Andrew Santino and Marc didn’t know much about each other, aside from both being Comedy Store regulars and comedians from different ends of a generational divide. But in this conversation, they discover the similar paths they both paved in comedy, starting out with no money and no connections, finding themselves unhappy with their early work, and preferring the life of a lone wolf to the life in a pack. Andrew also talks about being a Comedy Store comic starring in a fictional show about the early days of The Comedy Store.
Whether he was getting booked on The Tonight Show or becoming the first standup to have a hit sitcom based on his act or finding success as a professional poker player, Gabe Kaplan says it all happened in spite of his lack of ambition. Gabe tells Marc how he really wanted to become a professional baseball player, how his athleticism served him well in Battle of the Network Stars, and how his initial years in standup were spent opening for strippers and bellydancers. They also talk about the making of Welcome Back, Kotter and how playing Las Vegas got Gabe into poker.
Rickie Lee Jones is, first and foremost, a storyteller. She realized at a young age that she could process her feelings and tell her own story through the fiction of songs. As she tells Marc, that same impulse prompted her to write a memoir in which she could present her life story through the narrative of her extended family of vaudevillians. Rickie Lee and Marc also talk about her formative and tumultuous relationship with Tom Waits and why it’s hard for her to reminisce about her early albums and the hits that made her a star.
American audiences know Eric Bana from his complex performances in movies like Munich, Black Hawk Down and Ang Lee’s Hulk. But in his native Australia, Eric got his start doing standup and sketch comedy. Eric and Marc share their respective experiences of the Australian comedy scene and Eric explains how his gift for mimicry and impressions helped him transition from sketch to dramatic acting. They also talk about Eric’s new movie The Dry, why the demise of movie theaters is greatly exaggerated, and why Australian actors are rarely allowed to play Australians.
Kristin Hersh needs to make music. Whether it’s with her bands Throwing Muses and 50FOOTWAVE or in her solo albums, making music is a compulsion. But she only recently figured out that music was her way of managing trauma. Kristin tells Marc about a life changing car accident, her dissociative disorder, PTSD, “switching,” and how processing all of this helped her understand the music she’d been hearing in her head all her life. They also talk about her new book, Seeing Sideways, which deals with Kristin raising four children on a tour bus.
Steve Miller didn’t expect to become a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with hit songs that stand the test of time, like The Joker and Fly Like An Eagle. He was just a kid from Wisconsin who loved the Blues and wound up with teachers like T-Bone Walker and his godfather Les Paul. Steve tells Marc how he got his first breaks in clubs run by the Chicago Mafia, how he learned an important lesson from Paul McCartney, and how he discovered a lost 1977 concert performance which he’s finally releasing.
Mark Normand is relieved to get back to the comedy clubs after a year of doing outdoor shows and other compromised sets during the pandemic. But Mark never considered stopping because comedy is something he has to do. Maybe it goes back to growing up feeling like an outsider in his own family of overachievers, or maybe it’s how he coped with childhood anxieties like bedwetting, or maybe it has to do with being a victim of crime at several points in his life. He tries to get to the bottom of it with Marc while they also reminisce about the New York comedy scene and the fight-or-flight impulses they have as comedians.
Nancy Wilson is one of the world’s great guitarists, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and creator, along with her sister Ann, of one of the great American rock bands, Heart. But after more than 40 years in the business, she’s finally releasing her first solo album. Nancy tells Marc what led up to it, from opening for big rock acts to writing massive radio hits to headlining giant arena rock shows all over the world. Nancy explains how things got messy within Heart when romantic relationships cropped up and she details how they were able to navigate the cocaine-fueled ‘80s to score some of their biggest hits ever.
Robert Smigel became best known for having a foul-mouthed dog puppet on his hand, but the truth is he’s a defining force in popular comedy for the past 35 years. Robert tells Marc how he was on the path to becoming a dentist until a stand-up comedy competition changed his life. From there it was on to SNL where he forged relationships with people like Conan O’Brien and Adam Sandler, collaborating over the next decade to change the comedy landscape. Robert also explains the origin of Triumph and why he’s gone back to puppets with his new show Let’s Get Real.
Richard Kind knows his face is memorable, but he still thinks he uses it too much. He knows his characters often exude warmth and joy, even though he is personally powered by dread and anxiety. He wants to be more like George Bailey, but worries he’s closer to Willy Loman. Maybe this is why Richard and Marc connect so easily. They also talk about Richard being a part of the Coen Brothers’ legacy, his friendship with George Clooney, and how he did most of his acting training in front of the camera.