Jeff Daniels has delivered great performances in films, plays and TV shows for more than 40 years but he thought a true “dream role” had eluded him. Until now. Marc talks with Jeff in the midst of rehearsals for Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird on Broadway, in which Jeff plays Atticus Finch. Jeff explains how he applies his Midwest work ethic to acting, why he sustains his own theater company in Michigan, and what he learned about the job of acting from people like James Cagney, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, and Debra Winger. This episode is sponsored by Spotify, Holmes & Watson, SimpliSafe, and quip.
Ted Alexandro is a comic who believes deeply in social responsibility. Whether it’s responsibility to his fellow comics as he fought for better pay from clubs, or to his fellow citizens as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, or to his audience as he wrestles with effectively addressing the Trump Era on the comedy stage. Ted talks with Marc about the evolving nature of a comedian’s role in the culture, how his experience as an elementary school teacher prepared him for standup, and why he felt it was necessary to do material at the Comedy Cellar that was critical of Louis CK’s return to the Comedy Cellar. This episode is sponsored by Funny or Die's No Activity on CBS All Access, Omaha Steaks, Molekule, and YouTube Music.
Tim Blake Nelson might be a familiar face due to his indelible character roles in many films, but that didn’t stop him from defying just about all of Marc’s preconceptions about him. Marc had no idea, for example, about Tim’s Jewish upbringing in Tulsa, or that his family escaped the Holocaust and became oil drillers in America, or that Tim tried his hand at stand-up in the 80s, or that he studied the classics in hopes of becoming a professor or an archeologist. They talk about all of that stuff and a lot about the Coen Brothers, too, particularly their new movie with Tim, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. This episode is sponsored by The Shivering Truth on Adult Swim, Spotify, SimpliSafe, and Stamps.com.
Jeff Tweedy doesn’t spend a lot of time reflecting on the past. But he awakened a whole lot of it while writing his new memoir. That means he has fresh thoughts on his mind about Jay Farrar, Uncle Tupelo, the early days of Wilco, and coming into his own as a musician and producer, which is on display in his new solo album, Warm. Jeff also talks with Marc about his experiences with mood disorders, painkiller addiction, parenthood, and converting to Judaism. This episode is sponsored by YouTube Music, Nightflyers on SYFY, YouTube Music, Quip, and the New York Times Crossword App.
Martin Mull has many job titles in front of his name: Actor, musician, painter, writer, comedian. But when he was younger, struggling to make it as any of those things, he couldn't afford heat for his apartment and had to borrow an electric blanket, which he also could not afford. Martin tells Marc how things turned around, how he found himself in music circles with the likes of Harry Nilsson and John Lennon, how his comedy performances led him to friendships with the likes of Steve Martin and Fred Willard, and how he wound up acting in everything from Roseanne to Sabrina the Teenage Witch to his new show The Cool Kids. This episode is sponsored by Nightflyers on SYFY, The New Yorker, and ZipRecruiter.
Comedian and writer Annie Lederman saw her adolescence take a turn for the worse after a childhood car crash. She was growing up with learning disabilities and attending a Quaker school. Then after the crash she was making choices she didn’t want to make and finding herself in situations that left lasting scars, physically and emotionally. Annie tells Marc how she pulled herself out of the darkness, started her comedy career and ended up in an unexpected relationship that helped her process her trauma. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, Headlong: Surviving Y2K, and SimpliSafe.
Kenneth Lonergan doesn’t think there’s a real difference between comedy and drama, at least not in the way he writes and directs. The playwright-screenwriter-director talks with Marc about the lie of sentimentality, how ideas collapse when he’s writing and new ideas emerge, and why he hopes to get to 95% satisfaction with his work (he’s gotten to about 90% so far). That work includes Manchester By The Sea, Margaret, You Can Count On Me, and plays like The Waverly Gallery, which is now on Broadway. This episode is sponsored by Loop Jewelry, Screen Dive from 20th Century Fox, YouTube Music, and Stamps.com.
Michael Douglas produced an Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, was the star of a successful television series, and was compiling a notable filmography both in front of and behind the camera. But he still didn't feel like he made it. That finally changed in his 40s, with movies like Wall Street and Fatal Attraction, and Michael tells Marc why that period was such a breakthrough for him. They also talk about why his early work on TV was vital for his career, why Jack Nicholson calls him a “hair actor," and why he was draw to making a serialized comedy like The Kominsky Method with Alan Arkin. This episode is sponsored by Screen Dive from 20th Century Fox, YouTube Music, 23andMe.
"The most dangerous place for black people to live is in white people’s imaginations." That idea has allowed D.L. Hughley to organize a lot of his thoughts on what we're dealing with as a country, and he believes what we're really doing is fighting fear. D.L. tells Marc about his experiences growing up in South Central Los Angeles, getting out before he got lost, and building himself up through comedy. They also talk about two of D.L.'s influences, Robin Harris and Bernie Mac, his tours, his specials, his TV and radio shows, and Kanye. This episode is sponsored by Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith on Spotify, Loop Jewelry, SimpliSafe, and Quip.
Sandy Hackett learned from the best, but not just because Buddy Hackett was his dad. But also because Buddy was his best friend, his road companion, and the guy he opened for night after night. Sandy tells Marc what it was like to grow up in and around Las Vegas, how his entertainment career actually started out as a career in hotel management, and why he decided to create a touring show about The Rat Pack. Plus, Sandy shares some stories about Buddy, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, and Elvis Presley. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and 23andMe.