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Singer-songwriter Laura Veirs has something to prove with her latest album, Found Light. After divorce ended her 20-years-long collaborative relationship with her producer husband, Laura not only needed to prove she could create a new album independently, but she needed to be sure of who she was in the world going forward. Laura and Marc talk about love and loss and the power of therapeutic mushrooms. They also talk about how Laura suffers from imposter syndrome when she’s around her other collaborators, k.d. lang and Neko Case.
Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka has familiarity with garages. But unlike Marc, she didn’t start a podcast in one. She lived in one with her mother and grandmother for seven years, as three generations of immigrant women dealt with cramped quarters, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Atsuko tells Marc how she was unaware as a young girl that her trip from Japan to America was going to become permanent and how her discovery of standup comedy helped her find her voice.
Dana Gould is in his 40th year of doing standup. He and Marc talk about what they’ve learned in their decades of comedy, how they came to accept their limitations, and how they see themselves in today’s standup environment. Dana also explains why he went back on stage after years of giving it up to work on The Simpsons, why he feels that progress in comedy means knowing when you were wrong, and why he always goes back to George Carlin.
Kate Berlant’s comedy defies easy categorization. That’s okay with Kate, who thinks people use a lot of empty terms to pin down comedy. Kate and Marc talk about how growing up in the art world helped Kate take a different approach when she got on the comedy stage as a teenager. They also talk about Kate’s sketch work with fellow comedian John Early, the inspiration she took from the late Brody Stevens, and why her Bo Burnham-directed comedy special remains in limbo.
When Jen Statsky and her collaborators were creating the show Hacks, they knew they needed to nail the portrayal of life in standup comedy because comics will quickly know if they got it wrong. Marc talks with Jen about how they did, indeed, nail it. They also talk about her work at The Onion and on shows like Parks and Rec, The Good Place, Broad City and Lady Dynamite. Plus, Jen and Marc talk about stuffing your feelings, getting better at acknowledging them, and understanding why growing up in Boston might lead you to ignoring them.
Marc has a very direct question for his old friend Greg Proops: “Did we lose?” In the fight for the heart and soul of comedy, there is real uncertainty about the current trajectory. What legacy did the alternative comedy movement leave, if any? Did the Obama years create a false sense of security for popular comedians that made them drop the ball? Will a there be a counterforce to the dominant strain of reactionary backlash comedy? Marc and Greg interrogate these questions and their own roles in the past three decades of comedy.
For a while, Lara Beitz could only get on stage to do comedy if she was hammered. She’d drink to feel less nervous but then there wasn’t a time when she didn’t feel nervous, so she was just always drinking. Lara and Marc talk about their shared experiences with addiction and recovery as they were developing their voices as comedians. Lara also looks back on an upbringing that was clouded by the specter of alcoholism and how she had to come to terms with it later in life.
Oscar and Emmy-winning visual effects artist Phil Tippett is responsible for some of the most memorable effects in movies history, like the alien chess match in Star Wars, the giant robot walkers in The Empire Strikes Back, the ED-209 in RoboCop and more. And because his work is almost always rooted in stop-motion animation, Phil tends to be meticulous. It’s why, as he tells Marc, he started his first film 30 years ago and it’s only complete now. They talk about the creation of this movie, Mad God, and how it drove Phil to the brink.
Jesus Trejo knows he put in the work to become a paid regular at The Comedy Store, spending years doing open mic spots and performing at 1am for a handful of people. Not to mention paying his dues unclogging toilets at the club and putting up Mitzi Shore’s Christmas tree. But even with all of that behind him, Jesus still breaks out in a sweat when he tells Marc about those times he completely bombed as he was trying to learn the ropes. Jesus also tells Marc about being a caregiver for both his parents and what gave him the courage to work that real life scenario into his act.