Right Now in Ridiculous History

The American Soldiers Who Defected to North Korea and Became Movie Stars

Often described as one of the most isolated countries in the world, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has been ruled by the Kim dynasty since 1948. And while most reports of defectors focus on harrowing stories of North Koreans escaping to freedom in China or South Korea, a handful of people actually traveled in the other direction, defecting to North Korea. Listen in to learn more about the strange journeys American soldiers took, away from the military and straight to the forefront of North Korea's film industry.

How a  Broken Toilet Foiled a German Sub

Toward the end of World War II, the German Type VIIC submarine was acknowledged to be one of the most advanced -- and deadliest -- predators on the seas. Yet, in at least one case, some of the same technological breakthroughs that made these subs astonishing also led to their demise. Join the guys as they dive (get it?) into the strange story of U-1206 and the high-tech toilet that led to its doom.

Creature Feature: The Dark Tetrad

Join the guys as they make an appearance on Creature Feature, the podcast that takes a critter’s eye view to explore how animal behavior parallels the behavior of humans. In this episode, Katie Goldin and the guys explore the dark tetrad in the animal world, ultimately answering the age old question: Who's the most prolific serial meow-derer?

Gustaf Broman Tried to Cross the Atlantic in a Canoe . . . Or Did He?

In 1895, Gustaf Broman announced he would sail across the Atlantic in a 13-foot-long sailboat crafted from a cedar log. His route had an odd beginning -- he planned to start at Oregon, sail down to California, then put the boat on rails and ride it up to New York before finally reaching the Atlantic. Additionally, his log boat was anything but seaworthy. Some 4000 people gathered to watch Broman embark... but, eventually, his past came to light, and people began to wonder whether there was more to the story. (I mean, obviously there was. That's why we're doing a show about it.)

The Weird, Surprisingly Recent Origin of the Tooth Fairy

For millions of kids in the West, the story is as mysterious as it is profitable: Once your baby teeth begin falling out, hide them beneath your pillow. Sometime in the night, the Tooth Fairy will retrieve the tooth, leaving you some cash -- perhaps spare change, perhaps as much as twenty dollars -- to thank you for your gift. So where does this idea come from? Join the guys as they explore the strange, surprisingly recent origin of the Tooth Fairy. (And parents, if you're listening with your kids, be warned: This episode does include spoilers.)

When Vikings Loot The Wrong Town

Like many Viking leaders, Halfdan and Bjorn wanted to be known for their fearlessness in battle and their ability to locate the finest spoils -- they wanted the community to tell stories of their valor for generations to come. Their father Ragnar built a name for himself raiding Paris, so they wanted to kick things up a notch and raid an even more prominent city: Rome. However, there was one small problem with their plan.

Were Tulips Really The Bitcoin of the 1600s?

In the 1600s, residents of the Dutch Republic were -- according to the story -- absolutely bonkers for tulips. A market sprang up around the tulip trade, and people began paying in advance for tulip bulbs, negotiating increasingly extravagant financial agreements and, in some cases, even using tulips as currency. This Tulipmania is often presented as the first economic boom and bust... but how accurate is that claim? What really happened? Join Ben and Noel as they separate the fact from fiction.

(Some of) History's Dumbest Military Prototypes

It's true that the world's militaries often pioneer technological innovation -- but don't let all those great successes fool you! The world's militaries have at least as many failures as they do breakthroughs. Join Ben, Noel and special guest Christopher Hassiotis as they explore some of humanity's most hilarious military missteps, from round ships to rocket bullets and ball tanks.

The Forty Elephants: London’s All-Female Jewel Thieves

For at least 200 years, part of London’s criminal underground was ruled by a gang of brilliant, all-female jewel thieves. Join the guys as they explore the rise and fall of the notorious Forty Elephants.

The Malleus Maleficarum: A Real-life Witch Hunter's Bible

During Europe's period of witchcraft hysteria, one enterprising (and failed) witch hunter sought to bolster his reputation by creating an authoritative text on the existence, discovery and persecution of witches. While it may seem silly now, the Malleus Maleficarum was a runaway success, with thousands of copies inundating European society even while various officials warned against treating it as a reliable source. Listen in to learn more about The Hammer of the Witches.

The Great London Beer Flood of 1814

In 1814, a poor neighborhood in London fell victim to a strange, tragic and boozy disaster -- this calamity would eventually leave eight people dead. So what exactly happened? How could an entire neighborhood flood with a deadly deluge of beer? Tune in to find out.

Dr. Seuss Wrote His Most Famous Book On A Bet

Nowadays, world-famous children's author Dr. Seuss is one of the most well-known writers on the planet. "Green Eggs and Ham", one of his most successful books, sold over 8 million copies by 2016 -- but would you believe he wrote it based entirely on a bet?

Feral Children and the True Story Behind The Jungle Book

What inspired Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book? Join the guys as they explore the real-life, tragic stories of feral children abandoned by their human parents, adopted by animals and raised in the wild.

When Dentist Sold Dentures Made with Corpse Teeth

Here in the modern day, most people don’t love going to the dentist — but we still have it much better than the dental patients of yesteryear! Join the guys as they dive into a strange, grisly story from the early days of dentistry.

The Laxative-laden Journey of Lewis and Clark

Before Lewis and Clark set out to explore the western side of the continent, they tried to prepare for every possible contingency — including medical conditions like constipation. Join the guys as they explore how a dangerous laxative didn’t just save members of the expedition, but also may have preserved their campsites for posterity.

The Strange and Spectacularly Disgusting Story of the Great Kentucky Meat Shower

On March 3rd, 1876, residents of Bath County, Kentucky were startled to see what appeared to be chunks and flakes of meat falling from the clear, cloudless sky. The rain, which only lasted a few minutes, captured national attention. People across the country proposed various theories explaining the deluge, and today the guys believe they've finally solved the mystery.

The Bizarre Origin of the Oxford English Dictionary

With 600,000 words and 3 million quotations, the Oxford English Dictionary is a massive tome. Work began on the dictionary in 1857, but the first edition wasn't published until 1884. Compiling the dictionary was a Herculean task, and James Murray, the editor of the dictionary, put out a call for assistance. This early crowdsourcing strategy worked surprisingly well. Murray was particularly impressed by his most prolific and consistent contributor, an enigmatic fellow named Dr. W.C. Minor. So impressed, in fact, that Murray decided he had to meet the man in person. It's safe to say the meeting didn't go as expected.

How Conman Victor Lustig Sold The Eiffel Tower (Twice)

Born Robert Miller, the man who would later become known as Count Victor Lustig traveled across Europe and the US bilking hundreds of people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He had many, many scams, and posed as everything from an elite theatre producer to a stressed-out, down on his luck government official and more. Here's the thing: For most of his career, Victor was able to talk his way out of any arrests or convictions. Join Ben and special guest Christopher Hassiotis as they explore the Count's most ambitious, ridiculous scam -- selling the Eiffel tower (twice).

George Carlin Gets Quoted in the Supreme Court: Ridiculous Stand-up Stories with Wayne Federman

In the second part of this two-part series, special guest Wayne Federman explores the strange, curse-word-riddled stand-up bit that resulted in George Carlin setting a legal precedent with the Supreme Court. Listen in to learn how curse words changed the world and sparked a debate that continues today.

The People vs. Lenny Bruce: Ridiculous Stand-up Stories with Wayne Federman

Lenny Bruce is a legend in the history of stand-up comedy, and while his use of explicit language thrilled audience members, it didn't win him any friends in law enforcement. In fact, Bruce was arrested multiple times for his use of 'obscenities', sparking a larger, continuing debate about the nature of free speech. Join the guys as they learn more about the early days of stand-up and the Lenny Bruce controversy with this week's special guest: Comedian, actor, writer and historian Wayne Federman.