Asking comedians about the historic lasts and firsts in their lives as their comedy careers have blossomed.
Episode #347: Julia Scotti
Julia Scotti is a comedian who has enjoyed a career resurgence in her 60s, performing on America’s Got Talent in 2016, and in 2020 as part of Carole Montgomery’s Showtime comedy showcase, More Funny Women of A Certain Age, alongside the likes of Caroline Rhea and Carol Leifer. She currently stars in a new documentary from filmmaker Susan Sandler called Julia Scotti: Funny That Way. The film examines Scotti’s transition into womanhood, which happened only after she quit a 20-year career as a male stand-up. Scotti sat down with me over Zoom to talk about why she quit, what it felt like to come back to comedy 10 years after quitting, and the hurdles facing comedians of a certain age and certain gender. Can the comedy industry get its own act together? We talk about that, too, so let’s get to it!
Episode #346: Iris Bahr
Iris Bahr is a comedian, actress, playwright and author, born in New York City and grown up in Israel. You have seen her in a variety of supporting roles onscreen in the 21st century — most recently in 2021 as a spa nurse in HBO Max’s Hacks, and as a rehab roommate on ABC’s The Conners. Bahr’s other TV credits have included guest spots on Friends, The Drew Carey Show, Star Trek: Voyager, 9-1-1, Good Girls, as well as her own comedy series on Mark Cuban’s HD-NET called Svetlana, plus a recurring role as Rachel Heinemann on Curb Your Enthusiasm. In 2006 alone, she co-starred in the original pilot for The Big Bang Theory, co-starred on the big screen in Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, and debuted her one-woman show, “Dai,” which earned her a Lucille Lortel Award and two Drama Desk nominations. She has written two books and co-authored a third, the Curb-inspired advice manual, “The Book of Leon.” Bahr spoke to me from Tel Aviv about her life and career, as well as her character podcast, X-RAE, which first introduced her to me in 2019. So let’s get to it!
Episode #345: Pete Lee
Raised in Wisconsin, Pete Lee began his comedy career in Minnesota before moving to New York City after he made his TV debut on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. It would take a few years after that to get his first Comedy Central half-hour special, and another five years to get his chance to perform on the Late Show with David Letterman. Other early credits included VH1’s Best Week Ever and truTV’s Comedy Knockout, but he has since become a favorite regular on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Lee tells me all about the circumstances in which he scored both of his late-night debuts, as well as his early nights at Acme Comedy Co., what he’s learned from Nick Swardson, Doug Stanhope and all sorts of stand-ups for whom Lee represents a change of pace. All that, plus stories about partying with Prince and Dave Chappelle, but not together, and the inner workings of his first hour special — Tall, Dark and Pleasant — which premieres in July 2021 on Showtime. So let’s get to it!
Episode #344: Rory Scovel
Rory Scovel is a stand-up comedian, actor and writer who came out of the Washington, D.C., comedy scene, and has managed to incorporate the lessons of improvisation into his stand-up throughout his career, from comedy competitions to late-night TV sets to his latest effort, the comedy documentary, Live Without Fear, filmed by Scott Moran out now on YouTube. Scovel also currently co-stars in the Apple TV+ series, Physical, opposite Rose Byrne. His previous credits include creating and starring in the Comedy Central series, Robbie, a Netflix comedy special, as well as appearances in the film I Feel Pretty, and sitcoms such as ABC’s Modern Family and NBC’s Superstore. In March of 2018, Rory decided to find out what would happen if he fully improvised an hour of stand-up for six straight nights at the Relapse Theatre in Atlanta. The results of which can be seen in Live Without Fear. How does he do it? Scovel tells me, so let’s get to it!
Live Without Fear is available on YouTube.
Episode #343: Rose Matafeo
Rose Matafeo is a comedian, writer and actor from New Zealand who began her comedy career at age 15. In 2018, her stand-up show Horndog won the top comedy prize at the Edinburgh Fringe, and she subsequently recorded Horndog in posterity for HBO Max in 2020. She has become a fixture on TV panel shows in the UK, and you may have seen her as a contestant on the popular program Taskmaster, or performing her stand-up on Conan. She also starred in a feature film, Baby Done. For her latest trick, she has co-created and co-written her own starring sitcom vehicle, Starstruck, in which she finds herself in a rom-com collision with a famous movie star. Starstruck almost got sidelined by the COVID pandemic, but its first season has aired on the BBC and HBO Max, with a second season (and more) already written! Matafeo spoke with me about quarantining in New Zealand for five months while wondering if her TV show would actually happen, the relatively young age of the New Zealand comedy scene, memories from Montreal’s Just For Laughs, and why comedians think of other people as civilians. So let’s get to it!
Episode #342: Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson is a stand-up comedian and writer from Louisiana who began his comedy career in Chicago. Since moving to New York City, he has performed on late-night TV via Conan, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City, Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup, and a half-hour special on Comedy Central. He has written for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and currently writes for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. In June 2020, Johnson releases two major projects: an ambitious 33-track mixtape called Elusive, and his debut hour special, Trevor Noah Presents Josh Johnson: # (Hashtag), which premieres on Comedy Central before moving to Paramount+. Johnson caught up with me over Zoom to talk about the problems and opportunities afforded by the COVID pandemic, including the making of his mixtape and his special, as well as what we might expect or hope for the comedy industry as a whole coming out of the pandemic. So let’s get to it!
Nerding Out on Comedy
This podcast is my happy place :)
Sean gets his guests to say things I’ve never heard anywhere else
These interviews are Hands Down the most insightful I’ve been able to find about comedy. Really gets down to the nitty gritty!