Mark Lonow is an actor, producer and talent manager, but he's perhaps best known for something else he did offstage -- going into business with Budd Friedman to save the Hollywood Improv and help oversee its expansion as the first major comedy club chain. But there's a lot more to Lonow's story, from his job as a teenager at the legendary Pip's in Brooklyn, to the improv/sketch trio he performed in with his wife and Henry Winkler which led him to Budd in the first place. From his own starring turn on TV in the 1970s, to organizing the strike against the Comedy Store in the late 1970s, to his extended family with Claudia Lonow and Michael Rappaport, to exeutive producing multiple specials and projects for Lewis Black, to seeing comedy through the 1980s boom, the bust of the 1990s and now the rebirth and boom of the 21st century. As we prepare to look back at 1970s Los Angeles comedy through Showtime's adaptation of the book, I'm Dying Up Here... who better than someone who lived through it to tell us what's next for comedy today. And why he still wants to be part of that. So let's get to it!
Lavell Crawford is best known for his portrayal of Huell, the bodyguard for Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and now Better Call Saul. Originally from St. Louis, Crawford rose up the comedy ranks from Showtime at the Apollo to Comicview to Def Comedy Jam to runner-up on season five of Last Comic Standing. He since has been seen multiple times as a panelist on Chelsea Lately and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, on the big screen in 2016 for both The Ridiculous 6, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. He provides a voice on Comedy Central’s animated series, Legends of Chamberlain Heights, and headlines a summer 2017 stand-up theater tour called Comedy’s Most Wanted. So let’s get to it!
Scout Durwood grew up in the Kansas outskirts of Kansas City with dreams of becoming the next Julia Roberts. Instead, after first playing soccer and then becoming a cabaret singer, Scout’s first major screen credit came in the MTV reality dating stunt, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. Durwood shook that off to remain entrenched in New York City’s cabaret and burlesque scenes as a funny singer, taking a one-woman musical to the Edinburgh Fringe, winning the Moth StorySLAM, and then re-trying reality television years later in Los Angeles with Oxygen’s Funny Girls. Scout stood out there, but she really shined more recently as a star of the MTV comedy Mary + Jane, produced by Snoop Dogg. She now has completed a project that perhaps best represents her spirit of whimsy and her many talents – Take One Thing Off, her first album for Blue Elan Records, 19 tracks produced by Dave Darling that breaks up her funny songs with funny stand-up bits recorded at The Pack Theater in Los Angeles. So let’s get to it!
Norm Macdonald is Canada’s most-famous play-by-play golf commentator on Twitter. Of course, you know and love Norm Macdonald even more for his years anchoring Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live in the mid-1990s, followed by The Norm Show on ABC. He’s also much beloved by David Letterman and many other comedians for the way he breaks down jokes to their humorous essence, whether it was his memorable Roast of Bob Saget, or in his criticisms of aspiring stand-ups on Last Comic Standing. He’s been Col. Sanders for KFC, and written a fictionalized memoir, “Based on a True Story.” His second stand-up special and first for Netflix, called Hitler’s Dog: Gossip & Trickery, is available for streaming now. So let’s get to it!
Aunty Donna is an Australian sketch comedy group that includes no aunts and no Donnas, but instead one Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane. They burst onto the comedy scene Down Under with their first show in 2012 at Melbourne’s comedy and fringe festivals. They produced a new show each year since, taking three of them to the other side of the globe at the Edinburgh Fringe, and they’ve accumulated almost 150,000 YouTube subscribers by the time they sat down with me at ShowBriz Studios, where they’re prepared to launch their first North American tour starting in May 2017. So let’s get to it!
Eddie Pepitone has been called “The Bitter Buddha,” which also is the title of the 2012 documentary about the comedian, a New Yorker by birth who has called Los Angeles his home for the better part of the twenty-first century since landing a role in the hit movie, Old School. You’ve seen and heard him in many TV shows over the past decade, including The Sarah Silverman Program, Bob’s Burgers, Maron, Community and a recurring bit as Conan O’Brien’s late-night heckler on Conan. His first Netflix special is In Ruins, and he plays a tortured soul in Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, which wraps its third season on Adult Swim this May. How close is that to real life? Pepitone sat down with me during the Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin, Texas, to talk about his comedic journey from Chicago City Limits to Hollywood, with a detour into the chaos of politics after the 2016 presidential election, his Twitter feed, and how he can find any serenity today.
So let’s get to it!
Joe DeRosa started his comedy career in the urban rooms of Philadelphia, and not long after he moved to New York City he earned a spot touring with Dave Chappelle. With Bill Burr and Robert Kelly,DeRosa co-wrote and starred in a short film called CHEAT, which they also turned into a book. DeRosa also has written for TV shows including The Pete Holmes Show and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp; and like Burr, he also has ties to the Breaking Bad universe, appearing onscreen as the veterinarian Dr. Caldera on AMC’s Better Call Saul. He released three previous comedy albums for Comedy Central records, and his new hour special, which he directed, “You Let Me Down,” premiered in February 2017 on Comedy Central. You can hear DeRosa on several different podcasts, most recently engaging in Emotional Hangs with Kurt Braunohler. He and his dog checked in with me from his home in Southern California, so let’s get to it!