The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling

True fans of this blog know that I am a Card-Carrying Friend of Tom. What this means is that I listen to a radio show called “The Best Show on WFMU” on one of America’s last free-form stations called WFMU. WFMU is based out of Jersey City, NJ, but via the internet, everything about this show and the station is accessible from anywhere in the world. [The “card-carrying” part means I have a card in my wallet signed by Tom Scharpling indicating that I am a Friend of Tom.]

The Best Show on WFMU is a comedy based show, where Tom entertains real callers, and, in between, he has fake callers call in with scripted routines. While I enjoy the fake callers (who lately have been voiced by Jon Wurster), my favorite part of the show is Tom Scharpling himself. He has a very unique style of improvisational humor that works very well on the radio medium. This is exemplified by his ability to riff with comedy greats like Paul F. Tompkins, Patton Oswalt, and Zach Galifianakis, who are all regular guests on his show. In addition, Tom’s recent rivalry with Associate Producer Mike has added a layer of entertainment to the show that I think is hilarious.

I have only been listening to the show since the summer of 2006; it has been running strong since 2000. I generally listen to the weekly podcast which drops the Thursday after a show. But lately, I have been trying to listen live over the internet on Tuesdays at 9 pm. Tom has been away on hiatus for the last several weeks, but, even in his absence, the fill-in shows have been entertaining.

I wanted to re-live one of my favorite Tom moments here. It comes from The Best Show on April 22, 2008. Tom somehow gets on a rant of bad restaurants in America. His rant is focused on how Olive Garden is probably the worst restaurant. Then he describes the unlimited salad and breadstick ritual. His description is so dead on and had me laughing profusely for days after the show. He describes the salad as simply iceberg lettuce with one shredded carrot per cubic ton of lettuce. The dressing, being so sour, is simply vinegar, to which he converses with himself and verifies, “wait, do you mean oil and vinegar?” and he responds, “no, sir, just vinegar.” And he describes the breadsticks as “Wonder bread.” Reading this in text really doesn’t do it justice. You have to go back to the archive and listen to it.

Olive Garden Dressing - just as sour as pure vinegar

The Best Show is a meaningful part of my life. In addition to having the podcasts (which are vital for over 3 hours of commuting to work per week), via twitter and facebook, I have been introduced to a good number of Friends of Tom. The online community surrounding this show is astonishing, and I really can’t wait to attend some WFMU/Best Show events and meet some of the FoTs that I have met via twitter and facebook. Everyone with whom I converse seems very nice and obviously has a good sense of humor if they listen to The Best Show.

If you want to check out The Best Show on WFMU, you can tune in every Tuesday at 9pm Eastern on WFMU.org, there is a WFMU app for every style of smartphone available, there’s the above link to the archives, or you can find the podcast on iTunes. There is an additional podcast called “Best Show Gems” which is touted as the best of the best show which you can find on iTunes. [Links to both podcasts are included in the sidebar to my blog as well — under “Podcasts”]


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6 thoughts on “The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling

  • supergirl

    i love olive garden salads. i have had some serious pregnancy cravings for that vinegar-dressing!! but i agree, the breadsticks blow.


    • derryX

      I can’t eat that dressing. It’s too sour. I honestly work with concentrated acetic acid that smells less concentrated than that stuff.

      Also, I’ve been to Italy. Even though on the tour I was on they served me garbage, they never served me iceberg lettuce. Salad there was always nice dark bitter greens. They didn’t just throw olives and pepperoncini in to make it look Italian. haha


  • Jeff

    You know Tom, your attitude leaves a lot to be desired, and as a matter of fact, if I was at that high school radio station of yours right now, I would turn that place into a car wash.

    -Gene Simmons.


  • supergirl

    haha, i also don’t think much else at the olive garden would be like it is in italy. i shudder at the spaghetti with meat-sauce i got there on a recent misguided outing (i really wanted the salad. just salad.)


  • Jeff

    I posted this on the FOT message board, gonna post it ehre too:

    In March of 2006, I went over a friend’s house. He was listening to the Best Show on the actual radio (I grew up in the 90.1 area), specifically the episode where he was talking about Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries. I walked in, just as the deconstruction of the article started, and knew I was in love with the show when he said “You’re lookin totally A&F today dude!” and was talking about people wearing flip-flops and the sound they make. I made my friend not only listen to more of the show, but when we went out to get a slice of pizza, I made him put it on in the car. And that’s about when Wurster called as Trent L. Strauss. We got to the pizza place and sat in the car for 20 minutes laughing the entire time until he hung up. I honestly did not know if it was real or not, but it was damn funny. I think once he started threatening Tom, I figured it wasn’t real, but nonetheless they had me fooled for a good 45 minutes. So I started going through the archives. I’ve only gone about a year back from that point in total (the oldest one I heard was Tom’s “return” to the air from the “move” to Sirius) but pretty much everything I’ve ever heard from that point onward is incredible.

    I’ve called a few times. Nothing memorable (except for MAYBE the episode where Tom had people putting together their slap lists – I was the guy that wanted to slap Fox for canceling Arrested Development – Tom rejected my list and made me slap myself). Unfortunately, I don’t really have time to listen live anymore, nor do I have time to contribute (besides marathon time, of course). But the Best Show, for me personally, is something I don’t need to be active in to enjoy. Hearing Tom’s ridiculous reactions to everything give me some of the my biggest laughs.

    And here are some of my absolute favorite Best show moments:

    * My absolute favorite calls are Trent L. Strauss, Philly Boy Roy (Crawlspaces and Cheesesteaks), Zachery Brimstead (Supernova, Laser Beans, The Fudge Tub, and Racism), The guy who was on To Catch a Predator, Jimmy Crespo, Darren from Work (Aquasitions with Patton Oswalt), Gene Simmions (Newbridge Mayubinatorial Race, Poncake), Pretty much every Marky Ramone call, and every Bryce call ever. Seriously I want a return of Bryce.
    * On the 1/24/2006 show, someone called in trying to get Tom to answer a riddle about 3 mice in a mousehole. Tom guesses the riddle immediately, and the other guy demands that he doesn’t. Tom gets mad, and the whole thing ends with one of the best rope-a-dope GOMPs ever.
    * Not sure on the exact show, but someone calls up asking Tom if he’ll go to a Grouse hunt, where the DJ will be spinning House and Techno. The guy curses on the air, and Tom dumps him, and starts going off on the guy, and starts doing an impression of a house record. I die laughing every time he says the word “Touque”.
    * Tom making fun of James. There’s a whole bit about someone giving him a tube of Wig Glue that cracks me up every time.
    * And of course, the obligatory Cowboy Star, Gathering of the Juggalos, Tom Jameses James, Hest Rope-A-Dope, The World is in the Turlet, etc.



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