Podcast / Chapo Trap House

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Chapo Trap House is an American political comedy podcast that debuted in 2016, hosted by Will Menaker, Felix Biederman and Matt Christman with rotating co-hosts Virgil Texas and Amber A'Lee Frost and producer Brendan James, also known by their respective Twitter handles @willmenaker, @ByYourLogic, @cushbomb, @virgiltexas,@AmberALeeFrost and @deep_beige. The hosts (and many of their guests) are prominent personalities within "Weird Left" Twitter, a loose cabal of Twitter users who share a broadly leftist political outlook and absurdist senses of humour.

The podcast started in the midst of one of the most bizarre election cycles in American history and quickly built a cult following, with the hosts providing hilariously vulgar, irreverent commentary on the political and cultural issues of the day, often riffing on obscure Twitter in-jokes and such esoteric interests as mixed martial arts and Turkish nationalism.

New episodes are posted twice weekly, with one being for free and the other being for $5-a-month Patreon subscribers only.


This show provides examples of:

  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Felix notes that the word "cuck" only makes sense as an insult to the Alt-Right, because deep down inside they know they could never satisfy a woman themselves. Similarly, he asserts that they are only complaining about supposed white demographic decline because nobody would willingly bear their children.
  • Absentee Actor: It's relatively rare for all five co-hosts to all be on an episode together.
  • Accidental Misnaming: In his first appearance, Trump White House official Sebastian Gorka calls up who he believes to be a person named "Chapo Traphouse" and addresses the hosts collectively as "Mr. Chapo".
    • In a later appearance, as he descends into the studio from a helicopter, he looks at the individual hosts and says "Chapo, Chapo, Chapo, and Chapo... I see you're all here."
  • Affectionate Parody:
    • The Election Night 2016 live show is in part a parody of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove in which Will acts the part of the titular character (replete with wheelchair, German accent and a gloved Evil Hand), Felix playing a General Ripper-type character, a Pablo Ferro-esque credit sequence in the film version, and a sing-along of Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again" at the end of the night. (The show was even supposed to end with Felix's character being Driven to Suicide by Hillary Clinton's win, but this had to be cut due to Donald Trump unexpectedly winning the election.)
    • The Upset Governor is one both of Fawlty Towers in particular and British radio plays in general.
    • Episode 52 with guest Jeremy Scahill begins and ends with a British voice (producer Brendan James feigning an accent) calmly narrating in the style of documentarian Adam Curtis, who was later a guest on episode 65.
    • Episode 102's cold open is a parody of the courtroom climax of Mrs. Doubtfire, only with Brendan as fellow family-court victim Alex Jones defending his on-air persona.
    "What about what's in my frickin' heart, you ROBOTIC WORM DEMON?!"
    • Episode 104 is another live show parodying another Kubrick film, The Shining; the venue represents the Overlook Hotel, Brendan is the hotel manager, Matt is the unhinged alcoholic writer and father, Will is his young son who channels Marc Maron, Virgil is a ghostly bartender who is obsessed with trains and elevators, and Felix once again dresses in an army uniform because he thought they were parodying Full Metal Jacket (though it's also implied his proposed Scatman Crothers costume involved blackface).
    • The intro to episode 138 is a parody of certain episodes of The Twilight Zone (1959), specifically The Eye of the Beholder and Time Enough at Last. Matt's infamous audio quality issue is finally resolved after he moves to New York, but as it turns out, everyone else now has terrible audio - Will is at his family's estate, Felix has joined Hezbollah, Virgil is in the hospital after being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, and Brendan somehow teleported to a dimension made of pure audio. Matt screams "IT'S NOT FAIR, IT'S NOT FAIR" as the show's famous theme opens the podcast.
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: Their complaint with the portrayal of Saul Alinsky in Hillary's America — because D'Souza is pushing hard the metaphor that the Democratic Party is a grift or scam of some kind, he misses the chance to show Alinsky as a nefarious political organizer and focuses instead on how he ripped off hamburgers and coffee from punch-ticket automats.
    Felix: "How is it stealin' if they have th' noive to charge a quarter for a sandwich? Such bad food, and so little of it!"
  • All Men Are Perverts: Felix’s pundit character Carl Diggler not-so-secretly lusts after women’s feet and camgirls and engages in sexual tourism; more generally, the hosts often assert that male right-wingers are largely motivated by sexual pathology.
  • Alter-Ego Acting: A Type 1 example: while Felix usually acknowledges Carl Diggler as a fictional character he and Virgil write, he has also "played" the character on episodes of Chapo (most notably episode 44, a sort of semi-crossover with DigCast) and sometimes remarks that a real pundit has said or done something Carl Diggler would. note 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Often invoked. In a joke carried over from Diggler's columns, Felix often maintains that both John Kasich and Al Giordano are secretly half-bright, train-hopping hobo grifters looking to scam Republicans and Democrats, respectively, just to get free meals and lodging. (This assertion was helped by Kasich's love of restaurant photo-ops during his campaign and Al's often disheveled or unwell appearance.)
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Virgil's comic persona is that of a foppish nerd who is obsessed with trains, elevators, and the canonicity of various Garfield media.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Deconstructed in Episode 105 with regards to conservative Christian blogger Rod Dreher, known for his frequent homophobic and transphobic screeds. While they note that it's cliché to accuse vocal bigots of being closet cases, they insist that his obsession with the subject must mean he's repressing something (even if he himself doesn't know exactly what). They theorize that his painful upbringing (a father that viewed him as a weakling and a disgrace, a family that coldly rejected him) has made him envious of LGBTQ youth who break free of the stigmas imposed by their families and become at peace with their identities, while he himself was forced to gain acceptance elsewhere by attaching himself to conservative, patriarchal religions.
  • Author Appeal: Several instances.
    • Felix has a bit of an obsession with referencing games like Halo and Metal Gear Solid as well as the rapper Eminem, which while funny, are often incredibly tangential and have, in more recent episodes, received explicit chastises from Brendan especially, who tells Felix that he'll get 15-30 seconds before he cuts his mic.
    • Matt is a movie buff, and several episodes have been dedicated to reviewing films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Ghostbusters (2016). He even hosts the spinoff movie podcast Frost/Christman with Amber A’Lee Frost.
    • The hosts have an esoteric fascination with Turkish politics, and several segments have been dedicated to it; people who donate to the show on Patreon are called Grey Wolves after the Turkish ultranationalist movement of the same name.
    • Both Felix and Matt have recorded solo bonus episodes in which they talk about things they find interesting; Felix gives an analysis of Les Misérables (2012) and talks about an article he wrote about Saudi Arabian youth living under totalitarianism, and Matt talks about a 19th century German communist who moved to America and became a Union Army general in the American Civil War.
  • Berserk Button: The crushingly banal writing style of libertarian blogger Megan McArdle (in addition to her "thundering idiocy") is this for Matt, who's usually reduced to a sputtering, screaming wreck by the end of any Reading Series featuring her writing.
    • In episode 118, Will reads from an article by McArdle in which she attempts to rationalize the cost-cutting that led to a deadly apartment fire in London; the horrific thesis and clunky prose makes Matt so angry that his screaming leads the security staff of the building he's in to show up at his door.
    Will (reading from the article): "All the political will in the world cannot conjure up enough sprinkler systems, and sprinkler-system installers, to instantly transform a nation’s housing stock—"
    Matt: SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UUUUUUPP!!! OH MY FUCKING GOD! SHE'S TRYING TO DROWN YOU IN JUST ABSOLUTE BANALITY!
  • Born In The Wrong Decade: Felix theorizes that if conservative Christian blogger Rod Dreher had been born more recently, he would have grown up to be an asexual Tumblr kid instead of a vocally homophobic and transphobic bigot.
  • Brain Uploading: After riffing on the idea of self-piloting vehicles being used as a potential terrorist weapon, the hosts concoct a fake action movie trailer in which Osama bin Laden downloaded his personality onto a thumb drive before he died and is plugged into a self-piloting airplane to carry out another 9/11.
  • Brain with a Manual Control: Republican presidential candidate and famous neurosurgeon Ben Carson (voiced by Felix) claims in the intro to episode 26 that he knows how to directly stimulate a person's brain stem so that their legs "march" while they lie down on the operating table.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Felix, who is Jewish, constantly self-describes as an anti-Semite. His comic monologues in which he pushes hard on Jewish stereotypes can often make Will audibly uncomfortable, and in one case (a scenario where he likened something to a wealthy Jewish grandfather whose contemptuous sons are both sucking up to him in the hope of getting the larger piece of the inheritance) incorporate anti-Semetic stereotypes the other hosts didn't even know existed.
  • The Bus Came Back: After resigning as Producer/Co-Host in November 2017, Brendan returned for The News Queen, where the hosts review The Post.
  • Butt-Monkey: Quite a few:
    • Conservative Catholic columnist Ross Douthat is the most frequent target of the show's mockery of pundits, with several instances of the Chapo Reading Series dedicated to him.
    • Conservative Christian columnist Rod Dreher from The American Conservative is a staple of the Reading Series as well, usually concerning articles that are extremely homophobic and transphobic.
    • Ben Shapiro's nasal voice and highly arrogant demeanor have been repeatedly parodied, and his hyper-patriotic thriller novel True Allegiance has been the subject of several Reading Series.
    • Dan McLaughlin, a conservative pundit who self-styles as The Baseball Crank has been repeatedly mocked (owing largely to his ridiculous avatar image) and has been parodied as "The Billiards Fool" on DigCast and as "The Baseball Rube" in the Call of Cthulhu episodes; in nearly every instance, he is portrayed as having a Mickey Mouse-esque warbling falsetto voice (provided by either Felix or Virgil). (On one occasion, he was played with a growly, Lip Lock-affected voice that made him sound a beefy villain from a poorly-dubbed shounen anime, mocking a Twitter spat with pundit Joy Ann Reid which reads like a stilted translation from Japanese.)
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • In the early days, Will would often cue the theme music by saying "Chapo, let's go!"
      • More recently, he's taken to saying "Greetings, friends... it's your Chapo for this week" or in the case of premium episodes, "It's your midweek Chapo".
    • Most shows end with Will asking "Till next time, guys?" and everyone responding with "Bye!"
  • Characterization Marches On: James Adomian's Sebastian Gorka impression started off vaguely menacing and befuddled before evolving into more of a Diabolical Mastermind with every appearance.
  • Children Are Innocent: Downplayed. While the guys do make fun of kids from time to time, it's usually only in relation to their parents, such as Jeff Jacoby's sheltered son, Caleb, writing his family "poison pencil notes" calling them bad parents, or young John Podhoretz having to be physically restrained from watching TV all day. (Will even mentions that they found some amateur trance music of Caleb's on Soundcloud, but didn't want to embarrass him by playing it, saying that everyone does dumb stuff as a teenager; he goes on to clarify in a later Reading Series that their sympathies always lie with Caleb, given that Jeff's weird psychosexual hangups and smothering, ultra-Orthodox parenting style essentially screwed the poor boy up from the beginning.)
    • In a similar vein, they initially try not to make too much fun of the Baseball Crank's late father for being a NYC beat cop, but later go all in when they learn he was still racist enough to take the time to write a concerned letter to President Reagan about the dissolution of white rule in Zimbabwe.
  • Clip Show: Parodied in the one-year anniversary, where, until the very end, all the clips are either fake (re-enacting the Gore Vidal / Bill Buckley confrontation about Matt's dildo cannon tweet) or completely counter-factual (lustily chanting "TRUMP!" after the election and declaring that "the white race is coming back").
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The show portrays Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson (voiced by Felix) as a slow-talking lunatic who's obsessed with Biblical minutiae.
  • Cold Open: Quite a few episodes start this way; sometimes it's a pre-prepared sketch, sometimes it starts In Medias Res of an extended riff on something. Occasionally there won't even be any theme music or a proper intro at all.
  • Conversational Troping: Felix constantly references Looney Toons physics, Marx Brothers routines and old-timey comedy, and will frequently reel off lists of Depression-era comedy tropes as a joke template ("me and my boys are gonna drink from a jug with three Xs on the front and start to get a little rowdy..."), especially to parody the paranoia of their political adversaries.
  • Crossover: Episode 44 is a live episode where Felix and his writing partner Virgil Texas appear in character as Carl Diggler and his millennial intern from DigCast; the same performance was used in that week's DigCast episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of the hosts to one degree or another, but particularly Felix. He easily has the most sarcastic sense of humor, is quick to adopt a ludicrous point of view for comedic purposes, and does not suffer fools.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: An unusual example where the dissonance is brought to the present day; the hosts often semi-jokingly opine that modern-day right-wingers still subscribe to outdated racial science like phrenology to justify their prejudices, and occasionally refer to outdated forms of racism like anti-Irish sentiment.
    • Episodes 74 and 76, based around a Call of Cthulhu game that takes place in the Roaring Twenties, give the Dry Boys a chance take this trope Up to Eleven; their characters not only practice phrenology and hate the Irish but are also anti-Italian, anti-Catholic, obsessed with various pseudosciences, and addicted to opiates.
  • Drop-In Character: James Adomian's version of real-life Trump administration official Sebastian Gorka, who quite literally drops into the studio from a helicopter in one episode; unlike most examples, the hosts actually enjoy his intrusions, and treat his fascist rambling with a mix of bemusement and deference.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first two episodes are (understandably) little more than freeform discussions between the hosts with little or no post-production and low audio quality; it wasn't until episode 3's guest Brendan James offered to edit and produce the show and that it began to find its voice.
  • Everything Is Racist: While the hosts are quick to decry bigotry in all its forms and rarely shy away from accusing others of prejudice, the flippant and irreverent way in which they discuss these issues has led to accusations of racism, sexism, and fascism. This is often sarcastically Lampshaded by Felix by pretending that racism and saying racial slurs is a recreational pursuit for him and that his family owned a "racism factory".
  • False Dichotomy: The hosts tend to view most of the American political discourse as this; from their left-wing perspective, centrists and moderate liberals are often only superficially preferable to right-wing Republicans, who are at least more honest about their own awful opinions and beliefs.
  • Fan Community Nickname: Those who donate to the show on Patreon are known as "Grey Wolves", an ironic joking reference to a Turkish ultra-nationalist movement of the same name.
  • Faux Affably Evil: This tends to be how the hosts view liberal/centrist politicians and pundits who pretend to be morally superior to and nicer than bigoted, classist right-wingers while enacting and defending many of the same destructive, reactionary policies.
  • Flanderization:
    • The hosts' impression of Hillary Clinton is based entirely off of an instance of her referencing Pokémon GO at a campaign rally.
    • Felix's impression of French people hinges on the idea that they're all unhinged lummoxes obsessed with crass, Islamophobic Charlie Hebdo-style humor.
  • Five-Man Band: Parodied in Episode 169, The Alternative Failson Tax, when the group discusses which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles character they correspond to:
  • The Fundamentalist: Felix often pretends that he subscribes to radical Islam, declaring various things "haram" (forbidden in Islam) and praising ISIS and Hezbollah.
  • Funny Foreigner:
    • Felix’s character DeCrecio, the bumbling Portuguese manservant to an angry British governor.
    • Another one of Felix's characters is Karl Digglère, Carl Diggler's French counterpart.
  • Gambit Roulette: Parodied with their joke interpretation of Sebastian Gorka as a genius-tier plotting master who puts David Xanatos and Master Xehanort to shame.
  • Ghost City / Wretched Hive: A large portion of the 2017 Inauguration episode is just the hosts venting their anger at what a desolate, hateful, esoterically designed place Washington D.C. is, and how only wonks who fetishize byzantine rules could love it. After being forced to walk hours in the middle of the night to get beer at a Chinese fusion restaurant (the only place for miles that sold alcohol), Virgil yelled, "What the hell is wrong with this city?!"; a lanyard then actually stepped out of the shadows and smugly replied, "Uh, NOTHING is wrong" (which led to Virgil screaming at him in public). They even theorize that the Pizzagate rumors may've started because all of D.C.'s eateries are so alien and sinister to outside visitors.
  • Godwin's Law: Averted; the hosts rarely shy away from describing right-wingers as fascists and comparing people to Hitler (though it's sometimes Played for Laughs). Matt even came away from the 2016 Republican National Convention convinced that Donald Trump is a fascist based on the style of his rhetoric.
  • The Horseshoe Effect: Averted; the hosts are situated pretty left-of-center and tend to disdain moderate liberals and centrists almost as much as conservatives and radical right-wingers. They have decried the concept of the Horseshoe Effect by name at least once.
  • Humiliating Wager: In late 2017, Matt and Virgil bet on who would win a special senate election in Alabama; Virgil predicted that Democrat Doug Jones would win, while the pessimistic Matt believed that Republican Roy Moore—despite his history of pursuing sexual relationships with teenage girls—would win by four points. They agreed that the loser of the bet would have to not only literally "touch a poop", but also touch "intellectual poop" by reading a book by either archconservative pundit Erick Erickson or alt-right darling Jordan Peterson. Virgil won, and Matt touched a piece of one of Amber's cat's poop on livestream.
  • Inkblot Test: In a live episode, Carl Diggler takes an inkblot test; an inkblot resembling Bernie Sanders reminds him of “harassment of women”, a perfectly circular one makes him think of his son (“he is as round as the day is long!”), and one resembling a woman’s feet makes him think of “beauty, eroticism and togetherness”.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • This is a hallmark of Felix's humor and persona. In the episode where they review Suicide Squad, he theorizes tongue-in-cheek for several minutes that the movie is actually an extended metaphor for how the family court system oppresses divorced middle-aged men.
    • In the live Election Night 2016 show, Felix's General Ripper-type character asserts that Iranian soldiers' refusal to masturbate provides them with a lower center of gravity, and thus better aim, due to the higher accumulation of semen in their testicles.
    • In their interview with "traditional Catholic" writer Matthew Walther, Walther compares anal sex with punching a baby in the face, reasoning that just because both acts are anatomically possible, that doesn't make either of them okay. This instantly makes the hosts laugh uproariously.
  • In-Series Nickname: Over time, the hosts have come up with several appelations for various groups (including themselves) that may not be self-evident for those outside Weird Left Twitter, which can lead to Continuity Lockout for the unfamiliar:
    • "MAGA CHUDs" or simply "CHUDs" are typical Trump supporters - the ignorant old white dudes in Make America Great Again hats who thinks Obama was born in Kenya. It comes from the 1980s horror movie C.H.U.D., where it stands for "cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers".
    • "Pepes" are antisocial alt-right edgelords who live on the Internet, referring to Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character who bizarrely became an alt-right mascot.
    • A "lanyard dick" (or just "lanyard") is a member of the political pundit/wonk class who has no real views concerning any side, beyond employer loyalty, and tends to focus on how their understanding of the legal and interpersonal minutia of politics makes them extremely clever; it refers to their typical office attire.
    • "Hillarymen" are obsessive male Hillary Clinton loyalists—usually reasonably well-off—who have no actual political philosophy beyond their love of Hillary as an icon, and congratulate themselves on being feminists because of it. Peter Daou is the template.
    • "Dirtbag Left" is a term coined by Amber to refer to their own general political tendency; disaffected younger leftists who refuse to abide by the mainstream liberal standards of decorum and respectability, exemplified by their brash sense of humour and irreverent rhetorical style.
    • The three original hosts are often referred to by fandom as the "Dry Boys", a term they jokingly came up with after learning they all preferred unlubricated condoms.
  • Insistent Appellation: In the unedited interview/debate with "traditional Catholic" writer Matthew Walther (which was uploaded to YouTube rather than included in an episode in full), Walther consistently refers to host Matt Christman as "Cushman", combining his real surname and his Twitter handle @cushbomb. Given the contemptuous attitude Walther has towards the hosts throughout the interview it's possible this is an example of Malicious Misnaming.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Chapo" refers to notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, and "trap house" is hip-hop slang for a crack house. Will came up with the name as a joke during the first episode and it stuck; the hosts and producer have occasionally expressed that it's not an ideal title but it's too late to change it.
  • It's Pronounced Tro-PAY:
    • Felix has been known to pronounce caveat as "kuh-VEET" instead of "KA-vee-aht", and Amber has ribbed him about it on at least one occasion.
    • Will has also been chastised for having pronounced zine note  as "zyne" (rhyming with "mine") instead of "zeen".
    • Amber owns Felix again in Episode 114 for pronouncing Geocities as "jee-YAW-suh-teez" instead of "JEE-o-sit-eez".
    • In episode 119, Will pronounces armistice as "ar-MISS-tiss" instead of "ARM-iss-tiss" and is instantly reprimanded.
  • Just a Stupid Accent:
    • Aside from "Democrat Voice", most of their impressions invoke this for Rule of Funny; their Peter Thiel sounds like a bloodthirsty Prussian nobleman (with Matt commenting after the RNC that he was disappointed to learn the real Thiel barely has an accent), while Felix loves to play Jared Kushner, Seymour Hirsch, Chaim Saban, and basically any other uber-rich Jewish guy as over-the-top anti-Semitic stereotypes.
  • Kill the Poor: Episode 2 is dedicated to an article by conservative columnist Kevin D. Williamson essentially arguing that poor people themselves are responsible for their lot in life and that those living in poor rural towns should be forcibly relocated to cities to find work.
  • Larynx Dissonance: In episode 42, the hosts are amazed at Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ unusually deep voice, which seems to be a deliberate affectation; they compare it to a child pretending to be their father on the telephone and Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Likes Older Women: Discussed; as Will notes, one of Ross Douthat's many quirks is that — unlike his older pundit colleagues who tend to creep on or harass young women, especially in Twitter DMs — all of his barely sublimated, inappropriate fantasies tend to either involve female politicians many years his senior ("What if Hillary had had Le Pen's smoker's voice instead of her own?") or long-dead Hollywood starlets.
  • Logical Fallacies: A concept constantly mocked by the hosts (and referenced in Felix’s Twitter handle @ByYourLogic); they tend to think that pointing out fallacies in people’s reasoning when arguing with them is a mostly pointless tactic and displays a lack of understanding of human emotion and psychology.
  • Malicious Misnaming:
    • Alt-right gadfly Milo Yiannopoulos is consistently referred to as "Milo Yabbadabbadoo-opoulos". (As Felix says, "Greece is not a real place.")
    • More generally, Will sometimes consciously refuses to learn how to pronounce a certain figure's name if he doesn't particularly care for them.
    • They also insist on calling Joss Whedon "Josh," and refer to Christian blogger Rod Dreher as "Rob," saying that their chosen names are "made up."
      • Overlapping with No Pronunciation Guide, Ross Douthat's surnamenote  is vocalized as either (correctly) "DOW-thit" or "DOO-t'at", with total apathy keeping everyone from correcting each other.
  • MST: While the format of the show could be seen as a long-form MST of the American political media, a few specific examples stand out:
    • The recurring segment "Chapo Reading Series" has one host (usually Will) reading aloud a particularly odious piece of writing by some kind of political pundit (most often Ross Douthat or Rod Dreher) while everyone relentlessly riffs on it.
    • One segment of the Election Night 2016 live show was advertised specifically as an "MST3K-style" riffing session on TV campaign ads from the past year.
    • Outside of the show itself, Felix and Virgil are both contributors to News Genius, a platform on which they provide snarky annotations to existing online news articles.
    • Episode 73's guest is Mystery Science Theater 3000's own Bill Corbett, with whom they riff on a documentary by Dinesh D'Souza. At the end of the episode, Will mentions how the hosts are longtime Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans and hadn't realized till then how much the format of Chapo Trap House is influenced by the show.
    • Bill came back in Episode 159 to riff on In Search Of Liberty, a movie in which Benjamin Franklin comes back as a Guardian Angel to teach a man and his family about the U.S. Constitution ; they later released the recording of them riffing on the movie as they watched it as a bonus episode.
  • The Multiverse: In the Election Night 2016 live episode, Will reads election night updates from several alternate universes, including a Lovecraftian universe and a universe in which Al Gore won the 2000 election.
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: A concept central to the show; the hosts completely eschew any kind of traditional sense of patriotism or nationalism and tend to view My Country, Right or Wrong types of all political stripes as being under a kind of chauvinistic delusion. Often overlaps with Cultural Cringe.
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • RL Stevens' use of his makes Will immediately nervous that a hater of the podcast is going to misattribute that language as coming from one of the white hosts.
    • Felix is often allowed to do skits, caricatures and (deliberately terrible) accents that would be revoltingly anti-Semitic coming from anyone other than a Jewish man, and put Will on edge often enough as it is.
  • One Steve Limit: In at least one episode where the guest was also named Matt, host Matt Christman asked to be referred to as "Cush" (a reference to his Twitter handle @cushbomb) to avoid confusion.
  • Overly Long Gag: "Gorka" perpetually rephrasing his request that the boys "pop on down to the White House."
  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality: A reason for the host's consistent interest in the Proud Boys, a niche pro-Trump militia/fraternity who ban masturbation within their ranks. Will has theorised that the Proud Boys' social awkwardness and inability to get dates has developed into an attempt to make terror of sex into a positive identity.
  • Phony Veteran: Felix is obsessed with stolen valor videos and frequently portrays himself as a valor thief. His General Ripper character is said to have "stolen valor in over seven countries", and YPG soldier Rashid, who appears as a special guest, is introduced in a skit where Felix hounds him by repeatedly asking him "sir, who is your commander?".
  • Pompous Political Pundit:
    • Felix and Virgil's character Carl Diggler, a pompous and smug yet ignorant and foolish pundit who is obsessed with a "balanced discourse" but is actually quite reactionary; he was conceived as a parody of the hacky "horse race" punditry exemplified by journalists like Ron Fournier.
    • More generally, the show practically runs on the hosts’ disdain for the American pundit class, most members of which the hosts tend to view as willfully ignorant, snobbish, cowardly and dishonest no matter where on the political spectrum they claim to be.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: In Episode 68's reading of Ben Shapiro's novel True Allegiance, during a scene in which a young black boy wearing a Simpsons T-shirt is shot to death by a police officer, Will comes across the sentence: "the blood seeped from Homer Simpson's face" — despite the fact that just about anyone in the Anglosphere with a passing knowledge of popular culture should know that it's Bart Simpson who would be on a kid's T-shirt.note 
    Matt: OH MY GOD! BEN! HOW DO YOU FUCK THAT UP?!
    • In a similar vein, the way Ben describes the kid's clothing (including Converse high-tops) is firmly stuck in 1991 or '92. Matt concludes that he wrote the chapter after falling asleep watching New Jack City.
  • Porn Stash: Bizarrely subverted. While reading aloud an Jeff Jacoby article that mentions finding "a document" open on his 12-year-old son's computer, Matt and Felix prematurely wince — until Will reveals that it was a list of instructions Caleb made for himself on how to sneak candy in the house without being caught. Both start laughing hysterically.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The hosts often lapse into “Democrat voice”, an impression of Hillary Clinton making a belabored, stilted pop-culture based analogy in a clumsy effort to appeal to young voters. The standard format goes something like “I... may not be... [reference], but... I am... [pun on the original reference]!”
    • This is based on a specific instance of Clinton referencing Pokémon Go at a campaign rally.
    • The hosts (and some guests) also occasionally reference the tendency of some Twitter users to insert a “handclap” emoji between every word of a sentence in order to achieve this effect.
  • Put on a Bus: Matt and Amber were consistently been absent from Episodes 178-181, resulting in a string of episodes hosted by Will, Felix, and Virgil, who poked fun as to where exactly the two are.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A few planned bits in the live 2016 election night episode had to be quickly abandoned or changed due to Donald Trump unexpectedly winning the election.
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie:
    • Episode 42 features a fake trailer for Killer App, an action movie in which Osama bin Laden's digitized personality is downloaded into a self-piloting program for an airplane in order to carry out "9/11 2.0".
    • Episode 52, an interview with Jeremy Scahill, also features the hosts teasing Dirty Wars 2: Rise of McRaven.
    • The intro to Episode 108 is a trailer for a Kurt Sutter-produced FXX series called The Fresh Connection in which Jared Fogle note  replaces James Comey as director of the FBI.
  • Running Gag: Oh so many.
    • Facebook is entirely used by male family members complaining about how they're tired of false friends and don't like fake people.
    • Mentions of John Podesta, the DNC, or pizza usually prompt Matt to reference Pizzagate.
    • Virgil is known for being finicky about food and drink (he insists on eating fried chicken from a certain restaurant and refuses to drink tap water), and his constant need to defecate due to irritable bowel syndrome is often references.
    • There are frequent references to being "spectrum" (i.e., on the autism spectrum) and corresponding obsessions with trains and elevators.
  • Scary Black Man: Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro's novel True Allegiance, a staple of the Chapo Reading Series, is rife with these, which the hosts interpret as evidence of Shapiro's deep-seated racism. Of particular note is a scene in which a white Irish cop is tricked into shooting a young black boy to death and is instantly surrounded by an Angry Mob of (presumably) black citizens, which leads Will to compare the book to the white supremacist novel The Turner Diaries.
    Will (reading from the book): "When he looked up, he saw them coming; dozens of them. The citizens of Detroit coming out of the darkness, congregating..."
    Felix: Holy shit...
    Will: "He could feel their eyes—"
    Matt (mockingly): "...holding spears, with bones through their noses, shouting 'ooga booga booga!'"
  • Serious Business: Mostly averted with regards to how the hosts view their own show and Twitter hijinks in terms of political action. As Will says towards the end of episode 70, they view the podcast mainly as entertainment and note that neither their show nor "anything that happens online" can or should be used as a substitute for real activism.
    • More specifically, they take pride in influencing people to take action, but that the show itself isn't action, and that if they viewed it that way, they'd be just the same as "performative liberals" who believe that symbolic acts make up for true societal failure.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Not specific to the podcast itself, but "Virgil Texas" is a pseudonym; it's a reference to the movie True Stories, which takes place in the fictional Texan town of Virgil.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Felix will frequently go on tangents regarding his burning hatred for Rockabillies.
  • Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: A Type IV example pops up in episode 68's reading of Ben Shapiro's True Allegiance, in which the main character General Brett Hawthorne discovers that Saddam Hussein really had possessed WMDs prior to the Iraq War and smuggled them into Syria and then Iran, with the apparent lack of weapons having actually been a CIA coverup. It's quite apparent to the hosts and guest that not only is Shapiro trying to invent a narrative in which the Iraq War was justified, but he seems to think it's plausible that Iran would agree to hide Iraq's weapons despite their history as bitter enemies.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The hosts tend to think of most media personalities as this; they assert that most pundits and intellectuals, regardless of political stripe, tend to overestimate their own expertise and influence and thus alienate the vast majority of ordinary people they claim to represent.
  • Something Completely Different:
    • Felix announces that the show is changing format in the cold open to episode 18, and debuts his radio play The Upset Governor, starring a wealthy British politician and his bumbling Portuguese manservant.
    • Episode 67 is designated as the "Swordfish Episode" because nobody cared enough to turn off the film Swordfish playing in the background, just adjusting the volume very low instead; as such, they will occasionally break to discuss Travolta facts.
    • Episode 74, "Capone's Speakeasy", goes back somewhat to the radio play format, as the guys play 1920's versions of themselves investigating a suspicious D.C. pizzeria in a Call of Cthulhu campaign.
  • Spin-Off: The show technically started by accident; while Will, Felix, and Matt had all guested before and sometimes interacted on various episodes of Street Fight Radio, they realized after appearing together on the hugely popular 13 Hours episode that the three of them had great natural chemistry when they got going. As such, the guys always cite Street Fight as both a huge formative influence and their origin, and have shown their gratitude by inviting both Brett and Bryan as guests on the Trap.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Matt (and, to a lesser extent, Felix) has a habit of raising his voice without warning when he gets upset or frustrated. This reaches its apotheosis in Episode 118, when, as Will is reading an inane Megan Mc Ardle piece on the Grenfell Tower fire, Matt yells so loudly that his neighbors come over to complain about the noise.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: One of the show's running jokes is describing cruel or sadistic opinions and takes as "normal" (such as a "completely normal article"), or announcing "Normal guy here!" when discussing the writers who present them as if nobody could ever disagree with such logic; this goes double for when the writer accidentally plays their hand and reveals far too much about their own hang-ups or sexual pathology, such as Rod Dreher's intense transphobia.
  • Take That!: Far too many to count; the show’s format is essentially an hour-long Take That! toward whomever is dominating the news cycle. A few examples:
    • Will sometimes breaks out an impression of conservative radio host and former Breitbart reporter Ben Shapiro; he talks in a high-pitched voice while holding his nose and turns his condescension level up to eleven.
    • Felix's character Carl Diggler (a collaboration between him and writer Virgil Texas who started out as a fake columnist for Cafe.com and hosts his own podcast, the DigCast) is a giant Take That! to smug centrist pundits who ingratiate themselves to anybody in a position of power and vastly overestimate their own expertise and intelligence.
    • Episode 44 ends with the hosts listening to a long string of answering machine messages from the various people they’ve taken potshots at (all voiced by the hosts), including William F. Buckley, Ben Shapiro, the Baseball Crank, paranoid Marxist-Leninists, alt-right Internet trolls, and Peter Daou (a Hillaryman whose normal speaking voice is the “Democrat voice”).
    • They’ve made fun of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones simply by playing clips from his radio show during cold opens.
    • Several segments on the show have been dedicated to mocking conservative columnists Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher, to the point where they're almost like recurring characters.
    • Episode 63 has Felix saying that Malcolm Gladwell writes books with titles like Dipshit: Why Stupid People Are Smart and Squish: Why Some Blueberries Are Wet Instead of Dry.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: The hosts (especially Felix) make constant joking references to hypermasculine attitudes and media personalities, the favorites being bodybuilding vlogger Rich Piana and the self-help book The Gorilla Mindset by alt-right men's rights activist Mike Cernovich.
    • It's also a Running Gag (in earlier episodes anyway) that the podcast's audience swings heavily male, with Matt announcing to the live audience in episode 44 that he wishes to thank "all the girlfriends that allowed themselves to be dragged here tonight".
  • The Pig Pen: The hosts' poor hygiene is a common theme. One massive skit from Felix is undercut by Amber asking if that's barbecue sauce on his sock. Special guest David Cross begins his episode by noticing that their apartment smells, and is 'not pleasant', describing the odor as a combination of 'cat' and 'nerd'. Shuja Haider, who ends up living with Virgil due to his own house burning down, discusses how Virgil's place is full of toys, bottles of 'biological fluids' which turned out to be cartridges for his vape pen, and half-drunk bottles of electrolyte-infused water due to Virgil always wanting to have water with him, but not liking water once it gets near room temperature.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The hosts recorded a live episode the night of the 2016 presidential election, with guest Virgil Texas giving updates as the night went on. Once it became clear that Donald Trump was winning, a sense of dread began to seep in.
    Will: (Sheepishly, after learning that Trump swept the electoral college) ...Okay. Your closing thoughts, gentlemen?
    (Beat)
    Matt: Fuck it. (Chugs his PBR)
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Virgil's obsession with drinking only specific kinds of water eventually leads to the hosts doing a single-blind test on him to see if he could tell the difference between Fiji Water and New York City tap water, which Virgil refuses to drink. Virgil said the tap water was "definitely the Fiji water" but he couldn't identify the other samples.
  • Wham Episode: We Live In The Zone Now, their first post-2016 election episode, which deals with them processing their real-life shock over Donald Trump winning the election and them contemplating where the show will be going in the future note .
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: In episode 63, Matt (an avowed Marxist, like Amber) mentions that the collapse of the Soviet Union and Russia's transition to capitalism constituted "the largest standard of living and life expectancy drop in modern history".
  • Workplace-Acquired Abilities: Before he dedicated himself to Chapo full-time, Will was an assistant editor at the publishing house Liveright Books, and his father Daniel Menaker was an editor at Random House and The New Yorker; as such, he has a critical eye for the written word, which lends him some credibility in critiquing particularly odious writing during Chapo Reading Series segments (in particular, he's referred to the prose of libertarian writer Megan McArdle as "drivel" several times).
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Podcast/ChapoTrapHouse