Rory Scovel is a stand-up comedian, actor and writer who came out of the Washington, D.C., comedy scene, and has managed to incorporate the lessons of improvisation into his stand-up throughout his career, from comedy competitions to late-night TV sets to his latest effort, the comedy documentary, Live Without Fear, filmed by Scott Moran out now on YouTube. Scovel also currently co-stars in the Apple TV+ series, Physical, opposite Rose Byrne. His previous credits include creating and starring in the Comedy Central series, Robbie, a Netflix comedy special, as well as appearances in the film I Feel Pretty, and sitcoms such as ABC's Modern Family and NBC's Superstore. In March of 2018, Rory decided to find out what would happen if he fully improvised an hour of stand-up for six straight nights at the Relapse Theatre in Atlanta. The results of which can be seen in Live Without Fear. How does he do it? Scovel tells me, so let’s get to it!
Rose Matafeo is a comedian, writer and actor from New Zealand who began her comedy career at age 15. In 2018, her stand-up show Horndog won the top comedy prize at the Edinburgh Fringe, and she subsequently recorded Horndog in posterity for HBO Max in 2020. She has become a fixture on TV panel shows in the UK, and you may have seen her as a contestant on the popular program Taskmaster, or performing her stand-up on Conan. She also starred in a feature film, Baby Done. For her latest trick, she has co-created and co-written her own starring sitcom vehicle, Starstruck, in which she finds herself in a rom-com collision with a famous movie star. Starstruck almost got sidelined by the COVID pandemic, but its first season has aired on the BBC and HBO Max, with a second season (and more) already written! Matafeo spoke with me about quarantining in New Zealand for five months while wondering if her TV show would actually happen, the relatively young age of the New Zealand comedy scene, memories from Montreal’s Just For Laughs, and why comedians think of other people as civilians. So let’s get to it!
Josh Johnson is a stand-up comedian and writer from Louisiana who began his comedy career in Chicago. Since moving to New York City, he has performed on late-night TV via Conan, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City, Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup, and a half-hour special on Comedy Central. He has written for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and currently writes for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. In June 2020, Johnson releases two major projects: an ambitious 33-track mixtape called Elusive, and his debut hour special, Trevor Noah Presents Josh Johnson: # (Hashtag), which premieres on Comedy Central before moving to Paramount+. Johnson caught up with me over Zoom to talk about the problems and opportunities afforded by the COVID pandemic, including the making of his mixtape and his special, as well as what we might expect or hope for the comedy industry as a whole coming out of the pandemic. So let’s get to it!
Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello began collaborating as comedy and life partners after meeting in 2007 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and Magnet Theater in New York City. Their early efforts included a webseries for Broadway Video’s Above Average Productions and a one-man show, The Paul Downs Experience, at the UCB in 2010. Since then, you’ve seen their work together or individually in the Comedy Central sitcom Broad City, miniseries Time Traveling Bong, a showcase special for Netflix’s The Characters, and the 2017 feature film, Rough Night. Behind the scenes, they’ve worked on The Other Two, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens, and The Babysitters Club. Their most recent achievement is Hacks on HBO Max, which they co-created, co-write, and on which Downs co-stars. Paul and Lucia sat down with me to talk about comedy mentoring from one generation to the next, how they and others have become stars without first becoming stars within the UCB orbit, and how getting into character to surprise a monster truck rally in Maine somehow also gave birth to the idea behind Hacks, perhaps the best new TV comedy of 2021. So let’s get to it!