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"Politicians Aren't Geniuses, They're Human Beings": Matt Walsh and the Humanity of 'Veep'

mattwalshveepThat Veep is the funniest show on television is certainly debatable, but there’s no doubt no other show has better insults. Take Selina Meyer’s description of former White House liaison Jonah Ryan, for example.

“You let that unstable piece of human scaffolding into your house?”

Every episode is stocked with similarly exquisite putdowns. And except for Jonah, no one is at the receiving end of them more than Meyer’s Communications Director Mike McClintock, superbly played by Matt Walsh.

With Meyer assuming the role of president in Season 4, that means we’ll also be seeing more of McClintock in his heightened role as White House Press Secretary.

I recently had the chance to talk to Walsh, a UCB founder, about the upcoming season and other projects he has in store. READ MORE

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Coming Up Twice with Joe List

joelistJoe List is the comedy underdog everyone seems to root for. A longtime fixture in the New York comedy scene, List had the reputation as the gifted standup comic who could never catch a break.

But to paraphrase Seinfeld, a List obsession, 2015 could be the Summer of Joe.

After a killer debut on Letterman last year, List is finally getting his due. He’s headlining more clubs, co-hosts the popular Tuesdays with Stories podcast with Mark Normand, and his peers recently named him a comedian to look out for in 2015.

I recently caught up with List to talk about his start in comedy, the mistakes he made when he first moved to New York, and why the idea of the tortured comedian is a myth. READ MORE

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Wrestling, Weed, and Comedy with the Lucas Brothers

lucasbrosIn a Venn diagram where one circle is weed and one is wrestling, at the intersection you’ll find Keith and Kenny Lucas.

The identical twin standup comedians are passionate about both, which is apparent if you’ve spent any time watching their funny and surreal animated show, Lucas Bros. Moving Co., now in its second season on FXX.

The Lucas Brothers also star in the sketch show Friends of the People on TruTV, and are developing a live-action autobiographical show for Fox. They are about as busy as stoner, wrestling nerds can be.

I recently had the chance to talk to the Lucas Brothers about their shows, wrestling, and why 90s nostalgia is in full force. READ MORE

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The Post-'SNL' Life of Brooks Wheelan

brookswheelanLook at it this way: if Brooks Wheelan didn’t get fired from SNL, he might not have recorded his hilarious new debut standup album.

Not many comedians have parlayed a TV show dismissal into standup success as quickly as Wheelan, an accomplished standup comic who was let go last year after one season as a featured player on SNL. But rather than sulk over his disappointment, Wheelan owned it and soon commenced the “Brooks Wheelan Falls Back on Stand Up Comedy (sorta) Tour.” Much of that material, including his SNL experience, is on his new album, This is Cool, Right?, which was released yesterday.

I recently had the chance to chat with Wheelan during his last week in New York about his start in comedy, his takeaways from SNL, and why he needs to start taking acting classes. READ MORE

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On Five Seasons of Buttholes with the 'Workaholics' Guys

workaholicsFive seasons in, and there’s still no shortage of butthole jokes on Workaholics. You have to respect that commitment.

Whereas some comedies will shift gears over time and bring on new characters or other developments, Workaholics keeps it real. Week after week viewers are treated to the drunken antics of three slacker morons. They only thing that changes is the mischief they get into. It’s a formula that works so why mess with it?

I caught up with Workaholics stars Adam Devine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson prior to their Season Five premiere. We talked about buttholes (of course), A-list guest stars, and their various solo projects. READ MORE

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Scott Aukerman on 'Comedy Bang! Bang!' Season 4 and Saying Goodbye to Reggie

aukerman_wattsThe one thing we do know about Reggie Watts’ replacement on IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! is the new sidekick will be a human being.

That is all the offbeat talk show’s host and creator Scott Aukerman is willing to divulge in the wake of news that Watts, Comedy Bang! Bang!’s bandleader for the past three seasons, is leaving in March to become bandleader of the new Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS.

We’ll still have plenty of Watts and Aukerman’s hilariously awkward banter to enjoy in the first half of Comedy Bang! Bang! season 4, which premiered last week. And Aukerman promises a remarkable mid-season sendoff.

After that, who knows what’s in store? Worry not, however, as fans of the both the television show and Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast know Aukerman is consistently funny no matter who he’s working with.

I recently had the chance to chat with Aukerman about season 4, Watts’ departure, and why he decided to end his live standup show. READ MORE

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Keeping Busy with Barry Rothbart

barryrothbartBarry Rothbart is doing a little bit of everything these days. He co-directed a documentary about competitive eating that premiered this summer, he co-created and stars in a web series on Comedy Central, and he’s got a role in Demetri Martin’s new movie, to name a few. When he’s not working on various film and television projects, he’s also an established standup comic.

Last month AST Records released Rothbart’s debut album, Streets of Fire. It’s a funny, crowd-work heavy compilation that showcases Rothbart’s goofy sense of humor.

I recently had the chance to talk to Rothbart about his new album, his various projects, and playing a vapid talent manager. READ MORE

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Stephen Merchant's Undying Love for the Romantic Comedy

stephenmerchant-helloladiesDespite all of its cringe-worthy moments, the original version of The Office was at its core a love story between the characters Tim and Dawn. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that series co-creator Stephen Merchant has a bit of a soft spot for romantic comedies.

That affinity is on display in Merchant’s latest project, Hello Ladies: The Movie, which premieres Sunday on HBO. Merchant stars in, co-wrote, and directed the TV movie, which concludes the series of the same name that aired for one season on HBO.

I recently had the chance to chat with Merchant about Hello Ladies, his first major project without long-time collaborator Ricky Gervais. We talked about that partnership, why he doesn’t get a buzz doing standup, and the desperation of living in Los Angeles. READ MORE

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The Free-Wheeling Todd Glass

toddglass2Of all the memorable episodes of Marc Maron’s influential WTF Podcast, maybe none was more so than the Todd Glass interview from two years ago, when the long-time and well-respected comic announced he was gay.

Glass, who’s been performing for 30 years and is often mentioned as one of the funniest guys around by nearly everyone in the comedy community, said he decided to make the announcement because he couldn't take the hiding anymore and because he wanted to take a stand against the growing number of suicides committed by gay youths.

It’s a riveting interview that explains a lot about personal freedoms as key to performance.

It’s not accurate to say Glass’s career hasn’t taken off since the announcement — he’s always been a great comic — but it gave him a new kind of exposure. He wrote a best-selling book, The Todd Glass Situation, and got to be a guest on The Daily Show.

I recently had the chance to talk to Glass about his book, his hilarious podcast, life on the road, and why nothing should be outlawed in comedy. READ MORE

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Chelsea Peretti on 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' Writing for 'SNL,' and Her New Netflix Special

chelsea_peretti_bk99_s2As an early adopter and prolific user of Twitter, Emojis, Instagram, you name it, actress and standup comedian Chelsea Peretti is somewhat of an authority on all things social media.

So when she says it’s time to move away from our internet-obsessed culture and get back to the basics, we should probably listen.

This is just one of the topics Peretti will be exploring in her upcoming one-hour standup special, One of the Greats, which premieres in November on Netflix.

In the meantime, Peretti is back for another season playing self-absorbed office manager Gina on Fox’s breakout hit Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which debuts in a new timeslot this Sunday.

I recently caught up with Peretti to talk about the new season, her special, and her brief stint writing for SNL.

I saw the show is moving to Sundays.

Yes.  The show is moving to Sundays.  As usual I have no idea what that means.  I’m told it’s good.

That’s good.

I hope it’s good.  I hope more people watch the show this season because we’re starting off with a real bang here.

Oh yeah? 

Yeah, I think the cast has bonded.  We went to the Montreal Comedy Festival, hung out, and did a panel and had a bunch of good dinners and stuff.  I just feel like everyone got a lot closer and had fun chemistry. A lot of group improv kind of things.  I don’t know, I think the stories are juicy.  I’m just excited for people to see it.  It’s crazy because I think we shot seven or eight episodes and none have aired yet, so it’s a weird thing where we haven’t seen it yet.

Are there any new characters this season?  Any changes in your character?

Of course, you know Charles and Gina have their whole debacle and it definitely makes for interesting choices and how they handle their little tryst. That was fun to get to play some scenes with Joe where we had deeper things going on.  Yeah, there’s lots of new characters—Eva Longoria is on the show, Kyra Sedgwick , Patton Oswalt is back, Ed Helms—there’s a bunch of great guests.  READ MORE

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On the Road with Gary Gulman

garygulmanGary Gulman is on tour right now in support of his upcoming third standup special, It’s About Time. Like his jokes, the title has several layers and meanings. But you could add one more: it’s about time Gulman is recognized as one of the best standup comedians working today.

Now 20 years in, Gulman is one of the most consistent performers around in the vaunted New York comedy scene. He’s done specials for all the major comedy networks and is one of the few comedians who can boast of appearances on all seven late night talk shows. His joke writing is legendary, and he’s got an uncanny ability to come up with hysterical bits no matter how minute the subject matter.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Gulman about his new tour, working with Louis C.K., therapy, and some of his unproduced sitcoms. READ MORE

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Throwing a House Party with Adam Devine

adamdevinePart sitcom, part standup showcase, Adam Devine’s House Party might be difficult to describe, but it’s a fun hybrid.

Mensch that he is, Devine created the show in part to give the up-and-coming comedians who perform on it a chance to display their acting chops. The show features short written scenes interspersed between standup sets, and for many of performers Adam Devine's House Party is their television debut.

Season one was set in a gaudy Los Angeles mansion, but in Season two the party has moved down to New Orleans for even more debauchery.

I recently had the chance to talk to Devine about the upcoming season, his love of New Orleans, and the action movie he’s working on with the Workaholics guys.

You’re the host of the show but you don’t do a lot of standup on it. What's your reasoning behind that?

Well since it’s such a hybrid show with all the narrative heads and story lines — I spearhead all of those — I didn’t want anything I would do to take away from the comics. They are all new faces new to TV so it was really about giving them as much standup as possible. When I do do standup I’ll write a special for myself and just do it that way. I don’t need to just do two minutes, five minutes on this show when really it’s a new faces standup show.

Do you still get a chance to do much stand up given all the other projects you do with acting and everything?  

Yeah I still do but it’s a lot less than I used to. But in the next few months I’m going on a big tour. So I’m going to be getting up a lot more and come January be right back at it baby just cranking down, which means standup, that doesn’t mean masturbating. READ MORE

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Jake Weisman and the Love of the Struggle

jake weismanThough 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 a name for himself in the Los Angeles comedy scene with both his sketch group, WOMEN, and his standup, which brought him to Montreal last month to perform in the Just For Laughs Festival’s New Faces Showcase.

I caught up with Weisman recently to talk about Just For Laughs, his start in comedy, and how he came to be friends with so many porn stars. READ MORE

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

nealbrennanWith 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 pop culture using the Approval Matrix metrics: Brilliant vs. Despicable and Highbrow vs. Lowbrow.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Brennan about his new show, getting typecast as a writer/director and why Charles Barkley is the best guy on TV.

I saw the first episode. Enjoyed it. How are you guys going about deciding topics?

We just needed six episodes and it was like a matter of what our thing was going to be. They needed to be macro topical. It can’t be about today’s news but it can be about this year’s news. And it’s just things that I personally have a take on or an opinion on.

When did you shoot all these?

The end of June.  

Watching it, the show feels like it has a very Neal Brennan feel to it. It almost feels like the Approval Matrix is there to serve your ideas and your sensibilities as opposed to the other way around.  

Yeah, well I think we realized early on that whatever the show is they’re all host driven — all the shows whether it’s Maher, Chelsea, or Jon Stewart, or Jimmy. Otherwise it’s going to be me pretending. READ MORE