Negin Farsad began her comedy career while advising campaign finance policies for the city of New York, and over the course of the 2010s, she has mixed social justice and comedy on stage and on the road. She made and performed in a road-trip documentary across America in 2012 called “The Muslims Are Coming!” She has delivered multiple TED Talks, one based on that documentary, and another on her book, “How To Make White People Laugh.” Since 2016, she has hosted a weekly podcast on the Earwolf network called “Fake the Nation,” and has become a regular on the NPR comedy quiz show, “Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!” She also has appeared on HBO’s High Maintenance, and written for Jena Friedman’s Adult Swim specials, Soft Focus. Farsad sat down with me to focus in on her own career and how she remains optimistic about comedy’s ability to positively influence public perceptions and policies. Even on the eve of the 2020 election. So let’s get to it!
Melinda Hill moved 27 times as a kid before making her biggest move from Kansas to Los Angeles to make it as an actress. She studied with The Groundlings, where she performed as a tooth fairy alongside Kristin Wiig. She starred in a Creed music video. She competed on America’s Got Talent. She performed on Adventure Time, Lady Dynamite, The Late Late Show, and Reno 911! She made a webseries for Funny or Die with Maria Bamford, and another one for My Damn Channel called Romantic Encounters. And for 10 years, she helped run a popular Monday night stand-up showcase in Hollywood called What’s Up Tiger Lily. This year, she performed in an upcoming movie with Diane Keaton and Jeremy Irons, started a podcast called Let’s Process This about creative people overcoming trauma, and turned her own personal trauma into comedy in her debut stand-up special, Inappropriate, out now via Comedy Dynamics. So let’s get to it!
J-L Cauvin is a native New Yorker who started his stand-up comedy career in Washington, D.C., while going to law school at Georgetown. His first big break came in 2007 when he performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, but J-L has found many more fans and followers thanks to his uncanny impersonations, whether they’re of people he has been told he looks like, which includes Barack Obama, Adam Sandler, or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, or by lampooning other comedians such as Louis CK, JB Smoove, George Lopez, Gary Gulman, or Adam Carolla. J-L’s Carolla impersonation got the attention of Carolla himself, leading to multiple appearances on his top podcast in recent years. Since 2016, J-L has found his mockery mark in Donald Trump, releasing multiple videos and two “Fireside Craps” albums as Trump that have hit #1 on the iTunes comedy charts. At the start of the COVID-19 shutdown in March 2020, J-L released a video, “Donald Trump vs. God on Easter PPV” that went viral, with more than 2.5 million views so far. J-L caught up with me just prior to the 2020 elections to talk Trump, why he hasn’t done a Biden impersonation, and his own long and winding career, so let’s get to it!
So much has changed in the world since the last time I caught up with Lewis Black in September of 2016. But last things first, obviously: Black managed to film his last live show before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live stand-up comedy, recording his March 13, 2020, performance at Four Winds Casino in Michigan and releasing it in October 2020. It’s called, appropriately enough: “Thanks For Risking Your Life.” Black spoke with me over Zoom about the special, about his longtime support for the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY, and about America’s seeming lack of community in 2020, which prompted me to ask Black if his former boss, Jon Stewart, won the battle against CNN’s Crossfire but ultimately lost the war against cable news. So let’s get to it!