Quinta Brunson took classes at The Second City in Chicago and Los Angeles and was performing with iOWest when she first found success not onstage but online, thanks to a 2013 Tumblr video, followed by a series of shorts she made for Instagram known as “He Got Money” or “The Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date.” A gig with Buzzfeed followed suit, where she developed, wrote and starred in series for Facebook Watch, YouTube and Go90. Brunson has appeared on shows on ABC, The CW and Comedy Central, writes and provides a voice on Adult Swim’s Lazor Wulf, and had a deal to develop a sitcom for CBS with Jermaine Fowler and Larry Wilmore in 2018. That fell through, but in doing so, opened the door for Brunson to join the cast of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show. Brunson sat down with me to talk about the first season on HBO and what’s to come. So let’s get to it!
Julio Torres described himself as a Space Prince before casting himself as a Chocolate Prince in the surreal bilingual TV series, Los Espookys, which he co-created, co-wrote and co-stars in for HBO. Originally from El Salvador, Torres first moved to New York City to study at The New School. After his funny friends helped him with his immigration process, he joined the most American of comedy institutions, Saturday Night Live, as a writer, known for his distinctive short films that have filled us in on “Wells For Boys,” the font Papyrus, and the inner thoughts of a sink. Torres animates even more objects in his first solo comedy special, “My Favorite Shapes,” which premieres on HBO in August 2019. I had only a few minutes of alone time with Julio at HBO headquarters, so let’s get to it!
After performing a half-hour stand-up special on Comedy Central and writing a book on depression, what came next for comedian Jacqueline Novak would bring her to her knees. So to speak. The actress Natasha Lyonne has presented Novak in her first Off-Broadway show, “Get On Your Knees,” currently enjoying a limited run in the summer of 2019 at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village. It’s billed as “the most high-brow show about blow jobs you’ll ever see,” and it’s directed by the comedian and actor John Early, who also cast Novak in his own Netflix special. I sat down with Jacqueline at the Cherry Lane before one of her shows to talk about her place in the Georgetown University comedy community (which includes her show’s executive producer, Mike Birbiglia, her producer Mike Lavoie, as well Nick Kroll and John Mulaney) and how I hope to see her film and distribute “Get On Your Knees” to schools across America. So let’s get to it!
Brent Weinbach is an innovative and weird stand-up comedian, befitting of someone who won the Andy Kaufman Award in 2007. Since then, he has masterminded hit YouTube videos such as “Gangster Party Line,” “Man Gives Birth” and “Ultimate Drumming Technique.” With DJ Douggpound, Weinbach co-created and directed the Streamy-nominated web series, “Pound House.” Weinbach also has appeared on multiple episodes of IFC’s “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and Comedy Central’s “Another Period.” Even mainstream audiences have gotten to experience Weinbach courtesy of his stand-up sets on Conan, Lopez Tonight and The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. His stand-up special "Appealing to the Mainstream" originally debuted on Seeso in 2017 and is now available on Amazon Prime. He also regularly headlines a show called Brent Weinbach and Friends at the Hollywood Improv, which is where I caught up with him in 2019. So let’s get to it!
Marina Franklin is a Chicago native who has called Harlem home long enough to see her New York City neighborhood gentrify around her. She also has traveled the world as a comedian, performing in festivals from Melbourne to Montreal, from Kilkenny to Bonnaroo. Franklin’s onscreen credits include appearances on Chappelle’s Show, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Crashing, Louie, and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, as well as performances on The Awkward Comedy Show and Showtime’s Women Who Kill. Her podcast, Friends Like Us, features female comedians of color talking about the topics of the day. And she has a friend in Conan and Team Coco, who have featured her on TV, on tour, and showcased the trailer to her first solo stand-up special, “Single Black Female,” which comes out in July 2019 via the Comedy Dynamics Network. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
With degrees in English and Theater, Catherine Cohen not only graduated from Princeton University but also delivered a humorous speech at her own graduation. Five years later, Cohen became one of New York City’s newest It Girls, bringing the cabaret community back into the mainstream of comedy. She’s all over magazines such as Interview and GQ. Onscreen, you’ve already seen her in the finale of Comedy Central’s Broad City, as well an episode of HBO’s High Maintenance. Sh’ll soon appear on the big screen in the movie, Lovebirds. And all the while, Cohen holds court in the East Village with Henry Koperski as her accompanist on piano, weekly at Alan Cumming’s Club Cumming, and monthly at Joe’s Pub. In August 2019 she’s taking her show to the UK for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, “The Twist...? She's Gorgeous.” We caught up with her in San Francisco in June, where Cohen performed on several shows as part of Comedy Central’s Clusterfest. After our chat, we’ll listen to her first breakout song with Koperski, “Look at Me.” So let’s get to it!
Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle met in college and became fast friends and comedy partners. But they did not take the typical path from Harvard to Hollywood. Their scenic route through show business included making their own videos before YouTube, to web series for a shuttered HBO website, to writing for Comedy Central’s Chocolate News, and eventually to joining the original Late Night writing staff for Jimmy Fallon — where they birthed successful bits such as Slow Jam The News. When they left Fallon, they found individual success — Bashir in GLOW and the upcoming Top Gun sequel, Diallo in the sitcom Marlon — and together wrote for the variety series Maya & Marty. In July 2019, Bashir and Diallo have not one but two new comedy series premiering — the sitcom South Side on Comedy Central, and the variety spoof Sherman’s Showcase on IFC. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Michelle Collins has that gift for gab that translates hilariously well both as a stand-up comedian and as a talk-show host. Collins co-starred for one season on ABC’s The View, and has gone on to host several after-shows for reality series. Among them: ABC's After Paradise, TLC's 90 Day Live: A 90 Day Fiance Fan Aftershow, and Lifetime's Little Talk Live. She can currently be heard hosting her very own morning show, The Michelle Collins Show, live weekday mornings on SiriusXM satellite radio. And she has a live stage show, “Strong Monster,” in which she recounts her life as well as the latest musings from the world of pop culture, via stories, slides and songs. She’s taking that show from New York City to London in July 2019. But first, she sat down with me to talk about her journey from Miami to Best Week Ever and beyond, so let’s get to it!
Connor Ratliff can be seen twice a week performing live at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City with two of its most prestigious improv groups — The Stepfathers on Friday nights, and ASSSCAT 3000 on Sunday nights. He also served as the warm-up comedian and erstwhile presidential candidate from The Chris Gethard Show on public access as well as cable TV, and stars in a Comedy Central web series, Dollar Store Therapist. You more likely recognize him from scene-stealing work in critically acclaimed TV series such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Orange is the New Black or Search Party. Ratliff also created and stars in a long-running UCB staple called The George Lucas Talk Show, where he interviews real comedians and celebrities while pretending to be the Star Wars creator. A documentary film crew is currently capturing what makes that work, and Ratliff took a moment to sit down with me to talk all about it, and the ups and downs of his comedy career. So let’s get to it!
The daughter of a Swiss mother and Pakistani father, Sabrina Jalees is a Canadian by birth who became famous in her native land by starring or hosting in several TV and radio shows north of the border. After immigrating to the U.S., Jalees found herself starting over and coming out. Since 2015, though, she has found success here, too, performing on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Adam Devine’s House Party, Amazon’s Transparent and Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup. She also has written for sitcoms on NBC, ABC and TBS, and is on the current writing staff for the Netflix animated hit, Big Mouth. Jalees began the 2019 development season with a script deal for her own sitcom on FOX, and ended it with a co-starring role on the CBS sitcom Carol’s Second Act, which premieres this fall starring Patricia Heaton. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Alyssa Limperis is an actress, writer and comedian. Although she has performed with the Upright Citizens Brigade on one of their house sketch teams, and currently co-hosts a UCB podcast called Crazy; in Bed, Limperis first found success by following her own path, carving out a career by convincing Conde Nast to make comedy videos featuring her character work. She caught everyone’s eye, and their mothers, when she began writing, acting and editing her own mom videos, and uploading them to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Every once in a long while, if you’re lucky enough, you feel as if you’re on the ground floor of witnessing something awesome before the rest of the world catches on. I’ve already compared Limperis in print to the late great Gilda Radner. Let’s hear how Limperis herself describes her life and career. So let’s get to it!
Natalie Palamides grew up in a small Western Pennsylvania town but could not be contained by convention or conventional wisdom. After an internship with Conan during college, she trained with the Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia, then headed to Hollywood to work with the Upright Citizens Brigade and other theater groups in Los Angeles. You’ve heard her voice on TV as Buttercup in the Cartoon Network’s Powerpuff Girls. In 2017, Palamides took the Edinburgh Fringe by storm with her first show, LAID, winning the Best Newcomer award, and returned the following summer with an ambitious follow-up NATE. Both shows were co-directed by celebrated clown Dr. Brown. Palamides was named one of Time Out LA’s 10 “Comedians to Watch” in 2019. Let’s hear all about her then, so let’s get to it!
Erin Foley’s first big show business credit wasn’t performing comedy, but rather playing a Rolling Stone magazine fact checker in the Cameron Crowe movie about his teen years, Almost Famous. So let’s get to the facts. Foley has performed on Conan, Arsenio Hall and starred in her own half-hour Comedy Central special. She has written on comedy shows for network and cable TV, and starred in a series of interstitials for the Lifetime Channel called Mixologist and a Movie. Her podcast on the All Things Comedy network, Sports Without Balls, is moving up to the big leagues in the summer of 2019. And she just released a new stand-up album, “Deep Dive,” on 800 Pound Gorilla Records. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Jamie Morton was working behind the scenes of British television when his father emailed him a link under the name Rocky Flintstone, a link that revealed an erotic novel actually written by Morton’s father. A horribly written novel at that. And more where that came from. Morton and his good friends James Cooper and Alice Levine decided to read and gab about this book, chapter by chapter, in a podcast called My Dad Wrote A Porno. The podcast has spawned more than 160 million downloads, global tours, celebrity fans the likes of Elijah Wood, Dame Emma Thompson, Daisy Ridley and more, and now an HBO special. The trio sat down with me in New York City to talk all about their move in front of the cameras. So let’s get to it!
Rich Vos might not have expected to make it to 60 the way he was living his 20s, addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine. But Vos made it out, and celebrated 33 years clean and sober in 2019. Along the way, he became the first white comic to perform on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, served as the host and emcee for Woodstock 99, performed as a regular on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, and almost won the first season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He did end up meeting his future wife on Last Comic, fellow stand-up Bonnie McFarlane. Together they’ve produced a daughter, released a documentary film, Women Aren’t Funny, and continue to co-host a successful podcast called My Wife Hates Me. When Vos did turn 60 in 2017, his funny friends gathered at The Comedy Cellar to roast him, resulting in a comedy special available on Vimeo. Vos has written for the Academy Awards and released five comedy albums, but he’s just as open about his recovery and sobriety as he is about his comedy. And that’s a very welcome thing. So let’s get to it!
Born in Britain, raised in both Jamaica and New York City, and now based in Los Angeles, Ian Edwards has been a successful comedian and TV writer for two decades, dating back to The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show in 1998. Since then, Ian has written for Saturday Night Live, Black-Ish, The Boondocks, The Carmichael Show, Crashing, and Friends from College. He has performed on both Def Comedy Jam and Conan, and holds the distinction of releasing the first and only stand-up comedy album on Team Coco Records. Ian has filmed his first hour special for All Things Comedy, to be presented by Comedy Central sometime in 2019. He was still editing the footage when we met up at The Comedy Store, so let’s get to it!
Sara Schaefer is a critically acclaimed stand up comedian, writer, and producer currently based in Los Angeles. She was the co-host of MTV’s late night show Nikki & Sara Live, which was born out of a podcast she started with Nikki Glaser in her Brooklyn apartment. Sara has won two Emmy awards for her work at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and a Writers Guild Award for Ed Helms’ Comedy Central special The Fake News with Ted Nelms. She recently released her second comedy album, “Live Laugh Love,” and caught up with me before getting back to work on her latest writing gig, an all-star tribute to Laugh In that will premiere on Netflix in May 2019. There’s a lot to get to, and not much time, so let’s get to it!
Kansas City native Chris Porter caught his first big break just months after moving to Los Angeles with a gig competing on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He finished third that season. Since then, Porter has recorded two comedy albums, a half-hour special for Comedy Central and an hour available on Netflix. His new hour, A Man From Kansas, is out now from Comedy Dynamics. So let’s get to it!
Hampton Yount has already seen the past, present and future of cinema, as spoken through the character Crow T. Robot he voices on Netflix’s new edition of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Before that, Yount had emerged from the DC comedy scene with a job writing and performing on MTV’s long-running series, Ridiculousness. His other writing credits include Loiter Squad and The Eric Andre Show, both on Adult Swim, and you’ve seen him perform stand-up on Conan as well as The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. With his buddy, Dave Ross, Yount also co-hosts the podcast Suicide Buddies. His stand-up comedy album, Able, came out in spring of 2019, just as I sat down to talk with Yount in his home in California. So let’s get to it!
Trae Crowder grew up in rural Tennessee and worked for a federal government agency while harboring dreams of becoming a famous stand-up comedian. Crowder didn’t expect it’d happen thanks to videos he filmed on the back porch as the “Liberal Redneck.” But he went viral in 2016, seen by millions on YouTube and Facebook. With his comedy buddies Corey and Drew, he formed the wellRED comedy team, which has sold-out theaters across America, produced a best-selling book, made appearances on The View, Real Time with Bill Maher, Nightline, multiple news outlets, and even scored a TV network development deal or two. In the spring of 2019, they’ve started making videos for Comedy Central, launched a new theater tour, “From Dixie With Love,” and will release their first wellRED comedy album, “Live from Lexington,” in April 2019. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get to it!
Jill-Michele Melean’s mother’s Irish, and her father’s Bolivian. But she grew up in Miami surrounded by Cubans. All of which makes her White Latina, the title of her first full stand-up special, out now via Comedy Dynamics. Jilly talks to me about catching her first break by standing in for J.Lo. on set for the 1998 film, Out of Sight, brought her to Hollywood and got her a SAG card. She talks me through the lean years, the heights of becoming MADtv’s first and only Latina cast member, and how she kept going in the years following that gig and Reno 911! Jilly put many of those life, love and career struggles into a feature film she wrote, produced and starred in called This is Meg. So let’s get to it!
Liza Treyger is a New York based stand-up comic by way of Chicago, who grew up in nearby Skokie after immigrating from Russia when she was 3. Treyger has her own Comedy Central half-hour special and album, GLITTERCHEESE, and a more recent half-hour special on Netflix as part of The Degenerates collection of 2018. You’ve also seen her perform on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Chelsea Lately, @Midnight, This is Not Happening, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser, Horace & Pete, Adam Devine's House Party, and Lie Detectors. There’s a lot to get to, and only so much Twitter can handle, so let’s get to it!
Yakov Smirnoff got his big break in America thanks to Mitzi Shore, who not only put up the Soviet immigrant in her home behind The Comedy Store in 1977 but also gave Yakov’s father a full-time job, too. Smirnoff himself became a big star during the Reagan years, starring opposite Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson, recurring on NBC’s hit sitcom Night Court, and getting his own Showtime special and short-lived sitcom. What a Country! He also performed several times for Ronald and Nancy Reagan, including a headlining gig at the 1988 White House Correspondents Dinner. In the 1990s, Smirnoff found a new professional home in Branson, Missouri. He still performs in Branson two months a year, when he’s not back in LA where he’s a Comedy Store regular, or out on the road with his new Happily Ever Laughter tour. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Keith Malley and Chemda Khalili began podcasting out of their apartment in Queens in March of 2005, three months before Apple recognized podcasting officially on iTunes. “Keith and The Girl” quickly became one of the most popular podcasts, and by 2011, they’d launched a VIP service that garnered some 50,000 paid subscribers, who pay monthly or annually for access to 10 additional podcasts and bonus content. They have written two books together, 2010’s What Do We Do Now? Keith and The Girl’s Smart Answers To Your Stupid Relationship Questions, and The Ultimate Podcasting Guide in 2014. They’re still at it broadcasting several times a week, and caught me up on everything in honor of their 14th anniversary as a podcast. So let’s get to it!
A classically trained theater major who grew up in New Orleans and Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Lyric Lewis took her degree from Syracuse and headed straight for Hollywood, where she auditioned for The Groundlings. Over the course of several years, Lewis worked her way up the ranks, eventually reaching the cast of the Sunday Company. Then in quick succession, she landed a spot in the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase, Just For Laughs New Faces Characters, and a role in the reboot of MADtv for The CW. That didn’t last, but she rebounded with a role in the NBC sitcom A.P. Bio, prompting Entertainment Weekly to call her your new comedy crush when A.P. Bio debuted in 2018. Lewis also has appeared in FX’s Baskets, and Comedy Central’s Drunk History. She sat down with me inside The Groundlings training center before season two of A.P. Bio premieres to tell me all about her comedy journey. So let’s get to it!