Jamie Morton was working behind the scenes of British television when his father emailed him a link under the name Rocky Flintstone, a link that revealed an erotic novel actually written by Morton’s father. A horribly written novel at that. And more where that came from. Morton and his good friends James Cooper and Alice Levine decided to read and gab about this book, chapter by chapter, in a podcast called My Dad Wrote A Porno. The podcast has spawned more than 160 million downloads, global tours, celebrity fans the likes of Elijah Wood, Dame Emma Thompson, Daisy Ridley and more, and now an HBO special. The trio sat down with me in New York City to talk all about their move in front of the cameras. So let’s get to it!
Rich Vos might not have expected to make it to 60 the way he was living his 20s, addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine. But Vos made it out, and celebrated 33 years clean and sober in 2019. Along the way, he became the first white comic to perform on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, served as the host and emcee for Woodstock 99, performed as a regular on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, and almost won the first season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He did end up meeting his future wife on Last Comic, fellow stand-up Bonnie McFarlane. Together they’ve produced a daughter, released a documentary film, Women Aren’t Funny, and continue to co-host a successful podcast called My Wife Hates Me. When Vos did turn 60 in 2017, his funny friends gathered at The Comedy Cellar to roast him, resulting in a comedy special available on Vimeo. Vos has written for the Academy Awards and released five comedy albums, but he’s just as open about his recovery and sobriety as he is about his comedy. And that’s a very welcome thing. So let’s get to it!
Born in Britain, raised in both Jamaica and New York City, and now based in Los Angeles, Ian Edwards has been a successful comedian and TV writer for two decades, dating back to The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show in 1998. Since then, Ian has written for Saturday Night Live, Black-Ish, The Boondocks, The Carmichael Show, Crashing, and Friends from College. He has performed on both Def Comedy Jam and Conan, and holds the distinction of releasing the first and only stand-up comedy album on Team Coco Records. Ian has filmed his first hour special for All Things Comedy, to be presented by Comedy Central sometime in 2019. He was still editing the footage when we met up at The Comedy Store, so let’s get to it!
Sara Schaefer is a critically acclaimed stand up comedian, writer, and producer currently based in Los Angeles. She was the co-host of MTV’s late night show Nikki & Sara Live, which was born out of a podcast she started with Nikki Glaser in her Brooklyn apartment. Sara has won two Emmy awards for her work at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and a Writers Guild Award for Ed Helms’ Comedy Central special The Fake News with Ted Nelms. She recently released her second comedy album, “Live Laugh Love,” and caught up with me before getting back to work on her latest writing gig, an all-star tribute to Laugh In that will premiere on Netflix in May 2019. There’s a lot to get to, and not much time, so let’s get to it!
Kansas City native Chris Porter caught his first big break just months after moving to Los Angeles with a gig competing on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He finished third that season. Since then, Porter has recorded two comedy albums, a half-hour special for Comedy Central and an hour available on Netflix. His new hour, A Man From Kansas, is out now from Comedy Dynamics. So let’s get to it!
Hampton Yount has already seen the past, present and future of cinema, as spoken through the character Crow T. Robot he voices on Netflix’s new edition of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Before that, Yount had emerged from the DC comedy scene with a job writing and performing on MTV’s long-running series, Ridiculousness. His other writing credits include Loiter Squad and The Eric Andre Show, both on Adult Swim, and you’ve seen him perform stand-up on Conan as well as The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. With his buddy, Dave Ross, Yount also co-hosts the podcast Suicide Buddies. His stand-up comedy album, Able, came out in spring of 2019, just as I sat down to talk with Yount in his home in California. So let’s get to it!
Trae Crowder grew up in rural Tennessee and worked for a federal government agency while harboring dreams of becoming a famous stand-up comedian. Crowder didn’t expect it’d happen thanks to videos he filmed on the back porch as the “Liberal Redneck.” But he went viral in 2016, seen by millions on YouTube and Facebook. With his comedy buddies Corey and Drew, he formed the wellRED comedy team, which has sold-out theaters across America, produced a best-selling book, made appearances on The View, Real Time with Bill Maher, Nightline, multiple news outlets, and even scored a TV network development deal or two. In the spring of 2019, they’ve started making videos for Comedy Central, launched a new theater tour, “From Dixie With Love,” and will release their first wellRED comedy album, “Live from Lexington,” in April 2019. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Jill-Michele Melean’s mother’s Irish, and her father’s Bolivian. But she grew up in Miami surrounded by Cubans. All of which makes her White Latina, the title of her first full stand-up special, out now via Comedy Dynamics. Jilly talks to me about catching her first break by standing in for J.Lo. on set for the 1998 film, Out of Sight, brought her to Hollywood and got her a SAG card. She talks me through the lean years, the heights of becoming MADtv’s first and only Latina cast member, and how she kept going in the years following that gig and Reno 911! Jilly put many of those life, love and career struggles into a feature film she wrote, produced and starred in called This is Meg. So let’s get to it!
Liza Treyger is a New York based stand-up comic by way of Chicago, who grew up in nearby Skokie after immigrating from Russia when she was 3. Treyger has her own Comedy Central half-hour special and album, GLITTERCHEESE, and a more recent half-hour special on Netflix as part of The Degenerates collection of 2018. You’ve also seen her perform on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Chelsea Lately, @Midnight, This is Not Happening, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser, Horace & Pete, Adam Devine's House Party, and Lie Detectors. There’s a lot to get to, and only so much Twitter can handle, so let’s get to it!
Yakov Smirnoff got his big break in America thanks to Mitzi Shore, who not only put up the Soviet immigrant in her home behind The Comedy Store in 1977 but also gave Yakov’s father a full-time job, too. Smirnoff himself became a big star during the Reagan years, starring opposite Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson, recurring on NBC’s hit sitcom Night Court, and getting his own Showtime special and short-lived sitcom. What a Country! He also performed several times for Ronald and Nancy Reagan, including a headlining gig at the 1988 White House Correspondents Dinner. In the 1990s, Smirnoff found a new professional home in Branson, Missouri. He still performs in Branson two months a year, when he’s not back in LA where he’s a Comedy Store regular, or out on the road with his new Happily Ever Laughter tour. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Keith Malley and Chemda Khalili began podcasting out of their apartment in Queens in March of 2005, three months before Apple recognized podcasting officially on iTunes. “Keith and The Girl” quickly became one of the most popular podcasts, and by 2011, they’d launched a VIP service that garnered some 50,000 paid subscribers, who pay monthly or annually for access to 10 additional podcasts and bonus content. They have written two books together, 2010’s What Do We Do Now? Keith and The Girl’s Smart Answers To Your Stupid Relationship Questions, and The Ultimate Podcasting Guide in 2014. They’re still at it broadcasting several times a week, and caught me up on everything in honor of their 14th anniversary as a podcast. So let’s get to it!
A classically trained theater major who grew up in New Orleans and Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Lyric Lewis took her degree from Syracuse and headed straight for Hollywood, where she auditioned for The Groundlings. Over the course of several years, Lewis worked her way up the ranks, eventually reaching the cast of the Sunday Company. Then in quick succession, she landed a spot in the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase, Just For Laughs New Faces Characters, and a role in the reboot of MADtv for The CW. That didn’t last, but she rebounded with a role in the NBC sitcom A.P. Bio, prompting Entertainment Weekly to call her your new comedy crush when A.P. Bio debuted in 2018. Lewis also has appeared in FX’s Baskets, and Comedy Central’s Drunk History. She sat down with me inside The Groundlings training center before season two of A.P. Bio premieres to tell me all about her comedy journey. So let’s get to it!
Steve Agee had a bizarre enough life behind the camera before he ever got his first big shot in front of it thanks to Sarah Silverman. Agee edited footage for MTV’s reality shows such as The Real World, then got a job writing for Jimmy Kimmel Live, where he’s responsible for launching the famous Kimmel bit, Unnecessary Censorship. Since co-starring on the Sarah Silverman Program, Agee is recognizably cast as “that guy” on sitcoms such as “New Girl,” “You’re The Worst,” and “Superstore.” He currently cohosts a podcast with E! late-night talker Busy Phillips called We’re No Doctors. And Agee landed his first leading role in a feature film, the new indie movie Boy Band. Written and directed by the Levinson Brothers, Boy Band is about a late-90s boy band that got old and fat without realizing it, with Agee’s bandmates played by Seth Herzog, Jordan Carlos and Dave Hill. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
In 2019, Dane Cook is heading out for his first full national tour in six years, and he’s calling it his Tell It Like It Is tour, playing venues such as the Wang Theater in his hometown of Boston and Radio City Music Hall in New York City. How is it now for Dane Cook? Cook sat down with me in The Comedy Store’s podcast studio this month to talk through his comedy and personal demons, as well as go back with me to his historic and pioneering rise through social media in the mid 2000s, culminating in HBO specials, double-platinum records, selling out Madison Square Garden, hosting Saturday Night Live twice and starring in major motion pictures. He was the comedy star of the late 2000s. Dane Cook has been through a lot since then and come out the other side. And he’s ready to talk all about it. So let’s get to it!
Henry Rollins was the legendary frontman for hardcore punk band Black Flag in the 1980s, then his own Rollins Band into the 90s and early oughts. Rollins also has written more than two dozen books, appeared in movies such as Heat, Lost Highway and Bad Boys II, on TV in Sons of Anarchy, as well as hosting series for National Geographic and the History Channel, and putting out several spoken word specials. Rollins currently hosts a weekly radio program on KCRW and co-stars in the new SyFy series, Deadly Class. His newest talking show, Keep Talking Pal, premiered on Showtime in 2018 and is available now everywhere via Comedy Dynamics. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Sam Richardson is best known for playing Richard Splett, the only optimistic voice in Selina Meyer’s administration on HBO’s Veep. Richardson spent summers in his childhood across the globe in Ghana with his mother’s side of the family. But he’s also a Detroit native through and through, getting his comedy start as a teen taking classes at Second City Detroit, and later co-creating and co-starring in two seasons of “Detroiters” with his best friend, Tim Robinson, on Comedy Central. You’ve seen Richardson in a variety of roles on screens big and small over the past five years. In 2019, he’s part of Veep’s fond farewell from HBO, as well as the premiere season of “Champaign, Ill.,” on YouTube Premium, where he co-stars with Adam Pally as members of their best friend’s entourage who lose their best friend and everything else. There’s a lot to get to. So let’s get to it!
Shaun Latham found the key to his successful comedy career not in Los Angeles or New York City, but in Indianapolis. That’s where he developed the most in recent years, and found a home with the Pat McAfee Show podcast and a hit web series, 20 Dollar Chef, through Barstool Sports. Latham, who went on the road opening for Gabriel Iglesias and got his first TV credits on Fluffy’s Comedy Central showcase, Stand-Up Revolution, recently did make the move to the Big Apple, where he is hosting his own SiriusXM talk show weekday mornings on the Barstool Sports channel, and preparing to get in the ring for Barstool’s Rough and Rowdy 7 Super Brawl in Atlanta. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Gaby Dunn is a journalist, comedian and actress, who with comedy partner Allison Raskin, wrote, performed and produced the successful YouTube comedy channel “Just Between Us,” with more than 700,000 subscribers. Their young adult novel, “I Hate Everyone But You,” was a New York Times best-seller. Dunn’s podcast, Bad With Money, was named one of the top 10 podcasts of 2016 by The New York Times. Gaby has turned her podcast into a new book, “Bad With Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together.” It’s out now. Gaby pulls back the curtain on the real economics of making money, or failing to, while making YouTube videos and other social media content. So let’s get to it!
Fred Armisen was one of the longest-serving cast members of Saturday Night Live, spending 11 seasons as Fericito, Prince, Barack Obama and more. He has since gone on to star in eight seasons of Portlandia on IFC, two seasons of Big Mouth on Netflix, another two seasons of Documentary Now! on IFC, one season and counting of Forever on Amazon Prime Video, and put out his first solo comedy special in 2018, Standup for Drummers, on Netflix. That doesn’t leave him much time to lead the band for Late Night with Seth Meyers. But a third season of Documentary Now! premieres in February 2019, and there’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Gina Brillon was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and already knew she wanted to be a stand-up comedian before she grew up, starting her career when she was still 17. Brillon became the first Latina winner of NBC’s Stand Up For Diversity competition in 2012, and since then has held sitcom development deals not only with NBC, but also with CBS and ABC. Brillon tours regularly with Gabriel Iglesias when she’s not headlining comedy clubs on her own, and she recently began what could be a recurring role on ABC’s hit sitcom, The Conners. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Before we turn our calendars to 2019 and start making jokes about writing 2018 on all of our checks that we no longer write because we live in a digital age, it’s time once again for our annual tribute to the year’s most valuable players in comedy. This is the fourth time that New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman has joined me for this annual debate, and Zinoman got me thinking about whether we should expand our honors to include not only the comedy MVP candidates, but also Rookies of the Year, Comeback Comedian of the Year, and more. Do we talk about Hannah Gadsby? Of course we do. We also get into Tiffany Haddish, Michelle Wolf, Hasan Minhaj, Donald Glover, Kate McKinnon, John Mulaney, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres and more. So let’s get to it!
Brian Regan is most comedians’ favorite comedian. Even if you might not recognize him or place his name, Regan has stood out among stand-ups for the past two decades, with multiple comedy specials to his credit – including Comedy Central’s first and still only live special, recorded at Radio City Music Hall. Regan performed 28 times on David Letterman, and since added a few Fallons. As part of his deal with Netflix, Regan is releasing a four-episode series that’s part classic stand-up routines, part new sketches based on those premises. He produced it with Jerry Seinfeld. Stand Up and Away! comes out this Christmas Eve. So let’s get to it!
Adam McKay won the Academy Award for best screenplay for his adaptation of The Big Short. His newest film at the end of 2018 is VICE, McKay’s darkly satiric yet mostly true retelling of the life and career of Dick Cheney. He has come a long way since his Second City days as an improviser and founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade. McKay is a former head writer for Saturday Night Live, where he first teamed up with Will Ferrell on sketches and digital shorts. Their first feature film together was 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. McKay also wrote and directed Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers The Other Guys, Anchorman 2, and on Broadway and HBO in a send-up of George W. Bush called “You’re Welcome America.” Together, McKay and Ferrell formed Gary Sanchez Productions in 2006, and a year later, helped launch Funny or Die. In 2018, McKay had one of his busiest years yet, bringing the series Succession to HBO, executive producing several other TV series, and finishing work on VICE. All while surviving a heart attack. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Sarah Cooper could have enjoyed a lucrative career in tech, only she didn’t enjoy Google as much as she did making jokes about it. She began performing stand-up in 2010, and in 2013, saw a blog post she wrote about how to look smart in meetings go viral and land her a three-book deal. She has moved from New York City to Silicon Valley and back again, and her third book, How To Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings, is out now. So let’s get to it!
Rosebud Baker has two famous names if you know where to look. Her family business isn’t exactly Citizen Kane, although if you were paying any attention to politics, then you know a life of stand-up comedy and podcasting about Justin Bieber is a far cry from her grandfather’s past as Secretary of State for President George H.W. Bush. Rosebud started out as an actress — she co-starred in the 2010 Sundance reality series, Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, and now co-hosts a podcast about Justin Bieber called Two Less Lonely Girls. In between, Rosebud has written for Someecards, Elite Daily, The Frisky and more, and she’s starring in a brand-new Amazon Prime series, Inside Jokes, which followed her journey as a New Face at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. So let’s get to it!