Steve Hernandez [Interview]


Hello Folks! I simply can not tell you enough how damn excited I am to have today’s guest here on Trainwreck’d Society. I’ve been wanting to have this wonderful human being on the site for quite some time. And I will admit, I sort of bought his participation in a way. It’s Steve Hernandez!

Steve is a brilliant comedian and podcaster who, amongst many others that we will discuss further, is the co-host to my absolute favorite podcasts, Who’s Your God? alongside our dear friend and past guest Amy Miller. Nary a Friday goes by that I do not listen to this incredible show. In fact, many of the guests we have had here on the site, I discovered from listening to this damn fine show. Folks like Lydia Popovich, Jackie Fabulous, Billy Wayne Davis, Bri Pruett, and Steph Tolev entered into my own personal comedy fandom and the TWS family. Other wonderful comedians we have shared proverbial stages with have included Sarah Tollemache, Shane Mauss, Allen Strickland Williams, Kyle Ayers, Martha Kelly, Brendon Walsh, and more!

As I mentioned previously, I sort of bought Steve’s attention. And it was in a way I would recommend everyone do! Who’s Your God? has an absolutely wonderful Patreon that I need you all to get on. It’s absolutely wonderful. And that, Folks, is how I managed to essentially bribe this kind soul into being a part of the TWS family. I am still a patron, and I will forever be

If you are familiar with Steve’s comedy and work in general, it is obvious why he is an absolutely wonderful and kind human being with so much to offer the world. We are so happy to have him on the site, and the world should feel lucky that he is out in the world (well, when it’s safe to do so) entertaining the world with his art. And he gave us some wonderful and thoughtful answers below.

So Folks, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Steve Hernandez!




What was it that initially inspired you to get into the world of comedy? Was it something you’ve aspired to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

A lot of things had to go wrong for me to get into stand-up comedy! I grew up in the evangelical church and was a youth minister until I was 23, but then I left that all behind to work at gas stations and liquor stores and finally, restaurants and bars. I got married when I was 30 and after some prodding from my then wife, I went back to school to become an English professor. And I liked it! Ive always loved reading books and analyzing literature (like the Bible), and I was used to teaching in front of an audience, so it was really a no-brainer. Going back to school as an adult was a lot of fun and interesting and I had a goal and everything was going pretty well. In the summer of 2010 I needed to take just ONE more class and I’d be able to transfer to UCLA. I couldn’t be more excited! I registered for the class, but thanks to a clerical error, I DROPPED the class. Because that particular class was only offered during the summer, I would have to wait a couple more semesters to transfer. Man, I was BUMMED! 

But I also had a free summer for the first time in a couple of years. I had recently gone to my buddy Scott Luhrs’s first comedy show (a bringer show at El Cid) and he did great, and he said he was going to start doing open mics. I thought, “I guess I could just do open mics with Scott, it can’t be that different than preaching”. And I was right, it wasn’t! What I didn’t expect was in just a couple of months  I would be willing to throw away any previous plans just to get up onstage and tell jokes in front of strangers. Boy, what a dummy!


I have been a huge fan of your podcast you co-host alongside our dear friend and past guest Amy Miller, entitled Who’s Your God? I seriously can’t miss a week! I am curious to know why you think the show works so well? What do you believe it is about your chemistry with Amy that makes it work so well?

Thanks, Ron! Those are very kind words! I can’t tell you why people  like this damn podcast so much, but my guess would be Amy Miller. She is very funny and very smart and I am not lying when I say that there are very few people I would agree to do a God podcast with, especially when we started a few years ago. I think both of us are truly trying to be the best version of ourselves and the podcast really is about our spiritual journey and I think are listeners appreciate that. We’ve had real fights on the show and I got sober on the show and there’s really not a lot that we DON’T talk about . We’ve also have had the real pleasure to interview some of the best comedians on the planet and they usually come on the show ready to play ball and get deep and be funny! Now that I think about it…of course everyone loves this podcast! 🙂



In your obviously expert opinion, do you notice any similarities between stand up comedy and being a mega church pastor? Are there similar forms of manipulation involved?

There’s a lot of different aspects to being a youth pastor at a mega church, preaching being one of them, and yes, I do think preaching and stand-up are very similar. Both audiences want to be seduced, but they’re not trying to hand themselves over to just anyone! I think the word “manipulation” implies that there is some kind of deception going on and I believe people come to church and comedy shows wanting to FEEL something, so everyone chooses to  suspend belief about where they are and what’s really going on. Whether it be at storefront church in a strip mall or a dive bar in Covina, people go wanting to feel the presence of God. All that to say, it’s not really manipulation if you want to get manipulated! You’re not being deceived if you want to be lied to! And as someone who has experienced both, it’s really not that different when a comedy show gets rocking and church gets rocking. 

At it’s most basic, they’re the same because you tell safer, funny shit up front, gain the audience’s confidence, and then wack them in the end with the good shit once they decide to trust you. And the better you become at preaching/stand-up the quicker you can be your authentic self onstage 


You have another podcast that you co-hose alongside another friend of the site & past guest Allen Strickland Williams entitled The Male Gaze. I am curious to know how the concept for this show came about? What made you want to venture down this path with Allen?

I’ve been doing podcasts longer than I’ve been doing stand-up, and I always start with the same question: who do I want to work with and talk to every week? Allen and I have been friends for many years and we get along really well and make each other laugh a lot, so I’ve always tried to think of a project for us. I’m a big podcast fan and I noticed that New York had a slew of podcasts where  guy comics just sit around and shoot the shit and even though I enjoyed some of them, it didn’t sound like when me and my friends get together and talk. I’m queer and I’m non-monogamous and like many of my friends, I’m trying to cut away the misogyny that I know I have in me, so how would it sound if you had guys talking like that WHILE being funny? That’s how The Male Gaze was born. I really love talking to Brodie Reed and Zed Cutsinger and Allen every week about celebrity gossip and our sex lives and video games and movies. We took a month off when the pandemic started because up until that point we really tried to make  The Male Gaze light and fun, but we’ve sort of morphed into more of a news cast against our will. And I’m glad we did! It’s been super rewarding and I’m reminded every week how funny and smart these four guys are


I understand that you would have celebrated a full decade as the founder and runner of the Chatterbox Comedy Night. While the last few months of probably ruined any celebratory events, a full 10 years is still VERY impressive. When you look back to the early days of the show existing, what do you find the most impressive? When you look back on your time at the Chatterbox, what makes you think “Damn, I fucking DID THAT!”?

If I were to never do stand-up again, I think the thing I would be most proud of is Chatterbox Comedy Night. I started it as a monthly show for the first year, brought Scott Luhrs aboard the second year when we did it twice a month, and then in the third year we went weekly. Currently Scott, Lisa Chanoux, Julia Loken and myself are the producers with Ellie McElvain, Johan Miranda, and Brian Barlow helping through the years. 

The Chatterbox is a dive bar 23 miles outside of Los Angeles. It looks a little scary from the outside. It has no business being as good of a show as it ends up being most of the times. I think that it’s great for a few reasons. First, all of us involved with the show really gives a shit about the show. We get there early to set the room up, we shut down the pool table and the televisions and once the show gets started, we’re not afraid to kick out people who are disruptive (big shout out to Ralph the owner for always having our back). We’re booked two months out and try very hard to book diverse line-ups (gender, ethnicities, styles) while also creating a space for new comics to flourish. Our audience is the best audience in Los Angeles. They’re working class people that have become incredibly savvy about stand-up, so they know good comedy when they see it. Chatterbox is one of the few places in LA where you can really get the room cooking. This is not about industry, no one cares if you’ve been on TV, they only give a shit if you’re authentically being yourself and if you’re FUNNY. Comics that usually do well can have just okay sets and someone relatively new can have the set of night. It’s mostly good but when it’s great…there’s nothing like it.

Without the others producers this show would have shut down four years ago. People really always mention me with Chatterbox, but it is absolutely not MY show anymore. When I quit drinking almost two years ago, I didn’t get on that stage for three months and the shows remained incredible. I love Scott, Lisa, and Julia and I love our damn audience and I cannot wait to do stand-up in Covina again


What else does the future hold for you? Anything else you would like to plug to our readers?

I’ll be launching my fourth and final podcast Put It in My Mouth with Steve Hernandez within the next month and Julia and I are in the process of turning are second bedroom into a video studio, so you’ll be seeing my face more on the Internet. But other than that, just follow me on Twitter at @BigHern and on Instagram @Hernia! Thanks for having me, Ron!


What was the last thing that made you smile?

When the pandemic hit, we started going to this little corner market a few blocks from our house. Like two months ago, they stopped carrying these round tortilla that I’ve never seen sold anywhere else. This really bummed me out. Well, anyway, I went to the market yesterday and they had the chips again! I was legitimately happy and excited. This is my sad story about the last time I smiled.


Be sure to check out Steve’s current podcasts, The Male Gaze , Views from the Vista (latest episode features our dear friend Alana Johnston!), and of course, the wonderful Who’s Your  God? !!  I also HIGHLY recommend you become a Patreon Member as well. It’s totally worth it. And when the world reopens (maybe) be sure to look out for Steve in L.A. and possibly on the road, and definitely at the Chatterbox in West Covina.

Frank Whaley [Interview]


Hello Folks! I hope this week is finding your safe and healthy and not to fearful of the possible pending doom that surrounds us. Today we have a guest that I have wanted to have on the site since I started this thing almost a decade ago. It’s the brilliant Frank Whaley, Everyone! Frank is an absolutely legendary actor who always tends to show up in just about everything you are watching. In fact, the very night that I received Frank’s amazing answers, I was pretty stoked and felt accomplished enough for the day (as if I actually did anything) and decided to finally watch the film Hustlers that rocked the world last year. And lo and behold, wouldn’t you know it, along comes Frank portraying one of the hilariously duped millionaire roles! It should have felt a bit more serendipitous I suppose, but as I said, Frank is always around!

Obviously everyone will recognize Whaley as Brett, the man who shared his hamburger with a fella and ended up hearing scripture just before being shot all to hell from two angles in the legendary film Pulp Fiction. His portrayal of fear was absolutely incredible, and he will be forever noted as taking part in one of the greatest scenes of cinematic history. And beyond that one project, Frank is also an accomplished writer and director with some amazing work under his proverbial belt. We will get into much of it below, so I will sign off right about here, and let you all just get right to it.

Folks, please enjoy some amazing words from the legendary Frank Whaley!




What initially drove you into the world of performance? Was it something you have always wanted to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?


Acting, being on stage, performing is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I certainly did not come from any kind of show business or performance family or environment. I’m not sure where it all came from. Some of my earliest memories as a child are watching The Tom Jones Show or The Flip Wilson Show or famous people being interviewed on Johnny Carson and thinking that’s what I wanted. When I was really little I wanted to be Tom Jones. I would practice my moves in the mirror and insisted on wearing my shirt open and long necklaces to Kindergarten. My family didn’t go to the movies. The first film I saw in a theater was Bogdanovich’s Paper Moon when I was about thirteen, which completely transformed me. I fell in love with acting and films from that moment, and it remains one of my favorite films.


What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this particular project that still affect your work to date?


My first paying job was an off-broadway play called Tiger’s Wild by John Rechy. I couldn’t contain my happiness. I couldn’t fathom that I was actually being paid for doing what I loved. It was a very strange and difficult play about four messed up teenagers hiding out and taking acid in the desert. Nothing about it worked.The New York Times review declared “Don’t go, send an enemy.” The play closed after a handful of  performances. I was devastated and had to go back to waiting tables. I was convinced that was it for me, and that I would never be hired again,  but eventually I got over it. The lesson I learned: things will undoubtedly devastate you and disappoint you and shatter your little heart into a million little shards but you will eventually get over it. That and never take your clothes off on stage.



You famously portrayed Brett with the “big brain” in one of the most renowned films of all time, Pulp Fiction. Your scene is absolutely legendary. I am curious to know what it was like to do the scene and did you get the sense that you were a part of something legendary? Also how many times a week does someone say ‘Check out the big brain on Brett”?


As I recall the scene took about a week to shoot. It was thrilling to be there. I idolized John Travolta. His performances in Saturday Night Fever and Urban Cowboy are brilliant. And the minute I started working opposite him and Samuel L. Jackson I knew I was a part of something great. At the time of the film’s release I was living in Manhattan and it was astonishing to me how many people recognized me from it. It remains and probably always will be my most recognizable role.


In 2016 you appeared in one of my favorite films of the last 5 years, alongside many wonderful performers we’ve had the pleasure of having on the site (Joe Chrest, Laura Cayoutte, Chester Rushing, & Rachele Brooke Smith) entitled Cold Moon. While it isn’t singularly a horror flick, it was pretty terrifying. We are huge fans of the world of horror here at TWS. So with that, i was wondering how you enjoy working on projects that are a big darker? What sets them apart from the plethora of other genres you have worked in?


I loved working on that film, many very talented actors and a really talented director. I prefer working on darker material and exploring those types of characters. One of my personal favorite roles that I have done is in the film Vacancy, were I play a very dark and demented motel clerk.



In 1999 you directed your first film with the wonderful film Joe the King. What made you want to move behind the camera? And how do you enjoy appearing in your own work?


I wrote Joe The King thinking I would try and get someone to direct the film. I reached out to a few established filmmakers like Robert Benton, Sean Penn (I had just seen Indian Runner, which is truly amazing) and Penny Marshall. No one I reached out to responded so eventually I figured why not do it myself. Little did I know how grueling and difficult making a low budget film with a bunch of kids would be. At the time I was acting in a television series (Buddy Faro) while battling with the film’s producers who hated it and were trying to take the film away from and re-cut it. Thankfully, in the nick of time, the film was invited to premier at the Sundance Film Festival and magically all the producers loved it. I only appeared in Joe The King briefly, (the guy we hired to do the part didn’t show up).


It wasn’t until my second film as writer/director, The Jimmy Show that I really had  to direct myself.. That was probably the most difficult thing I have ever done. The film was very low budget and I am in practically every scene, many of them very difficult emotionally. Fortunately, it turned out great and was also selected to premier at Sundance. I highly recommend it though The New York Times (damn them!) said in their review, “A must to avoid on a bad day.” Needless to say, that less-than-glowing review did not result in box office receipts.



What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?


I was gearing up to start something just as everything was shut down due to the pandemic. Unfortunately the project was scrapped. Things are slowly beginning to get up a running at the moment so I look forward to getting back to work when things are safe to do so. Meanwhile I have been keeping busy writing and doing a daily podcast THE WHALEY FAMILY HOUR with my wife and writing partner Heather Whaley.


What was the last thing that made you smile?


Waking up this morning next to my amazing wife, knowing that she and my two beautiful kids are all okay, and that soon (November 3rd) this long national nightmare will end so long as everyone gets out there and VOTES.


Yasmin Bakhtiari [Interview]


Hello Folks! Today we are sharing some wonderful responses from an artist on the rise. It’s Yasmin Bakhtiari! Yasmin is the star, writer, and producer of the scary AF film released earlier this year entitled Evil Little Things. I truly loved the film in ways that I was not expecting. By concept alone, I was simply expecting to have some fun with a somewhat silly horror film about dolls. Well hot damn if I wasn’t completely wrong, and left the viewing more compelled and full of fear than anything else.

Evil Little Things is great, and Yasmin shines in it. We are very honored to have her featured on the site today to tell us a bit about the film and what the future holds for her. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Yasmin Bakhtiari!




What initially drove you to the world of entertainment? Was it something you have wanted to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I’ve always been fascinated with the world of entertainment, even as a child. I put myself in this world through writing stories and wanting to see them on film.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still impacts your work today?

My first foray into the world of film was writing and producing Evil Little Things. Everything in life is a learning experience. I’ve certainly learned many things in this experience. The most memorable are the friendships I made. Starting out in the world of fiction story-telling, script writing and movie making is very different, just as challenging and just as intriguing. I love all aspects of this world.

If you were handed the opportunity, to star in the biopic of any legendary figure in world history, who would it be?

I love historical stories. I find all European history interesting, and I feel Queen Elizabeth the first one of the most intriguing characters in history. Strong, independent and regal with a sharp wit as well as a sharp sense of humor, she held on to her empire and kept the upper hand in her life and her monarchy as a woman in a man’s world. However, being an Iranian American I certainly wouldn’t want to star as Queen Elizabeth I, I would have to find something more along the lines of an Iranian version of Fiddler on the Roof.



What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I plan to keep writing and making movies. Making Evil Little Things was like a catharsis for me. It was therapeutic. All my childhood fears of talking dolls, scary movies and Twilight Zone episodes wrapped into one meatball. I love hearing other writers talk about “What inspired them” to write certain stories, especially Stephen King. He wrote little scenarios at the end of his book Skeleton Crew, a collection of some of his best short stories. I will never forget what inspired him to write some of his stories as long as I live. I, too, have vivid reasons for writing the original stories of Evil Little Things, all based on childhood fears of dolls and Twilight Zone episodes.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I thought my answer of my life being an Iranian version of Fiddler on the Roof was funny. My sisters and my brother and I laugh quite a bit, especially reminiscing on our childhood immigrant stories and what scared us.  Memories of working with Matt Green the director of Evil Little Things, and my co-writer, Nancy Knight, actually the entire cast and crew, our fun memories and how hard we worked always makes me smile.

Sophie Buddle [Interview]

Hello Folks! We have an absolutely wonderful interview to share with you all today. We have the absolutely hilarious comedian Sophie Buddle gracing our digital pages, and we could not be more excited for this incredible honor. Sophie is literally one of the funniest human being that I (Ron) have ever witnessed perform stand up comedy. Admittedly, I have not seen her live, but I swear on the pack of Newports that are directly next to me that I desperately want but shouldn’t have because they kill me, that she is absolutely hilarious.

Okay, anyway, I haven’t seen Sophie live, but I swear it is a life goal to do as such. I’ve gone down a rabbit hole of her videos on YouTube, listen to several podcast appearances….and I just feel like she is a natural at the job and unique in so many ways. She’s a talent that is beknownst (I’m making that a word) to so many of the greatest minds in that are currently working in the world of comedy, and has a fan base that is flourishing faster than a field of sunflowers in the south of Spain.

So Folks, I am so pleased that Sophie was able to take some time out of her day to share a few answers with us here. She’s just an incredible person, and to have her here is a real honor. So, enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Sophie Buddle!




What inspired you to get into the world of comedy? Was it something that you have wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I think I’m just lazy and complain a lot, so job wise it was either comedy or President of the United States. I’m not good enough at twitter to be president though.

What was your first paid gig in the world of comedy? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

Whenever the first gig I ever had was, till my current paid work, it pretty much always comes down to somebody recommending you. I think it’s like that at most jobs so the lesson is be nice to some people occasionally.

Whenever we have the opportunity to have comedians who tour across the U.S. and Canada on the site, I always like to ask this question: What are some more obscure cities to perform comedy in that some people may not realize are wonderful? What are some of these “fly-over” locations off the coasts that have wonderful audiences?

I love performing in Halifax! I always recommend it to comics. Winnipeg also has one of the best clubs in the world (Rumors Comedy Club)



Can you tell us a bit about your podcast that is coming up on being a year old known as Obsessed with Sophie Buddle. How did this concept come about? And how has your experience been in bringing it to the world?

I sound like such a loser saying this but I love my podcast so much. It can be tough to find a way as a comedian to put something out regularly. We like to save our stand up for an album or a tv spot, and unlike musicians we can’t really just drop a single or do a cover to stay on people’s radar. Putting out a podcast is a great solution because it is like putting out stand up at a different pace. It’s obviously not as punchy or well thought out but it’s still your ideas and personality. Each week a guest and I pick an obsession that we have to talk about, it can be anything big or small, but I like to talk about stuff I like and am interested in because it’s easy to fall in a hole of negativity in comedy because it’s funny to make fun of stuff. The past couple weeks of quarantine have just been my boyfriend and I and they have been some of my favourite eps.

If you were handed the opportunity to write and produce the biopic of any legendary figure in Canadian comedy history, who would it be?

Catherine O’Hara she’s a living legend!! She has risen above comedy in my opinion and is just one of the greatest actresses of our time.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’d plug my podcast and album which are both available everywhere, I’m writing on a new TV show too but I’m not allowed to talk about it. Once I’m allowed to talk about it though please check it out.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My boyfriend’s ears! They stick out and they are so cute and sometimes one of them is red!!

Carlos Alazraqui [Interview]


Hello Folks! I can not even begin to tell you how excited I am for today’s interview. But, I suppose it is my job to do so. It’s Carlos Alazraqui! Although I am certain I didn’t have to tell you that. Carlos is absolutely legendary figure in the world of comedy. I of course, first became a huge fan of his portrayal of Deputy Garcia in the cult classic and absolutely timeless series Reno 911. To say I liked the show a lot during its initial 6 season run would be a drastic understatement. I fucking LOVED it. The show actually serves as a time stamp of a wonderful period in my life. Stranded for a half a decade in Nowhereville, South Dakota, there was hardly a single day that I spent at my job full of friends where this show wasn’t quoted in some form. I wouldn’t say the show was ahead of it’s time, but I will definitely state that it is timeless. And my absolute favorite parts of the show occurred when Carlos was on screen, especially alongside Deputy Jones portrayed by Cedric Yarbrough.

Carlos has been working in the world of comedy and entertainment for over 35 years and has so many tremendous accomplishments even beyond the world of Reno 911. But, I would be a damn liar if I said I wasn’t giddy as shit to have my favorite character from one of my favorite series of all time grace our digital pages here today. His new film Witness Infection, which looks incredible, is en route for your viewing pleasure real soon. Be sure to watch the trailer below and check out the film’s website to learn more.

So, Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the legend himself, Carlos Alazraqui!

(Yo, Temp – look at us now? “And the installation is freeeee!!”)




When did you discover that you wanted to work in the world of entertainment? Was it something that you were always drawn to since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I was definitely drawn to different dialects and characters at home with South American parents and my best friend Kevin, who’s parents were from Glasgow , Scotland. Watching cartoons and all the great 70s TV sitcoms, Monty Python. But watching Carol Burnett really gave me some early inspiration. Mime and Stand Up Comedy found me at Sacramento State University in 85’ with the help of a professor named Ernie Olsen – he got me to try those things and I was hooked!

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this gig that still affects your work to date?

I think my first paid gig was at Laughs Unlimited in Sacramento as an Emcee. I soon became the house Emcee and learned how to transition from comedy as a hobby into  a job.



You legendarily portray Deputy Garcia in the beloved series Reno 911. I have to admit that the most memorable moments from the show occurred between Garcia and Jones. For me personally, it was the heart of what I loved about the show. With that, I am curious to know what you would consider your most memorable moments from working on the show? What sort of memories do you hold most dear in your heart?

I LOVED my moments with Cedric. Like having a younger brother on the set with me. I will always revere that chemistry. My favorite scene is in the patrol car when he throws a piece of trash out the window and we end up drawing guns on each other and laughing. It was all about what was felt- not said.




You have done extensive work in the world of voice over work. We have spoken with many folks who work in this field. And I am always curious to know how the work compares to on screen work? For you personally, how do you draw yourself into creating a character without physically being on screen creating the look of the character yourself? And how would you say it is similar to on screen work?

Voice acting, like stand up comedy, is theatre of the mind. We do it naturally. Think about playing with dolls as a kid or talking to your pets. You create scenarios in your head and play them out. Voice vs on camera is relative to the project. Reno 911 is a blast. Some on camera gigs you wait around all day for ten minutes of shooting. Some VO gigs are more tedious than others as well. I have NO problem not playing off others- it’s how all of us audition

If you were handed an unlimited budget and all means necessary to create the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be about?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes to mind. 90 yer plus and still a Supreme Court Justice. Still fighting cancer. The road she must have taken and the obstacles….

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

More VO work for sure- Kamp Koral, Maya And The 3, Trese, Casagrandes. My film , Witness Infection is nearing distribution – go to – more writing. Playing with my kids, hopefully returning to Banc Of California Stadium to see my beloved LAFC.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Just my two girls, Rylee and Austen every day! That and Love on the Spectrum on Netflix!

Melanie Chartoff [Interview]


Hello Folks! Today we have another wonderful interview with a legendary figure in the world of art and entertainment. It’s Melanie Chartoff! If you can think back a few days, you may remember that we had the pleasure of sharing some words with the great Cheryl Chase, who happens to voice the hilarious Angelica in the wonderful animated series Rugrats. Well, we are at it again Folks! Within her half decade of great successes and massive achievements, Chartoff has been the voice behind one of the greatest television mothers of all time, Didi Pickles! Yes, that oh so nurturing and often concern voice you have been listening to your entire lives is none other than the great Melanie Chartoff.

We are very excited that Melanie took some time to answer a few questions with us and allowing us to have her here at Trainwreck’d Society. Full disclosure: this is yet another interview that was completed about 4 months ago, and it is only the fault of my own that it is just now seeing the light of day. We are slowly getting back on our feet here, and we are so excited to have Melanie be a part of the reclamation process.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the amazing artists, the great Melanie Chartoff!




What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

My family was paralyzed by depression, so I created distractions to cheer us up-hand puppet shows, impersonations of my aunts, Ed Sullivan, Khruschev, and plays that were put on at my school.  When I was thirteen I went to a play at a professional theater and an actor walked through the audience and explained some of the tale directly to me and whoosh. I believed I was in his world inside his story. When I realized I could make a career of taking people on imaginary trips, too, that was it.  I’m still doing it—in writing and acting and coaching other people in the art of believing they’re somebody else in another world. It’s the greatest esape.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment?

When I was fifteen I was a go go girl with the Crystals at a mixer at Yale University.  Phil Specter wanted to cross over his black girl groups to more mainstream venues, so he hired wholesome white girl dancers to back them up.

And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

That there are many unique forms of artistic expression to explore and embody that can give you more of yourself.

You have famously voiced the wonderful Didi Pickles, and more, in the legendary animated series Rugrats, and you are incredible at it. I am curious to know what it is like to be a part of something so notoriously popular and has so much longevity? What have fan interactions been like over the years?

It’s been a joy.  Rugrats is a a cultural phenomenon.  Its demographic wasn’t just babies–it appealed to the hip of all age groups.  It spawned stage shows and action figures and fan clubs.

I have a girlfriend Lisa who was a supermom and super executive while raising her daughter. Jamie herself now an executive, recently told me that Didi felt like her other mother while her own mother was spending long days at the studio.



You have worked in just about every type of performance that exists, from voice over acting to Broadway, the big screen to the silver. With that, I am curious to know what your favorite type of performance is? If you were only able to do one for the remainder of your career, what would it be? 

I want to create dimensional characters in new stories with great collaborators on screens of all sizes. I have a soft spot for projects with music involved.

If you were handed the opportunity to create the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

So many political heroines I revere have been done and well.  Dorothy Parker was my favorite wordsmith but hers would be a too static sit down and drink story.

But Debbie Reynolds’ biopic would be theatrical. She started out a singing, dancing movie star; became a successful businesswoman; then was later faced with very public betrayals.  She was graced with a gifted, talented daughter Carrie, whose addictions drove them apart. Their deaths in tandem would make for a heartbreaking romantic finale.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I coach folks all over the world on SKYPE (journalists, therapists, authors on presenting themselves charismatically in the public sphere. Currently I coach inner city boys on speaking with a strong stance and voice. They gain confidence that what they have to contribute is worth the energy to compose and articulate it.

And I’ve a book of essays and stories being published in 2021 called Odd Woman Out—33 hilarious, heartbreaking and hopeful stories from my half century acting and performing then, finally, very recently, becoming a first time wife and stepmother in real life.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Watching Dave Chappelle win the Mark Twain Prize.


Cheryl Chase [Interview]


Hello Folks! Today we have another wonderful interview to share with you all. We have the absolutely legendary voice over & on screen actress Cheryl Chase with us! Chase has famously provided the voice of a young woman who may have very well defined a generation. Yes, for a lot of us 90’s kids (and beyond) Cheryl’s voice over work as Angelica Pickles in Rugrats has been as haunting and respectable to our ears as they come. She’s been mean, compassionate, adorable, and frankly misunderstood over the years. You knew she was good at heart, but you could always rely on her to do some very messed up things as the overboss type character in the series. At times you loved to hate her, others you learned to love her so much. Of course all of this is reflective on the character of Angelica themself, and not of Chase personally. But, when you are one of the most obvious voices of a generation, it has to become a part of you in some way, right?

Cheryl has had an incredible career in the world of film and television that extends far beyond the world of Rugrats, which will be discussed in her wonderful answers below. She is a damn fine human being and has some incredible insight to share with the world. She is also a children’s book author which is not only fitting but exciting! We are so excited to follow along with her career as it continues to flourish and impress the world, and we hope that you will do the same.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the wildly talented and incredibly cool Cheryl Chase! Enjoy!




What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

My grandmother, Julia was an actress on the stage and she and my grandfather used to run a small hotel that housed Vaudevillians when they’d come to perform in their town of Hazleton, PA. My father was a musician in a traveling orchestra where he played the trombone. I guess its in my blood to perform. As a child I always tried to make people laugh and mimic funny voices and perform and put on little plays with my friends so yes, I guess it’s in my blood.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any lessons learned from the experience that still affects your work to date?

I don’t remember off hand what my first gig was, but I remember in the early days one gig was where I was the voice for the baby in Baby Boom with Diane Keaton. Also, I played a Martian girl opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall. Lessons learned…just do the best you can and be ready for anything that comes your way.

You have famously voiced the wonderful Angelica Pickles, and more, in the legendary animated series Rugrats, and you, are incredible at it. I am curious to know what it is like to be a part of something so notoriously popular and has so much longevity? What have fan interactions been over the years?

It has been a major blessing to be a part of such a global phenomenon. To make such an imprint on so many people. It is such a privilege to meet the now grown up fans who say that I was “their childhood.”



Another series that you worked on is one that is near and dear to my heart. And that series was Ren and Stimpy. I still hold this amazing series in high regard. With that, how was your experience in working on this delightfully silly series? And what are your thoughts on the legacy that it has left behind?

I was part of the production team besides doing voice work. I was a receptionist then later promoted to casting coordinator. I remember auditioning Tom Kenny (Sponge Bob) for Ren. During the production, before it premiered I also remember that we were sitting on something special. I knew this before the general public knew and it was kinda cool.

If you were handed the opportunity to star in the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

Helen Kane, the original Boop Boop A Doop Girl. In the 20’s, she was successful in Vaudeville that led her to be a promising musical comedy star at Paramount Studios. Her career was cut short by the success of Fleischer’s Betty Boop animated series. I used to perform as Helen Kane in a 20’s orchestra back in the 90’s. It would be fun to do it in film.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I love doing my voice over work, but, also I am a children’s picture book author. I have my first book being published and coming out next year.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My little bunny rabbit, Sophie…when she yawns, it always make me smile.

Don FauntLeRoy [Interview]


Hello Folks! Today’s guest here at Trainwreck’d Society is nothing less than an absolute legend in the world of filmmaking. For over 40 years, Dan FauntLeRoy has been showing us the world through cameras in the most delightful ways. From his early work as a cameraman on legendary films such as Raging Bull, The Goonies, or T2: Judgement Day, right up to his more recent ventures as the leading director of photography on films such as the Jeepers Creepers trilogy. And, as one tends to do, Dan has managed to make his way into the director’s chair, including two Steven Seagal classics, Today You Die and Urban Justice.

And there seems to be no slowing down for Dan, even as the world seems to be slowing down around him. He has some wonderful projects in the can, which he will discuss below, and when the world allows him to strike, you can guarantee you will be seeing his name in those opening credits.

So Folks, it’s been a wonderful first week back, and I hope you will come back around next week! And with that, please enjoy some fine words from the brilliant Dan FauntLeRoy!




What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

Growing up all I did was play sports, never drew, painted, actually nothing artistic. When I was in the 11th grade I took a course called Radio Speech Television. Our assignment was to write a script, storyboard it, do a shot list, film, edit, and turn it in. When I picked up a camera I saw the world as I had never seen it. I could compose, create, paint and tell a story. I was hooked. In the 12th grade I did another film to help raise funds for a school of mongoloid children.  George Putnum, a KTLA  news anchor, opened his program showing my film.

It was then my father, an optical cameraman, and grandfather, a still photographer, told me to stay away from the business and go on to college, I did and playing baseball became injured and went to work form my father getting in the International Photographers Union at 19, the beginning of my career.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

My first job was driving for my fathers company who taught me very good work ethic and it has stayed with me through out my career.

While it is far from the only genre you have worked in, you have done some incredible work in the world of horror, which is one of our favorite genres around here. With that, I am curious to know how you enjoy shooting horror films? Is there anything about this genre that sets itself apart from other genres you have worked on?

I love shooting horror. But it not just the filming it is the post where the film and story become alive. The editing, sound design, music and final finished film delivered, each process one is re-making the film to become better and better.

In 2005 you directed the action-packed Steven Seagal fronted film Today You Die. I am curious to know what drew you to this project? What made you decide that you wanted to bring this story to life?

In 2004 I was hired to photograph Into The Sun staring Steven. Half way through the film Steven and his producer Binh Dang started talking to me about directing his next film Today You Die. I went on to direct and shoot Steven in four more films. I was just asked to direct another one but the pandemic has shut all production down.



If you were handed the opportunity to create the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

Pete Rose. I feel Baseball has treated him unfairly and his story needs to be told.  Also I believe he is one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

Gates of Darkness came out [April 3rd  2020] starring Tobin Bell. Later this year I have a Hallmark film coming out at Christmas, A Ring For Christmas and I just finished a directing a thriller Awaken which I am editing at the moment.

I have two wonderful films ready to go when the industry goes back to work.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My beautiful wife Lesley-Anne Down whom I met on North and South in 1984 leaving Goonies and Steven Spielberg to meet her. Best decision of my life.

Tracy Newman [Interview]


Hello Folks! And once again, it is so great to be back and sharing some wonderful words with you all. Today we have an absolutely wonderful guest gracing our digital pages. It’s Tracy Newman! I was initially intrigued to have Tracy on the site based on my love for comedy and comedy writers specifically. I was previously aware of Newman’s work as an acclaimed writer in the world of television. Emmy Award winning, and with an obvious eye for proper good entertainment, I happened to notice that one day it just…..stopped. I was intrigued to say the least. Her credits dissipated over ten years ago. How could this be? What happened to the co-founder of the beloved Groundlings Improv Theatre? Well, what I would learn was not astonishing at all, it was actually insanely exciting.

Turns out, Tracy is even more talented and multi-faceted than I previously knew! It turns out, she did not simply dissipate into thin air. Not by a long shot. Tracy returned to her original passion….music. And let me tell you folks, she is damn good. Seriously, I have listened to her second album with the Reinforcements, I Just See You front to back more times than just about anything in recent months. It’s incredible.

And as time progresses, Newman only continues to thrive. It certainly appears that there isn’t much in the world of arts and entertainment that this insanely powerful can’t NOT do. And that is just one of the reasons that we are so excited that she decided to take some time out of her life to answer a few questions with us here today. So with that, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Tracy Newman!




What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I’m not sure I ever thought about it. When I was about 8 years old, I liked to sit in a rocking chair and sing along to Judy Garland and various Broadway show albums. When I sang with Judy, I’m sure I was shouting, but I loved it. At 14 I started learning chords on guitar… I had cousins who were in the 1950s folk scene in LA. We had hoots in my garage… my parents weren’t into it, but they were generous with the space. After high school, I went to the U of A and met a lot of folk singers, like Bud & Travis, and a guy named Michael Cooney. I really learned a lot more guitar and songs hanging around them. I did radio shows and busked on street corners in Tucson. I got good. When I came back to LA, I hung around The Troubadour a lot, and got to know everyone. I don’t know when I decided I wanted to perform.

I just drifted into it. People would ask me to play somewhere, and I never said no. I was not a great singer or guitar player, and not a particularly great entertainer, but I was completely myself and comfortable on stage, which appealed to audiences. I was given a lot of opportunities to succeed in show business, which I consistently screwed up. After I started singing in coffee houses and small clubs and traveling with Hootenanny ’63 (we played every major concert hall in the country, twice, that year, including Carnegie Hall,) I think I was officially hooked.  I went to New York in late 1964 to become a “star.”

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

I guess Hootenanny ’63 was my first real paid gig. Like a salary and traveling expenses and a per diem. Also, I played clubs like The Golden Bear and made a bit there, too. And at one point, Barry McGuire and I were a duo and played a Mexican restaurant in Westwood, called El Toril. (This was before the Christy Minstrels and Barry’s big hit record, “Eve of Destruction”.) I think we got paid, but I don’t really remember. In New York, I actually worked for money all the time. I played The Bitter End a lot, and a midtown bar/restaurant called Tobo’s, for about 6 months, 6 nights a week. I was paid there. I got $30 a night, plus tips from customers. Also, I did a PBS show for children on an existing series called What’s New. I don’t think I got paid, but the shows did well. You can find those on YouTube in black and white.

I learned so much during my 2 years in New York. Especially from doing that PBS series, I really learned the show biz edict “the show must go on.” Each show was half an hour and I had to memorize the whole thing, plus camera cues. The director didn’t want to do any edits, (Brooklyn College TV class,) so if I made a mistake 25 minutes into the show, we started over! That only happened once.

Many other exciting things happened during my time in New York, but that’s it for now. I’ll just say that many things had to do with the following: Ed McMahon and the Tonight Show, Bert Knapp, David Fisher, Tim Rose, Rodney Dangerfield, The Improv on 44th and 9th, etc.



In doing a bit of research for this interview, I managed to check out your album A Place in the Sun, and I have to tell you that it is FANTASTIC. You can now consider me a fan of the songs of Tracy Newman. With that, I noticed that you went full on into the world of music while According to Jim was becoming a hit series. So what primed the drastic change? What made you decide it was time to follow your original dream?

First of all, thank you for your comments about my first CD! As for leaving TV to do music – My partner John Stark and I had been writing TV from about 1989 to 2002 and I was burned out. We had had a great run, but it was time for me to move on. John is 10 years younger than me, so he still had a lot of energy for it, but I really missed playing guitar, writing songs and performing. After we created According to Jim, and it got picked up, John knew I wanted to quit TV writing, so we decided I would wait until the show went into syndication, so my future might be financially secure for a good deal of time. I knew I wouldn’t make any money doing music. I was 62. But it felt so good to get on stage at the Kulak’s Woodshed Open Mic, in front of 10 people and a dog, and sing my little heart out for no money. It was a relief. I was scared to death to perform, but at least I was risking something and felt very alive. I hope I’m making sense here.

If you were to create a new dramatic series about the founding of the Groundlings Improv Theatre, who would you cast as the key figures?

I wouldn’t do it, but  I guess the key figures would be Gary Austin, Tom Maxwell and me. Plus my sister Laraine, Archie Hahn, Phyllis Katz… oh my God, a whole slew of brilliant improv people. I don’t know. I would just be overwhelmed! The current members of The Groundlings main company are so amazing. I’m sure I could cast most of the show with them. I’m so proud of my part in the creation of The Groundlings. I love being a “founding member!”



We always like to ask our statue holding friends this one particular question: Where do you keep your Emmy? And does its physical location have any sort of symbolism or purpose?

I have bookshelves on each side of my downstairs TV. I keep the Emmy (and my Peabody Award) and a few pix of my daughter and now my grandson, to the right of my TV. I’m not sure about symbolism, but it seems like the right place.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

Tracy: I have a company called Run Along Home which is about music for children. So far, I have released three CDs – I Can Swing Forever, Shoebox Town and Sing with Me. My producer is Edward Auslender, and the COO is Leanne Summers. The CDs are available on all major platforms. You can say “Alexa, play Tracy Newman songs,” and you’ll get all of my songs for kids. For my adult songs, you have to ask for Tracy Newman and the Reinforcements. I love Alexa! And Siri, too!

Ron: What was the last thing that made you smile?

My grandson. During this COVID-19 self-quarantine time, I haven’t always been able to see him. He’s two-and-a-half. So, the other day, I got to hang out with him at his house all afternoon. At one point he came running to me yelling “I’m so happy! My Nana is at my house!” That made me smile, to say the least.



Check out more music and other works from Tracy Newman from her WEBSITE.



Joe List [Interview]


Hello Folks! As most of you know this is just our second outing since our previous hiatus that started last May. But, if I am being completely honest, I truly feel as though I (Ron) could end this whole damn thing right now. This is because I feel like today’s interview subject is as close to the pinnacle we could ever reach here at Trainwreck’d Society. Most of my heroes are dead. Hemingway, Kerouac, Chef Boyardee. All dead as fuck. With obvious exceptions, just about everything I love in the world of art and entertainment, I have been able to share some words from people associated with specific projects. Hunter S. Thompson killed himself? Maybe I should expand my idealism? I don’t know. But, I feel like the web has been casted so hard that Kirsten Dunst very well might consider kissing me upside down. Or not. Who knows. But, I’ve gotten Ralph Steadman on here. I don’t have Steadman tattooed on my back, but I have one of his drawings of HST there, so that feels like something, right?

Alas, I digress (once again). Today’s interview subject is the absolutely hilarious comedian Joe List. We have so many interviews with comedians on this little site of ours that it’s almost hard to keep count, but the list of the fine folks I have seen do their comedy live and in person in a very compact “theatre” is very limited. I saw Joe List at the Soho Theatre in London just this past summer. Remember when that was a reasonable thing to do? I have often thought about the fact that I bought two tickets, and everyone who said they could go with me, including my wife of 17 years, said they had to bail, ended up leaving at least 3 feet of space to the east of me. Did I know something about what the future held? No. No I didn’t. My wife just couldn’t make it.

Joe List is an exceptional comedian, definitely one of the best in the current game. His exceptional insight and 20 years worth of experience has made him one of the modern day giants. I’ve been wanting to have him on the site for years now. His wife (Sarah Tollemache) and his podcasting partner/probable lover in disguise (Mark Normand) have been on the site, but the man himself has eluded us for years. Maybe he hates me? It’s possible. It’s always possible I suppose. But mostly, I think he finally had something exciting to promote that happens to be free to everyone, so he understandably is willing to promote any damn way he can, even if it means a quick baker’s dozen of views from our little site.

Nevertheless, I am so damn happy to have Joe on the site today. His new special, I Hate Myself, will premiere tomorrow (August 6th) on YouTube via Comedy Central’s page. I hear he will even be on Maron’s podcast tomorrow, which is pretty cool. Sorry to beat you to it Marc, but you know, show bizness.

So Folks, I shall refrain from further babbling and let you all get right to the fine words that Mr. List was kind enough to share with us all. He’s a great guy, whether he realizes it or not, and we are so honored have him grace our digital pages today. So Folks, please enjoy some great words from the illustrious and ever brilliant Joe List!




I understand that you got into the comedy game at a very young age. What was it about comedy at that point in your life that made you realize that it was the path you wanted to follow?

I had wanted to be in comedy from a very young age. I grew up during the big comedy boom of the last 80s and early 90s and I just thought it was so cool. I always wanted to be a part of it. It just seemed like so much fun and it also felt like a great way to get the attention I had been craving when I was young. I loved it and still do.


What was your very first paid gig in the world of comedy? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this gig that still affect your work to date?

The first paid gig I ever did was at a bar called the Emerald Isle in Dorchester, Massachusetts. My friend Ed Regal ran comedy shows in the back of his bar. I did the show without knowing that I would get paid for it. After my set he handed me probably $50 or $100 I can’t remember. At first I refused it. I said ‘oh no, you don’t have to do that’. He told me to take it and to never turn down money for working. It was a good lesson for me. If someone wants to pay you to do comedy, you let them. I’m grateful for him.


We always like to ask comedians who work the road most of the time, back when that was a thing, this question: What are some cities that are wonderful to perform comedy in that people outside of the business may not realize are great comedy towns?

The city I most enjoy performing in is Madison, Wisconsin. The club there is called Comedy On State. It’s just the best to me. The audiences are so nice and giving. The club is run so well, it’s just the best. That is number one for me. I also really love St Louis and Tampa audiences. I just always have a great time on stage in those cities.



I’ve been a big Tuesgay for close to 4 years now, even had Mark on the site a while ago. It is an absolute must listen to each week. I am curious to know what it is about your partnership with Mark that just seems to mesh so well? What made you realize that the two of you could spin proverbial podcast gold with your podcast Tuesdays with Stories? 

I think the thing that makes the professional relationship with Mark work is our mutual love for the TV shows Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Those two shows are by far the biggest influence on both of us comedically. It’s like we both went to the same college and studied the same subjects. I think we also both have similar desperation to entertain. And at this point we’ve been doing the show for so long that we just work really well together. We have a sense for when the other has a good line or is about to finish talking and we manage to give each other the space to do what they need to do.


You’re most recent podcast, Mindful Metal Jacket, is also a must listen in my rotation. Probably a super basic question here, but given the content of the show, I am curious to know what inspired you to set out on the spiritual venture that is MMJ?

I started doing Mindful Metal Jacket because I felt like I have finally gained some wisdom on how to deal with anxiety, panic, and hypochondria and I felt like maybe I could help some people by having conversations about that kind of stuff. I really enjoy talking about anything related to mental health so I thought why not do it and record it. I’ve gotten a lot of really nice messages from folks saying the podcast has really helped them out. It’s been very satisfying. I’m proud of it.




Can you tell us a bit about your latest special, I Hate Myself? What can old fans of yours expect from this special? Also for the new fans who may check this out as their first intake of your comedy, who then go back and check out your old work, what do you believe they will find quite different from your old stuff?

I think with this new special I hope fans can expect more of the same but improved. I feel like this is the strongest stand up I’ve put out. It’s just a regular old stand up show. I wanted it to feel like any week night at the Comedy Cellar. That’s what I was going for. It’s a ‘special’ but I didn’t want it to feel overly special. Just bare bones stand up comedy in a basement. As far as material wise, I just feel like this stuff is stronger. I’m more confident as a person and there for as a comedian and performer. I hope that new fans and old fans will both find it enjoyable and hopefully hilarious. We’ll see. (Gulp)


What else does the future hold for you? Anything else you would like to plug to our readers?

For right now the special I Hate Myself and my two podcasts Tuesdays with Stories & Mindful Metal Jacket is pretty much it. Eventually I hope to be back out on the road but we’ll see I guess. Fingers crossed for a vaccine and perhaps some better leadership so we can get back to work.


What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was recording my podcast with Mark Normand. We just finished recording and I was laughing very hard. Comedy is fun.


Be sure to check out Joe’s special tomorrow night. Check out the trailer below, as well as some fun content that Joe made for you all that is absolutely free. 

And with that in mind, if you find yourself just loving what Joe puts out into the universe, consider the Tuesdays with Stories Patreon for additional awesome content. Or don’t. Just don’t yell at him on line. That’s rude.