Living in Hawaii gives Woody Harrelson a pretty good perspective of what life should really be about. It’s a mentality that influences the way he chooses projects, the way he engages in activism, and the way he fulfills is spiritual side. Woody and Marc talk about this mindset and how it evolved over his career. He talks about the offer he turned down that would have kept Cheers on the air, the process he went through to get into the mind of a psychopath for Natural Born Killers, and the way his life changed after playing Larry Flynt, as well as some talk about Kingpin, No Country for Old Men, and Zombieland: Doubletap. This episode is sponsored by Living with Yourself on Netflix.
Marc sees Rachel Maddow on TV almost every night. But there was a time when they saw each other every day, back when they worked together at Air America Radio. Rachel and Marc talk about those early radio days which turned out to be a transitional point in both of their lives. Rachel also explains how her early days of AIDS activism and public policy studies eventually led her to the broadcasting career she has now, which is something she never imagined herself doing. They also discuss depression, prayer, self-confidence, and why she felt compelled to write her new book, Blowout. This episode is sponsored by Vital Farms, Stamps.com, and The RealReal.
Jackie Tohn is the co-star on GLOW who Marc feels he knows the most. Not because they knew each other before making the show, but because they share backgrounds and upbringings that make them very familiar to each other. Jackie tells Marc about growing up on Long Island, intent on pursuing an acting career, only to be met with heartbreak after heartbreak, from pilots that didn’t go to last minute casting changes to an American Idol bust. Jackie explains how a disappointed friend helped snap her out of her funk and how she’s embracing her musical abilities in her comedy today. This episode is sponsored by SweeTango, The RealReal, Intersect by AWS, and Pepsi.
Argus Hamilton is the human embodiment of The Comedy Store, with the distinction of being one of the original Comedy Store comics and the only person of his generation who still works there today. In other words, he’s the perfect guest for WTF, as Marc continues building a comprehensive oral history of the infamous club. Argus tells some stories and dispels some myths about The Store’s origins, about the comics who really put the place on the map, about the big names like Pryor, Williams and Kinison who made the place their playground, and about his unique relationship with Mitzi Shore, the woman behind it all.
Danny DeVito is one of America’s most beloved actors and that’s true across multiple generations. Whether it’s because you came of age with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or watched Taxi every week or accepted his version of The Penguin as definitive or followed his antics with The Gang for 14 years on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Danny is probably someone you feel like you know. Marc takes the time to know more about Danny, finding out about his Jersey Shore childhood, his days as a gardener and hairdresser, and his life behind the camera, directing favorites like Throw Momma from the Train and producing movies like Pulp Fiction. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and SimpliSafe.
Marilu Henner will not forget what was said in this conversation. That’s mostly because she has a rare condition that allows her to remember virtually everything that ever happened to her. But it’s also because she and Marc go deep into her life and multifaceted career. They discuss the eccentric environment she was raised in, the tragedy that befell her family, the acting break that got her started in show business, the health challenges in her life that led to a career as an author, and her varied relationships with costars like John Travolta, Andy Kaufman, Burt Reynolds and Donald Trump. This episode is sponsored by SweeTango, Zoro.com, and Stamps.com.
Jeannie Gaffigan had a lot on her plate. She was raising five kids, writing comedy with her husband Jim, and producing a television sitcom. She was so busy taking care of others that she forgot to take care of herself. Jeannie tells Marc how that self-neglect led to the inadvertent discovery of a brain tumor the size of a pear, a ten-hour surgery to remove it, and the complications that threatened her life. Now, on the road to a full recovery, Jeannie is learning how to let go of some of the control she used to rely on and embrace the messiness of life. This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp and EverlyWell.
How did Byron Allen go from teenage stand-up to highly successful media mogul and entrepreneur? Byron thinks it has everything to do with growing up in Detroit, watching his dad working at Ford and internalizing that factory worker mentality. Of course, his mom was a big help too, working as a tour guide at NBC Studios so young Byron could watch and learn from Johnny Carson, Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor and many others. Byron tells Marc how he found The Comedy Store, how he put in the hard work to get his own show on television, and how he came to own a media empire that includes The Weather Channel. This episode is sponsored by South Park and Crank Yankers on Comedy Central, the Hella Mega Tour, and BetterHelp.
Chaunté Wayans has a last name that adds a lot of pressure to a comedy career. She also happens to be the niece and cousin of many famous comedians with that last name. That’s one reason she stayed away from comedy when she was younger, choosing instead to get into film and television production. When Chaunté was working as an editor, she started struggling with anxiety, which led to alcoholism, which led to multiple arrests. Chaunté talks with Marc about rebounding, embracing her own comedic identity on stage, and launching her stand-up career with encouragement from people like Tiffany Haddish and her uncle Damon. This episode is sponsored by Between Two Ferns: The Movie on Netflix, Spotify, The Righteous Gemstones on HBO, and the Hella Mega Tour.
June Diane Raphael knows people are likely to mispronounce her last name (it’s RAY-feel) but she’s ok with it. She has other things on her mind right now, like being a working mom in Hollywood, getting more women encouraged to run for office, and the simple things like aging, the meaning of life, and the acceptance of death. June and Marc talk about all of that, as well as her improv background, her marriage to How Did This Get Made? co-host Paul Scheer, and what she learns from working with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, SweeTango Apples, and BetterHelp.
Danny Huston felt somewhat doomed when it came to show business. His father John and grandfather Walter were legendary Hollywood figures and his half-sister Anjelica seemed like the coolest person in the world to him. To Danny, getting into the business seemed daunting. But after helping to shoot the opening credit sequence on one of his dad’s films, Danny was hooked. His father was his friend and collaborator but his death left Danny rudderless. And that’s when he started acting. Danny talks with Marc about his many roles, from small independent films to blockbusters like X-Men and Wonder Woman to his new film which he directed, The Last Photograph. This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp and Pepsi.
When Bruce Dern showed up at The Actors Studio, Lee Strasberg told him he was going to be their Frankenstein Monster and Elia Kazan told him “you’re not into acting, you’re just into being.” But they also told Bruce he would never be a leading man and no one would know who he is until his 60s. It was the start of a career that spanned hundreds of movies, TV shows and plays, and shows no signs of letting up. Bruce goes through all of it with Marc, including his experiences working with legends, shooting John Wayne in the back, being friends with Jack Nicholson, and finally becoming a leading man with a breakthrough performance at age 79. This episode is sponsored by Vital Farms and Stamps.com.
When Marc first saw Edi Patterson on Vice Principals, he knew she was the kind of performer who can’t possibly stifle who she is. It turns out her raw, comedic intensity was born in Texas oil-refining country, where she was an anxious, sensitive kid who was in a full-blown existential crisis in fourth grade. Edi tells Marc how she figured out how to fake confidence, how she owes a lot of her growth to an actor from Hogan’s Heroes, and how she wound up collaborating with Danny McBride on shows and movies, including their latest series together, The Righteous Gemstones. This episode is sponsored by Spotify, SimpliSafe and BetterHelp.
Unlike Marc, Dale Beran was immersed in internet culture for most of his life. He considered himself an artistic, creative person with aspirations to become a writer. But what Dale discovered in the online communities he frequented was a disconnected, nihilistic disposition that evolved from meme creation to activism to alt-right and white supremacist ideologies. Dale thoroughly documents the online worlds that created a culture of toxic trolling in his book It Came From Something Awful, which provides a major piece of the puzzle to understand what happened in the 2016 election and what is happening to youth culture in America. This episode is sponsored by The Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin, Squarespace, and Bombas.
Legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy had many insecurities about performing and they didn’t really subside until musicians like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck would tell him how big of an influence he was on them. Buddy tells Marc about is humble beginnings, growing up in Louisiana to sharecropper parents, picking cotton for small amounts of money. His high energy performances, inspired by Guitar Slim, helped Buddy stand out among his peers, but respect in the industry was hard fought and late coming, with his breakout record arriving when Buddy was in his 50s. This episode is sponsored by Starbucks Tripleshot Energy and Ben & Jerry's.
Betty Gilpin’s performance on GLOW has brought her critical accolades, Emmy nominations, and personal fulfillment. So why does she feel like she’s constantly running from a monster that is snapping at her ankles? Part of it is she lost a certain degree of invisibility as a performer and as her visibility rises the job gets harder and weirder. Betty and Marc discuss the strange out-of-body experiences of talk shows and junkets, and how learning to fight for yourself becomes a critical survival tool. Betty also deploys an elaborate metaphor for life that involves vestibules, Patti Smith, soil and brain scrolls. This episode is sponsored by Anchor (anchor.fm/wtf), Spotify (spotify.com/drive), Google Fi, and BetterHelp.
David Shields is always looking to push the form forward, whether it’s by way of his writing, his filmmaking or his thinking. Using collage-style prose and film techniques to help draw connections, David intrigued Marc with what his art says about the world and our place in it. So the two of them had a talk about some of David’s recent work exploring war, journalism, race, masculinity, Donald Trump, and football player Marshawn Lynch. Both David and Marc try to find the connections, in the work and in their separate lives. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, NHTSA, and Ben & Jerry's.
Patricia Clarkson came to show business by way of New Orleans, where exposure to all manner of public figures who were equal parts good and bad may explain why she never judges the characters she plays, even if they’re monstrous. That’s true of her Emmy-nominated performance in Sharp Objects and her stage performance as Blanche DuBois, a role Patricia says she had to survive. She also talks with Marc about working with Brian DePalma and Clint Eastwood in her first two films, struggling in Hollywood in her 30s, and feeling like actors her age are now having a heyday. This episode is sponsored by The Righteous Gemstones on HBO, Stamps.com, and Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.