Mike Sweeney tried on several different careers before becoming the head writer for Conan O’Brien: trial lawyer, standup comedian, warm-up comic. But it’s a miracle he was able to do any of them after growing up in a violent, unpredictable household. Mike tells Marc the truly shocking circumstances of his early life, as well as the better days doing comedy in New York City, the highs of Late Night on NBC, the chaos of Conan’s Tonight Show days, and the many hats he now wears in the Conan Empire. This episode is sponsored by Zoro.com, Stamps.com, and Pepsi.
Comic Louis Katz was working with Marc just before the launch of WTF. In the ten years since, Louis and Marc have taken paths that are both similar and completely different. They share their experiences on the road and get into the nuts and bolts of comedy club standup, then and now, as well as the persistent East Coast-West Coast split between comedy sensibilities. Louis also talks about what it was like to have a long distance relationship when starting out in comedy and what he’s only learning about himself now after spending the past two decades working in the field. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and SimpliSafe.
When a very complementary newspaper profile called Nathan Lane “the last of the great entertainers,” Nathan couldn’t help but wonder, “Is that all there is?” Nathan talks with Marc about the subsequent steps he took to get himself out of the box people wanted him in, which included taking on roles like Hickey in The Iceman Cometh and Roy Cohn in Angels in America. They also discuss Nathan’s early days of dinner theater and stand-up comedy, his theory on why The Producers was such a big hit, and why he finally wanted to get married. This episode is sponsored by Watchmen on HBO, Stamps.com, and ZipRecruiter.
Actress Lili Taylor and Marc quickly realize how much they have in common, like their nearly 50 combined years of sobriety, their similar stories about parents struggling with mental illness, and their search for belonging in New York City when they were younger. Lili tells Marc what it was like to be a central figure in the independent film community of the 1990s, but that was only a short moment in the first part of her life. The question Lili’s been asking herself lately is, Am I up to the task of the next part of my life? She may have found her answer in bird watching. This episode is sponsored by Zoro.com, SimpliSafe, and Stance.
Tony Hale is trying to be more present. He’s motivated by the fact that some of the biggest moments of his career on shows like Arrested Development and Veep are lost down the memory hole. Tony and Marc trace the reasons for these mental gaps, which are largely attributable to childhood panic attacks, codependency, and a long-running search for identity. They also talk about Tony’s reliance on his faith, his comedy partnership with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and his emergence as a beloved children’s character, Forky. This episode is sponsored by Vital Farms, New Mexico, The Only Podcast Left, and quip toothbrushes.
Kate Nash says getting cast on GLOW saved her life and, when you hear about the emotional roller coaster she was on before landing the gig, that might literally be true. Kate tells Marc what it was like to leverage her MySpace account into pop stardom at age 19, with a number one record and sold out shows for thousands of devoted fans. And then she explains why it all fell apart, with anxiety, OCD and a near-total breakdown to follow. They also talk about working together for the past four years, gaining confidence through wrestling, and the importance of a bunny in Kate’s life. This episode is sponsored by the Adult Swim Podcast, Zoro.com, Intercept Festival presented by Amazon Web Services, and SimpliSafe.
John Goodman has more than four decades of experience on stage, in movies, and on television, but he’s just now learning to trust himself. After a lifetime of trying to please everyone and beating himself up over everything, John tells Marc what finally caused his perception to shift. John also talks about being shaped by comic books and Mad Magazine, finding inspiration working with David Byrne and Al Pacino early in his career, and why he knew there was something special about the Coen Brothers the first time he saw one of their scripts. This episode is sponsored by Zoro.com, Squarespace, and Stamps.com.
Marc doesn’t consider himself a “folk music guy” but he cannot deny how strongly he responds to singer-songwriter Joan Shelley’s work. Joan talks with Marc about her Kentucky upbringing and how she’s careful to respect the roots of folk music while also infusing her work with a vulnerability and texture that is her own. She also discusses her collaborative relationship with Nathan Salsburg, working with Jeff Tweedy as her producer, and her reasons for recording her latest album in Iceland. Plus, Joan gives some songwriting tips to Marc to help him overcome his own insecurity so he can finally write some songs. This episode is sponsored by Comedy Central, WNYC's Scattered podcast, SimpliSafe, and the Adult Swim Podcast.
Edward Norton knows the importance of slowing things down. While many entertainers feel the need to move immediately from project to project, Edward has learned from his peers, his idols, and his own experience that sometimes it’s all about what you don’t do. Edward talks with Marc about the lessons he learned from working with David Fincher and Milos Forman, the inspiration he takes from David Bowie and Bob Dylan, and the stories behind American History X and The Incredible Hulk. Edward also explains what inspired him to write, direct and star in a very unique adaptation of Motherless Brooklyn. This episode is sponsored by the Adult Swim Podcast, Watchmen on HBO, Stamps.com, and The RealReal.
No one can doubt Pamela Des Barres’s commitment to the life of rock and roll. She’s known as THE rock groupie, but further distinguished herself as a writer, educator, tour guide and interviewer, all involving her life on the road throughout modern music history. Growing up in California with a love of Jesus and Elvis, it wasn’t surprising she was drawn to the charismatic allure of rock stars. Pamela tells Marc about her time with Frank Zappa, Phil Spector, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Keith Moon, Mick Jagger, Tiny Tim, Jim Morrison, Waylon Jennings, and more, as she experienced the highs of the Free Love 60s as well as the era’s dismal end at Altamont. This episode is sponsored by Zoro.com and New Mexico Tourism & Travel.