If comedy equals tragedy plus time, comedian Melinda Hill has reached the point where she can make some funny out of the traumas from her past. Melinda and Marc talk about processing the pain, particularly dealing with parents suffering from mental illness. They also talk about Melinda’s trajectory in the comedy business, starting with success in voiceovers to her influential LA stand-up showcase What’s Up, Tiger Lily? to her acting, writing and podcasting ventures. Plus, Melinda talks about the connection she has with Marc’s past, something that requires a bit of processing on Marc’s end.
When Hari Kondabolu was a college student, he interviewed Marc for a research paper about standup comedy. Twenty years later, they’re talking to each other as peers whose lives have changed considerably in the past two decades. With a newborn baby, a recent Netflix special, and a documentary about Apu from The Simpsons that spurred a global conversation about representation in pop culture, Hari gets Marc up to speed on where his life is at right now. He also explains how he developed his comedy career while engaging in human rights work and immigration activism.
These are appropriate times for reflection and Matthew McConaughey just went through the process of reflecting on his whole life while writing his memoir, Greenlights. Marc talks with Matthew about the revelations he encountered, the perspective he gained, and the philosophies he was able to codify in the process. They go through Matthew’s upbringing in Austin, his first movie role in Dazed and Confused, his launch into superstardom, his self-imposed hiatus, and his career rebirth that saw him win an Oscar. Matthew also explains how an ad lib changed his life and why pressed jeans helped him understand how to take control of his destiny.
Patti Smith has been at the vanguard of art, poetry, rock and roll, and other forms of self-expression since the 1960s. But this talk with Marc happens to be her very first one-on-one conversation done over Zoom. They talk about Patti’s days living at the Hotel Chelsea, carrying on the legacy of the Beat Generation, and forming life-changing relationships with William Borroughs, Sam Shepard, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan, among others. Patti also recalls the most mortifying live performance moment of her career, which happened for all the world to see.
Everyone needs to let off some steam these days and there are few people better who do it better than Lewis Black. Marc welcomes his old friend back to the show for a talk about pandemic comedy, going stir crazy during quarantine, avoiding cults and pulling for democracy to make it through these times. They also talk about Lewis's new standup special, Thanks for Risking Your Life, which was filmed the day before the country shut down.
Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne was in Los Angeles and decided to stop by the garage for a rare pandemic-era in-person chat with Marc. It’s been a long time since Wayne and Marc hung out last. Since then both dealt with deaths of people close to them and they talk about how processing those losses gave them perspective on what we’re all living through. Wayne also talks about being a new dad in his late 50s, how an epiphany while working at Long John Silver’s changed his personal trajectory, and why he considers himself to be on his third life.
Wynton Marsalis created a profound examination of America, race, class, politics and human impulses with his latest epic composition, The Ever Fonky Lowdown. He explains to Marc how his perspective for the piece was largely aided by his fear of flying. Wynton’s worldview was also shaped by watching his dad play jazz to limited audiences, realizing what it meant to play solely because you believe in the music.They also talk about Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock and Wynton’s work with Jazz at Lincoln Center.
John Cusack is always trying to stay engaged with the world. From a young age when activist priests used to visit his parents to the Reagan years when he underwent a political awakening to present day, John uses his perception of how the world works as a way to build the characters he plays. That comes in handy in the new series Utopia, where John plays an evil billionaire. John also tells Marc what it was like to play Brian Wilson while working with Brian Wilson, how Being John Malkovich got made, and why Danny Trejo told the world that out of all the tough guys on the set of Con Air, John was the baddest mother of all.
Barbara Kopple is known for her acclaimed documentary films, but for Marc the most memorable time Barbara spent behind the camera is the day she directed him in a phone commercial. Marc and Barbara reminisce about how that happened and talk about her entry portal into documentaries working with the Maysels Brothers on Salesmen and Gimme Shelter. They also discuss Barbara’s Oscar-winning film Harlan County, USA, how Bruce Springsteen saved one of her early movies, and how she got Jimmy Carter to open up about the Iran hostage crisis for her latest doc, Desert One.