In the movie Most Likely To Murder, Adam Pally wants everyone in his hometown on Long Island to believe he’s still the king of his high school, now making it big in Las Vegas when in reality, he’s still stuck working as a bathroom attendant. Over a holiday weekend, he drags them all into his murder-mystery comedy, including Rachel Bloom, John Reynolds and Vincent Kartheiser. The film premiered at SXSW 2018, and will be released May 1 by Lionsgate on demand and on digital platforms. I sat down with the cast, as well as with the writers Doug Mand and Dan Gregor, to find out what stories they told their friends and families back home to explain their fledgling comedy careers before they were stars. So let’s get to it!
Bo Burnham is the quintessential YouTube comedy star. While still a teen, Bo went from recording funny songs in his bedroom to best-selling artist with Comedy Central. Burnham become a successful touring stand-up comedian as well as an actor, appearing on the big screen in Funny People and The Big Sick, and starring on the small screen in MTV’s Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. After directing two of his three comedy specials, he turned to directing others, including Jerrod Carmichael’s 8 and Chris Rock’s Tamborine. Burnham has now written and directed his first feature film, Eighth Grade, which debuted to raves at the Sundance Film Festival. The film depicts the agony of surviving middle school and social media pressures as an eighth-grade girl in 2018. Burnham sat with me during a screening of the film at SXSW to talk about his own experiences with social media, and what it all means. I’m honored to welcome him as the guest for my 200th episode of Last Things First. So please sit back, enjoy and spread the love of this podcast far and wide, and let’s get to it!
Rachel Bloom is the creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girfriend on The CW, for which she has won the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award for best actress in a comedy series. Bloom’s first big break in musical comedy came in 2010, when she made a music video celebrating author Ray Bradbury. Along the way, she has written and/or performed for Allen Gregory, Robot Chicken, and BoJack Horseman. She's taking Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on a live theater tour this spring, and she next co-stars in Most Likely To Murder, a movie written and directed by her husband, Dan Gregor. He joins in our discussion, so let’s get to it!
Bill Hader was nominated for three Emmy Awards for acting during his eight seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, has written for South Park, lent his voice to animated hits such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Inside Out, and served up memorable supporting roles in the films Superbad, Tropic Thunder and Trainwreck. After co-creating the great IFC mockumentary series Documentary Now! He now stars as Barry in HBO’s Barry, about a Marine veteran who becomes a hit-man, but realizes his true potential, or disastrous end, could come by pursuing an acting career in Hollywood. Hader created, wrote, directed and executive produced Barry with Alec Berg, no stranger to HBO as a past EP on Curb Your Enthusiasm and current EP on Silicon Valley. Hader and Berg sat down with me during SXSW in Austin to explain how and why they made Barry. So let’s get to it!
Sharon Houston punked Magic Johnson, Too Short, and 18 other celebrities on Punk’d, fooled Kim Kardashian’s fans on Celebrities Undercover, and has filmed hidden-camera pilots for VH1, E!, Disney Channel, Style Network and Dick Clark Productions. Sharon has been a fixture in clubs and cabarets since the 1990s, first in New York City and more recently in Los Angeles. Her podcast, Daytime Justice, looks under the robe at daytime court TV shows and reveals behind-the-scenes stories from her work as a show producer. Sharon has performed stand-up on Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, MTV and VH1, and she appeared on Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time. She released her first comedy album, “Shuran Shuran,” in late 2017. And in early 2018, she sat down with me in Hollywood to talk shop. As Jon Stewart once told her: “Stop complaining. This is the fun part.” So let’s get to it!
Brian Volk-Weiss is the founding president of Comedy Dynamics, which grew out of New Wave Entertainment to become the largest independent stand-up comedy production and distribution company. You see the Comedy Dynamics logo on almost every new stand-up special you see these days, no matter where you see it. Since 2016, his company also has produced series such as History’s Join or Die with Craig Ferguson, Animal Planet’s Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson, There’s Johnny… which started at Seeso and ended up at Hulu. I caught up with Brian in his offices in Burbank, California a few days before the Grammy Awards, where he had an 80 percent chance of being responsible for the Grammy-winning Best Comedy Album of 2017. So let’s get to it!
Candice Thompson is a former finalist on Stand Up NBC’s talent search who has performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and served as a correspondent on the E! series, The Comment Section. She has starred in her own YouTube sketch comedy series, and written for the game show Smart, Funny and Black. Thompson just launched her own podcast, The Struggle, but first, she sat down with me to talk about overcoming her own personal and professional struggles, so let’s get to it!
Benji Aflalo is a stand-up comedian, who alone together with comedy pal Esther Povitsky, created, executive produces and stars in the sitcom Alone Together — which already has been picked up for second season by Freeform. They play versions of themselves, friends from different backgrounds trying to find love and success in Hollywood. Alone Together is also executive produced by The Lonely Island guys. Benji met Esther at The Comedy Store, where he’s part of a grand tradition of comedians who were former doormen at the club. He’s also written for The Burn with Jeff Ross, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser and the Comedy Central Roasts of James Franco and Justin Bieber.
So let’s get to it!
Jade Catta-Preta is a Brazilian-born comedian and actress who you can see on the truTV series, Those Who Can’t, and in person frequently at The Comedy Store when she’s not touring as a feature act for Bobby Lee, Kevin Nealon or Bill Burr. In 2014, she co-starred as a regular on three different series, MTV’s Girl Code, Showtime’s Californication, and ABC’s Manhattan Love Story. She’s also appeared on TV as a host on VH1, co-star of MTV’s Ladylike, and guest on shows such as @midnight, Comedy Knockout, and Getting Doug With High. She recently returned to her native Brazil to perform there in Portuguese, and she tells me what happened and what’s next for her, so let’s get to it!
Jeff Dye was a finalist on Last Comic Standing only three years into his comedy career. Since then, Dye has hosted two MTV series – Numbnuts, and Money From Strangers – one Spike game show, That Awkward Game Show, appeared frequently on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and competed against other celebrities on both Lip Sync Battle and I Can Do That. For two seasons now, he has served as tour guide for William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw, George Foreman and Henry Winkler across the globe on NBC’s celebrity bucket list travelogue, Better Late Than Never. We’ve known each other for years, but this is his first sit-down on my podcast. Better late than never, right? So let’s get to it!
You probably recognize Matt Jones from the critically acclaimed AMC series, Breaking Bad, where he played Badger. But Jones has an extensive comedy background, starting in Southern California, where he performed improv in high school, then eventually to Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, and back to Hollywood for multiple TV roles in sitcoms and sketch shows the likes of Reno 911, Community, The Office, and the pilot episode of Key and Peele. He has co-starred more recently as a regular on the CBS sitcom, Mom, and stars in the new Pop series where he runs an aerobics studio, Let’s Get Physical. So let’s get to it!
You may think you know Katt Williams, but you don’t know the Katt Williams behind the headlines. You may know him from his role as Money Mike on Friday After Next, or from Wild ‘N Out, or from his four HBO specials: The Pimp Chronicles, Pt. 1; It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’; Kattpacalypse; and Priceless: Afterlife. He now has his first Netflix special called Great America, and is ready to tell me the whole story. So let’s get to it!
Jena Friedman is a stand-up comedian, writer and producer who’s now about to star in her first late-night special for Adult Swim. Friedman has written for The Late Show for David Letterman, produced for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and taken a one-woman show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She later taped that show, American Cunt, as a special for Seeso. It’s available on audio on iTunes. She’s about to keep me very woke, so let’s get to it!
Cipha Sounds got his start carrying crates and opening for Funkmaster Flex and was a longtime DJ on HOT 97 in New York City and VJ on Yo! MTV Raps. But his comedy cred is just as impressive, serving as the DJ for Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central, going on tour with the likes of Chappelle and Michael Che, and hosting a variety of comedy showcases, from Take It Personal: The Hip Hop Improv Show at the UCB Theatre, to his Tidal series, No Small Talk, and regular hosting duties at New York City’s legendary Comedy Cellar. Cipha also hosts the new truTV series, Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks, which debuted in January 2018. So let’s get to it!
For a third consecutive year, New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman has invited me into his home so we can tackle the year in comedy, but hopefully from a largely positive standpoint by focusing on the MVPs, the most valuable performers in comedy this year. In 2017, despite the Trump effect having much more serious repercussions than some expected, we had plenty of positives to look back on, from Nathan Fielder to Jordan Peele, as well as Tig Notaro, Dave Chappelle, Tiffany Haddish, Kumail Nanjiani, Donald Glover, Jimmy Kimmel and more. Who’d we single out this year? I want to find out, too, so let’s get to it!
Jackie Martling was a longtime writer and performer on The Howard Stern Show from 1983 to 2001, who also was showing up monthly in the pages of Penthouse magazine, opening comedy clubs on Long Island, released six dirty joke records, and published Jackie The Joke Man Martling’s Disgustingly Dirty Joke Book. After splitting from Stern, he hosted Jackie’s Joke Hunt for several years on SiriusXM satellite radio. He has a new book out in 2017, his memoir The Joke Man: Bow to Stern. So let's get to it!
Sue Costello grew up in the powder keg of Irish Catholicism getting more diverse that was Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood in the 1970s. Costello got herself out of Dorchester to make a lot of hay in Hollywood two decades later, culminating in her own FOX sitcom, Costello. Since then, you’ve seen her as a regular on the roundtable for Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, while her street smarts and brutal honesty won her a role on David O. Russell’s 2010 film, The Fighter. There’s no turning back, no holding back, so let’s get to it!
Kev Adams is France’s biggest young comedy star, with 6 million Twitter followers and another 5 million checking out his Instagram. He was performing one-man shows in Paris while still a teenager, and starred in 692 episodes of the TV series, Soda. He also co-starred in two hit movies in France, Serial Teachers, and The New Adventures of Aladdin. Adams has toured with his idol, Gad Elmaleh, and like Gad, Kev is now making a go of it in America. He co-wrote and co-stars in a series Super High for the blackpills app. And He’ll be seen in his first major American movie, The Spy Who Dumped Me, in 2018 alongside Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis. Kev tells me about his wild ride, and the transition to the States, so let’s get to it!
Orny Adams played Coach Bobby Finstock for six seasons of MTV’s Teen Wolf. But to comedy fans, Orny is famously and infamously known as the co-star of Jerry Seinfeld’s documentary, Comedian. While Seinfeld developed a new hour of stand-up from scratch, Comedian followed Orny’s obsessive path as an aspiring comedian making his debut as a New Face at Just For Laughs in Montreal. Orny has since performed multiple times at JFL Montreal, and his newest hour, More Than Loud, debuts Dec. 1, 2017, on Showtime. This interview is even more than you’re expecting. Look out, Oprah. So let’s get to it!
You’ve seen Bob Saget’s friendly face on TV for four decades now, ever since he starred in the late 1980s in the ABC sitcom Full House as well as the host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. More recently, he has provided the narrator’s voice of future Ted Mosby for the CBS hit, How I Met Your Mother, performed on Broadway, written a memoir and recorded a Grammy-nominated comedy album. That’s What I’m Talking About. He just released his latest comedy special, Zero to Sixty, and now that he’s 61, he’s got plenty more to talk about now. So let’s get to it!
Colton Dunn began performing improv comedy while still a teenager in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dunn moved to New York City just in time to join the upstart Upright Citizens Brigade, then went to Amsterdam to perform with Boom Chicago. When he returned to the U.S., Dunn wrote and performed on MADtv, Pretend Time with Nick Swardson, Parks and Recreation, Burning Love, Comedy Bang! Bang!, the new Arsenio Hall show, and Key & Peele. Dunn co-stars now as Garrett in the NBC sitcom Superstore, and he also is a member of Rooster Teeth’s Lazer Team, which is putting out its second film via YouTube Red in November 2017. So let’s get to it!
Judah Friedlander may be best known for playing TV writer Frank Rossitano on the hit NBC sitcom, 30 Rock, but Judah has been making his appearance felt on screens big and small, with or without his trademark trucker hats. From his roles in films such as American Splendor, The Wrestler, Wet Hot American Summer, Meet the Parents -- from a bar patron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to comic relief in the Project Greenlight horror film Feast. Judah Friedlander truly is the World Champion. Two books, How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book, and a collection of drawings called If The Raindrops United. His first stand-up special is almost three decades in the making, Judah Friedlander’s America is the Greatest Country in the United States, now available on Netflix. So let’s get to it!
Jenn McAllister has 3.1 million subscribers and counting on YouTube, where she documents her life as jennxpenn. Jenn started uploading videos to YouTube when she was 12. At 16, she signed a deal with Awesomeness TV, then moved from Bucks County Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. She published her best-selling autobiography, Really Professional Internet Person, in 2015, and for the past two years has starred in the YouTube Red series, Foursome, alongside Logan Paul, for which she won a Streamy Award as best actress in 2016. The third season of Foursome premieres in November 2017, and Jenn caught me up on everything. So let’s get to it!
Mark Feuerstein co-created, produces and stars in the new CBS sitcom 9JKL, which is loosely based on his real-life experience moving back to NYC to live next to his parents and brother while starring for eight seasons on the USA drama Royal Pains. Feuerstein began acting as a student and classmate of mine at Princeton University, and after winning a Fulbright Scholarship, found early success in Hollywood, scoring network TV roles in Caroline in the City, Fired Up, Conrad Bloom and Good Morning Miami. He’s also co-starred on the big screen with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic, Albert Brooks in The Muse, Mel Gibson in What Women Want and Penelope Cruz in Woman on Top. He also appeared in 2017 on the new installments of both Prison Break and Wet Hot American Summer. There’s a lot of catching up to do, so let’s get to it!
Comedians, writers and actors Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson co-host the incredibly successful podcast Guys We F*cked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast which now has more than 200 episodes talking to comedians, porn stars, and more, a worldwide audience of more than a million listeners. They’ve taken their show on the road to comedy clubs, theaters, TED Talks and festivals. Now they’ve released their first book: F*CKED: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed. So let's get to it!