For Linda Cardellini, a person whose spiritual crisis took her all the way to the Vatican, it's appropriate that the pivotal moment in her career happened when she took a leap of faith on a little TV pilot called Freaks and Geeks. Linda and Marc talk about that seminal show, the initial failure of which was hard to accept, along with the other projects that make her so recognizable to audiences, like ER, Mad Men and the new movie Green Book. They also try to figure out why Linda is still so hard on herself and why she avoids a lot of trappings of celebrity. This episode is sponsored by Black Monday on Showtime, Deadly Class on SYFY, and Stamps.com.
Howie Mandel went to Hollywood and tried to make a living by putting a latex glove on his head. He never thought he’d be able to maintain it, so he always made other plans: Investor, entrepreneur, actor, voiceover artist. And it wasn’t until Deal or No Deal when all the disparate things he did came together for a project that transformed his life. Howie talks with Marc about his struggles with OCD and AHDH, how those challenges made it difficult for him to fit in, how getting started in comedy came out of his impulsive behavior, and why he remembers the first time he ever laughed. This episode is sponsored by I'm Sorry on truTV, TurboTax Live, Deadly Class on SYFY, and the New York Times Crossword App.
Not only is Sam Lipsyte one of the funniest modern fiction authors, he’s also one of Marc’s best friends, a kindred spirit with whom Marc shares a deep mutual respect and understanding. Whenever Marc is in New York City, he and Sam sit around and talk, going over the pressing questions and answers about the way things are. This is the first time they recorded it for an extended period of time. They get into Sam’s early years with the art-punk band Dungbeetle, how he creates his stories in a manner he calls “moving sideways,” how his life has been enriched by teaching, and why it took him a while to write his latest novel Hark. This episode is sponsored by Comedy Central, Squarespace, Stamps.com, and Deadly Class on SYFY.
When Steve Coogan realized he was good at doing impressions, he also realized it was a really good way to get attention. But Steve also knew he had to deliver beyond the impressions if he wanted to get funnier. Steve talks with Marc about that evolution, with some help from "Michael Caine," "Sean Connery," and others. Plus, Steve explains how his new Alan Partridge series will force the beloved presenter to adapt to a changing world, how his new movie Stan and Ollie is really a love story about comedy, and how he became friends with his co-star John C. Reilly much the same way the real Stan and Ollie did. This episode is sponsored by Tigtone on Adult Swim, SimpliSafe and the New York Times Crossword App.
Seth MacFarlane can host award shows, create button-pushing animated shows, and sing standards in symphony halls, but nothing changes the fact that he’s an introvert by nature. Seth tells Marc why he’s always enjoyed making trouble through comedy, how that impulse got him into hot water when Family Guy started, and why many of the things he’s doing now - studio recordings, live performances, his show The Orville - are rooted in his respect for the past. He also talks about making Ted, hosting the Oscars, the evolution of offensive comedy, and the influence of The Far Side. This episode is sponsored by Standup Month on Comedy Central and Deadly Class on SYFY.
Before directing his first feature film, Reinaldo Marcus Green's life could have gone down multiple paths. There was baseball in his teen years, then teaching elementary school students, then going to work on Wall Street, then helping his brother and other filmmakers with their movies. But it was a short film of his own made with a cop friend that led to an impassioned discussion between the two of them, which provided the impetus to make Monsters and Men. Reinaldo takes Marc down all of these connected routes ending with a film that asks difficult questions and doesn't provide easy answers. This episode is sponsored by TurboTax Live and the New York Times Crossword App.
Kyle Dunnigan was saved from a midlife crisis by Instagram. He explains to Marc how he bent the social media platform to suit his comedy as they both discuss the challenges of facing down middle age. Kyle takes Marc all the way back to when he was a young song-and-dance-man in high school who got suspended for doing a stand-up routine at the talent show. Kyle also talks about the conditions surrounding his high-profile writing jobs, first writing on Sarah Silverman’s show after the two of them had broken up and then being in the middle of a joke-stealing controversy while writing for Amy Schumer. This episode is sponsored by the New York Times Crossword App.
Topher Grace is at a point where he’s only going to make what he wants to make. Not all actors can afford that luxury, but Topher tells Marc that working on That '70s Show for seven years taught him more about acting than any school, working with Ashton Kutcher taught him about being fully committed to everything you do, and working with auteurs like Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan and most recently Spike Lee taught him you don’t have to compromise your vision. Topher and Marc also talk about the difficulty of playing a person for whom you have no empathy, as was the case with David Duke in BlacKkKlansman. This episode is sponsored by Stand-Up Month on Comedy Central, Squarespace, SimpliSafe, and Carnival Cruise Line.
Fahim Anwar's path to show business went through Boeing. It's not the most traditional route to Hollywood success, but it was necessary for a son of immigrant parents who did not approve of his standup comedy pursuit. Marc finds out about those early days in Seattle when Fahim was engineering by day and secretly doing standup by night. They also talk about comedy attire mistakes, experimenting with drugs later in life, and Fahim's new sketch comedy project, Goatface. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and YouTube Music.
Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz deal with many of the typical challenges of middle age, but they’re still deeply in touch with the alter egos they created four decades ago: Mike D and Ad-Rock. They tell Marc about running wild as kids in late-70s/early-80s New York City, meeting their bandmate Adam “MCA” Yauch, collaborating and then falling out with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, the differences between opening for Madonna and opening for Run-DMC, and the honest self-reflection prompted by the music and style of their early years. This episode is sponsored by Springsteen On Broadway: The Complete Live Performance Album, Holmes & Watson, Stamps.com, and Squarespace.