It’s normal for everyone to call Troy Andrews by his stage name, Trombone Shorty, because he’s been playing the trombone since he was a tiny, four-year-old boy. Troy and Marc talk about the musical culture of New Orleans, growing up in the Treme, touring with Lenny Kravitz right out of high school, becoming the frontman of his own band, making the trombone a featured instrument, creating a musical education academy, and recording his new album, Lifted, which is inspired by his mother.
Vanessa Bayer knows her comedic talent comes from a decidedly unfunny place. Vanessa’s teenage cancer diagnosis focused her comedy skills, which in turn allowed her to help people process, understand and laugh at horrible things. Vanessa and Marc talk about how her natural optimism guided her through this health crisis and also put her in a great headspace for the Saturday Night Live audition process. Vanessa also explains why she incorporated her real life medical history into her new comedy series, I Love That For You.
Robert Eggers was never into Vikings or hand-to-hand combat or macho stuff. And yet he just made the Viking movie to end all Viking movies, filled with brutal violence and macho posturing. But as he tells Marc, making The Northman was all in the service of his quest to transmit the sublime. Robert and Marc talk the meticulous attention to detail he brings to his films, how he’s fascinated by the search for belief amidst ritual and fantasy, and how he grew up loving comic books but would now rather make movies like The Witch and The Lighthouse than a superhero story.
The guiding philosophy in the life of Harvey Fierstein is simple: Say yes. As he put together his new memoir, I Was Better Last Night, it was clear to Harvey his extraordinary life relied on saying yes to opportunities, yes to activism, and yes to his own self worth. Harvey and Marc talk about the challenges of dealing with the past in memoir writing, the importance of telling the stories of gay culture in the ’60s and ’70s, and the evolving understanding of gender and identity.
From 2013, Gilbert Gottfried talks to Marc about his comedy peers, his one-year stint on SNL, the times his jokes got him in trouble, and more. Gilbert died on April 12, 2022, at age 67.
Bonnie Raitt doesn’t feel the need to slow down. With the release of her 18th studio album and the start of an eight-month world tour, the prolific singer-songwriter knows what it’s like to make the most of your opportunities. Bonnie talks with Marc about growing up in a musical home, falling into the Laurel Canyon music scene, struggling with substance abuse, getting sober in her late-30s and having her first hit album in her 40s. They also talk about Bonnie’s continuing work with James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Mavis Staples and Lucinda Williams.
Zazie Beetz and Marc were in three things together - Joker, the Netflix series Easy, and the new animated film The Bad Guys - but they’re only now meeting each other for real. That makes for a good opportunity to interrogate their respective anxiety issues and compare their coping strategies. Zazie and Marc also talk about her German heritage, why she’s not an LA person, and how she sees her work on Atlanta as being part of an overall reflection of Donald Glover’s real life story.
Comedian Adam Ray was a high school athlete, a musical theater performer, and an acting student with his eyes on Hollywood. But one thing he never could shake was the feeling of being an overweight kid when he was younger. Adam and Marc talk about how doing comedy helps keep feelings of insecurity at bay and why the two of them struggled to get over their fears of being on stage. Adam also talks about playing Jay Leno on Pam and Tommy, Vince McMahon on Young Rock, and Wolverine at the Universal Studios theme park.
Comedian Guy Torry spent 13 years creating and running the most famous all-black comedy night in America at The Comedy Store. And now Guy just spent another 13 years making a documentary about that influential weekly comedy show, Phat Tuesdays. Guy and Marc talk about the limited opportunities for Black comedians in mainstream clubs and how the racially divided climate of 1990s Los Angeles highlighted the need to fill a comedy void. Guy explains the importance of comedian Robin Harris in mentoring young comedians and how comics like Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac and others thrived in the new environment.