Americans may know Aziz Ansari, Hari Kondabolu or Russell Peters, but Vir Das is the biggest Indian-born comedian and Bollywood actor back home, where he hosted up to four shows at once on Indian television. Das first came to America for college, and he’s back now on an American tour promoting his first Netflix special – TENT – which he filmed in both New Delhi and New York. His 2017 tour also will take him to 20 countries on six continents, including Canada, Australia, Switzerland, the UK, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Belgium, Nigeria and France. Das also curates Weirdass Pajama, India’s largest comedy festival, so let’s get to it!
Ian Harvie came out to his family three times in Maine, as gay at 19, as transgender at 22, and as a stand-up comedian at 33. Now a trans man in his 40s, Harvie produced one of the best stand-up specials of 2016, Seeso’s “May the Best Cock Win.” In between, he met Margaret Cho thanks to MySpace, eventually becoming her opening act across North America, taking his own solo shows to the Melbourne comedy festival and San Francisco Sketchfest, starting his own comedy festival back home in Maine, and appearing onscreen in Amazon’s award-winning series, Transparent, and ABC’s soapy drama, Mistresses. He shares his relentlessly positive outlook with me and lessons he has learned along the way, so let’s get to it!
Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap are some of the funniest comedy pioneers around. Matt Belknap was an aspiring screenwriter when he launched a message board for Tenacious D fans that became something larger, ASpecialThing.com. Around the same time he decided to start his own record label, he also convinced stand-up comedian and host with the most Jimmy Pardo to launch a weekly podcast. Never Not Funny debuted in the spring of 2006, put up a paywall in 2008 because how were you supposed to make money making podcasts? And in 2015, Never Not Funny joined the Earwolf podcast network. They’d just completed their eighth annual Pardcast-A-Thon raising more than six figures worth in donations to Smile Train when I convinced them to come back into their studio to meet up with me and travel back down memory lane. So let’s get to it!
Jay Chandrasekhar has spent the past two decades writing, directing and acting in film and television. With his group Broken Lizard, he has co-written, co-starred and directed their feature films, Super Troopers, Beerfest and Club Dread. He’s also directed the big-screen version of Dukes of Hazzard, small-screen episodes of Arrested Development, and appeared in a memorable stunt for Jackass 2. But Chandrasekhar also spent some of his formative years studying improv comedy from the legendary Del Close in Chicago, editing the late Mitch Hedberg’s film, Los Enchiladas!, and bringing sketch and improv comedy to New York City when the only other game in town was a plucky group from NYU called The State. Chandrasekhar shares stories about all of that, plus the successful Indiegogo campaign to fund Super Troopers 2, in his new memoir, Mustache Shenanigans, and also in a sit-down with me in the offices of Dutton’s Penguin Random House. So let’s get to it!