Ridiculous History

Ridiculous History

History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by iHeartRadio.

Episodes

November 28, 2023 42 mins

James Joyce is, without question, one of the most famous authors in the English language. Millions of readers have enjoyed (and sometimes struggled with) his groundbreaking novels and short stories. However... that's not all Joyce wrote. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore some of Joyce's personal correspondence, which reaches levels of depravity that make the racy scenes of Ulysses pale in comparison. Warning: this episo...

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It's Thanksgiving in the United States -- and Thanksgiving is weird! In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore some of the big questions about Thanksgiving: How did the parade become a thing? Why do the Cowboys and the Lions always play? How on Earth did turkey become the traditional main dish?

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It's no secret that politics can often have a dark side -- smoky backrooms, corruption and graft have always had their place in American history. And, amid all the corruption, few institutions are as infamous as Tammany Hall. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the origin, growth, and ultimate collapse of this thoroughly American, thoroughly corrupt, and thoroughly ridiculous political machine.

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As the railroads tried and failed to control flooding in the Salton Sink, state and federal leaders realized America needed a bigger solution. With the Great Depression in full swing, workers from across the country traveled to Vegas in hopes of working on the Hoover Dam. In the second part of this week's two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the construction of this modern marvel -- and bust some of the most popular Hoover m...

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The next time you're in Vegas, rent a car and spend a day at the Hoover Dam. This towering, larger-than-life marvel of human engineering has fundamentally shaped the United States. But building it was far from easy. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max recount the guys' adventure exploring the Dam in person... and the sheer, ridiculous audacity of the thing.

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Honey is popular around the world, and for good reason. This addictively sweet substance is a common ingredient in hundreds of recipes, and people historically believe it has medicinal properties in addition to, well, being delicious! But in certain areas of the world honey is much more than a sweet ingredient -- it's a disturbingly effective weapon of war. In today's classic episode, the gang revisits the story of "Hallucinogenic ...

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"For such a popular, well-known language, English is full of strange, seemingly arbitrary rules. Most people just accept these various idiosyncrasies... but Benjamin Franklin was not most people. In today's classic, listen as Ben and Noel explore Franklin's strange quest to revise the English language by cutting out old letters (and inventing new ones)."

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Nowadays Christmas is a globally-recognized holiday celebrated by millions of people, but in the past this wasn't the case. In fact, some groups of Christians detested the holiday, going so far as to ban it completely. So what led Puritans to ban one of the most prominent celebrations in the Christian faith? In today's classic episode, the gang revisits the breakaway Christians that genuinely found Christmas un-Christian.

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October 31, 2023 59 mins

Every year at the end of October, countless children (and adults) don costumes and head into the night, going door to door with the same ritual cry: Trick or Treat! But where did this odd practice come from? In today's special Halloween episode, the guys explore the ancient predecessors of this tradition... as well as the more extreme versions, where there's way more emphasis on tricks than on treats.

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Ben, Noel and super producer Casey Pegram dive back into the weeds of the surprisingly ancient (and ridiculous) art of trimming flora into bizarre and elaborate shapes. It’s a practice that had a habit of falling in and out of fashion depending on the whims of whoever was in power. Were topiaries simply an elaborate flex for the super rich or something that could be appreciated by everyone? Or maybe both?! Find out in this second p...

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If you've ever looked at a bush and thought "this would be way cooler if it was shaped like a rabbit," then you're part of a long line of topiary enthusiasts throughout history. This ancient art of shaping, training and trimming plants and trees into fanicful, decorative shapes dates back into antiquity. In this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Casey dive into the origin story of twisting, tangled origin story of topiary (and...

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Today, scientists are treated with respect (for the most part), but this wasn't always the case. In the first part of this recurring series, Ben, Noel and Casey explore the ridiculous, at-times tragic stories of scientists who were persecuted for their discoveries.

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October 17, 2023 47 mins

Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has been trying to figure out where to put all its poop. While it's easy to take your average flushing commode for granted, it turns out thousands of years of research went into creating the toilets we use today. Tune in as Ben, Noel, and Casey dive into the bizarre history of modern restrooms.

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In the second part of this series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how Burr's struggle to acquire political power seemed to lead him, again and again, into conflict with his frenemey Alexander Hamilton -- a rivalry that would ultimately culminate in a fatal duel. Spoiler: Aaron Burr survives. His career does not.

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Thanks in large part to the musical Hamilton, Aaron Burr has re-entered the public zeitgeist. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the rise of Aaron Burr, from his unfortunate early life through his heroic exploits through the American Revolution into his ...mixed experience with US politics.

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October 6, 2023 8 mins

Hi, Ridiculous History fans! Listen to McCartney: A Life in Lyrics hosted by Paul McCartney! A new masterclass podcast that dives into an improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music. Each episode is centered on one song in McCartney’s catalog – from early Beatles to his solo work. Don't just take our word for it, check out the trailer to decide for yourself!

 

About McCartney: A Life in Lyrics: McCart...

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In the newest installment of this continuing series on weird royal deaths, Ben, Noel and Max explore intensely ...crappy... stories of royals who, despite all their worldly power, died on the toilet. Tune in to hear what may be the lads' classiest podcast yet.

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October 3, 2023 41 mins

Pi itself is pretty ridiculous. This number -- the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle -- appears to continue into infinity, with no predictable pattern. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore something even more ridiculous: that time in 1897 when an amateur mathematician named Edward J. Goodwin almost persuaded the state of Indiana to legally change the meaning of Pi. Tune in to hear how ...

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September 28, 2023 30 mins

The boys hit the road, traveling to Las Vegas and recording live. In this special episode, Ben, Noel, Max and guest producer Paul Dechant explore the evolution of Labor Day, from its origin to the strange -- and, let's be honest, ridiculous -- tradition of avoiding white clothing. With a special shout out to Max's snazzy Wedding White Pants.

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September 26, 2023 45 mins

It's true! At least, to some. For decades various people have claimed Michigan has its own area of intense paranormal activity -- UFOs, ghosts, disappearances, you name it -- and they've mapped out something called "the Michigan Triangle." In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max look through the evidence to determine whether these stories are true, or... you know. Ridiculous.

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    "McCartney: A Life in Lyrics" offers listeners the opportunity to sit in on conversations between Paul McCartney and poet Paul Muldoon dissecting the people, experiences, and art that inspired McCartney’s songwriting. These conversations were held during the past several years as the two collaborated on the best selling book, “The Lyrics: 1965 to Present.” Over two seasons and 24 episodes of “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics”, you’ll hear a combination master class, memoir, and improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music. Each episode focuses on one song from McCartney’s iconic catalog – spanning early Beatles through his solo work. Season 1 premieres on October 4th. “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-production between iHeart Media, MPL and Pushkin Industries. Cover Portrait © 1967 Paul McCartney / Photographer: Linda McCartney

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Hosts And Creators

Ben Bowlin

Ben Bowlin

Noel Brown

Noel Brown

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