Jeff Daniels has delivered great performances in films, plays and TV shows for more than 40 years but he thought a true “dream role” had eluded him. Until now. Marc talks with Jeff in the midst of rehearsals for Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird on Broadway, in which Jeff plays Atticus Finch. Jeff explains how he applies his Midwest work ethic to acting, why he sustains his own theater company in Michigan, and what he learned about the job of acting from people like James Cagney, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, and Debra Winger. This episode is sponsored by Spotify, Holmes & Watson, SimpliSafe, and quip.
Ted Alexandro is a comic who believes deeply in social responsibility. Whether it’s responsibility to his fellow comics as he fought for better pay from clubs, or to his fellow citizens as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, or to his audience as he wrestles with effectively addressing the Trump Era on the comedy stage. Ted talks with Marc about the evolving nature of a comedian’s role in the culture, how his experience as an elementary school teacher prepared him for standup, and why he felt it was necessary to do material at the Comedy Cellar that was critical of Louis CK’s return to the Comedy Cellar. This episode is sponsored by Funny or Die's No Activity on CBS All Access, Omaha Steaks, Molekule, and YouTube Music.
Tim Blake Nelson might be a familiar face due to his indelible character roles in many films, but that didn’t stop him from defying just about all of Marc’s preconceptions about him. Marc had no idea, for example, about Tim’s Jewish upbringing in Tulsa, or that his family escaped the Holocaust and became oil drillers in America, or that Tim tried his hand at stand-up in the 80s, or that he studied the classics in hopes of becoming a professor or an archeologist. They talk about all of that stuff and a lot about the Coen Brothers, too, particularly their new movie with Tim, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. This episode is sponsored by The Shivering Truth on Adult Swim, Spotify, SimpliSafe, and Stamps.com.
Jeff Tweedy doesn’t spend a lot of time reflecting on the past. But he awakened a whole lot of it while writing his new memoir. That means he has fresh thoughts on his mind about Jay Farrar, Uncle Tupelo, the early days of Wilco, and coming into his own as a musician and producer, which is on display in his new solo album, Warm. Jeff also talks with Marc about his experiences with mood disorders, painkiller addiction, parenthood, and converting to Judaism. This episode is sponsored by YouTube Music, Nightflyers on SYFY, YouTube Music, Quip, and the New York Times Crossword App.
Martin Mull has many job titles in front of his name: Actor, musician, painter, writer, comedian. But when he was younger, struggling to make it as any of those things, he couldn't afford heat for his apartment and had to borrow an electric blanket, which he also could not afford. Martin tells Marc how things turned around, how he found himself in music circles with the likes of Harry Nilsson and John Lennon, how his comedy performances led him to friendships with the likes of Steve Martin and Fred Willard, and how he wound up acting in everything from Roseanne to Sabrina the Teenage Witch to his new show The Cool Kids. This episode is sponsored by Nightflyers on SYFY, The New Yorker, and ZipRecruiter.
Comedian and writer Annie Lederman saw her adolescence take a turn for the worse after a childhood car crash. She was growing up with learning disabilities and attending a Quaker school. Then after the crash she was making choices she didn’t want to make and finding herself in situations that left lasting scars, physically and emotionally. Annie tells Marc how she pulled herself out of the darkness, started her comedy career and ended up in an unexpected relationship that helped her process her trauma. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, Headlong: Surviving Y2K, and SimpliSafe.
Kenneth Lonergan doesn’t think there’s a real difference between comedy and drama, at least not in the way he writes and directs. The playwright-screenwriter-director talks with Marc about the lie of sentimentality, how ideas collapse when he’s writing and new ideas emerge, and why he hopes to get to 95% satisfaction with his work (he’s gotten to about 90% so far). That work includes Manchester By The Sea, Margaret, You Can Count On Me, and plays like The Waverly Gallery, which is now on Broadway. This episode is sponsored by Loop Jewelry, Screen Dive from 20th Century Fox, YouTube Music, and Stamps.com.
Michael Douglas produced an Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, was the star of a successful television series, and was compiling a notable filmography both in front of and behind the camera. But he still didn't feel like he made it. That finally changed in his 40s, with movies like Wall Street and Fatal Attraction, and Michael tells Marc why that period was such a breakthrough for him. They also talk about why his early work on TV was vital for his career, why Jack Nicholson calls him a “hair actor," and why he was draw to making a serialized comedy like The Kominsky Method with Alan Arkin. This episode is sponsored by Screen Dive from 20th Century Fox, YouTube Music, 23andMe.
"The most dangerous place for black people to live is in white people’s imaginations." That idea has allowed D.L. Hughley to organize a lot of his thoughts on what we're dealing with as a country, and he believes what we're really doing is fighting fear. D.L. tells Marc about his experiences growing up in South Central Los Angeles, getting out before he got lost, and building himself up through comedy. They also talk about two of D.L.'s influences, Robin Harris and Bernie Mac, his tours, his specials, his TV and radio shows, and Kanye. This episode is sponsored by Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith on Spotify, Loop Jewelry, SimpliSafe, and Quip.
Sandy Hackett learned from the best, but not just because Buddy Hackett was his dad. But also because Buddy was his best friend, his road companion, and the guy he opened for night after night. Sandy tells Marc what it was like to grow up in and around Las Vegas, how his entertainment career actually started out as a career in hotel management, and why he decided to create a touring show about The Rat Pack. Plus, Sandy shares some stories about Buddy, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, and Elvis Presley. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and 23andMe.
Rita Rudner is very likely the only person to start a comedy career because of an article in the New York Times business section on soft soap. It was quite the turn of events for Rita, who was dancing professionally on Broadway since she her teenage years. Rita tells Marc how she utilized the performing arts culture of New York City to create a comedy curriculum for herself, how she rose up through the city clubs and took her act on the road to become a major headliner, and why she decided to start working regularly in Las Vegas. This episode is sponsored by The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, YouTube Music, Stamps.com, and ZipRecruiter.
Roger Daltrey believes you can't retire from rock and roll, rock and roll retires you. But for now, as long as Pete can still play and Roger can "sing the s--- out of the songs," The Who will go on. On the release of his memoir, Roger talks with Marc about building his first guitar by hand, meeting Pete Townsend and John Entwistle as schoolboys, finding Keith Moon in a Beach Boys cover band, getting kicked out of The Who over NOT doing drugs, coming back in time for the band to achieve its greatest success, and maintaining his close relationship with Pete after all these years. This episode is sponsored by Screen Dive from 20th Century Fox, The New Yorker, and ZipRecruiter.
Zoe Kazan doesn't think much about the concept of "Hollywood royalty." Yes, her parents are in show business, but she still had to run the gauntlet of failed auditions and odd jobs. Yes, her grandfather's body of work is legendary, but she had a relationship with him that was completely removed from his career. Zoe talks with Marc about paving her own way, as well as working with the Coen Brothers, enjoying the unexpected success of The Big Sick, and collaborating with her partner Paul Dano on their new film Wildlife. This episode is sponsored by Screen Dive from 20th Century Fox, SimpliSafe, and Amazon Music.
Python Week continues on WTF as Eric Idle gives Marc his perspective on the creation of the legendary British comedy group, talks about the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Rutles, and Spamalot, and explores his feelings about the other Pythons. Eric also explains what it was like growing up at the end of World War II, how rock and roll became his escape from reality, and why he wound up having lasting friendships with David Bowie, George Harrison and Robin Williams. This episode is sponsored by YouTube Music and Quip.
John Cleese says there's one constant throughout his life, from Monty Python through today. He still has a very strong childish side and it has done him well. John talks to Marc about putting that childish side to work when he was doing sketch comedy at Cambridge and why the success of Monty Python had a lot to do with five guys who all liked pushing boundaries. Also, John and Marc try to find the line between affectionate and inappropriate comedy by telling each other a string of off-color jokes. This episode is sponsored by Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith on Spotify and Stamps.com.
Actor Richard E. Grant keeps a daily diary and has done so since he was ten years old. Having immediate access to his past experiences has no doubt helped his performances as a wide variety of characters throughout his career. Richard and Marc talk about his standout roles, working with directors like Scorsese, Coppola, and Altman, and now working side-by-side with Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? Also, comedian Brian Posehn stops by to talk about his new memoir and how being a nerd can also be a religion. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and YouTube Music.
Busy Philipps is on the cusp of becoming a late night talk show host, so it's appropriate for her and Marc to talk about anything and everything during an afternoon in the garage. Busy explains what it's like raising young daughters, how she navigated life after a sexual assault, and why she feels like she's done with acting, despite staring in beloved shows like Dawson’s Creek, Freaks and Geeks, Cougar Town, Vice Principals. This episode is sponsored by This Week at the Comedy Cellar on Comedy Central, Dream Corp LLC on Adult Swim, Nutrafol, and 23andMe.
Recording artist Kurt Vile and Marc like a lot of the same stuff: Tom Scharpling, the blues, Randy Newman, Neil Young, flat driveways. They get to share their mutual admiration of these things while also talking about Kurt's unique upbringing with nine siblings in Philadelphia and the banjo that led to his development as a musician. In his early 20s, Kurt had a job driving a forklift and in his free time he was making home recordings, which eventually became the tracks on his first album. They also get into Kurt's time with The War on Drugs, his band The Violators and his various side projects. This episode is sponsored by SimpliSafe and Smart Nora.