Demetri Martin is a standup comedian, writer and actor. He's just published his first book, "This Is A Book." Like his comedy, the book reveals Martin's interest in structure, order and disruptions of structure and order. He's always been a fan of puzzles, and the book features, among other things, some extraordinarily long anagrams.
Demetri talks with Jesse Thorn about how standup comedy is like skateboarding, how his father, a priest, inspired him to be a performer, and more. Martin last appeared on The Sound of Young America about seven years ago.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is the comedian Demetri Martin. He's an accomplished standup comic, and he's also had his own standup and sketch show, Important Things with Demetri Martin on Comedy Central. He's been featured in a number of films, and starred in one recently, and now he's the author of a brand new book called This is a Book.
Demetri, welcome back to The Sound of Young America.
DEMETRI MARTIN: Hey Jesse, thanks for having me.
JESSE THORN: I think we counted it up, it's actually been seven years since the last time you were on The Sound of Young America. It's a long time, thank you so much for coming back.
DEMETRI MARTIN: Yeah, thanks for having me back.
Mike Royce and Ray Romano are the co-creators of TNT comedic drama Men of a Certain Age. The show stars Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula as three friends grappling with the unsettling realities of middle age. They've worked together previously on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, with Ray as the titular character and Mike as writer and eventually executive producer.
They both come from a stand up comedy background, and Mike has also produced Louis CK's HBO series Lucky Louie.
New episodes of the show air this summer on TNT on Wednesdays at 10/9 Central, beginning May 25th.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guests on the program are Mike Royce and Ray Romano; they're the co-creators of the somewhat funny TNT drama, Men of a Certain Age. Of course you know Ray Romano as the immensely successful stand up comic and star of Everybody Loves Raymond. Mike Royce was also a stand up comic and writer on that program for many years, among others. He also worked on Lucky Louie on HBO among other shows. Mike, Ray, welcome to The Sound of Young America.
RAY ROMANO: Thank you.
Cocaine Blunts blogger Noz is back to bring us some of his favorite tracks right now:
And two more that were cut for broadcast:
Prodigy (aka Albert Johnson) is a Grammy Award-winning rapper. He and his collaborator Havoc founded the seminal hip hop duo Mobb Deep. His new autobiography is My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep's Prodigy.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest, Prodigy, is one of the fathers of hardcore hip hop. As a teenager in the early 1990s, he and his partner Havoc, found an East Coast answer to the emerging West Coast gangster sound. As Mobb Deep, their tone was dark, eerie, and minimal; and their lyrics cold and brutal. Let's take a listen to Prodigy's opening verse from Shook Ones Part II, the apical single from the apical record, The Infamous.
Prodigy was recently released from three years in prison on gun charges, and he's just put out an autobiography called My Infamous Life and a new free digital record called The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP.
Prodigy, welcome to The Sound of Young America, how are you?
PRODIGY: How you doing, man? Thank you, I'm doing good, I'm doing really good.
Our interview with Sarah Vowell on her new book, Unfamiliar Fishes, was taped in front of a live audience at All Saints Church in Pasadena in March 2011.
Sarah Vowell is an author who writes about history from her own perspective, which includes not just the facts but her own running commentary on the people and events that make up our history, and is sprinkled with anecdotes of her own experiences while exploring the subject.
Unfamiliar Fishes follows the history of Western intervention in Hawaii up until the annexation of the state, and is out now.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program, at least in public radio circles, barely needs any introduction at all; it's Sarah Vowell. She's made a career for herself as a very particular kind of popular historian. She doesn't so much write as a historian, presenting what Werner Herzog recently called to me “The accountant's truth.” Rather, she writes from her own perspective, a perspective that is very contemporary and very funny.
Werner Herzog is an acclaimed (and prolific) film writer and director, known for narrative films like Aguirre, the Wrath of God as well as documentaries like Grizzly Man.
Herzog is known for pushing the boundaries of filmmaking and exploring humanity's extremes.
His newest film is a 3D look into the Chauvet Caves of France, where the oldest known cave paintings exist, practically untouched over thousands of years. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is in theaters now.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. Werner Herzog has always been known for pushing film making to its limits. His 60 feature films in 40 years have reveled in humanity at its extremes. From self taught naturalist Timothy Treadwell and the documentary Grizzly Man to crack-crazed madman Nicolas Cage in the crazy and fictional Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. In his latest film, he's found a new human boundary to push: time.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 3D look into the Chauvet Cave, home of the earliest known cave paintings in the world. With a tiny crew and jury-rigged 3D cameras, Herzog looks at some of the first images ever created. The caves are tightly controlled, only open to tiny groups of researchers approved in advance by the French government. It took Herzog years to obtain the permissions necessary to even bring in a skeleton crew. He takes this rare opportunity not just to present to us the beauty of the caves, and they are amazingly beautiful, but to consider what it means to create and how we define our own humanity. In this clip from the film, a research explains why the cave paintings are tucked so far back in the cave, and Herzog narrates his first look at a painting of a bear.
Werner Herzog, thank you so much for joining me on The Sound of Young America.
WERNER HERZOG: You're very welcome.
Peter Sagal of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me (transcript), wrestler-comedian Colt Cabana (transcript here!), singer Robbie Fulks (along with Nora O'Connor) and standup comic Cameron Esposito join Jesse in this live show recorded at Chicago's Second City in April.
We're joined by Keith Phipps, the AV Club's editor and Scott Tobias, the AV Club's film editor to discuss picks in music and movies for April 2011. They discuss the film Meek's Cutoff, which follows a group on the Oregon Trail, and Certified Copy, a drama starring Juliette Binoche, both currently in theaters. On Blu-Ray, we have Dario Argento's horror film Inferno. Finally, Keith talks a little about the musician Kurt Vile's release, Smoke Ring for My Halo.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. Once a month or so we check in with our friends at the AV Club to help us separate the wheat from the chaff of the world of popular culture. This month we're joined by Keith Phipps, the AV Club's editor, and Scott Tobias, the film editor of the AV Club. Gentlemen, welcome back to The Sound of Young America.
SCOTT TOBIAS: Well hello.
KEITH PHIPPS: Thanks for having us.
Das Racist is a Brooklyn-based hip hop trio known for tracks like "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" and "hahahaha jk?" They've referred to their particular approach to hip hop as "deconstructualist," combining humor, nonsequiturs, and culture theory. Their newest album, Relax, is due later this year. Victor Vazquez (aka Kool A.D.) and hype man Ashok Kondabolu (aka Dap) joined us in the studio.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guests, members of the hip hop group Das Racist, are a lot of different things. Heems, Kool AD and Dap are, in part, the heir to the playful smart identity politics of “Daisy Age”-era De La Soul. They're the men behind one of the most successful hip hop novelty records of the last couple of years, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” They were the only rappers in last year's Sundance Film Festival, at least that I'm aware of. They're MCs who drop social theorists' names casually into their lyrics, like no one in hip hop since Diggable Planets' second album, Blowout Comb. They're also three guys from Williamsburg, who apparently like to drink and smoke weed. Let's hear a little bit of “hahahaha jk?” from their most recent mix tape, Sit Down, Man.
Two of the three members of Das Racist, Kool AD and Dap join me on the show. Welcome, guys.
VICTOR VAZQUEZ AKA "KOOL A.D.": Hello.
ASHOK KONDABOLU AKA “DAP”: Hi.
SuperEgo presents a few words from our current sponsor: The Remington County Folk Festival (and Electronics Expo...?).
You can find more from SuperEgo and listen to their podcast at GoSuperEgo.