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.
On the day this episode is released, John Waters is celebrating his 75th birthday. But he’s still doing the same things that brought him cultural notoriety when he started making movies in the ‘60s: Celebrating filth, fighting censorship, and breaking any rule you can think up. John and Marc talk about those early movies like Pink Flamingos, as well as John’s relationship with Divine. John also tells Marc why Hairspray was the most transgressive movie he ever made, why he prays to Pasolini, and what is the only thing he regrets in his life.
Tom Jones doesn’t feel like resting on his laurels. He tells Marc there’s one main reason he’s going strong, recording new music and performing live at the age of 80: Because he still has a point to prove. Tom and Marc talk about his big hits like It’s Not Unusual, Delilah, and What’s New Pussycat?, how he learned to belt them out by listening to gospel music, and the secret weapon he calls The Push. They also discuss his friendship with Elvis, his musical heroes, and his new album Surrounded by Time.
Yo-Yo Ma remembers a moment in his childhood where it all began to make sense. As a seven-year-old prodigy, he was playing cello in front of an audience that included two U.S. Presidents. But it was an act of kindness and respect from the actor Danny Kaye that helped Yo-Yo look at the world in a different way. He also tells Marc how he found the meaning of art and culture in the Kalahari, why he developed a friendship with Mr. Rogers, and why he chose the title “Beginner’s Mind” for his new musical narrative project for Audible.
Sally Struthers is thinking a lot about the passage of time these days. For one, this year is the 50th anniversary of All In The Family premiering on CBS. She’s also thinking that so many people she worked with in movies like Five Easy Pieces and The Getaway are no longer with us. And she’s thinking about how all this downtime from the pandemic is keeping her from doing what she loves: touring the country in stage productions. Sally talks with Marc about how time catches up with all of us, but also how she can look back fondly and with gratitude on what has passed.
Katey Sagal is known by the public in ways she doesn't see herself. She's known as an actor, but always thought of herself primarily as a singer. She's known as a seminal comedic TV character, even though she didn't think of herself as funny. She's defined by brash, confrontational roles, but sees herself as reserved, even shy. Katey and Marc talk about these contradictions and how they played out in public - on Married... with Children, Sons of Anarchy, her new show Rebel - and in private - in relationships, career stall-outs and struggles with substance abuse.
Marc only knew Hunter Biden from what he saw in the news. He never heard him speak, he had no sense of who he really was, and he wasn’t sure he cared much about the troubled son of a President. Then he read Hunter Biden’s book. The sad, tragic, honest, disturbing and concerning story at the heart of the real Hunter Biden made Marc want to talk with him, face to face. Hunter and Marc have a conversation about grief, desperation, tragedy, trouble and deep drug addiction. It ends up in a good place, but that place is fragile.
Daniel Kaluuya doesn’t want to stop the journey. Getting nominated for Oscars, winning a Golden Globe, hosting Saturday Night Live. These are moments within the journey, but he doesn’t want any of them to feel bigger than the journey itself. Daniel and Marc talk about this life perspective, how he draws a lot of it from his family in London and Uganda, and how he incorporated it into his portrayal of Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. They also talk about Sicario, Get Out and his improv days.