Episode 984 - Sam Lipsyte

Not only is Sam Lipsyte one of the funniest modern fiction authors, he’s also one of Marc’s best friends, a kindred spirit with whom Marc shares a deep mutual respect and understanding. Whenever Marc is in New York City, he and Sam sit around and talk, going over the pressing questions and answers about the way things are. This is the first time they recorded it for an extended period of time. They get into Sam’s early years with the art-punk band Dungbeetle, how he creates his stories in a manner he calls “moving sideways,” how his life has been enriched by teaching, and why it took him a while to write his latest novel Hark. This episode is sponsored by Comedy Central, Squarespace, Stamps.com, and Deadly Class on SYFY.

Episode 983 - Steve Coogan

When Steve Coogan realized he was good at doing impressions, he also realized it was a really good way to get attention. But Steve also knew he had to deliver beyond the impressions if he wanted to get funnier. Steve talks with Marc about that evolution, with some help from "Michael Caine," "Sean Connery," and others. Plus, Steve explains how his new Alan Partridge series will force the beloved presenter to adapt to a changing world, how his new movie Stan and Ollie is really a love story about comedy, and how he became friends with his co-star John C. Reilly much the same way the real Stan and Ollie did. This episode is sponsored by Tigtone on Adult Swim, SimpliSafe and the New York Times Crossword App.

Episode 982 - Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane can host award shows, create button-pushing animated shows, and sing standards in symphony halls, but nothing changes the fact that he’s an introvert by nature. Seth tells Marc why he’s always enjoyed making trouble through comedy, how that impulse got him into hot water when Family Guy started, and why many of the things he’s doing now - studio recordings, live performances, his show The Orville - are rooted in his respect for the past. He also talks about making Ted, hosting the Oscars, the evolution of offensive comedy, and the influence of The Far Side. This episode is sponsored by Standup Month on Comedy Central and Deadly Class on SYFY.

Episode 981 - Reinaldo Marcus Green

Before directing his first feature film, Reinaldo Marcus Green's life could have gone down multiple paths. There was baseball in his teen years, then teaching elementary school students, then going to work on Wall Street, then helping his brother and other filmmakers with their movies. But it was a short film of his own made with a cop friend that led to an impassioned discussion between the two of them, which provided the impetus to make Monsters and Men. Reinaldo takes Marc down all of these connected routes ending with a film that asks difficult questions and doesn't provide easy answers. This episode is sponsored by TurboTax Live and the New York Times Crossword App.

Episode 980 - Kyle Dunnigan

Kyle Dunnigan was saved from a midlife crisis by Instagram. He explains to Marc how he bent the social media platform to suit his comedy as they both discuss the challenges of facing down middle age. Kyle takes Marc all the way back to when he was a young song-and-dance-man in high school who got suspended for doing a stand-up routine at the talent show. Kyle also talks about the conditions surrounding his high-profile writing jobs, first writing on Sarah Silverman’s show after the two of them had broken up and then being in the middle of a joke-stealing controversy while writing for Amy Schumer. This episode is sponsored by the New York Times Crossword App.

Episode 979 - Topher Grace

Topher Grace is at a point where he’s only going to make what he wants to make. Not all actors can afford that luxury, but Topher tells Marc that working on That '70s Show for seven years taught him more about acting than any school, working with Ashton Kutcher taught him about being fully committed to everything you do, and working with auteurs like Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan and most recently Spike Lee taught him you don’t have to compromise your vision. Topher and Marc also talk about the difficulty of playing a person for whom you have no empathy, as was the case with David Duke in BlacKkKlansman. This episode is sponsored by Stand-Up Month on Comedy Central, Squarespace, SimpliSafe, and Carnival Cruise Line.

Episode 978 - Fahim Anwar

Fahim Anwar's path to show business went through Boeing. It's not the most traditional route to Hollywood success, but it was necessary for a son of immigrant parents who did not approve of his standup comedy pursuit. Marc finds out about those early days in Seattle when Fahim was engineering by day and secretly doing standup by night. They also talk about comedy attire mistakes, experimenting with drugs later in life, and Fahim's new sketch comedy project, Goatface. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and YouTube Music.

Episode 977 - The Beastie Boys

Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz deal with many of the typical challenges of middle age, but they’re still deeply in touch with the alter egos they created four decades ago: Mike D and Ad-Rock. They tell Marc about running wild as kids in late-70s/early-80s New York City, meeting their bandmate Adam “MCA” Yauch, collaborating and then falling out with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, the differences between opening for Madonna and opening for Run-DMC, and the honest self-reflection prompted by the music and style of their early years. This episode is sponsored by Springsteen On Broadway: The Complete Live Performance Album, Holmes & Watson, Stamps.com, and Squarespace.

Episode 976 - Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal grew up with filmmaker parents but didn't really feel like her family was in show business. That disconnect has helped her in her work and life, like when she performs with her husband, Peter Sarsgaard, or when she turns to her mother for screenwriting advice. Maggie and Marc also talk about the sexual politics of The Deuce and how they match up with the Hollywood today, her relationship to poetry and how that factored into her performance in The Kindergarten Teacher, what she learned about herself making Secretary, and what kind of support system she shares with her brother Jake. This episode is sponsored by Omaha Steaks, YouTube Music, 23andMe, and the New York Times Crossword Puzzle App.

Episode 975 - Jeff Daniels

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.

Episode 974 - Ted Alexandro

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.

Episode 973 - Tim Blake Nelson

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.

Episode 972 - Jeff Tweedy

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.

Episode 971 - Martin Mull

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.

Episode 970 - Annie Lederman

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.

Episode 969 - Kenneth Lonergan

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.

Episode 968 - Michael Douglas

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.

Episode 967 - D.L. Hughley

"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.