I decided to check out the Judge John Hodgman podcast after the Pop Culture Happy Hour folks giggled uncontrollably while discussing an episode they referred to simply as “Bats.” And man, I’m so glad I did. At least once per episode, I find myself saying aloud “God, I love this podcast.”
Brought to us by Maximum Fun, Judge John Hodgman adjudicates lighthearted disputes among friends, family members, and people who don’t take themselves and their disagreement too seriously (for the most part.) John Hodgman (who you may recognize from numerous appearances on The Daily Show, many NPR shows and other podcasts, and whose work you may have read in The New Yorker) presides over both sides’ arguments and delivers a verdict that both agree to adhere to. Jesse Thorn (from the Bullseye podcast) is usually the bailiff (though sometimes guests take over his duties).
Some of my favorite episodes are:
- TL:DNR, where two friends argue over whether a promise to read a several thousand page book series by a specific date should be upheld.
- Amicus Grief, wherein a pair of acquaintances or friends (depending on which you ask) argue over a rather intense theory regarding the concept of friendship.
- Wake Me Up Before You Go, Bro, which I related to only too well because my husband and I have the same dispute. Two brothers live together. One has a harder time waking up than the other, and relies on his brother to wake him up in the morning. The early riser thinks his brother needs to get an alarm clock and depend on himself.
- The Perp Walk, where a couple argues about the dangers of jay walking.
- God Save the Teen, wherein two American brothers argue over whether the younger of the two should study abroad at the University of Edinburgh.
- Die Flederhaus, or the aforementioned episode affectionately known as “Bats.” Two brothers live in a ramshackle house infested with bats and argue over who has the better method of removal. This episode made me laugh until I cried.
It’s often hilarious, but usually thought-provoking as well. I find myself giggling throughout the arguments and gleaning wisdom from John Hodgman as he explains his verdict at the end of each episode. I don’t always agree with his decision, but I am always glad that I listened.