THE BEST SHOW, the radio program that started in 2000 on freeform station WFMU and now streams live online every Tuesday night, is somewhat of a hard sell to newcomers.
Aside from the occasional celebrity guests (Paul Rudd, John Oliver), the three-hour show is given over to host Tom Scharpling taking calls from listeners, speaking with the often-deranged residents of the fictional New Jersey town of Newbridge, mostly voiced by the host's longtime comic foil, Jon Wurster.
If you're not a longtime listener, you'd be forgiven for wondering why Scharpling is spending so much time entertaining the comments of the miniscule neo-Nazi Timmy von Trimble, the questionable morals of Philly Boy Roy, or a strange creature that goes by the name of Raccoon Face.
"Most characters just come about from living honestly," says Wurster, who is best known for his career as a drummer for the Mountain Goats and Superchunk. "One of the great things about touring is that you see something crazy every day: a person you meet at a convenience store, a sign that you misread. Or Tom will say, 'What if you call in as a man who is two inches tall?' And my contribution was, 'And what if he's racist?'"
The Best Show's devoted fanbase has allowed the two to expand on this rich comedy universe. They recently aired a faux-infomercial for Newbridge on Adult Swim. And they've been doing live performances, like the sold-out event that hits the Doug Fir this Saturday and features many of the radio show's most beloved characters.
A huge treat for fans, the stage shows are also meant to promote The Best of the Best Show, a 16-disc box set recently released by Numero Group that compiles the duo's finest on-air moments from the WFMU years, a book featuring essays from Patton Oswalt, and a wealth of archival material.
"I love every band I've ever played in and I'm proud of every record I've ever played on," Wurster says, "but this is what I'd like to be remembered for when I'm gone. This is the purest thing I've ever been involved in."