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Employee of the Month
70 minutes | 2 years ago
Alyssa Mastromonaco and Peter Grosz on what makes President Obama, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers great bosses
In this episode Catie Lazarus talks to Obama’s former Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations Alyssa Mastromonaco and comedy writer Peter Grosz.
65 minutes | 2 years ago
Tim Blake Nelson and Jill Sobule
In this episode Catie Lazarus talks to acclaimed actor, writer, and director Tim Blake Nelson and singer songwriter Jill Sobule.
53 minutes | 2 years ago
Adam Gopnik on Sibling Rivalry, Stand Up, and Liberalism
Adam Gopnik has held many dream jobs, all in the same office. After almost forty years (and counting) at The New Yorker, Gopnik has served as a food, art, and music critic, and he’s written his own novels, children’s books, musicals, and solo shows. His latest (and first) political book A Thousand Small Sanities delves into how liberals can save Democracy. In this interview Gopnik talks to Catie Lazarus about the infighting between liberals and progressives, his upcoming solo show at The Red Bull Theater, and the incalculable torment of sibling rivalry. Podcast production by Cameron Drews. Theme song by Lady Rizo.
38 minutes | 2 years ago
Aparna Nancherla On Learning to Saying No and Avoiding Brain Trolls
After making her stand-up debut in Washington, D.C., Aparna Nancherla quickly became a comedy darling in Los Angeles and New York, writing for FX’s Totally Biased with Kamau Bell and Late Night with Seth Meyers. She also became a welcome fixture in New York’s competitive stand-up scene thanks to her smart and self-aware one-liners. When she opened up about her own anxiety and depression, more fans flocked. As a writer and actor, she has worked on HBO’s Crashing, Comedy’s Central’s Corporate, and Netflix’s Bo-Jack Horseman. Now she’s eager to explore new terrain in her next stand-up special but worries what fans and Hollywood will think. In her conversation with Catie Lazarus, Nancherla talks about the solitary nature of stand up and writing, the toll it takes to regularly joke about anxiety, and how to say no to too much work.
65 minutes | 2 years ago
Adrienne Truscott and Alysia Reiner
Adrienne Truscott reveals what comedians mean by “funny is funny.” Her debut solo show transformed #MeToo, #TimesUp and still manages to be hilarious, as she proves just how funny feminsists can be. Plus, Pamela Adlon’s Better Things on FX starts up again, while Orange is the New Black reaches its final season. What do they share in common? Actor Alysia Reiner. The actor speaks about the two hit series and her film EGG, which co-stars Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, and cracks into motherhood and work from a fresh, fun, and smart angle.
52 minutes | 2 years ago
Nick Hornby on His New TV Project and Knowing Whether His Writing is Any Good
With Fever Pitch, About a Boy and High Fidelity, Nick Hornby created a niche penning romantic comedies from the male perspective and launching the crush worthy careers of Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Jon Cusack on both sides of the pond. Then he went on to prove that he can deftly embody a female lens with the box office hits Wild and Brooklyn and the critically acclaimed Education. Now, Hornby has teamed up with Stephen Frears to tackle marriage from both male and female perspective in their new TV series State of the Union, which stars Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd. In the interview, Hornby discusses the new project, whether philanthropy is harder to pull off in the US than in England, and how Brexit will be the end of everything. He also talks about what he gets out of doing philanthropy and why it is easier to get honest feedback in the film industry than publishing books.
41 minutes | 2 years ago
Lisa Kron and Desiree Akhavan on Finding Your Voice When Directing Sex Scenes and Protesting
Timing is how the ever so humble Lisa Kron explains how she revolutionized theater, first with Well, and then with Fun Home. Both of these plays went to Broadway and re-invented how we think about what qualifies as a “Broadway show.” Since Donald Trump was elected, Kron has become involved in activism. She discovered that protests require better chants, and what the right sound can offer. Then, Catie Lazarus speaks with Director Desiree Akhavan about shooting sex scenes in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which debuted at Sundance last year and won the Grand Jury Prize. Akhavan’s latest television series The Bisexual is available on Hulu, and she is currently working on her first book. This episode of Employee of Month with Catie Lazarus was recorded live at Sundance Film Festival. Thanks to Russ & Daughters for sponsoring this episode.
37 minutes | 2 years ago
Reggie Watts on Creating Virtual Reality and How it Increases Empathy, and on Keeping His Night Job
Three-time Employee of the Month winner, Reggie Watts, returns to discuss his latest, greatest project Runnin’, which expands the cathartically original, prolific, and mischievously wry comedian, musician, and dancer’s oeuvre. Catie Lazarus spoke with Watts about burn out, why he can’t quit his night job, and his recent foray into VR with Runnin’, which premiered at Sundance. The Film Festival is known for launching acting and directing careers, and given the breadth of VR experiences on display as part of their New Fontiers Exhibits, Sundance is proving equally deft at debuting inventive interactive and immersive technology. Watts teamed up with the remarkable producer and director Kira Benzing, and the delightful composer John Tejada, so that you can strap on the clunky goggles and dance like no one is watching. We spoke about the process of creating a virtual dance party - the first of its kind - and how Watts thinks it will enhance empathy. Runnin’ certainly offers the escapist fun of tripping without a hangover, and will delight fans of all ages.
46 minutes | 2 years ago
Utkarsh Ambudkar and Nisha Ganatra Reveal What Has (and Hasn’t) Changed in Hollywood
Utkarsh Ambudkar didn’t give away his shot when he turned down Hamilton. The rapper and star of Brittany Runs a Marathon, who currently can be seen in Freestyle Love Supreme’s sold out off-Broadway run, talks about how Hollywood is finally casting more men of color as romantic leads. Ambudkar is joined by Mindy Project alum and director Nisha Ganatra, who spoke with Catie Lazarus about what role a Vedic astrologer played in her meteoric rise. Ganatra and Mindy Kaling’s feature film Late Night sold for $13 million to Amazon at Sundance and Ganatra, who is Indian American and gay, is transparent about how Jill Soloway helped her pave her way. After Ganatra and Ambudkar rap with Catie Lazarus about resilience to rejection, Ambudkar freestyles with DJ J. Period. This episode of Employee of Month with Catie Lazarus was recorded live at Sundance Film Festival.
68 minutes | 2 years ago
RISK!’s Kevin Allison and Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan Reveal the Fun (and Not So Fun) of Comedy Troupes
After Kevin Allison broke into comedy on the cult classic sketch show MTV’s The State; he struggled for years, until he risked everything and shared stories from his life. Since then he has helped thousands of people tell their tales as host of the hit podcast and live storytelling show RISK! Then Catie Lazarus sits down with her Employee of the Month co-host, beatboxer Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan, who shares how he melds music, hip-hop, and comedy.
53 minutes | 2 years ago
The Moth’s Catherine Burns on Grief and Burning Man, and Jo Firestone on Writing Jokes on Stage
The Moth’s artistic director, Catherine Burns, talks to Catie Lazarus about grief at work and what makes the perfect story. Then Lazarus chats with comedian Jo Firestone about writing for other comedians like Jimmy Fallon, Joe Pera, and Chris Gethard, and for her own shows.
45 minutes | 2 years ago
Ezra Klein on Tribalism, Fan Fiction, and the Data on Dry Humping, and Sasheer Zamata Talks About Writing Animation and Tokyo Disney
Ezra Klein, co-founder of Vox and host of the podcast “The Ezra Klein Show,” talks to Catie Lazarus about tribalism, fan fiction to the data on dry humping. Plus, after leaving Saturday Night Live, Sasheer Zamata’s stand up career continues to flourish, from her special Pizza Mind to performing with Nicole Byer, and how she and Amy Schumer met. Zamata is not just a writer, actor and stand-up. The superstar joins FreeStyle Love Supreme’s Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan, Andrew “Jelly D. Bancroft” and Arthur Lewis for some freestyle karaoke, before leaving New York for Los Angeles. This special episode of Employee of the Month with Catie Lazarus was part of Bentzen Ball’s DC Comedy Festival at The Kennedy Center.
43 minutes | 2 years ago
Peter Sagal on His Journey From Theater to Public Radio
Kicking off 2019 with NPR’s “Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!” host, Peter Sagal. Sagal got his start with screenwriting, penning Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Writing the sequel to Dirty Dancing was a natural transition to hosting a public radio show. Sagal talks to Catie Lazarus about how he wound up hosting National Public Radio’s most popular show, his new book “The Incomplete Book of Running”, and why to get off the grid.
52 minutes | 2 years ago
Patton Oswalt and Tig Notaro on being fired to finding love
As 2018 comes to a close, Catie Lazarus shares a super duper special episode of Employee of the Month, which was recorded live at Largo in Los Angeles with comedians and Employee of the Month winners Patton Oswalt and Tig Notaro. You can catch Patton Oswalt’s most recent comedy special ANNIHILATION on Netflix, as the prolific stand up, actor and writer is currently balancing multiple writing projects and prepping for his next special. Oswalt talks to Catie Lazarus about the three challenges he faces in writing, especially for heroes. He also shares his experience as a fan to being in the film BIG FAN. Plus Lazarus speaks with Tig Notaro, whose stand-up special HAPPY TO BE HEAR is also on Netflix. She reveals how she dealt with being fired and letting someone go on her own TV series ONE MISSISSIPPI to pitching her upcoming film FIRST LADIES to co-star Jennifer Aniston. Oswalt and Notaro also share how in the aftermath of grief, they found love and began new chapters in their lives. Here is hoping our country, if not world, can make a similar leap. Podcast production by Phil Surkis. Theme song by Lady Rizo.
56 minutes | 2 years ago
Wyatt Cenac on Casual Acting and Negin Farsad on Blackout Boning
On this episode of Employee of the Month, Catie Lazarus interviews and honors comedians Wyatt Cenac and Negin Farsad. It is possible to be funny and make a difference as they both reveal. Cenac currently hosts HBO’s Problem Areas, which is the only political comedy show to consistently shed light on activists to policy wonks and how we can better deal with issues like prison reform to homelessness. He also talks about leaving The Daily Show and mentor Colin Quinn at SNL. Negin Farsad who is the author of Hoe to Make White People Laugh and host of the podcast Fake the Nation on Earwolf shares how she dealt with death threats to the beauty of “blackout boning.”Podcast production by Phil Surkis. Theme song by Lady Rizo.
64 minutes | 2 years ago
Jeffrey Wright and Brian Lehrer on Brett Kavanaugh, Jack Daniel's and Manspreading
As suicide rate rises amongst the military, Republicans are slashing government funding for mental health care. So, when military struggling with PTSD wanted to stage a performance to help cope with PTSD, Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright volunteered to direct them. HBO’s riveting new documentary We are Not Done Yet chronicles their process and how the military trains artists. The Tony and Emmy winner also shares his love for Jack Daniels and how he guarded Brett Kavanaugh in football. Plus, Lazarus speaks with Brian Lehrer, the Peabody winning and duly beloved host of WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, who embodies Lao Tzu's philosophy that, "The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist." But is he a Yankee or a Mets fan? Catie Lazarus, with help from Mike Pesca, tests Lehrer’s baseball trivia and his hairy past.
61 minutes | 2 years ago
Hannibal Buress & Marina Franklin Talk Consensual Sex, Chicago, and Stand Up
Catie Lazarus, Hannibal Buress and Marina Franklin, talk about sex, stand up, consensual sex, podcasting, code-switching and Chicago and New York’s comedy scenes. Buress reveals his secret to acting and Marina reveals how Amy Schumer inspired her to come into her own.
40 minutes | 2 years ago
Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells on Wanking Off, Merkins, and Therapy
Emily Mortimer, star of Mary Poppins Returns and Lovely & Amazing, talks to Catie Lazarus about merkins, The Sex Pistols, work wife Dolly Wells and babysitter/husband Alessandro Nivola. Dolly Wells, best known for Bridget Jones Diary and HBO’s Doll and Em, offer a sneak peak of what they’re working on next.
47 minutes | 2 years ago
Chris Jackson’s Daytime Emmy is Still an Emmy, Dammit
Catie Lazarus talks with Emmy Award winner Chris Jackson, best known for originating the role of George Washington in Hamilton. He was also a lead in In The Heights and composed music for Sesame Street penning the music for a Will.I.Am hit “What I Am,” which is addictive, no matter how old you are. Plus, Catie sits down in the studio with CUNY Professor and Poet Celina Su to discuss how to avoid burnout as a political activist, refugees, and prose.
30 minutes | 2 years ago
Fred Armisen Says Dreams Are a Waste of Time and Anthony Atamanuik on Empathy for Trump
Catie Lazarus talks with comedian Fred Armisen who did prank videos before Youtube, which launched his career, beginning with Saturday Night Live and later on IFC’s Portlandia and Documentary Now!. His latest series is Amazon Prime’s Forever, in which he co-stars with Employee of the Month alumna Maya Rudolph. Then Catie chats with comedian and author of American Tantrum Anthony Atamanuik on what it takes to have compassion for Donald Trump.
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