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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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The Comic's Comic Presents Last Things First
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Now displaying: Category: general
Feb 21, 2024

Zach Zucker is a clown-based comedian and actor who splits his time between Los Angeles and London, where he has become known as the ringmaster for Stamptown, a variety show and production company he created that has helped develop and bring other shows from the United States, the U.K. and Europe to the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond. He also teaches clown workshops around Los Angeles. Born in New York and raised in Chicago, Zucker talked to me about his own path, which began with classes at Second City while still in high school, then moving to LA at 18, where he parlayed an internship at the UCB Theatre into an internship for Sacha Baron Cohen. But it was his next step, spending two years studying at École Philippe Gaulier in France, that set Zucker on his current path. It’s where he met his comedy partner, Britain’s Got Talent winner Viggo Venn, which led them to the Fringe, where he created his alter-ego, New York’s greatest bad comedian, Jack Tucker. Jack Tucker is getting his first solo run off-Broadway this winter at the SoHo Playhouse in New York City, and Zucker talked me about how it’s going so far trying to introduce “Jack” to American comedy club audiences, plus he offers some advice for Americans thinking about making their way to the Edinburgh Fringe now. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!

Feb 14, 2024

Jason Sáenz is a comedian who grew up in Virginia, began performing improv in D.C., and became a fixture in New York City’s comedy scene — where he wrote for a house sketch team at the Upright Citizens Brigade, performed stand-up, and went viral for his “Saenz Signs” —  which eventually got him New Faces at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, and a ticket to Los Angeles to work on the MTV show, Ridiculousness. But that was just the tip of the ridiculous iceberg for Saenz, who got a job handling the personal social media accounts of Steve Harvey, met a young woman, fell in love, and then fell through a skylight on the roof of his apartment building, leaving him a paraplegic. As they used to say in the intro to MTV’s The Real World: True story! And true to his story, Jason is now ready to talk about all of it. Both onstage, where his new show “The Wheel World” enjoyed two sold-out performances at the Lyric Hyperion in January 2024, and right here on my podcast. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!

Feb 7, 2024

Chris Grace is an actor who grew up in Texas, went to school in North Carolina and started his comedy career in earnest in New York City through The People’s Improv Theater. Grace has appeared on TV in many shows, including This Is Us, Broad City, and he enjoyed a recurring role as Jerry on NBC’s Superstore. He starred as Christian Gray in the off-Broadway touring production of 50 Shades! The Musical: The Original Parody, and is a longtime cast member of heralded musical improv troupe Baby Wants Candy. Grace has joined Baby Wants Candy and its offshoot Shamilton at the Edinburgh Fringe for the past decade, and last year wrote and starred in his own one-man hit show, Chris Grace: As Scarlett Johansson. Grace joined me over Zoom to talk about his comedic superpowers, why he chose The PIT over UCB, how it’s possible to perform six shows in one day and not lose your mind, why AI might actually help make live comedy more valued, and what comes next for Grace as a stand-up comedian and an actor. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!

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!

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 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!

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