Finding the Balance with Nate Bargatze

NateBargatze12 years into his comedy career, Nate Bargatze has found himself at a crossroads. He's been on The Tonight Show, Conan and WTF with Marc Maron. He's performed at Bonnaroo, SXSW and the Montreal Comedy Festival. This Saturday night, his new one-hour special, Full Time Magic, premieres on Comedy Central. But where will he go from here? As Bargatze puts it, “You get into comedy because you don't want anyone telling you what to do and then after you're in it for a while, you're like, 'God, I wish someone would tell me what to do.'”

Bargatze took a break from his busy schedule in L.A. to talk about the new special, balancing work and family life, and how 'learn how to bomb' is some of the best advice he's ever received. READ MORE


Diving Into Late Night Head-First with Saurin Choksi

saurin_choksiAs a kid growing up in Texas, Saurin Choksi always loved comedy. After graduating college and moving to Detroit to take a job working for Ford, Choksi decided to do something about that love: he started taking classes at Second City. He worked his way up the improv school's chain before making a shift to standup. “Standup felt like a better fit for me.” Choksi later moved to Chicago and spent six years carving out a spot as a successful player in the Windy City's comedy scene. Over the last few years, he has performed at numerous festivals including SF Sketchfest, The Onion's 26th Annual Comedy Fest, Funny or Die's Oddball Festival Side Stage and The 2014 Boston Comedy Festival, where he tied for 1st Place.

Now based in New York, Choksi can be seen co-hosting the White Guy Talk Show on Fuse with fellow comedian Grace Parra. Just from the title alone, it's easy to decipher that WGTS isn't concerned with following the traditional mold used by the majority of late-night talk shows. The result is a loose, high energy show aimed at millennials who require a healthy dose of diversity in their entertainment choices.

I talked to Choksi about WGTS, starting over in a new city and the constant mental battle to stay positive. READ MORE


Yannis Pappas Couldn't Be a Professional Athlete, So He's Making Comedy About Them Instead

yannispappasWhen describing a move from New York to Miami, comedian Yannis Pappas said, “I had a New York body. I was thirty pounds heavier. My body looked like yogurt with hair on it. I looked like a middle relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals.” Sports references like these come easy for Pappas, a former wannabe pro athlete turned standup, who has been honing his specific brand of humor for some 15 years. Pappas' current role as the host of AOL's new sports-centric daily comedy series 2 Point Lead is a perfect marriage of his rabid love of sports and his razor sharp wit. I talked to Pappas about the new show, his long love affair with sports, and what's it like to let go of your childhood career dream to find joy in your second choice.

2 Point Lead is not the traditional clips and commentary formula. There's definitely a lot more going on. How would you describe the show?

The show goes beyond news and offers a humorous take on the world of sports. We've constructed the show around the internet and modern times. We release a video every day at 2 PM. It's usually a two-to-four minute video. It's comedy, straight comedy. It's sports fan comedy. We do sketches and interviews with athletes. It really runs the gamut of satire and sports.

Who are you hoping to attract to this show, audience-wise?

Younger sports fans and people who are watching stuff on their phones, which is pretty much everybody, except for my grandparents, who are dead, so they can't. READ MORE


Zach Woods Has a Lot of Beefs (Not Really)

zachwoodsSeason 2 of the Golden Globe and Emmy nominated HBO series Silicon Valley premieres this Sunday night. As a primer, I talked to actor and improviser Zach Woods, who plays Donald “Jared” Dunn on the series. Woods, who started improv at UCB at the age of 16, has had standout roles as Gabe Lewis on The Office and more recently, as Zach Harper on the USA series Playing House. We talked about the dynamic of the Silicon Valley cast both on and off the set, the expert craftsmanship of Mike Judge and the intricacies of playing awkward characters. READ MORE


The Ever-Expanding World of 'China, IL'

chinailSeason 3 of Adult Swim's China, IL premieres Sunday, April 5th at 11:30 p.m and according to the show's creator, Brad Neely, this season marks the first time that the creative team has truly felt both comfortable and in control. In addition to China, IL, Neely is also known for Wizard People, Dear Reader — his alternative audio accompaniment to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone — along with consulting work on South Park and his unique blend of art, music and video shorts on creasedcomics.com. I talked to Neely (and China, IL Executive Producer Daniel Weidenfeld) about the show, the humor of history and the blurry lines of copyright infringement. READ MORE


Inside the Big-Time Ambitions of 'Big Time in Hollywood, FL'

bigtimeinhollywoodflAt first blush, Comedy Central's newest scripted series, Big Time in Hollywood, FL, may seem like another entry into the category of Young Slackers Getting into Wacky Daily Misadventures. But the show's creators, Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf, have a much grander scheme in play. With the successful web series Next Time on Lonny under their collective belt, Anfanger and Schimpf set out to finally create a show six years in the making. Big Time is a serialized comedy about two wannabe filmmaker brothers who get caught up in multi-layered plot that forces them into adulthood for the first time in their lives. The show boasts a heavy dose of action and drama, backed by a season full of notable actors including Ben Stiller, Michael Madsen, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kathy Baker and Steven Tobolowsky. I talked to the series' creators about the new show, their writing process and how comedy is finally catching up to drama on television. READ MORE


A Discussion About Philosophy and Spirituality with Eddie Pepitone

eddiepepitoneOn his new full length comedy album, In Ruins, Eddie Pepitone lives up to his Bitter Buddha reputation with passionate diatribes on everything from the cost of war to his ongoing existential crisis. Like a well-caffeinated sidewalk preacher, Pepitone delivers his sermon with an improvisational flow that can only come from a seasoned mind full of too many competing ideas. He is a true comic philosopher, willing to hold himself up to the evils and tragedy that he sees in the world. I talked to Pepitone about his search for spirituality, the little joys in life and what he would like to see more of in standup comedy.

You're a big advocate for meditation and the philosophical quest to become a better person. At the same time, you have a joke on the new album where you say that you got addicted to Vicodin because you couldn't afford a real vacation.

That's the constant struggle, man. It's classic. The enlightened part of us versus the primal animal in us that just wants pleasure. My whole life has been a struggle against instant gratification. Especially in today's world where you can go on the internet and see pornography, or order food to be delivered, or watch movies. Instant gratification is so unbelievable now. I'm so glad I quit smoking pot and drinking because if I was still doing that I don't think I would travel. I don't think I would be productive at all. My whole thing with getting high and all of that was just to zone out into pleasure. We can pleasure ourselves to death. One of the books I'm reading right now is called Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and it's all about that. READ MORE


Trevor Moore and That Awkward Conversation with Your Parents About Your Comedy

trevormooreTrevor Moore, founding member of The Whitest Kids U' Know, returns to television at midnight on March 6th with a brand new one-hour Comedy Central musical special, High in Church. The show was recorded live at the Gramercy Theater in New York and incorporates a full band, backup singers, dancing girls and some truly hilarious music videos featuring Presidential cat assassinations, drunk texts and Moore and his pals accidentally tripping balls at a midnight mass. I talked to Moore about the special, his conservative upbringing, and the latest news on The Whitest Kids U' Know. READ MORE


The End, and Beginning, of 'Jake and Amir'

jakeandamirAbout eight years ago, two boys with a dream and some spare time after work started making short, funny web videos. Those boys were Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld and their little web series, Jake and Amir, grew to become one of CollegeHumor's longest running series, amassing more than half a billion views over some 750 episodes. This week marks the first of the final eight Jake and Amir episodes. I talked to the duo about the evolution of the series, the final countdown, a possible TV series and their plans for the future.

Looking back over the life of the series, what are some of the benchmarks where you feel the show took a creative jump, either in character development or as a whole?

Jake Hurwitz: That's already the most thoughtful question we've ever gotten.

Amir Blumenfeld: We're going to pass.

JH: Are you sure you don't want to know if Amir really likes chicken nuggets?

AB: I've got an answer. Let's see if this matches Jake's. When we stopped shooting ourselves on digital point-and-shoot cameras and added cameramen with HD cameras, that was a big leap up.

JH: That was my first thought as well. Also, at that same point, we went from filming by ourselves after work to it becoming a regular part of our job. That helped the series too because we had dedicated time to write at work, instead of sticking around after to write scripts and shoot them in the dark.

AB: The second big step is when we actually started writing scripts, instead of just notes. READ MORE


Kyle Kinane Is Not Punk Rock

kylekinaneAfter a long, unconventional course of some fifteen years, Kyle Kinane finds himself at an interesting point in his comedy career. To his fans and peers, he is one of today's best comics. He's developed a unique, personal style that allows him to deliver his observational wisdom through the natural persona of a grizzled everydude. His first two releases, Death of the Party and Whiskey Icarus, garnered critical acclaim and his list of TV credits continues to grow. Now, on the eve of the world premiere of his new Comedy Central special, I Liked His Old Stuff Better, Kinane faces the challenge of staying true to his old fan base while courting new admirers who are getting their first taste of his work. I talked to Kinane about the new special, the connection between comedy and music and, most importantly, drinking in the shower. READ MORE


Getting Back Into the Spy Game with 'Archer' Executive Producer Matt Thompson

mattthompson-archerArcher is back for a sixth season and with it comes a return to the secret agent “mission of the week” format we grew familiar with during the series' first four seasons. Season Five, Archer: Vice, was a fun detour into the seedy world of cocaine sales, but after last week's premiere, it seems that people — including the show's creators — are glad to get back to the spy games that Archer is best known for. I talked to Executive Producer Matt Thompson about how real-world terrorism affected the show's universe, this season's spectacular guest stars and the possibility of an Archer movie.

Congratulations on the Season Six Premiere. What kind of feedback have you been getting?

It's a blessing and a curse to have the internet out there and get instant feedback. I read a lot of Reddit comments and stuff and it seems pretty positive so far. I think there's a real danger in trying to analyze things the next day. It's better to give it a second to breathe. But from what I'm reading, people don't want to kill us.

Last season was a bit of a departure from the spy format, focusing instead on Archer: Vice. That was somewhat of a controversial move. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. This season, you're back to the espionage storyline. Can you talk about the process behind making the decision to go back to the original format?

There was never any intention to not go back to it. Adam Reed writes all of the shows himself. Well, 95% of the writing is him. I think he was just a little bit burnt out on “mission of the week.” He wanted to keep the same people, have them be very recognizable, but have them do something different. It was almost like What About Bob? — take a vacation from your problems. I think it was wonderful for the show and the characters. We learned and grew. But it also makes coming back home that much sweeter. It makes it exciting that in Season Six, we're doing what we're used to doing. READ MORE


A Very Controversial Year in Comedy

dave chappelle 3It's been a big year for comedy and an even bigger year for controversy. Heroes have fallen, debates have ignited and feet have been inserted firmly into mouths. Social media once again played a major role in spreading truth, lies and everything in between. These are the stories that raised our blood pressure, ruined our dinners and kept us hitting refresh. READ MORE


The Weasel Grows Up

paulyshoreThe late 80s and early 90s were good to Pauly Shore. The Weasel — an alter ego born out of Shore's standup — became, for a time, more than just a character. The Weasel was a living, breathing thing whose mannerisms and catchphrases, like it or not, infiltrated the fabric of American pop culture. From the small screen to the big screen, there was no escaping Pauly Shore. Shore's new documentary, Pauly Shore Stands Alone, which recently premiered on Showtime, opens with archival footage from that wildly successful point in his career. But the film quickly shifts focus to the reality of today: Pauly Shore, age 46, dealing with the mundane pressures of adulthood while trying to manage a career in standup comedy. I talked to Shore the day after the film's television premiere about his motives for making the movie, life on the road and people's strange and intense connection with The Weasel.

Your documentary just premiered last night on Showtime. What's been the feedback so far?

People seem to be in to it, I guess. I just kind of look at my Twitter feed for my notifications, you know? People seem to like it.

Are you happy with the way it came out?

Yeah, I like the feel. Have you seen it?

Yeah, your people sent me a screener. I watched it last week.

OK yeah, so I like the feel of it. I like the honesty of it. I like the look. I like the music. I like the shots and I think the story is cool. People seem to relate to it.

This was something you directed yourself. What prompted you to do it at this point in your career?

I just thought it was at an interesting time. I mean, I think my story, a lot of people are going through. It's relatable — being in their 40s, taking care of their elderly parents, maybe not having the best relationships with family members and being alone. I thought it would be interesting doing it with the backdrop of this snowy Midwestern tour, telling this story as I'm cruising along and doing my thing, you know? I just thought that the timing was good and the fact that I was living at home with my mom, you know, people relate to that shit. It's the real thing. READ MORE


Elizabeth Laime and the Lessons Learned From Podcasting

elizabethlaimeElizabeth Laime knows all too well that all good things must totally come to an end. Her flagship podcast, Totally Laime, is winding down its five-year run with a final flurry of episodes, the last of which will drop on January 23rd. It's shaping up to be a fond farewell that won't leave fans of Laime and her cohost/husband, Andy Rosen, completely empty handed, considering that a mini-empire of Totally spinoff podcasts are still going strong. We talked to Laime about how luck, laziness and low expectations can somehow be the perfect recipe for success.

Well, it's the final countdown. How are you feeling?

You know, I'm pretty excited. We have some exciting plans for the final episodes.

Are these episodes already booked, or are you still looking to fill a couple of spots?

I’d say they’re almost all ready to go. I have who I want and I have a few words out. I’d say it’s sixty percent booked. Hopefully we’ll be able to pull it off. We’ll see.

What inspired you to start your podcast with Andy?

Actually, do you know Too Beautiful To Live?

Yeah, I’ve heard of it. Was that a radio show?

I think it was in Seattle. It’s Luke Burbank, who eventually came on Totally Laime. We used to listen to it on road trips. We had moved to LA just before we started the podcast. Andy was a record producer, so he had all this recording equipment. Luke’s format is that he records every single day, so it was barebones in terms of prep. They just dive in. I had come from New York and had been performing and writing. When we got to LA I focused mainly on writing. I was feeling kind of isolated in the comedy community, so I thought that it would be so cool if we just had our funny friends over. We could do this! So we did. We just started doing it. I think when we started, I was like, “Let’s do twenty of these and see how it goes.” Then five years later, we’re pulling the plug. But I never, ever thought it would turn into what it did for me. READ MORE