Norman Lear is a Hollywood legend who is responsible for cultivating an entire genre of television: the American Sitcom. After serving time in the U.S. Army during WWII, Lear began a career in Public Relations, eventually turning his sights to television production. During the 1970’s, he had some of the most successful TV shows running, including All In The Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. After his tenure creating sitcoms, he went on to work on movies and writing.
You can find the upcoming PBS documentary about his life, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You here.
Riz Ahmed is a British actor who has been in many notable films including Chris Morris'
Swet Shop Boy’s new album Cashmere can found here.
This week, Jesse talks about why if you like strange, weird, yet insightful TV, Starz’s Blunt Talk is the show for you.
Kaitlin Olson plays Sweet Dee on the long-running sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dee is the only female member of "The Gang", a bunch of depraved, self-centered pals who run a bar. The Gang is constantly looking for ways to get rich quick, humiliate their enemies, get out of work, and prove once and for all the talent, charisma and brilliance they hold to be self-evident. In an unusual move for a solo female character, Dee doesn't serve to counterbalance the guys' bad behavior -- she absolutely matches their pace.
Olson talks to us about creating a more fully-fleshed character for Dee, how she came to comedy, and how she ended up dating (and marrying) her showrunner.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia just began its eleventh season. It airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FXX.
Jeff Chang talks to us about what "diversity" means to us today, the struggle for artists to defy racial categorization, and how and why corporations embraced multiculturalism.
Jeff Chang’s newest book- We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation- is an exploration of the current unrest abound in the United States through a series of essays.
Jesse also tells us about the life and legend of Andre the Giant.
Danny Fields is a music manager and publicist who was instrumental in signing and promoting some of the biggest names in Punk Rock history.
This week, he and Jesse discuss his decision to leave the ivy league tract, his time in Andy Warhol’s Factory, and what it was like managing The Ramones.
Judith Light has had an almost 40 year acting career in which she’s played strong female characters on shows like One LIfe To Live and Who’s The Boss?. She is now continuing in this motif with her tenure on Broadway, winning two Tony Awards for her performances in the last 5 years, starring in a one woman show, and of course her groundbreaking performance in Transparent.
Judith sits down with guest correspondent Keith Powell to discuss her work on Transparent, the cast’s relationship with Jill Soloway, and the famous courtroom scene on One Life to LIve that launched her career.
You can watch Transparent on Amazon and find information about her one woman play here.
Jesse talks about Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some as a reflection of the necessity for people to fall into spells of nostalgia, even if just for 90 minutes.
Hasan Minhaj is a Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and is currently touring with his one man show Homecoming King. A native of the Sacramento area, his comedy is characterized by a mix of political and satirical comedy.
This week, he and Jesse sit down to discuss his one man show, stand up comedy in other countries, and the current political climate in the United States. Plus, Hasan knows a lot about sneakers.
Hasan is currently on tour with his show Homecoming King.
Margaret Wappler is journalist, columnist, pop culture critic, short story writer, podcast host , teacher, and now a novelist.
Margaret and Jesse talk about her new novel Neon Green, how she took care of her ill father as a teenager, the writing process, and the 1990’s.
You can find Margaret’s book here.
This week, Jesse talks about non-people of color still not getting the plight of people of color’s everyday reality.
Jesse sits down with acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee. Spike tells us about how addiction is made explicit in his movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, how he really feels about Larry Bird and about his own very serious addiction.... to Air Jordans.
Spike Lee’s latest film, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to off the Wall is available on VOD.
Jesse sits down with Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair. Katja Blichfeld is a casting director who previously won an Emmy for her work on 30 Rock; Ben Sinclair is an actor. The two are a married couple, and created the webseries High Maintenance. The show follows a New York City marijuana delivery guy as he visits his various clients.
The series has been picked up by HBO and will be making its debut on the network this month.
MTV2's Wonder Showzen looked like a kids' show. But it wasn't. It really, really, wasn't. Jesse tells us why Wonder Showzen is his favorite TV satire of the past decade.
Keegan-Michael Key’s comedy is inexorably tied with his experiences straddling cultural and racial lines as a young man in the Midwest, and he became a keen observer of his surroundings as a child.
His work with his partner Jordan Peele on the Comedy Central show Key & Peele has earned Key Emmy nominations in five categories including Outstanding Variety sketch series, Writing for a Variety Series, Writing for a Variety Special, Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program, and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Key sits down with Jesse to talk about the differences of approaching comedy from stand up or improv backgrounds, why it’s so easy to immerse himself in distinctive characters like the substitute teacher Mr. Garvey, and why Key & Peele's fifth season will be its last.
Key and Peele’s movie Keanu is now availible on digital HD
Tituss Burgess is an actor who has pursued the truth within himself and his performances. Whether it's been in a church choir or on the Broadway stage, Burgess is ready to give it his all.
His successful audition for a small recurring role on 30 Rock put him on Tina Fey's radar, and he's since been cast as Titus Andromedon on the Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess's performance on the show has earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Burgess joins us to discuss his early days growing up in Georgia, inhabiting the character of Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and how he contended with a broken microphone while performing live at the Tony Awards.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is available for streaming on Netflix.
Jesse explores the top-notch bluffing going on in this week's recommendation, the 1985 Chevy Chase movie Fletch.
John C. Reilly has shown off his talent for comedy in movies like Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. He's also played a number of dramatic roles in movies like Magnolia and Gangs of New York, and was nominated for an Oscar for playing the cuckolded husband in the movie version of Chicago.
For the past few years, Reilly has also produced and starred in a bizarre show called Check it Out with Dr Steve Brule. So why does a movie star have a faux cable-access show that runs in the middle of the night on adult swim?
John C. Reilly tells Jesse why he chose to take on the goofy, open-hearted and blustery Dr. Steve Brule with comedy duo Tim and Eric, his summer of fun working on the set of Boogie Nights, and what he thinks his duties are as an actor.
Check it Out with Dr Steve Brule is currently airing on Adult Swim. Reilly's new movie The Lobster is in theatres now.
Shamir is a musician who is really hard to pin down. His countertenor voice adds a distinctive flair to his infectious, sometimes poignant dance music but it’s a quality that’s also led to confrontations with classmates who were unaware of his Taekwondo training.
With his debut LP, Ratchet, Shamir drew inspiration from his life in Las Vegas. Shamir's Vegas had nothing to do with The Strip and instead was dominated by tumbleweeds and the distinctive odor of a hog farm.
As Shamir describes it, “I kind of decided to make my music more danceable and lighthearted to take away from the heaviness of the lyrics. Because why not, why does your music also have to be heavy if your lyrics are?”
Shamir tells Jesse about constructing a creative identity in a city known for producing more entertainers than artists; how his love for country music inspired him; and how his mother’s proclivity for earth magic isn't quite his thing.
Jesse recommends Steven Soderbergh's The Limey, a revenge movie that’s really about the way we all fight with our own past.
Rashida Jones was born into a showbiz family, but she didn’t always think she would follow in her famous parents’ footsteps. A love of acting lead to roles in shows like Parks and Recreation and The Office and for movie parts including The Social Network and Celeste and Jesse Forever, the later of which she also wrote. Jones currently stars in the TBS comedy, Angie Tribeca.
Rashida Jones talks with Jesse about playing absurdist comedy dead straight, her early dreams of going to boarding school and how those dreams contrasted with her jarring first impressions of Harvard University. Plus she tells us about her childhood experiences hanging out with Michael Jackson’s llama.
Angie Tribeca is now in its second season on TBS.
For artist Ramiro Gomez, the world of the haves and the have-nots are one and the same. His work focuses on affluent communities and their dependence on a community of immigrants, who become culturally invisible. The son of parents who were once undocumented immigrants, Gomez’s body of work has included re-imaginings of the paintings of David Hockney, with domestic workers re-inserted into familiar scenes.
Gomez’s new book, Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez was created in collaboration with Lawrence Weschler. For over twenty years, Weschler served as a staff-writer for The New Yorker and was the two-time winner of the Polk Award. He is the author of several books including True to Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney and A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Account of Torturers.
Ramiro Gomez and Lawrence Weschler sat down with Jesse to talk about Gomez’s experience as a male nanny, how the work of the painter David Hockney influenced his own art and what it’s like to exist in multiple worlds as a both a man of color and a gay man.
Gomez and Weschler’s book, Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez is available now.
Jesse explores the fun, artistry and dark irony of the of the classic noir film, The Third Man starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton.
Long before he was busy in the sound studio making music, Joe Bataan was a young man getting into trouble on the streets of East Harlem. But after a stint in juvenile detention, he left his life as a gang leader behind and became a band leader instead. Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers helped bring Boogaloo music into the mainstream.
As well as releasing popular songs in the genre including Gypsy Woman, Bataan also helped to create and coin the term SalsaSoul. Later in his career, he wrote and performed an early hip-hop hit, Rap-O Clap-O. Bataan is featured in a new documentary, We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo.
Bataan sat down with Jesse to talk about his life as a juvenile delinquent in the streets of New York, how he dealt with the backlash against his musical innovations and how he came to create one of the earliest hits in hip-hop.
There are many comedians who use their family life as inspiration for their comedy, but Ali Wong took it a step further when she recorded her latest comedy special while seven and a half months pregnant.
Wong’s comedy is rooted in her willingness to be incredibly frank and honest about her personal life including her relationships, her Asian heritage and the challenges of pregnancy while working as a writer on the hit television show, Fresh Off the Boat.
Ali Wong joined Jesse to talk about being a breadwinner, performing while pregnant and how it feels to talk about painful and personal things like miscarriage in front of a comedy audience.
Ali Wong’s new comedy special, Baby Cobra is available now on Netflix.
While many rappers are content to explore the harshness of street life in their lyrics, Chance The Rapper is a performer who isn’t afraid to explore the soft and warm memories of childhood. In his new album, Coloring Book, Chance combines beautiful melodies with an open and warm heart.
DJ Quik is one of the most prolific figures in West Coast hip hop. He's a great rapper, but first and foremost, he's always considered himself a producer. He's produced some of the most inventive samples and beats of the genre. And even though he geeks out about latest and greatest studio equipment, he's always used whatever it takes to capture the sound he wants -- even if it means recording a music sample with a VCR.
Quik first made a name for himself in the hip hop scene in the late 80's and early 90's, handing out homemade mix tapes and deejaying around Los Angeles. He's since released ten albums, and produced records for everyone from Tupac, Snoop Dogg and Xzibit to Tony! Toni! Toné!.
He'll talk about why a leaked record and a couple of guns made him realize he needed a new circle of friends, why he never wants to stop making pretty beats for his records and his inspiration for his awesome, awesome hairstyles over the years.
DJ Quik's new EP is calledRosecrans. It's available now.
Michael Ian Black is an actor, comedian and author perhaps best known from his work with the sketch comedy troupe The State, or from his subsequent collaborations with State-mates both on television (Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues) and film (Wet Hot American Summer). His disarmingly charming smarm made him a perfect fit for the talking-head format of VH1, but it also makes him a terrific author, as evidenced in latest book Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but also my mom’s, which I know sounds weird).
Michael Ian Black performed live at MaxFunCon East in 2012.
Have you ever picked up and actually flipped through one of those in-flight catalogs? Well, the sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser takes all of the grotesque and excessive product offerings of Skymall, and brings them to another level in Skymaul 2: Where America Buys His Stuff.