Geena Davis says the biggest thing she had to learn as she made her way through show business was how to speak up for herself. This was particularly difficult because she was taught at a very young age that politeness was paramount, to the point where it endangered her life. Geena talks with Marc about how the industry as a whole needed to go through a similar change, which is why she gathered a team from her institute to amass evidence of institutional sexism and gender bias. They also talk about the legacy and cultural relevance of movies like Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own. This episode is sponsored by Good Boys from Universal Pictures, Starbucks Tripleshot Energy, and Ben & Jerry's.
Not only did director and writer Alex Ross Perry work in a video store while he was learning to become a filmmaker, his first film crew was made up of his friends and co-workers at the video store and they remain his crew today. Alex explains to Marc that watching films by directors like David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick made him want to have an immediately identifiable style. He found his style while embracing a true independent film aesthetic, which means virtually no money and very few shooting days. It all culminated with Alex’s most recent film, Her Smell, which he made with his frequent collaborator Elisabeth Moss. This episode is sponsored by Anchor (anchor.fm/start), Squarespace(squarespace.com/wtf), and Zinus (zinus.com/WTF).
Sean Lennon admits that he was naïve about his family legacy when he began a career in music. He also admits that when he received bad reviews for his first solo record, deep down he agreed with them. Sean talks with Marc about how he grew into himself as an artist and musician, how “John and Yoko” as the world sees them are different from his dad and mom as he knows them, and how the trauma of losing his father at a young age left him with memories that will never go away. They also talk about his work with Les Claypool, scoring films, and producing for other artists, including his mom. This episode is sponsored by Google Fi, Ben & Jerry's, and Stan Lee's Alliances: A Trick of Light, an Audible Original.
When Nahnatchka Khan started developing Fresh Off The Boat for TV, she knew it was an undertaking that no one had tried for more than 20 years: A network sitcom with an Asian-American cast. And it was a premise that appealed to her as a first generation American whose parents are Iranian immigrants. Nahnatchka talks with Marc about getting her start working in kids animation, how she learned the nuts and bolts of show running, and why directing the film Always Be My Maybe is another example of centering people from diverse cultural backgrounds at the core of traditional stories. This episode is sponsored by Starbucks Tripleshot Energy and Zinus.
You only need to hear David Lee Roth talk for a few seconds to understand why he is the consummate rock and roll frontman. Diamond Dave takes Marc on a stream of consciousness ride through his past, present, future and whatever else he’s thinking about in the moment. They talk about David’s love of Big Band music, jazz guitar, his Uncle Manny, working as an EMT in the Bronx, and his serendipitous pairing with the Van Halen brothers that created musical perfection and nonstop personal animosity. This episode is sponsored by Present Company with Krista Smith, SimpliSafe, and Stamps.com.
Jamie Lee started her career in close proximity to comedy, but not actually doing it. She was working in PR at Comedy Central and found herself around a lot of comics in a professional capacity. It wasn’t long before she caught the bug and was doing open mics in New York City. Jamie tells Marc about the influence of her parents, who were photographers for ZZ Top and later rock concert promoters and club owners. She also talks about working with Pete Holmes on Crashing and why the stress, shame and tension surrounding weddings made her write a book about getting married. This episode is sponsored by Google Fi.
Stephen Dorff started acting in movies before he was a teenager, but the sudden and tragic death of his brother made him contemplate leaving the business altogether. Stephen tells Marc why he stuck it out and how he wound up landing one of his most fulfilling roles of his career in True Detective. Stephen talks about the good fortune he’s had in forming relationships with an older generation of actors, like Dennis Hopper, Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson, and in working with a variety of great directors, like Michael Mann, Sofia Coppola, Oliver Stone, and John Waters. He also explains why he thought Blade would be the end of his career. This episode is sponsored by the Mailchimp podcast The Jump, Squarespace, and SimpliSafe.
Even though Brent Butt grew up in rural Saskatchewan, his path to comedy is similar to American comics, except it was exclusively Canadian. He was a directionless youth who was taken in by comedy on Canadian TV, he booked gigs throughout the Canadian countryside to hone his act, he dealt with monopolistic club owners and did sets in lousy environments like curling rinks. It all led to him being the first native Canadian with a #1 comedy series in Canada, Corner Gas, which was turned into a hit movie and now a cartoon. Brent tells Marc about his journey, and why he has no regrets that he remains fairly anonymous in America. This episode is sponsored by Turo.
Before Stephen Colbert knew what he wanted to do with his life, all he wanted was to be Hamlet. Not to play Hamlet, but to be Hamlet. That’s how he felt as an outsider teen dealing with family tragedy and deep, unaddressed grief. Stephen tells Marc how comedy gave him a refuge from sadness, how his anxiety dissipated when doing improv and sketch comedy, and how a nervous breakdown made him realign his life. They also talk about The Colbert Report, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and doing The Late Show in the age of Trump. This episode is sponsored by the new Mailchimp podcast The Jump, Hair Club, and Allbirds.
When Steve Sweeney was growing up in Boston, the last thing he expected to become was an entertainer. He rubbed elbows with career criminals in Charlestown but somehow wound up doing summertime productions of Shakespeare plays and seeing actors like Lawrence Olivier and Christopher Plummer. Acting then led to exposure to comedy, which later led to cocaine-induced psychosis, and eventually to working in jails and with at-risk youth. Steve talks with Marc about the journey to build his act and why he enjoys producing his own projects now, including his new movie Sweeney Killing Sweeney. This episode is sponsored by Turo, Squarespace, and Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.
When Marc read Eve Ensler’s new book The Apology, he knew he had to speak with her right away. Not just because it was a harrowing, beautifully written, courageous book, but because Marc believes the book fully reveals the geometry of toxic masculinity. Eve and Marc have an emotional conversation about why she needed to change the narrative of being the victim to her father’s perpetrator and how she constructed an apology from her deceased father to achieve that goal. They also discuss The Vagina Monologues, the importance of art in social change, and why Eve believes cancer was the best thing that ever happened to her. This episode is sponsored by the Mailchimp podcast The Jump, Manscaped, and Stamps.com.
Jamie Denbo’s life and career would not be the same were it not for her job at a Renaissance fair. Her future in comedy, improv, acting, and now writing and producing might not have taken shape if she didn’t mistakenly audition for a gig she didn’t understand. Jamie tells Marc how early life misdirection and heavy duty self-criticism changed course thanks to the honing of her improv skills at the Ren-Fair and her coming-of-age at the original UCB Theater. They also talk about Ronna and Beverly, why she doesn’t want to do on-camera work anymore, and how she turned the Renaissance fair experience into a comedy series, American Princess. This episode is sponsored by the Netflix podcast I Hate Talking About Myself, Turo, SiriusXM, and Allbirds.
As Mavis Staples turns 80 years old, she continues to perform and record with young musicians and producers across musical genres, just as she’s done her whole life. Mavis talks with Marc about her early years as a gospel singer with her family, the stunned reception they received when they started singing R&B songs, and the life-threatening acts of racial prejudice she encountered in the Jim Crow South. Mavis also details the important moments she shared with her father Pops Staples, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bob Dylan. This episode is sponsored by Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.
Perry Farrell is the creative force behind Jane’s Addiction, Porno for Pyros, and the Lollapalooza festival, but while talking with Marc, it’s clear a lot of Perry's focus these days is on being a dad. Perry sees the parallels in how he was angry at his family as a teenager and how his relationship with his own teenage son is evolving. Also, Perry’s wife, Etty Lau Farrell, gets on the mic with him to talk about their collaborative project Kind Heaven, which is an album, a community event and, they hope, much more. This episode is sponsored by Baskets on FX, Turo, Allbirds, and the ZipRecruiter Job Search app.
When you talk with John Turturro, it’s quickly apparent that he’s a student of history. But John says that type of education really only happened for him once he left school and engaged with the world. His breadth of knowledge has certainly helped him as an actor and director throughout his versatile career. John and Marc talk about his fascinations, as well as what John was able to build for himself after living in a fairly volatile household. He also looks back at his experiences with longtime collaborators the Coen Brothers and Spike Lee. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and SimpliSafe.
David Letterman started out doing the very thing that scared him to death - getting up in front of strangers and trying to make them laugh. Now after wrapping up a legendary and influential career as late night host, Dave talks with Marc about his early days at The Comedy Store, his enjoyment of the longform interviews he’s doing for Netflix, and his focus on the hard work of becoming a better person. Dave also reveals his favorite thing about his old show and the one comic he always thought was the funniest, despite everything else that happened between them. This episode is sponsored by Turo and Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.
In the last decade or so, Timothy Olyphant realized that a lot of his interests when he was younger were either impractical, ill-fitting or not very cool. He found himself going in many different directions because, as he puts it, he was scared to death of success. Timothy talks with Marc about his false starts as an artist and a standup comic before falling into acting. He explains why Deadwood was the gift that keeps on giving in terms of what he learned while making it and why he started taking a counterintuitive approach to acting in order to get out of his own head. This episode is sponsored by Leesa and Stamps.com.
Duff McKagan weathered the storm of rock and roll excess and now finds himself with a loving family, sobriety, a reunited band, and a new solo album. Duff takes Marc back to the days when he first met Axl Rose, when Guns N’ Roses became one of the biggest bands in the world, and when heroin decimated his entire scene and nearly ended his life. Duff also talks about the lesson he learned from Joe Strummer that still guides him today, why Slash still blows his mind, and how he keeps himself grounded by being out in the world talking with people. This episode is sponsored by Turo, Airbnb Experiences, and Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.