Dana Gould is in his 40th year of doing standup. He and Marc talk about what they’ve learned in their decades of comedy, how they came to accept their limitations, and how they see themselves in today’s standup environment. Dana also explains why he went back on stage after years of giving it up to work on The Simpsons, why he feels that progress in comedy means knowing when you were wrong, and why he always goes back to George Carlin.
Kate Berlant’s comedy defies easy categorization. That’s okay with Kate, who thinks people use a lot of empty terms to pin down comedy. Kate and Marc talk about how growing up in the art world helped Kate take a different approach when she got on the comedy stage as a teenager. They also talk about Kate’s sketch work with fellow comedian John Early, the inspiration she took from the late Brody Stevens, and why her Bo Burnham-directed comedy special remains in limbo.
When Jen Statsky and her collaborators were creating the show Hacks, they knew they needed to nail the portrayal of life in standup comedy because comics will quickly know if they got it wrong. Marc talks with Jen about how they did, indeed, nail it. They also talk about her work at The Onion and on shows like Parks and Rec, The Good Place, Broad City and Lady Dynamite. Plus, Jen and Marc talk about stuffing your feelings, getting better at acknowledging them, and understanding why growing up in Boston might lead you to ignoring them.
Marc has a very direct question for his old friend Greg Proops: “Did we lose?” In the fight for the heart and soul of comedy, there is real uncertainty about the current trajectory. What legacy did the alternative comedy movement leave, if any? Did the Obama years create a false sense of security for popular comedians that made them drop the ball? Will a there be a counterforce to the dominant strain of reactionary backlash comedy? Marc and Greg interrogate these questions and their own roles in the past three decades of comedy.
For a while, Lara Beitz could only get on stage to do comedy if she was hammered. She’d drink to feel less nervous but then there wasn’t a time when she didn’t feel nervous, so she was just always drinking. Lara and Marc talk about their shared experiences with addiction and recovery as they were developing their voices as comedians. Lara also looks back on an upbringing that was clouded by the specter of alcoholism and how she had to come to terms with it later in life.
Oscar and Emmy-winning visual effects artist Phil Tippett is responsible for some of the most memorable effects in movies history, like the alien chess match in Star Wars, the giant robot walkers in The Empire Strikes Back, the ED-209 in RoboCop and more. And because his work is almost always rooted in stop-motion animation, Phil tends to be meticulous. It’s why, as he tells Marc, he started his first film 30 years ago and it’s only complete now. They talk about the creation of this movie, Mad God, and how it drove Phil to the brink.
Jesus Trejo knows he put in the work to become a paid regular at The Comedy Store, spending years doing open mic spots and performing at 1am for a handful of people. Not to mention paying his dues unclogging toilets at the club and putting up Mitzi Shore’s Christmas tree. But even with all of that behind him, Jesus still breaks out in a sweat when he tells Marc about those times he completely bombed as he was trying to learn the ropes. Jesus also tells Marc about being a caregiver for both his parents and what gave him the courage to work that real life scenario into his act.
Rosie Perez initially thought success would paper over her trauma. But the emotional ramifications from the abuse she went through as a child were never going to stay hidden for long. Rosie and Marc talk about how acting is still risky for her but now she has tools to help work through the high-wire act of tapping into dark places. They also talk about her friendship with Spike Lee, her reasons for working a lot, and her two current series, The Flight Attendant and Now & Then.
From 2018, Ray Liotta talks with Marc about getting his start in soap operas, the debt he owes to Melanie Griffith, and the emotional filming of Goodfellas. Ray died on May 26, 2022 at age 67.
Joey Camen left a dysfunctional home in Detroit as a teenager and, thanks to an ad he saw in a Playboy, knew exactly where he needed to go. He went straight to the brand new club on the Sunset Strip, The Comedy Store, and quickly became one of the club’s first regulars. Joey and Marc talk about those early days of the Store, living in fear of Mitzi, and becoming friends with the likes of Paul Mooney and Richard Pryor before falling under the tutelage of legendary voice actor Daws Butler.