Detailed
Compact
Art
Reverse
February 24, 2020
We may find evidence of alien life someday. That would be amazing right? It'd be great and exciting and maybe terrifying. But here’s the thing about that: you won’t properly appreciate that evidence if your head is full of Area 51 junk and Roswell nonsense and a ludicrous belief that octopuses come from outer space. So on this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians & alien comedy experts David Christopher Bell (Gamefully Unemployed, "Fox Mulder Is A Maniac") and Moujan Zolfaghari (Mission To Zyxx, 'At Home With Amy Sedaris'). They’re digging into the most common lazy media tropes, frustrating hoaxes, and generally confusing myths about aliens. So throw on some headphones, increase your media literacy, and be ready to spot the REAL signs of extraterrestrials, if and when we ever get them. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/10-regular-things-we-should-all-stop-mistaking-aliens/
February 17, 2020
How nervous are you to meet someone? Do you get more anxious, more sweaty, more heart rate-y? Now here’s a thought experiment for you: how much would those feelings increase if you were meeting a famous person? And how weird would BOTH of you get if both of you were a famous person, thrown into each others' fame-auras? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is exploring real-life tales of that situation. He's aided by special guest Jesse Thorn (Bullseye, Jordan Jesse Go, Judge John Hodgman, THE LIST GOES ON). They’ll explore the surprisingly common phenomenon of two famous people meeting up, hanging out, and (often) having an extremely weird time together. So throw on your headphones for tales of everyone from Elvis to Amelia Earhart to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince having an odd hang with a fellow world-famous awkward person. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-bizarre-surprising-stories-famous-people-hanging-out
February 10, 2020
Filmmaking is complicated. There are a thousand steps between “I have an idea” and “I have a completed film for your theater to screen.” And sure, most people know all that. But here’s one way being alive is more interesting than people think it is: every one of those moviemaking steps can get extremely weird, without the audience having any idea...unless they listen to podcasts like ours. On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedy writers Gonzalo Cordova and Alan Denton. They’ll explore the biggest recent movies, and the extraordinarily strange work that went into making them. Find out which Oscar movie got patched like a video game, several days after it was in theaters. Discover which animal overran the set of your favorite action movie franchise. And keep listening for the set of international financial crimes that built Hollywood’s hottest production company. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-major-recent-movies-with-secretly-bizarre-productions
February 3, 2020
In the court of public opinion, Richard Nixon got off easy. Seriously! If you lived Richard Nixon’s life, and did Richard Nixon’s crimes, you would be THRILLED if your Famous Crime was a minor hotel burglary. On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by the incredible Dana Gould for a trip through world-famous scandals that somehow never get a closer look. With each story, they’ll dig into the forgotten and astonishing details of those scandals that were apparently too mind-blowing for the public to remember. So throw on some headphones, and discover the ways Elizabeth Holmes, O.J. Simpson, the Enron fellas, and more infamous maniacs are much more bizarre than you realized. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-infamous-scandals-with-crazy-details-everybody-forgot/
January 27, 2020
Freedom sucks...and that is why we have to defend it. Because our democracy involves doing a lot of stuff that takes energy, takes time, and lacks that Michael Bay Quality that only a surprise missile launch can provide. So on this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt and special guest Jason Pargin (who writes for Cracked as David Wong) are exploring the ways being afraid of everything (an easy action) can stop us from being free. Discover the decades-long tradition of some Americans wanting to give up everything in exchange for not needing to think, the centuries-long tradition of people inciting fake panics, and the reasonable ways you can help change things for the better. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/why-fear-based-democracies-arenE28099t-free-with-jason-pargin/
January 20, 2020
How’s your local shopping mall doing? Have you checked on it lately? Swing by sometime, because its department store might've turned into a call center or a hospital or a go-kart track. On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by the one and only Kai Ryssdal (Marketplace, Make Me Smart) for a look at surprising, strange, and shocking stories from all over the U.S. economy. Discover an international pig flu, a 26-word statement that built the modern Internet, and more amazing ways cash is ruling everything around you. By the way, if you’re an American listener, you spent the past few years funding an astonishingly huge bailout. Surprise! Listen for details! Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/5-parts-u.s.-economy-that-are-stranger-than-you-think
January 13, 2020
Movies, TV, gaming: three things that are theoretically a waste of time. Oh sure, they deliver value in the art sense, and comfort in the goofing-off sense. But what if they’re more valuable than that? What if consuming shows and playing video games (accidentally) turns people into real-life heroes? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians/writers Caitlin Gill and Alex Watt for a look at the surprising number of times that exact thing happened. They’ll explore stories of regular people who saved a life thanks to skills gained randomly from cartoons, sitcoms, ‘World Of Warcraft’, and more silly entertainment. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-times-pop-culture-accidentally-taught-people-to-save-lives/
January 6, 2020
Regular stuff is saving the world. That’s good news, right? Wouldn’t it be NICE to find out a humble roll of tape and a simple ball of yarn have amazing uses you’d never expect? Answer: yes that is nice. So on this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians/podcasters Jamie Loftus and Atsuko Okatsuka for a look at everyday objects with incredible secret powers. Find out how old bras, loose salt, random mayonnaise and more common items became useful tools for making the modern world better. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-everyday-objects-with-incredible-secret-powers/
December 30, 2019
If you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve on “December 31st”, you’re doing that because of one emperor, one much-younger queen, and a pope who revised those lovers’ work. That’s right: three dead people are why billions of us hoist champagne at a specific annual minute. Isn’t it strange how much of the world runs on that schedule? Isn’t it odd how we accept a life of obtuse month lengths and confusing leap days? And did you know the WEIRD CALENDARS RABBIT HOLE goes so much deeper than that? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt rings in “the new year” with comedians/podcasters Billy Wayne Davis and Danielle Radford. It's a special double-topic show, beginning with the strange history and complex present day of the “normal” calendar. Then they’ll explore the most obscure, bizarre, and theoretical calendars from world history, many of them invented to fix that pope-y dating system you might've planned a party around. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/6-brain-stretching-calendar-systems-you-never-knew-existed/
December 23, 2019
This is an evergreen episode of The Cracked Podcast -- and not just because it involves Christmas trees. “Evergreen”, in case you don’t know, is a media term for stuff that’s worth listening to any time after its publication. And on this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt and his special guest Jason Pargin (who writes for Cracked as David Wong) are taking a Christmas-sparked look at the overall, global, all-encompassing meaningfulness of holidays. Why does your culture, no matter who you are, spend time and resources and energy on a set of traditions? What are we missing if we become Too Modern to value a break from everyday life? And how can anyone generate a holiday feeling in their own heart, any time of the year? Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/why-holidays-are-secretly-crucial-to-our-survival
December 16, 2019
Writing is magic. It is a beautiful, impressive, artsy-fartsy pursuit...AND a way screenwriters and novelists take weird shots at their enemies. On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedy writers Ben Joseph and Chase Mitchell for a look at world-famous villains and monsters created to insult real people. From Godzilla to Goldfinger to the funniest galactic adventure ever written, get ready to learn how Pent-Up Writer Anger generated some of the all-time best evil characters. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/14-villains-monsters-created-to-insult-real-people/
December 9, 2019
You know American democracy can’t always have a ‘West Wing’ tone. Mud will be slung! Sexploits will be news! Results will occasionally be fishy! However, there is a cottage industry of people claiming the current negatives of American politics are new. They claim we are a few social changes (and a few purchases of MY NEW BOOK) away from “returning” to a more positive past. A past where noble patriots ran “traditional” campaigns and “did things the right way” and “were not divisive.” But what if everything we just put in quotes is wishful fiction? What if most American elections have been...disapppointing? And what if gaining that historical perspective will make your 2020 a lot more tolerable? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians & satirists Zack Bornstein (The New Yorker, ‘Alternatino’) and Adam Tod Brown (Unpopular Opinion podcast network) for forgotten stories of dumb and embarrassing American elections. They’ll share tales of corruption, lies, fraud, sex stuff, and other crimes dominating 200+ years of Presidential politics. It turns out the gross U.S. elections you do know about (2000, 2016, and maaaaaybe 1876) are the historical norm -- and boy will that wisdom do wonders for your 2020 mental health. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-dumb-embarrassing-american-elections-nobody-talks-about/
December 2, 2019
They call it “hard work” for a reason. Nobody wants to spend their energy and focus on non-fun stuff. Everybody wants an easier way to make a buck and fund their lifestyle. What if you could get a first-hand account of what it’s actually like to try those get-rich-quick schemes you daydream about? What if today's Cracked Podcast explored weird, silly, and strange get-rich-quick schemes you’ve never even thought of trying? And what if some of today’s stories involve Captain Kirk riding a horse in another dimension? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Nick Turner and Nick Vatterott (the hosts of ‘Get Rich Nick’) for a look at bizarrely elaborate ways real people tried to make money. They’ll discover the luckiest people from the early Internet’s gold rush, dig into ways actors and directors scammed their own movies, and take a hard look at “easy” ways to make a buck by skirting the law. Also stick around for the ultimate fate of websites from that funny Facebook greeting card repository to that gross shock site you thought you’d never look at again. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-bizarrely-elaborate-ways-real-people-tried-to-make-money
November 25, 2019
There is no way to “stick to sports.” Because here's one way being alive is more interesting than people think it is: a sport like football intersects with everything from social justice to global empire-building to organized crime. Also not all Americans like sports, but did you know all Americans pay taxes that fund pro sports leagues? Did you know basketball caused an international incident this month? And [very Hank Williams Jr. voice] ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBAAAAAAAALL INJUSTICE DRESSED UP AS A JOB OPPORTUNITYYYYYY? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Dan Hopper (Cracked, The New Yorker) and David Roth (Deadspin, The Best American Sportswriting) for a deep dive into the deeply ridiculous current scandals in each major American sport. They’ll look at the ways the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL revealed major truths about our society by majorly shooting themselves in the foot. Also listen for a uniquely insane announcer who somehow isn’t American, a baseball team so vile it makes the Yankees kind of likable, and the perfect approach to watching sports without being taken advantage of by them. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/4-sports-leagues-whose-new-scandals-explain-modern-america/
November 18, 2019
Outer space. The depths of the ocean. Sub-sub-sub-sub-atomic particles. These and more amazing topics are what most of us consider THE FRONTIER OF SCIENCE. But here’s one way being alive is more interesting than people think it is: many of the most surprising scientific discoveries of recent times involve human anatomy! The human body! A thing you would think science already mapped out pretty good! On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with comedians/podcasters Caitlin Durante and Andy Wood for a rollicking trip through shocking new discoveries about the human body. Throw on your headphones for an amazing journey through the muscles you might be missing, the light your body is emitting, and the festival of surprises everywhere from your bellybutton to your skull. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-bizarre-new-discoveries-about-human-body/
November 11, 2019
Anything can happen in a fictional world. Stories take us to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, or the fantasy-est realms ever conceived, or the grittiest most realistic representations of everyday life. But if all that is true, why do writers and creators lean on the same tropes over and over again? And why are the weakest tropes in a piece of fiction often strange takes on women’s bodies, minds, and lives? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with comedy writer Hallie Cantor and comedian/actor/writer Tiff Stevenson for a look at fascinatingly dumb pop culture tropes about women. From movies to TV shows to video games, they’ll reveal common entertainment myths from “water breaks like a flood” to “women are the hardest thing to draw” to “your number of boobs indicates your morality.” They’ll also run through real-life casting calls with bizarre expectations about who exists in the world, look at how pop cultural sexism and real global sexism feed into each other, and mull how Listeners Like You can push all this in a better direction. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-stupid-pop-culture-tropes-you-always-see-about-women/
November 4, 2019
Cowboys might be the most iconic type of American. The hat! The pistols! The white man! THESE are the markers of a true cowboy, in our minds. But what if that’s one prominent myth about the Old West? And what if it's one member of a rogues' gallery of bullshit you’ve been told about life in the late 1800s west of the Mississippi River? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, outlaw podcaster Alex Schmidt forms a posse with incredible comedy writers Jenny Jaffe and Elliott Kalan. They’ll gun down myth after Old West myth, drawing on everything from historical records to Jenny & Elliott’s experiences creating an animated TV comedy set in cowboy times. They’ll also explore weird myths about our cultural myths, figure out which modern celebrity has the best outlaw name, and re-imagine what a great Western story can be. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-ridiculous-myths-everyone-believes-about-old-west
October 28, 2019
The Indiana Jones movies are true to life. Not about that specific guy being real, or about certain magical canon being real, or about the archaeological profession being a parade of sex ’n Nazis. Still, here’s what ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and its ilk get right: archaeologists dig up crazy nightmare horrors OFTEN. So on this spooktacular episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt joins Jason Pargin (who writes for Cracked as David Wong) for a trip through the astonishing horrors found by actual real-life archaeologists, because that stuff is much scarier and more fascinating than any horror movie. Listen for the terrifying Aztec death whistle! Discover the ancient cave that devoured a guy! And gain a stronger sense of how pants-crappingly awful the past was (and how lucky we are to be in the present). Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/15-archaeological-discoveries-scarier-than-any-horror-movie/
October 21, 2019
Wealth. Power. Enormous boats. These are just some of the markers of “elite” status in America. Populist candidates win race after race by running against Those Darn Elites. But what if that’s a fake difference? What if the “elites” are merely people who like information? And what if the “populists” are even richer and more affluent than the democracy nerds they keep running against? Most importantly: what if misunderstanding "elitism" in 2020, just like we all misunderstood it in 2016, could continue to screw the whole world up? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by journalist/comedy writer/author Joel Stein. They’ll explore the facts, figures, and freaky rural Texan crafts businesses from Joel’s new book ‘In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You're Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book’. Find out why Trump voters can’t be defined as “poor and uneducated”. Find out how the creator of ‘Dilbert’ and the leaders of the #Resistance both went a little bit insane. And most of all, discover the actual political divide that decided the 2016 election (and may decide it again in 2020). Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/the-surprising-elite-truth-behind-americaE28099s-political-divide/
October 14, 2019
Have you ever wondered what happens in the world's most exclusive clubs, parties, and airline lounges? Well wonder no longer, because a writer/podcaster/famous minor television personality explored them on your behalf, and captured them like no one else can. On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by the one and only John Hodgman, author of ‘Medallion Status: True Stories From Secret Rooms’. Thanks to John you’ll experience the elegant ridiculousness of Yale’s secret society tombs, learn the true name of Mar-a-Lago, and discover the Delta Airlines status so elevated it feels like the sweet release of death. Also stick around for advice on how any of us can feel the hidden magic of being Gold Status without ever flying a mile. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/a-tour-through-worldE28099s-secret-rooms-with-john-hodgman/
October 7, 2019
“The empire on which the sun never sets.” That’s how the British Empire self-identified. In the 1910s, Britain ruled a quarter of the world’s people, living on a quarter of the world’s land. Do you know how Britain colonized places from India to Australia to most-of-Africa? Did you know the Empire ended within a few decades of its territorial peak? And did you know Alex Schmidt went to the U.K. recently, creating a perfect opportunity to dig into its fascinating history??? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt went through customs to tape in-studio in London. He’s joined by Cracked writer/editor Adam Wears, historian Dr. Charlotte Lydia Riley, and historian Dr. Kim Wagner for a journey through the British Empire’s bizarre, brutal, accidentally-on-purpose rise and fall. They’ll also dig into the United States’ outlier status in that history, explore ways the British Empire never stopped colonizing the world, and consider how Being The Most Important Empire Of All Time (According To Britain) might’ve driven Britain insane. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-britain-accidentally-on-purpose-colonized-world/
September 30, 2019
Science: it’s often remembered as a story of remarkable linear progress. It’s also a truer, cooler, more incredible story if you stop and smell the roses...and in this metaphor, “the roses” are little-known bizarre stories from the lives of great scientists. On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians Robin Ince and Olga Koch for a special LIVE show at The London Podcast Festival. They’ll explore the weirdest things you never knew about scientific luminaries from Newton to Darwin to Pythagoras. They’ll welcome further tales of that stuff from our brilliant British audience members. And stick around after the live conversation for a tale of perseverance through military occupation, heinous sexism, and more common historical obstacles, illuminating more things worth remembering as we examine odd men of the past. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/14-funny-strange-stories-from-lives-great-scientists/
September 23, 2019
Many science fiction stories go to the past, not the future. Which makes sense, right? Why be a Connecticut Yankee in some random Jetsons city when you can be a Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, A Place That’s Part Of Your Own Era's Roots, Which Makes Visiting It Meaningful? We all long to vacation in the past, touring its wonders before the germs & backwardness bother us. But here’s one way being alive is more interesting than people think it is: there are a shocking number of artifacts that let you experience that past *today*, because they still exist in spite of all logic. On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with comedic character genius Andy Daly to bring the past to life. They’ll explore old curiosities that anyone can hear, see, experience, or eat, even though there is no way any of that should be possible. Join Alex and Andy for comedy records from 1899, pickles from before the Civil War, a surprisingly modern warning about a surprisingly ancient dog, and more. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-incredible-historical-artifacts-that-somehow-still-exist
September 16, 2019
Sidney Gottlieb is a name you do not know. If you did, you’d know about decades of CIA projects ruining countless minds with drugs and torture. You’d also know about the CIA’s secret San Francisco bordello, collaboration with Axis Powers war criminals, and borderline wacky fixation on turning drugs into brain-controlling weapons. On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with scholar, journalist and author Stephen Kinzer, diving into astonishing stories from Stephen's new book ‘Poisoner In Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control’. Discover the most important and powerful government agent you’ve never heard of, and how he pioneered everything from global “black sites” to 1960s counterculture, all with zero oversight and a hell of a lot of LSD. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-cia-quest-mind-control-drove-world-insane/
September 9, 2019
Streaming services revolutionized the TV-watching experience. There’s no denying it! Everything’s different now that we have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and the three new companies that launched while you were reading this sentence. There are now lots of ways to watch lots of great shows...but what if that system is unsustainable, counterintuitive, and worse than plain old cable in sneaky surprising ways? And what if there are other new amazing TV technologies that are comically weird and stupid? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedian and podcasting titan Jimmy Pardo (Never Not Funny) for a dive into the bizarre business decisions and technological missteps that make modern TV frustrating to watch in hilariously odd ways. And stick around for what Viewers Like You can do to have the best possible TV-watching experience. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-amazing-advances-in-tv-technology-that-make-tv-worse/
September 2, 2019
"What if the Marvel Entertainment Monolith never happened?" That alternate historical premise might sound insane to you if you were born after the turn of the millennium. But here’s two things you Post-9/11 Babies may not know: “Y2K" was a big weird panic that’s funny in hindsight, and Iron Man used to be a niche unknown thing. Within the past 11 years, random comics characters like Captain America and a raccoon with a gun went from minor doodles to global megastars. And on this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by two full-on comics experts (Cracked’s own Cyriaque Lamar and comedy’s own Joey Clift) for a look back at how the dominant entertainment property of the 2010s sprang from one low-level Marvel employee and a whole bunch of lucky breaks. Discover the handful of left-field casting decisions, little kid focus groups, and Samuel L. Jackson dogged obsessions that sent billions of dollars flying in whole new directions and changed your past decade of moviegoing. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-shockingly-important-near-misses-marvel-movie-history
August 26, 2019
Good news: this single podcast episode is two shows at once! Because on this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians Caitlin Gill and Kandice Martellaro for a walk through the latest greatest science news you haven’t heard yet. From there, they’ll spitball the fun & funny sci-fi movies waiting to be adapted from that real life science. Because here’s the #1 news story to remember: being alive is more interesting than people think it is. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/10-real-science-stories-that-should-be-sci-fi-movie/
August 19, 2019
Five thousand murders go unsolved in the United States every year. That means each American killer has a 38% chance of not getting caught, remaining free to listen to the inevitable true crime podcast about their deeds. People all over the world love sharing stories of lurid murder. But what if true crime fans could do more than just listen? What if modern technology and marketing skills can help you solve those crimes yourself, while ALSO blowing the lid off a decades-old 'Star Wars' mystery? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by writer, investigator, and ’Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad’ co-host Billy Jensen. You’ll hear amazing stories from Billy’s new book ‘Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders’. You’ll also discover how to help investigate murders from home, learn how your DNA can catch the next "Golden State Killer"-type maniac, and find out exactly who passed up the chance to be Han Solo. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-one-true-crime-writer-started-solving-murders
August 12, 2019
If you lend a filmmaker your fighter jet, what do they owe you in return? Thanks to America’s military might and the world’s appetite for cinematic explosions, that weirdly specific question get asked a lot. Did you know the U.S. government influences dozens of movies and shows every year? Do you think Hollywood would pass up free Pentagon stuff to protect Hollywood's “artistic vision” for Transformers 8? And if you find out what the government cut out of movies and TV, does that tell you exactly what the government doesn’t want you to know? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Adam Tod Brown (Unpopular Opinion) and Nic Wegener (American Dad) for a look back at America’s strange history of government overreach into scripts, shoots, and entire concepts for movies and TV. You’ll discover which movies traded script control for Air Force gear, which entire TV era sold out to Big Anti-Drug, and the exact Defense Department policy on what the military does in an alien invasion. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/15-odd-changes-u.s.-government-forced-into-movies-tv
August 5, 2019
Empathy is down 40% among American young people. That’s the finding of a study analyzing dozens of other studies across decades of responses. That also sounds sort of insane -- if nothing else, empathy might not be something you think percentages can measure. But what if it is measurable that way? And what if poll responses about empathy, morality, and dogs in mortal danger open up cans of worms so enormous there’s no way to contain them in a single podcast episode? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (who writes for Cracked as David Wong) to explore a range of polls, studies, and self-reported opinions that say an insane amount about who Americans really are. You’ll discover the shocking estimated truth about America’s pornography habits, vaccine paranoia, faith in a higher power, and other critical factors that format society. Also get excited about wondering a whole new set of questions, covering everything from trolley problems to shower multitasking. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/14-polls-that-explain-america-and-raise-huge-new-questions/
July 29, 2019
Forty-eight people (and counting!) have been Vice President of the United States...and if you can name more than a few of them, you might love history as much as Alex Schmidt does. After all, VPs do a little-respected job that’s "not worth a bucket of warm piss.” And that’s not us saying that. That’s Vice President John Nance Garner (Veep #32) self-roasting with that. Still, look closer at that history, and you’ll find nine out of forty-eight VPs became the P. Nine out of forty-eight! 18.75%! Doesn’t that make every Vice President worth examination? Shouldn’t we pay them as much attention as their boss gets? Especially when the current Vice President is a secret maniac, with a shady past, and a little too much Garfield enthusiasm? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedy writers Broti Gupta (Speechless, The New Yorker) and Andrew Ti (Yo Is This Racist) for a look at baffling true tales of VPOTUS Mike Pence. Discover all the weird strange goofy things sprinkled throughout his past as a hot-take blogger, tobacco truther, campaign fund misuser, football game gaslighter, and other lousy things nobody has the mental bandwith to call him out on. Also stick around for the Dollar Store Machiavelli crap Mike Pence almost pulled to make himself your Commander in Chief at the last minute. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-bizarre-mike-pence-stories-nobody-ever-brings-up/
July 22, 2019
You can have too much money. (Not YOU specifically -- you are a valued listener and deserve Scrooge McDuckian riches.) The world’s movie studios, TV networks, and other visual-fun production companies think they need an infinite budget to make the next 'Star Wars'-type cultural phenomenon. But what if we told them the history of film & TV is packed with enormous successes that sprang from running out of money? And what if one of the prime examples of that is 'Star Wars' itself? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by working writers Hallie Cantor, Ben Joseph, and Chase Mitchell to see how the biggest movies and TV shows stumbled into great ideas by not being able to pay for their first idea. Discover which region-defining TV show was supposed to be set in the wrong city & state, which British national epic almost had zero style, which defining film of the 1980s achieved greatness by lying to the cops, and so much more. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/15-great-movie-tv-moments-caused-by-budget-problems/
July 15, 2019
Where do you get your news? Because whether it’s from a range of sources, from a curated Twitter feed, or from one nightmare cable channel monetizing hate, there is more happening than any one of us can track. The world is all news all the time. A lot of it seems grim. But what if we told you those true sad stories exist beside a range of incredible good news? What if we told you there are all kinds of bright spots across the world if you know where to look? And what if at least one of the stories features a “hybrid bear-monkey” you WILL want to see? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by old pals Soren Bowie and Katie Goldin for a celebration of awesome news you probably missed. From the struggle to save the environment to the fight against world diseases, you’ll discover everyone from young kids to entire countries pitching in and helping. So hurry up and listen, to gain the upbeat energy you need to defeat the slew of terrible things also going on these days (and don’t forget to hit up the footnotes for those sweet sweet hybrid bear-monkey pics). Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/17-exciting-happy-news-stories-more-people-should-hear
July 8, 2019
You: “Emoji are killing the English language.” Me: “eMoJi ArE kIlLiNg ThE eNgLiSh LaNgUaGe” plus a specific screencap of SpongeBob Squarepants acting like a chicken. If you understand the above text, this might be your favorite episode of The Cracked Podcast. If you don’t understand that text, this WILL be your favorite episode of The Cracked Podcast, because everything you read online is about to make more sense. On this week's show, Alex Schmidt is joined by linguist Gretchen McCulloch for a dig into her revelatory new book ‘Because Internet: Understanding The New Rules Of Language’. They’ll explore how the past few decades contain several distinct generations of Internet users, each contributing to a worldwide linguistic sea-change. You’ll discover which online generation you’re a part of. You’ll learn how 4 billion people work together to revolutionize our writing and speaking every day. And yes: you WILL discover why emoji are a valuable format that makes our writing richer. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-very-online-people-revolutionized-english-language
July 1, 2019
Nothing says “summer” like a massive alien invasion of the planet Earth. Oh sure, that invasion never happens in life. But in movie after movie, space alien fleets descend on our little blue marble with intent to kill. Why do they tend to time that invasion with Northern Hemisphere summertime? Why are there so many common bonds between all alien invaders, even though the universe contains an infinite array of extraterrestrial possibilities? And how are audiences up for the same aliens losing the same battle every single movie? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Cracked editor/columnist/human resistance leader Dan Hopper to wonder about that exact thing. They’ll explore the bizarre way alien blockbusters line up with each other time and time again. They’ll dig into basic strategic errors that hamstring the alien fleets, even though us much less advanced humans know better. They’ll also leave you with The Two Kinds Of Alien Movies, and a greater sense of why we fill multiplexes to see motherships laser our cities at all. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-foolish-mistakes-that-ruin-every-movie-alien-invasion/
June 24, 2019
Thought experiment: you're a large country locked in a 20th century geopolitical death struggle. Any wrong move could irradiate the planet. Any right move gets you a marginal victory over your opponent without ending the larger conflict. In that scenario, do you ease the root tensions driving the world insane? Or do you maximize those tensions, dig your heels in, and remake your entire society just to piss off the Rooskies? (Spoiler: you do the second thing and it becomes this podcast episode.) On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedian Chloe Radcliffe, comedian & podcaster John Moe, University of Minnesota historian Elaine Tyler May, and an amazing LIVE audience at Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul MN. They team up to explore the strangest, oddest, most bizarre ways America tried to win the Cold War -- everything from social engineering to suburban sprawl to a bomb shelter for non-human Americans -- and examine how those intentional societal shifts stick with us today. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/the-weirdest-ways-america-tried-to-win-cold-war/
June 17, 2019
A “fire in the belly”: it’s a metaphor for motivation that sounds like terrible medical trouble. Our culture tells us a little bit of anger -- a little bit of that ulcerative-sounding “fire in the belly” -- helps us accomplish a little bit more. But what if that phenomenon can go farther? What if righteous anger led to some of the most impressive architecture, music, cartoons, and other great achievements of the past couple centuries? And what if the backstories there are hilarious every time? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians Billy Wayne Davis and Rivers Langley for a look at the most incredible things ever done purely out of spite. They’ll dig into tales of 1800s tycoons, 2010s Vermonters, and other noted maniacs re-shaping our cities. They’ll explore how several of your favorite musicians made whole chunks of their catalog just to piss off the label. And in a final look at human motivation itself, they’ll put a microscope on the thin, blurry line between desire and fury. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/the-12-most-incredible-things-ever-done-purely-out-spite/
June 10, 2019
Aphorisms: they’re the world’s favorite way to let somebody else handle the thinking. We all turn to a time-tested saying or phrase from time to time. It’s not a crime or nothin’. But what if lots of our most common sayings have actual meanings that are the opposite of our intention? What if lots of our go-to words and phrases have nightmare historical origins? And when we find out our language has those dark secrets, what should we do next as responsible speakers? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt teams up with comedians Greg Edwards and Caitlin Gill for a trip back in time, back through vocabularies, and back to the basics of the English language. They’ll examine how history, slang, and surprising shifts in meaning can mess with our most trusted sayings and phrases, turning our ordinary speech into insane ahistorical nonsense. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-common-sayings-phrases-everyone-uses-wrong
June 3, 2019
Over 2000 years ago, Aristotle wrote that it’s “evident” the Earth is round. One generation later, Greek mathematician & geographer Eratosthenes achieved a solid ballpark estimate of the Earth’s circumference. Again, that was over 2000 years ago. So how are we now in a world where many people believe our world is flat? What if those Flat Earth People do believe in climate change, in a hilarious way? And is there any chance this is all the Internet’s fault? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Dana Gould ('The Simpsons', 'Stan Against Evil', incredible stand-up comedy, so much more) for a deep dive into the world’s strangest newest conspiracy theories. They’ll look at how YouTube, social media, and bizarre message boards give us rabbit holes like never before. And they’ll examine how you can move forward in a world where all data gets bent out of shape by people helping each other do it. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/the-9-strangest-newest-conspiracy-theories-thriving-online/
May 27, 2019
You’re going to live a long time. Congratulations! That’s good! There are zero ways that is bad news! Yet if you talk about our future 50, 40, or even 10 years from now, people might tell you that’s fantastical wishful thinking. They may say the environment/politics/economy/incoming meteor dooms us all no matter what we do, so who cares. Why is assuming the world’s going to end so common? How come people talk about it with a wry jokey glint in their eye? And why does every generation tell that “joke” even though the world keeps on spinning? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (who writes for Cracked as David Wong) to dig into what you need to remember about our wretched hellscape. They’ll pick apart the fearful thinking that deactivates lots of people for no positive reason. They'll examine how people actually behave when the world actually is ending. And they'll explore the fantastic news that you’ll probably live to see a future Past You would kill for. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/the-end-of-the-world-mentality-and-why-thatE28099s-ridiculous
May 20, 2019
In the 50 years after the Civil War, America’s population quadrupled. That’s right: four times as many people within five decades. That surge of humanity made the turn-of-the-century United States a nation of 75 million Americans flocking to cities built so fast some didn’t have plumbing. What if one of those cities (Chicago) installed its pipes after the fact by raising entire structures into the air like in a cartoon? What if America’s nationwide surge of urbanization led to a host of other problems almost too weird to contemplate? And what if our cities are full of smelly trees, gross traitor-statues, and more odd issues to this day? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedian Ryan Asher, journalist Maya Dukmasova, historian Jane Dailey, and an amazing LIVE audience at Lincoln Hall in Chicago IL. Listen to this Chicago super-team break down the animals, minerals, cartoon corruption and other problems plaguing America’s cities (in a fun way!). Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-bizarre-gross-problems-that-took-over-u.s.-cities
May 13, 2019
Movie sequels are the biggest gamble in entertainment. The first movie is the first bet: how much do you build it toward a franchise at the expense of its story? How many of those folks will stick around for a second adventure? With your Adventure #2, how do you retell Adventure #1's story in a new way? Those and more questions make it amazing second and third movies happen at all (let alone 20+ Avengers building blocks). But what if that sequel process isn’t as hard as it looks? What if it’s actually pretty easy to do...as long as you avoid a few classic pitfalls audiences reject every time? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt teams up with Cracked editor/columnist/swell fella Cyriaque Lamar for a look at mistakes multi-million dollar movie franchises repeat year after year. They’ll dig into the story problems studios keep bringing on themselves. They’ll examine why Aliens, Terminators, and more Hollywood big bads turn kind of lame after enough iterations. And stick around for a few movie franchises that nail this every time, in replicable ways (HINT HINT MOVIEMAKERS). Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/7-common-mistakes-that-ruin-movie-sequels-trilogies/
May 6, 2019
Video games are escapist. That’s one theory about them, anyway. People think we fire up the ol’ console or PC or goofy VR headset to get away from life’s troubles. But what if that’s not the case? What if the art form of video games is a breeding ground for criminal activity? And what if the crimes are felony-level misdeeds, caused by everything from greed to malfeasance to Kate Upton’s chest?  On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Heather Anne Campbell and Nick Wiger, hosts of Earwolf’s upcoming ‘How Did This Get Played?’ podcast. They’ll combine incredible true stories with a deep knowledge of the gaming world to bring you gamer-based tales of theft, embezzlement, and biological warfare. Discover how millions of dollars, a slew of professional sporting events, and the Dutch Supreme Court changed forever thanks to the seemingly escapist medium of video games. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/10-insane-real-life-crimes-committed-through-video-games/
April 29, 2019
Be glad you don’t work in turn-of-the-century America. It was a time of lethal accidents, legal child labor, lecherous tycoons and more sick problems we've (mostly) left behind. Things got better in the past hundred years. That's a fact. But have things gotten better for you? Do you know working adults with benefits, unions, pensions, or any sense of a future? And most of all, if you hear somebody complain about their job, do you kinda think they're lucky to have a job at all? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (who writes for the site as David Wong) to dig into how modern work might be ruining your life. They’ll show the surprising life-or-death stakes baked into the simple question “how’s work?” They’ll also examine what science says about jobs of the future, how little science knows about jobs of the present, and how we can make each others’ jobs suck less by remembering the ways we’re the boss. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-lousy-life-shortening-jobs-became-americas-gig/
April 22, 2019
If you ask the average American to name ten things from World War II, Benito Mussolini won’t often make the list. But “Il Duce” seized power long before Hitler, spent more than two decades reshaping Italy in his image, and coined that “Fascist” term we all yell these days. Isn’t it strange that we never focus on Mussolini when we hearken back to WW2? Could he be a useful historical touchstone for understanding the present day? And did you know modern Italy is so steeped in Mussolini, its rising political stars CELEBRATE his brutal genocidal legacy? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by historian & scholar Ruth Ben-Ghiat and by comedian & podcaster Adam Tod Brown. They're taking a timely look at the most ignored fascist government of all time. They’ll debunk common myths about Mussolini’s train-centric reign. They’ll reveal the shockingly brazen Mussolini acolytes in modern Italian politics, supported by Fascism’s soccer subculture and normalized legacy. Also stick around for the shocking parallels between 2010s world leaders and Mussolini’s 1920s quest to Make Italy Great Again. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/what-fascist-italy-reveals-about-modern-america/
April 15, 2019
Notes are annoying. Nobody likes to spend weeks and months crafting an idea only to be told what’s wrong with it. Flip side to that: we often have blind spots when it comes to our creative projects. And that goes for everybody, even the creators of the most famous and successful entertainment of all time, because surprise -- almost every movie and TV show you love needed saving from creative notes that are (in hindsight) blisteringly obvious. On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Cracked editor/columnist Dan Hopper and by writer/comedian Kandice Martellaro for a look at the most quotable, lovable, Oscar-winning movies of all time...and how they almost fell apart at the ideas step. They’ll also discover series-killing TV episodes that got rehearsed and staged and brought within a hair of terrifying America. And yes, don’t worry, they one hundred percent discover which iconic franchise almost made its villain a confusing monkey. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/10-great-movies-tv-shows-that-were-almost-disasters
April 8, 2019
Wars involve a lot of pressure to be cool. It’s why people sign up: the chance to be heroic, the chance to appear mighty, the chance to give a ‘Patton’ style speech in front of a giant version of your national flag. That heroic stuff is all well and good for the right cause. But what if that vibe hides the historical reality that thousands of years of wars often came down to goofy ideas straight out of a cartoon? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians Logan Guntzelman and Eric Lampaert for a trip through the silliest, strangest, dopiest ideas that have ever won real battles. Discover world wars, civil wars, ancient bloodbaths, and other major conflicts that hinged on drugging honey, catapulting snakes, piling the right trash into the right boat-shaped pile, and other ridiculous "strategies." Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-bizarre-military-strategies-that-somehow-won-real-battles
April 1, 2019
Conan O’Brien’s made 25 years of late night TV (and counting!). You probably know the support of a staff made that possible. But did you know it also took sprinting, packeting, Schwarzenegger-tracking, Central American kidnapping, index card pouch crafting, and more wild elements all coming together to make ‘Conan’ and its forerunners the comedy institution they are today?  Answer: you did not know that, until you heard this episode of The Cracked Podcast! Alex Schmidt is joined by the multitalented Jessie Gaskell and Mike Sweeney: comedians, writers for ‘Conan’, and hosts of ‘Inside Conan: An Important Hollywood Podcast’. They’ll dive into how they got started, how late night shows function day to day, and surprising stuff from behind the scenes that you'd never know from watching at home. Plus: stick around and click through for a slew of insanely funny characters, sketches, and more that make this one of our funniest footNOTES sections in Cracked Podcast history. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/17-surprising-tales-from-inside-conanE28099s-late-night-shows
March 25, 2019
The phone you are reading this text on is easy to hold...if you’re a man. That’s according to statistics on average hand size & average phone size. If you’re a woman? Good luck taking one-handed pictures on this slightly-too-big brick that might give you repetitive stress injuries men don’t experience. Of course a phone is merely a device (that you do everything in your life on). But what if there’s a mountain of data proving women get erased from all aspects of modern society, from design to media to medicine? And what if that erasure is a full-on life-or-death issue that (almost) no one is talking about? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by journalist, activist, and author Caroline Criado Perez. They dive into an array of facts, figures, and critical lacks of data, all gathered in her amazing new book ‘Invisible Women: Data Bias In A World Designed For Men’. They’ll also explore the conscious & unconscious biases that drive women out of the workforce, swing voters into screwing over their own countries, and cause massive problems we could fix with a little more awareness...and maybe even a modest investment in studying human organs besides the penis. Footnotes: https://www.cracked.com/podcast/the-bizarre-hassles-women-face-in-our-world-designed-men/
March 18, 2019
Novelists are a little bit invincible. Oh sure, it’s hard to write a book, and you are required to stop writing your book if you die. But barring that untimely demise, you can to see your novel through to the bitter end as long as you have enough grit to get there. What if a writer didn’t get to do that? What if you built out a narrative for tens of millions of fans, only to have a couple of executives tell you it’s over before anything resolved? And what if that “what if” describes the actual experience of making many TV shows? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by working TV writers Ben Joseph and Chase Mitchell for tales of TV cancellations that turned stories into madness. They’ll dig into TV’s distant past and recent hits for narratives that became baffling cliffs audiences fell off of, all because the network felt the show wasn’t selling enough soap. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-tv-cancellations-that-caused-horrifying-cliffhangers/
March 11, 2019
We’re only a few centuries into the era of detective work. 19th century criminologists like Eugene Vidocq invented modern forensic techniques, standardized criminal databases, and the basic approach that underpins police investigations to this day. You would think this revolutionary shift would make our lives less spooky. But what if we told you history is full of mysteries that received diligent investigations, only to turn up stranger scarier questions? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by writers/comedians/history mystery superfans Jenny Jaffe and Carey O’Donnell to rediscover history’s strangest disappearances, murders, and more. They’ll explore all kinds of baffling tales that confounded professional investigators from the past through today. And stick around for some plain ol' fun new theories on these old cases. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/10-creepy-unsolved-mysteries-from-history/
March 4, 2019
We’re fresh off ‘Green Book’ achieving its dream Oscar night (CONGRATULATIONS you made-up Hero Dad Story you!!!). But this week’s episode is about EVERY Oscars ceremony. Why? Because the Oscars dictate most of your movie-watching year: October-December = “good movies”, January-February = “failed attempts at good movies”, summertime = “movies seeking the big green Oscar better known as MONEY.” So we asked ourselves a question. We asked what might happen if the Oscars stopped dictating that schedule? And what if they stopped dictating it because the Oscars stopped happening at all, freeing up all of pop culture to function differently (and maybe function better)? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, please enjoy the oracular brilliance and Hollywood wisdom of comedians/podcasters Caitlin Gill, Dan Hopper, Amy Nicholson, and Danielle Radford, who joined Alex Schmidt for this LIVE episode from the UCB Sunset Theatre in Los Angeles. They’ll dig into the biggest possible pop culture thought experiment: what would happen if the Oscars went away. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/what-would-happen-if-oscars-went-away/
February 25, 2019
The most successful people in the world are SO EXCITED to call themselves that. Hard-charging, in-leaning, unstoppable titans of industry want everyone to know it. One of their favorite brags: never sleeping more than a few hours a night. Is that actually a cool thing? Should all of us let ourselves get talked into that lifestyle? And are a bunch of our daily habits that kind of smart-seeming bad health trap? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (who writes for the site as David Wong). They want you to hang in there, friend. If there’s one takeaway from today’s episode (and there are so many more than just one!) it’s that you oughta receive all the healthy support you can get from others and from yourself. Other takeaways: an immense range of fascinating facts about our bodies, our culture, and the war they’re in at all times if we’re not careful. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/5-mainstream-health-habits-that-trick-you-into-feeling-lousy/
February 18, 2019
History is the most prolific screenwriter of all time. Thanks to the magic of Events Happening In Real Life, pop culture has graced us with everything from ‘Braveheart’ to ‘On The Basis Of Sex'. Those hit biopics about real people form a sort of Humanity Hall Of Fame. What if we told you there are an endless number of incredible real people who belong in that hall, and could make Hollywood fat stacks of cash in the process, if somebody would only put them on screen? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by writers/podcasters/all-around hilarious people Dave Schilling and Andrew Ti. They’ll take a trip down historical memory lane, and look into the most fascinating stories of right now, to find every amazing biopic Hollywood should have already made (and still can make). Get to know the most incredible war hero and U.S. Senator nobody talks about, the first female Presidential candidate, the Forrest Gump of relationships with modern terrible men, and more epic real people with Oscar potential. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/7-incredible-biopics-hollywood-shouldve-made-by-now/
February 11, 2019
“The book is better than the movie.” It’s a belief as old as...well, not as old as time, because books are centuries old and movies hit their stride when ‘Star Wars’ came out. Still, lots of people think movies ruin books. Many people also think there are one or two times when the movie outdid the book, in a weird exception-to-the-rule type situation. But what if we told you a better movie happens often? And what if there are cases where it was so obvious, to everyone involved, the book’s author said so? In public and everything? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by working writers Zack Bornstein (Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The New Yorker) and Hallie Cantor (Lady Dynamite, Arrested Development, The New Yorker) for a trip through the heads of novelists who saw their work torn apart on screen and realized it was for the best. Get excited to see Stephen King, Anne Rice, Philip K. Dick, and more great writers experience the joy of collaboration with Hollywood, in spite of the conventional wisdom we’re all told in English class. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-movies-that-improved-book-according-to-author/
February 4, 2019
“Social atomization” is a term that sounds like science fiction. It could be the title of a 1950s B-movie where a mad scientist vaporizes a dance party. But when sociologists use that term, “social atomization” is a complementary set of shifts you might have noticed lately: more loneliness, less societal trust, and an increasing feeling that nobody’s got your back. What does it mean if that’s happening to all of us? How can that happen without anybody intending it? And can that impact everything from your personal health to your national government? On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (who writes for the site as David Wong). They’ll explore why prior generations with rampant crime (!), Richard Nixon (!!), and the music of disco (!!!) feel better off and more cohesive than we do today. We’ll also take one step back and look at the awful reasons why some people are talking about this in the first place. And if we all stick together and trust each other, we might see a few ways out of this predicament. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-loneliness-epidemic-snuck-up-us-with-jason-pargin/
January 28, 2019
We are fresh off the longest government shutdown in American history (with another around the corner, maybe!). We are also riding almost a decade of of sustained stock market growth, almost a decade of sustained job growth, and all kinds of other business-y news you heard about. And when those stories crossed your cable TV screen or Twitter feed, did you have any idea what they meant? And if so...c’mon, are you sure you’ve got all the context? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Kai Ryssdal, the host of ‘Marketplace’ and the world heavyweight champion of that exact economic context you need. They’ll dig into how just one missed federal worker paycheck (let alone two!) ripples through the global economy for a long time. They’ll examine ways you can better understand what a stock market swing or jobs number actually means. Also stick around for valuable heads-ups on which chairpersons, directors, and CEOs tend to be extremely important indicators of our economic future, even though most people pay them no attention. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-to-be-less-confused-about-economy-with-kai-ryssdal [TIMELY UPDATE: on Friday afternoon the U.S. government re-opened temporarily. Details here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/25/us/politics/trump-shutdown-deal.html We will describe the shutdown as a present-tense thing in this episode because, as we’ll say early on, we taped this episode right before the government re-opened. Also we taped with that possibility in mind, so all our facts about the shutdown are accurate and are long-term focused.]
January 21, 2019
You’ve probably heard jokes about lawyers before. Here’s a more advanced version, coming from future Chief Justice Of The U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts in April of 1983: “The generally accepted notion that the court can only hear roughly 150 cases each term gives the same sense of reassurance as the adjournment of the court in July, when we know the Constitution is safe for the summer.” We know, we know, it’s not exactly a kickass one-liner. But what if it is getting at something true about the U.S. Supreme Court’s overwhelming power? What if our whole Constitution can vanish because five out of nine Justices get a little too active? And what if Chief Justice Roberts is a perfect example of the inconsistent, insensitive, inscrutable jurists who’ve hamstrung American democracy for centuries...all without most people noticing? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Ian Millhiser, author of the book ‘Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted’. They’ll re-discover the forgotten SCOTUS decisions that endorsed everything from racism to sexism to wildly villainous child labor. They’ll explore the complicated make-up of today’s Court, with a view to how its faults could destroy it. And great news: they’ll celebrate the rare past SCOTUS that got a whole lot of things right, and look at how that golden era could happen all over again. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/why-terrible-u.s.-supreme-court-historical-norm
January 14, 2019
The name “science fiction” is a pretty good descriptor of the genre, if you want to think of it as two big buckets for a writer to fill. Bucket 1: science! Fun tech and gizmos to entertain and inspire. Bucket 2: fiction! Narrative and story and other engaging ideas that make us laugh, cry, and consider what it means to be human. It’s amazing that one genre can bring us all that. But have you ever noticed some sci-fi does an incredible job of the “fi” part -- and thanks to that brilliant “fi”, we let a lot of weird “sci” whoosh right past us? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Dan Hopper (Cracked) and Moujan Zolfaghari (Mission To Zyxx) for a trip down memory lane, into the future, where everybody WISHES they had tech half as great as WiFi. They’ll examine everything from ‘Minority Report’ to ‘Blade Runner’ to all generations of ‘Star Trek’, finding gizmo after gizmo that’s lower-tech than what we have in real life, and dig into why sci-fi stories where things are supposed to be more advanced than today ignore the actual ways technology advances. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-sci-fi-movie-technologies-that-went-stupidly-backwards/
January 7, 2019
How well do you read Latin? Because if you’re not all that good at reading Latin or other dead languages, good news: you could have still had a job as an 1800s historian. Fun example: there’s a story claiming the Roman emperor Caligula was SO CRAZY, he sent a whole army to a beach to pick up seashells for him. However, the Latin word ‘musculi’ means both “shells” and “military huts”, so he likely actually told his troops to pack up their campsite. Which is normal. That’s a completely different kind of emperor, right? And here’s a fun thing: your pop cultural understanding of the Roman Empire is approximately that far off of the truth, in a lot of fascinating ways. On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Siobhan Thompson (CollegeHumor, BBC America) and Patrick Wyman (Tides Of History, ‘Jeopardy!’) for a trip through the inaccurate lies you’ve been fed about the ancient Romans, and also the much more interesting true things you never knew about them. Get your head straight about everything from mighty gladiators to ancient fast food to the stunning economic benefits of living near a former Roman road. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/overrated-myths-and-underrated-facts-about-ancient-rome/
December 31, 2018
Enormous gratitude this week! New episode next week. And in the meantime, here are some of our recent favorite episodes of the show: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/happy-new-year-and-thank-you21-from-cracked-podcast/ Also did you know we’re going on tour in 2019? It’s true! See us LIVE in Chicago, Illinois on Thursday April 11th and in St. Paul, Minnesota on Friday April 12th. CHICAGO TICKETS: http://bit.ly/crackedchicago ST. PAUL TICKETS: http://bit.ly/crackedstpaul
December 24, 2018
“No bad ideas in a brainstorm.” That’s a common saying that implies a darker truth: as soon as an idea leaves a brainstorm’s cocoon, and gets put into practice, it can metamorphose into a living, breathing disaster. After all, who knows how your theoretical idea would actually work? How can we put any idea into practice without testing it on millions of people first? And surprise -- sudden mental left turn here -- what if we already had a way to test all kinds of ideas, see how great they really are, and then easily make your life better by implementing them? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Adam Tod Brown (Unpopular Opinion) and Nick Wiger (Doughboys) for a worldwide brainstorming session. They’ll consider all kinds of real ideas, tested by real countries, that could upgrade life in America if we just had the courage to borrow them. The year’s almost over, so throw on some headphones and find out how copying the best laws from Sweden, Cuba, Taiwan and more places could be our first and best decision of 2019. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-great-ideas-america-should-steal-from-other-countries/
December 17, 2018
You’re holding a couple hundred billion transistors right now. Yes, you. You with the smartphone in your hand. That’s possible because -- surprise -- transistors are only a few nanometers in size now. A size so small, that description means nothing to you, right? Well here’s something: what if transistors and all other things we engineer are only going to get smaller from here? And what if that entire process began a shockingly short time ago, in a specific place, and changed the entire world faster than anybody realized it was happening? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by author Simon Winchester. His latest book is ‘The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created The Modern World’, and he & Alex will explore exactly that. They’ll also get into why 1776 should be famous for more than the American Revolution, why Eli Whitney should be famous for being a con man, how the Hubble Space Telescope got itself contact lenses, and more shocking tales of precision changing the entire world overnight. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-few-precision-engineers-invented-your-entire-life/
December 10, 2018
Space: it’s the final frontier AND somehow the least popular frontier. A couple decades of successful shuttle launches passed unnoticed. A slew of orbital science experiments didn’t excite anybody. Even the Space Race wasn’t the nation-gripping drama we decided it was retroactively. Why isn’t space travel capturing more imaginations? Why aren’t people more stoked about it? And would it help if we did a rad podcast episode about the most kickass exploits in all of space history? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by ‘American Dad’ writer, Cracked legend, and prince of all our hearts Soren Bowie for a celebration of outer space heroics. They’ll dig into the death-defying (and sometimes, death-receiving) bravery that’s driven decades of space exploration, even though only a few of those bold explorers became famous in the aftermath. Plus, enjoy a special bonus story of how the very best of us went out into the universe in the form of a space probe. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/13-badass-astronaut-cosmonaut-stories-everyone-should-hear/
December 3, 2018
Here’s some common sense: the more complicated a machine gets, the more ways it can break down and fall apart. That applies to everything from cars to kids’ toys to Hollywood, and that last thing (Hollywood) is this principle’s most fun application. Because what happens to your favorite movie if any step of the process goes differently? Is it even still that thing you like if it has different writing/casting/directing/editing/releasing/endless continuing list of these things? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by podcasting titan Matt Gourley for a deep dive into all the ways our favorite franchises could’ve come together completely differently. From James Bond to Star Wars to even bigger pop cultural touchstones than those (!), they’ll discover how close we came to not even recognizing the movies, TV shows, and other entertainments closest to our hearts. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-pop-culture-alternate-histories-that-almost-happened
November 26, 2018
History: it’s the number one topic for filmmakers who want to win an Oscar. From serious movies about American history to serious movies about British history, no subject wins more votes and locks down more statues. Of course the people making those movies would tell you they’re super serious because history was that way, so what else can they do. But what if every period drama could be funnier AND realer if it got over itself? And what if eras from ancient Rome to the twentieth century Cold War featured real hijinks that are so hilarious, so wild, so straight-up funny, Hollywood refused to show them to you? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt and Dan Hopper explore that exact phenomenon. They’ll pick apart some of the greatest historical dramas and biopics of all time, take you behind the production curtain, and pick out the hilarious elements filmmakers just didn’t have the guts to put in. And they’ll dig into the biggest historical events of all time, illuminating funny real things no moviemaker would show you unless they’re making a comedy, and willing to forgo Oscar riches. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-historical-facts-that-were-way-too-stupid-movies/
November 19, 2018
Our brains have a few sets of guardrails...theoretically. One set should prevent us from claiming wild nonsense about ourselves, in particular if we know we can’t back it up. Another set ought to prevent us from falling for that garbage if other people pull it. But what if certain people don’t have that first limitation? What if they have the ability to lie beyond all reason, all the time? And what if the rest of us are liable to fall for it in spite of ourselves? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Danielle Radford and Jenny Jaffe for a trip through ridiculous lies and cons that never should have worked...and somehow fooled everybody anyway. They’ll explore historical and modern-day examples of utter shenanigans happening everywhere from Brazil to Paris to the Dominion of Melchizedek (don’t ask). And they’ll mull why people love perpetrating -- and falling for -- the dumbest tricks imaginable. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/12-ridiculously-obvious-lies-cons-that-fooled-world/
November 12, 2018
Imagine a genie gave you one million dollars to make a movie. You’d immediately go into Working Your Ass Off Mode, right? After all, if you’re spending one whole million U.S. dollars, you’d want to make sure the script and production were as perfect as they could be. Now here’s the next version of that thought experiment: what if you got to spend FOUR HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS? What if you got to spend it making an Avengers story that tied together ten years of filmmaking? And here’s the scary part: what if your story forgot to make it clear that the villain was, ya know, on the wrong side of the conflict?  On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedy writers Chase Mitchell and Ben Joseph for a look at how some of the biggest movies of all time forgot to prove that their villain was in the wrong. And if they’re lucky they’ll find a way to explain how films from ‘The Little Mermaid’ to ‘Mission: Impossible - Fallout’ to ‘Avengers Thanos-stravaganza’ screwed up the basic building block of "good versus evil" without audiences noticing. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-movies-that-forgot-to-prove-villain-wrong/
November 5, 2018
If you took an advanced high school history class, you might remember that The Spanish-American War happened. You might even remember a few details: a ship sinking in Cuba, the U.S. taking over Puerto Rico, Teddy Roosevelt riding a horse...and once you answered a couple test questions about that, you moved on forever. To most people, the wars that define America involve George Washington winning, Adolf Hitler losing, and the Russians pointing nukes at us and frowning. But what if a brief American conflict in the year 1898 did just as much to shape the entire world’s destiny? And what if people of that time knew their votes in a few key elections would make all the difference? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Stephen Kinzer, author of ‘The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire’. Alex and Stephen dig into The Spanish-American War, and why it’s the most important American war nobody in America ever thinks about. They’ll look at how a little-known U.S. Senator, an even lesser-known populist silver freak, and the legacy of the Spanish Inquisition shape all our lives today. And they’ll consider how modern voters could finally answer the question of what America is supposed to be in the world, and answer it in a way where everybody benefits. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/how-one-forgotten-war-created-modern-america/
October 29, 2018
Thought experiment: imagine an alien. Great, experiment complete. Now examine what you came up with. It’s almost definitely one of two things: 1) a specific extraterrestrial from a movie or show, who you can point to as from that movie/show. 2) what’s known as a “Grey” -- a small humanoid with a large teardrop head and two face-dominating eyes. That second kind of Grey Alien dominates our cultural conception of life from other planets. But where did it come from? And what does it say about our larger belief in everything from dragons to werewolves to the scariest monsters ever invented? On this spooktacular episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (who writes for the site as David Wong). They’ll dig into the creepiest “true” story Jason’s ever encountered. They’ll also explore monster lore from the Salem Witch Trials to Slenderman creepypasta to the myth of The Deep State. And they’ll consider whether all monsters, human and otherwise, come from a cultural & psychological source that’s scarier than anything you could dress as for Halloween. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/the-creepiest-hidden-truths-behind-origins-monsters/
October 22, 2018
What do you do when a piece of entertainment lets you down? Maybe you complain about it to your friends. Maybe you nail its flaws with a sly tweet, or share a damning critical review. If you use any of those forms of outrage, it's probably because failed art can feel like it's happening TO us, not for us. But what if we told you anybody can take ownership of their viewing experience? What if holding one fun idea in your mind throughout an okay movie can change it into unforgettable entertainment? And most amazing of all: what if that could make ‘Star Wars’ prequels kind of watchable? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedian writer & memoir-master Guy Branum for a celebration of fan theories, head canons, and other ways to read a movie better. They’ll re-discover everything from Julia Roberts’ heyday to Disney’s darkest hour. They’ll turn football movies into the Shakespearean tragedies they’ve always been. And if they can find the strength to do it, they’ll make ‘Entourage’ into something miraculously watchable. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/theories-headcanons-that-make-movies-1000x-better
October 15, 2018
Books: they’re almost definitely supposed to do something besides decorate wall space. After all, there’s a whole class about them every year in school. Also various scientific studies say our brains get concrete benefits from reading the written word. But what do we gain when that word is read to us? What do we gain when we let a writer’s meaning reach us like never before? And what happens to society itself when literature takes on the role of prototyping our future? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with the one and only LeVar Burton, host of the incredible ‘LeVar Burton Reads’ podcast. If you’ve watched TV in the last 40 years, LeVar’s gotten you excited about books directly (‘Reading Rainbow’), indirectly (the original ‘Roots’ TV adaptation), and science fictionally (decades of ‘Star Trek’ acting and directing). Today he and Alex explore how the world’s reacted to LeVar's unique literary mission. They’ll also walk through a history of science fiction prototyping, the near future of ‘Trek’ storytelling, and what literacy can do for all our futures if we let it. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/levar-burton-reading-sci-fi-where-weE28099re-headed-next/
October 8, 2018
Television: it’s the most important art form that’s ever been shot with a gun by Elvis. And don’t let that jokey reference to a real thing (seriously -- check the footNOTES) distract you from our current Golden Age Of Television. We have more shows, and more great shows, than ever before. But has the system for rewarding those shows kept pace? Do we have the right set of Emmy Awards for celebrating TV’s new best stuff? And if a panel of comedians put their mind to it, could we get a new set of awards that are the silliness America needs right now? On this week's episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is LIVE at UCB Sunset with an all-star panel of comedians & TV writing pros. Join Demi Adejuyigbe (The Late Late Show, The Good Place), Haley Mancini (The Powerpuff Girls), and Dana Gould (Stan Against Evil, The Simpsons) for a celebration of everything TV can be...and everything funny about TV that The Official Emmys are too staid to have a laugh about. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/15-emmy-awards-we-wish-existed/
October 1, 2018
Fandom: it feels like it’s gotten hard lately. For example, ‘Ready Player One’ began its life as a bestselling novel by Ernest Cline. In their “A”-graded write-up in 2011, The AV Club said "for readers in line with Cline's obsessions, this is a guaranteed pleasure." Yet by 2018, when ‘RPO’ got a Steven Spielberg film adaptation, that same review site gave the movie a “B” grade with a side of savage criticism: "Like Ernest Cline’s divisive geek-courting novel, the film doesn’t offer much of a story or characters, instead spreading out an endless buffet of pop-culture references, flattering the preoccupations and encyclopedic recall of its target audience.” Does that make any sense? Was aggressive fandom better a few years back? Or has the dark side of really liking a thing turned too dark, too often? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians Caitlin Gill and Riley Silverman for a range of stories about how to be the absolute best pop culture fan you can be. They’ll focus on tales of fans connecting with creators, changing the shape of their favorite art, and putting themselves into it. They’ll also mull the dark side of intense fandom. And with everything from ‘Doctor Who’ to ‘Spider-Man’ about to premiere new installments, they’ll point to how you can be somebody who makes the world of fandom brighter. Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/11-amazing-fans-who-belong-in-pop-culture-hall-fame
September 24, 2018
Have you visited America’s heartland? And if you have...why are you so sure? “The heartland” is not a defined thing, with borders or flags or land made of literal hearts. The term actually comes from a British geographer named Halford Mackinder (a fantastic name), who coined “heartland” in 1904 to describe one central part of pre-WWI Europe. So why do we use “heartland” in the present day, to describe an aspect of the U.S.? Is it to imply ideas about it, without letting you consider those ideas on their merits? And are there other words in our language that get used the same way? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (better known as David Wong) to explore the most celebrated words in the English language that also trick us constantly. They’ll examine how throwing around the term “real” messes with everything from our gender roles to our dinner plate to our politics. They’ll uncover the creepy way certain words throw entire generations under the bus. And they’ll explore why philosophies like socialism and fascism are making a comeback in places like America’s Heartland (whatever that is). Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/9-supposedly-important-words-that-donE28099t-mean-anything/
September 17, 2018
Adele and Kermit The Frog have a lot in common. Sure, they’re from different countries and they’re different species and one of them is a puppet. But in terms of taking your brain over by manipulating it with song, they’re the world’s foremost masters of a little trick called the appoggiatura. What is that magic Italian-derived word? How does it work? And how many other ways does the world prank your brain with music every day? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Jamie Brew (Botnik, Clickhole) for tales of tuneful brain trickery. They’ll dig through the latest brain science, the biggest pop songs of today, and the history of opera for ways your noggin hears music and messes with you as a result. Also, this one has some fun musical examples! So how about that! Footnotes: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/the-weirdest-ways-music-pranks-human-brain/
September 10, 2018
Movies have a weird double standard when it comes to character deaths. Some characters get swelling music and emotional final speeches; others get blown to bits in some background CGI effect intended to slightly increase the stakes of the second act. Strangely, this is even true in movies specifically about the sanctity of life, like The Shape of Water. Why is this? And is it getting worse? Today Alex is joined by Cracked contributor Dan Hopper and writer/performer Kandice Martellaro to dissect a bunch of famous movies (even some good ones!) that are weirdly callous about people dying horrible, gruesome deaths. Footnotes link: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/14-movies-that-are-weirdly-casual-about-character-deaths/
September 3, 2018
Did you know you can get paid to be a fake mourner at a funeral, for families who fear a low turnout? Or to pretend to be a fan of a celebrity, to make them seem more popular at appearances? If you have the right look, you could even get a job as a fake businessperson in China, for companies who want "Americans" in the background of their press conferences.  These are just a few of the bizarre but very real jobs covered in the Personal Experiences section of Cracked, along with things like "Spice Merchant", "Professional Drug Test Subject" and "Human Hair Collector." Today, we're talking to Cracked contributors Evan Symon and Isaac Cabe, who've spent years tracking down and talking to people who work jobs that are weird, fascinating and almost totally overlooked. Footnotes link: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/13-bizarre-jobs-you-never-knew-existed
August 27, 2018
When you fire up Netflix, you’re looking at it...and it’s looking back at you. Which is weird, right? Even though you already paid for Netflix’s entire service, and even though it shouldn’t matter to Netflix how you spend your time there, every image you see is calibrated to sell you what they’ve decided you want. Did you know that process is going on? And did you know they might know some things about you that’d surprise you? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (better known as David Wong) to explore Jason’s latest column, their shared Netflix histories, and what that system means for every one of us. They’ll examine the burgeoning new-ish field of data science, its laughable limitations, and its about-to-explode future. They’ll dig into businesses that already stick entire segments of the population with lousy choices, just because the businesses decided those people are A Specific Segment. And they’ll consider the inevitable world of number-crunched choices we could all get stuck with if companies don’t treat us like actual people. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/ZdxLqo
August 20, 2018
You need to arm yourself against weaponized old tweets. Not your own tweets, hopefully (though who knows). We’re talking about how every time you open social media, someone’s outrageous words are being used against them. Maybe the frequency of that scares you; after all, every one of us is lucky certain things we’ve said weren’t timestamped for eternity. Or maybe that pile of outrage excites you; justice relies on evidence, so maybe the more evidence there is the better the world will get. But take a look past all these maybes and semicolons (we know we used a lot; we feel fancy today, deal with it). Look at what's actually going on with Internet outrage right now. Is all that handwringing the same across the board? Or is some of it intended to ruin lives just to win a political game? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Amy Nicholson (Unspooled) and Andrew Ti (Yo, Is This Racist?) for an always-timely look at how you can tell worthwhile online activism apart from digital harassment. They’ll examine recent cases from James Gunn to Sarah Jeong to Roseanne Barr. They’ll lay out basic rules of thumb to help you handle the next hashtag that comes along. And they’ll find a fuller answer to all this than Twitter users usually can, thanks to the magic of being human toward each other in more than 280 characters. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/izjyN7
August 13, 2018
The stock market is even more powerful than you realize. Which is saying something, right? Much like Han Solo is pretty sure he can imagine infinite money, you believe you know the world’s combined wealth is mighty. But did you know a lot of Traditional Upstanding Stock Market Business is simply rich people gambling? And did you know individual rich people, regular people, and even children have steered the entire world economy into a ditch more times than your history teacher can count? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Gaby Dunn for an adventure through modern risk-takers, historical bet-losers, and the creepy way wealthier people are keeping you unaware of the whole thing. They’ll rediscover Scotland’s canal through Panama. They’ll watch entire stock exchanges and currencies collapse because of one guy. And they’ll leave you with ways you can be just as powerful as those mysterious masters of the universe if you think a little bit more about where your money lives. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/pgN5eg
August 6, 2018
We live in an era of permanent reboots. Everything from ‘Superman’ to ‘Archie Comics’ comes roaring back in one form or another, because we entered a handshake agreement with capitalism that we would pay to see it. You may know a few things you like had a weird sequel or two. But did you know almost every franchise has experimented with going completely off the rails, in public, often with added talking animal friends? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Kristi Harrison and Cyriaque Lamar for a trip through the world’s favorite pop culture, and the bizarre mutations it went through without most people noticing. Discover the truly weird true ambitions of the artist behind ‘Garfield’, the movie studio behind ‘Casablanca’, and every cartoonist who tried to make ‘James Bond’ and ‘The Flinstones’ work for modern kids. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/Fp23hJ
July 30, 2018
Believe it or not, Abe Lincoln was a real person. Oh sure sure, he SEEMS like a kindly freedom-giant of the mythic past, who strode out of the fog and into kicking Robert E. Lee’s butt. But isn’t it more interesting if he was a real guy? Heck, isn’t it more interesting if EVERY past President was an actual human being, with dreams and sicknesses and fixations like anybody else? And strangest of all, what if the elaborate myths we build around POTUSes are both untrue AND the least interesting thing about them?  On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Elliott Kalan (MST3K, The Daily Show) for a deep dive into the fake facts you’ve been told about Presidents, and the more incredible real facts you deserve to know. Find out why James K. Polk was like Pinhead from the ‘Hellraiser’ movies. Find out how Calvin Coolidge (a very talkative person) revolutionized Presidential communication. And stick around to discover which POTUS wanted to capture a living woolly mammoth, haul it to D.C., and show it off to the Europeans. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/NJDAJA
July 23, 2018
The US-Mexico border is many things: a line on a map, a setting for ‘Sicario’ movies, a heinous crime scene. North America’s most famous border is so prominent in our minds and our hearts, it’s easy to forget it’s also a place most of us have never been. Do we really understand what it’s like down there, or has it been misrepresented by every anti-immigration “tough guy” we see on TV? Is it really the unique migration crisis we think it is, or are other countries’ borders even deadlier flashpoints? And most surprising of all: what if that potential wall that dominated the 2016 election ALREADY EXISTS, and has existed for over a decade? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Dr. Reece Jones, a scholar who literally wrote the book on our modern violent borders. They’ll draw on Dr. Jones’s experiences at walled borders from Arizona to Morocco to Bangladesh (fun fact: some “fences” sure are wall-shaped!). They’ll explore 230-plus years of predatory & inconsistent American migration policies. And you know those Executive Branch photo ops where Fearless Leaders examine Strong Border Walls that Make Us Stronger? Turns out they’re even more full of crap than you think they are (and we say that knowing you can imagine a lot of crap). Footnotes: https://goo.gl/pdbHzZ
July 16, 2018
As long as real-life gun rampages go unchecked, first person shooter video games will be a major battlefront of The Culture War. After all, today’s new hyper-realistic gun games must be causing today’s hideous violence! But what if twenty years of perfecting virtual headshot tech dovetails with a drop in American violent crime? What if games don't actually trick anyone into being violent, or sexist, or an Italian plumber? And most chilling for you gamers out there: what if games DO trick you into becoming a less ideal person, in a way nobody’s ever warned you about? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Jason Pargin (better known as David Wong) to explore a surprising truth nobody else is covering. They’ll combine decades of gaming experience with a range of studies and reporting. They’ll debunk a lot of the panic about Those Darned Violent Video Games, while also picking out some truths hidden in it. And they’ll explore how gaming DOES change the brains of even the most blood-averse n00bs. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/Ftg8HC
July 9, 2018
We live in exciting times, other than all the reasons we don’t. Why’s that? We live when TV shows got good. Over the last 15-20 years, high quality television became a normal thing there’s almost too much of, instead of a rare jewel hiding in a sea of cranked-out, time-constrained filler. But how did we reach this pinnacle? What failed experiments laid the groundwork for our present nirvana? And did Kanye West really get to create and film TWO entire TV show ideas in 2007? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Dan Hopper (Cracked) and Chase Mitchell (The Tonight Show) for a look back on the most bizarre decisions in TV history. They’ll uncover pilot episodes that boggle the mind, baffling ideas that ran for multiple episodes, and entire plotlines on massive hit TV shows that happened for idiotic reasons. They’ll also break down the process that turns one idea into 24 episodes. And if you’re patient, they’ll share with you the wonder that is BAYWATCH NIGHTS. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/Uw6viH
July 2, 2018
Freedom: it can be the noblest-sounding justification for bailing on stuff. And it’s as American as the Pilgrims, who escaped persecution in England by going to the New World (so they could persecute themselves for a change). Of course, life today is much different: the oceans are mapped, the First Amendment protects all our religions, and Thanksgiving is a minor holiday setting the stage for Black Friday. But what if we told you that the impulse to Mayflower away from the rest of us is stronger than ever, and weirder than ever, with a dark secret most people don’t notice? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Cracked’s Kristi Harrison for a look at two broad movements that want to move the hell away from the rest of us. They’ll dig into why a floating libertarian paradise and an ahistorical “Western” culture obsession can spring from the same impulse. They’ll uncover how both groups are built on hopes that practices like voting, women’s suffrage, and gay rights might go away. And they’ll affirm why you don’t need to build your own survival bunker or boat just because all the other kids are doing it. And Alex & Kristi will affirm why you don’t need to build your own survival bunker slash boat just because all the other kids are doing it. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/A7uPXo
June 25, 2018
Acting: it’s almost definitely an art form, we’re pretty sure. After all, there are so many incredible performances on screen and stage every year. But what if we told you that some of Hollywood’s most celebrated characters were the product of actors goofing off, performers being themselves, and/or directors tormenting people into insanity? And what if we told you ONLY SOME of the examples of bizarrely real acting involve Adam Sandler??? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is LIVE at UCB Sunset with Dan Hopper (Cracked, CollegeHumor), Molly Lambert (Night Call, NYT Magazine), and Dani Fernandez (Nerdificent, Geek & Sundry) for a look back on amazing performances by actors who weren't acting. Find out how Oscar-winning directors, world-famous thespians, and sneakily-aimed vomit cannons combined to make the biggest movies of all time more real than you ever imagined. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/xrwxYB
June 18, 2018
Are you 100% sure you exist? Good news: we’re sure. But here’s a few TERRIFYING headlines saying otherwise: “The universe shouldn’t exist, according to science.” (New York Post) “The universe shouldn't exist, scientists say after finding bizarre behaviour of anti-matter” (The Independent) “Universe shouldn’t exist, CERN physicists conclude.” (Cosmos Magazine) You might see those statements and think they sound increasingly convincing. First it was scientists saying stuff, then they brought anti-matter into it, and then holy cow here comes CERN. What a big official-looking acronym!  All those stories spring from one study, which Physics Today and Gizmodo covered in a professional way. The study explained a huge leap forward in how we measure antiproton magnetic movement. One press release about it contained a borderline joke about the universe. And from there, all hell broke loose. Specifically, the same hell that keeps happening with discovery after discovery. On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Matt Kirshen (The Jim Jefferies Show) and Andy Wood (Bridgetown Comedy Festival) of “Probably Science” to plumb the depths of Internet science reporting. They’ll explore the food chain of scientists, universities, PR people, clickbait farms, and straight-up liars who turn good science into confusing Facebook junk. They’ll rolodex tales of alien octopuses, brown pandas, new Earths, and other actually-awesome things you’ve been lied to about. And they’ll send you out into the world with science literacy tools that will make your brain happier and your life a whole lot easier. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/aBwRkg
June 11, 2018
Soccer: it’s the sport the rest of the world calls “football”, despite how loud America yells otherwise. It’s also the global obsession that peaks every 4 years with a World Cup. This year’s Cup is about to start in Russia. 2026’s Cup is about to get awarded to the United States and Canada and Mexico, maybe. And everyone is abuzz about which of the perennial contenders (minus Italy, minus the Netherlands) will win it all. That passion for the game means big crowds, big glory, and big money. But did you know it also created the world's most brazen white collar criminal organization? And helps past and present autocrats keep their stranglehold on power? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Dr. Natalie Koch (Maxwell School at Syracuse University) and by DeMorge Brown (Harmontown, Channel 101) to explore how soccer’s governing body became a secret Swiss crime family without most fans noticing. They’ll find insanely bold sports corruption everywhere from Qatar to Trump Tower. And you’ll discover how soccer, the Olympics, cycling, falconry, and more global sports take our planet’s politics in a weirdly dark direction while also bringing joy to our planet’s people. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/jZFKs6
June 4, 2018
The 1st Amendment: it’s America’s most cherished and well-defended constitutional freedom that's not that gun one. Either way, we’re used to living in a country where free speech has few limits, and only really runs into trouble when it can get people killed. But what happens when that free speech lobbies for white supremacist ideas that have historically caused violence and death? What happens when that speech comes in the form of text on websites, days after an awful tragedy? And what happens when a couple of random tech bros hold the power to boot that speech off the Internet on a (morally defensible) whim? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by NPR’s Sam Sanders for a fun look at the strangest phenomenon of the past few months. Drawing on legal experts, tech thinkers, and one hard-to-stomach interview, they’ll explore how a few people now hold the keys to our entire public square. And even though you’re (probably) not a creepy jerk hiding out on EvilFrogTwitter.biz, get ready to consider whether the Internet freedom you love has ever existed at all. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/cbGvra
May 28, 2018
Food: you gotta eat it. No matter how you organize your diet, habits, and beliefs, you’re going to devour something that other people helped put in front of you, every day. And don’t get us wrong: eating is awesome. But did you know it’s also a lot more fascinating than you ever realized? Did you know you’re in a world where cheese is a conspiracy, fish are a lie, and every bit of the world’s honey WILL NEVER DIE? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is LIVE at UCB Sunset with Hallie Cantor (Arrested Development, Lady Dynamite), Brodie Reed (Channel 101) and Ian Abramson (Oddball Comedy Tour), exploring bizarre secrets of the foods we eat every day. Find out how wood found its way into...everything. Discover which common nut explodes without warning. And sit down to your next meal with a heady appreciation for the phenomenally weird process that puts those nutrients in front of us every day. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/TzLTNS
May 21, 2018
How much do you know offhand about World War II? If you’re an American, you probably know a lot. After all, everything from our education system to our popular culture hammers home the key facts of The War To End All Wars For Real This Time. And congratulations: a lot of what you know is factually accurate (e.g. “Hitler was bad”). A lot of what you know is worth knowing (seriously, Hitler was VERY BAD). But have you ever wondered why certain historical specifics get so much emphasis, while other facts get left by the wayside? Or why the name “Hitler” pops up in modern debates about everything from immigration to environmentalism to upsetting blog posts? On this week's episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt and Jason Pargin (better known as David Wong) look back on the defining war of The American Century, and examine the bizarre ways it gets reinterpreted through the years. They’ll get into the geopolitical reasons why movies like ‘Patton’ and ’Saving Private Ryan’ celebrate some men and not others. They’ll consider the legions of historical monsters we ignore (or even laud!) in the process of cartoon-ifying World War II’s struggle. And maybe, just maybe, if enough people hear this show, not every random modern thing will get called “Hitler” without deserving it. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/ahrHiZ
May 14, 2018
“Avengers: Infinity War” is like the Super Bowl: either you saw it, or you consciously opted to miss America’s latest biggest cultural event. But football is niche compared to MARVEL MOVIES. They’re the biggest pillar of global entertainment, made by skilled professionals doing their very best work, and here’s the weird fun thing about all that: the comic books themselves started weird, got weirder, and stayed baffling throughout our modern day. On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Cracked editor Cyriaque Lamar for a journey through decades of comic book insanity. Find out how Marvel, DC, and independent publishers have cranked out almost a century of baffling storylines and irresponsible canon changes, even as those same characters have conquered TV and film. And go out into your world knowing you live on a planet that once featured Werewolf Captain America, Badminton Champion Batman, and a friendly neighborhood Planned Parenthood Spider-Man. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/sw8FKs
May 7, 2018
“Hollywood” might be the most nebulous entity in America. It’s somehow a location and an industry and a big goofy hill-sign. It’s the source of all entertainment without entertaining us very often. And it’s where budding young artists flock to make it “big” (in Schwarzenegger’s case, literally). In popular consciousness, Hollywood is a sea of countless artists making our culture. But what if we told you the music world, movie world, and more pillars of American fun are driving by a shockingly tiny number of artists? And even weirder, the key artists are people you’ve never even heard of? On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt and special guest Jensen Karp (Get Up On This) celebrate rappers, writers, filmmakers, and wrestlers who remade our entire culture without the wider public knowing it. They’ll rediscover a comic book artist who resurrected Princess Di. They’ll champion the mid-1990s bodybuilder who reinvented rap. And because everybody needs a little care right now, they’ll grief-counsel themselves AND you through the end of Kanye West. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/Erv19d
April 30, 2018
For centuries, glossy checkout stand magazines told us “stars: they’re just like us!” But did you know Cameron Diaz went to high school with Snoop Dogg? Did you know Mr. T had a pre-fame life as Muhammad Ali’s bodyguard? And did you know Andre the Giant spent his childhood getting driven to school by Samuel Beckett (yes, THAT playwright/poet/Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett)? Magazines are FAILING to tell us how awesomely weird famous peoples’ lives are. Who can save us from that boring lie? ...maybe with a podcast episode??? On this week's episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is LIVE at UCB Sunset, saving the day with Jenny Jaffe (Big Hero 6, IFC), Matt Lieb (The Star Wars Show, AJ+), Carey O’Donnell (Heathers, Billy On The Street), and their audience. Get ready for a no-holds-barred deep dive into the most bizarre celebrity origins and backstories of all-time, AND a surprisingly strong focus on the wild world of grain dealing. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/3h15Zm
April 23, 2018
Here’s a mental experiment: think about “The Middle East”. What just popped into your head? It’s probably one or two kinds of places, tops. It might be a dangerous war zone, or a community that’s somehow hundreds of years behind modern life. And it definitely didn’t include skiers, on an indoor hill, in one of the world’s largest malls.  No judgments here, friend: we all have misconceptions about the world. And some of your Middle Eastern mental picture may be accurate. But what if we told you there’s an entire world of big box stores, Lionel Richie fandom, and intricate cultural diversity out there just waiting for you to discover it? On this week's episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt joins Anna Hossnieh & Shereen Younes for a revealing trip through the modern Middle East. They’ll dig into how how two rival Muslim-majority nations manipulate the entire region, why there’s all kinds of Middle Eastern modernity the American media misses, how a World Cup bid caused an international blockade, and so much more. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/ncTVkU
April 16, 2018
If you look back at old Westerns, you might see “Indians” portrayed like senseless alien villains. If you go back through O.G. ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes, you’ll find a lot more Christianity than today’s pop culture fans are used to. And if you watch ANYTHING from the 1940s that involves marijuana, get ready for hilariously over-the-top scaremongering about the lethal horrors of jazz cigarettes. Now consider this: all that past pop culture seems strange now because it drew on the most forceful beliefs of its time. So what the heck is going to happen when OUR grandkids watch, stream, and play through the biggest hit pop culture of 2018? On this week's episode of The Cracked Podcast, we’re predicting that exact thing. Alex Schmidt is joined by Jason Pargin (better known as David Wong) for a future’s-eye view of the movies, TV, video games and other fun we all love today. Discover the blind spots that lead modern America to root for secret police, demand the sloppiest possible leadership, live in eternal terror of somebody breeding plants better, and hold even more baffling beliefs beyond those. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/s4BtvY
April 9, 2018
Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai often tells a story about a hummingbird. In the story, the hummingbird’s forest catches fire. It’s burning out of control. And while the larger stronger animals cower, the hummingbird flies back and forth, putting drop after drop of water on the blaze. The big animals ask the hummingbird why it’s trying to put the fire out, since it seems too little and small-beaked to accomplish anything. The hummingbird’s simple reply: “I am doing what I can.” On this week's episode of The Cracked Podcast, we’re turning a listener suggestion into a joyful hummingbird hour. On the heels of our latest episode indexing little-known badasses of history, Alex Schmidt and Kristi Harrison are celebrating little-known badasses of life right now. Find out how Los Angeles priests, Turkish garbagemen, Japanese scuba enthusiasts and more regular folks are spreading their little wings, picking up their water drop, and finding out just how big of a fire one hummingbird can fight. Footnotes: https://goo.gl/gmP5Ui
April 6, 2018
Zak Toscani went to his office job last week, thinking it’d be like any other week. By Monday, he was international news. In this special bonus episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt dives into the recent Twitter thread that captivated the world, with its L.A. comedian author. Zak breaks down the entire chain of events, revealing new details about the shrimp fried rice caper’s victim & perpetrator. And he & Alex explore the bizarre worldwide phenomenon of intra-office lunch theft that somehow no one was talking about till now. Zak's website: http://www.zaktoscani.com/ The famed Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/zaktoscani/status/979448251546927104 Additional footnotes: https://goo.gl/tskeUi
    15
    15
      0:00:00 / 0:00:00