Kenya Barris retreated from the abusive situation in his childhood home by listening to party records and reading comic books. Those early influences shaped his understanding of who he is and prompted the creation of Black-ish years later. Kenya talks with Marc about how much he learned from comedians like Patrice O’Neal and Dave Chappelle, how his childhood friendship with Tyra Banks led to his first big success in show business, and how an encounter with Jeffrey Katzenberg and a Ferrari was a spark for his new Netflix show #blackAF. This episode is sponsored by Patreon, HBO Max, Space Force on Netflix, and SimpliSafe.
Samantha Bee says there was a point in her teenage years when she was clearly headed toward a life of crime. Thankfully, that was also the point when she realized she was being an a-hole and things needed to change. Sam tells Marc how she shook off the grifter lifestyle and started doing comedy. She also details how The Daily Show cake got baked every day and how the timing of Jon Stewart’s departure coincided with Sam getting her own opportunity to host Full Frontal on TBS. This episode is sponsored by Reunions by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Patreon, Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn, and HBO Max.
Marc revisits his 2012 conversation with comedic actor Fred Willard, in which they discuss Fred’s career in improv-heavy films and beloved television projects. Fred passed away at age 86 on May 15, 2020.
Marc pays tribute to his creative collaborator and romantic partner Lynn Shelton, who passed away at age 54 on May 16, 2020. This episode includes her August 2015 interview on WTF.
Filmmaker Eliza Hittman talks with Marc about telling the stories of teenagers in ways that feel like the lived experiences of actual teenagers. That’s partly achieved by the naturalistic performances she gets from many non-actors. But it’s also achieved by the sensitivity of her screenplays, like her latest film Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which takes the teen protagonist on an unavoidably real journey. Also, Dan Savage returns to WTF, bringing his expertise in love and relationships to help listeners navigate some of the difficulties of living with other people during lockdown. This episode is sponsored by Patreon, Purple Mattress, and Scotts Turf Builder Triple Action.
Conventional wisdom holds that Cate Blanchett is one of the world’s greatest living performers, but one person who disagrees with that is Cate Blanchett, who thinks she’s pretty terrible most of the time (her words, not ours). Marc and Cate try to get to the bottom of why she’s so hard on herself despite her many career accomplishments. They discuss The Lord of the Rings, playing Bob Dylan, why her hair fell out when she played Blanche DuBois, why Al Pacino is her hero, and why she took on the story of Phyllis Schlafly in Mrs. America. This episode is sponsored by Patreon and Pataday Once Daily Relief.
Filmmaker Liz Garbus knows the importance of telling stories. Her father is one of America’s preeminent First Amendment lawyers, defending people with important stories to tell like Daniel Ellsberg and Lenny Bruce. Liz used her filmmaking skills to make a documentary on her father, just as she’s done with subjects like Nina Simone, the New York Times, and maximum security prisons. Liz and Marc also discuss her first scripted film, Lost Girls. Plus, old friend Andy Kindler joins Marc to celebrate the release of his first comedy album ever. This episode is sponsored by Patreon, SimpliSafe, and Stamps.com.
The OTHER Dan Levy joins Marc to talk about the Canadian perspective of America, the rite of passage for all Canadians that is Degrassi, and having Eugene Levy as a dad. Dan reminisces about his first big show business job, working on Canadian MTV, which led to an existential crisis at the MTV Movie Awards. It was only after being ok with walking away from show business that Dan got the inspiration to start writing for himself, leading to the creation of Schitt’s Creek. This episode is sponsored by The Shivering Truth on Adult Swim and Squarespace.
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.