The Biggest Problem in the Universe – Common Terms and References
“Go vote up monkeys, guys!” – Recurring catchphrase by Maddox reflecting his tendency to connect a problem currently under discussion back to his earlier problem of “Monkeys” (introduced in Episode 3.) Sometimes followed by an angry reminder that he “warned all [us] idiots” about the pitfalls of monkeys.
“Let’s get to a real problem.” – Another frequent Maddox catchphrase, usually delivered right after Dick has finished making the case for one of his problems. This is one of Maddox’s favorite ways to segue into his next problem because it doubles as an underhanded jab against Dick for bringing in supposedly weak problems.
Ass Farmer Sean – Sean, the show’s sound engineer, couldn’t be present for the recording of Episode 24 so Dick reads a note from him that supposedly says, “Dear guys, I can’t take the pressures of this dog-eat-dog world anymore, so I’m moving to rural China to be an ass farmer. Love, Sean.” When Maddox asks him in the next episode about his ass farming experience, Sean quips that “it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.” Frequently joked about by Maddox, Dick and many fans.
“Little Dick tip for ya.” – A catchphrase by Dick that he’s used after describing sneaky ways of bending the rules of the system in order to save money. Became popular after a number of fans pointed it out as a double entendre. First appeared in Episode 28 in discussion of the problem “Airline Surcharges” when Dick explains how to avoid paying airline fees for large carry-ons by bringing the bag straight to the gate and checking it there.
“You know what? Maybe I AM a fuckin’ idiot.”/“Maybe I think I’m a lot smarter than I am.” – Sound clips sent in by a fan, Reverend Scott, of Dick Masterson imitating someone who just realized that a satirical piece has duped him into getting upset and overreacting. These clips come from the “Facebook Satire Tags” discussion in Episode 15 when Dick was explaining the necessity of satirical news articles as “one of our only weapons against rampant dumbness.” Maddox often plays one or both of these clips to make fun of Dick for saying things that are incorrect or far-fetched.
Maddox’s angry sweats/forehead vein – Occasionally Maddox becomes so worked up by certain arguments or topics that he starts to sweat profusely (first mentioned in Episode 1 while discussing the problem “Families”). The sweating is often accompanied by one of the veins in Maddox’s forehead (explained in Episode 16) bulging so distinctly that sometimes Dick and Sean will go out of their way to comment on it.
“Well, that’s unfortunate.” – Sound clip that Maddox enjoys playing as a quip. First introduced in Episode 2 in the discussion of the problem “The Plastic Bag Ban.” The clip comes from a KOMO News interview of a young man outside of a grocery store.
“I got a stats for you.” – Sound clip pulled from Dick Masterson talking about the problem “Car Insurance” in Episode 5 and misspeaking the word “stats.” Sometimes played as a funny way to introduce the facts and statistics Maddox brings in to support the arguments for his problems; other times played for no real reason other than to make fun of Dick.
Dick versus Dick/Maddox versus Maddox – Recurring segments where Dick and Maddox contradict something they said from a previous episode, current episode or same sentence. Sometimes the “Dick versus Dick” bits are also called “Dick on Dick,” which Dick especially hates (to Maddox’s delight) because of the image it suggests. Fan Greg created a Dick versus Dick-themed song that points out Dick’s many cleverly-named problems, such as “Engineering Sexism,” “Manspreading Discontent” and “Ghostbusting the Patriarchy,” despite his claims in Episode 44 that he’s “more of a pie-in-the-face kinda guy” and “doesn’t like a lot of clever wordplay.”
Titanic Clips – Dick’s “punishment” for Maddox when Dick gets more votes in an episode. Maddox has previously sworn to never see the movie, “Titanic,” so Dick brings in 30-second clips to show Maddox, while Maddox complains and turns his head away in protest. The clips are usually prefaced with a parody of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” that was made by a fan, Grant.
Angelo’s Mom – Various clips were taken from a video & voicemail that a fan, Angelo, sent in from a rant his mom made about Dick Masterson. These include clips such as, “and who are you, GAY?!?” and “you suck!” As well as, “you are a jackass!”
Dick doesn’t know shit – A recurring segment where Maddox brings in a clip where Dick makes a false claim or relies on faulty data to make an argument.
Sean deleted it – In Episode 31, Sean accidentally deleted the podcast, so Maddox and Dick had to re-record the episode at midnight on Tuesday, the day of the release. Sean deleting the podcast is now a recurring gag on the show. When someone can’t find something, Sean probably deleted it.
Boisterous Coconuts – The nickname given to The Biggest Problem contributor, Asterios Kokkinos. Asterios has done many segments and voices for the show, most notably, “The Biggest Problem in History: Taking the pisstory out of history”
Maddox’s soup/correspondence – In Episode 3 Maddox describes how, when he still lived with his parents, he used to yell into a megaphone he bought at RadioShack (since his chair was too low for him to bang on the basement ceiling with a broom) to ask his mother to bring him things such as corn, soup and his mail. On hearing this and finding it bizarre, Dick and Sean started a running joke with Maddox as a weird basement dweller demanding his soup and “correspondence.”
Persian racing rims – A reference to Dick’s story in Episode 5 about wrecking his car and ending up with flashy chrome racing rims with “Motegi Racing” written on them as the closest matching replacement the auto body shop could find for his car’s old rims. Repeatedly mentioned by Maddox, Sean, and many fans as a way to tease Dick.
Diet Coke Challenge – A blind taste test that Maddox gave to Dick and Sean in Episode 8. The challenge was inspired by Dick and Sean’s claim in Episode 7 that Diet Coke from McDonald’s tastes better than all other Diet Coke, as well as Dick’s claim that he could pick out the McDonald’s Diet Coke in a blind taste test. Even though technically Dick and Sean failed to determine which Diet Coke samples were from McDonald’s, they both contested the results and arguments over the challenge continued into later episodes.
Expensive steak/wine disputes – The hosts’ ongoing argument over whether or not a higher price always correlates with higher quality. Dick backs the idea that the correlation is consistent and paying a higher price will generally guarantee a better product, while Maddox insists that quality plateaus after a certain price and any perceived increase in quality beyond that point is a result of cognitive bias. The debate first comes up with the problem “Expensive Steak” (Episode 4) and peaks during the discussion over “Wine Snobs” (Episode 14), which got heated enough to end with Dick screaming “That’s insane. That’s insane! THAT’S INSANE!!!”
Butt Sanchez – The made-up name of a fan who keeps in contact with Dick over email and whose personal stories Dick has used as material for certain segments and problems. First mentioned in Episode 22, where Dick created the “Erotic Stories from Real Men” segment based on an email from Butt Sanchez describing how Dick’s advice helped him get laid.
Dick’s “Man” – A guy who lived in Dick’s apartment with him for a time after helping Dick avoid contracting chlamydia at Burning Man (first mentioned in Episode 22). Dick refers to the guy as his “man” and keeps insisting that “it’s not a gay thing” (from Episode 36) because of the huge number of fans who have made fun of him for it. Even though Dick’s man has since moved away, stories about his run-ins with marijuana kingpins continue to come up in the show.
Fake Celebrity Voicemails – In Episode 26, Dick mentions that he “put the word out in Hollywood” about the show hitting 1 million downloads to see if any celebrity listeners would leave a voicemail. This resulted in over a dozen voicemails that were obvious impersonations, many of which were of low-level “celebrities” such as the conductor from the Polar Express, Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill Murray’s older brother), and Maddox’s fake girlfriend, Boobs McGee. The most popular fake celebrity voicemails have come from one fan who impersonates Bono, lead singer of U2, using a folksy Irish accent and making him sound like a leprechaun (beginning in Episode 28). This fan’s messages are known for combining traditional Irish sayings with bits from the show: “May you have walls for the winds, roofs for the rains, and a dick for fucking yourself.” In more recent episodes, the celebrity callers usually assert that “this is how I talk” after introducing themselves. Starting around Episode 52, there’s been a growing trend of United States presidents calling in and telling Dick to go fuck himself. So far these have included President Barack Obama and former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, James Garfield, John F. Kennedy, Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, William Henry Harrison, and Benjamin Harrison.
“Dick, go fuck yourself.” – The standard closing line for fan comments and voicemails. This became tradition around Episode 28, when Maddox commented that over the course of two days he’d received a lot of unrelated emails that all ended with some form of insult to Dick. Immediately after, Dick plays a voicemail that only says “Hello. Dick, go fuck yourself.” This is what became the unofficial sign-off after the episode aired.
“Nobody wins”/“It’s not a contest” – What Maddox says every time Dick implies that someone “wins” the show each week by bringing in the problem with the highest number of positive votes. Maddox began openly insisting that the show was never meant to be a competition in Episode 28, although some fans have argued that in earlier episodes he was concerned about his problems “winning” over Dick’s.
“Maddox Lost” song – A punk rock song Dick recorded that he sometimes plays to gloat when one of his problems gets the most positive votes for the week. The response from fans was overwhelmingly favorable when it first appeared in Episode 28. Maddox has argued that even though the song is funny, it hurts the goal of the show by influencing listeners to vote up Dick’s problems just because they want to hear the song and Maddox’s irritated reaction to it.
Maddox makes a “bags of sand” comment – Dick teases Maddox with this reference to the movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” whenever Maddox ham-fistedly mentions something related to women, sex, and/or reproductive organs. One example is the description of his “pussy bed” in Episode 36. A fan named Chris compiled most of Maddox’s “bags of sand” moments into a song that premiered in Episode 52.
Sativa Sean – A meme created by a fan, Greg, that exaggerates Sean as a heavy pot smoker who talks like a stoned hippie. In Episode 36 when Sean suggested that the loud muffler noises outside Dick’s apartment might not be the reason that girls don’t want to come over, Dick retorted with “At least I don’t reek like weed, you asshole.” Sean responded that he hadn’t smoked in years and claimed that the reason some of his equipment smelled like marijuana was because “it was stored in an improper area” once he quit. This meme has become one of the most popular ways to make fun of Sean, along with his accidental deletion of the original Episode 31, and even gave rise to a “Sativa Sean” song that played at the end of Episode 49.
“Three little words…” – During the discussion for the problem “People Who Turn Left” in Episode 43, Dick suggested roundabouts as a way of eliminating the need for left turns altogether by saying “Three little words: ‘roundabout.’” After several fans pointed out the quote’s error, Dick joked in the following episode that his life motto is ABC: “Always Be Trolling.” Maddox turned the “three little words” part of the quote into a sound clip that is always deliberately followed by a statement of only one or two words.
“See you next Tuesday.”– A line that Dick usually says at the show’s closing as of Episode 48. This started after a fan, Chris, left a comment saying that even though the episodes are released every Tuesday, the hosts “never take advantage of the phrase ‘see you next Tuesday,’ cleverly concealing the word C U N T.”
Small Face Dick – After the first live show aired on YouTube, Dick got an email around Episode 42 from a fan informing him that “Your face, Dick, is somewhat small for your head and chin. Looks too bulky.” Many fans have since been inspired to comment on Dick having a tiny face, whether by drawing comparisons between his appearance and that of other figures in pop culture (such as the character Little Face from the movie “Dick Tracy”) or by creating fan art as a tribute (such as the Charlie Brown-themed piece by a fan named John, showcased in Episode 49, and a “Small Face Dick” song by Chris, which premiered in Episode 61). Dick disagrees that this is the case and gets annoyed whenever it’s brought up, claiming that “I don’t have a too small of a face for my head.”
Guest Appearances + Problems
- Leah Tiscione – Episode 14, “People Who Can’t Read Social Cues”
- Ryan Holiday – Episode 18, “Outrage Porn”
- Asterios Kokkinos – Episode 21, “Toms Shoes”; Episode 27, “Burlesque Dancers”; Episode 50, “Unexpected Guests”; Episode 77, “Cowardly Perverts”; Episode 83, “Star Wars Prequel Apologists”; Episode 84, “Elf on the Shelf”; Episode 88, “Last Call”; Episode 90, “Unappreciated Artists”; Episode 94, “Slouching”; Episode 99, “Political Satire”
- Roger Barr – Episode 24, “People Who Don’t Dress Up On Halloween”; Episode 76, “Halloween Not Being Recognized as a National Holiday”
- Nathan Buckley – Episode 37, “The Travel Bug”
- Whitney Moore – Live Episode #1, “Nerd Culture”; Episode 41, “Recently Enlightened People”
- Joe Penna (Mystery Guitar Man) – Live Episode #2, “People Who Complain About What Others Are Doing On Social Media”
- Ela Darling – Live Episode #3, “The Pronoun ‘They’”
- John Hennigan – Live Episode #4, “Unsolicited Advice”
- Ron Babcock – Episode 53, “Automatic Sensors”
- Robin Higgins – Episode 62, “People Who Don’t Value Science”; Episode 91, “No One Teaches You How To Have Sex Good”
- Erin Tillman – Episode 69, “No Quality Singles”; Episode 78, “Unfair Internet Bans”
- Denzel – Episode 93, “Being Black”
- Tim Changzzzzz – Episode 96, “Haters”
- Sean Jacobson – Episode 100, “Addiction”
- Michael Capes – Episode 103, “Humorless Stupid People”