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That Was Genius

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A weekly comedy podcast looking at the odder side of history

A weekly comedy podcast looking at the odder side of history
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A weekly comedy podcast looking at the odder side of history






Attack of the Burping Lecherous Bum Otters (Rivers Week) - That was Genius Episode 30

Episode 30, can you believe it? And to celebrate, this week's episode is particularly silly. We've been looking at rivers. Tom dives right in with a (quite roundabout) look at the ferrymen of folklore, from Ireland's speedboat-driving Manannán mac Lir and his sword of truth (he doesn't actually have a speedboat), to a battle of wits over a ferry ride between Thor and Odin. Meanwhile, Sam's gone to Japan to explore the dark and deeply funny folklore of the Kappa, the farting, childish, but...


Attention Passengers This Is Your Toilet Speaking (Plane Crash Week) - That Was Genius Episode 29

Fasten your seatbelts and put up your tray tables, because this week we're talking all things plane crash. From the world's luckiest man to several very unlucky victims, we've been looking at what happens when the sh*t hits the propeller. Tom examines the war time flying record of a certain WW2 RAF ace and famed children's author, who he keeps a surprise but we have to mention for SEO (so his name's at the bottom of this description). Meanwhile Sam takes a look at Marcus Schrenker, the...


Dónde está tu oro? (Conquistador Week) - That Was Genius Episode 28

Hola! And welcome to an episode all about Conquistadors, the swarthy and generally deeply unpleasant Spanish settlers, treasure-seekers and soldiers who made the new world their home in the 16th century. And when we say home, we mean it's the place most of them met grizzly ends. Tom kicks us off this week with a look at three intertwined characters, La Malinche, Gerónimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero - who between them went from conquerors and royalty, to slaves, to leaders of the new...


If it Says it in The Bible (Slavery Week) - That Was Genius Episode 27

WARNING: This episode contains references to sources which use language in common use at the time, but which would be considered offensive and derogatory today. Which isn't surprising, because today we're tackling the grim topic of slavery, which was abolished in the British Empire on August 1st 1834. Tom kicks us off with a very odd book from a chap called Josiah Priest, an American who was almost as obsessed about slavery as he was about genitalia and sexual perversions in the...


Hell Hath No Fury Like 300 Spearmen in Heels [Homosexuality Week] - That Was Genius Episode 26

STOP, in the name of love, as we take a look at some of history's host of heroic homosexuals to celebrate Pride season. Tom kicks us off with a look at the Theban Sacred Band, the elite fighting force of ancient Greek men united by their love for one another who took on the Spartans and won. Meanwhile Sam looks at Sergius and Bacchus, two secret Roman Christians martyred for their faith, and united by their love for one another - with the result they are now especially revered among the...


A Face Full of Holy Horse Wind (The North week) - That Was Genius Episode 25

Ey up, it's Northern week on That Was Genius! This week we're discussing all things North of the Border. Sam discovers what the Ancient Greek's thought lay beyond the grumpy horse who makes the north wind blow. Meanwhile Tom looks at the strange phenomenon known as the Sea People, who ravaged and destroyed the civilized world at the end of the Bronze Age. Subscribe and listen to us! Apple Music // Podbean // Overcast // Stitcher // TuneIn // Spotify Welcome to That Was Genius: Two blokes....


Kiss Me Tenderly Where The Sun Doesn't Shine (Music week) - That Was Genius Episode 24

# I'm having the time of my life, and I've never felt this way before # Yes, it's music week! And yet somehow we've managed to fall into a pit of depravity, once again. Tom explores some of the earliest known nursery rhymes, which are quite sweary and you definitely don't want to sing to your kids. Meanwhile, Sam takes us on a whistlestop tour of some of the dirtiest lyrics in classical and folk music, from dirty trousers to dirty Mozart. Subscribe and listen to us! Apple Music // Podbean...


The Ghosts Told Me To Do It (Great Escapes week) - That Was Genius Episode 23

Right you lot, your mission? Escape from camp Genius. The plan? One hour of close calls and narrowly avoided disasters as we explore some of history's greatest escapes. Sam kicks us off with a look at the escape from Zozgad prison camp, also known as the road to end-or; a WW1 escape in which an Australian and a Welshman escaped a Turkish POW camp... using telepathy. Meanwhile Tom looks at Edward III and his very lucky escape at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, part of the hundred years war. A...


The Tragic Tale of Burpy the Dwarf (Disney week) - That Was Genius Episode 22

Be our guest, be our guest, be prepared to be impressed, by our knowledge about Disney, bad accents and Prince's frisky... That's right, it's Disney week! Tom and Sam have been delving into the stories behind the Disney classics in what is - even by our standards - a very NSFW episode. Lots of swearing and adult themes. You've been warned. Tom examines Pinocchio, the murderous, tortured and executed Italian children's comic book character designed to scare the hell out of them. Meanwhile...


A Bit Heavy on the Dynamite (America week) - That Was Genius Episode 21

Why howdy y'all, and welcome to an episode of That Was Genius dedicated to the good 'ole US of A! This week, Tom examines the horrific case of Elmer McCurdy, the useless criminal and genuine corpse discovered hidden in an American fairground ride 70 years after his death. Meanwhile Sam explores the *Less* than United States, with a look at a couple of the breakaway republics within the USA, including the Republic of Vermont and the State of Muskagee, a short-lived republic in Florida which...


Everything Here is Trying to Kill Us (Australia week) - That Was Genius Episode 20

G'Day Bruces and Shielas, stick another shrimp on the barbie because it's Australia week! Tom takes us on another highly entertaining (and, as usual, it's deeply harrowing) story of shipwreck survival against all the elements with the wreck of the Sydney Cove. Meanwhile, Sam's finally getting to talk about the Burke and Wills expedition - an adventurous trip across Australia which, even by Victorian standards, was an absolute shambles from start to finish and a testament to bad bosses...


Third Arm and Hammer (Religion week) - That Was Genius Episode 19

Oh Lordy, it's religion week. Which we're approaching with as much tact as you would expect for a delicate subject like this. Sam discusses the Freedomites, Canada's nudist vegan terrorists (pacifist terrorism, of course. The best kind). Meanwhile Tom discusses the origins of the term buggery. Which, it turns out, may just be a bit of medieval fake news. Subscribe and listen to us! Apple Music // Podbean // Overcast // Stitcher // TuneIn // Spotify Welcome to That Was Genius: Two blokes....


Pornographic Soviet Drunk Train (inventions week) - That Was Genius Episode 18

Eureka! Inventions is the topic this week, from some of the oddest and least successful to the most ingenious. Tom looks into Roman siege equipment courtesy of Vetruvius, including some really quite astonishingly large machines with crews of hundreds. Meanwhile, Sam takes us to the USSR to look at some of the stranger inventions the Soviets came up with to try and make life a little better for the population, from early mobile phones to bizarre ship/plane hybrids that terrorised the...


Imagine Mr Tickle... Covered in Swastikas ('that should be a film' week) - That Was Genius Episode 17

Talk about a historical epic: Episode 17 is all about events which should have been made into films, but aren't! Sam discusses the battle for Itter Schloss (the only time the Germans and US fought on the same side in WW2, alongside a load of retired French Prime Ministers). Meanwhile, Tom discusses the other side of the Scottish War of Independence. The side Mel Gibson didn't want you to see... The interesting side. Subscribe and listen to us! Apple Music // Podbean // Overcast //...


Vanking for Victory (resistance week) - That Was Genius Episode 16

Resistance is anything but futile! And it's the topic this week. Sam's been learning about British superspy and inventor of imaginary resistance networks Juan Pujol Garcia, the rare recipient of a gallantry award from both the British and the Germans in WW2. Meanwhile Tom's been discussing Norwegian accountant / badass saboteur Gunnar Fridtjof Thurmann Sønsteby, who managed to get away with some incredible acts against the German occupation of Norway - partly through being really smart, and...


A Nice Bike Ride Through A French Riot (cheating week) - That Was Genius Episode 15

You dirty rotten cheat. Foul play is the topic this week. Tom's gamed the system to make sure cheating in the early years of the Tour de France comes up, with both bizarre and terrifying drug cocktails, and some wacky-races style tricks and booby-traps! Meanwhile Sam's slipped an ace up his sleeve with the tale of Olga of Kiev and the Drevlian uprising - a series of gruesome political tricks which makes the Game of Thrones Red Wedding look like a slumber party. Subscribe and listen to us!...


The Bad, The Worst, and The Stupid (naughty Englishmen week) - That Was Genius Episode 14

'Perfidious Albion' or the dastardly English is the topic this week, although through a series of miscommunications it's actually an episode featuring one horrible person and one absolute idiot. Tom looks at bored, spoiled idiot and all-round moron John 'Mad Jack' Mitten. Meanwhile, Sam discusses the arms dealer and British intelligence agent Basil Zaharoff or 'ZedZed', the salesman who did more than anyone else to kick start WW1 by stirring up hatred and sleeping his way around European...


Please Dont Pirate This Podcast (pirate week - obviously) - That Was Genius Episode 13

Yarr, it's pirate week on That Was Genius. Tom discusses French Buccaneer, privateer and all-round nasty guy Francois L'ollonois, who is definitely not one to cross if you happen to be Spanish. Or like your head to be attached to your body. Meanwhile Sam discusses the pirate dynasty of Ching Shih, Cheng Yud and Chung Po: The husband/wife/adopted son (who was later also husband, yes it's complicated) family who terrorised the South China Sea with a fleet of hundreds of vessels and tens of...


Two Shiny Nipples and an Unfortunate Weather Vane (sculpture week) - That Was Genius Episode 12

Episode 12 is all about historical statues and sculpture. How high brow... Although actually not really. Tom introduces the Colossus of Rhodes, and Sam struggles to pronounce Lysippos. Subscribe and listen to us! Apple Music // Podbean // Overcast // Stitcher // TuneIn // Spotify Welcome to That Was Genius: Two blokes. A 12-hour time difference. An immature sense of humour. And 10,000 years of human civilisation. A weekly podcast looking at the weirder side of history. Join Sam...


Welcome to the Antarctic Party Boat (people called Richard week) - That Was Genius - Episode 11

Episode 11 is all about historical Richards! Tom discusses the horrific antarctic trials of Australian science teacher Dick Richards on Sir Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Meanwhile Sam introduces Richard Francis Burton - Victorian explorer, linguist, polymath, and... Pervert. Subscribe and listen to us! Apple Music // Podbean // Overcast // Stitcher // TuneIn // Spotify Welcome to That Was Genius: Two blokes. A 12-hour time difference. An immature sense...