Mike Flinn (@realmikeflinn) isn’t just a podcast producer and engineer; he’s also an avid fan of the form. “My Pod Week” recaps and reviews the many varied comedy podcasts Flinn listened to or attended live tapings of during the previous week. Enjoy!
INDUSTRY STANDARD with BARRY KATZ (51: Marc Maron)
Barry Katz is known for launching the careers of Dave Chappelle, Jay Mohr, Dane Cook, Anthony Clark, Tracy Morgan, Whitney Cummings, and Louis C.K. Circa 1988, Barry Katz sent Marc Maron on a series of one-nighters “…You’d be getting $75 to open for another guy who you might have to drive, to drive like 300 miles, you didn’t know what you were gonna walk into because some of those things lasted a week!” It’s not like you could just ask Siri for directions back then, shit had to be figured out with a Thomas Brothers guide (you kids don’t know how good you have it). Maron credits Katz with giving him his start in stand up comedy. For a lot of new Marc Maron fans this is the story before the story, before WTF with Marc Maron changed podcasting and projected itself onto TV with Maron (IFC). Katz wanted to manage Maron back in the day and called a meeting in his cramped basement apartment. Maron said “NO.” “I don’t think I knew exactly what the nature of showbiz was.” Maron was skeptical about committing to management. Katz instead pushed the career of a teenage Louis C.K. by booking him as an opener for Jerry Seinfeld. “It was an amazing experience and Jerry loved him and took him under his wing…” Katz had done some stand-up himself, and Maron can only remember this gem from the old act: “I’m a Jew, I’m hung like a vitamin.” With material like that, it’s nice to see that Katz found his path in management, something that he describes as “turning a no into a yes.” The guys share memories from Maron’s early days in comedy and sometimes the memories clash a little but this talk provides insight. It’s the story of someone finding their way to true expression, surviving periods of negative influence, and fighting through uncertainty. When I first heard Katz on the Mohr Stories with Jay Mohr podcast, I was instantly hooked on his delivery of inspiring show-biz parables. It was like he was talking to me directly. Barry Katz made me ask myself, “What do I want in life and what am I doing to achieve it?” I think of him like that self-help legend Tony Robbins only far less frightening.
When Aziz Ansari was just a rookie comedian in New York, Todd Barry was one of his favorite guys to watch. Barry was supportive and gave good advice like telling Ansari to get in front of as many different audiences as possible. If he could kill in the clubs as well as the “alternative” rooms it would make him stronger and ultimately be able to perform in cities all over the country. Now Ansari performs for people all over the world. Ansari has become an integral part of the Parks and Recreation (NBC) cast, but my favorite TV Aziz is from Human Giant, the 2007 MTV sketch show he wrote and performed with Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer. If you like Ansari but somehow missed out on Human Giant, go seek it out now and then finish reading this. Ansari also talks about the new book he’s been working on about modern romance with a social science angle. He talked with anthropologists and social psychologists and everyone agrees that we have more choices in finding a partner now than at any other point in history. Barry recounts a near-death experience from drinking too much iced coffee while on the road between New York and Boston with Ansari at the wheel. “You wanted to stop like three times.” “It was two, it was two.” Luckily Ansari gave in and stopped the car or one of the most original voices in modern comedy could have been lost to combusted kidney syndrome. They survived the ordeal and are better friends because of it.
TOTALLY LAIME with ELIZABETH LAIME and ANDY ROSEN (#231 Janet Varney)
Elizabeth Laime and her co-host, husband Andy Rosen, spoke with actress and podcaster Janet Varney from THE JV CLUB, a show I wrote about last month. We learn through Varney’s ordeal with identity fraud to never give out your Social Security number. Someone went around adding themselves to her credit-card accounts, but persistent Varney was able to get her information locked down and secure. She also found a gun once in the park and waited two hours at a police station for them to give a shit and go with her to secure that possible murder weapon. After 30 minutes, I would have walked out and told myself that squirrels will probably eat it or something. Now I think of Varney as a Veronica Mars type of character standing for justice and foiling criminals like it’s no big deal. Laime almost got in a car wreck with her new baby in the car because some teens were driving like assholes. She did fantasize about their death a little and Rosen points out that it makes her a human but feeling bad about that fantasy makes her a good person. It’s a scary world out there.
Mike Flinn is a podcast producer/engineer based in West Hollywood, Calif., for All Things Comedy. The views expressed in My Pod Week are purely his own.