Ben SchwartzArmchair Expert with Dax Shepard
- 1,710 views
- 15 Mar 2021
Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation, House of Lies, Middleditch and Schwartz) is an actor, comedian, writer, director and producer. Ben joins the armchair expert to discuss starting off in improv comedy, how Eugene Cordero is the funniest person in the world, and dancing with Dax at a pajama birthday party. Ben recounts working as a camp janitor as a minor, the importance of separating his self-worth from the work he does, and his experience going on the Letterman show. Monica divulges her attraction to Ben and the lengths she would go to be near him at his shows and Dax tells him how special his hair thickness is.
Welcome, welcome, welcome to armchair expert I'm Dan Rather and I'm joined by Monica Monsoon, multi time Emmy Award nominee, multi year, just like it's just won.
OK, well, one time nominee, let it be said, let it happen or whatever the same.
Oh, I like that. Put it out there.
So it is said so it'll happen.
Anyways, today we have a friend, Ben Schwartz, who Monica has her own experience with him, which is going to be majorly titillating to hear.
And then I know him because Kristen was on a show with him four years House allies, and he's just a lovely, incredibly talented, super funny actor, comedian, writer, director and producer. You probably fell in love with him on Parks and Recreation. He was on House of Lies and he's got a great live show, Middleditch and Schwarcz, Middleditch and Schwarcz.
I can see it. What is it? Middleditch and Shwartz Middleditch.
Yeah, it's a middle Tennessee. Middle Tennessee Sanaz Middle Tits and Seans, which is a great live show and it is on Netflix.
But he is here today to talk about Flora and Ulysses, which is an imaginative and creative 10 year old cynic. Never could have predicted that her little squirrel would be born anew as a superhero and have the uncanny knack for helping her and the lovable but broken people in her life. So check out Flora and Ulysses and enjoy then Shortz.
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Oh wow. We got to take a second clap for that pun.
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He's in charge. How are you? Look how cute your sweater is, it's got splatters. It's not mine. And someone gave it to me for press.
Oh, that's nice. Well, it's yours for the next couple of hours.
It's mine. And I put it in a bag and it's no longer. What a great place to start so high. DAX, I'm Monica. First of all, lovely to see you both.
So lovely to see you. What a beautiful pleasure this is. Sometimes we get to talk to one of the the good guys. Yeah, but let's talk about.
So you're on a press junket and then I just want to know what your thoughts are. So I have a style I'm comfortable with. I've been wearing this virtually the same style since high school. I just changed like how baggy or tight everything is, but virtually it's the same. OK.
And then you go on a press junket and I realized why you can't wear the same shirt that every one of these things. And then it's stressful. And then they recommend maybe someone comes and helps you and then they do that. And then my experience is like I only like like one in 30 things. And then I end up wearing things that everyone's saying, you look fantastic and I feel ridiculous in. Right.
But I go with it and I just want to know your whole wardrobe is a perfect example is this if I pass this by in a store and never in a million years would I purchased it.
And it's so funny because it's usually those clothes are the ones that we are seen in the most because those are the press stores and those are the ones you're on camera or you're on like a talk show and like that's a credible suit. I was like, I would never buy this because I'd be afraid I'd rip it. And then I've lost so much money I could never do it.
Yes. And also many times we'll look at stuff and I'll be like, I just wear like this shirt that I've owned for 40 years. Yeah. I've I've I've had much. But I try to take more risks now when I'm doing stuff, because if you look at any interview, it looks like I'm wearing the same exact version of a thing in every single one. So it looks like just nothing has changed in my life from like ten years from now.
So now, yeah, I like Archaeologist's actually dated because there's no actual progression.
That's exactly correct. And what we do is basically for an archaeologist to, like, say exactly where we are in this time, you know, I mean, I often fantasize about what those future archaeologists will be saying about me.
Oh, my God. Do you have any idea if your time capsule, your life, DACS and Monica, what's the first thing that you would put in like this item represents me the most. Wow. I never thought of that question until this moment.
And what a beautiful question. You know, they say a good politician's answer.
The question they wanted to be ask like, well, the question I want to answer, answer, answer is what the like forensic anthropologist geologist would say when they just saw my skeleton.
Oh, that's interesting.
And I think they would think, oh, this guy fell out of really tall places a lot like he had some job where he constantly fell out of a tree or Vogues or so broken and put back together.
Yeah, there's so much proof of bone mending that what else would they guess.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just this man loves screws. This man loves to like like really fuck himself over. Really feel pain.
Monica But you answered the question Riotta and I will too. I feel I can't, I can't wait. We're going to respect the question.
Yeah. And our guess the first thing in the time capsule would probably be a cookie.
Yeah, that's a good one, because I stole a lot of cookies.
I was a little OK. Or probably my cheerleading rings.
Yeah. Rings like state champ rings two of them. Oh, wow. All right.
Ben, do you ever kick yourself I mean, I understand you're in love now, so but do you ever just kick yourself like I was swimming in the same pond as Monica Night and I fucking let her get away? If I were you, I would be it would haunt me at night every day.
If you had met Monica at a certain time before we met Kristen, it would haunt you for the rest of your life, you think. Well, that's when you put it that way, it's really good. He's good. He's good. He's good.
But that's too theoretical because I didn't meet Monica before I met Chris. But you did meet Monica before Monica.
We didn't get to spend a lot of time together, though. Yeah. Even then, I mean, I knew you because of UCB, but you didn't know me because of you.
So I think the first time we really met was probably through Laura. And that would have been most Georgia. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
But, you know, Monica worked at the L.A. UCB for a year as an intern, first an intern, and then I was a house manager there.
Oh, my God. Very exciting, by the way. I know very. That would be in there. My hoodie would be in the time capsule. Tell people what a UCB hoodie is because I don't even I don't know.
UCB is the Upright Citizens Brigade is a theater that I started at in Chelsea in New York. And then there's one over here in L.A. and it's long form improv and the type of improv because you're a Groundlings. Sometimes we could talk about the different versions, if the listeners want to know is a game based improv or like we try to find the game of a scene and we try to hit it. And then how would you describe Groundlings? I know people from growling say it's more character based improv, but how would you describe it?
Well, there's a bunch of different shows. They're just like there are, you know, at UCB. So in general, like a show would have had the first act would have been like a lot of short like three, four minute improvs. Right. Premise driven. Right. Where someone's trying to get something that no one no. Everyone else knows but that person, whatever. And then a little intermission and then then one long form at the end.
So that existed. But in a general show when you would go see a Groundlings Saturday night show, you're going to see like probably 12 sketches. And then interspersed will be probably three improv sets that are short sketch length.
Yeah. And yes, very character driven. That's their preferred method of entering info into a scene that we like.
Quarantine is maybe very nostalgic, very nostalgic for things I from my childhood or from whatever. One of the questions I was talking about with my friend was what part of your life was like the most like you're like, oh, this was like I was so happy. This is one of my favorite parts of my life and it's the beginning of it. But it's not even like playing these. I know you two and I get to tour these incredible places, which is amazing and insane that we get to play Chicago Theatre, Carnegie Hall, but starting off an improv and having, like, your closest friends doing shows, making no money and then watching like Amy Poehler perform and watching Tina Fey perform and watching like Ian Robertson.
That was some of my favorite moments in my entire life, going out, drinking afterwards and being around like Horatio Sans for the first time being like, oh, my God, Horatio is right there. Huh? I remember just having so much fun failing and not being great, but trying to get better and then slowly getting your first real laughs. And that stuff was heaven to me.
I totally agree. There's this, like, really unique feeling and it's just so special where it's like you enter this thing with tons of fear and doubt and then there's this little area where you're like, oh my gosh, I, I think I might be able to do this.
That's right. Yes, I do. And then on other nights they suck. And then that wave of that is really euphoric because you also feel like a complete failure.
Sometimes if a show is terribly you're like, I can't do this, I'm not good enough.
Yeah, I, I've chosen the wrong path.
That's exactly right. And then and then there's moments where, like, someone will come up afterwards that you don't know. It's not a friend that's at a show and they'll say something about your performance and you will be flying on cloud.
Oh yeah. I couldn't agree more. What a great point. You know, people have told me nice things on the street about movies I'm in, but never felt like when someone would say, like they had seen me at the Groundlings and then they brought it up. It was like, wait. Yeah. So unique and fun. Yeah.
And they didn't even know you then back then, you know what I mean. You were an unpunctuated or anything like that. It's a very like I think you're funny man. And they're like oh my what.
It's a very exciting feeling. It is.
It's such an insular world though. Like it's so funny when I think back on, like a lot of those moments for me were in class and the teachers, you know, like Ferney or.
Oh yeah, sure. You know, and it's all Meanjin.
Yeah. Dax's really jealous of Eugene Cordaro is one of the most incredible human beings.
And funny, when I used to make short films, I put him in every single one of my short films because I just thought he was the funniest person in the world.
Yeah, I'm going to kill him. Yeah. I mean, I call Meanjin Kordell. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. So you understand. Of course, yeah.
I mean it all started with Monica and Kristen just I overheard them in the living room and they were just gushing about me and Gene and I was like, okay, enough about me and Gene.
These I think he is the funniest person in the world.
He says if someone says like that person so funny, is there a jealousy that comes from you if someone's funnier or more good looking or is there one that trumps the other ones?
Well, I operate assuming everyone's more good looking than me. I've been in that same camp. Right. When I have a ton of shared things, I want to know, but also I find you very good looking. And then because of that, you saying that maybe you feel the same way, maybe it's a way we think about ourselves. But to me, you're just being kind and saying that no, no. Was like, you obviously know, you're more attractive than many of the people.
And Monica, she knows as well. You must think you're you must look at some even a guest that you have. I'd be like, oh, I know. More attractive than fucking Schwartz, you know what I mean? Like something.
Well, no, no, hold on. Hold on. We got to really get into the granular detail here, because Monica and I were just talking about that.
Do I look at someone and think their face is more appealing than mine all the time and very infrequently?
Will I go like my face? Now I have a confidence and then I have I have some sexual appeal. I don't know how else to explain that women like me before I was famous. I don't think it's because of my face. So I do have some weird probably overconfidence in one area.
And this is something I think we share. And I think I isolated it in you the first time you and I danced together. When did.
We can't wait for this. What do we dance together? Scatty. We are so scatty wampus.
But fuck it, here we are. We were at Rashid's birthday party.
The serial sure was truly one of the most special things of all time. I have a picture I know exactly you're talking about. There's a picture of us in jammies dancing.
Yes. So, Rasheda, the best concept for a birthday party. You come in pajamas and every cereal ever made is on the counter and it's a dance party. So there's like a real.
I wasn't there was a DJ, right? Yeah.
And they played 90s hip hop and RB. Oh, wow.
You ate cereal and dance. Yes.
Monica, when I tell you every single cereal was there, like someone went to a Ralph's and fucking bought the whole aisle.
It is an incredible idea because also everybody's dressed kind of silly. So they're not you're not as self-conscious when you're dancing around people because everybody already looks like it's like a pajama jammy jam type thing.
Oh, it's it's so special. And then so immediately I said, oh, Ben Schwartz can dance.
Oh, he's very confident and he's got rhythm.
And so I said to myself, oh, this is not not dance rhythm like sexual sexual rhythm section.
Oh really. Off of dancing. You could feel that. Yes I can.
Absolutely. I know, I know you may deny it, but it's the truth. And anyone who has ever seen you dance will probably share my opinion. It's fun.
It reframed you like I knew you as someone who is really funny and outgoing. Your hair is so enviable. It's so fucking enviable.
My hair when I was coming up was never a thing. And you were one of the first people that pulled me aside and told me how special it was when I got here.
You were like you literally said, I remember.
That's so funny because that party was I mean, it could have been a decade ago, it probably was still in parks is going on. And you're like, dude, you talked about thickness of hair and you're like, dude, this is your calling card.
You got something. And by the way, it might have been that that made me feel like, oh, my God, if this goes away, is that going to be terrible because it's going to sometime go away. But you made up you made a point of it. And only when I moved to L.A., I started to notice it more and more. More and more people come up to me and men would come up to me and be like, Dude, good for you.
Hold on to it as long as you can. Yeah, the Boston thing, like, good for you. Yeah. Yeah. OK, so your dancing gave me a little window into the side of you that I really just wasn't aware of.
And then I came to find out and you'll hate this, but I came to find out everyone at UCB was in love with you, so I wasn't shocked by that.
And then so I looked surprised. Wow. You cannot be surprised by that.
I don't I don't feel or see that at all. I'll think about it. You don't feel or see that at all when you're Rowlings and you feel people like the way that you express that would never in a million years would I have thought that never.
But what about the line like. Oh yeah, but that's fans coming to blast. You're talking about people at UCB would come to be like, oh, look at this guy. I think like, oh, I can make them laugh. And they think we're funny and I think that's why they're coming. I would never in a million years and I guarantee if you talk to audiences that come to our shows, it won't be like, look at this fucking beautiful Jewish Muppet.
Like, it's not like that. It's like like, oh, these guys are maybe maybe they'll think, oh, they're kind of cute, but they're they're funny.
I feel like I look like that's how you see them.
Well and so on par with how everyone sees. Well I'll just I mean I was one of those people.
Yeah. Do you want to roll around with you. Is that true, Monica. Yes. Never. You showed no sign of any of that by the.
Well, I didn't because I didn't know how to do that. I was scared, but I definitely was there for that reason. And I know many people were. Yeah. If not everyone. OK, and you're not wrong. So, yes, people came to see you laugh and you're predictably could make them laugh. But then that also created cuz let's be clear about Epicures, a pussy quiver.
So this is a term what you can't see is dacs.
Eating pussy quiver with like the technical hand moving of being like, yes, that's four hundred grams of salt, you're going to look like a measurement of like scientific whatever form you literally, like, put his hand together, like you dumb idiot, pushover.
Of course, it was a very beautiful moment. Yeah.
So the gals in some of the guys, I guess they're getting accused, but whatever it is you're getting, people are getting cues when they want you because you go in there and you're like, look at these two goofy sons of bitches and then something happens where, like, the confidence is there. And then I think a girl or a woman or a man goes, this person be really fun.
I don't know why I'm theorizing. You could tell us. Is that kind of the of us is this uncomfortable to talk about Monica or.
No, I see your face feeling. Maybe it is. It is.
But look, this is what we do here. We pretty much just. Yes.
Uncomfortable quick if we're not uncomfortable.
The person said, well, the first time I saw you, I was going to a convoy show. So Todd was my teacher. Great, great teacher, great girl. Very interested in Todd as well.
Oh, my God. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. It's a problem. OK, so I love it.
It's where she met a teacher that she was sexually attracted to and she didn't have a pick you up from.
OK, so I was very interested in Todd, my first improv teacher, also my first improv teacher. Like, that's a big deal.
He's teaching me the ways and introducing you to the world. Yeah. Yeah.
And so I go to a convoy show which people who don't know is a UCB show with three guys and they're unbelievable. And I got there and I think Todd was not there and I was so pissed.
I was that's the reason I went. I was so pissed.
And you were standing in. Oh, in a convoy.
I probably did at once or twice my career.
Well, locked I in a simulation. So of course I caught the one as luck would have it. And you were there. And I.
Hold on one second, though. I just want to point out the context. So you're digging yourself out of a hole because big time Todd's not there.
I don't even know who did not.
But she's in love with Todd in terms of there, so she's inclined to hate you. Who the fuck is this guy? Todd?
OK, let's go up here. And I'm like, oh, no, Todd isn't here. Who's this guy?
Who's this beautiful Jewish Muppet?
And then you were amazing. And I was like, oh, wow, OK, I like this person, too. And then I started coming to your shows and learning more about you. And then then I was just fully in.
Should I tell them the really embarrassing thing? I don't know any of this, Monica. And we've hung out with Laura, other people. And you are you've never I guess we hang out that much, but you've always this is cool. This is I mean, like the fact that the first time you're sharing this is the most public forum.
Yeah. For some reason, this is where I'm the most comfortable. Yeah. It makes no sense. Well, just to interject, make it about me. I've met Natalie Portman twenty times. I've never said a damn word to her that she was in my toolbox, you know, the poster of her and I was in love with her. But the four seconds into the interview, I let her have it. This is the place.
And she's also the coolest person in the universe.
So you're like, oh, you're gorgeous and you're cool and smart.
It's too much. She's got money, too. Anyway, I think I've heard that.
Yeah. So so I used to go to shitty jobs. Oh, by the way, these shows are at 11:00 p.m. this week.
By the way, can I tell you why they're on eleven. Yeah, I came from New York and there were no more slots for people and the shows ended at ten thirty on Sunday. Right. Or something like that. And so it was Sean Klemens me. And I think it was one other person that were like, hey, we want to do a show. And they go, there are no slots.
And I said, what if we invented a slot at eleven? And they go Sunday at 11:00 p.m. and I go, let's just try it. And if it does well and but the show was that show was Donald Glover, who is, you know, the biggest music star in the world.
Now, he might be the number one source of Monica's news. Oh, my God. This is a horrible episode.
It's Monica centric episode.
And it's all about cuz I think so many kids I know, but I think there's some serendipity happening like. Yeah. That he is Donald Glover. I know.
It's probably because you saw him in shitty jobs be so funny and then all of a sudden he creates like art, like actual art music and you're like you could do and he's obviously gorgeous, but it's like he in Atlanta, Atlanta. He's incredible. And then his music is incredible. Yeah. Yeah.
But that group is very special. And they said, all right, try it once or twice. And then like after two or three shows, we sold out all of our shows. And so then we that we just invented that slot for L.A..
Mhm. Yeah. And it never didn't sell out ever again. And you had to like be on top of getting the tickets, which of course I was.
And. But OK, this is really embarrassing. So I would try to sit in a seat. Oh, OK.
I love you so much. I am so happy you're telling me it's fine. OK, I would try to sit in a seat that was like an aisle seat where I knew that you guys would sit, oh, when you are listening to the job interview.
And so I could just get like as close proximity.
Brilliant. You're brilliant. I love it. I can't believe I just did. Beautiful. She just shared that with you.
I love that. By the way, I did maybe that show for nine years before I stopped doing it. I never would have thought that. But, of course, because I would see similar people in the aisles and would say hi to people if they came to the shows.
Did I ever say hello to you? Because, you know, you should like you're always sitting here. Oh, yes.
So that means you would have to get there early enough to get the exact seat you wanted. Of course, she's very type a straight-A student.
And you know what I want? She's very she's very type you.
That's very sweet. I'm happy that it's very, very.
So what do we think? Do we think it's probably best you didn't know that stuff. Like, do you think you'd be an asshole if you knew that?
Or do you think it would make me uncomfortable if I if I knew that it would make me? Because when I see people in the crowd, I don't think that at all. Yeah. I don't know how I would react. Maybe you'd start trying to strut.
I would want to be nice to those people. Let's say it was a fan that I didn't know and maybe they're a little bit I wouldn't want to lead them on in any way, but I want to be so nice to them because I can't believe that they would go out of like Monica waited extra time so she can get that seat. And I was like, man, that's what I mean in terms of comedy, that's what I would do to like watch a show.
I would wait hours for like a cool show. So I like want to like always connect with those people, but without like not your particular Monica, but without giving someone like the feeling like, oh I'm like, oh this is this. Yes. And is for you.
But I will there be there'll be people that come to every show that I'll have a little back and forth with refreshing. If I see them in the audience, I'll give them a wave and they'll wave back like because you see the same people come back and forth. You start realizing that they have a real connection to the show and it means a lot to them beyond just being. And so you want to acknowledge that?
Well, I would argue and this is not in a negative way, but I would say in some ways UCB was as and is as as much of a movement as it is a comedy scene. Like I think when you're in the UCB, it's like being into a band. I think it's more than just the comedy.
I think also on top of that, I think for me coming up and watching people, the people I'm invested in before anybody else in the world knows who they are, like, I'm like this guy. This woman is so funny. And like, I'm starting to watch her shows all the time, like, oh, my God, she's crushing. You know, I'm so invested when that person gets their television show. I'm watching that show I'm making because I feel like I was there when nobody was there.
It has a punk rock vibe to it, more like Groundlings was more like second city. Like you could come from out of town. You didn't have to know shit about comedy. You're going to see Melissa McCarthy do an amazing big character and you're going to love it. But I would say using is more like punk rock into that point. Punk rock wasn't as much about the music per say as it was about that community and scene of people that you felt similar to.
It's very interesting. I definitely felt the community and then because the idea of community there pushed me to try to do more stuff and try to write like I wanted to try to do everything. And you have people that are supporting you. And at a team called Hot Sauce, which is me, Adam Galleguillos, Eric and the three of us, that was some of the best that was those times was talking about like, I don't know why this comes to mind, but there's something called Cage Match at UCB, which is one improv team goes up, then another improv team goes up.
Then the audience decides who they like better and the person comes back. And so nobody cared about me. Adam Angelo's Eric, who, if you don't know who it is, is the funniest person in the world to me, the actual funny person in the world. He's your Meanjin. He is by me.
But there's another thing that I talk about. Someone that's like one of my favorite things in the universe is laughing so hard. I'm crying with someone. I love that so much. And nobody in the universe can make me do that more than Guille. Like, we'll be on the phone and he just has my number. But we'll do shows and we won our first cage match. And in my head I could still feel that moment of like when the clock went off and it went black.
And then we looked at each other like, oh, like we did a good show and like there's a chance we're going to win.
But those moments stick out to me so much. Still, I love those moments and those are the ones like that. And also, like when you hit a milestone, like a Carnegie Hall thing was big because my parents were there and stuff like that. But those early ones, man, I loved that stuff.
Can I propose a theory on why? I would love to? Because I think of my own experience in that way, like it was all about process then. Like it was actually about me being on the stage at the Groundlings and a sketch going well. And it was so, so fun. And I never was like, oh, the sketch goes well. On Sunday I'm going to have a TV show on Tuesday. That's not how my mind was.
It wasn't even an option. No, it was the means and and all in one, but. Once you enter into it professionally, you would be naive and a bad steward of your opportunities if you didn't consider what leads to what and where do I want to end up, and then just adopting that kind of robs you a little bit of process.
I think that makes a lot of sense. There's a sociology experiment.
I was a psych major in college, which I read that today, and I was like, how the fuck have we not talked about that? You are an anthro major.
We'll also think about your podcast and how much psych plays a part of mental health. And psych is such a big part of your podcast. But yeah, the answer to me studying other cultures was that pick the professors that I liked at college and I just kept taking them over and over again. And those are the two things. But there's a sociology experiment. I know it's not anthropology sociology. That was this kid went to a sandbox. You know, this is like a famous one kid went to a sandbox, will go every day.
I'm assuming this is real. It was a story. It was told to us in class. We'd go every single day, loved it, loved the sandbox. A gentleman went up to him and said, you know what, I see how much fun you're having here. I'll pay you a dollar tomorrow if you come and do exactly what you're doing here and the kids like to do it, do exactly what you do. I just have so much fun that you're enjoying yourself.
Gives them a dollar every day for the next week or two. He gives them a dollar. I may be changing the time line and then it's like a Friday and or whatever it is. And the kid goes to sandbox and looks at the guy and puts out his hand for the dollar. And the guy goes, I have no more money so I can't pay you anymore. And the kid goes, all right then I'm not going to be in the sandbox.
And he stopped doing the sandbox and I loved that. Yeah. And I think I think there's an aspect of that where it's like, you're right, the second money comes in, it changes the atmosphere stuff, and then you have to be mentally strong enough to remember. This is something I enjoy and loves. And I think that comes with like when either of us does an indie movie, there's no money in it. But we love the idea of making movies are like if you direct a movie and you know that, you're going to have to work every fucking sorry every minute I can come and start doing press a Disney movie.
So it's hard. I got a lot of cursing, anything else. But it's like, you know, you're going to every minute of your life is going to be taken for next year, you know what I mean? If you love it and you're not going to make a lot of money when at least for the stuff that I'm like for directing stuff, I know that all my money is going back into the movie. So it's like you have to love it so much.
Yeah, I think I made whatever the minimum hit and run is you could legally make, and I didn't even pay myself and one of the departments and got in trouble with the guild. Yeah, exactly.
Yeah, exactly. And I think there is something like that where the second you have to think about it as a business and not just we love doing this so much. Oh my God, we made people laugh. Why don't we write another one. Oh my God. Now let's try to make a sketch. Oh my God. That work now is try to do an hour long, you know, I mean, that stuff.
Stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.
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We've been using one extensively for about a year and a half, and it saves every outdoor party that we have.
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Well, there's a handful of people that I really admire in this business, Nick Kroll comes to mind. Danny McBride comes to mind. A few people that have like had clearly options to get paid and then kept pursuing the option of working with who I like and keeping it this little microcosm I love. And I just so admire those guys because I picked money a bunch of times and fucked up because of it. And I wonder what your relationship with money is, because I know you didn't grow up with a boatload of money.
No, my parents grew up in the cellar. So like my production company is called the Grand Avenue Films. My dad grew up on one seventy six and granddad in the Bronx. And then my mom grew up right near there. We grew up middle class, so we grew up in Riverdale. And it's me and my sister who is the biggest fan of this podcast in the universe, Marnie. Her name is Marnie Ruling now. And she is like, when I told her I was doing this, she's like, oh my God, she was.
So she is a therapist. She deals with mental health. She deals with all these huge and wonderful issues. And it helps people and is a good person and has kids and takes care of it all really quick.
Marnie, if you have half the dance moves that many has. I would love to join you on a dance floor. And that's a sincere invite.
That's wonderful to have the dance moves. You know, she doesn't dance as much.
OK, Marnie, if you ever want to be talking, you talk about pathologies. That's the doors.
Also, I'm taking us off a tangent.
I don't know what I was talking. Oh, and so middle class, it was me, my sister, my dad, my mom. But because they didn't know they had no money growing up. So there's aspects of how we were brought up like, you know, learning exactly how to make the ketchup less by putting water in there, putting it on pasta sometimes, like all these little things. But we did well, especially considering, like, my parents share rooms with all their siblings and all that stuff.
So but even by the way, if you did well or you grew up well, they have inherited that. Like I remember my grandparents who had lived through the Depression. Their relationship with all these things certainly infected my parents and then that kind of infected me.
Oh, it's work ethic. I think my parents have worked their butts off. So I worked. We had to illegally figure out how to do something with my working papers to make it legal for me to work underage. And we somehow did. So I was working underage. One of my first jobs was as I wasn't old enough to be a counselor, so they had to make me as the janitor.
So I'd go to this camp and I'd clean up all the broken forty ounce bottles off the places where the kids would drink. I put them in a bag and then for the second half of the day I would get to be a counselor and like that so slowly.
And then I worked on that policy for half a second.
I feel like if you're going to if you're going to let a minor do anything, chatting with people would be preferred to as opposed to picking up the things that can hurt your kid and maybe maintaining the plumbing system and stuff like that.
So that's a big ask.
But that's always it's been always my M.O. is because I always even in comedy, you see people who are going to be funnier than you. But if I worked harder than other people, maybe I'd have a little bit more opportunity. So like always, especially with work for me, like at the beginning, I was I was freelancing just for Letterman at six a.m. then go be a page, then like go be an intern. It used to be so and get free classes and then like perform and do all this stuff.
And I just would never stop because I wanted to do this so badly. Yeah. And I knew if I didn't in the first couple of years that I wouldn't be able to. So I just went on and I kind of stayed. That work ethic in the whole family has stayed with us forever.
But what is your fear level about money? Is it something you obsess about?
I still find myself not spending. I don't spend a lot of money because I never did growing up. It's very rare for me to, like, get expensive things. And I think there's a fear of I never know when this is going to end. I it's going well right now, but who knows? And I have friends that we're like, we're doing really well. And now I haven't worked for a little bit. So it's like the fear of failure, I think drives me quite a bit.
But at the at the beginning it was like I got to make this much or I won't be able to live to do this, you know what I mean? But the the thing that I had that other people didn't have is that I did have my like, if things went terrible, I have a source. I have a net just in case.
Well, and Nick was very honest about the fact that he went to school in a limousine. What does that elementary school.
Yeah, well, his dad's dad owns this is incredibly like world famous private investigation firm that.
Oh, right. Of course. Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah.
What I love is he's not like hiding that.
He's like you will get dropped off unbelieve zuberi that is that is a thing that I had that a lot of people I was doing in private didn't have is that if wet shit hit the fan and I had no money, I could find a way to go back to my parents who had moved from the Bronx now to Westchester, which is around where Nick grew up. And it's like, yeah, I knew that there is friends that I had that if they didn't hit that, then it's like they can't do anything and right.
You that there is a piece of me that's like if I totally messed up, even though I would never want to, I could be taken care of and not totally be on the street. Yeah. Monica, you had that a little bit too.
Yeah, I definitely did it. A luxury, it really is, because, I mean, it's a part of the narrative that you you don't want to say because it feels like, oh, it undermines my hard work. But it it does. It doesn't. And it's true. Like, you can take bigger risks knowing. Oh, like, if worse comes to worse, I'll probably get a boost from my parents and I can always go home.
That's what it is. I could always go back to where that I lived. You know what I mean. Yes. So for me, my parents help me out for the first year after college year and a half after college, and never again did they ever help me out. So after a year and a half, that was it. I was able to make enough to just barely get by and go through. And what's the exact amount of money you have in the bank right now, but still, you know, zillions of dollars?
I don't know if have you heard of Sonic the Hedgehog? I have. I have. Maybe you heard of way. They're making a sequel. Yeah, they're making a squeak wall of sound.
Is it shipwrecked? It's going to be shipwrecked nine times out of ten. Oh, no.
And I and I did not make Big Boy money on Sonic. That was like, listen, do you want to be Sonic?
And like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever you want. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And that did not play my cards correctly on that one at all because you wanted this so bad and you put in so much effort and now you have it. How do you feel, do you feel content. Do you feel excited.
Great question. To make sure that I'm able to separate. My self-worth, not just from the work I do, but the other thing like because also you'll do a job and it'll be like you're on cloud nine and then you'll have a month off and you're writing by yourself and if you're so lonely. So that's the thing that as I've gotten older, that in learning to take breaks, I would never stop working and I would get sick all the time.
And now that I've learned to take breaks and stuff like that. So I've learned as I've gotten a little bit better at this, learned how to whatever. But in terms of like there are moments when I'm like, oh my God, playing Carnegie Hall, my parents in the audience was Oh my God moment. That's like an insane oh my God. I'm sure when you guys played Detroit free, you, Dex, that must have been like this is insane.
It was insane because I had gone there and I never even fantasized I'd be on the stage. And for me to show I could do because everyone I knew from my childhood was there. And I've adopted this persona that allows me to be confident onstage. And I was nervous they could see right through you.
So funny also that I realized that whenever you play a hometown show, the thing that now I think about, like when like a big artist comes back to L.A. or whatever it is, that's the time when one thousand people ask you becomes like before you're on stage, you're texting to make sure you're all your friend. Like you're just trying to figure out, like, all those little things, because, like, you will tour like when we did Detroit, I didn't know anybody in Detroit.
So it's like we're just like doing nothing backstage, Thomas and I. And then, like, you're on like, oh, no, you know, we did forget what a Masonic does exactly what it is. So we had we don't need any tech because we just make shit up. So we do a tech for five minutes. So literally, I asked the gentleman who runs the place to go, can you just give me a tour? He's like, my man.
There's like six hundred rooms. I go show me, like, a hundred of them.
And so like he just by myself, I just went around and looked at like so I'll do like stuff like that.
I want to say and I even think I said this to you the last time we talked about it and then I never looked it up. But I want to say that that's where Houdini died in the Masonic Temple.
He so Houdini died because he used to do this trick where he'd let anyone from the audience punch him in the stomach. And I think he did that trick in Toronto the night before. And then he was playing in Detroit and he had ruptured some organ and then he died there.
Do you know that he's Jewish, by the way? Oh, then I don't want to talk. I don't like him anymore. Of course. I'm sorry I didn't warn you before asking a question. Monica, I.
I'm happy. But you're right. There's like a perfect example as I was a page for Letterman for two years and I was freelancing jokes for Letterman and my goal, I had three goals when I started. One was to be a guest on Letterman before he stopped. And for some crazy reason, I got booked on Letterman two weeks before he was done. And in my head this was I've been waiting ten years. I was one of the first people ever to go from a page who told people where to go to the bathroom to in the seat being interviewed because of the stuff that I had done.
And so my dad came to the greenroom. It was just me and my dad and I was so excited and I was like, this is it? And I was I felt like it was just OK. And I was so bummed because I was it was something that was in my head for a decade.
I really want to do this. I got to do this and I did it.
I've said this on here before. I never had any aspirations in show business, but I always was preparing to be interviewed by Letterman. I thought about it all through junior high every morning when I cut my hair, I was talking to Letterman. I thought about him all day, every day.
Did you do a show? I did. And was it amazing? Oh, it was. It was incredible. And I was looking at him and I was having kind of an out of body experience and I could feel that I was just staring at him and smiling. And I actually like for the first time ever, I didn't even care if I did well to the audience. I was just like soaking up this thing.
And I was like, but this is so stupid. And it's everything I built up over ten years of wanting. No expectation could have been met. By the way, he doesn't know who I am. I know who is. I saw him every day for my whole life. And then it's like I get there in my head. I was like, yeah, we'll talk about how it worked here. And I wrote jokes for you and I got twenty five jokes on the air, like all these fun things and.
Yeah, and I'm sure he's just doing his job and he was two weeks away and he was lovely. And there are moments like people who saw it liked it, but I thought it was going to be, it was so silly of me to think, of course it wasn't going to be like that. I thought it was going to be like explosions. And I'm going to play this YouTube clip to myself once a week for the rest of my God, when you wake up in the morning.
Yeah, just now, as we were talking about, I did think of one thing that probably set me up to have that experience, which is I had no business being on that show. I haven't been in movies yet. What were you on for?
What happened was I was on ponged, but he had never seen that. I did like two guest appearances on Bonnie Hunt show within probably five weeks of themselves.
And one, I played a director and the next time I played a surge, like two different characters, he yes, just like three episodes later, different names, different occupations. And he asked to have that guy on. So I didn't feel like I belong there at all. Now, had had he had me on to promote without a paddle, I probably would have been like my time to shine, like I would have had a shitty year approach to it.
I was just like, oh my God. He watched two episodes of the Bonnie Hunt show and he wants me to come here.
We'll also think about this. He pointed to you and said, I want that guy, so he immediately before you came out, he's like, I like this guy, he doesn't know who I am. And by the way, he was great and kind of polite. I just expected too much. But he literally was like this dude, can you book this guy? This guy, the guy who played the surgeon last week.
Is the fucking archaeologist like this? You are. You're going into it that he likes you and finds you funny. So you get to just fucking ride it.
And I don't even know me as much as he just loved the idea that they didn't give a fuck that I was playing two different people. Like, I think he loved what was funny.
I love that. That's all he wanted to talk about. He's like, so you just on one week and then I turn on in like three weeks later. You're a surgeon. I know. Who cares, right? I guess he's proving who cares. That's it.
And I mean, that's perfect. Was that your first ever talk show? I was there before. Oh, this is great. I hate to use your interview to say no, I love listening. OK, so pumped. It gotten big. My publicist calls. Oh my God, you're going to do Letterman. I'm like, oh my God. Here we go. Day of I go, who else is on the show? And he goes, Oh man.
Jimmy Fallon, Christina Lokman or whoever that woman that was in the Terminator reboot. Yeah, she was big at that time. And you and I go, oh wow.
And I go, wait, that's too many guests, only two guys. And my publicist goes, Oh yeah, that is weird. Let me find out what's going on. Cause, you know, Jimmy Fallon's hosting.
Oh, now we all could say now, like, what an honor and we love him and we love Jimmy Fallon. But at that time, he's just a colleague of mine from the Groundlings. You know, like I thought I was going to do Letterman. I had the suit. I was it was day of. And I'm like, oh, you're not. You're gonna be on this stage, which is cool.
But then I came back shortly thereafter and got to sit with him. What, you went to Ed Sullivan Theater twice then? Yes, yes, yes. That's insane.
How do you not remember that? What you're telling the story. That's insane.
And that's a big part that they had gone before. Yeah, writable. I guess.
I just I want to tell you how much I was just staring at Dave and was, like, so fucked in my guess.
My guest before me was Rachel Maddow, who he loves and who is, of course, a hero. But she went very long and there were no jokes. So I remember before I got up there I go because I'm a huge Larry Sanders fan and like like a bet with Sanders is that he always bumped Bruno Kirby on Sanders because he and I'm literally like, this is what's happening to me right before. Maybe this shows how I'm anxious sometimes, but I go, this is it.
I did it. He only has two weeks left. If I didn't have done it today, it never would have done it, because next week is all the superstars, not the little weirdos like me. And then I'm watching Rachel Maddow and they give her another little segment. I'm like, oh my God, I'm going to get bumped up. And I'm talking about D'Arrigo. I don't think I'm going to go on or if I go on, it's going to be for three minutes.
So I was like, oh no, what's going to happen? And I was like, oh no. And there's no laughter before either.
And I was like, oh because they're, they're talking like politics. And I was like, oh no. And then someone comes in and it was like it was like, oh, please, please, please, please don't touch me. They're like, you go down.
I even asked the person, is there enough time? There's enough. So you're going to be fine.
And so I remember being a quick interview because, OK, so I said that exactly because the guest before me was Tom fucking Cruise. And he told some story, was trying to tell a story about being in an airplane and his buddy passing out. But he can't get through because he's laughing so hard at his own story. It was it just went on and I was the same thing. I'm back there watching, going. He is not wrapping the story up.
I am fucked like they're in their second segment and it's going forever.
Oh my. So what we go through and anxiety stuff and stuff now that we're older would not be a thing we think about anymore.
Like, oh we'll get bumped. Right. But we'll figure it out.
Right, right. Right, right. I'll still be a good person. The people who love me will still love me. It'll be ok. I think we'll be all right.
OK, so you, I would say, became very popularized by Parks and Rec. Everyone loves your character that you play on their film.
But I came to know you because you and Kristen were on House of Lies together. And then I got to be around you and I'd say I'd argue we have a lot of fun throughout those four years. Sometimes you guys would be shooting in Vegas and we had a van, but also there would be like wrap parties and you would show up.
And I'm not a big party guy. So I remember at frat parties that would be kind of like hanging out by himself. And I just like talk to you about normal life, stuff like that, because I'm not I'm allergic to wrap parties.
Yeah. They give me so much anxiety.
Yeah, it's a lot. There are a lot I love Cruise and stuff like that and I love talking to. But then also it's like so many people, everybody's yelling that like when I see someone quietly in the corner I'll just have a conversation with them. And DAX was a great release for that for like two of those.
Well, I'll add the layer, which is like unsaid. Everything's groovy. Everyone's acting normal. Like I have all these great relationships with people that I work with every day. And then you get to the wrap party and there's this is like er of like, well we may never come back, you never know at the wrap party if you're coming back for another season.
So there seems to be this motivation to sum up your whole experience in every conversation you have. And I have like goodbye in. Anxiety, so to me, it's just like, OK, let's summarize this whole experience in the next four minutes. It's also I want to make sure that I say thank you to everybody and then I get anxious and I miss somebody, you know, and stuff like that. But it was it's always a lovely feeling when you like someone's like eating tiny tacos in the corner.
And I'm like, that's my doing for next hour.
Oh, that's me, baby. I always find that food, even if I'm not hungry.
Heaven, heaven, heaven to me. Yeah. And then Christine introduced me to Laura Moses, who I wrote a book with. And then we sold a TV show with who edits this podcast, who is one of I think it's just an incredible writer and now is just kicking butt all over the place. But it's like it's been awesome to just watch her thrive. She went from she was always talented, always talented. And then we did this book together, got published.
And then she immediately we did a TV, we wrote this pilot together, and then she's writing television and she's crushing it. And she she's like been prepared for this her whole life because she worked so hard anyway and that she's doing her own shows and she's just such a talent and so great. And I'm really proud of that book. And it was really fun.
And it was you should know about already know about dating. It's things you should already know about dating, you fucking idiot. And it's like, oh, honey, here we go.
I knew there was a curse word and we didn't have enough money to hire someone to do illustrations.
So Maura did all the illustrations in the book, and they're great. They're their friend.
And yes, she's just a I'm happy to talk about how incredible she is and that everybody should hire her because she's just we have a segment on this show called What Do You Love About Laura?
A few people have participated in Justin Timberlake.
Oh, I listened to that Timberlake episode and I met Justin through Laura as well. The nicest guy in the world. And you love to hear him talk and like, find out how smart he is because sometimes you just watching him dance and or act and sing and then he's like, oh, this dude is like is brilliant like that. But I love that, like one of the biggest pop stars in the world or music starts not pop in. Every now is like, oh yeah, I'm Laura Moses.
I was like, oh there is a great the ones where I do the show for charity cos no pants which Monica's probably been to all of them.
OK, so, so I've raised like a whole bunch of money for mental health in New York and so I would ask bigger and bigger and bigger people to do it. And one of my favorite parts is when I introduce like and ladies and gentlemen, blank and like Blake Griffin comes out and the crowd is like, what the fuck? And they don't know who's going to come out, because when I was an intern at ASKAP trying to get free classes when the monologist would come out with Amy was doing ASKAP, it'd be like, ladies and gentlemen, Alec Baldwin and UCB crowd would like explode.
And I would, as an intern, watch the crowd whenever the person came out, like Robin Williams came out once and people it just exploded their mine.
So I love to give that. So one time I asked Justin if you would do snow pants and he was like, Yeah, I'm down. I was like, this is incredible. You're so kind. But about like in two weeks is like, yeah, no, I'm I'm I'm in Australia.
I was like, all right, you're the biggest pops you're doing. This is going to be a challenge. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're literally touring the world with your music to millions of people. Of course, that dates that your work.
But I get to do that at every live show. When I bring out Monaca, people fucking they shit themselves. It's the funniest thing of the I mean, that makes flying to different cities worth it for the best.
Oh, that must feel Monica. That must feel so especially for someone who's watched and perform comedy. Something you must that must be the best it is.
It's a crazy I have to sort of disassociate a little bit during that or I think I'd like probably pass out or have a seizure.
So there's a little bit of like some distance. But it is it is so special.
And speaking of monologist, so right before the pandemic they asked me to do, oh, I was like, this is the most insane full circle moment I could. I mean, for me, that's the best. You know, it's such a high. And then everything shut down. It's Monarchos.
I haven't done that in a long time. If you're the monologist, you can email me and I'll I'll perform and whatever and I will perform in it.
Oh, I love that would be such a I will too.
I will talk about it. I'm there too. We got to get Jean Cordele. Oh no.
I mean Jean is going to be so so many boys going to like that stage and there's going to be nothing left.
Armonica is going to be burning to ashes while you're like why did I let this so many of her actual pants are going to catch on fire from the peak.
It's going to be insane.
The queers are going to be so much that there's going to be friction and that friction is going to lead to some size.
Oh, my God, it's going to be an earthquake. There's another thing that you brought up that I think that I'm not sure if I talked about tax, but there's this funny thing that when you talk about disassociating, it's also remembering when we're on stage. Let's use Chicago Theatre, for example, because I know you did it and we did it like almost next to each other because we saw each other's name. So there's a moment that I think I hopefully you guys can relate to.
I'm almost certain you will, because we have similar brains in ways. But it's. You're on stage, a show goes well, you get a standing ovation from thirty six hundred people and then you go off, you're leaving the venue, you see all these people really excited.
You go one block and not nobody gives a fuck anymore. And this is the part that people don't know. Akutsu literally after after I say that's our show from that standing ovation if you can't. Thirty five minutes.
It's me in my hotel by myself on Twitter and by myself for texting, texting a family member about nonsense. You're looking at scores on ESPN and that's and it's like it's so funny because in my head I'd be like, oh, these guys are going to get hammered.
They're going to I was like, no, you have to like there's a part of me that that first two times that it happens.
It's such a weird hide and a low that like, oh yeah, you have to be like, all right, this is I just remind myself, this is real life. This is real. For a moment in that one block, people really cared about what we were doing and now nobody cares.
I could go downstairs and nobody gives a fuck about what's happening or I mean, well, I've been so grateful we've had that experience the last few years because we've interviewed a bunch of really, really famous singers. And it sounds so cocky when I compare what we do to what they do. But having had that experience. Yes. Where it's like the energy of thirty six hundred people digging your shit cut to you in the fucking hotel room going, oh, is room service now.
I guess they're close.
Pretty close. They're always close in your always like. OK, well this crash fast airport takes two, it takes two of them and then I'm totally used to it.
And you just remember that the special Make Believe Time is in that theater for that time and real life is back like. Yeah.
So funny how quickly it changes because we we bring our own Mike.
So all I do is put our mikes in a backpack and then we leave and outside of the outside of that block of people leaving the theater, then nobody cares anymore.
It doesn't even matter even when people drop you off, like we'll take an Uber to a thing like where you want to go. I was like, oh, that thing is like, who are you going to see? I was like, oh, we're actually performing today.
Like, what? What are you talking about? I was like, oh yeah. Sorry, sorry. You can't can you drop us off to the side? Like, No, no, this is where we drop people. I was like, I'm sorry. I just like to say like it's so funny.
Yeah. Yeah. It's got to be one of the most dramatic shifts in reality.
There has to be narcissists who keep that feeling with them throughout that night and the next day and feeling like I could never do that.
Well, I think that's where drugs come in. You know, drugs. Let's get back to the room and you feel lonely and then you can elevate your emotional state to what you just had on stage if you want to prolong it.
That's right. Stay tuned for more armchair expert if you dare.
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OK, let's talk about your movie, because you've given us a ton of your time already and it's been really feeling so funny, any time I listen to your podcast and I hear this part, it always makes me feel like you're just trying to get rid of the person any time you go.
And it's literally like you'll be talking to a huge star and you be like, listen, I know you got to get out of here because I was like, you're so it's such a sweet way to try to wrap things up.
It makes me so. No, I'm actually it's not that I promise. It's not that it's I have an obligation to you folks who are nice enough to come on the show to sell the thing that you've just worked your ass off.
This is the part we like the least. Yeah, I'm not trying to wrap it up. I just want to I want to make sure that we talk about Flora and Ulysses. I don't want to get rid of you at all.
When my friends when he gets off the phone, he goes, OK, I'm going to let you go, all right? And I was like, what do you have to go?
I'm fucking doing nothing. Yes. I'd love to have a floor and glasses. And there's something I've been filming this limited series for Apple for the past. We're on day 58, so we've been filming since October during the pandemic and checked every day. Yeah, I'll talk about learning lessons first. Florida is a Disney movie, big old fun Disney movie, and it's based on a book guy named Brad Copeland wrote for Arrested Development and wrote a movie that I did years ago, wrote the script.
Lena Kohn directed it. And this little girl plays Florida. Her name is Matilda Lawler, and she is so good. And she was in the Ferrymen, the stage play the Ferryman on Broadway before this, and she knew her lines better than everybody.
And there were scenes where she has to cry and better than I could have ever done it like six times and every time cried real tears.
And I be like, How are you doing this? And she's like, I just think of something sad. And I'm like, That's it.
You're right. That's how it works. That's great. It can be demoralizing to work with it. Oh my God, she was incredible.
But it's great. It's like a big fun family movie. And a lot of my friends who have kids are like, we need something fun and new. That's not a reboot or whatever. So it's really fun. It's about this little girl who finds a superhero type squirrel and her parents are kind of separated. And my character, I play her father is down on his luck and he's kind of depressed. And through her belief in the squirrel, I find my belief in all these fun things.
It's all the Disney tropes. That means someone who loves Disney movies. I love Disney movies.
Does it come out on Disney?
Plus comes out Disney plus on February 19th, I think, and it's February ninety.
We will fact check that. And in the intro, I can't wait to hear the part afterwards. I can't wait to hear if the fact check when you guys do the fact check afterwards is like Monika's like all right. It was like not the idol that was like two seats next to the aisle.
I can't wait to clarify. I haven't seen you show. Do you think you're going to walk it back or walking forward? I think in his absence we might walk forward. Right.
Push it, even though that seems to be the trend.
There's a show I'm doing now that I think you guys will love. Also, it's called the After Party. It's Lauren Miller who are heroes of mine.
Oh, they are so frustratingly talented.
They're the kindest people in the world. Everybody funny that you guys like is on it. It's the Barenholtz. Oh, is he Sam Richardson. Tiffany Haddish. It's my Ilana Glazer. Jamie Dimitriou, who if you've ever seen a show called Steph let's Flatt's. It's a show from the UK that you guys would love. It's on HBO Max. Now he's a genius.
Say it again. The title is very weird.
The guy's name is Death Star and in England to get a flat is to rent an apartment. So it stars.
Let's flats. It's very, very funny. And he's in it and he's amazing. Zoe ChildNet and John Early, who I think is one of the funniest people in the universe, is in it. So it's all the funniest people. Chris Miller directed every episode, which never really happens. And it's like a murder mystery he directed every episode. Yeah. So he's been with us for we're on day sixty or fifty nine is sixty seven right now and he's directed every single episode.
And so what the episode I'm in, that's, that's how many weeks or probably the sixty seven, sixty seven funniest people in the world. Yeah. Obviously sixty six.
Sixty seven is we need someone to come in with four. So for the past clean up hitter this past sixty days we've been talking about this, the funniest joke that's ever happened.
And so on day 66 or 67, this person jumps out of a closet and says, you want to hear this joke?
And then the person says that we explode.
Monica, Oh, my show's over. Oh, my God. And I'm that person. You're that person. Oh, my gosh.
This is thrilling. I got a hunch. Mean genes. Yeah. I'm going to get mustache.
I'm going to get I'm going to imagine. I'm going to pop out of that closet and say, who wants to hear a joke? And they're going, oh, no, no, you got to just throw it away more. You you don't even know it's a joke. You're going to get fired after the table read. That's it's going to be tough show.
But the Letterman's going to have you on. He's going to come out of retirement to have me. Have you ever been fired after a table read.
No, but my first show, the first series regular ever booked, which never went on the air, was Mitch Hurwitz.
The show after arrested, it was Jim Burrows directing who is the legend of multichannels and the best the best batting average in the history of of pilots. He directed this guy.
He directed the Cheers pilot friend and said. Yeah, everything he directs gets picked up. So Jim Valley and Mitch Hurwitz wrote the pilot and then it starred Richard Dreyfuss as my dad. Jason Biggs is my brother. Mary Steenburgen is my mom.
You had to be out shopping. You're like, oh, I'm going to be making Hawai million dollars an episode.
Oh, by the way, this is also the experience of the first time ever, or the only time I ever cried after getting a role because it was my first one. I moved to L.A. and I got this TV show and I've never gotten a TV show before.
And you had to have loved Arrested Development, Drug Development. And in my head as like I did it, I'm going to be able to make enough money for a little bit now to not worry about this for a bit. And I remember Alison Jones is maybe the best comedic actor of all time. I asked her, I said, instead of my agent, tell me if I get it or don't get it. Can you tell me? Because, like, I'd like, we made a relationship, this thing, and she's going to really do that.
But OK, so she calls me and I'm driving my Honda Civic and she's like, you got it. And her and Ben Harris are on the phone. Who's your her assistant, who's now a casting. So he's amazing. And I, I couldn't believe it. I started to cry. I go, I got to call my parents and they started to get emotional and I call my dad. And it was a type of cry that I don't I haven't done in so long.
It was so guttural and I couldn't catch my breath.
And my dad and mom go pull over the car, pull over the car. I'm driving like the Honda on the side of the road.
So I pull over and just cry because it felt like I was trying so hard to get anything. By the way, the show didn't get picked up and that was it. But in my head, that's it. I'm on a television show. I did it. Now, maybe after this I can do movies like who knows what can happen. I did the stuff that I could never do and I got really cried. And then while we're making the pilot, I was like to Jason Biggs was like, this is going to go right is I don't know.
I was like, what?
Yeah, that is first barbecue. And I was like I was like, there's a penalty against it. If they don't get it, they have to pay someone money. I never heard that before. I was like, oh, so they're not going to lose money. It's like, I don't know, cross your fingers. That was like because I guess he's he's been doing it for so long. And I it was my first one. And when it did go, I was shocked.
I got fired a couple of years ago from a table read. It was was an emotional will and Grace Will and Grace Will and Grace the reboot. Yeah. Yeah. The the one that was just done. Yeah.
I did a table read and then I like a few hours later I got a call they're going to review and it was a really great moment because that's totally fine. But there was so many stages in my career where that would have been so destructive. I would have been like, oh my God, I'm not funny. But it was maybe the first time in my life. And it's weird you would think getting like a great job and doing well would be the moment.
I would accept that. But it was actually getting fire. I was like, oh, I don't think I'm not funny. So there's some reason, but it's not because I'm not funny and that's fine.
And it's also probably because you've directed and produced on the other side to know that like you, sometimes you're just not right for the role.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, they just offered it to me and I went in there and, you know, and then clearly I wasn't right for it.
So yeah, that happiness is in everything. So that Hurwicz thing, Hurwitz called me and said, hey, there's some conversations about maybe them recasting. So let's you and I go over the script one more time and that's the end we did. And I got so nervous that I rehearsed it so much to myself that on the day of filming, my voice was a little bit more hoarse and they wouldn't have known. But I was so nervous that I was going to blow it and I didn't.
And I got to do it. And they really were proud and happy. But he called me, was like, let's you and I go over this dialogue one time. This is my first everything. So it's like, let's go one more time. And I'm very happy. I still have moments of doubt. I'll be like, you know what? I think I have the ability to be funny, but I think, oh, that person doesn't think I'm funny.
That's a bummer. Maybe I'm not that great. I'll still have that. You're able to stay centered in that. I'll know that I can get on stage, but like, if I have a bad show, sometimes I'd be like, oh, man, what's going on?
Well, I'm six years older than you. And this only happened to me like three years ago. So, you know, maybe you're dead on schedule to finally go like kids. Yeah, kids are huge.
Oh, yeah. Kids, kids, kids will be great once you start defining yourself as a dad. No one, like every other thing kind of gets like Kristen.
Kristen, literally, when we were doing houseflies, we were talking about stuff. She had her first kid and then something happened on set. And she's like, doesn't matter. And I go, What do you mean? She's like, none of this. It's not none of this matter. She she was one of the most prepared and she took care of all of us. She was incredible. She was one of the most inspiring people to work with because she'd work with us.
Then she frickin do charity work. And then she had two kids while filming. So it was nice. But she she had a moment where she's like, hey man, when kids come in, the weight of the little stuff is just it doesn't have the weight anymore because I get to go home to my kid. It was one kid at a time and I'm sure you feel the same exact way.
Well, yeah, it's an identity thing that can't be taken away from you, whereas our job is something if our identity is I'm a working actor, I'm a comedian or blah, blah, blah, and you don't ever perform that thing, then you've got a question whether you can really say that's your identity. So it's always. It always feels like it's vulnerable to being taken away from you. Do you remember the first time you called yourself an actor or writer?
For me, people said, do you write? And I didn't say it until I got a joke on Letterman, until I got paid money so I could be financing for like six months for Letterman. A joke on a writer. And I would say not yet, because I hadn't gotten even though, by the way, you, of course, can be a writer, you could write all day and you're a writer. But my stupid mental state was like, I had to wait.
You remember that moment because it was a proud moment for me when I was like, now I'm a writer, now I'm a blank.
Yeah, I sold a feature and I was like, oh, my God, you know, it's great. I'm a writer and I'm assuming for you and I was going to bring up your writing. Last is for you. How does that compare? For me? The thing I take the very most pride in is being a writer. Oh, really?
Yes, absolutely. Do you think that's because there's not as much of a spotlight on it or.
No, no. The work is so much harder. It's like so much. It's something that you deserve to feel proud of me fucking around on a set and making people laugh. I would do that for free. It's fun. I getting rewarded in real time. It's instantly gratifying sitting in a fucking room for three months, getting network notes, getting studio notes, going back, opening it up re breaking it. That I mean when I finish something like that I'm like you fucking that's something to feel proud of.
What I used to do I don't do it anymore is I used to whenever I finished a script, I would print it and hold it in my hands. Yeah. And be like I and look how big it was. Like I wrote this, I created a fucking world.
Well, Benny, I love you. I've had so much fun hanging out with you over the I guess it's been a decade now and Monica, as we know, loves you, can't believe how kind you are.
And you've never said a thing. Well, I play it cool. I played it very cool. You told me to go fuck myself when I first met you.
I yeah. Well, that's kind of my thing.
You said you literally said, go fuck yourself. This is my section. I said, here, get away from where I sit. There's a tiny, tiny, beautiful fact that because of quarantine, I hadn't been able to hug almost anybody. And we had a dinner with me. And Josh had dinner at your house decs. You're the second person I hugged in eight months. And it felt so good to hug somebody that I remember that hug because I like hugging people and having a connection with people.
And I we've been all been stripped of that. And we all got tests. We all did like all these tests so we could hang out and have dinner together.
Yeah, their dogs invited. I don't know if Josh's dog had been tested, but he came.
I know I would feel absolutely a moral if we didn't take two seconds to talk about Josh Lawson.
Oh, God. One of the funniest people in the universe. You know, you said your buddies got your no fucking Josh has my number in such a profound way. I find him so goddamn amusing. Josh Lawson, he should be the biggest star in the world.
Yeah. He's so funny and so talented. And also he directed right. Films that are incredible.
They're incredible. And I want to tell the funniest, quickest. Josh, I can't wait. Yeah. I wonder if you were there. This was the greatest. We played this game. Celebrity, right. So celebrity in a nutshell. You've got twenty people over. Everyone writes three famous people's names. They put them in a hat and then there's teams. You get up in the first round, you can go. He stared at a volleyball on an island.
Wilson Tom Hanks got it.
Yeah, you got it. And then the next round you can only say one word. So everyone's kind of paying attention. And so the next time I go volleyball and people would remember Tom Hanks and then the third round is charades.
OK, so this came out so perfectly. It is impossible. I put Josh's name in there as one of the celebrities, Josh Lawson. So some guy is about to give the many clues first round and he pulls the piece of paper out of the hat and he looks at it and he goes, oh, I don't know who this is. And Josh as a joke, says Josh Lawson. And he goes, Yeah, how do you know who's that?
How did you know that was I who did it to fuck with Josh?
I'm like, so thrilled with how this is unraveling because all of a sudden I did not anticipate Josh was going to yell his own name, of course.
So then the next round, Josh pulls his own name and he can only say one word and he goes, I come and I just screamed with the seven.
It incorrect. I did, of course. And I was just screaming, laughing. I just kept thinking, this joke keeps just somehow giving back to us in the most profound way. The fact that then he got it and he said, Ikon, oh my God, was it fun? Can I play something else about Josh?
He's an incredible poet. Oh yes. Yes. I have his book of poetry on my desk. Unbelievable. He published a book of poetry.
And the first time he told me that he wrote poetry, I was like, you know, like, that's not really a fun hobby.
And then he sent me a poem and I was like. Holy shit, this is unbelievable.
So by his poetry, also incredible body, a beautiful physique, beautiful, really treats his body well.
He is so funny. He, out of all of us, was the funniest person on that set. He was just so funny and could do bits like crazy. Yes. And anything and made this character is incredible. If he got his role in a movie that people got to see how funny he was, he would be one of the biggest movie stars in years.
He's probably about to pick my most favorite underrated comedian. That's Josh Lawson.
He's incredible. I love that we talk about him because he deserves it. He's amazing.
Yeah. Now, Cheadle, not so good. His acting. Yeah. Don't talk about what you know, of course, the fact that you guys were all led by Cheadle.
I mean, come on, it's insane. We get to literally learn every day one of the best actors of all time. Of all time, actually. Yeah.
Well, Van, I love you. Everyone should watch Flora and Ulysses and they should also watch all the after party.
I don't know when it comes out. A limited edition. Shwartz that's a big one because nobody knows that we have these improv specials on Netflix. We have three improv specials on Netflix called Middleditch in Shwartz. That would be huge because your audience loves comedy. So if you get bored, it's a three long form and from specials and we didn't get to really publicize them when they came out.
So they're new to you maybe? Well, I think also we had Thomas Middleditch on at a live show. He's one of our favorite guests we ever had these huge, huge fan of his. I think he's so uniquely bizarre in the most was the best reporter.
Like, you guys are so good together.
He's really funny. We lucked out. We'll see if we ever get to talk again. Do you know what you guys are going out again or.
No, no idea.
Can't get there quick enough wherever it is on our continent.
Like we haven't had a hamburger from another city and we're die.
Cheeseburger, fries, ginger ale. Any city I go to, that's what I do. Yeah, that's what we look forward to most.
We like look up the best hamburger and wherever we're at when you go get it.
I love you guys. I'm so appreciative that you had me. This has been a blast. You guys are the best. So happy to have.
Love you, baby. Love you guys. I'll talk to you soon. Bye bye.
And now my favorite part of the show, the fact check with my soul mate Monica Padman. Welcome, welcome.
Welcome to the fact check bench for Benjamin Schwartzmann.
That was a really fun episode. He got to learn a lot about my obsession with him.
That was thrilling. I bet people really enjoyed hearing about one of your big crushes and the things you did. I hope so.
It was pretty embarrassing, but it's the truth. So what I did, did you feel embarrassed by it? Yeah. Oh, but not like not so much that I wish I hadn't told him or anything. I think it's fine. Maybe interesting to him maybe. I don't know. I hope it didn't make him uncomfortable.
No one no guy's ever been made uncomfortable to find out some girl like them. Also, don't you think you'd be more embarrassed if you still felt that way and you were still like working the front desk, like all these weird status elements?
Well, it would definitely feel different if I still felt obsessed with them. That would be I probably would not be able to say it if I was in the throes. Right. True. Still wrestling with it, although I didn't say and should have definitely said his girlfriend, Georgia is so lovely. She is so lovely.
I have had many a conversation with her.
Well how do you know her. She's really good friends with Laura Moses'. OK, obviously because Ben is really good friends with Laura.
Oh sure. And so I've done things with her and Laura and she's so, so, so, so sweet and awesome.
She's a great actress and vice principal. Yeah, she was phenomenal. Is she English. Yeah.
Is it English or Australian. Oh OK. But she's one of the two. Yeah. She has an accent. Oh fun. Yeah. She's really cool.
She sure doesn't have an accent when she does these American shows.
Oh it's so impressive. Undetectable cannot be detected when we were watching a tiny bit of the Golden Globes. Holy smokes.
Well that was a well first I think Amy and Tina did a great job.
Yeah. Especially all things considered. They had an impossible task.
They did the impossible. Yeah. And they yeah.
They were still funny despite the craziness of Zoome and being in different locations and oh my gosh, it was so weird to just and again they did the very best they could, but just like starting the show going like look the HPF or whatever suck there. So they've nominated shitty movies and, and they got no black members and they suck. But let's continue with their award show. Exactly.
It's so weird. I wonder if they had to get that approved. They couldn't have all of those. They all came out and made an apology like. So they they definitely it's just so weird.
Like, look, this award show sucks. They nominated really terrible movies and and there's no black members and shockingly, there's no black, you know. But let's let's do it. I've never seen anything like that, like go to Pat Sajak came out and he said, listen, Wheel of Fortune sucks and it's racist and the people don't even win the money. Uh, let's spin that.
I know. It's true. It's true. It's wild. And then the tech difficulties. Oh, I couldn't even hold it. It was feeling like a sketch.
It really felt like a sketch. Not singling out anyone in particular. Of course, everyone is beautiful and wonderful, but it really just smash the allure of the Hollywood elegance.
I mean, everyone look like bozos on their fucking laptop computers as we all look like bozos.
I guess they did what the show tries to do. They're just human sitting on their. Yeah. Yeah. Some people were like all glammed.
Some people are not all glamour. They yeah.
I do want to single out one person because he's my favorite and we're friends and I think he's so phenomenally talented. Jeff Daniels, that was my favorite. He's clearly on location doing a low budget movie and he's in like a a very inexpensive hotel room and he's just into you just in a flannel shirt sitting on the bed. And you can tell the comforter has been thrown over some items. You know, there's lumps in it. So it's like I think it was last minute, like, oh, shit, I can see my t shirts and stuff over here.
I'm going to throw. So to have him in the frame with other people that we're like in cocktail wear in lit. Yeah.
Was amazing. It was, it was. Oh boy. Oh Lord. It was funny but I also was thinking man people have done a really good job of trying hard to keep things moving.
Like that's a pretty way to look at it. I like that.
I was mostly thinking what a fucking shitty year to win. Yeah. Like all these people who have been, you know, aimed at that and really wanted that and they get that and they got to make a speech from their fucking hotel room. Yeah. And the tech sucks. No one's there and other peers are there.
It's it's just what a what a bummer of a win. I know. Well, that's what's circling back. What I was going to say is Daniel Kaluuya won and he was giving a speech and he has an accent, thick, very thick. And you just never hear it. You never hear it. When he's doing this. He's a boss. I like that guy. Me too. I would sit in a specific seat to sit next to him.
Oh, I know. Yeah. OK, Ben. So did Whodini die in the Masonic Temple? I'm going to read you a little bit about Houdinis.
Harold Whodini. Yeah, it's a real whodunit.
Hee hee hee hee.
Oh, wow. That was good. I've never heard that before. OK, well, you know, you'll hear it again, I hope. And I know you like it maybe even a few more times in this next half hour. My gosh. Fingers crossed.
Well, he died of a ruptured appendix. This is history. Dotcom, very trusted, brand, incredibly trusted. We've come to depend on it. Not unlike the Bowen report from last episode. Also, I'm still in Los Angeles. Truth be told, we're recording this five minutes after we recorded the last one. Oh, yeah, I know.
I told people, well, I'm busting the illusion just like the hollowing out of the Golden Globes.
OK, the strange series of events that led to Houdini's demise had kicked off several weeks earlier on October 11th. Nineteen twenty six while being shackled into Chinese water torture cell during a performance in Albany, New York, the Khanjar was struck on the leg by a piece of faulty equipment. He hobbled his way through the rest of the show, but was later found to have sustained a fractured left ankle against doctor's orders. Whodini continued his tour and traveled to Montreal, where he gave a lecture at McGill University just a few days later.
On October twenty second, he invited some McGill students to visit him in his dressing room at the Princess Theatre. OK, maybe problematic.
Maybe the magician sore ankle was still bothering him. So we plop down on a couch while the group chatted. At some point, a student named Jay Gordon Whitehead arrived and asked Whodini if it was true that he could resist hard punches to the abdomen. Yeah, here we go. Acclaimed the magician had supposedly made him public, according to Witness Sam. Smell of its mouth, smell of it. When Houdini said the rumors were true, Whitehead had abruptly delivered four or five, terribly forceable, deliberate, well directed blows to his stomach.
It wasn't prepared. Oh, Houdini was still reclined on the couch and had no time to prepare for the punches, which appeared to leave him in considerable pain. Houdini brushed off the incident at the time, but that same evening he began to complain of discomfort and stomach cramps. I don't know. His condition only worsened the next day when he boarded an overnight train to Detroit for a new run of performances. The magician developed severe abdominal pain, cold sweats.
And fatigue and his temperature rose to one hundred and four degrees. A doctor suspected appendicitis and instructed Whodini to go to the hospital. But the performer insisted on taking the stage for his opening night show at the Garrick Theatre of the Garik Theater. He proceeded to struggle through his routine before collapsing immediately after the final curtain.
Oh, that is so I got that damn close to right. Just not the Masonic Temple.
Yeah, there's a lot in there.
What kind of bozo pummels someone in the next set of Bozo? Yeah.
Also, why have five dudes to your room from college? I don't know. That's, that's, that's weird. I know.
But maybe they, you know, like after Broadway shows, people come visit you like.
Well but this was later. He invited them later to his right. Yeah. And then the outcome is why it's weird. You don't have a five frat dudes come to your thing because they'll pummel you in the stomach without any warning. And then because you're a man and you're supposed to be able to take all these punches to the stomach, you're not going to be fully admitting of how injured you are.
So, Jeez Louise, I echo the thought of all the insane, life threatening things that he navigated to die because some I knucklehead punched him in the stomach.
Oh, my God, bozo in me.
Why would that guy who gets joy out of that of punching someone in the stomach?
I know the psychology of these frat guys, so we don't know. It was a Frank Iolani was a frat, OK, who punched Delta. Oh.
So everyone wants their own fame and notoriety. And so this bozo met Houdini and he knew if I slug Houdini in the stomach now I have a story. Now I have something to say that's important and I don't have my own notoriety. But I'm going to draft on this guys by slugging him several times in the stomach as he's on a chair.
This is people's desire to feel good about yourself. You have to punch someone in the stomach to feel good about yourself. Cool story, Mike. Yeah, you killed him. Great, thanks.
I wonder if that guy ever got, like, tried for manslaughter or anything. I wonder. I started a book last night. This is a departure, but just reminded sayonara.
Houdini reminded me of jail called Know My Name. And it's the memoir of the girl who got sexually assaulted at Stanford and was left behind that dumpster. Yes. I have this book. This is the Malcolm Gladwell book. Oh, it is. Yeah.
I started it last night and because she was known as, like Emily Doe for a really long time and no one knew her name.
But then she wrote this memoir and was like owning herself. And this a lot. I mean, I just started it. So I'm not that far end. But HUF man really gets into the psychology of getting taken advantage of and said, OK, does Flora and Ulysses come out on February 19th? Yes, that was a while ago. So please go back in time. Yes. Kick Brad Pitt in Monica's grandma out of the time machine.
You and they've been occupying it for a while, so it's time for someone else to join in. They've had their fun in the sun. Yeah.
What is the name of Josh Larson's book of poetry, Josh Lawson?
Josh, his poetry book is called Struggling Chartist. And you can get it on Kindle or Amazon, I think. Oh, that was a story. He did a reading of one of the poems that I really loved. But I think it was I would play it, but I think it was a story. So it's gone. Oh, on Instagram. Yeah. I'm like, wait, is a story he told oh, sorry, that was formed.
Yeah, ok, OK. So it was a big story.
Yeah. I say it because I'm cool incredibly IRL. Wow.
I am. What else. Do you know what I am. Are you just saying I am in real life.
I am. Oh wow. I Irlam also sounds like William but I am not Will. Oh my.
Well what they are almost you're like rapping you dangling.
You're making a poem. Oh good job.
Thank you. Ben was fun. It's another kind of weird full circle. Mom was a weird full circle moment for me. I remember Anthony was over. This was a couple of years ago. Maybe Anthony was over at my house and Laura and Ben were coming back from something going to Laura's apartment when we both used to live in the same apartment building and they stopped in. And after I left, Anthony was like, Monica, like, think about that.
It just happened. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And after Amy's episode, one of my best friends from UCB, we did one on one together and like the whole thing and we're on teams together. He ignored me again. Yes. OK, thank you for correcting me. Yeah. He examined me and said he said imagine you see one on one.
Monica hearing about this makes my heart warm and I like that. You see me one on one.
Monica, I'm going to commit that to memory, just as I knew that committed a nickname when I think there's like some moment where this type of moment. Oh, yes.
I say, what do you think? You see be one on one.
Monica would she'd be piddle in her pants. Oh yeah. She she wouldn't be able to believe it.
Pants would be full of piddle. That's it for Ben that's ever been. Yeah. Well we love Ben. He's a fucking good time.
You can't have anything less than a great time around. Ben. Yeah. We don't call him Ben though.
Or does Chris send us the person calls him Ben. OK, I stand corrected. Nice real time fact check.
Well, I love you. I love Benny. I love you one on one. Monica.
I love all those people too. And you. Thank you. All righty. Goodbye.