The Best Show with Tom Scharpling
The Best Show with Tom Scharpling
|Genre||Talk, Comedy, Music|
|Running time||2 hours (2000-2001)
3 hours (2001-2013, 2014-)
Mike Lisk (2005-)
|Air dates||On WFMU:
October 10, 2000 to December 17, 2013
December 16, 2014
|No. of episodes||approx. 576 (on WFMU)
4 (The Half Hour of Power)
|Opening theme||"The Best Show on WFMU" by Themeweavers, LLC|
The Best Show with Tom Scharpling (formerly The Best Show on WFMU) is a combination music, call-in, and comedy Internet radio show/podcast hosted independently by Tom Scharpling since 2014, which previously aired on New Jersey-based radio station WFMU from 2000-2013. The show's slogan is "three hours of mirth, music, and mayhem."
The Best Show on WFMU first aired on October 10, 2000, occupying the 9pm-11pm time slot. Starting June 5, 2001, the show was expanded to three hours filling the 8pm-11pm slot, later moving to 9pm-midnight. A worldwide audience listened to the show live through WFMU's Internet stream, and many episodes were also archived on the radio station's website. The Best Show began podcasting its shows, with the music removed due to licensing restrictions, on January 26, 2006. In October 2013, Scharpling announced his intention to end The Best Show within several months, with the program's finale airing on December 17. About one year later on December 16, 2014, Scharpling revived the program independently from his own home at thebestshow.net. The current incarnation of The Best Show continues to air on Tuesday nights from 9pm to midnight Eastern. A bonus show, The Half Hour of Power, in which Scharpling takes un-screened calls off the air after midnight, began on the night of February 10, 2015 with the intention to produce it bi-weekly with episodes released the Friday after the show.
The show has listeners and callers around the world, from the United States and Canada, to as far afield as the U.K., Sweden, Japan, New Zealand, and Tasmania. Regular callers and in-studio guests of note include Todd Barry, Andy Kindler, Aimee Mann, Paul F. Tompkins, Ted Leo, John Hodgman, and Patton Oswalt.
Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster is a frequent caller to the show, adopting a variety of personae hailing from the fictional and surreal New Jersey suburb of "Newbridge." Frequent Wurster characters include "Philly Boy Roy" (an unflinching supporter of all things Philadelphia), "Timmy von Trimble" (a genetically modified, two-inch-tall racist), and "The Gorch" (a senior citizen from York, Pennsylvania, who claims that the character of The Fonz on the TV show Happy Days was based on him, without permission). Some of these calls have been released on CD by Scharpling and Wurster's Stereolaffs label.
- Fred Armisen
- Tim and Eric
- Zach Galifianakis
- Neil Hamburger
- Todd Barry
- Paul F. Tompkins
- Jim Gaffigan
- Patton Oswalt
- John Oliver
- Andrew Daly
- John Mulaney
- Jen Kirkman
- Aziz Ansari
- Paul Scheer
- Jason Woliner
- Robert Popper
- Martin Short
- Chris Elliott
- Dana Snyder
- Dave Willis
- H. Jon Benjamin
-  Sam Seder
- Jon Glaser
- DC Pierson
- Julie Klausner
- Vanessa Bayer
- Marc Maron
- Bob Odenkirk
- Horatio Sanz
- Ian Roberts
- Dave Hill
- Matt Walsh
- Noel Fielding
- Julian Barratt
On February 11, 2003, Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder appeared on The Best Show to discuss the political atmosphere of America. The chemistry between them as radio talents was evident, and their agreement on many liberal political views made them kindred spirits. In the summer of that same year, Garofalo was approached by representatives of Air America Radio to be a radio personality for their programming. She insisted that they hire Seder and that he share the hosting responsibilities. Less than one year later, The Majority Report was born.
Best Show Gems/Best Show Bests
On February 23, 2009, a spin-off program titled Best Show Gems began podcasting once every other week. The podcast is a "greatest hits"-type program featuring highlights from The Best Show. Best Show Gems ranges anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes, and usually centers on a call between Scharpling and Wurster. The podcast continues on as Best Show Bests, featuring calls and moments from the modern show and released every other week on Fridays on the same feed as the show proper.
Big Dipper reunion
On his January 20, 2004 radio program, Scharpling had been derisively talking about the VH1 show Bands Reunited. This discussion led to Scharpling facetiously declaring his goal of reuniting the beloved (though relatively unknown) 1980s Boston indie-rock band Big Dipper. In the following weeks, the concept of a "Big Dipper Reunion" had become a recurring in-joke on the program. Scharpling began calling the members at home to convince them to reunite. In 2008, the group reunited for a live concert. In advance of several reunion shows in April 2008, Merge Records released the 3-disc Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology on March 18, featuring liner notes by Scharpling.
In 2014, Scharpling and Wurster produced a television special for Adult Swim based around Scharpling & Wurster's characters on The Best Show entitled The Newbridge Tourism Board Presents: "We're Newbridge, We're Comin' To Get Ya!". The special aired on Adult Swim on November 3, 2014, and presents itself as a fictional tourism video advertising Newbridge, NJ.
Reception and fan base
- Interview between Tom Scharpling and Ted Leo in The Believer
- Whitney Matheson (2013-12-17). "Bye bye, 'Best Show': Beloved radio program ends". USA Today.
- New York Times article on Scharpling and TBSOWFMU
- Interview with Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster on The Sound of Young America (Feb. 3 * 2005)
- New Best Show Gems Podcast
- La Gorce, Tammy (January 1, 2006). "IN PERSON; Gotcha! Stay Tuned". New York Times.
- The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling Archives
- Official Website
- Written recaps at Recidivism.org
- Best Show Gems: The Best of the Best Show
- The Newbridgctionary (An episode-by-episode compendium of Best Show callers from the Newbridgiverse.)
- Interview with Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster on AST Radio (July 2, 2007)
- Interview with Tom Scharpling on Gothamist (June 15, 2006)
- Interview with Tom Scharpling on The Sound of Young America (Nov. 12, 2005)
- Article from American Way magazine