Comedic actors Jonathan Braylock, Jerah Milligan and James III host their own podcast, Black Men Can’t Jump (In Hollywood), examining the problems of racial diversity in show business through reviewing movies of the past which featured actors of color. They also have firsthand experience with the topic. In 2014, they became part of the first all-black house team at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. Their comedy troupe, Astronomy Club, was named one of Comedy Central’s Comics to Watch in 2016, and produced a digital sketch series for Comedy Central in 2018. In December 2019, Astronomy Club debuted a six-episode series on Netflix with executive producer Kenya Barris and showrunner Daniel Powell. I sat down with Jonathan, Jerah and James in North Hollywood in February 2020, back when they still thought they were participating in a regular “pilot season,” to talk about how some things had changed while others hadn’t. So let’s get to it!
Tammy Pescatelli lost her agent and manager back in 2016 after she spoke out about joke stealing and parallel thinking, but that’s not the first time in her career that Pescatelli did something her reps disapproved of — years earlier, Pescatelli continued performing in comedy clubs and theaters while more than eight moths pregnant, long before it became popular for women in comedy to do so. But Pescatelli is a funny woman of a certain age — she competed on seasons 2 and 3 of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, and after the birth of her son, she starred in her own reality series on WE tv called A Stand Up Mother. Since then, she has featured in Jenny McCarthy’s Dirty Sexy Funny special for EPIX, and formerly co-hosted Stuttering John’s Podcast. In March of 2020, Pescatelli has two new specials available for streaming or purchase. She’s part of Showtime’s MORE FUNNY WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE – headlined by Caroline Rhea and also featuring Carol Leifer, Carole Montgomery, Julia Scotti, and Thea Vidale. Pescatelli also stars in her own hourlong stand-up, The Way After School Special, filmed at her old high-school gym in Ohio. Tammy and I get into it, so let’s get to it!
Justine Marino is a comedian who joined The Groundlings shortly after moving from Denver to Los Angeles, and found herself working as a tour guide at Universal Studios while also performing stand-up at night. Her first big break came in the Jenny McCarthy comedy special, “Dirty, Sexy, Funny” which came out on EPIX in 2014 and also featured a then-unknown Tiffany Haddish. Later that year, Marino got New Faces at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy festival. More recently, she developed a live comedy dance competition with Heidi Heaslet at The Comedy Store called Stand Up 2 The Streets, which has been developed into a TV series for E!. The Funny Dance Show debuts in March 2020 on E! I sat down with Marino in Los Angeles to chart all of her comedy and dance steps, so let’s get to it!
Born in Taiwan to Taiwanese and Japanese parents, Atsuko Okatsuka is a stand-up comedian, actress and writer. Since putting out her first hour comedy special in 2018 as part of Hulu’s Comedy InvAsian series, she has made the shortlists of comedians to watch by both New York Magazine’s Vulture site as well as Time Out LA. Atsuko also has written for two different series on Adult Swim, The Eric Andre Show and Soft Focus with Jena Friedman. She’s the creator and host of “Let’s Go, Atsuko!” a woke Japanese game show that’s a hit with live audiences as well as a podcast, and she’s developing it as a potential TV or streaming vehicle, too. Atsuko released a new stand-up album in 2020, “But I Control Me,” via Comedy Dynamics. She sat down with me in her Los Angeles home to talk about making it in America as an immigrant, twerking with her grandmother, and so much more. So let’s get to it!