Paul Rodriguez has always been paying his dues. Even before he paid his dues doing open mics and parking cars at The Comedy Store, he paid his dues growing up in Compton, serving in the Air Force, and struggling with the religious devotion of his family. Paul and Marc talk about those early days, as well as his first appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, his infamous comedy special in San Quentin, and his most recent comedy special which Paul insists will be his last. This episode is sponsored by Joe Pera Talks With You on Adult Swim and the Outside the Box podcast.
Nearly seven years after doing an episode of WTF that never aired, Neal Brennan sits down with Marc for a conversation that is probably the one they should have had all those years ago. Neal and Marc talk about how the two of them have changed since then, especially in light of Neal’s recent comedy special 3 Mics, which mixed heavy personal stories with jokes. Now that they feel better about themselves and each other, Marc and Neal try to figure out what they really want next and whether they should be doing more with their lives. This episode is sponsored by Spotify, Squarespace, and Casper.
Mary Steenburgen started out pretty far away from Hollywood, as a young girl in Little Rock, Arkansas, growing up during the era of school desegregation. She fortified herself in that environment before heading out to become an actor, working directly with legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner and getting her big break thanks to Jack Nicholson. Mary and Marc also talk about parenting, fame, divorce, re-marriage, and the close friendship she has formed with the co-stars of her new movie, Book Club. This episode is sponsored by Joe Pera Talks With You on Adult Swim, Podcasts on Spotify, and Amazon Music.
Josh Brolin knows that time and maturity saved his life. Going back to his rebellious youth, Josh can point to many times where he could have been done in, even after he was already a successful actor. Josh and Marc talk about addictive behavior, self-destruction, and why sobriety finally stuck. They also talk about Sam Shepard, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, the Coen Brothers, Denzel Washington, and the surprising fulfillment of making superhero movies, particularly Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2. This episode is sponsored by Patrick Melrose on Showtime, Casting Call podcast from Squarespace and Gimlet Creative, ZipRecruiter, and Stamps.com.
Before comedy and acting were ever on Melissa McCarthy's radar, she was like a lot midwestern teens trying to find herself. She tells Marc how her cheerleading years were followed by a partially-shaved head and goth makeup. The search for an identity led to acting, which led to New York, which led to LA, which led to an all-star class at the Groundlings. They also talk about how she met her husband, how she got cast on Gilmore Girls, how Bridesmaids came to be, why she played Sean Spicer on SNL, and what went into making her new movie, Life of the Party. This episode is sponsored by Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife on Netflix and SimpliSafe.
Rachel Bloom is a self-described show pony, a people-pleaser with a lifelong desire to perform as a means of keeping her anxieties at bay. She tells Marc how those impulses pushed her toward musical theater, which in turn led to self-produced music videos on YouTube, which eventually led to the creation of her hit show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Rachel and Marc also discuss Jewish grandmothers, gender disparities in TV comedy, and the new movie she made with her husband, Most Likely to Murder. This episode is sponsored by Patrick Melrose on Showtime, Squarespace, and Shari's Berries.
Drew Carey was in a bad place. After losing his dad at a young age, suffering through anxiety and depression in high school, confused by the pressures of religion, Drew made a rash decision when he was in college. But it was comedy that pulled him out of the abyss. Drew tells Marc how he figured it all out, plus some talk about Cleveland (The Indians! Ghoulardi! The Cuyahoga River Fire!) and why hosting The Price is Right wound up being the perfect job for him. This episode is sponsored by Ben & Jerry's Pint Slices and Shari's Berries.
Scott Thompson from The Kids in the Hall isn't too worried about the way of the world these days, mostly because he's been through so much that it all seems like gravy from here out. Scott tells Marc about his recent battle with cancer, his family's tragic encounter with mental illness, and his house being firebombed by Islamic fundamentalists. Also, Marc welcomes back to the show his old friend comedian Tom Rhodes, who had to manage his own grieving process in the past few years. This episode is sponsored by Sonos and Shari's Berries.
Writer Mandy Stadtmiller's career as a dating columnist was taking off as her post-divorce social life was filled with late-night excitement and famous hookups. But she also couldn't get off the hamster wheel of trauma and feel better about herself. Mandy talks with Marc about how she came to terms with the compromises she made writing for a tabloid newspaper and the trouble she encountered when putting her experiences into memoir form. This episode is sponsored by Audible, Sonos, and SimpliSafe.
Bradley Whitford was a huge Key and Peele fanboy who was desperate to work with them. But he didn't know what to think when Jordan Peele asked him if he liked horror movies. It turns out Bradley wound up starring in one of the most talked about movies of the last decade. Bradley tells Marc about the making of Get Out, as well as his experiences on Transparent, The West Wing, Studio 60, and what it was like to make movies with Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood. This episode is sponsored by Barry on HBO, The Black Tux, and Archer on FXX.
Sam Tripoli never doubted he would become a comic, so his decision to study psychology was not an attempt to craft a backup plan. Instead he used his psych background to wage mental warfare with his demanding family, temperamental comedy club owners, paying audiences, and his own demons. Sam and Marc also talk about the danger, the intrigue, and the excitement of engaging in conspiracy theories, something Sam loves to do and can trace his interest back to a pivotal moment in his life. This episode is sponsored by Barry on HBO, Squarespace, and Amazon Music.
Aisha Tyler's directorial debut is a film called Axis about a guy who has hit the wall. That's appropriate for Aisha, following several years of big changes in her life. She ended a long marriage, walked away from a comfortable gig on The Talk, and got rid of most of her possessions. Aisha and Marc talk about what prompted these changes, what's happening now, and what's her next act. Plus, Louie Anderson returns to the show to talk about what it’s like to communicate with his deceased mother, which led to writing his new book. This episode is sponsored by Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas on HBO, Stamps.com, and Simple Contacts.
Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper are musicians with wildly different backgrounds but a unifying love of the blues. Charlie was there at the birth of rock and roll. Ben grew up immersed in music while his family ran a landmark music store. They tell Marc how their shared interests led to their musical collaboration and their new joint album. Plus, Mark Oliver Everett, also known as E from the band Eels, returns to the show after a five-year hiatus to talk about Garry Shandling, Tom Petty, becoming a parent, and the new Eels album. This episode is sponsored by Archer: Danger Island on FXX and SimpliSafe.
Writer, producer and podcast pioneer Bill Simmons is a man whose life, career and worldview have changed in real time with the evolution of Internet. Bill talks with Marc about some of the checkpoints in that evolution, including why he walked away from a big break in TV when he was writing for Jimmy Kimmel, why he thinks he was considered ‘difficult’ at ESPN, and why his HBO show wasn't what he thought it would be. They also talk about Magic Johnson, Grantland, Letterman, divorce, documentaries, and Andre The Giant. This episode is sponsored by Comedy Central, Squarespace, and Casper.
Jason Alexander was one of countless New Jersey kids who couldn't resist the lights of Broadway on the other side of the river. When he became a steady working actor on the New York stage, Jason was totally content with how things turned out. But then he just so happened to get cast on a show that became the most successful sitcom of all time. Jason talks with Marc about Seinfeld, life after Seinfeld, magic, acting, directing, and the McDLT. Actually, there's a surprising amount of talk about the McDLT. This episode is sponsored by Stamps.com.
Neil Patrick Harris credits his New Mexico upbringing with helping him weather the ups and downs of being a child star. It's also something he has in common with Marc. In addition to their memories of being teens in Albuquerque, Neil and Marc talk about Dougie Howser, How I Met Your Mother, Broadway, the secrets of hosting award shows, and magic. Also, Michael Imperioli returns to talk about his debut novel and why Lou Reed is a character in it. This episode is sponsored by Comedy Central, Amazon Music, and Stamps.com.
John Flansburgh and John Linnell tell Marc the unlikely story of how a couple high school friends became a two-man band at the height of the New Wave performance art era in crime-ridden New York City and somehow carved out four decades of mainstream success as They Might Be Giants. The Johns also talk with Marc about children’s music, selling out, the early days of MTV, Malcolm in the Middle, and more. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, Spotify, and The Black Tux.
Sean Penn wrote a novel to slow things down. He fell out of love with making movies, he is disillusioned by the culture, and he finds it hard to draw hope from current events. Sean explains to Marc how writing makes him feel like he's not part of the noise, how he finds strength from the Parkland students, and how an upcoming movie made him feel like he could actually rekindle his love of filmmaking. Also, Lynn Shelton returns to the garage to talk about directing her new movie, Outside In, and explain what it's like to direct Marc. This episode is sponsored by Barry on HBO, Spotify, and SimpliSafe.