Geena Davis says the biggest thing she had to learn as she made her way through show business was how to speak up for herself. This was particularly difficult because she was taught at a very young age that politeness was paramount, to the point where it endangered her life. Geena talks with Marc about how the industry as a whole needed to go through a similar change, which is why she gathered a team from her institute to amass evidence of institutional sexism and gender bias. They also talk about the legacy and cultural relevance of movies like Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own. This episode is sponsored by Good Boys from Universal Pictures, Starbucks Tripleshot Energy, and Ben & Jerry's.
Not only did director and writer Alex Ross Perry work in a video store while he was learning to become a filmmaker, his first film crew was made up of his friends and co-workers at the video store and they remain his crew today. Alex explains to Marc that watching films by directors like David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick made him want to have an immediately identifiable style. He found his style while embracing a true independent film aesthetic, which means virtually no money and very few shooting days. It all culminated with Alex’s most recent film, Her Smell, which he made with his frequent collaborator Elisabeth Moss. This episode is sponsored by Anchor (anchor.fm/start), Squarespace (squarespace.com/wtf), and Zinus (zinus.com/WTF).
Sean Lennon admits that he was naïve about his family legacy when he began a career in music. He also admits that when he received bad reviews for his first solo record, deep down he agreed with them. Sean talks with Marc about how he grew into himself as an artist and musician, how “John and Yoko” as the world sees them are different from his dad and mom as he knows them, and how the trauma of losing his father at a young age left him with memories that will never go away. They also talk about his work with Les Claypool, scoring films, and producing for other artists, including his mom. This episode is sponsored by Google Fi, Ben & Jerry's, and Stan Lee's Alliances: A Trick of Light, an Audible Original.
When Nahnatchka Khan started developing Fresh Off The Boat for TV, she knew it was an undertaking that no one had tried for more than 20 years: A network sitcom with an Asian-American cast. And it was a premise that appealed to her as a first generation American whose parents are Iranian immigrants. Nahnatchka talks with Marc about getting her start working in kids animation, how she learned the nuts and bolts of show running, and why directing the film Always Be My Maybe is another example of centering people from diverse cultural backgrounds at the core of traditional stories. This episode is sponsored by Starbucks Tripleshot Energy and Zinus.
You only need to hear David Lee Roth talk for a few seconds to understand why he is the consummate rock and roll frontman. Diamond Dave takes Marc on a stream of consciousness ride through his past, present, future and whatever else he’s thinking about in the moment. They talk about David’s love of Big Band music, jazz guitar, his Uncle Manny, working as an EMT in the Bronx, and his serendipitous pairing with the Van Halen brothers that created musical perfection and nonstop personal animosity. This episode is sponsored by Present Company with Krista Smith, SimpliSafe, and Stamps.com.
Jamie Lee started her career in close proximity to comedy, but not actually doing it. She was working in PR at Comedy Central and found herself around a lot of comics in a professional capacity. It wasn’t long before she caught the bug and was doing open mics in New York City. Jamie tells Marc about the influence of her parents, who were photographers for ZZ Top and later rock concert promoters and club owners. She also talks about working with Pete Holmes on Crashing and why the stress, shame and tension surrounding weddings made her write a book about getting married. This episode is sponsored by Google Fi.
Stephen Dorff started acting in movies before he was a teenager, but the sudden and tragic death of his brother made him contemplate leaving the business altogether. Stephen tells Marc why he stuck it out and how he wound up landing one of his most fulfilling roles of his career in True Detective. Stephen talks about the good fortune he’s had in forming relationships with an older generation of actors, like Dennis Hopper, Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson, and in working with a variety of great directors, like Michael Mann, Sofia Coppola, Oliver Stone, and John Waters. He also explains why he thought Blade would be the end of his career. This episode is sponsored by the Mailchimp podcast The Jump, Squarespace, and SimpliSafe.
Even though Brent Butt grew up in rural Saskatchewan, his path to comedy is similar to American comics, except it was exclusively Canadian. He was a directionless youth who was taken in by comedy on Canadian TV, he booked gigs throughout the Canadian countryside to hone his act, he dealt with monopolistic club owners and did sets in lousy environments like curling rinks. It all led to him being the first native Canadian with a #1 comedy series in Canada, Corner Gas, which was turned into a hit movie and now a cartoon. Brent tells Marc about his journey, and why he has no regrets that he remains fairly anonymous in America. This episode is sponsored by Turo.
Before Stephen Colbert knew what he wanted to do with his life, all he wanted was to be Hamlet. Not to play Hamlet, but to be Hamlet. That’s how he felt as an outsider teen dealing with family tragedy and deep, unaddressed grief. Stephen tells Marc how comedy gave him a refuge from sadness, how his anxiety dissipated when doing improv and sketch comedy, and how a nervous breakdown made him realign his life. They also talk about The Colbert Report, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and doing The Late Show in the age of Trump. This episode is sponsored by the new Mailchimp podcast The Jump, Hair Club, and Allbirds.
When Steve Sweeney was growing up in Boston, the last thing he expected to become was an entertainer. He rubbed elbows with career criminals in Charlestown but somehow wound up doing summertime productions of Shakespeare plays and seeing actors like Lawrence Olivier and Christopher Plummer. Acting then led to exposure to comedy, which later led to cocaine-induced psychosis, and eventually to working in jails and with at-risk youth. Steve talks with Marc about the journey to build his act and why he enjoys producing his own projects now, including his new movie Sweeney Killing Sweeney. This episode is sponsored by Turo, Squarespace, and Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.