Comedian Whitmer Thomas and Marc made a movie together in Alabama. But while Marc was just a visitor, Whitmer knows Alabama to the core. Growing up in Gulf Shores and living the life of a disaffected Southern skateboarding garage rocker, Whitmer was surrounded by family dysfunction that involved alcoholism, drug addiction, failed show business dreams, jail and eventually death. Whitmer says it was hard to process all of it but that’s what he did in his HBO special, The Golden One, as his desperation to connect made his creativity flourish. This episode is sponsored by The Kennedy Curse by James Patterson and Pataday Once-Daily Relief.
Laura Linney thinks about mortality a lot and not just because of the current global predicament. Her thoughts are driven mostly by late-in-life parenthood and how her six-year-old is a constant reminder of the time she has left. Then there’s also the fact that her mother was a cancer nurse in New York City while her father lived apart from them, burning his bridges and living with regret. Laura and Marc talk about keeping things in perspective, dealing with forgiveness as you get older, and sitting in discomfort. They also discuss her films, her stage performances, and her Netflix series Ozark. This episode is sponsored by Scotts Turf Builder Triple Action.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld had zero interest in film and went to college mainly to get away from his parents. His obsession with lenses and f-stops put him on the path to becoming a cinematographer and soon he was making his first feature film with the Coen Brothers. But not before getting hired as the cameraman for a porn shoot. Barry and Marc talk about Men in Black, Get Shorty, The Addams Family, dealing with bullies in Hollywood, and firing Donald Trump. This episode is sponsored by SimpliSafe.
In a first for WTF, Rosie O’Donnell joins Marc over video chat for a bicoastal conversation about her standup career, musical theater and life during coronavirus. Rosie recalls what it was like to become a touring comic as a teenager, win big on Star Search, steal the spotlight in Hollywood movies, and then land her own TV talk show. It was only after getting to that point that she finally reckoned with the trauma she was carrying her whole life. Also, Marc reveals the connective tissue that links Rosie with the creation of WTF. This episode is sponsored by Stamps.com.
The other half of a quarantined comedy couple, Sam Morril joins Marc in the garage at a six-foot distance to talk about the circumstances keeping him away from his home in New York and living with Taylor Tomlinson. Sam explains how he navigates scenarios without a playbook, whether it’s his relationship, getting started in comedy, or finally meeting his biological father. Marc and Sam also commiserate over missing standup and how they both bombed spectacularly during Friar’s Club roasts. This episode is sponsored by Pataday Once Daily Relief and Nationwide Pet Insurance.
Taylor Tomlinson is possibly the first guest who grew up listening to WTF and learned the comic trade from comedians on the podcast. At the time, she was a teenager doing standup in churches and she was soon a fixture on the Christian comedy circuit. Taylor talks with Marc about how her career expanded, how she had a crisis of faith, and how her family reacted to her recent work, including her new Netflix special, Quarter-Life Crisis. She also talks about living through quarantine with her comic boyfriend Sam Morril. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and Scotts Triple Action Turf Builder.
Fran Drescher has a distinctive personality, but she says it wasn’t until her forties that she truly figured out who she is. Fran talks with Marc about growing up in Queens, being very close to her parents, and marrying her high school sweetheart. It wasn’t until she created The Nanny, dealt with post-traumatic stress, and survived cancer that she felt she could truly be her own person. They also talk about Saturday Night Fever, This is Spinal Tap and Fran’s new show, Indebted. This episode is sponsored by SimpliSafe and Stamps.com.
From Episode 746, Marc's conversation with John Prine about Kris Kristofferson, Steve Goodman, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and delivering the mail. John passed away on April 7, 2020.
A lot of comedians spend years or decades finding their voice on stage, but Jeff Dunham was very young when he settled on his comic voice. He then proceeded to throw that voice, to great success. Jeff tells Marc what attracted him to ventriloquism, how he studied it, and where he started doing it. Jeff also explains how he designs and creates new puppets, why he uses the puppets when he’s interviewed on the radio, and how he’s responded to accusations of racial insensitivity in his characters.
One thing Byron Bowers knows for sure is that comedy taught him who he is. He needed it after a childhood filled with parental discord and moving around Georgia. That was followed by a period where Byron was living three separate lives, as a basketball player, a college student and a drug dealer. Then he had to come to grips with his father’s schizophrenia and wonder if there was a difference between his dad’s disorder and his own delusional pursuit of a comedy dream. Byron also compares notes with Marc about their experiences at The Comedy Store. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and Dave's Killer Bread.