Jason Zinoman is the comedy critic for The New York Times, and has written a new book about David Letterman which will come out April 2017. But first, Zinoman joined me once again to close the book on 2016. Who was the Most Valuable Performer in comedy in 2016? Who were the stand-out stand-ups? We discuss the year's work by Amy Schumer, Kate McKinnon, Jeff Ross, Maria Bamford, Tig Notaro, Donald Glover, Reggie Watts, Chris Rock and Louis CK, plus stars on the rise such as Rory Scovel, Kate Berlant, and John Early. And Zinoman also challenged me to define whether our current comedy boom is still booming, or whether the bubble is ready to bust. So let's get to it!
Nina Conti is the only child of actors – her father, Tom, is a Tony Award winner and Oscar nominee. As for Nina, she began her career as an actress at the Royal Shakespeare Company before her mentor Ken Campbell convinced her to become a ventriloquist. Nina won the BBC New Comedy Award in 2002, best show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2008, and has performed in many British TV shows since, as well as the HBO comedy series, Family Tree, with Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Chris O’Dowd. She’s made two documentaries, “Clowning Around” where she trained as a clown performing in a children’s hospital, and “Her Master’s Voice” where she took her mentor’s puppets to the official Vent Haven Museum in Kentucky. She spoke to me about vocal and theatrical acrobatics, which she puts on full display with great charm in her new improvised show, In Your Face, at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York City for a limited time only. So let’s get to it!
There’s only one Sinbad the Sailor in fictional lore, and only one Sinbad worth knowing about in the funny business. There really is nobody quite like him, and we’ve seen it since he broke through in a big way on Star Search in the 1980s, through his role on the NBC Cosby spin-off sitcom, A Different World, through hosting It’s Showtime at the Apollo, through four separate HBO specials in the 1990s, and even through a short-lived reality series on WE TV and even a round with Donald Trump on Celebrity Apprentice more recently. He seems to be winging it up there onstage, but always crushing. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say he’s been jingling all the way. Sinbad sat down with me between shows at Carolines on Broadway to keep it 100 and then some. What does he have to say about Cosby, Trump, Redd Foxx and more? So let’s get to it!
Kevin McDonald is one of the original founders of The Kids in the Hall, the legendary sketch comedy troupe that started in Toronto, then became internationally famous over five seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s thanks to HBO and later CBS. McDonald’s recurring characters included The King of Empty Promises, and Sir Simon Milligan, the host of the horror-themed TV show, The Pit of Ultimate Darkness. McDonald has guest-starred in many actual TV shows over the past two decades, reunited with Kids in the Hall for multiple tours (most recently in 2014), toured as a duo act with Scott Thompson, and gone solo as a stand-up, sketch comedy teacher and all-star guest improviser. He now has his very own podcast, a variety show called fittingly enough, Kevin McDonald’s Kevin McDonald Show. So let’s get to it!