Jena Friedman

Ep. 43: Go Fact Yourself with Jena Friedman & Jack O’Brien

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Tracy Newman, Jena Friedman, J. Keith van Straaten, Jack O'Brien, Phyllis Katz, Helen Hong, Carl Gottlieb
Guests: 
Jack O'Brien & Jena Friedman
Guests: 
Tracy Newman, Phyllis Katz and Carl Gottlieb

This episode of Go Fact Yourself features quick wits and facts about hit flicks!

Jena Friedman is a comedian and longtime contributor to television, perhaps her best known work was as a producer on "The Daily Show." She’ll talk about how she was so dedicated to her work on the show that she was willing to risk her life if it meant getting the shot that she needed. Jena’s new series "Soft Focus" is on Adult Swim.

Jena’s opponent is Jack O’Brien, co-host of "The Daily Zeitgeist" podcast. Before that, he was the co-founder of Cracked.com. How did he turn the website into such a success? Well, he decided to take everything that worked about the original Cracked magazine… and completely ignore it. He’ll explain.

The guests will take a deep dive into the lore of the Jaws franchise, the history of comedy and why it is never a good idea to take a bath at a funeral.

What’s the Difference: Emergency

What’s the difference between a fire engine and a fire truck?

What’s the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?

Areas of Expertise

Jena Friedman: The TV show "Ghostwriter," the history of improv and the ebola virus.

Jack O’Brien: The film Jaws 2, the film Rocky IV and Wu-Tang Clan solo records from 1993 to 1997.

Appearing in this episode:

J. Keith van Straaten
Helen Hong
Jena Friedman
Jack O’Brien

With guest experts:


Tracy Newman, Phyllis Katz and Jena Friedman

Phyllis Katz and Tracy Newman, original company members of The Groundlings improv theater.


Jack O’Brien and Carl Gottlieb

Carl Gottlieb, Screenwriter of Jaws and author of The Jaws Log.

Go Fact Yourself was devised by Jim Newman and J. Keith van Straaten, and produced in collaboration with Maximum Fun. The show was recorded at The Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles.

Theme Song by Jonathan Green.
Maximum Fun's Senior Producer is Laura Swisher.
The show is edited by Julian Burrell.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jena Friedman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jena Friedman

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Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Jena Friedman On Writing For The The Daily Show And Breaking Into The Stand-Up Comedy World

WARNING: This interview contains discussions about difficult subjects including sexual assault and miscarriage. If you're sensitive to these kinds of topics, we figured we'd give you a heads up.

Jena Friedman's a comic, a filmmaker, and a writer. She created and hosts a show on Adult Swim. It's called Soft Focus. It's really funny, just like her all of her comedy, but it also talks about some very difficult, sometimes painful topics.

She got her start writing for Late Show with David Letterman. Then moved on to the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart where she was a field producer, producing some of the shows best pieces with folks like Samantha Bee and Al Madrigal. Her segments covered the news of the day with a satirical edge.

Now on her new show, Jena's in front of the camera and the segments can get very, very uncomfortable. She interviews an eccentric billionaire, surrounded by his armed guards. She talks with an ex-cop who was caught plotting to kidnap and eat his wife. She submits male gamers to a VR simulation of unwanted sexual contact.

Jena constantly pushes boundaries in her work. It's political, it's deadpan, kind of abrasive, too. She has a talent in finding the darkest flaws in our world and talking about them in a way that cuts very deep.

In this conversation, she also gets candid about why women still have a hard time breaking into the stand-up comedy world.

You can watch both of Jena Friedman's Soft Focus specials on Adult Swim.

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