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Plumbing Politics and the Crazy State of the World for Comedy with Andy Zaltzman

Andy Zaltzman is best known in the States as half of the excellent satirical podcast The Bugle, which he co-hosts with long-time collaborator John Oliver. A lover of all things satire, he's hosted his "Political Animal" show for years, and his new show, "Satirist for Hire", adds a twist to the format. For each show, audience members request topics for him to satirize with his sharp, pun-loving wit; topics range from war and government policy to sports and fashion trends. I caught up with him at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to talk about audience suggestions and why The Bugle will last forever.

You’ve been coming up to the Fringe for 15 years. What’s the [...]

Daniel Sloss and the Art of Telling Critics to Piss Off

At only 23, Daniel Sloss has become one of the biggest draws at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Scottish comic played to packed houses during his fun in a 400-seat lecture hall in Edinburgh, and he's about to take his show "Really?!" on tour throughout the UK. He's also got his eye on the US, having appeared three times on Conan in the last year. I caught up with him in Edinburgh to talk about being famous in his hometown, not letting reviewers into his show, and his first attempt at pilot season in the US.

I feel like a lot of Americans don’t quite understand Edinburgh. What’s the appeal of the Fringe [...]

Jake Weisman and the Love of the Struggle

Though it was only on for two years, Jake Weisman’s The Morning After Podcast, which he co-hosted with Eli Olsberg, was a must-listen and example of what a great podcast could be. Each week, Weisman and Olsberg would bring in a guest from the adult film industry to interview in a manner that humanized them and showed how porn stars are just as multi-dimensional as anyone else.

Weisman ended the podcast a couple years ago to focus on his budding comedy career, and though it was tough for listeners to say goodbye to such a fascinating show, that decision is starting to pay dividends for him.

Weisman has made [...]

From Behind the Scenes to In Front of the Camera with Neal Brennan

With his new gig hosting The Approval Matrix on Sundance TV, Neal Brennan has completed his reverse transformation from behind-the-scenes writer-director to on-camera talent.

Brennan co-created Chappelle’s Show, and for years was a go-to film and television writer and director. Then, about 7 years ago he started to focus on standup, and has since reverse engineered (by traditional Hollywood standards) a performing career, including Comedy Central standup specials and voiceover work for Samsung, and culminating in the new panel TV show he’s hosting. 

Inspired by the famous back page of New York magazine, the new talk show presents Brennan and his panel guests the opportunity to dissect the latest in [...]

Inside Just For Laughs, Morning Talk Shows, and the Future of Comedy with T.J. Miller

Of all the funny things T.J. Miller said during his many performances at the 2014 Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, one of his best lines came in his introduction of Andy Kindler for the State of the Industry address, which was part roast/part tribute.

“I’m trying to mix sentimentality with humor,” Miller said. “Just like in Yogi Bear 3D.”

Miller’s ability to make fun of his roles in Yogi Bear 3D, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and other critically panned franchises, which he does frequently, is what makes him so beloved in the comedy world. He’s in a weird position in that he’s a successful actor with roles in Hollywood [...]

Inside the Return of 'Superego' with Matt Gourley, Jeremy Carter, Mark McConville, and Paul F. Tompkins

On September 1st, the incredibly funny podcast Superego is returning with the debut of its long-awaited fourth season. The semi-improvised sketch show will return from its year-plus hiatus with comedian Paul F. Tompkins, a frequent guest on seasons past, officially joining the group full-time as a regular cast member alongside Matt Gourley, Jeremy Carter, and Mark McConville. Since its launch in 2006, Superego has grown to become one of the comedy podcast industry's best and most elaborate programs and has attracted a slew of famous person guests like Jason Sudeikis, John Hodgman, and Gillian Jacobs, just to name a few. I recently had the chance to interview Gourley, Carter, McConville, and Tompkins [...]

Keeping Your Childlike Enthusiasm Alive with Janet Varney

Janet Varney's positive and generous attitude might be best exemplified by her Nerdist podcast The JV Club; in it the actress, producer, and writer interviews women in entertainment (and this summer, men) about their experiences growing up and how their formative teenage years influence their work and who they are today. In her often funny and sometimes emotional conversations Varney exudes warmth and an earnest curiosity to understand and share her guest's stories with her audience.

As a comedic actress Varney has made a variety of guest appearances in shows and movies like Kroll Show, How I Met Your Mother, and Key and Peele, but she might be best known [...]

The Art of Holding Nothing Back with Chris Laker

Chris Laker has nothing to hide. For fans of comics like Marc Maron or Patrice O'Neil, that can only mean better comedy. Laker has cycled through multiple career aspirations, gone through rehab, been married, divorced, accepted, and rejected. On their podcast This Week in Jackin', Laker and Myka Fox delve into the masturbation habits and history of comedians such as Mark Normand, Giulia Rozzi, Dan St. Germain, and Ted Alexandro. Nothing is off limits.

Together with New Wave, Laker has released his first album, Moments of Greatness. On the album, Laker reveals some of the most intimate details of his life, as well as his take on topics [...]

Becoming 'Jonah from Tonga' with Chris Lilley

Chris Lilley is back. His newest show, Jonah from Tonga, premieres on HBO tomorrow night. The six-episode series follows Summer Heights High’s Jonah Takalua as he returns to school in Australia after being expelled from Summer Heights and sent to Tonga.

As in his previous shows Angry Boys, Summer Heights High, and Ja’mie: Private School Girl, Lilley wrote, produced, directed, and stars in Jonah from Tonga. With an all-new cast of supporting characters, the documentary-style series explores rebellious Jonah’s hilarious attempts at being a “good boy,” which take him both to prison and a singing competition.

I got to talk to Lilley about Jonah from Tonga, why he likesmaking documentary-style [...]

Pete Davidson and What It's Like Being a Rising Standup at Age 20

Pete Davidson is only 20 and already has amassed several TV appearances and a development deal. It would be easy to resent the success he’s had at such a young age if he wasn’t such a great comic. 

The NYC comedian is a regular at all of the city’s top clubs, has done late-night sets on Comedy Central and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and has a role in the Fox pilot, Sober Companion.

This year, Davidson was named one of Variety’s Top Comics to Watch at Montreal Just For Laughs, where he was among the festival’s highlights.

I had a chance to chat with Davidson in Montreal to talk [...]

How to Succeed at Edinburgh Fringe with Alex Edelman

Alex Edelman has had an excellent August. The American comic headed to the Edinburgh Fringe with his debut show, Millennial, and on Saturday, he walked away with the coveted Best Newcomer Award at the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Past winners include stars like The Mighty Boosh, Tim Minchin, and Sarah Millican, and it means the eye of the British comedy industry has turned to the 25-year-old New Yorker. I caught up with him after his win in Edinburgh to talk about previewing his show in London, his American style, and being transatlantic.

So why did you decide to come to Edinburgh this year?

I had sort of been invited by accident in [...]

Talking About the End of Chicago's Upstairs Gallery

The Upstairs Gallery started in September of 2010 as a small performance space in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. It is now one of the city’s best known comedy theaters. After four years of putting up some of the most exciting and experimental theater in Chicago, it is closing at the end of this month. The Gallery is operated by Alex Honnet, Caitlin Stephan and Walt Delaney. I spoke with Alex and Caitlin about the Gallery’s shift from “performance space” to “comedy theater”, as well as the upcoming second installment of their independent comedy festival, A Jangleheart Circus.

Inside 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip' with Matt Albie

This fall, the long-running NBS sketch show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is set to enter its 29th season, and no one has been a larger part of the program's success than its head writer and executive producer Matt Albie, who has been a major creative force behind the show since he was first hired in 1997.

I was fortunate to be granted a rare interview with Albie, who contacted me via his Twitter account to set things up during his summer break from S60. Albie and I discussed the show's legacy, Emmy chances, and his tips for young comedy writers.

Balancing Standup and Writing for 'Late Night' with Michelle Wolf

Not many comics would close their New Faces Showcase at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival with a three-minute joke tying together men’s masturbation habits and JFK’s assassination. That one’s got a high degree of difficulty.

Michelle Wolf made it look easy.

Wolf, 29, was among the standouts last month at Just For Laughs, the comedy industry’s premiere festival. The NYC-based comic, who’s also a writer/performer on Late Night with Seth Meyers, even earned herself a slot performing in front of 3,000 people for Seth Rogen’s televised gala. Not bad for someone who’s less than 4 years into stand-up.

I had the opportunity to chat with Wolf after her [...]