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This Week in Despair with Peter-john Byrnes
59 minutes | Nov 14, 2016
Episode 115 - Lisa Cohen and Cynthia Kaplan
The show rediscovered the mission statement inherent in its title this week, as the 2016 Presidential election came to a close with a twist ending that no one expected, not even the candidates. Lisa Cohen and Cynthia Kaplan join me to sort through our shock, provide irresponsible speculation as to what the heck happened, and to trash Florida, because we're still elitist. Nudist libertarians are discussed. Breaking terrible news to one's children is a topic. Plus: Snake Island!
54 minutes | Apr 15, 2016
Episode 110 - Trace Beaulieu
On this Very Special Episode, I am pleased to welcome Trace Beaulieu, the man who was both Dr. Forrester and Crow on the beloved television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. This poor man gets dragged into our usual nonsense about the Panama Papers, black lesbians from Skokie, and a planet that is supposed to destroy the Earth next month, but we also manage to talk about Manos: The Hands of Fate and his latest project, touring the country with Frank Conniff doing the live show The Mads Are Back. It's a very nice conversation with a lovely man.
62 minutes | Feb 11, 2016
Episode 64 - Stephanie Hasz and Mike Lawrence
In the middle of a week of sub-zero temperatures, Mike Lawrence came through Chicago and sat down with Stephanie Hasz to talk about Chris Christie and Bridge-gate and a man who hasn't bathed in 60 years, but then we mostly ended up talking about television shows. A story about Cormac McCarthy's ex-wife descends into a series of vagina-themed jokes. Mike and Stephanie argue about the merits of Star Trek. I trot out my Norm Abram impression from This Old House, and then we defame Full House. Also, Mike was dealing with a faulty microphone, which is why he sounds like he's reporting from inside a bathroom. This is a very silly episode.
61 minutes | Feb 9, 2016
Episode 103 - Live from Iowa 2016
It's Election Season, and the podcast goes on the road to report live from the Iowa Democratic Caucuses, and brought Tim Barnes and Cody Melcher along for sociological experimentation. Interviews with local Democratic party officials and a live segement from the caucus site in Dubuque are in the offing. Tim is baffled by The West Wing. Cody is anxious about his peer group. Also, making her debut on the podcast, my daughter, known only as The Vegetarian Teen. It doesn't get much more topical than this, kids.
63 minutes | Feb 4, 2016
Episode 102 - Erik Niewiarowski and Kyle Scanlan
David Bowie is dead, and I'm not feeling too good myself. Joining me to discuss his legacy are Erik Niewiarowski and Kyle Scanlan, who also indulge me in a discussion of the upcoming election season, an update on the militia in Oregon and the care packages they've received, and Rupert Murdoch's upcoming marriage to Jerry Hall. Robot Sperm are discussed. We take note of Ted Cruz's campaign ad done in blackface. The breakroom at ISIS is discussed.
56 minutes | Jan 27, 2016
Episode 101 - Reena Calm and Mary Zee
It was the week that a bunch of ill-prepared rancher militiamen took over a federal building and Oregon, and Reena Calm and Mary Zee were both there to help me make fun of them. Obama was accused of fake crying over gun deaths, when it really should have been Rahm Emanuel. A discussion of the racist Maine governor turns into Massachusetts-splaining on the subject of Dunkin' Donuts. George Lucas is disparaged.
61 minutes | Nov 25, 2015
Episode 87 - Sonia Denis and Xavier Lamont
It was the week of the protests and riots in Baltimore after the killing of yet another unarmed man by police, capping off a year of terrible misery. Joining me to explain why their black lives matter are Sonia Denis and Xavier Lamont, who talk about their own experiences, both of casual racism and the not-so-casual kind. Both Ben Carson and Barack Obama are included in the discussion, and oddly enough, OJ Simpson. I mostly keep quiet on this episode, because sometimes it's just best to listen.
56 minutes | Oct 27, 2015
Episode 93 - Bill Bullock and Stephanie Hasz
It was a week during which in the wake of yet another gun massacre, President Obama got mad instead of sad, and America spent the week shouting at one another. Also, Volkswagen is poisoning the world, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron really likes pork, and even the possiblity of water on Mars doesn't lift the cloud. Luckily I have two of my favorite and most frequent guests, Bill Bullock and Stephanie Hasz, to help me get through it. Bill reveals his fear of Stephanie. Stephanie reveals her fear of space travel. They have a conversation about assault vs betrayal during which I just keep my mouth shut. This episode contains traces of Willie Nelson.
53 minutes | Dec 15, 2014
Episode 60 - Jamie Campbell and Sherman Edwards
It's the week that Nelson Mandela died and Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson got fired, so as far as racism goes it was pretty much a draw. Jamie Campbell and Sherman Edwards join me to sort through it all, plus several stories about foreign objects being inserted into people for the purposes of art. Jamie waxes nostalgic about Robert Zemeckis films. Kolchak: The Night Stalker is explained. Plus the return of Moral Dilemmas!
80 minutes | Dec 13, 2014
Episode 59 - Adam Burke and Stephanie Hasz
In this live episode from The Hungry Brain, Adam Burke and Stephanie Hasz help me celebrate Thanksgiving by discussing Toronto mayor Rob Ford and abstinence education in Texas. The 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination is handled in the show's usual tasteful manner. The panel reminisces about their own sexual eductation. Monkey birth control is also discussed.
62 minutes | Dec 13, 2014
Episode 58 - Cody Melcher, Dave Stinton, and Alexandra Tsarpalas
It's the beginning of the charity season, and your host isn't feeling particularly chartiable. Returning veterans Cody Melcher, Alexandra Tsarpalas, and Dave Stinton are dragged into the cynical mire. Compassion fatigue and inefficient charities are discussed. A what-if scenario is discussed in which Mikhail Baryshnikov rules Russia instead of Vladimir Putin. We are collectively mean to a child with leukemia. All that, plus the horrifying dark side of Flipper!
62 minutes | Jul 29, 2014
Episode 57 - Chad Briggs and Goodrich Gevaart
Chicago has a new mass transit card, and it's terrible. Veteran despairer Chad Briggs joins newcomer and gigglepuss Goodrich Gevaart to discuss that horror, plus the nightmare of modern customer service. Edward Snowden's government theft is compared to that of Fat Lenny, who ripped off the Navy for millions. Poor people take it in the shorts again. And Chad unveils his newest character, Folksy South American Sheriff.
61 minutes | Jul 14, 2014
Episode 56 - Bill Bullock and Sonia Denis
Regular guests Bill Bullock and Sonia Denis return to reveal their secret identities as Information Technology professionals for a discussion of Healthcare.gov, the failing Obamacare website. The NSA is also in the news as the discussion turns to privacy in the modern age or the lack thereof. Sonia will cut you before telling you if she's single or not. Bill puts his business out on the street. There's also a discussion of Girl Scout cookies as a gateway to lesbianism, and how open mic comedy causes us all to lose faith in humanity.
68 minutes | Jul 10, 2014
Episode 55 - Stephanie Hasz and Katie McVay
Returning champions Stephanie Hasz and Katie McVay join me for a live episode that needed to have the monologue re-recorded due to technical difficulties. Racist NFL owners and bisexual Disney princesses are in the news, plus menstruating t-shirts make an appearance. Katie knows things about football. Stephanie has an unusual crush on an animated character. Katie and Stephanie disagree about boycotting terrible companies, but unite in their belief in ghosts against me. I don't really have much control over this episode.
61 minutes | Jul 4, 2014
Episode 54 - The Byrnes Sisters Strike Again
In previous episodes, my sisters have ruined Christmas, and Memorial Day. Now they ruin a funeral. This episode was recorded after attending the funeral of a close family member, and my sisters help produce an episode where the humor is as black as pitch. It's the full set of Kubler-Ross stages, it's the laugh that catches in your throat, it's the tears which might be of laughter or pain. It's This Week in Despair. This episode also contains a tribute to our fallen comrade and former guest, the late Dan Ronan.
54 minutes | Jul 2, 2014
Episode 53 - Andy Fleming, Jason Earl Folks, and Derek Sheen
It's our first-ever three-guest show! Seattle comic Derek Sheen is in town to join stalwart regulars Andy Fleming and Jason Earl Folks on a week where the government has been shut down, giant Chinese wasps fill the air, lizard people roam the streets undetected, and local restaurants are serving blasphemy on a bun, so the show is even more apocalyptic than usual. We learn what American voters believe. Killer bees make a comeback. Jason would prefer to fight a bear. And the latest Bigfoot news, of course.
74 minutes | Jun 19, 2014
Episode 52 - Matt Drufke and Joe Herrmann
Fellow comedy dads, über-nerds, and loud laughers Matt Drufke and Joe Herrmann join me on a week where Ted Cruz redefines a waste of time on the floor of the Senate. Pregnant priests, warp drive, and the deliciousness of babies all get discussed. We get nostalgic for how Rodney King was merely beaten. What would Jesus do? Probably not cut the food stamp program. Joe gets horrible parenting advice. It's our first episode with an Easter Egg!
78 minutes | Jun 9, 2014
Episode 51 - Adam Burke and Stephanie Hasz
Adam Burke and Stephanie Hasz are my two most frequent guests, but they've never appeared together on an episode...until now. On this special LIVE episode from Chicago's Hungry Brain, we have to sort through the wreckage of yet another gun massacre, plus the Costa Concordia makes a surprise return appearance. Espionage figures are discussed, including an Egyptian stork and Jackson Pollock. Hawai'ian names are pronouced. Clowns are disparaged.
73 minutes | Jun 6, 2014
Episode 50 - Stephanie Hasz and Nathan Rabin
Our 50th episode is also one of our most entertaining. First-time guest Nathan Rabin and long-time regular guest Stephanie Hasz join me for a discussion about Miss America, Juggalos, and Vladimir Putin. Our historical relationship with Russia is explained thorugh the filter of Rocky IV and Hawaii Five-O. Tattoos are shared. Speaking ill of the dead is approved of by all guests, and then exemplified by an extended trashing of the works of Michael Crichton. Nathan and I try to out-do one another on obscure 1980s film references, and go deep into the weeds. Stephanie is patient.
71 minutes | Jun 5, 2014
Episode 49 - Will Miles and Liza Treyger
We recorded this episode on September 11th, which is like Christmas for despair fetishists. Will Miles and Liza Treyger join in my nostalgia for terrible things, as George Zimmerman popping up in the news gives us an opportunity to review the Trayvon Martin case, and an analysis of Syria and Rwandan genocide somehow turns into a discussion of Sex and the City. Will and Liza explain OKCupid to me. Will reveals his family's UFO abduction past. Liza reviews her preferences in flowers. I conclude the episode by explaining the BDSM themes in early Wonder Woman comics while attempting to not sound like a total creep, and fail completely.
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