna be fine. I can't wait to get up that hill!"
Tom: "It's more than a hill! It's a mountain!"
Corey: "I know. It looks pretty tall. But like I said, those sit-ups have done their job."
Tom: "I really hope you're okay."
Corey: "I'm gonna be fine. It's YOU I'm worried about! Eatin' all that crow!"

Like every other Scharpling & Wurster CD, The Art Of The Slap is full to busting with smart concepts to appreciate and side-rip-roaring one-liners to laugh at (as well as cartoonish buffoonery and cocksure assholes galore). Visit to purchase, if Amazon doesn't have it. After all, comedy jokes are good for the soul, and the sole is good for the shoe!

(insert shoe chart here)

Reader Comments
You lucky bastard. I will be putting in my advance order on April 3rd. I listen to their other discs all the time. I get tired of stand-up comedy, but I've listened to these Scharpling and Wurster bits dozens of times.

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At The Speed Of Sound - 2009
Rating = 6

This CD was created as a free premium for people who donated a certain amount of money to WFMU during their 2009 Pledge Drive. I didn't send any money at all, so you can imagine how upset I was when the CD didn't immediately show up in my mailbox with a note saying "Thanks Mark". Luckily, some of you out there with Rapidshare accounts understand that "supporting WFMU" goes far behind such crass obviosities as 'giving them money so they won't go bankrupt,' so now I'm free and unleashed to present this record review for you here today.

There are several reasons why this disc is less fulfilling than the preceding S&W (Simon & Warfunkel) discs, but it basically boils down to one: where the preceding releases were carefully compiled from the absolute best of dozens and dozens of previously aired calls, this disc is composed of four sketches that were specifically written and recorded for this disc. And truthfully, taken in that light, it's astonishing that two of the four sketches are as hilarious as they are. The other two.... well, they have problems.

Incidentally, for the first time ever, none of these sketches are phone calls. One might as well be, as it's simply a "studio" interview with Barry Dworkin of The Gas Station Dogs (see New Hope For The Ape-Eared above), but the others are Saturday Night Live-style comedy sketches. One of them, in fact, doesn't feature Tom Scharpling at all! "Scharpling & Wurster"? Yeah, more like "WURSTER," if you ask me! Heh heh, good job on that one.

The problem with this approach is several-fold. First of all, Scharpling & Wurster's "fake phone call" style was a unique one that differentiated them from every other recorded comedy act. It's much easier to excel in your own space than to try to compete on the turf of others -- and straightforward "sketch comedy" has already been mastered by so many different comic troupes and TV shows that S&W can't really compete.

Secondly, Wurster's hilarious voices work as disembodied trebly weirdos talking over telephone lines; they do not work as in-studio guests. Put another way, with the sound altering and distancing effects of the telephone, Barry Dworkin sounded like a smug clueless sleazeball. Here, speaking into a normal studio mic, he sounds like Jon Wurster talking in a silly voice.

Finally, where the "phoned-in" segments allowed listeners to enjoy the over-the-top callousness of Wurster's characters while feeling secure that, at the end of the day, everyman Tom Scharpling could shut them up by simply hanging up the phone, such is not the case here. These sketches are about assholes who get no comeuppance. I'm not saying that all comedy needs to have a happy ending (for example, I found the 'tragic' ending of Drag Me To Hell to be absolutely hysterical and perfect), but unrestrained bullying is simply not funny. Hence my utter loathing of "A Secret Recording Of Tom In Session With Dr. Fred Meyers," a piece about an abusive hypnotist that doesn't have a single funny line in its entire 15 minutes.

But, as I hinted earlier, two of the four pieces succeed in spite of their obnoxious protagonists simply because they're really, really funny. The first is "Two Fanzine Editors Talk To Ted Leo Before A show," which finds the actual Ted Leo speaking with an opinionated German writer (excellently portrayed by Tom) and sex-obsessed jerk (obviously portrayed by Jon). Ted reaches Scharpling levels of straightmanship while attempting to field questions like "Would you admit that your music is lacking the elements that made it once good? Now it has none of them?" and "How did you actually remove all the quality from the music?" (not to mention listening to randy innuendo about "going #3 on the bus" and "driving" the female drummer of a fellow band). If you like to laugh, now's your time to start!

The other chuckle-tastic piece is Jon's solo work "Todd Palin Works On His Book Proposal," which finds 'The First Dude' philosophizing on such topics as:
- Arizona ("Between you and me, that place needs to be bombed")
- His wife's former running mate ("...McClain getting the squirts in a hot tub")
- Not keeping up with Saturday Night Live ("I just figured nobody was gonna do it better than Denny Dillon, so why bother?")
- An actress on Saturday Night Live ("That girl I wanna tap")
- Bristol Palin ("My daughter had to show what a mattress back she is")
- Ted Nugent signing a copy of the Craveman CD for him ("That's gotta be one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me")

Train to Humor City, now boarding!

This is not to say that "Tom Interviews Barry Dworkin" doesn't have some great lines; it certainly does. "I had this S.-hot guitar player from a Styx cover band" certainly qualifies, as do "Hey, freeze with the Q's, Adam. Okay?" and "I love Kate And Allie. It may have something to do with how waxable Jane Curtin is." But the script just isn't that strong overall, coming across (again) like a weak, overlong Saturday Night Live skit. And Tom sounds bored off his ass, like he's dicking around on his Blueberry the whole time.

And yes, it's actually called a "Blackberry," but if I put the word 'black' that close to the word 'dicking,' you're all going to feel bad about the size of your genitalia. Especially you girls, because you're big as a house, whore.

So don't feel too bad if you didn't donate $100,000 to WFMU and get a free copy of this lackluster toss-together. You're better off visiting WFMU's web site where they store dozens and dozens of old Scharpling/Wurster calls for free download. Go there now!

Reader Comments
Glad to see I'm not the only one who noticed that Jon Wurster's voice loses something in the immediacy of the studio. Much of the personality of his characters gets sucked out, whether it's Barry Dworkin, Philly Boy Roy, or Marky Ramone.

But the lack of quality material isn't just confined to this release. The Wurster calls have lost much of their earlier quality. For the past year+ they have become overly formulaic. Jon pretends to be some quasi-celebrity, either real-life or fictitious, and then tells an outrageously crude story while inserting a dozen or so malapropisms. Lather, rinse, repeat. It really has come to resemble a bad Saturday Night Live character in many ways, especially with the heavy emphasis on catch phrases (the aforementioned malapropisms, "Crack a ____ much? Don't sound like you do.").

Gone are the days when the calls would have a clever twist to them such as "The Music Scholar" or the (unreleased) call when Craig Cooper tried to give away three Hut-Pods. Can't complain too much since they did crank out about 10 years of solid material, but the well appears to be running dry.

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Click here to purchase "New Hope For The Ape-Eared," to which/whom I awarded a 10 out of 10, perfectly

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