Kurt Andersen is the host of Studio 360, co-founder of the satirical Spy Magazine and a novelist. He brought his love of research and cultural criticism to bear when he penned the new novel True Believers, the story of a high profile lawyer who steps away from a nomination to the Supreme Court. True Believers follows her on a quest to piece together a mysterious episode in her childhood during the Cold War and the age of the spy novel.
Andersen fondly recalls his own childhood interests in espionage, and he discusses the leap of faith required for a trained journalist to stop doing research and begin trusting the imagination. The end result is a novel which weaves together generational politics, 1960s counter-culture, and a children’s game that becomes all too real.
(Embed or share this interview with Kurt Andersen)
Ari Graynor plays a lot of outrageous, messy roles — she was a self-destructive college student on The Sopranos, and she played a drunken best friend in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist — but her characters have heart and a kind of innocence.
The same is true of her most recent role of Katie Steele, the brash-yet-vulnerable young Manhattanite who runs a phone sex line in the new movie For a Good Time, Call. The film is in select theaters nationwide this week.
Ari talks to us about the 80s films that inspired her, the story’s depiction of female friendship, and the strange intimacy and appeal of phone sex.
(Embed or share this interview with Ari Graynor)
Lisa Kudrow broke out to TV stardom on the hugely popular sitcom Friends, portraying the clueless but street-wise Phoebe Buffay. The cast members of Friends were practically America’s Sweethearts, but Kudrow has pursued roles as less easily lovable characters in movies like Easy A and the short-lived but critically acclaimed cable series The Comeback.
Most recently, Kudrow has co-created and stars in the improv-comedy series Web Therapy, about a self-centered therapist who has an unusual “modality” approach — she insists on cutting the usual 50-minute dreams and feelings session to a three-minute web chat. Web Therapy was adapted for TV by Showtime last year, and just began its second season on the network.
Kudrow talks to us about her early career in science research, how the fickleness of middle-schoolers set her on the path to acting, and being mentored by none other than Jon Lovitz.
(Embed or share this interview with Lisa Kudrow)
Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for History/AP Images
Eric Andre isn’t a comedian with a household name, but that didn’t stop him from getting his own talk show. And it didn’t stop him from breaking every rule in the book when it comes to doing monologues or interviewing guests, either. The Eric Andre Show is hard to describe, but if you know that Andre isn’t averse to pouring ketchup down his own pants or borderline abusing his guests, you might start to get the idea. His extremely low-key straight man Hannibal Burress provides a counterpoint to the madness.
Andre talks to us about literally deconstructing the talk show, setting up unexpected situations for guests, and more.
The Eric Andre Show airs Sundays at 12:30am on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
(Embed or share this interview with Eric Andre)
What do The Partridge Family, Black Sabbath, and David Bowie all have in common? They all nurtured the music- and pop culture-obsessed minds behind the punk band Redd Kross. Brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald started the band as kids in the late 1970s, growing up in Hawthorne, California near a burgeoning LA punk rock scene.
The band flew mostly under the radar of mainstream culture, but found a devoted fan base and was hugely influential to the punk, grunge, and indie rock scenes. Kurt Cobain regularly included their songs on his mix tapes, and they’ve been name-checked by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, and even Joe Elliott of Def Leppard.
They’ve just released their first album in fifteen years, called Researching the Blues.
(Embed or share this interview with Redd Kross)
Matt Braunger began his career as an actor and stumbled into comedy, but now is known for both — he’s been a feature performer on MADtv and toured the country with his standup, and he’s scored a recurring role as the genial, dorky neighbor on NBC’s Up All Night.
He talks to us about growing up in Portland and creating his own blend of stand-up comedy — observational stories, mixed in with fanciful musings. His new stand up album and DVD special, both entitled Shovel Fighter, are out now.
(Embed or share this interview with Matt Braunger)
This week’s pop culture picks come to us from The AV Club’s Keith Phipps and Tasha Robinson, who share a few of their all-time favorites. Tasha talks up Richard Adams’ fantasy novel Watership Down — a book which, if you weren’t already forced to read it in high school, is well worth a look. Keith meanwhile shines a light on perhaps the least renowned of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, Duck, You Sucker! (also known as A Fistful of Dynamite or Once Upon A Time… The Revolution!), in which the Italian master of the gunslinger casts his gaze on the tale of Zapata.
(Embed or share The AV Club’s Recommendations)
Scott Aukerman is a writer and the host of Comedy Bang! Bang!, formerly known as Comedy Death-Ray. The show began in 2002 as a comedy pub night in Los Angeles, and is now one of the landmark shows at L.A.’s UCB Theater. In 2009, Scott took many of the show’s best regular characters and comics with him into a radio environment, launching Comedy Death-Ray Radio on Indie 103.1, and setting the template for what would become one of the internet’s premiere comedy podcasts. Comedy Bang! Bang! is now the flagship show on Aukerman’s Earwolf podcast network. This month the show made the leap into another medium entirely: as a darkly satirical late night television talk show.
Scott sat down with us to discuss the move to TV, his early years in Hollywood as a sketch writer on HBO’s Mr. Show with Bob & David, and the strange business of getting paid to do work that’s never produced. Comedy Bang! Bang! airs Friday nights at 10PM on IFC.
(Embed or share this interview with Scott Aukerman)
Pencil sharpener David Rees was long trapped in an awful job as a satirical cartoonist until he just couldn’t take it anymore. In 2010, Rees decided to get back in touch with on old-school writing instrument and took up artisanal pencil sharpening as a profession. His new book, How To Sharpen Pencils, was released earlier this year, and he’s now demonstrated his old-fashioned technique in bookstores across the country. David joins us this week to discuss the lost art of pencil sharpening, and treats us to a chapter reading from his book.
(Embed or share David Rees’s Artisanal Pencil Sharpening)
Mark Duplass is an actor, writer, director, musician, and a man who can be described as having many irons in the fire. He’s the star of two films currently in theaters, Your Sister’s Sister and Safety Not Guaranteed, with a third film, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, that he wrote and directed alongside his creative partner (and brother) Jay, due later this summer. The Do-Deca-Pentathlon will be the second Duplass Brothers film to hit screens this year, following the brothers’ biggest film to date: Jeff, Who Lives At Home, with Jason Segel and Ed Helms. And as if all that weren’t enough, you might know Mark best from his starring role as Pete on the FX comedy series The League, which will be back for a fourth season in the fall.
Mark joins us to discuss the way his musical past has influenced his tendencies as a filmmaker, and why he’s not worried about taking his projects to total perfection.
(Embed or share this interview with Mark Duplass)