At some point in the past decade, Kurt Andersen felt like he had to figure out America. Coming from a professional career rooted in satire and troublemaking, Kurt had a pretty good vantage point to examine the tug of war between reason and magical thinking that has become a chronic American condition. Kurt talks with Marc about putting this all into his book, Fantasyland, and recalls the founding of Spy Magazine, where he and Graydon Carter took pleasure messing with public institutions like the New York Times, Hollywood, and Donald Trump. They also talk about Kurt's time at the Harvard Lampoon and how he came to host Studio 360. This episode is sponsored by Lights Out with David Spade, Stamps.com, and ZipRecruiter.
Now that Tom Dreesen has 50 years in show business under his belt, he wants to enjoy life. He’s earned it because he’s already experienced enough for five lifetimes. Tom takes Marc all the way back to when he was a kid in suburban Illinois, holding on to a life-changing secret. After wandering aimlessly through jobs in construction, private investigation and the military, he started doing comedy with his partner Tim Reid. Tom talks about going to LA where he became a regular at The Comedy Store, helped the comics organize and eventually was the face of the famous comics strike. He also remarks on his long friendships with David Letterman and Frank Sinatra. This episode is sponsored by Starbucks Tripleshot Energy and Good Boys from Universal Pictures.
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.