Tony Shalhoub grew up with nine siblings so it’s no surprise he developed a way to stand out. Tony and Marc talk about his upbringing in Green Bay, Wisconsin, worshiping at the Church of Lombardi, aka Lambeau Field, and eventually leaving town to become an actor. Tony explains how tricky it is to separate himself from popular characters, like Antonio from Wings and Detective Monk, how his genealogy research in Lebanon made him realize he might be related to a Hollywood legend, and how the popularity of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is truly global. This episode is sponsored by SimpliSafe and Butcher Box.
Yorgos Lanthimos makes films that pose a lot of questions and Marc wants answers. But it turns out the question Yorgos finds the least interesting is “Why?” Perhaps his disinterest in simple answers stems from the fact that he was on his own at the age of seventeen, or maybe from his time spent directing hundreds of Greek television commercials, or maybe just from watching movies and being struck by broken conventions. Yorgos talks with Marc about all of his films, from The Favourite to The Lobster to Dogtooth, and his satisfaction that there are no easy answers. This episode is sponsored by Stamps.com and Carnival Cruise Line.
Long before Anderson .Paak was getting nominated for Grammy Awards, well before his collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Q-Tip, before he was releasing solo albums to critical acclaim, he had already walked away from the music business and had to be talked into returning. Anderson tells Marc why it was such a struggle to establish himself without conforming to what the record labels wanted him to sound like and why he didn’t really see a place for himself in the industry until Dr. Dre told him, “You’ve got that pain in your voice.” Anderson also explains what the dot in his name represents. This episode is sponsored by Aspiration, SimpliSafe, and the New York Times Crossword App.
Writer Allan MacDonell shaped his writing style at the punk magazine Slash, refined it while working for Larry Flint at Hustler, and turned it all on its ear with his trilogy of memoirs. Allan tells Marc how his life was shaped by a David Bowie concert, how he immersed his life in the LA punk scene, and how he almost ended it all in a fit of rage at God. They also talk about the slipperiness of truth in nonfiction writing, which is why Allan killed himself off in his new memoir, and he also divulges the real story of how Hustler got Congressman Bob Livingston to resign. This episode is sponsored by This Is Not Happening on Comedy Central, the New York Times Crossword App, and 23andMe.com.
Allison Janney won an Oscar playing the mother of a figure skater, but when she was younger she actually wanted to be a figure skater. That dream was cut short by a freak accident as a teenager and her acting career didn’t really take off until she was 38. In between, she tells Marc how she became friends with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, took an aptitude test that told her to become a systems analyst, and was told by casting agents that she could only play lesbians or aliens. Allison also talks about the grueling shooting days on The West Wing, why her Oscar win was such a relief, and how a personal tragedy was part of the reason she did the show Mom. This episode is sponsored by TurboTax Live, the New York Times Crossword App, and Stamps.com.
If Brad Garrett had to bet on it - and he likes to bet - he’s pretty sure he’ll die in Las Vegas. Which is appropriate because he grew up with an abiding love of Vegas and got his comedy start at the famous Desert Inn on the strip. Brad and Marc talk about how he went from being a six-foot-tall twelve-year-old with no friends to a guy on one of the world’s most beloved sitcoms and now the owner of his own comedy club. Brad also talks about the lessons he learned opening for Frank Sinatra, following Robin Williams, and being on game shows to boost his profile. And yes, of course he still loves Raymond. This episode is sponsored by Broad City and The Other Two on Comedy Central, the New York Times Crossword App, and ZipRecruiter.
It's very possible the only reason Aaron Sorkin became a writer is because he spent a lonely night in a friend's apartment where the only thing working was an electric typewriter. Aaron tells Marc how that fateful night put him on the path to writing his first play, A Few Good Men, and kicked off a writing career on Broadway, in film and on TV that has few rivals. Aaron also talks about his hero and mentor William Goldman, why his first try at adapting To Kill A Mockingbird was no good, and how his habit of writing high landed him in rehab. Plus, stories about the making of The West Wing, The Social Network and more. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and SimpliSafe.
For Linda Cardellini, a person whose spiritual crisis took her all the way to the Vatican, it's appropriate that the pivotal moment in her career happened when she took a leap of faith on a little TV pilot called Freaks and Geeks. Linda and Marc talk about that seminal show, the initial failure of which was hard to accept, along with the other projects that make her so recognizable to audiences, like ER, Mad Men and the new movie Green Book. They also try to figure out why Linda is still so hard on herself and why she avoids a lot of trappings of celebrity. This episode is sponsored by Black Monday on Showtime, Deadly Class on SYFY, and Stamps.com.
Howie Mandel went to Hollywood and tried to make a living by putting a latex glove on his head. He never thought he’d be able to maintain it, so he always made other plans: Investor, entrepreneur, actor, voiceover artist. And it wasn’t until Deal or No Deal when all the disparate things he did came together for a project that transformed his life. Howie talks with Marc about his struggles with OCD and AHDH, how those challenges made it difficult for him to fit in, how getting started in comedy came out of his impulsive behavior, and why he remembers the first time he ever laughed. This episode is sponsored by I'm Sorry on truTV, TurboTax Live, Deadly Class on SYFY, and the New York Times Crossword App.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.