Hasan Minhaj took the pressures put on him to become a lawyer and channeled them into the ambition necessary to start a standup career, become a Daily Show correspondent, host his own show (Patriot Act), get cast on a prestige drama (The Morning Show), and have a future in comedy as bright as anyone in his peer group. Marc and Hasan break down the roots of that ambition, how it differs between different generations of comedians, and whether or not there’s a correlation between comedy and entrepreneurship.
David Chang wouldn’t have opened his first restaurant if he wasn’t depressed. Now, with his Momofuku empire that brings joy to foodies everywhere, David still finds himself struggling to find joy. Marc talks with David about their shared demons and what steps they each take to overcome them, in particular creating boundaries, being less angry, and working to correct past mistakes. They also talk about David’s new show The Next Thing You Eat, his friendship with Anthony Bourdain, and his life as a new dad.
Jane Goodall has hope. Yes, even in these times. That doesn’t mean the good doctor looks at the world with rose-colored glasses. It means she knows hope is a necessary part of our survival as a species. Marc talks with Dr. Goodall about The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times and finds out what inspires her these days. They also talk about her famous primate research that changed the way we humans understand ourselves, her work to spread environmental equity, and her thoughts on Bigfoot.
As Connor Roy on Succession, Alan Ruck finally has the kind of role he’s been waiting to get for more than 30 years. And as Alan tells Marc, some of those years weren’t very fun. There was the time after playing Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when he could only get work in a Sears warehouse. Or the time before making Speed when he left acting and started tending bar. And then the time when he got sick while shooting Spin City and almost died. At least there were some Star Trek conventions sprinkled in the mix.
Taraji P. Henson says all her f***s are behind her now. But after three decades in show business, Taraji admits she only feels freedom from her f***s because of her openness around mental health. Taraji and Marc talk about the importance of coping with mental illness, as well as Taraji’s work to encourage mental health awareness in the Black community. They also talk about her landmark performances, from Baby Boy to Empire to Hidden Figures, and how she dealt with getting pushed out of roles after being told that “Black doesn’t sell.”
Kelefa Sanneh has been writing about music for his entire career. Drawing on his experience as the music critic at The New York Times, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a lifelong music obsessive, Kelefa took a detailed look at how music unites and divides us with his new opus, Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres. Marc and Kelefa talk about their own personal musical journeys, how genres are comparable to communities, and how identities can be established and shaped by the music we love.
American audiences fell in love with Julie Delpy as the romantic French traveler Celine in Before Sunrise and its two sequels. But Julie didn’t have an equal love affair with the making of Hollywood films. She tells Marc that she was always happier as a writer and director, and her ongoing fight against institutional biases and sexism left her more than a little frustrated. With her new comedy series on Netflix, On The Verge, Julie is creating an unfortunately rare depiction of women in their 40s and 50s.
Rosebud Baker knows all about the fine line between sadness and funny. She’s learned how to get laughs out of the tragedy that befell her family, her alcohol addiction, her co-dependent and abusive relationships, and her grandfather, who happened to be one of the most powerful people in the world. Marc and Rosebud also talk about how she found stability in her life and how she’s going about rebuilding her standup act after turning out her first special.
Even when he was a kid, B.J. Novak wanted to achieve greatness. His hard work and ambition brought him to Harvard, to the Lampoon, to doing standup, to getting on The Office, to writing a massively successful children’s book, to directing movies and creating the new anthology series The Premise. But one thing remained elusive: B.J. couldn’t really understand why Marc Maron seemed to dislike him so much. It’s a mystery Marc himself wasn’t sure he could solve. Until now, in the garage, face to face.
Franklin Leonard helped change the way movies get made in Hollywood. It’s not what he expected as a young Black math wiz growing up in Georgia. But after a love affair with movies that started at Kim’s Video in New York City, Franklin established The Black List, a tool that became one of the hottest commodities in show business and opened doors for people who weren’t getting a shot. Franklin and Marc talk about how The Black List movies made millions, how it pushed back on conventional wisdom, and how Franklin is still paving a way for undiscovered talent.