Paula Poundstone started her comedy career in Boston in the late 1970s before taking her act and her life on the road to San Francisco. Poundstone broke through in a big way in 1984 when Robin Williams asked her to perform stand-up on the episode he guest hosted of Saturday Night Live. She would go on to film two comedy specials for HBO and one for Bravo, become the first woman to deliver the keynote address at the White House Correspondents Dinner back in 1992, write columns for five years in the 1990s for Mother Jones magazine, and become a fixture on the NPR quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, where you can still hear her regularly. In 2017, she published her second book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search For Human Happiness. And in June 2018, Poundstone invited me into her home in Santa Monica to sit with her dog and many cats to see if we could find some more happiness to share. So let’s get to it!
This is a special edition of Last Things First, recorded live during Clusterfest 2018 in San Francisco. Comedy Central was kind enough to ask me to host a series of Clusterfest panels for the media that they called fireside chats. In this session, I welcomed Sasheer Zamata, Roy Wood Jr., and Mark Normand. We joked about whether comedians should ever apologize, about getting advice from comedians at the top of the ladder as you’re climbing it, and preparing for the next big thing in your careers. All that and more in this episode of The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First, so let’s get to it!
Romesh Ranganathan was a math teacher before devoting his life to stand-up comedy in 2012. Since then, he has found great success in the UK, nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013, and with TV appearances on Live at the Apollo, many panel shows, and his own BBC series for two years, Asian Provocateur. For his next trick, Romesh came to America to see if he could duplicate his comedy success in the States and filmed it for a new TV series, Just Another Immigrant, which premieres in June 2018 on Showtime. Of course, he’s not just another immigrant, but he wanted to show us what it’d look like if he were, uprooting his wife, three kids, and Sri Lankan mother from West Sussex to Los Angeles. So let’s get to it!
This is a special edition of Last Things First, recorded live during Clusterfest 2018 in San Francisco. Comedy Central was kind enough to ask me to host a series of Clusterfest panels for the media that they called fireside chats. In this session, I welcomed Jim Jefferies, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser and Sam Morril, and we quickly got into the headlines of Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee making public apologies, whether comedians should ever have to apologize, and how comedians can work together. All that and more in this episode of The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First, so let’s get to it!
Nemr grew up in San Diego and then moved back with his family to Lebanon, where he almost singlehandedly introduced the Middle East to the idea of live stand-up comedy. He definitely introduced many American comedians to Middle Eastern audiences over the past decade and more, and he has since toured both there and here in the States as a headliner. You may have seen him on CNN and Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and NEMR put out his first American stand-up special, No Bombing in Beirut, in 2017 for Showtime. He sat down with me at ShowBriz Studios to talk about growing up in two completely different cultures and starting comedy scenes from scratch. So let’s get to it!
Joshua Jean-Baptiste and Edson Jean met as students at New World School of the Arts in Miami, where both learned how to become multi-hyphenates in this new world of show business, as actors, playwrights and filmmakers. Jean’s college thesis, the short film The Adventures of Edson Jean, was licensed by HBO, and he has appeared in TV and film projects including Moonlight, War Dogs, Ballers and Bloodline. With Jean-Baptiste, the duo pitched a digital series about Haitian-Americans growing up and living in inner-city Miami called #Josh. They won Adaptive Studio’s first Project Greenlight contest for a digital series, and the product, GROWN, debuted in late May on Complex.com. So let’s get to it!
Mark Viera has entertained audiences around the world with stories of growing up, getting married and raising kids in the Bronx. Viera has released a Showtime special, “Tales of a Nuyorican,” opened on tours with singer Marc Anthony and comedian Gabriel Iglesias, and performed everywhere from cruise ships to the Leathernecks of the U.S. Marine Corps. Viera sat down with me to talk about his career, about the ups and downs of selling and reselling a network sitcom based on his own life, and about Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks on truTV, where you can see his comedy stories brought to life. So let’s get to it!
Who is Nell Scovell? She's the creator of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, first staff writer hired for SPY magazine, second woman ever to write for The Simpsons, and one of only a handful of women to ever write for David Letterman. Scovell's other TV credits include Murphy Brown, Coach and The Muppets. She also wrote jokes for President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and co-authored Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's memoir, "Lean In." Now Scovell has written her own memoir, "Just the Funny Parts...and a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking Into the Hollywood Boys' Club." So let's get to it...Get me Nell Scovell!
Jim Florentine rose to fame with his bestselling recordings Terrorizing Telemarketers and by voicing the wildly popular character Special Ed for Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers." Florentine has won an Emmy for his work on HBO's "Inside the NFL" and had two Billboard top-ten comedy albums within a single year. He used to co-host That Metal Show for VH1 and continues to host the Metal Midgets show on Ozzy’s Boneyard channel on SiriusXM Radio. Jim released two comedy specials in 2016, I’m Your Savior, and A Simple Man. Now in 2018 he has a new book out, “Everybody Is Awful (Except You!).” So let’s get to it!
Jim O'Heir is an Emmy-winning actor and comedian best known for co-starring as Jerry Gergich on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. He’s a Chicago guy who trained at Second City in the 1980s, then thrived in an independent improv and sketch group called White Noise, which took him out to Hollywood. O’Heir enjoyed tons of small guest-starring roles on TV for the past two decades before landing his big break with Parks and Rec. Now he’s hosting “Lullaby League,” an a cappella singing competition that debuted this April via YouTube and PopTV.
Louie Anderson won an Emmy Award for his performance as Christine Baskets in FX’s Baskets. He previously won Emmys two decades earlier for his voiceover work in his own animated series Life of Louie. He’s also hosted Family Feud, made a memorable early splash in the Eddie Murphy movie Coming To America, and was part of Rodney Dangerfield’s 9th Young Comedians Special. He just released his latest stand-up special, Big Underwear, as well as a new book: Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Brandon Rogers is a YouTube star with four million subscribers and one Streamy Award to his credit. He has starred in two webseries, Sam and Stuff for Facebook, and Magic Funhouse for Fullscreen. Brandon was a New Face at Just For Laughs in 2017, and he stopped by my studio while he’s on his first live comedy tour this spring. So let’s get to it!
In the movie Most Likely To Murder, Adam Pally wants everyone in his hometown on Long Island to believe he’s still the king of his high school, now making it big in Las Vegas when in reality, he’s still stuck working as a bathroom attendant. Over a holiday weekend, he drags them all into his murder-mystery comedy, including Rachel Bloom, John Reynolds and Vincent Kartheiser. The film premiered at SXSW 2018, and will be released May 1 by Lionsgate on demand and on digital platforms. I sat down with the cast, as well as with the writers Doug Mand and Dan Gregor, to find out what stories they told their friends and families back home to explain their fledgling comedy careers before they were stars. So let’s get to it!
Bo Burnham is the quintessential YouTube comedy star. While still a teen, Bo went from recording funny songs in his bedroom to best-selling artist with Comedy Central. Burnham become a successful touring stand-up comedian as well as an actor, appearing on the big screen in Funny People and The Big Sick, and starring on the small screen in MTV’s Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. After directing two of his three comedy specials, he turned to directing others, including Jerrod Carmichael’s 8 and Chris Rock’s Tamborine. Burnham has now written and directed his first feature film, Eighth Grade, which debuted to raves at the Sundance Film Festival. The film depicts the agony of surviving middle school and social media pressures as an eighth-grade girl in 2018. Burnham sat with me during a screening of the film at SXSW to talk about his own experiences with social media, and what it all means. I’m honored to welcome him as the guest for my 200th episode of Last Things First. So please sit back, enjoy and spread the love of this podcast far and wide, and let’s get to it!
Rachel Bloom is the creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girfriend on The CW, for which she has won the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award for best actress in a comedy series. Bloom’s first big break in musical comedy came in 2010, when she made a music video celebrating author Ray Bradbury. Along the way, she has written and/or performed for Allen Gregory, Robot Chicken, and BoJack Horseman. She's taking Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on a live theater tour this spring, and she next co-stars in Most Likely To Murder, a movie written and directed by her husband, Dan Gregor. He joins in our discussion, so let’s get to it!
Bill Hader was nominated for three Emmy Awards for acting during his eight seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, has written for South Park, lent his voice to animated hits such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Inside Out, and served up memorable supporting roles in the films Superbad, Tropic Thunder and Trainwreck. After co-creating the great IFC mockumentary series Documentary Now! He now stars as Barry in HBO’s Barry, about a Marine veteran who becomes a hit-man, but realizes his true potential, or disastrous end, could come by pursuing an acting career in Hollywood. Hader created, wrote, directed and executive produced Barry with Alec Berg, no stranger to HBO as a past EP on Curb Your Enthusiasm and current EP on Silicon Valley. Hader and Berg sat down with me during SXSW in Austin to explain how and why they made Barry. So let’s get to it!
Sharon Houston punked Magic Johnson, Too Short, and 18 other celebrities on Punk’d, fooled Kim Kardashian’s fans on Celebrities Undercover, and has filmed hidden-camera pilots for VH1, E!, Disney Channel, Style Network and Dick Clark Productions. Sharon has been a fixture in clubs and cabarets since the 1990s, first in New York City and more recently in Los Angeles. Her podcast, Daytime Justice, looks under the robe at daytime court TV shows and reveals behind-the-scenes stories from her work as a show producer. Sharon has performed stand-up on Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, MTV and VH1, and she appeared on Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time. She released her first comedy album, “Shuran Shuran,” in late 2017. And in early 2018, she sat down with me in Hollywood to talk shop. As Jon Stewart once told her: “Stop complaining. This is the fun part.” So let’s get to it!
Brian Volk-Weiss is the founding president of Comedy Dynamics, which grew out of New Wave Entertainment to become the largest independent stand-up comedy production and distribution company. You see the Comedy Dynamics logo on almost every new stand-up special you see these days, no matter where you see it. Since 2016, his company also has produced series such as History’s Join or Die with Craig Ferguson, Animal Planet’s Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson, There’s Johnny… which started at Seeso and ended up at Hulu. I caught up with Brian in his offices in Burbank, California a few days before the Grammy Awards, where he had an 80 percent chance of being responsible for the Grammy-winning Best Comedy Album of 2017. So let’s get to it!
Candice Thompson is a former finalist on Stand Up NBC’s talent search who has performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and served as a correspondent on the E! series, The Comment Section. She has starred in her own YouTube sketch comedy series, and written for the game show Smart, Funny and Black. Thompson just launched her own podcast, The Struggle, but first, she sat down with me to talk about overcoming her own personal and professional struggles, so let’s get to it!
Benji Aflalo is a stand-up comedian, who alone together with comedy pal Esther Povitsky, created, executive produces and stars in the sitcom Alone Together — which already has been picked up for second season by Freeform. They play versions of themselves, friends from different backgrounds trying to find love and success in Hollywood. Alone Together is also executive produced by The Lonely Island guys. Benji met Esther at The Comedy Store, where he’s part of a grand tradition of comedians who were former doormen at the club. He’s also written for The Burn with Jeff Ross, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser and the Comedy Central Roasts of James Franco and Justin Bieber.
So let’s get to it!
Jade Catta-Preta is a Brazilian-born comedian and actress who you can see on the truTV series, Those Who Can’t, and in person frequently at The Comedy Store when she’s not touring as a feature act for Bobby Lee, Kevin Nealon or Bill Burr. In 2014, she co-starred as a regular on three different series, MTV’s Girl Code, Showtime’s Californication, and ABC’s Manhattan Love Story. She’s also appeared on TV as a host on VH1, co-star of MTV’s Ladylike, and guest on shows such as @midnight, Comedy Knockout, and Getting Doug With High. She recently returned to her native Brazil to perform there in Portuguese, and she tells me what happened and what’s next for her, so let’s get to it!
Jeff Dye was a finalist on Last Comic Standing only three years into his comedy career. Since then, Dye has hosted two MTV series – Numbnuts, and Money From Strangers – one Spike game show, That Awkward Game Show, appeared frequently on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and competed against other celebrities on both Lip Sync Battle and I Can Do That. For two seasons now, he has served as tour guide for William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw, George Foreman and Henry Winkler across the globe on NBC’s celebrity bucket list travelogue, Better Late Than Never. We’ve known each other for years, but this is his first sit-down on my podcast. Better late than never, right? So let’s get to it!
You probably recognize Matt Jones from the critically acclaimed AMC series, Breaking Bad, where he played Badger. But Jones has an extensive comedy background, starting in Southern California, where he performed improv in high school, then eventually to Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, and back to Hollywood for multiple TV roles in sitcoms and sketch shows the likes of Reno 911, Community, The Office, and the pilot episode of Key and Peele. He has co-starred more recently as a regular on the CBS sitcom, Mom, and stars in the new Pop series where he runs an aerobics studio, Let’s Get Physical. So let’s get to it!
You may think you know Katt Williams, but you don’t know the Katt Williams behind the headlines. You may know him from his role as Money Mike on Friday After Next, or from Wild ‘N Out, or from his four HBO specials: The Pimp Chronicles, Pt. 1; It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’; Kattpacalypse; and Priceless: Afterlife. He now has his first Netflix special called Great America, and is ready to tell me the whole story. So let’s get to it!
Jena Friedman is a stand-up comedian, writer and producer who’s now about to star in her first late-night special for Adult Swim. Friedman has written for The Late Show for David Letterman, produced for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and taken a one-woman show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She later taped that show, American Cunt, as a special for Seeso. It’s available on audio on iTunes. She’s about to keep me very woke, so let’s get to it!