Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine, co-creators and stars of the middle school-based comedy PEN15, met and bonded in college. But they knew their most authentic collaboration would come from playing themselves as adolescents, which started them on a six-year journey to put together their show. Maya and Anna talk with Marc about playing their 13-year-old selves again, what it was like to redo traumatic moments of their youth, and why all the other actors are age-appropriate teens. Also, Anna explains what she learned from Marc when she worked with him and Maya details the process that led to the casting of her real mom as her TV mom. This episode is sponsored by ZipRecruiter and SiriusXM.
Dennis Quaid believes in the benefits of familiarity. In fact, he attributes his career to it. Multiple generations of audiences know him for different films, be it Breaking Away or Dreamscape or The Parent Trap or The Rookie, but everyone has a sense of who he is. That’s because Dennis says he’s always playing a version of himself, even when he’s playing real people like Doc Holliday, astronaut Gordo Cooper, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Dennis also talks with Marc about teaching mandolin to Marlon Brando, playing a true psychopath in The Intruder, and getting into the podcast game with Bob Dylan. This episode is sponsored by SimpliSafe and Stamps.com.
After fifty years in Hollywood producing some of the most popular movies of all time, Irwin Winkler says the question he still gets asked the most is, What does a producer do? To get the answer, Irwin tells Marc about his days running the bumper cars on Coney Island, his job as a self-described mediocre agent, and his success making movies as the studio system broke down, including culture-changing hits like Rocky, Raging Bull and Goodfellas. Plus, Irwin explains why he’s had such a great collaborative relationship with Martin Scorsese and provides some details about Marty’s upcoming movie, The Irishman. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and Capterra.
Jane Fonda is still acting and is still an activist, two constants in her entire adult life. But as she tells Marc, Jane spent a lot of her life thinking she was a worthless person. Carrying the twin burdens of her mother’s suicide and a strained relationship with her father, Jane talks about why she gravitated throughout her life toward strong men, how she struggled with her own compulsive behavior, and what finally happened to convince her that she was worth it. Jane and Marc also talk about the real reason she started making workout videos, what current issues she believes need our urgent attention, and why she feels like she has a real handle on acting for the first time in her life as part of Grace and Frankie. This episode is sponsored by Ramy on Hulu, SiriusXM, and Leesa.
Bryan Callen always wished he could be a tough guy. Maybe it was the influence of his Marine father or maybe it was the snippets of American culture he was taking in as he grew up all over the world. Whatever it was, it caused a crisis of identity that pushed him toward acting and, ultimately, standup comedy. Bryan talks with Marc about where that identity crisis stands today, why he doesn’t buy into the concept of alpha males, and what’s driving him to be a better man today. They also compare notes, in non-spoiler fashion, on being in the Joker movie. This episode is sponsored by Ramy on Hulu, JustCoffee.coop, and SiriusXM.
Brené Brown’s degree in social work and her research into conditions like empathy and vulnerability led to one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time, millions of readers of her books, and celebrity boosters like Oprah Winfrey. But it was her academic work on shame that started it all and is the aspect of her work that resonated strongly with Marc. Brené talks with Marc about the evolution of her work, how it’s reflected in social and cultural changes, what her research told her about hope, and what is the biggest challenge of adult life. They also discuss her new Netflix special, The Call to Courage. This episode is sponsored by Ramy on Hulu and Capterra.
Mark Arm was there at the beginning of a Seattle music scene that became a national phenomenon. But all Mark ever thought he and his bandmates were doing was entertaining themselves. Mark talks about how he grew up in Suburban Washington with pressure from his mom to be in the arts and how his outsider status led him to starting bands like Green River and Mudhoney, playing alongside contemporaries like Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone. Also on this episode, Marc’s old pal Dan Pashman from The Sporkful stops by because he was in the neighborhood. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Christina Hendricks can relate if you had a lousy time in high school. Between moving around a lot to her goth fashion style and music choices to her time spent with the school theater crew, Christina was a target of bullies and wanted to get as far away from school as possible. She tells Marc how this alienation led to careers in modeling and acting, and how her agents dumped her when she insisted on pursuing a role in a little show called Mad Men. Christina talks about growing along with the character of Joan and why she made the creators of her new show, Good Girls, make a promise to her when she took the gig. This episode is sponsored by Yousician, Ramy on Hulu, and Stamps.com.
Bruce McCulloch’s characters and disposition on The Kids in the Hall would lead you to conclude he’s somewhat shy, sensitive and kind. And while that may be true now, Bruce says he was an angry young man, a drinker, a fighter. Growing up in Calgary, there didn’t seem to be much of a future for him, but improv comedy became the way out. Bruce talks with Marc about the darkness lurking beneath the Kids and why the group dissolved after making the movie Brain Candy. Bruce also talks about his friendship with the late Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, his career behind the camera, and his new role producing and directing a sketch comedy troupe called Tallboyz. This episode is sponsored by Leesa.
The last time Vincent D’Onofrio saw Marc it was at a standup show where Marc got tackled on stage by a disgruntled audience member. A lot has changed for both of them since then. You know Marc's story. But Vincent says in the decades since that night, he has improved his mental wellness and gotten his anger under control, two changes he thought would hurt his craft but wound up helping him become a better actor. Vincent also tells Marc about his first movie job being unadulterated Kubrick, why the real goal of an actor is servicing the story, and what went into creating and directing a full-on Western movie, The Kid. This episode is sponsored by Missing Link from Annapurna Pictures, OpenFit, and Capterra.
Growing up in Texas, young Joseph Henry Burnett first experienced musical transportation while listening to records of Cole Porter and Ella Fitzgerald. He developed into not just a versatile musician and producer, but an obsessive archivist and student of music history. T Bone tells Marc about his days traveling with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, his collaborations with the Coen Brothers for their films, and his production work on the late-career albums of artists like Gregg Allman and BB King. T Bone also explains why he’s taking a break from production to release his first album in 11 years. This episode is sponsored by ZipRecruiter.
John Lithgow can go from playing the sweetest characters you’ll ever see to truly deranged psychopaths, sometimes within the same movie. He’s good at playing kind and evil in equal measure partly because he developed his acting range at a young age growing up around his dad’s traveling Shakespeare festivals. John talks with Marc about his many memorable roles and how working on 3rd Rock from the Sun led him to creating children’s entertainment, from voice acting to songs to books to live concerts. John also explains what it’s like to put his own twist on historical characters, like Winston Churchill, Roger Ailes, and now Bill Clinton in the Broadway play Hillary and Clinton. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and SimpliSafe.
Phoebe Robinson knows too well the feeling of being “the only one.” Whether it was being the only black person in her grade, the only woman or person of color on a standup show, or the only person being asked to step out of the line at the airport, the ongoing impact is exhausting. Which is why, as Phoebe tells Marc, she always wants to be doing her own thing on her own terms, from 2 Dope Queens to writing bestselling books to her most recent podcast, Sooo Many White Guys. Also, Phoebe and Marc compare notes on interviewing the Obamas. This episode is sponsored by the Broad City series finale on Comedy Central.
Rob Lowe had several revelations over the course of his life. One is that there’s more fun in sobriety than in being under the influence. Another is that he should have had a sex tape scandal later in life when it actually would have helped his career instead of nearly killing it. And the latest is that he needs to keep doing different things to keep from getting bored, including hosting a game show alongside a giant robotic arm. Rob talks with Marc about these discoveries and the moments that led to them, including his early Brat Pack movies, his turn to comedic roles, and his three recurring nightmares, one of which came true. This episode is sponsored by Tacoma FD on TruTV, Stamps.com, Stay Free: The Story of The Clash on Spotify, and Happy on SyFy.
The word prodigy gets thrown around a lot, but if Tal Wilkenfeld isn’t one then the word has no meaning. Tal tells Marc how she never even saw a person play guitar until she was 14 years old. Thanks to encouragement from her grandfather, she started playing as a teenager and immediately stunned professional musicians with her natural talents. Tal explains how her career took off in part because of a viral video of her bass solo in a Jeff Beck concert, how she wound up playing with artists like Herbie Hancock, Prince, and Mick Jagger, and why she often didn’t know who these famous people were as they introduced themselves to her. This episode is sponsored by What We Do in the Shadows on FX, Squarespace, and Stay Free: The Story of the Clash on Spotify.
Amy Sedaris had no plan of action for her career other than going to Chicago to do sketch comedy and going to New York to do plays with her brother David. And as she tells Marc, she still has no plan except for doing things that she finds fun. Amy and Marc talk about how that lack of planning led to her early Comedy Central sketch show Exit 57, a collaborative partnership with Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert that birthed Strangers with Candy, and a public persona that made her an ideal Letterman guest and the perfect driver for a faux-homemaking show like At Home with Amy Sedaris. This episode is sponsored by Comedy Central, Hulu, Capterra and Aspiration.
Aidy Bryant only recently felt like she could tap into her inner rage. She remains a wonderfully nice person and hilarious performer, but with things like her new show Shrill and other mental adjustments, Aidy feels like she’s taking ownership of some righteous anger. She has that in common with Marc, as well as the fact that they both cry while watching TV all the time. They talk about those shared traits as well as Aidy’s early love of improv, her path to Saturday Night Live, and breaking away from letting things like weight and body image dominate her life. This episode is sponsored by Stay Free: The Story of The Clash on Spotify.
To celebrate the milestone of 1000 episodes, Marc and WTF producer Brendan McDonald reflect on how they got here, why they created the show in the first place, and what the future holds for them and WTF. They answer listener questions and divulge some never-before-heard revelations, such as the time the show almost ended and how the White House reacted to President Obama's interview in the garage. Most importantly, Marc and Brendan talk about how their working relationship evolved into a deep friendship with a profound understanding of each other. This episode is sponsored by Aspirationand Stamps.com.