The guiding philosophy in the life of Harvey Fierstein is simple: Say yes. As he put together his new memoir, I Was Better Last Night, it was clear to Harvey his extraordinary life relied on saying yes to opportunities, yes to activism, and yes to his own self worth. Harvey and Marc talk about the challenges of dealing with the past in memoir writing, the importance of telling the stories of gay culture in the ’60s and ’70s, and the evolving understanding of gender and identity.
From 2013, Gilbert Gottfried talks to Marc about his comedy peers, his one-year stint on SNL, the times his jokes got him in trouble, and more. Gilbert died on April 12, 2022, at age 67.
Bonnie Raitt doesn’t feel the need to slow down. With the release of her 18th studio album and the start of an eight-month world tour, the prolific singer-songwriter knows what it’s like to make the most of your opportunities. Bonnie talks with Marc about growing up in a musical home, falling into the Laurel Canyon music scene, struggling with substance abuse, getting sober in her late-30s and having her first hit album in her 40s. They also talk about Bonnie’s continuing work with James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Mavis Staples and Lucinda Williams.
Zazie Beetz and Marc were in three things together - Joker, the Netflix series Easy, and the new animated film The Bad Guys - but they’re only now meeting each other for real. That makes for a good opportunity to interrogate their respective anxiety issues and compare their coping strategies. Zazie and Marc also talk about her German heritage, why she’s not an LA person, and how she sees her work on Atlanta as being part of an overall reflection of Donald Glover’s real life story.
Comedian Adam Ray was a high school athlete, a musical theater performer, and an acting student with his eyes on Hollywood. But one thing he never could shake was the feeling of being an overweight kid when he was younger. Adam and Marc talk about how doing comedy helps keep feelings of insecurity at bay and why the two of them struggled to get over their fears of being on stage. Adam also talks about playing Jay Leno on Pam and Tommy, Vince McMahon on Young Rock, and Wolverine at the Universal Studios theme park.
Comedian Guy Torry spent 13 years creating and running the most famous all-black comedy night in America at The Comedy Store. And now Guy just spent another 13 years making a documentary about that influential weekly comedy show, Phat Tuesdays. Guy and Marc talk about the limited opportunities for Black comedians in mainstream clubs and how the racially divided climate of 1990s Los Angeles highlighted the need to fill a comedy void. Guy explains the importance of comedian Robin Harris in mentoring young comedians and how comics like Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac and others thrived in the new environment.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around for almost 40 years and Flea has been there for every minute of it. He and Marc talk about Flea’s jazz-based upbringing that made him the bassist he is today, the various incarnations of the band, and the current reunion with multi-time bandmate John Frusciante for their new album, Unlimited Love. Flea also talks about the heartbreak of losing the Chili Pepper’s founding guitarist Hillel Slovak to drug addiction and the demons the rest of the band have fought to overcome.
Sam Jay has a lot of irons in the fire. She’s on the comedy series Bust Down, she has her own HBO late night show Pause, and she never stops doing standup. Sam tells Marc that standup is the one thing that’s guided her through it all, whether it was getting through tough personal times when she was younger or when she was hired as a writer on SNL with no formal writing experience. It’s always been standup that served as her North Star, which she now uses as a way to communicate across generational and racial divides.
Jeff Foxworthy still cringes when he knows other comics are watching his work. That persistent insecurity and the desire to always stay funny is why Jeff has a new Netflix special and a whole new act. Jeff talks with Marc about the drive that made him quit his job at IBM to try and get on Johnny Carson. They also talk about how he formed the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and how he feels about being known for his “You Might Be A Redneck” hook even though it hasn’t been part of his act for 20 years.
Ariana DeBose knows there was no way for her to prepare for what’s happening right now. There’s no instruction booklet for being a professional dancer at age 18 and suddenly becoming an Academy Award-nominated actress. Ariana and Marc talk about how getting voted off So You Think You Can Dance changed her life and how she checked herself by watching The Devil Wears Prada. Ariana also goes into the details of making West Side Story, including her collaborations with Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner and Rita Moreno.