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Podcast / Fistshark Marketing

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FistShark Marketing is an improvised comedy podcast starring Jim Sterling, Conrad Zimmerman, and Caitlin Cooke (later replaced by Jonathan Holmes), portraying a trio of Corrupt Corporate Executives of the same names (except Holmes, who goes by Paulson Sear for increasingly odd reasons). They all run the titular company, FistShark Marketing, a Boston marketing firm with a celebrity clientele and possibly eldritch upper management.

The series is now complete at 145 episodes, which can be viewed on the official site here, or on Youtube right here.


This podcast contains examples of:

  • The Alleged Boss: While all of the executives make grand pronouncements and come up with all sorts of ideas, pretty much nothing gets done unless Craig the Intern does it. And anytime things are left up to the executives' devices, it is almost inevitably screwed up.
    • The Senior Partners ostensibly have control over the entire company but never usually seem to do anything except terrify their employees.
  • Arc Welding: Episode 107 reveals that a lot of the strange collections of items—the dumpster full of spines, the old cold piss, etc.—are all sold by a mysterious person who sometimes meets Jim when he takes the fatted calf out to the altar at the edge of town to make a sacrifice to the senior partners, and he trades these strange items for the calf.
  • The Atoner: Dustin Diamond hires out his services to movie and television producers as a human punching bag out of a deep seated need to atone for his sin of being Dustin Diamond.
  • Body Horror: From episode 94, the first skit is about the pharmacy's worth of drugs Conrad and Jim take, half of which are to counteract the effects of the other half, including a BrundleFly situation with Jim's fingernails and feces that smell like mold.
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  • Butt-Monkey: Craig the Intern, to the point where it's become one of his defining character traits.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: According to the FistShark executives, Donald Trump is secretly an altruistic philanthropist and patron of the arts and sciences, but has carefully cultivated his narcissistic public persona so that he can be a viable presidential candidate.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A lot of the humor comes from the cast casually discussing horrific activities as potential marketing stunts, or describing the disturbing effects of their products (or actions of their clients) in a blase fashion.
  • Comically Missing the Point: This happens quite a bit due to how out-of-touch with reality the executives are.
    • At one point, Jim manages to perfect a zombie formula, but needs something to test it on and demonstrate it to potential buyers, so he also perfects human cloning and builds several underground replicas of major cities to show off the zombie plague. He is absolutely baffled as to why people keep bringing the point back around to the cloning, when he's trying to sell people on the zombies.
  • Corpsing: The show is improvised, so it's inevitable that this would happen on occasion. Sometimes you might here a bit of a chuckle in the background, or somebody giggling as they say or react to a particularly funny line. If anyone completely breaks character, it's relegated to a little Blooper Reel at the end.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Jim has made very good friends with the Satanists that live in the basement, to the point where he's tried to market their products.
  • Disposable Intern: Craig is treated as disposable by his bosses. How he's not dead is a mystery (save possibly for A Wizard Did It due to all the arcane magic in the company).
  • Expy: The show started because previous Butt-Monkey Jonathan Holmes quit The Dismal Jesters. Jonathan's role as object of Jim's horrible ideas is now filled by Craig the Intern, who never actually appears on the show.
  • Freudian Trio: The FistShark executives have developed into this over time.
    • The Id: Jim, who tends to be more impulsive and is far more likely to plunge himself into a bad idea on a whim.
    • The Ego: Conrad, who is primarily concerned with how the public will react to an idea.
    • The Superego: Caitlin, whose primary (read: only) concern is how certain actions will affect FistShark's bottom line.
      • After the cast change, Conrad seems to become a reasonable (though still greedy and amoral) Superego; Jim's behavior turns a bit more stable and elder-statesmanlike (relatively speaking) and he functions as the Ego; and new face Paulson's Creepy Manchild tendencies come off as very Id-ish. Until Paul dies and the cast remains a duo until the end of the show.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The executives are completely baffled why the boating club known as the North American Makeshift Boat Likers Association is the target of open contempt and death threats.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Dr. Nightscream apparently no longer requires sleep, and is weirdly obsessed with the size of people's bladders.
    • The executives themselves have apparently undergone some kind of transformation in the process of becoming marketers, that has made them physically dependent on coffee. When Jim tries switching to decaf, he starts acting high and begins vomiting a substance only referred to as "The Sludge."
    • Michael Cera is discovered to be a mass of unliving flesh holding prisoner a living skeleton that keeps trying to escape and screams out for help.
    • Adam Sandler is a "comedy lich" Fistshark found in a buried ziggurat. He feeds on the souls of optimistic comedians to produce his films, and is the reason that many of them became cynical comedians over time. This loss of sustenance is also why his own films became less widely popular.
  • Hurricane of Puns: In Episode 17, "Fowl Prophecy," when they realize that Disney refuses to pursue litigation over Rule 34 images of their characters, they start listing off potential Porn Parody titles they could market.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: When Craig the Intern takes a few days off to deal with his cancer diagnosis, FistShark basically falls apart, since the executives leave basically all the day-to-day functions of the company (including their own personal care) to Craig.
  • Idiot Ball: Most commonly held by Jim, when he seizes upon an idea that he loves, but which literally no one else does. Like the jars of old, cold piss. Paul gets some of this as well. And arguably all the executives hold it at some point when they're discussing horrible ideas without understanding that they're awful.
  • Implausible Deniability: The sheer staggering shamelessness of the execs means that they don't usually resort to it, but whenever one of Jim's many Bono Vox-related fiascoes comes up he will tell lies about his involvement in the face of recordings of himself being involved.
  • It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context: From episode three: "When life gives you choleric 10-year old blood, you make lemonade."
  • It's Been Done: On a number of occasions. For example, they apparently knew what a fanny pack was, and their "innovative" idea was to make fanny packs for kids that they could wear on their backs (having apparently never heard of backpacks).
    • Subverted, however- they can usually find a way to make a well-known premise far less appealing. For example, in the "fanny pack for your back" example, they suggested putting metal barbs on the straps so that they couldn't easily be removed from the child's back.
  • It Will Never Catch On / This Is Going to Be Huge: A number of jokes involve FistShark's perpetual inability to catch onto popular trends, or grossly overestimating the popularity of some of their products.
    • This is the primary joke behind the episode "Equus Mortuus." The name means "dead horse" in Latin, because all three of the episode's segments are increasingly-obvious puns about organizations whose names are associated with pedophiles, with the final segment being about Office Depot wanting to rename themselves to Pedo-Files.
  • Karma Houdini: The FistShark executives never suffer long-term consequences for their actions, no matter how insane or ultimately disastrous they wind up being. Or at least Jim and Conrad don't; Caitlin dies dive-tackling Willem Dafoe out a window and Paulson is violently murdered by Jim and Conrad who think he's a robot.
  • Killed Off for Real: Caitlin is killed off prior to the events of "Trumped," and her body parts are auctioned off to the highest bidder, as per company policy.
    • She is eventually replaced by Paulson Sear, who is much more soft-spoken than the other executives, but in his own way even more unsettling than the others.
    • In episode 100 Paulson is killed off, by Conrad and Jim, at a wedding. In the next episode, it's revealed Jim and Conrad appear to be facing no consequences; they go through Paulson's office, and the doll the Senior Partners put in the meeting room after Caitlin's death is a little bit bigger.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The show's email address is an aol account, both as an actual email address and a joke about how an out-of-touch marketing firm would have an aol account. Apparently, most people who catch on to the joke don't even realize that it's also the actual address.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: After Gordon Ramsey escapes Dog Island and it's found that the dogs there are going through a seven-fold accelerated rise through civilization and technology, all evidence of their existence is destroyed so Fistshark can maintain plausible deniability.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Nightscream, the only doctor that accepts FistShark's medical insurance.
  • Mushroom Samba: In the episode "Franked Up," it's revealed that combining Lisa Frank products with Yu-Gi-Oh cards can result in the creation of a highly hallucinogenic compound. Jim, of course, found this out by becoming a test subject for Dr. Nightscream (and thus spends the entire episode believing he's Taylor Swift), and Conrad is accidentally exposed at the end of the episode.
    • It's determined that Bret Michael's beer, made entirely of his untreated urine peed directly into bottles, will give anyone who drinks it an hallucination trip that lasts no less than 48 hours. Poured upon any electronics, it will also make them play episodes of Ricki Lake that appear to be brand new and up to date on current events.
  • Never Needs Sharpening: Any product they decide to push inevitably receives this specific type of spin as a distraction from its horrifying intended use.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Celebrities are regularly mentioned as clients of FistShark, and are typically accused of doing some rather horrific things. All for comedy, of course.
    • One recurring character is Val Kilmer, who is depicted as a psychotic drunk that antagonizes children and is obsessed with being Batman.
    • Another is Dean Cain, who subsists on Sour Patch Kids and lives like a hobo.
    • And Robin Thicke is clearly some kind of serial killer, although none of the FistShark staff seem to catch onto this. They do know he's not allowed to make physical contact with women, however, thanks to that restraining order.
    • Gordon Ramsey is a Determinator who is repeatedly targeted by FistShark's schemes but manages to foil them through sheer willpower. For example, FistShark wanted to strand Gordon on an island filled with dogs; Gordon responded by uplifting the dogs and becoming their king. Granted, they subsequently overthrow him and establish their own feudal society, creating a so-called "Game of Bones," but it's still impressive.
    • Miley Cyrus is a Mad Scientist who performs strange and bizarre experiments trying to improve the well-being of mankind, despite them not making much logical sense. She's also the subject of a number of scandals involving her extremely violent attempts to promote her brand.
    • Bret Michaels is constantly attempting to self-promote, primarily using products that only he likes. Even the FistShark execs are wary of trying to market his products.
    • The Spice Girls are ancient beings of evil hundreds of years old whose music, if allowed to be performed, will bring about the apocalypse.
    • Michael Cera is a Man of a Thousand Faces who can impersonate anyone. On his last visit to the Fistshark office, he was introduced as President Obama and no one was the wiser for his true identity.
  • No OSHA Compliance: If it's an event run by FistShark, expect it to involve a complete lack of security and safety measures, and a callous disregard for human life. This is particularly true if Craig the Intern is involved.
    • The Fistshark office is just as bad, if not worse. Jim explains at length to Paulson to avoid the break room because of the random toxic clouds and packs of scorpions.
  • Noodle Incident: A lot of things they do or discuss are never explained in full. A part of this comes from the improv format, since they make up details on the fly, but every once in a while they'll end an episode on one of these.
    Jim: So let's move on to the next topic, Keanu Reeves' seance. Or, as the press are now calling it, Red Wednesday.
  • Once an Episode: Since he joined, Jim asks Paulson if he can call him "Paul" for an always-changing reason.
  • One Steve Limit: Defied- Craig the Raccoon was deliberately named after Craig the Intern. Not to honor Craig the Intern, mind you, but rather because they like the raccoon better.
    • If the executives are referring to "Craig" without an additional identifier, it's much more likely that they're referring to the raccoon than the intern.
    • It was stated that when Craig the Raccoon was introduced, they all demanded of Craig the intern that he immediately change his name to avoid confusion and were all pissed off that he flatly refused.
  • Pædo Hunt: Their attempted spin-off of Two and a Half Men, called Fifteen And a Half Men, seemed to alienate the focus group because of the Unfortunate Implications of fifteen grown men living, without explanation, with an underage boy. Of course, the executives are completely blindsided by the criticisms of the show, completely missing the creepy subtext of the premise.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Jim keeps trying, and failing, to convince the others that he has managed to get Bono as a client, including by impersonating him and donning a very unconvincing costume.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: The FistShark executives are clearly this, although they don't seem to realize it.
  • Poke the Poodle: Mario Lopez wants to remake his image to be Darker and Edgier, but just winds up doing a long string of these.
    • This is because in the FistShark universe, Mario Lopez is a good-looking moral paragon with a solid career who's almost preternaturally likable...but he so wants to be a bad boy. He's just terrible at being mean, rude, evil, or breaking the law.
    • Inverted hard with episode 140, where he becomes more of a Villain with Good Publicity. After losing his mind with all his attempts failing and killing a man, and making it clear it was him, no one is able to bring themselves to hate him for it. Because Mario Lopez is too okay.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Despite having been their client since the 80's, nobody in the office seems to know who Meg Ryan is.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Jim tries really hard but fails at praising Selena Gomez to Laura of Fistshark UK in order to pawn her off overseas. Laura threatens to dump the cast of Eastenders on Jim in return.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Jim has defended one of his clients in at least one court case by pretending(?) not to understand what words like 'evidence' or 'blood-splatter report' mean, concluding that since he doesn't understand them they must not exist.
  • Side-Effects Include...: If they're talking about marketing some kind of medicine, chemical or food, expect a long and horrifying list of side effects to be casually mentioned.
    • Special mention goes to "Stank Puffs," the cereal that makes people's lips fall off. It was developed by Balthazar and the Satanists that live in the basement, of course.
    • This is doubled-up on in The Kaiju Factor, an episode that starts with a skit about the bottles of pills Conrad and Jim take, many of which are to handle the side effects of previous pills, and themselves have their own side effects, etc.
  • Slave to PR: It is their business, after all, and their relative goodness or badness is largely dependent on what they think will market the best.
  • Staging an Intervention: Caitlin and Conrad confront Jim about his drinking problem. Specifically, they're concerned that he switched his coffee to decaf when his job requires immense amounts of caffeine just to function normally. They are horrified and revolted to discover he's been drinking clear water.
  • Talking Animal: Parodied with Jacob the Screaming Horse, who is a horse that screams "like a woman being made the victim of a violent crime." Unsurprisingly (except to the FistShark executives), people don't really seem to like him, although he eventually finds success once he's killed and made into glue.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Not because they want to, of course, but Craig the Intern managed to finagle one ironclad stipulation in his contract—in exchange for a $30,000 bonus he would receive otherwise, he doesn't have to handle the Christmas meat. "Christmas meat duty," incidentally, is so utterly disturbing that Jim says he'd have taken the same exact deal in Craig's place.
  • Title Drop: Inverted—the show is improvised, and the episode titles tend to come from random lines uttered during the episode.
  • Urine Trouble: Jim is oddly enthusiastic for any new product that involves urine, such as Bret Michael's urine beer and the jars of old, cold piss.
  • Vetinari Job Security: As much as everyone loathes and despises Craig, his absence from the office for any reason causes it to fall apart from lack of anyone else knowing how to perform any basic task in the deadly environment of the Fistshark office. Craig has been fired multiple times only to be rehired almost immediately.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The executives of FistShark themselves, who manage to maintain their jobs (presumably because they maintain and their profit margins) despite a tendency towards terrible decision making, abusing their employees, and demonstrating a reckless disregard for human life.
  • Weird Currency: Robin Thicke wants to establish his ability to make out with people as an actual currency. Even Jim is sensible enough to point out to him that this will never work.
    • At one point, Jim created a cryptocurrency without understanding what a cryptocurrency actually is. As he believed it to be a combination of 'cryptid' and 'currency', he hunted down and killed the Loch Ness Monster and made a physical currency out of its remains called "Ness Coin".
  • 0% Approval Rating: Craig is universally despised by everyone, even his own parents, who leave cryptic voicemails to Jim demanding that he continue with his abusive behavior of their son.

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