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The Comic's Comic Presents Last Things First

Last Things First asks comedians and funny performers about the historic lasts and firsts in their lives as their comedy careers have blossomed.
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Now displaying: 2023
Dec 28, 2023

New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman has joined me every year since 2015 for our own traditional December To Remember the year in comedy. On the one hand, I try to pin Zinoman down on who we might vote for if comedy, like sports, awarded an MVP for the Most Valuable Performer.  But we always also get into the meaty issues, themes and headlined the year. So what made 2023 special for comedy? And which comedians did the most this year? There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!

Nov 28, 2023

Jen D’Angelo is a comedian, actress and screenwriter in Los Angeles. Originally from the Philadelphia area, she graduated from Northwestern before heading to LA and joining the UCB system as a writer and performer. Her stand-up credits include appearances on @midinght, Last Call with Carson Daly, and Adam Devine’s House Party. D’Angelo also worked with Devine as a performer, writer, story editor and producer on Workaholics — she has similarly pulled double duty in front of and behind the camera on Cougar Town and Young Rock. Since the start of the pandemic, D’Angelo has really come into her own as a feature film screenwriter, scripting Hocus Pocus 2 for Disney+, Totally Killer for Amazon Prime Video, and Quiz Lady for Hulu. And during the Writers Guild strike of 2023, D’Angelo often went viral on social media for deconstructing the disparities in show business today. She sat down with me over Zoom to talk about how she got where she is and where comedy writers and comedy films might go from here. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!

Sep 11, 2023

Chris Turner is a stand-up comedian and freestyle rapper from England who made his debut as a solo artist at the Edinburgh Fringe with 2014’s Pretty Fly, which won the Amused Moose People’s Choice award. Turner made his New York City debut five years later with 2019’s White Boy — later that year, he uploaded a 6-minute clip of himself improvising a live rap based on audience suggestions at The Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, Calif. That video, “White Boy drops unbelievable freestyle rap,” has earned him almost 18 million views. Now based in NYC, he’s a regular at The Comedy Cellar. In 2021, he performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and received a standing ovation. That, in turn, helped earn him a gig in Las Vegas as a resident member of the new Cirque Du Soleil production, Mad Apple, at New York-New York Hotel and Casino. And that’s part of the story that informed Turner’s 2023 Edinburgh Fringe show, Vegas, Baby!. Turner sat down with me during the Fringe in Edinburgh to talk about his beginnings in the UK, his move to America, and everything in between. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!

Aug 29, 2023

Actress and comedian Sasheer Zamata may be most familiar to comedy fans from her four years on Saturday Night Live, but she has kept busy on-screen since then, too — co-starring for two seasons on Hulu’s WOKE, and for the past three seasons on ABC’s Home Economics. She’s also due to co-star alongside Kathryn Hahn in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe series, Agatha: Coven of Chaos, for Disney+. Sasheer sat down with me earlier this summer before the actors went on strike, talking about her early days and nights improvising with Nicole Byer, working for Disney as a mascot in college, how her SNL time prepared her for what has come next, including her decision to release her second stand-up comedy special, The First Woman, with 800 Pound Gorilla Media and YouTube.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Aug 24, 2023

Courtney Pauroso is an LA-based actor, writer and comedian, who traveled the world and the United States as the child of a military family. She co-wrote and appeared in Two Pink Doors, a series of 5-minute shorts for FX, directed by Dr Brown, and has appeared onscreen in projects such as Jackass Forever, Reno 911, Key & Peele, and 2 Broke Girls. She’s also a former member of the Groundlings Sunday Company and Washington D.C.’s Synetic Theater. After bringing her clown show, Gutterplum, to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019 for a sold-out run, she returned in 2023 with something even more ambitious, Vanessa 5000, a show about a sex robot gone rogue. Courtney sat down with me between shows to talk about her life and career.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Aug 10, 2023

Jared Freid is a stand-up comedian based in New York City whom you’ve most likely heard on one of his two highly popular podcasts — U Up?, a dating and relationship series he co-hosts with Jordan Abraham of Betches; and The JTrain Podcast, where he welcomes fellow comedians to help him answer questions and give advice to listeners on all sorts of topics. Since appearing as a New Face at Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival in 2017, Jared has performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, hosted shows on both Snapchat and Spotify, released a stand-up album in 2019, as well as a half-hour stand-up special on his own YouTube page in 2021. His debut Netflix special, 37 & Single, premieres in August 2023. But first, he spoke with me over Zoom about how he carved his own path in comedy through writing columns, what it’s like hosting live-streaming shows from The Comedy Cellar, and how he’s already living his comedy dreams. 

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Aug 3, 2023

Martin Urbano is a comedian who grew up in southern Texas on the border with Mexico, but he’s based now in New York City, where he has found much of his success since being named a New Face for Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival in 2017. That includes performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The CW’s annual Howie Mandel Gala, and Will Smith’s comedy showcase for Roku, This Joka. Urbano was part of the 2019 revival of National Lampoon Radio Hour: The Podcast, and has written for both The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as well as Danny’s House on Viceland. He also has hosted such projects as “Comedy Amateurclass” for Chris Gethard Presents, and his own brands of game shows, “Who Wants $2.69?” and “Why Would You Ask Me That?” He also played a featured role in This Fool on Hulu as the other Julio. His latest gambit is an “Apology Comeback Tour,” where he somehow manages to cancel and redeem himself onstage within the same hour of jokes. He’s taking the show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2023, but before that, he sat down with me to talk about his life and the state of comedy today.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Jul 28, 2023

Kiran Deol is a comedian and actress whose show business career began auspiciously enough when she followed up her college thesis with a documentary short, Woman Rebel, that was shortlisted for the Academy Awards. As an actress, she co-starred in the 2019 NBC sitcom, Sunnyside, and before that, chalked up numerous guest-starring roles on shows such as Modern Family, The Mindy Project, How to Get Away With Murder, New Girl, The Newsroom, Weeds, and Grey’s Anatomy. As a comedian, she co-hosts a weekly show Thursdays in Los Angeles called Peacock, and has performed on Gotham Comedy Live and Hulu’s Coming to the Stage. She’s also a regular on the podcasts Lovett or Leave It and Hysteria. She joined me to talk about her latest project, a one-person show called Joysuck that follows the aftermath when a stranger tried to suck the joy out of her life by smashing her face with a bottle. Deol is taking Joysuck to the Edinburgh Fringe, but first she’s talking to me about it, as well as why Hollywood has sucked the joy out of being a working writer or actor enough for both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA to go on strike.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Jul 18, 2023

As president and chief distribution officer of Hartbeat Productions, Jeff Clanagan runs Kevin Hart’s LOL! Network — which includes radio programs and podcasts on SiriusXM, as well as short-form content, TV shows and movies with partners such as Peacock, Roku, Tubi, and PlutoTV. He’s also a producer on projects such as Die Hart, Hart to Heart, Olympic Highlights, So Dumb It's Criminal, and tours such as Nick Cannon’s Wild ’N Out Tour and Kevin Hart’s most recent Reality Check tour. Clanagan was previously CEO of Codeblack Films and Codeblack Digital, which is where he first began working with Hart as he transitioned from Comedy Central specials to concert films Laugh At My Pain and Let Me Explain, the latter of which earned more than $32 million at the box office. He sat down with me following Hartbeat Weekend in Las Vegas, where they hosted live recordings of Laugh Out Loud Radio shows and filmed tapings for the revival of BET’s ComicView stand-up showcase series.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Jul 13, 2023

Christina Catherine Martinez is a writer, actor, art critic, comedian and Los Angeles native who was named in 2020 to Vulture’s Comedian You Should Know as well as TimeOutLA’s Comic to Watch lists. Martinez has performed on FXX’s late-night showcase, Cake, and has written for Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show. She is the creator and host of the live comedy talk show Aesthetical Relations. Martinez sat down with me to talk about how she got involved in LA’s burgeoning clown community, and how she separates her outer selves, the art critic from the comedian, and the comedian from the clown.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Jul 3, 2023

Sophie Zucker was the youngest writer on staff at The Daily Show when she started in 2023, only to find herself and all of her colleagues out of work this summer due to the ongoing Writers Guild strike. Zucker got her comedy start in New York’s Brooklyn scene, forming a sketch collective called Ladies Who Ranch. She picked up her first gig onscreen in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and followed that up with parts in The Other Two and the film Late Night. But she really broke through as both an actress and writer playing Abby on Apple TV’s Dickinson. Zucker spoke with me about her climb up the comedy ladder, how she and her colleagues felt at the beginning of the strike and what she might hope to see at The Daily Show when she returns, as well as her preparations to take her one-woman show, Sophie Sucks Face, to the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Jun 27, 2023

Morgan Jay is a first-generation American, the son of an Italian man who was a famous pop star in Argentina before Morgan was born. Morgan got his start in comedy upon arriving at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and eventually dropped the normal set-ups and punchlines for a guitar, crowd work and improvised songs. He has built up a following of about 1 million on TikTok, and he released his newest special, Live At The Village, at the end of May 2023. Jay spoke to me about overcoming the stigma against musical comedians as well as becoming popular on TikTok, what it’s like to receive a DM from Nick Cannon while you’re performing in Scotland, and his experiences performing on TV shows such as NBC’s Bring The Funny and MTV’s Wild n’ Out. 

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Jun 19, 2023

Allison Raskin is a writer, director, comedian, YouTuber, podcaster, and mental health advocate — she’s perhaps best known for her collaborations with Gabe Dunn, which began with their YouTube channel, “Just Between Us,” and has included co-writing a New York Times best-selling novel, “I Hate Everyone But You,” and developing TV series with MTV, FX, YouTube Red and Netflix. Raskin sat down with me to talk about her early career with BuzzFeed Video, her work alongside Dunn, going back to school to get a master’s degree in psychology, her new book, “Overthinking About You: Navigating Romantic Relationships When You Have Anxiety, OCD, and/or Depression,” and how she navigates her own mental health as a content creator of videos, podcasts, books and essays.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

May 18, 2023

Kyle Kinane is a comedian who was the voice of Comedy Central for a decade. Kinane released his first album, Death of the Party, via AST Records, followed by a half-hour and two hours on Comedy Central, and another half-hour on Netflix. His most recent hour, Shocks & Struts, was released on YouTube in March 2023 via 800 Pound Gorilla Media. Kinane sat down with me while on tour to support the new special, where we reminisced about the 2007 HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Kinane’s successes on the game show @midnight, as well as how he defines success in his life and career today.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

May 11, 2023

Ryan Williams was a segment producer and talent booker for all eight-plus years of The Late Late Show with James Corden, booking all of the stand-up comedians on that show. Before that, Williams held similar jobs at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Show with David Letterman. Williams joined me over Zoom during his first week of unemployment after the end of Corden’s show to talk about his start as an intern with Letterman, watching submission tapes for Stupid Human Tricks and Stupid Pet Tricks, booking talent for Letterman, Fallon and Corden and how the hosts and shows differed, and what the future might hold for stand-up comedians on late-night TV. Or late-night TV, for that matter.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

May 4, 2023

Jamie Loftus is a comedian, Emmy-nominated TV writer, animator and podcaster. She’s worked as a staff writer on Teenage EuthanasiaRobot Chicken, and Star Trek: Lower Decks, and wrote and starred in her own web series for Comedy Central. She has written and hosted several popular limited-run podcasts — among them, “My Year In Mensa” (2019), “Lolita Podcast” (2020), “Aack Cast” (2021), and “Ghost Church” (2022) — all the while co-hosting “The Bechdel Cast.” Her first book, Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs is part investigation into the cultural and culinary significance of hot dogs and part travelog documenting a cross-country road trip researching them as they’re served today. Her book comes out in May 2023, and Loftus sat down with me to talk about her life and career.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Apr 27, 2023

Jeff Hiller is an American actor and comedian. He currently co-stars in HBO’s Somebody Somewhere as Joel, who welcomes Bridget Everett’s Sam back to their Kansas hometown and becomes her best friend through thick and thin. Hiller is originally from a small town in Texas, but has made his home in New York City since 2001, when and where he quickly found his comedy family at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. His stage credits include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and he scored recurring roles on Hulu’s The Hotwives of Orlando as well as The Hotwives of Las Vegas, POP’s Nightcap, USA’s Playing House, and most recently FX’s American Horror Story: NYC. Hiller sat down with me to talk about finding his way out from small-town America to big-city improv, the importance of balancing expectations with reality, and how he and Bridget Everett maintain such incredible chemistry onscreen.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Apr 19, 2023

When you hear the words Tape Face, what do you picture? Sam Wills began his comedy career in his native New Zealand as a teenage clown in training, complete with a diploma from a circus school in Christchurch. But after an initial foray into stand-up comedy, his friends challenged him to stop talking so much — so he became The Boy With Tape On His Face. He received a Best Newcomer nomination at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2010, and followed that two years later with the Fringe’s coveted Panel Prize. When he broke through in the U.S. on America’s Got Talent in 2016, though, his name was shortened to simply Tape Face. Tape Face was a hit with AGT judges and NBC viewers, and he’s held down a Vegas residency ever since at Harrah’s Las Vegas. He took off the tape to speak to me in Times Square to promote one of his mini-tours away from the Vegas Strip.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Apr 13, 2023

Sarah Marshall is the co-creator and host of the award-winning podcast, You're Wrong About, Podcast of the Year at the 2022 I Heart Radio Podcast Awards. You’re Wrong About revisits what we think we know about history and cultural events that have lodged themselves into our brains, and how that compares with what actually happened. Marshall sat down with me to talk about how she got into podcasting in the first place, why she and co-creator Michael Hobbes started a Patreon a year later, what it’s like identifying more as a talker now than a writer, and what she has learned while touring her podcast with comedian Jamie Loftus. I also might have learned just what I’ve been getting wrong about both podcasts and comedy?!? We definitely learn how Sarah Marshall feels about the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Apr 6, 2023

Carmen Christopher wrote for and performed on The Chris Gethard Show, eventually hosting the first episode of “Chris Gethard Presents” on Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Christopher’s other early credits included appearances on The Special Without Brett Davis, At Home with Amy Sedaris, High Maintenance, Alternatino with Arturo Castro, Shrill, Joe Pera Talks with You, and Search Party. He currently is a writer and performer on Craig Robinson’s Killing It, is a recurring character on FX’s The Bear, and a writer on Nathan Fielder’s upcoming Showtime series, The Curse. And in 2021, his Street Special performed on the streets and sidewalks of New York City became the first original comedy special for Peacock. Christopher talked to me about his early years learning comedy in his native Chicago, auditioning for Saturday Night Live, and the differences between performing in New York and Los Angeles.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Mar 29, 2023

Millions of people recognize Scott Rogowsky as the original host of HQ Trivia, the daily live trivia app that became massively popular in 2017 before fizzling out in 2019. CNN looked back on that phase of Rogowsky’s life in the 2023 documentary, Glitch: The Rise & Fall of HQ Trivia. But I first met Scott when he was barely out of college, one of the young upstarts in the downtown New York comedy scene in the late oughts. So we enjoyed a fun stroll down memory lane, as Rogowsky reflected with me on how his internship with The Onion led him down a path that included making viral videos with Playboy, a sports talk show with the future editor-in-chief of Vulture, to his own talk show, “Running Late with Scott Rogowsky,” all the way through HQ to his current life in southern California, where he runs his own vintage clothing and sports memorabilia shop, Quiz Daddy’s Closet, in Santa Monica.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Mar 22, 2023

Tara Schuster was a 25-year-old working at Comedy Central who’d worked her way up from interning at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to curating Jokes dot com when she hit an emotional rock bottom. She then began learning how to reparent herself, which she turned into her first book, “Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies.” She did that while rising to become a vice president of talent and development at Comedy Central, working on the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Key & Peele, Emmy-winning @midnight, Another Period, Detroiters, Hood Adjacent, and Lights Out with David Spade. When the pandemic hit and Comedy Central imploded, taking Schuster’s job with it, she found she needed to do more work healing herself — that’s the focus of her second book, “Glow in the F*cking Dark.” Schuster sat down with me to talk about her transition from comedy executive to self-care expert, and about how the work of healing is never truly finished.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Mar 8, 2023

Matt Knudsen is one of those character actors with a face you can’t quite place, which is why the memoir he’s writing is called, “Have I Seen You In Anything?” One of Knudsen’s first big breaks in show business was playing Jesus Christ as a therapist to Bryan Cranston’s character in Malcolm in the Middle. He has since been seen in episodes of Boston Legal, Big Love, Men of a Certain Age, Key & Peele, The League, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, and plenty of national TV commercials. Knudsen is one of the first faces you see, in fact, as a patient of Jason Segal’s in the new Apple TV+ series, Shrinking. As a comedian, Knudsen has released three albums, performed on Conan and The Late Late Show, and earned millions of views for his Dry Bar stand-up special, Good News. Knudsen invited me into his home near Los Angeles to talk about his early life in the merchant marines, how running marathons prepared him for the grueling world of show business, and more.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Feb 22, 2023

Marcella Arguello is a stand-up comedian, writer and actor originally from Modesto, Calif., who has made a name for herself in the Los Angeles comedy scene by standing tall and true to herself. Her regular show, “Women Crush,” started as a weekly showcase at NerdMelt, and is now monthly at the Hollywood Improv. Arguello has performed stand-up on HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac, was a regular on Comedy Central’s @Midnight, performed on The Funny Dance Show, and has multiple other TV credits as writer and/or performer. She released her debut album, “The Woke Bully,” in 2019, and in February 2023, put out her first special on HBO Max, Marcella Arguello: Bitch, Grow Up! Arguello met up with me to reflect on how far she has come, how long it took her to get to this moment, and what comes next.

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Feb 15, 2023

Comedian and storyteller Gabe Mollica’s one-person show, “Solo,” begins with the declaration that upon turning 30, he realized he had no friends. Wait. Was that true? Is it still true today? After taking his show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2022, as well as Winnipeg, Dublin and Dallas, Mollica’s show has settled in for a second limited-engagement run at the SoHo Playhouse in New York City. Mollica joined me over Zoom to talk about what  friendship means to him now, whether comedians have actual friends, the realities of the Edinburgh Fringe and the power of a critical review. Mollica also reflects on how his fandom of musical theater and Stephen Sondheim specifically resulted in a sincere correspondence with the late, great American composer, and whether the inspiration Mike Birbiglia’s shows have given Mollica might ever evolve into an actual friendship with him. 

If you like this conversation, please consider subscribing to my Substack called Piffany at Piffany.Substack.com so you can read bonus commentary on this episode as well as more comedy news and insights. Thanks in advance, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

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