Josh Gondelman is a writer and comedian who currently writes and produces comedy for Desus and Mero on Showtime. Before that, Gondelman spent five years at HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, earning multiple Emmys and other awards for his work on the writing staff. Much before that, before his comedy career took off, he taught preschool in the Boston area. As a performer, you’ve seen him tell jokes on Conan, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and Late Night With Seth Meyers, or heard him on one of his three comedy albums. As a writer, his work also has appeared in McSweeney’s, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, the Modern Seinfeld parody Twitter account, and more. His book of essays, “Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results,” is out now. So let’s get to it!
Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan have survived and thrived in ways they couldn’t have imagined when they pulled the plug on their TV Land series in the summer of 2016. Within months, Jeannie was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor, and the couple, who have five young children, wondered what would happen next. Jeannie writes about all of that in her new book, “When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People.” Jim, meanwhile, was nominated for Grammy Awards in both 2018 and 2019. And in August 2019, Gaffigan became the first stand-up comedian to launch a special with Amazon Prime Video as an Amazon Original with Quality Time. Jim and Jeannie gave me some quality time in their New York City apartment to talk about everything they’ve been through together, so let’s get to it!
Evan Shapiro had run cable TV stations IFC, Sundance Channel, and Pivot before he launched Seeso, a streaming comedy service owned by Comcast and NBCUniversal in 2016. Shapiro went independent for a couple of years after that, but in May 2019, he took the reins as president of the National Lampoon, where he’s in charge of all development, acquisitions, and production on television, digital and audio content for the entertainment company. Shapiro helped rebrand the Independent Film Channel as a home for celebrated comedy in IFC, and brought podcasters to TV with Comedy Bang! Bang! and Maron. What can he do to revitalize the National Lampoon brand? He’s already working with the Forever Dog podcast network to develop some of their shows for TV. Shapiro, who also teaches TV at NYU, invited me to his unconventional offices at Soho House to give us a crash course in what’s happening with comedy these days. So let’s get to it!
Quinta Brunson took classes at The Second City in Chicago and Los Angeles and was performing with iOWest when she first found success not onstage but online, thanks to a 2013 Tumblr video, followed by a series of shorts she made for Instagram known as “He Got Money” or “The Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date.” A gig with Buzzfeed followed suit, where she developed, wrote and starred in series for Facebook Watch, YouTube and Go90. Brunson has appeared on shows on ABC, The CW and Comedy Central, writes and provides a voice on Adult Swim’s Lazor Wulf, and had a deal to develop a sitcom for CBS with Jermaine Fowler and Larry Wilmore in 2018. That fell through, but in doing so, opened the door for Brunson to join the cast of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show. Brunson sat down with me to talk about the first season on HBO and what’s to come. So let’s get to it!
Julio Torres described himself as a Space Prince before casting himself as a Chocolate Prince in the surreal bilingual TV series, Los Espookys, which he co-created, co-wrote and co-stars in for HBO. Originally from El Salvador, Torres first moved to New York City to study at The New School. After his funny friends helped him with his immigration process, he joined the most American of comedy institutions, Saturday Night Live, as a writer, known for his distinctive short films that have filled us in on “Wells For Boys,” the font Papyrus, and the inner thoughts of a sink. Torres animates even more objects in his first solo comedy special, My Favorite Shapes, which premieres on HBO in August 2019. I had only a few minutes of alone time with Julio at HBO headquarters to talk, so let’s get to it!
After performing a half-hour stand-up special on Comedy Central and writing a book on depression (How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows), what came next for comedian Jacqueline Novak would bring her to her knees. So to speak. The actress Natasha Lyonne has presented Novak in her first Off-Broadway show, Get On Your Knees, currently enjoying a limited run in the summer of 2019 at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village. It’s billed as “the most high-brow show about blow jobs you’ll ever see,” and it’s directed by the comedian and actor John Early, who also cast Novak in his own Netflix special. I sat down with Jacqueline at the Cherry Lane before one of her shows to talk about her place in the Georgetown University comedy community (which includes her show’s executive producer, Mike Birbiglia, her producer Mike Lavoie, as well Nick Kroll and John Mulaney) and how I hope to see her film and distribute Get On Your Knees to schools across America. So let’s get to it!
Brent Weinbach is an innovative and weird stand-up comedian, befitting of someone who won the Andy Kaufman Award in 2007. Since then, he has masterminded hit YouTube videos such as “Gangster Party Line,” “Man Gives Birth” and “Ultimate Drumming Technique.” With DJ Douggpound, Weinbach co-created and directed the Streamy-nominated web series, Pound House. Weinbach also has appeared on multiple episodes of IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! and Comedy Central’s Another Period. Even mainstream audiences have gotten to experience Weinbach courtesy of his stand-up sets on Conan, Lopez Tonight and The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. His stand-up special Appealing to the Mainstream originally debuted on Seeso in 2017 and is now available on Amazon Prime. He also regularly headlines a show called Brent Weinbach and Friends at the Hollywood Improv, which is where I caught up with him in 2019.
So let’s get to it!
Marina Franklin is a Chicago native who has called Harlem home long enough to see her New York City neighborhood gentrify around her. She also has traveled the world as a comedian, performing in festivals from Melbourne to Montreal, from Kilkenny to Bonnaroo. Franklin’s onscreen credits include appearances on Chappelle’s Show, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Crashing, Louie, and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, as well as performances on stand-up specials The Awkward Comedy Show and Showtime’s Women Who Kill. Her podcast, Friends Like Us, features female comedians of color talking about the topics of the day. And she has a friend in Conan and Team Coco, who have featured her on TV, on tour, and showcased the trailer to her first solo stand-up special, Single Black Female, which comes out in July 2019 via the Comedy Dynamics Network. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
With degrees in English and Theater, Catherine Cohen not only graduated from Princeton University but also delivered a humorous speech at her own graduation. Five years later, Cohen became one of New York City’s newest It Girls, bringing the cabaret community back into the mainstream of comedy. She’s all over magazines such as Interview and GQ. Onscreen, you’ve already seen her in the finale of Comedy Central’s Broad City, as well an episode of HBO’s High Maintenance. Sh’ll soon appear on the big screen in the movie, Lovebirds. And all the while, Cohen holds court in the East Village with Henry Koperski as her accompanist on piano, weekly at Alan Cumming’s Club Cumming, and monthly at Joe’s Pub. In August 2019 she’s taking her show to the UK for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, “The Twist…? She’s Gorgeous.” We caught up with her in San Francisco in June, where Cohen performed on several shows as part of Comedy Central’s Clusterfest. After our chat, we’ll listen to her first breakout song with Koperski, “Look at Me.” So let’s get to it!
Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle met in college and became fast friends and comedy partners. But they did not take the typical path from Harvard to Hollywood. Their scenic route through show business included making their own videos before YouTube, to web series for a shuttered HBO website, to writing for Comedy Central’s Chocolate News, and eventually to joining the original Late Night writing staff for Jimmy Fallon — where they birthed successful bits such as “Slow Jam The News.” When they left Fallon, they found individual success — Bashir in GLOW and the upcoming Top Gun sequel, Diallo in the sitcom Marlon — and together wrote for the variety series Maya & Marty. Bashir and Diallo have not one but two new comedy series premiering in July 2019 — the sitcom South Side on Comedy Central, and the variety spoof Sherman’s Showcase on IFC. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Michelle Collins has that gift for gab that translates hilariously well both as a stand-up comedian and as a talk-show host. Collins co-starred for one season on ABC’s The View, and has gone on to host several after-shows for reality series. Among them: ABC’s After Paradise, TLC’s 90 Day Live: A 90 Day Fiance Fan Aftershow, and Lifetime’s Little Talk Live. She can currently be heard hosting her very own morning show, The Michelle Collins Show, live weekday mornings on SiriusXM satellite radio. And she has a live stage show, “Strong Monster,” in which she recounts her life as well as the latest musings from the world of pop culture, via stories, slides and songs. She’s taking that show from New York City to London in July 2019. But first, she sat down with me to talk about her journey from Miami to Best Week Ever and beyond, so let’s get to it!
Connor Ratliff can be seen performing live at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City regularly with two of its most prestigious improv groups — The Stepfathers on Friday nights, and ASSSSCAT 3000 on Sunday nights. He also has served as the warm-up comedian and erstwhile presidential candidate from The Chris Gethard Show on public access as well as cable TV, and currently stars in a Comedy Central web series, Dollar Store Therapist. You more likely recognize him from scene-stealing work in critically-acclaimed TV series such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Orange is the New Black or Search Party. Ratliff also created and stars in a long-running UCB staple called The George Lucas Talk Show, where he interviews real comedians and celebrities while pretending to be the Star Wars creator. A documentary film crew is currently capturing what makes that work as part of a Kickstarter project, and Ratliff took a moment to sit down with me to talk all about it, and the ups and downs of his comedy career. So let’s get to it!
The daughter of a Swiss mother and Pakistani father, Sabrina Jalees is a Canadian by birth who became famous in her native land by starring or hosting in several TV and radio shows north of the border. After immigrating to the U.S., Jalees found herself starting over and coming out. Since 2015, though, she has found success here, too, performing on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Adam Devine’s House Party, Amazon’s Transparent and Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup. She also has written for sitcoms on NBC, ABC and TBS, and is on the current writing staff for the Netflix animated hit, Big Mouth. Jalees began the 2019 development season with a script deal for her own sitcom on FOX, and ended it with a co-starring role on the CBS sitcom Carol’s Second Act, which premieres this fall starring Patricia Heaton. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Alyssa Limperis is an actress, writer and comedian. Although she has performed with the Upright Citizens Brigade on one of their house sketch teams, and currently co-hosts a UCB podcast called Crazy; in Bed, Limperis first found success by following her own path, carving out a career by convincing Conde Nast to make comedy videos featuring her character work. She caught everyone’s eye, and their mothers, when she began writing, acting and editing her own mom videos, and uploading them to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Every once in a long while, if you’re lucky enough, you feel as if you’re on the ground floor of witnessing something awesome before the rest of the world catches on. Alyssa Limperis is that something awesome. I’ve already compared her in print to the late great Gilda Radner. Let’s hear how Limperis herself describes her life and career. So let’s get to it!
Natalie Palamides grew up in a small Western Pennsylvania town but could not be contained by convention or conventional wisdom. After an internship with Conan during college, she trained with the Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia, then headed to Hollywood to work with the Upright Citizens Brigade and other theater groups in Los Angeles. You’ve heard her voice on TV as Buttercup in the Cartoon Network’s Powerpuff Girls. In 2017, Palamides took the Edinburgh Fringe by storm with her first show, LAID, winning the Best Newcomer award, and returned the following summer with an ambitious follow-up NATE. Both shows were co-directed by celebrated clown Dr. Brown. Palamides was named one of Time Out LA’s 10 “Comedians to Watch” in 2019. She’s bringing her shows to New York City for the first time this month. Let’s hear all about her then, so let’s get to it!
Erin Foley’s first big show business credit wasn’t performing comedy, but rather playing a Rolling Stone magazine fact checker in the Cameron Crowe movie about his teen years, Almost Famous. So let’s get to the facts. Foley has performed on Conan, Arsenio Hall and starred in her own half-hour Comedy Central special. She has written on comedy shows for network and cable TV, and starred in a series of interstitials for the Lifetime Channel called Mixologist and a Movie. Her podcast on the All Things Comedy network, Sports Without Balls, is moving up to the big leagues in the summer of 2019. And she just released a new stand-up album, Deep Dive [Explicit], on 800 Pound Gorilla Records. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Jamie Morton was working behind the scenes of British television when his father emailed him a link under the name Rocky Flintstone, a link that revealed an erotic novel actually written by Morton’s father. A horribly written novel at that. And more where that came from. Morton and his good friends James Cooper and Alice Levine decided to read and gab about this book, chapter by chapter, in a podcast called My Dad Wrote A Porno. The podcast has spawned more than 160 million downloads, global tours, celebrity fans the likes of Elijah Wood, Dame Emma Thompson, Daisy Ridley and more, and now an HBO special. The trio sat down with me in New York City to talk all about their move in front of the cameras. So let’s get to it!
Rich Vos might not have expected to make it to 60 the way he was living his 20s, addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine. But Vos made it out, and celebrated 33 years clean and sober in 2019. Along the way, he became the first white comic to perform on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, served as the host and emcee for Woodstock 99, performed as a regular on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, and almost won the first season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He did end up meeting his future wife on Last Comic, fellow stand-up Bonnie McFarlane. Together they’ve produced a daughter, released a documentary film, Women Aren’t Funny, and continue to co-host a successful podcast called My Wife Hates Me. When Vos did turn 60 in 2017, his funny friends gathered at The Comedy Cellar to roast him, resulting in a comedy special available on Vimeo. Vos has written for the Academy Awards and released five comedy albums, but he’s just as open about his recovery and sobriety as he is about his comedy. And that’s a very welcome thing. So let’s get to it!
May 12-18, 2019 also is National Prevention Week for the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Born in Britain, raised in both Jamaica and New York City, and now based in Los Angeles, Ian Edwards has been a successful comedian and TV writer for two decades, dating back to The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show in 1998. Since then, Ian has written for Saturday Night Live, black-ish, The Boondocks, The Carmichael Show, Crashing, and Friends from College. He has performed on both Def Comedy Jam and Conan, and holds the distinction of releasing the first and only stand-up comedy album on Team Coco Records. Ian has filmed his first hour special for All Things Comedy, to be presented by Comedy Central sometime in 2019. He was still editing the footage when we met up at The Comedy Store, so let’s get to it!
Sara Schaefer is a critically acclaimed stand-up comedian, writer, and producer currently based in Los Angeles. She was the co-host of MTV’s late-night show Nikki & Sara Live, which was born out of a podcast she started with Nikki Glaser in her Brooklyn apartment. Sara has won two Emmy awards for her work at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and a Writers Guild Award for Ed Helms’ Comedy Central special The Fake News with Ted Nelms. She recently released her second comedy album, “Live Laugh Love,” and caught up with me before getting back to work on her latest writing gig, an all-star tribute to Laugh-In that will premiere on Netflix in May 2019. There’s a lot to get to, and not much time, so let’s get to it!
Kansas City native Chris Porter caught his first big break just months after moving to Los Angeles with a gig competing on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He finished third that season. Since then, Porter has recorded two comedy albums, a half-hour special for Comedy Central and an hour available on Netflix. His new hour, A Man from Kansas, is out now from Comedy Dynamics. So let’s get to it!
Hampton Yount has already seen the past, present and future of cinema, as spoken through the character Crow T. Robot he voices on Netflix’s new edition of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Before that, Yount had emerged from the DC comedy scene with a job writing and performing on MTV’s long-running series, Ridiculousness. His other writing credits include Loiter Squad and The Eric Andre Show, both on Adult Swim, and you’ve seen him perform stand-up on Conan as well as The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. With his buddy, Dave Ross, Yount also co-hosts the podcast Suicide Buddies. His stand-up comedy album, Able. [Explicit], came out in spring of 2019, just as I sat down to talk with Yount in his home in California. So let’s get to it!
Trae Crowder grew up in rural Tennessee and worked for a federal government agency while harboring dreams of becoming a famous stand-up comedian. Crowder didn’t expect it’d happen thanks to videos he filmed on the back porch as the “Liberal Redneck.” But he went viral in 2016, seen by millions on YouTube and Facebook. With his comedy buddies Corey and Drew, he formed the wellRED comedy team, which has sold-out theaters across America, produced a best-selling book, made appearances on The View, Real Time with Bill Maher, Nightline, multiple news outlets, and even scored a TV network development deal or two. In the spring of 2019, they’ve started making videos for Comedy Central, launched a new theater tour, “From Dixie With Love,” and will release their first wellRED comedy album, “Live from Lexington,” in April 2019. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Jill-Michele Meleán’s mother’s Irish, and her father’s Bolivian. But she grew up in Miami surrounded by Cubans. All of which makes her White Latina, the title of her first full stand-up special, out now via Comedy Dynamics. Jilly talks to me about catching her first break by standing in for J.Lo. on set for the 1998 film, Out of Sight, brought her to Hollywood and got her a SAG card. She talks me through the lean years, the heights of becoming MADtv’s first and only Latina cast member, and how she kept going in the years following that gig and Reno 911! Jilly put many of those life, love and career struggles into a feature film she wrote, produced and starred in called This is Meg. So let’s get to it!
Liza Treyger is a New York based stand-up comic by way of Chicago, who grew up in nearby Skokie after immigrating from Russia when she was 3. Treyger has her own Comedy Central half-hour special and album, GLITTERCHEESE, and a more recent half-hour special on Netflix as part of The Degenerates collection of 2018. You’ve also seen her perform on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Chelsea Lately, @Midnight, This is Not Happening, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser, Horace & Pete, Adam Devine’s House Party, and Lie Detectors. There’s a lot to get to, and only so much Twitter can handle, so let’s get to it!
Yakov Smirnoff got his big break in America thanks to Mitzi Shore, who not only put up the Soviet immigrant in her home behind The Comedy Store in 1977 but also gave Yakov’s father a full-time job, too. Smirnoff himself became a big star during the Reagan years, starring opposite Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson, recurring on NBC’s hit sitcom Night Court, and getting his own Showtime special and short-lived sitcom. What a Country! He also performed several times for Ronald and Nancy Reagan, including a headlining gig at the 1988 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. In the 1990s, Smirnoff found a new professional home in Branson, Missouri. He still performs in Branson two months a year, when he’s not back in LA where he’s a Comedy Store regular, or out on the road with his new Happily Ever Laughter tour. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Keith Malley and Chemda Khalili began podcasting out of their apartment in Queens in March of 2005, three months before Apple recognized podcasting officially on iTunes. “Keith and The Girl” quickly became one of the most popular podcasts, and by 2011, they’d launched a VIP service that garnered some 50,000 paid subscribers, who pay monthly or annually for access to 10 additional podcasts and bonus content. They have written two books together, 2010’s What Do We Do Now? Keith and The Girl’s Smart Answers To Your Stupid Relationship Questions, and The Ultimate Podcasting Guide in 2014. They’re still at it broadcasting several times a week, and caught me up on everything in honor of their 14th anniversary as a podcast. So let’s get to it!
A classically trained theater major who grew up in New Orleans and Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Lyric Lewis took her degree from Syracuse and headed straight for Hollywood, where she auditioned for The Groundlings. Over the course of several years, Lewis worked her way up the ranks, eventually reaching the cast of the Sunday Company. Then in quick succession, she landed a spot in the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase, Just For Laughs New Faces Characters, and a role in the reboot of MADtv for The CW. That didn’t last, but she rebounded with a role in the NBC sitcom A.P. Bio, prompting Entertainment Weekly to call her your new comedy crush when A.P. Bio debuted in 2018. Lewis also has appeared in FX’s Baskets, and Comedy Central’s Drunk History. She sat down with me inside The Groundlings training center before season two of A.P. Bio premieres to tell me all about her comedy journey. So let’s get to it!
Steve Agee had a bizarre enough life behind the camera before he ever got his first big shot in front of it thanks to Sarah Silverman. Agee edited footage for MTV’s reality shows such as The Real World, then got a job writing for Jimmy Kimmel Live, where he’s responsible for launching the famous Kimmel bit, Unnecessary Censorship. Since co-starring on The Sarah Silverman Program, Agee is recognizably cast as “that guy” on sitcoms such as New Girl, You’re The Worst, and Superstore. He currently cohosts a podcast with E! late-night talker Busy Phillips called We’re No Doctors. And Agee landed his first leading role in a feature film, the new indie movie Boy Band. Written and directed by the Levinson Brothers, Boy Band is about a late-90s boy band that got old and fat without realizing it, with Agee’s bandmates played by Seth Herzog, Jordan Carlos and Dave Hill. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Agee talks a lot about that stent (pictured), too, so enjoy it!
In 2019, Dane Cook is heading out for his first full national tour in six years, and he’s calling it his Tell It Like It Is tour, playing venues such as the Wang Theater in his hometown of Boston and Radio City Music Hall in New York City. How is it now for Dane Cook? Cook sat down with me in The Comedy Store’s podcast studio this month to talk through his comedy and personal demons, as well as go back with me to his historic and pioneering rise through social media in the mid 2000s, culminating in HBO specials, double-platinum records, selling out Madison Square Garden, hosting Saturday Night Live twice and starring in major motion pictures. He was the comedy star of the late 2000s. Dane Cook has been through a lot since then and come out the other side. And he’s ready to talk all about it. So let’s get to it!
Here’s a moment captured by my colleague at the Boston Herald at the time, Tim Correira, backstage with Dane on April 15, 2006, in a dressing room at the Garden before Cook went on to film back-to-back shows before a combined crowd of more than 40,000 for his HBO special, Vicious Circle.
Cook’s 2019 tour kicks off Feb. 20 in Huntington, NY, and ends Nov. 16 in Los Angeles.
This episode was co-produced by Jenny at The Comedy Store.
Henry Rollins was the legendary frontman for hardcore punk band Black Flag in the 1980s, then his own Rollins Band into the 90s and early 2000s. Rollins also has written more than two dozen books, appeared in movies such as Heat, Lost Highway and Bad Boys II, on TV in Sons of Anarchy, as well as hosting series for National Geographic and the History Channel, and putting out several spoken word specials. Rollins currently hosts a weekly radio program on KCRW and co-stars in the new SyFy series, Deadly Class. His newest talking show, Keep Talking Pal, premiered on Showtime in 2018 and is available now everywhere via Comedy Dynamics. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
This episode co-produced by The Comedy Store!
Sam Richardson is best known for playing Richard Splett, the only optimistic voice in Selina Meyer’s administration on HBO’s Veep. Richardson spent summers in his childhood across the globe in Ghana with his mother’s side of the family. But he’s also a Detroit native through and through, getting his comedy start as a teen taking classes at Second City Detroit, and later co-creating and co-starring in two seasons of Detroiters with his best friend, Tim Robinson, on Comedy Central. You’ve seen Richardson in a variety of roles on screens big and small over the past five years. In 2019, he’s part of Veep’s fond farewell from HBO, as well as the premiere season of Champaign, Ill., on YouTube Premium, where he co-stars with Adam Pally as members of their best friend’s entourage who lose their best friend and everything else. There’s a lot to get to. So let’s get to it!
Shaun Latham found the key to his successful comedy career not in Los Angeles or New York City, but in Indianapolis. That’s where he developed the most in recent years, and found a home with the Pat McAfee Show podcast and a hit web series, 20 Dollar Chef, through Barstool Sports. Latham, who went on the road opening for Gabriel Iglesias and got his first TV credits on Fluffy’s Comedy Central showcase, Stand-Up Revolution, recently did make the move to the Big Apple, where he is hosting his own SiriusXM talk show weekday mornings on the Barstool Sports channel, and preparing to get in the ring for Barstool’s Rough and Rowdy 7 Super Brawl in Atlanta. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Gaby Dunn is a journalist, comedian and actress, who with comedy partner Allison Raskin, wrote, performed and produced the successful YouTube comedy channel “Just Between Us,” with more than 700,000 subscribers. Their young adult novel, “I Hate Everyone But You,” was a New York Times best-seller. Dunn’s podcast, Bad With Money, was named one of the top 10 podcasts of 2016 by The New York Times. Gaby has turned her podcast into a new book, “Bad With Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together.” It’s out now. Gaby pulls back the curtain on the real economics of making money, or failing to make bank, while making YouTube videos and other social media content. So let’s get to it!
Fred Armisen was one of the longest-serving cast members of Saturday Night Live, spending 11 seasons as Fericito, Prince, Barack Obama and more. He has since gone on to star in eight seasons of Portlandia on IFC, two seasons of Big Mouth on Netflix, another two seasons of Documentary Now! on IFC, one season and counting of Forever on Amazon Prime Video, and put out his first solo comedy special in 2018, the Grammy-nominated Standup for Drummers, on Netflix. That doesn’t leave him much time to lead the band for Late Night with Seth Meyers. But a third season of Documentary Now! premieres in February 2019, and there’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Gina Brillon was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and already knew she wanted to be a stand-up comedian before she grew up, starting her career when she was still 17. Brillon became the first Latina winner of NBC’s Stand Up For Diversity competition in 2012, and since then has held sitcom development deals not only with NBC, but also with CBS and ABC. Brillon tours regularly with Gabriel Iglesias when she’s not headlining comedy clubs on her own, and she recently began what could be a recurring role on ABC’s hit sitcom, The Conners. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Before we turn our calendars to 2019 and start making jokes about writing 2018 on all of our checks that we no longer write because we live in a digital age, it’s time once again for our annual tribute to the year’s most valuable players in comedy. This is the fourth time that New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman has joined me for this annual debate, and Zinoman got me thinking about whether we should expand our honors to include not only the comedy MVP candidates, but also Rookies of the Year, Comeback Comedian of the Year, and more. Do we talk about Hannah Gadsby? Of course we do. We also get into Tiffany Haddish, Michelle Wolf, Hasan Minhaj, Donald Glover, Kate McKinnon, John Mulaney, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres and more. So let’s get to it!
Brian Regan is most comedians’ favorite comedian. Even if you might not recognize him or place his name, Regan has stood out among stand-ups for the past two decades, with multiple comedy specials to his credit – including Comedy Central’s first and still only live special, recorded at Radio City Music Hall. Regan performed 28 times on David Letterman, and since added a few Fallons. As part of his deal with Netflix, Regan is releasing a four-episode series that’s part classic stand-up routines, part new sketches based on those premises. He produced it with Jerry Seinfeld. Stand Up and Away! comes out this Christmas Eve. So let’s get to it!
Adam McKay won the Academy Award for best screenplay for his adaptation of The Big Short. His newest film at the end of 2018 is VICE, McKay’s darkly satiric yet mostly true retelling of the life and career of Dick Cheney. He has come a long way since his Second City days as an improviser and founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade. McKay is a former head writer for Saturday Night Live, where he first teamed up with Will Ferrell on sketches and digital shorts. Their first feature film together was 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. McKay also wrote and directed Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers, The Other Guys, Anchorman 2, and on Broadway and HBO in a send-up of George W. Bush called “You’re Welcome America.” Together, McKay and Ferrell formed Gary Sanchez Productions in 2006, and a year later, helped launch Funny or Die. In 2018, McKay had one of his busiest years yet, bringing the series Succession to HBO, executive producing several other TV series, and finishing work on VICE. All while surviving a heart attack. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Sarah Cooper could have enjoyed a lucrative career in tech, only she didn’t enjoy Google as much as she did making jokes about it. She began performing stand-up in 2010, and in 2013, saw a blog post she wrote about how to look smart in meetings go viral and land her a three-book deal. She has moved from New York City to Silicon Valley and back again, and her third book, How To Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings, is out now. So let’s get to it!
Rosebud Baker has two famous names if you know where to look. Her family business isn’t exactly Citizen Kane, although if you were paying any attention to politics, then you know a life of stand-up comedy and podcasting about Justin Bieber is a far cry from her grandfather’s past as Secretary of State and bff with President George H.W. Bush. Rosebud started out as an actress — she co-starred in the 2010 Sundance reality series, Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, and now co-hosts a podcast about Justin Bieber called Two Less Lonely Girls. In between, Rosebud has written for Someecards, Elite Daily, The Frisky and more, and she’s starring in a brand-new Amazon Prime series, Inside Jokes, which followed her journey as a New Face at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. So let’s get to it!
Comedy fans have known and loved Jason Mantzoukas for years. Even if you don’t know the name, you’ve probably known and loved Mantzoukas and recognized him from his scene-stealing roles FX’s The League, or Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Drunk History, Transparent, I’m Sorry, No Activity, The Good Place, Big Mouth, or in movies such as The Dictator or The House. And you’ve certainly heard him as one-third of the hit podcast How Did This Get Made? Mantzoukas now has his first starring role in a movie, alongside Tony Revolori in The Long Dumb Road. Mantzoukas sat down with me to talk about his own long and not so dumb road from Boston to Morocco to New York City to Hollywood. So let’s get to it!
Anthony Cumia was installing heaters and air conditioners at 33 when a song parody he wrote about OJ Simpson caught the attention of a Long Island radio DJ named Gregg Hughes. Hughes invited Cumia to sit in with him, and from there, The Opie and Anthony Show was born. That was 1994. Twenty years later, SiriusXM fired Cumia after one ill-advised stunt and Tweetstorm too many, and ended the jock duo’s reign of shock and comedy. But Cumia rebounded by starting a livestream from his home. Now he’s built a thriving network of 10 shows out of a Manhattan studio called Compound Media, and he just published his memoir, Permanently Suspended: The Rise and Fall… and Rise Again of Radio’s Most Notorious Shock Jock. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Orlando Leyba was born in Puerto Rico but deported to the Dominican Republic with his mother when he was just a small child. Leyba and his mom eventually made it back to the United States, and he got his start in comedy in Miami. Through hard work and timing, he’s risen up the ranks, and in the past year, recorded stand-up for LaffMobb’s Laff Tracks on truTV, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and HBO Latino’s Entre Nos. Leyba was a Comic to Watch at the 2018 New York Comedy Festival, and is the first HBO Latino comedian to have his own half-hour special. It’s called Adorable and is out now. So let’s get to it!
Carolyn Taylor, Jennifer Whalen and Aurora Browne met while performing with Second City Toronto. Later, Meredith MacNeill befriended Carolyn on the set of This Hour Has 22 Minutes. These four Canadian women joined forces to create, write, executive produce and Star in their own hilarious sketch comedy series, Baroness Von Sketch Show. They’re in production on season four for the CBC, while season three premieres this November on IFC. So let’s get to it!
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When real life becomes even more ridiculous than satire, then what role is there for comedians to play? And how should comedians talk about serious issues while still keeping their senses of humor? Those are two of the questions I posed to comedians on the front lines of the discussion, and on the red carpet of the Golden Probes, a satirical award ceremony mocking misogyny. Among the comedians I chatted with: Comedy Central’s Jordan Klepper and Dulce Sloan, Lizz Winstead and Franchesca Ramsey, Brian Unger, and Margaret Cho. So let’s get to it!
You may or may not remember seeing J. Keith van Straaten in roles on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,” and ads for McDonald’s, Nike, Pizza Hut, Cheez-It, and many more. But if you did, then you’re just the sort of trivia expert who would have loved watching van Straaten host Comedy Central’s TV game show “Beat The Geeks.” He currently contributes to an NPR game show, Ask Me Another, while hosting his own comedy game show podcast, Go Fact Yourself. We got just the facts from van Straaten this summer, so let’s get to it!
Ted Alexandro has made multiple appearances on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and The View, had two half-hour specials on Comedy Central, and spent the past couple of years touring theaters and arenas around the world with Jim Gaffigan. He also is one of the co-founders of the New York Comedians Coalition, which successfully organized hundreds of comedians to negotiate the first pay raise in decades in New York City’s comedy clubs. When he’s at home in his native New York City, you can often see Alexandro perform at The Comedy Cellar. He just released his third self-produced stand-up comedy special, “Senior Class of Earth,” out now via All Things Comedy. Alexandro sat down with me at our neighborhood comedy hangout, QED, in Astoria, so let’s get to it!
Darrell Hammond started carving out a career for himself with voiceover work in Orlando after graduating from the University of Florida in the late 1970s. More than a decade later, a chance Clinton impersonation during a performance at Carolines scored him his fateful third-times-the-charm audition for Saturday Night Live in 1995. And more than two decades after that, he’s still hanging around 30 Rock, now providing the lead-in voiceover intros for SNL. And he’s just put out the audio narration of his 2011 memoir, God, If You’re Not up There, I’m F*cked. Hammond also has narrated an Audible Original called That’s Clinton recorded live at The Comedy Cellar, and is performing in a special all-star cast reading of the script, Have a Nice Day, recorded live in NYC for Audible with Billy Crystal, Kevin Kline, Annette Bening, Robin Thede and more in a dark comedy about a President trying to save his marriage and his country at the same time.
Hammond spoke to me about doing voiceover work then and now, his new Comedy Dynamics special Mayhem Explained, as well as his recent efforts lobbying Congress to pass bipartisan opiod legislation to treat those suffering from addiction. There’s a lot to get to and not much time, so let’s get to it!
Most people still think of Mary Lynn Rajskub as the counterterrorism techie Chloe from FOX’s hit series 24. But Rajskub has a long and storied comedy resume, from Mr. Show and Larry Sanders in the 1990s, to a prime-time sketch TV effort with Kelsey Grammer in the 2000s, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Californication, to the movie Night School which opens this fall with Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and many other comedians. I sat down with Rajskub to talk about her own post-grad journey.
So let’s get to it!
Maria Bamford is one of the most exciting stand-up comedians working today. You may have seen her starring in her own Netflix series, Lady Dynamite, based on her own life, or Target’s holiday season TV commercials, based on your own. Bamford has been on the front lines of revolutionizing stand-up comedy, from The Comedians of Comedy Tour with Patton Oswalt, to performing for her parents in The Special Special Special, and making web series such as The Maria Bamford Show for Super Deluxe. Maria has been open about her mental health as well as her financial health, and we talked about as much as we could between her shows at The Bell House in Brooklyn. So let’s get to it!
Mo Mandel is a stand-up comedian who created and executive produces Comedy Knockout for truTV, where comics zing each other and try to win over the studio audience. Before that, he hosted truTV’s BARmageddon and appeared more than 40 times on the panel of Chelsea Lately. You’ve seen him as a co-star on such TV series as Modern Family, Castle and Happy Endings, on his own in a half-hour Comedy Central special and an hour special that debuted on Seeso but is now on Amazon, Negative Reinforcement. And you can hear him in a podcast he co-hosts with his girlfriend, Dr. Ashley, called The Full Release. Mo has been a veteran of Comedy Central contests, but we’re all winners at Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival, where Mo and I met up in July 2018. In fact, Mandel just inked a new deal with Amazon to develop an animated comedy series called 2051.
So let’s get to it!
Sam Morril is one of New York City’s rising stand-up comics, having just come off hosting two seasons of People Talking Sports on the MSG network. Morril also has performed on America’s Got Talent, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan, and Last Comic Standing. He’s risen from Comedy Central’s Comics to Watch to his own hour special on the network, premiering Sept. 14, 2018. It’s called Amy Schumer Presents: Sam Morril: Positive Influence. So let’s get to it!
Jonathan Katz won Comedy Central’s first-ever Emmy Award for his critically-acclaimed animated series, Dr. Katz, in the mid-1990s. He followed that up with a Peabody Award in 1998. Twenty years later, he’s entertaining us anew with therapy sessions with his famous funny friends in a brand-new Dr. Katz: The Audiobook, for Amazon’s Audible. But before he ever began his comedy career, he led a wonderfully weird life that included becoming best friends with playwright David Mamet in college, writing songs and the story for one movie (House of Games) with him, and touring as the musical director with the one and only Robin Williams. I paid Dr. Katz a house call to sit down and hear all about it, as well as how he lives with MS, in this very special episode of Last Things First. So let’s get to it!
Elayne Boosler’s comedy career began by working the door as the hostess at the original Improvisation club in New York City in the 1970s. For over forty years, she has appeared on seemingly every talk show ever on TV, has written and starred in five of her own one-hour Showtime stand-up comedy specials, written and directed two movies for Cinemax. She self-financed that first special, 1985’s Party of One, because TV networks would not let a female stand-up have a special. In 1993, Boosler was only the second woman to perform at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and the first comedian to be televised live on C-SPAN. She’s now putting out a boxed set Timeless, which includes four of her iconic specials plus a brand-new CD of stand-up. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Tails of Joy – the animal rescue non-profit she founded in 2001.
There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Maeve Higgins was a bestselling memoirist and comedian in her native Ireland when, at the age of 31, she decided to move to America. So immigration isn’t just the subject of her hit podcast, Maeve In America: Immigration IRL, but also a first-hand experience. She co-hosts Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk on National Geographic, as well as the weekly comedy showcase Butterboy in Brooklyn with Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone. She has written for The New York Times and The Irish Times, and her new book – Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else – is out now. We talk about our respective Irish heritages, what it’s like teaching comedy in the Middle East while ISIS is around the corner, and much more. So let’s get to it!
Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes first met on a podcast, and ever since, have developed a wonderful working relationship. Holmes first pitched the idea for Crashing to Apatow on his late great TBS late-night show, and I caught up with both the stand-up comedian and the writer/director/producer on the set of HBO’s Crashing at The Comedy Cellar, where they were filming an upcoming episode for the comedy’s third season. Apatow and Holmes told me why Pete makes Crashing different from all of the other TV series about comedians, how they keep it real onscreen and onstage, and much more.
You can read part of our conversation on Decider.com. For the whole thing, hear here!
So let’s get to it!
Zainab Johnson had other plans for her life, perhaps professional basketball or teaching, before a tragic accident changed her life and her worldview. Johnson tells me how she absorbed the lessons of the comedians she hung out with before jumping into comedy herself. So far, so good. After being named a New Face at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival in 2014, she has appeared on HBO’s All Def Comedy, NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Arsenio, BET’s Comic View, MTV’s Acting Out, and AXS-TV’s Gotham Comedy Live! She’s also developing a TV series with the help of Wanda Sykes. So let’s get to it!
In 2011, Rafinha Bastos was named the most influential person on Twitter. Not then-President Barack Obama. Not the Pope. Brazilian comedian and TV personality Rafinha Bastos. Bastos has upward of 12 million Twitter followers now. He sat down with me during Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival to talk about how his dreams shifted from journalism to basketball to comedy, how free speech isn’t so free in Brazil, and how he’s following in the footsteps of Gad Elmaleh and Bassem Youssef in making a name for himself as an English-speaking comedian, too. Bastos will have a new Netflix comedy special out in September 2018, while he also hosts Ultimate Beastmaster alongside UFC star Anderson Silva. So let’s get to it!
Paul Mecurio is seen every night by audiences of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, as he warms them up before the CBS cameras turn on for taping. Mecurio graduated from law school and started out on Wall Street, though, before ever discovering his passions for comedy and getting a big break by selling a joke to Jay Leno. Mecurio has known Colbert for more than two decades, as he was one of the original writers hired for The Daily Show with Craig Kilborn back in 1996. Along the way, he has won an Emmy and a Peabody. He also played a role in a notorious live radio stunt by Opie and Anthony. He’s now got a new Off-Broadway show a couple of blocks away from his day job on Broadway called Permission to Speak with Paul Mecurio, where he interacts with the audience to engage in their stories. The show opens today and runs through August 15, 2018. But first he gave permission to speak to me and tell some of his own stories. So let’s get to it!
Allan Havey is a comedian and actor who hosted a late-night talk show for the Comedy Channel (before it was Comedy Central) called Night After Night with Allan Havey. You might not have heard much from him in the 1990s and much of the 2000s. But he’s certainly enjoying a renaissance in the past decade, since acting in the 2009 Steven Soderbergh film, The Informant! then continuing with appearances in Louie on FX, followed by The Office, Mad Men, W/Bob & David, The Man in the High Castle, Bosch, GLOW and Billions. Havey has continued to perform stand-up comedy all these years, from the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach to The Comedy Cellar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. In the summer of 2018, he’s taking his act across the pond to the UK and a monthlong stint at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But first he’s talking to me.
So let’s get to it!
This is a special edition of Last Things First, recorded live during Clusterfest 2018 in San Francisco. Comedy Central was kind enough to ask me to host a series of Clusterfest panels for the media that they called fireside chats. In this session, I welcomed the Roastmaster himself, Jeff Ross, and two-time Roast Battle runner-up Matt Broussard to talk about the art of roasting, the development of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle series (which tapes its third season this July), and the upcoming Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis. So let’s get to it!
Sam Grittner is one of the best comedians on Twitter. Don’t take my word for it? OK, then how about Rolling Stone, The Huffington Post and famous comedians such as “Weird” Al Yankovic, who are among the tens of thousands who follow him and have put him on best of lists in four of the past five years. Grittner also created the parody account @tonightongirls in 2013 and served as lead writer for Internet Action Force, a short-lived comedy video experiment by the New York Post. He hosts a monthly show in Brooklyn that donates all its proceeds to charity. Time to Feel Good, while also talking plainly about mental health and addiction. So let’s get to it!
Paula Poundstone started her comedy career in Boston in the late 1970s before taking her act and her life on the road to San Francisco. Poundstone broke through in a big way in 1984 when Robin Williams asked her to perform stand-up on the episode he guest hosted of Saturday Night Live. She would go on to film two comedy specials for HBO and one for Bravo, become the first woman to deliver the keynote address at the White House Correspondents Dinner back in 1992, write columns for five years in the 1990s for Mother Jones magazine, and become a fixture on the NPR quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, where you can still hear her regularly. In 2017, she published her second book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search For Human Happiness. And in June 2018, Poundstone invited me into her home in Santa Monica to sit with her dog and many cats to see if we could find some more happiness to share.
So let’s get to it!
This is a special edition of Last Things First, recorded live during Clusterfest 2018 in San Francisco. Comedy Central was kind enough to ask me to host a series of Clusterfest panels for the media that they called fireside chats. In this session, I welcomed Sasheer Zamata, Roy Wood Jr., and Mark Normand. We joked about whether comedians should ever apologize, about getting advice from comedians at the top of the ladder as you’re climbing it, and preparing for the next big thing in your careers. All that and more in this episode of The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First, so let’s get to it!
Romesh Ranganathan was a math teacher before devoting his life to stand-up comedy in 2012. Since then, he has found great success in the UK, nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013, and with TV appearances on Live at the Apollo, many panel shows, and his own BBC series for two years, Asian Provocateur. For his next trick, Romesh came to America to see if he could duplicate his comedy success in the States and filmed it for a new TV series, Just Another Immigrant, which premieres in June 2018 on Showtime. Of course, he’s not just another immigrant, but he wanted to show us what it’d look like if he were, uprooting his wife, three kids, and Sri Lankan mother from West Sussex to Los Angeles.
So let’s get to it!
This is a special edition of Last Things First, recorded live during Clusterfest 2018 in San Francisco. Comedy Central was kind enough to ask me to host a series of Clusterfest panels for the media that they called fireside chats. In this session, I welcomed Jim Jefferies, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser and Sam Morril, and we quickly got into the headlines of Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee making public apologies, whether comedians should ever have to apologize, and how comedians can work together. All that and more in this episode of The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First, so let’s get to it!
Nemr grew up in San Diego and then moved back with his family to Lebanon, where he almost singlehandedly introduced the Middle East to the idea of live stand-up comedy. He definitely introduced many American comedians to Middle Eastern audiences over the past decade and more, and he has since toured both there and here in the States as a headliner. You may have seen him on CNN and Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and Nemr put out his first American stand-up special, No Bombing in Beirut, in 2017 for Showtime. He sat down with me at ShowBriz Studios to talk about growing up in two completely different cultures and starting comedy scenes from scratch. So let’s get to it!
Joshua Jean-Baptiste and Edson Jean met as students at New World School of the Arts in Miami, where both learned how to become multi-hyphenates in this new world of show business, as actors, playwrights and filmmakers. Jean’s college thesis, the short film The Adventures of Edson Jean, was licensed by HBO, and he has appeared in TV and film projects including Moonlight, War Dogs, Ballers and Bloodline. With Jean-Baptiste, the duo pitched a digital series about Haitian-Americans growing up and living in inner-city Miami called #Josh. They won Adaptive Studio’s first Project Greenlight contest for a digital series, and the product, GROWN, debuted in late May with all eight episodes available to watch on Complex.com.
So let’s get to it!
Mark Viera has entertained audiences around the world with stories of growing up, getting married and raising kids in the Bronx. Viera has released a Showtime special, Tales of a Nuyorican, opened on tours with singer Marc Anthony and comedian Gabriel Iglesias, and performed everywhere from cruise ships to the Leathernecks of the U.S. Marine Corps. Viera sat down with me to talk about his career, about the ups and downs of selling and reselling a network sitcom based on his own life, and about Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks on truTV, where you can see his comedy stories brought to life.
Viera also will perform at Carnegie Hall on June 1, 2018, as part of the HOMBREs of Comedy show.
So let’s get to it!
Who is Nell Scovell? She’s the creator of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, first staff writer hired for SPY magazine, second woman ever to write for The Simpsons, and one of only a handful of women to ever write for David Letterman. Scovell’s other TV credits include Murphy Brown, Coach and The Muppets. She also wrote jokes for President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and co-authored Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s memoir, “Lean In.” Now Scovell has written her own memoir, “Just the Funny Parts…And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club.” So let’s get to it…Get me Nell Scovell!
Jim Florentine rose to fame with his bestselling recordings “Terrorizing Telemarketers” and by voicing the wildly popular character Special Ed for Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers. Florentine has won an Emmy for his work on HBO’s Inside the NFL and had two Billboard top-ten comedy albums within a single year. He used to co-host That Metal Show for VH1 and continues to host the Metal Midgets show on Ozzy’s Boneyard channel on SiriusXM Radio. Jim released two comedy specials in 2016, I’m Your Savior, and A Simple Man. Now in 2018 he has a new book out, “Everybody Is Awful (Except You!)”
So let’s get to it!
Jim O’Heir is an Emmy-winning actor and comedian best known for co-starring as Jerry Gergich on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. He’s a Chicago guy who trained at Second City in the 1980s, then thrived in an independent improv and sketch group called White Noise, which took him out to Hollywood. O’Heir enjoyed tons of small guest-starring roles on TV for the past two decades before landing his big break with Parks and Rec. Now he’s hosting “Lullaby League,” an a cappella singing competition that debuted this April via YouTube and PopTV. We talk about Chicago comedy in the 1980s, what it’s like to have a hit stage character almost make it to the big time, and how it feels to win an Emmy after all these years of work.
So let’s get to it!
Louie Anderson won an Emmy Award for his performance as Christine Baskets in FX’s Baskets. He previously won Emmys two decades earlier for his voiceover work in his own animated series Life of Louie. He’s also hosted Family Feud, made a memorable early splash in the Eddie Murphy movie Coming To America, and was part of Rodney Dangerfield’s 9th Young Comedians Special. He just released his latest stand-up special, Louie Anderson: Big Underwear, as well as a new book: Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too.
There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Brandon Rogers is a YouTube star with four million subscribers and one Streamy Award to his credit. He has starred in two webseries, Sam and Stuff for Facebook, and Magic Funhouse for Fullscreen. Brandon was a New Face at Just For Laughs in 2017, and he stopped by my studio while he’s on his first live comedy tour this spring. So let’s get to it!
In the movie Most Likely To Murder, Adam Pally (Happy Endings, The Mindy Project) wants everyone in his hometown on Long Island to believe he’s still the king of his high school, now making it big in Las Vegas when in reality, he’s still stuck working as a bathroom attendant. Over a holiday weekend, he drags them all into his murder-mystery comedy, including Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), John Reynolds (Search Party) and Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men). The film premiered at SXSW 2018, and will be released May 1 by Lionsgate on demand and on digital platforms. I sat down with the cast, as well as with the writers Doug Mand and Dan Gregor, to find out what stories they told their friends and families back home to explain their fledgling comedy careers before they were stars. So let’s get to it!
Bo Burnham is the quintessential YouTube comedy star. While still a teen, Bo went from recording funny songs in his bedroom to best-selling artist with Comedy Central. Burnham become a successful touring stand-up comedian as well as an actor, appearing on the big screen in Funny People and The Big Sick, and starring on the small screen in MTV’s Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. After directing two of his three comedy specials, he turned to directing others, including Jerrod Carmichael’s 8 and Chris Rock’s Tamborine. Burnham has now written and directed his first feature film, Eighth Grade, which debuted to raves at the Sundance Film Festival. The film depicts the agony of surviving middle school and social media pressures as an eighth-grade girl in 2018. Burnham sat with me during a screening of the film at SXSW to talk about his own experiences with social media, and what it all means. I’m honored to welcome him as the guest for my 200th episode of Last Things First. So please sit back, enjoy and spread the love of this podcast far and wide, and let’s get to it!
Here’s the trailer to Eighth Grade, which will be released this in theaters nationwide July 13, 2018:
Rachel Bloom is the creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on The CW, for which she has won the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award for best actress in a comedy series. Bloom’s first big break in musical comedy came in 2010, when she made a music video celebrating author Ray Bradbury. Along the way, she has written and/or performed for Allen Gregory, Robot Chicken, and BoJack Horseman. She’s taking Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on a live theater tour this spring, and she next co-stars in Most Likely To Murder, a movie written and directed by her husband, Dan Gregor. He joins in our discussion, recorded in Austin during SXSW, so let’s get to it!
Bill Hader was nominated for three Emmy Awards for acting during his eight seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, has written for South Park, lent his voice to animated hits such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Inside Out, and served up memorable supporting roles in the films Superbad, Tropic Thunder and Trainwreck. After co-creating the great IFC mockumentary series Documentary Now! He now stars as Barry in HBO’s Barry, about a Marine veteran who becomes a hit-man, but realizes his true potential, or disastrous end, could come by pursuing an acting career in Hollywood. Hader created, wrote, directed and executive produced Barry with Alec Berg, no stranger to HBO as a past EP on Curb Your Enthusiasm and current EP on Silicon Valley. Hader and Berg sat down with me during SXSW in Austin to explain how and why they made Barry. It debuts on HBO on March 25, 2018.
So let’s get to it!
Sharon Houston punked Magic Johnson, Too Short, and 18 other celebrities on Punk’d, fooled Kim Kardashian’s fans on Celebrities Undercover, and has filmed hidden-camera pilots for VH1, E!, Disney Channel, Style Network and Dick Clark Productions. Sharon has been a fixture in clubs and cabarets since the 1990s, first in New York City and more recently in Los Angeles. Her podcast, Daytime Justice, looks under the robe at daytime court TV shows and reveals behind-the-scenes stories from her work as a show producer. Sharon has performed stand-up on Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, MTV and VH1, and she appeared on Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time. She released her first comedy album, “Shuran Shuran,” in late 2017. And in early 2018, she sat down with me in Hollywood to talk shop. As Jon Stewart once told her: “Stop complaining. This is the fun part.” So let’s get to it!
Among the things I learned from Sharon: The original pilot presentation for Last Comic Standing included not just Ralphie May but also Doug Stanhope; her current TV deal is with the company behind the successful Queer Eye reboot on Netflix; her own webseries Bob and Donna made it into multiple festivals; and some winning advice she received from Bob Odenkirk.
Brian Volk-Weiss is the founding president of Comedy Dynamics, which grew out of New Wave Entertainment to become the largest independent stand-up comedy production and distribution company. You see the Comedy Dynamics logo on almost every new stand-up special you see these days, no matter where you see it. Since 2016, his company also has produced series such as History’s Join or Die with Craig Ferguson, Animal Planet’s Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson, and There’s Johnny… which started at Seeso and ended up at Hulu. I caught up with Brian in his offices in Burbank, California a few days before the Grammy Awards, where he had an 80 percent chance of being responsible for the Grammy-winning Best Comedy Album of 2017. So let’s get to it!
Candice Thompson is a former finalist on Stand Up NBC’s talent search who has performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and served as a correspondent on the E! series, The Comment Section. She has starred in her own YouTube sketch comedy series, and written for the game show Smart, Funny and Black. Thompson just launched her own podcast, The Struggle, but first, she sat down with me to talk about overcoming her own personal and professional struggles, so let’s get to it!
Benji Aflalo is a stand-up comedian, who alone together with comedy pal Esther Povitsky, created, executive produces and stars in the sitcom Alone Together — which already has been picked up for second season by Freeform. They play versions of themselves, friends from different backgrounds trying to find love and success in Hollywood. Alone Together is also executive produced by The Lonely Island guys. Benji met Esther at The Comedy Store, where he’s part of a grand tradition of comedians who were former doormen at the club. He’s also written for The Burn with Jeff Ross, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser and the Comedy Central Roasts of James Franco and Justin Bieber.
So let’s get to it!
Jade Catta-Preta is a Brazilian-born comedian and actress who you can see on the truTV series, Those Who Can’t, and in person frequently at The Comedy Store when she’s not touring as a feature act for Bobby Lee, Kevin Nealon or Bill Burr. In 2014, she co-starred as a regular on three different series, MTV’s Girl Code, Showtime’s Californication, and ABC’s Manhattan Love Story. She’s also appeared on TV as a host on VH1, co-star of MTV’s Ladylike, and guest on shows such as @midnight, Comedy Knockout, and Getting Doug With High. She recently returned to her native Brazil to perform there in Portuguese, and she tells me what happened and what’s next for her, so let’s get to it!
Jeff Dye was a finalist on Last Comic Standing only three years into his comedy career. Since then, Dye has hosted two MTV series – Numbnuts, and Money From Strangers – one Spike game show, That Awkward Game Show, appeared frequently on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and competed against other celebrities on both Lip Sync Battle and I Can Do That. For two seasons now, he has served as tour guide for William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw, George Foreman and Henry Winkler across the globe on NBC’s celebrity bucket list travelogue, Better Late Than Never. We’ve known each other for years, but this is his first sit-down on my podcast.
The second season of Better Late Than Never ends Monday.
Dye’s birthday was Sunday. Which means this comes better late than never, right? So let’s get to it!
You probably recognize Matt Jones from the critically acclaimed AMC series, Breaking Bad, where he played Badger. But Jones has an extensive comedy background, starting in Southern California, where he performed improv in high school, then eventually to Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, and back to Hollywood for multiple TV roles in sitcoms and sketch shows the likes of Reno 911, Community, The Office, and the pilot episode of Key and Peele. He has co-starred more recently as a regular on the CBS sitcom, Mom, and stars in the new Pop series where he runs an aerobics studio, Let’s Get Physical.
We get into competitive high-school improv, the economics of getting nationwide TV commercials now vs. a decade ago, the insanity of pilot season (and The Office spinoff about Schrute Farms you thought you were going to see but didn’t), the joys of performing in Amsterdam (and some comedians you may not have known were Boom Chicago alums), why Breaking Bad was such a great show in casting stand-up comedians and comedic actors, and the major differences between acting as a minor character on a great cable show, a recurring supporting character on a hit network show, and the lead on a niche cable network.
So let’s get to it!
You may think you know Katt Williams, but you don’t know the Katt Williams behind the headlines. You may know him from his role as Money Mike on Friday After Next, or from Wild ‘N Out, or from his four HBO specials: The Pimp Chronicles, Pt. 1; It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’; Kattpacalypse; and Priceless: Afterlife. He now has his first Netflix special called Great America, and is ready to tell me the whole story. So let’s get to it!
Jena Friedman is a stand-up comedian, writer and producer who’s now about to star in her first late-night special for Adult Swim. Friedman has written for The Late Show for David Letterman, produced for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and taken a one-woman show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She later taped that show, American Cunt, as a special for Seeso. It’s available on audio on iTunes. She’s about to keep me very woke, so let’s get to it!
Cipha Sounds got his start carrying crates and opening for Funkmaster Flex and was a longtime DJ on HOT 97 in New York City and VJ on Yo! MTV Raps. But his comedy cred is just as impressive, serving as the DJ for Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central, going on tour with the likes of Chappelle and Michael Che, and hosting a variety of comedy showcases, from Take It Personal: The Hip Hop Improv Show at the UCB Theatre, to his Tidal series, No Small Talk, and regular hosting duties at New York City’s legendary Comedy Cellar. Cipha also hosts the new truTV series, Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks, which debuted in January 2018. So let’s get to it!
For a third consecutive year, New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman has invited me into his home so we can tackle the year in comedy, but hopefully from a largely positive standpoint by focusing on the MVPs, the most valuable performers in comedy this year. In 2017, despite the Trump effect having much more serious repercussions than some expected, we had plenty of positives to look back on, from Nathan Fielder to Jordan Peele, as well as Tig Notaro, Dave Chappelle, Tiffany Haddish, Kumail Nanjiani, Donald Glover, Jimmy Kimmel and more. Who’d we single out this year? I want to find out, too, so let’s get to it!
Jackie Martling was a longtime writer and performer on The Howard Stern Show from 1983 to 2001, who also was showing up monthly in the pages of Penthouse magazine, opening comedy clubs on Long Island, released six dirty joke records, and published Jackie The Joke Man Martling’s Disgustingly Dirty Joke Book. After splitting from Stern, he hosted Jackie’s Joke Hunt for several years on SiriusXM satellite radio. He has a new book out in 2017, his memoir The Joke Man: Bow to Stern. So let’s get to it!
Sue Costello grew up in the powder keg of Irish Catholicism getting more diverse that was Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood in the 1970s. Costello got herself out of Dorchester to make a lot of hay in Hollywood two decades later, culminating in her own FOX sitcom, Costello. Since then, you’ve seen her as a regular on the roundtable for Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, while her street smarts and brutal honesty won her a role on David O. Russell’s 2010 film, The Fighter. Sue and I have a rigorously honest conversation about what can hold us back in our lives and careers, and how we may even be subconsciously and accidentally complicit in holding each other back. There’s no turning back, no holding back here, so let’s get to it!
Kev Adams is France’s biggest young comedy star, with 6 million Twitter followers and another 5 million checking out his Instagram. He was performing one-man shows in Paris while still a teenager, and starred in 692 episodes of the TV series, Soda. He also co-starred in two hit movies in France, Serial Teachers, and The New Adventures of Aladdin. Adams has toured with his idol, Gad Elmaleh, and like Gad, Kev is now making a go of it in America. He co-wrote and co-stars in a series Superhigh for the blackpills app. And He’ll be seen in his first major American movie, The Spy Who Dumped Me, in 2018 alongside Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis. Kev tells me about his wild ride, and the transition to the States, so let’s get to it!
Orny Adams played Coach Bobby Finstock for six seasons of MTV’s Teen Wolf. But to comedy fans, Orny is famously and infamously known as the co-star of Jerry Seinfeld’s documentary, Comedian. While Seinfeld developed a new hour of stand-up from scratch, Comedian followed Orny’s obsessive path as an aspiring comedian making his debut as a New Face at Just For Laughs in Montreal. Orny has since performed multiple times at JFL Montreal, and his newest hour, More Than Loud, debuts Dec. 1, 2017, on Showtime. This interview is even more than you’re expecting. Look out, Oprah. So let’s get to it!
You’ve seen Bob Saget’s friendly face on TV for four decades now, ever since he starred in the late 1980s in the ABC sitcom Full House as well as the host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. More recently, he has provided the narrator’s voice of future Ted Mosby for the CBS hit, How I Met Your Mother, performed on Broadway, written a memoir and recorded a Grammy-nominated comedy album. That’s What I’m Talking About. He just released his latest comedy special, Zero to Sixty, and now that he’s 61, he’s got plenty more to talk about now. So let’s get to it!
Saget talks to me about making his new special for Comedy Dynamics and releasing it everywhere else first before Netflix, the upcoming movie he’s directing and starring in called Benjamin, as well as how he continues to raise money for scleroderma research, and going way back to talk about how he started out in comedy playing funny songs on the guitar, which earned him an early gig at Carnegie Hall. Saget talks about how he was the late great Brad Grey’s first comedy client as a manager, back when Grey worked for a concert promoter in Buffalo named Harvey Weinstein. “It’s really not funny to make jokes about it. That’s the problem, ‘cause I get into a high-speed mode that gets me to kind of make humor out of it, and make light of it, and there’s nothing humorous or funny about it. It is a tragic time we’re in. It affects us all incredibly deeply. And I hate to say this, but it’s about time people are being called out.” Hear now the compassionate, the goofy, the raunchy, the subversive Bob Saget.
Colton Dunn began performing improv comedy while still a teenager in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dunn moved to New York City just in time to join the upstart Upright Citizens Brigade, then went to Amsterdam to perform with Boom Chicago. When he returned to the U.S., Dunn wrote and performed on MADtv, Pretend Time with Nick Swardson, Parks and Recreation, Burning Love, Comedy Bang! Bang!, the new Arsenio Hall show, and Key & Peele. Dunn co-stars now as Garrett in the NBC sitcom Superstore, and he also is a member of Rooster Teeth’s Lazer Team, which is putting out its second film via YouTube Red in November 2017. So let’s get to it!
Judah Friedlander may be best known for playing TV writer Frank Rossitano on the hit NBC sitcom, 30 Rock, but Judah has been making his appearance felt on screens big and small, with or without his trademark trucker hats. From his roles in films such as American Splendor, The Wrestler, Wet Hot American Summer, Meet the Parents — from a bar patron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to comic relief in the Project Greenlight horror film Feast. Judah Friedlander truly is the World Champion. Two books, How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book, and a collection of drawings called If The Raindrops United. His first stand-up special is almost three decades in the making, Judah Friedlander’s America is the Greatest Country in the United States, now available on Netflix. So let’s get to it!
Jenn McAllister has 3.1 million subscribers and counting on YouTube (plus another 1.9 million on Instagram and 2 million on Twitter), where she documents her life as jennxpenn. Jenn started uploading videos to YouTube when she was 12. At 16, she signed a deal with Awesomeness TV, then moved from Bucks County Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. She published her best-selling autobiography, Really Professional Internet Person, in 2015, and for the past two years has starred in the YouTube Red series, Foursome, alongside Logan Paul, for which she won a Streamy Award as best actress in 2016. The third season of Foursome premiered this week, and Jenn caught me up on everything, including how to grow up when your whole transition into adulthood is broadcast online. So let’s get to it!
Mark Feuerstein co-created, produces and stars in the new CBS sitcom 9JKL, which is loosely based on his real-life experience moving back to NYC to live next to his parents and brother while starring for eight seasons on the USA drama Royal Pains. Feuerstein began acting as a student and classmate of mine at Princeton University, and after winning a Fulbright Scholarship, found early success in Hollywood, scoring network TV roles in Caroline in the City, Fired Up, Conrad Bloom and Good Morning Miami. He’s also co-starred on the big screen with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic, Albert Brooks in The Muse, Mel Gibson in What Women Want and Penelope Cruz in Woman on Top. He also appeared in 2017 on the new installments of both Prison Break and Wet Hot American Summer. There’s a lot of catching up to do, so let’s get to it!
Comedians, writers and actors Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson co-host the incredibly successful podcast Guys We F*cked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast which now has more than 200 episodes talking to comedians, porn stars, and more, a worldwide audience of more than a million listeners. They’ve taken their show on the road to comedy clubs, theaters, TED Talks and festivals. Now they’ve released their first book: F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed.
So let’s get to it!