30 Rock

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Judd Apatow & Romesh Ranganathan

Judd Apatow
Romesh Ranganathan

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Judd Apatow on returning to stand-up comedy after more than 20 years

Judd Apatow is responsible for some of the funniest films and television shows of the past two decades. He got his start in Hollywood mostly by working behind the scenes - he was a writer on “The Larry Sanders Show,” a showrunner on “The Ben Stiller Show” and served as an executive producer on the short-lived NBC cult classic “Freaks and Geeks.”

Apatow has also produced movies like “Bridesmaids” and “Superbad,” and has written and directed plenty of features too, including, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Funny People,” “This Is 40,” and “Knocked Up.”

One of Judd’s true passions is stand-up comedy. When he was a teenager he worked at the East Side Comedy Club in Long Island. Back then he brushed shoulders with comics like Eddie Murphy and Rosie O’Donnell. In 1992, he was featured on HBO’s “Young Comedians Special.” In it, he shares the stage with Ray Romano and Andy Kindler.

Judd Apatow’s new Netflix stand-up special is appropriately called “Judd Apatow: The Return,” it marks his return to stand-up after more than 20 years. His material is sincere and relatable just like many of his films. In the special, he reads terrible poetry he wrote as a teenage to get the crowd going, he jokes about the disastrous time he threw the first pitch for the New York Mets, and he imagines what would happened if he ever decided to smoke pot with his kids. Need we say more!

Jesse talks with Judd about the new comedy special, and why it’s important to him to consciously choose to make his projects more inclusive and diverse.

Click here to listen to Judd Apatow's interview on YouTube!

Photo: Rory James/Flickr

Romesh Ranganathan on how his family's immigrant history informed his comedy

You might not know Romesh Ranganathan yet, but in the UK he’s a big celebrity best known for his stand-up comedy. He’s been a regular on spin offs of “The Great British Bake Off” and “The Apprentice.”

Romesh also hosts a travel show on the BBC called “Asian Provocateur.” In it, he travels around the world reconnecting with his parents’ home country of Sri Lanka. In the second season, Romesh travels to various locations in North America to meet more of his relatives, and his mother, Shanthi, tags along for his adventure.

The highlights of the show often feature Shanthi. She will stop at nothing to chide Romesh whenever she gets a chance. It’s really funny -- dare we say his mom is funnier than him. And Romesh knows this -- his relationship with his hilarious mother often drives much of his stand-up routine.

With hopes of making it big in the states; Romesh just moved to America with his wife, kids, and of course, his mother. He has an upcoming performance at the Greek Theater on Thursday December, 21, and tickets are still available. Romesh’s new comedy special, “Irrational,” was recorded at London's Hammersmith Apollo, and is available now. He hosts a podcast called "Hip Hop Saved My Life."

Jesse talks with Romesh about his love of hip-hop, and what it's like going from crying once a month in a corporate bathroom stall to selling out concert halls in London.

Click here to listen to Romesh Ranganathan's interview on YouTube!

The Outshot: 30 Rock’s Dr. Spaceman

Finally, for this week's Outshot: Dr. Spaceman. 30 Rock was a show with a thousand nearly perfect jokes. But there was only one most perfect joke among all those nearly perfect jokes. Jesse talks about what makes Chris Parnell’s portrayal Dr. Spaceman a very good bad doctor.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on YouTube!

International Waters: Episode 55 Duck Butter and Snozzberries

Ingrid, Dave, Amanda, James and Keith
Ingrid Oliver
Amanda Meadows
James Bachman
Keith Powell

Amanda Meadows, Keith Powell, Ingrid Oliver and James Bachman join host, Dave Holmes for tea drinking, hipster food trends and weird beauty treatments.

Plugs and recommendations:

Amanda Meadows wants to plug her latest Devastator Press publication The Presidential Dickerbook recommends Danger 5 which is available on Netflix.

Keith Powell wants to plug his upcoming web series Keith Broke His Leg and is currently binge-watching BoJack Horseman on Netflix.

Ingrid Oliver wants to plug her own Twitter @IngridOliver100 and recommends Friday Night Lights.

James Bachman wants to plug his UCB 401 Class Show on Saturday 15th August at around 4.30pm. James recommends Scandal and Babybird’s album Fatherhood 2.

And finally, Dave Holmes is on Twitter @DaveHolmes and hosts his live quiz show, The Friday Forty at LA’s Meltdown Theatre on the second Friday of every month. Dave would like to recommend Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.

Written by Sarah Morgan and Asterios Kokkinos, recorded at MaxFunHQ in LA and produced by Colin Anderson.

Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 199: Good In Everything with Keith Powell


30 Rock's Keith Powell joins Jordan and Jesse to serenade a birthday girl, give good advice to America's troubled teens and if there's enough time, sprinkle some gay dust.

Judah Friedlander: World Champion, 30 Rock Star, Author of How To Beat Up Anybody: Interview on The Sound of Young America Live at WNYC

Judah Friedlander

Photo credit WNYC and Casey De Pont.

Judah Friedlander is a regular on NBC's 30 Rock and the author of How To Beat Up Anybody. He is the World Champion.

Judah joined us on our live show at WNYC to discuss the differences between a Yeti, a Sasquatch and a Bigfoot (and how to beat up all three). He also delineated his strategies for fighting groups of people and even groups of strippers.

When Friedlander's not beating people up, he plays writer Frank Rossitano on 30 Rock. He's had a long and successful career on stage as a standup comic, and his film roles include an acclaimed turn as the Original Nerd, Toby in "American Splendor."

Tracy Morgan on Tina Fey


Above is a clip of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Tracy Morgan. Morgan says something here that I found exceptionally powerful.

Oprah asks him what Tina Fey has meant to his career. She tries to lead into "she writes for my voice." Which is true - the staff of 30 Rock do write for Morgan's voice in a way that the staff of, say, The Tracy Morgan Show didn't especially well. They are, after all, the best in the business. They also write for Jack McBrayer's voice and Scott Adsit's voice and Jane Krakowski's voice. That's their job, and they're great at it.

So Oprah's headed towards some well worn territory with her question. Morgan's response, though, is so incisive. What he says is that Fey recognized he was making choices.

What he's saying is that despite his incredible success and remarkable talent, what was special about Tina Fey was that she recognized, simply, that Morgan had agency.

In a way, that's the opposite of what Oprah was driving at (and what people often seem to say about Morgan). People want to attribute Morgan's comic talent to writers. It robs Morgan of not just the credit for being as hilarious as he is (and he is hilarious), but of credit for creating at all.

Oprah's a great interviewer, and she catches herself and refocuses, recontextualizes her question. This isn't anti-Oprah.

What it's really about is something that it seems Morgan gets completely. When you suggest that a person doing creative work has no agency, that they are not making choices, you don't just hurt their reputation. It's closer in my mind to taking away their humanity. A person's actions can be judged for good or ill; a puppet is benign but it can never be human.

There are sharper race critics than I, but there's no doubt in my mind that race is part of this. My gut tells me that this kind of other-ization through a weird kind of infantilization that borders on taking someone's humanity is something that wouldn't happen to a white performer. I haven't sorted out all the implications in my mind, but I wanted to take a second to give Morgan credit for this insight. I know as an interviewer that I'm lucky if my subject thinks so sharply about themselves and their own experience.

(Video via The Vulture)

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