Andrea Boehlke [Interview]

 

For the last 17 years, there has been a particular CBS show that has been captivating audiences for all of the right reasons. That show is Survivor. Now on its 34th season, it is a show that has never let up and only continues to improve in quality, as well as viewership. When Survivor first became a staple in American television, it was one of a kind due to the simple fact that reality television, while not an entirely new concept, was only beginning to flourish. But, now in 2017, it has proven to be one of a kind amongst a plethora of reality television shows. It’s the sort of show that the entire family can enjoy and embrace into their living rooms. The young and old love this show, which is a very important factor that we are so happy to be able to showcase today with a wonderful interview from one of the finest players in Survivor history.

Andrea Boehlke has been a staple in the Survivor world for quite sometime. She is only the 7th person to spend over 100 days on the islands, and has performed incredibly well. And in Season 34, she was definitely a fan favorite. And on a personal level, she was a fan favorite in my own household to a certain 11 year old girl who has been following Andrea’s performances on Survivor since she first showed up back in Season 22. That 11 year old girl would my daughter, future astronaut and the beholder of a beautiful soul Ava Trembath. This is a girl who adores Andrea’s courage, ambition, and drive. And she is just one of so many young girls who can watch Andrea and realize that there strong women out there in the world who can accomplish whatever they want in this world with examples from the likes of a beast like Boehlke.

So, with the finale of Survivor commencing tonight, as well as the amazing career that Andrea has been able to proceed forward with after 100+ days on Survivor, I thought it would be amazing to be able to link up my 11 year old daughter with one of her favorite Survivor players. And that is what we did. The questions below were formulated by said 11 year old Ava Trembath who finds so much delight in watching strong women like Andrea work their asses off both physically and mentally in the game of Survivor.

After you have completed reading this damn sweet interview between Andrea and Ava, and have caught her on tonight’s season finale of Survivor, make sure you make your way over People.com to catch her on the morning show People Now. It is a brilliant bit of morning program that everyone is sure to enjoy.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Andrea Boehlke, featuring questions from Ava Trembath, age 11. Enjoy!

 

Who is your favorite Survivor player?

That’s a hard question! I would have to say Tyson is one of my all time favorites, because not only did he really perfect his Survivor game, he is one of the most hilarious people to play, in my opinion.

ÒReinventing How This Game Is PlayedÓ – Andrea Boehlke on the eleventh episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers, airing Wednesday, May 3 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Will you play Survivor again? What was your favorite season of Survivor that you were on?

After playing three seasons of Survivor, I think I might be done. It really takes a toll on you out there! My favorite season to play would have to be Survivor: Caramoan. I had an absolute blast with the people out there. Playing with Cochran was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of inside jokes that I’ll always cherish.

What was the best thing you experienced on Survivor?

Hitting my 100 day mark on Survivor was a pretty big deal. I was the 7th person to hit 100 days of playing Survivor, and shortly after that I got to see my mom on the island. It’s so incredible that I got to see my mom and dad both out on the island, and it’s extra special because it’s their favorite show.

What was the worst thing you experienced on Survivor?

I’ve had some great moments on Survivor, but the lows are especially tough. I had an epic two day meltdown after Zeke betrayed me on Survivor: Gamechangers. They never showed any of it, but I seriously thought I had lost my marbles for a bit there.

“It Is Not a High Without a LowÓ – Andrea Boehlke on the twelfth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers, airing Wednesday, May 10 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What is your favorite Survivor challenge?

I’m a big fan of the challenges I won 😉 I loved where we had to balance on this floating wood thing in the middle of the ocean on Survivor: Caramoan. I ended up winning against Brenda! I love challenges where you have to push yourself mentally and physically.

What is your least favorite Survivor challenge?

I’m not a big fan of upper body strength challenges, because I don’t think I would ever win them.

ÒReinventing How This Game Is PlayedÓ – Jeff Probst awards Andrea Boehlke the Immunity Necklace on the eleventh episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers, airing Wednesday, May 3 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was some silly joke I had with my co-host Jeremy on People Now. We host a morning show for People.com, so since I’m up every morning at 5 am, I can get a little delusional or buzzed on too much coffee. I don’t even remember what the joke is, but I remember my stomach hurt from laughing so much.

Barry Katz [Interview]


Folks, I have to preface this one by stating that we have an absolute LEGEND in the digital room today. I seriously can not stress this enough. The man you will be hearing from today is a man who has made some of the finest acts in entertainment possible, simply be being who he truly is. He is Barry Katz. He is a man with an eye for talent that is so sharp and so spot on, there seriously is no one to compare him to in his business. It is suffice to say that Barry Katz is the Barry Katz of the world of comedy and talent management.

Barry’s career isn’t the stuff that dreams are made of. Barry’s career is the stuff that hard work, dedication, and a keen eye for talent is made of. In fact, so many of the finest acts you know and love today would not be half of what they are if it weren’t for Katz. Through is representation and eye for talent, we are firmly aware of folks like Dane Cook, Jay Mohr, Bert Kreischer, Tracy Morgan, and the list goes on and on. He is a talent manager, yet he is so much more. He is the founder of the Boston Comedy Club in NYC, but he is more than that as well. He is also has a brilliant podcast that I have to say, is sort of along the lines of what we try to do here at Trainwreck’d Society, but obviously not on a Barry Katz level. It is called Industry Standard, and it is a brilliant look at some of the people who are running the (sometimes literal) show in the world of entertainment. Barry really goes behind the scenes with some of the amazingly talented producers, writers, and directors who are titans of the industry, even though they may not be household names. Of course, he is also known to have folks like Kevin Hart jump in as well, because Barry is a beloved figure like that!

Barry was so kind to support the TWS endeavor by sharing a few words with us. While we don’t feel that we have deserved the Barry Katz seal of approval or endorsement, the simple fact that he has been willing to acknowledge our presence at all is a huge fucking win for us. In is the exact sort of motivation that can make a person feel warmer inside than Bert Kreischer’s beat red, vodka-soaked face on a Friday night. We are beyond honored to have Barry Katz digitally speaking with us today. There were so many questions I wanted to get in with him, but unfortunately we had to narrow it down a bit to what I considered the essentials, as Barry is a very busy man, and we need him to keep on doing what he does in order for us to be entertained. So with that, please enjoy some great words from the legend himself, Mr. Barry Katz!

I understand you began your career as a stand up comedian in Boston before you moved to New York to focus on the business side of the comedy business. What prompted you to make the move? When did you realize that you had the talent necessary to become the success that you eventually became?

I think it was realizing that as good as I thought I was as a stand-up, I didnt feel that I had what it took as a writer to compete as well as I could as a performer…and I didn’t like being beholden to other people for my work. it was time to make the transition to the business side, which I quickly found out was much easier and came more naturally to me than writing great stand-up comedy routines.

Probably The Most important question we can ask anyone: How does what you do for a living make you happy?

Ultimately, being happy is a choice. you have to believe in yourself and your ability. The hard part comes when the things you do really well and make the most money doing, become less enjoyable…and the things that you do equally well, that make you the least amount of money become more enjoyable.


You have developed and brought to life hundreds of television shows and films in your career, and obviously, some of them aren’t going to last. And sometimes it’s just not fair, and that is why I need to ask about Action. This show was my first experience in the loss of a great show, so I finally get to ask someone behind this amazing show…..What the fuck happened?

Action was just to much ahead of its time and sometimes shows like that (see Arrested Development) just don’t get their due on the bigger networks because you are dealing with niche shows that dont appeal as much to the majority of the country. At the time it was cancelled, it was getting about 7-8 million viewers each week, which if it were today, would be a nice viewership. Back then there were no Netflix, F/X’s, IFC’s…and our only real shot at success was HBO, where it originally was supposed to be, but Columbia-Tristar couldnt come to terms with them, so Doug Herzog and his team at Fox scooped it up. True to form, Doug was a visionary…but at the time he was hoping that his network could rally the country around contrarian programming…but the country just wasn’t ready for a cast of unloveable and unhugable characters.

What inspired you to start your podcast Industry Standard? What was your initial goal when you started it, and do you feel like you have obtained that goal?

I would take meetings with studio heads, network presidents, household name producers, directors, comedian/actors—the biggest people in the entertainment business and then get in my car and realize that I was the only one in the meeting and no one got a chance to hear the pearls of wisdom and the view from behind the curtain that all of these people exhibited…that I had witnessed. Then I realized no matter how great I was as a manager on any given day—even if I helped an artist with their talent and mine to achieve a goal like SNL, I still only helped a few people—the artist, the network, the studio, the producers of the show—but I felt that the information that I was privy to and that people were willing to share with me was valuable to a larger audience…and so hence my goal to reach and assist as many people as possible. In a few short years, the show has reached the top 1/4 % of 375,000 podcasts and hopefully, will continue to inspire and help people while sharing the journey’s of my guests.


You have had conversations on Industry Standard with some of the biggest names in the world of comedy and entertainment. With that, have there been any guests that surprised you in some way? Through candor, openness, etc.? Basically, did you have any guests that turned out quite differently that you had imagine?

I know it sounds strange, but they all surprise me in some way or another with the things they say or do. People always ask me what shows I recommend, but its so hard to do, because they all relate to every business and every artist. David Copperfield isn’t just valuable to magicians, Kevin Hart isn’t important just to comedians, Ted Sarandos isnt just valuable to network presidents, Larry Moss isn’t vital to just actors and actresses, and Judd Apatow is certainly not only worthwhile for film and television producers. However, if I had to pick a few guests that surprised me with an unexpected turn in the interview…I’d say Larry Moss, Bert Kreischer, Jay Mohr (as me and as himself), Michael Madsen, the late Chris Thompson, Dionne Warwick, Reggie Hudlin, and Dr. Phil.

When you look back on your illustrious career, in so many different realms, what would you say you are most proud of?

I wish I felt that I was illustrious…but I think, at best, I’m -lustrious…or simply -trious. Regardless, I’d say my proudest moments are being able to facilitate with my talent and theirs…4 SNL cast members (Jay Mohr, Jim Breuer, Darrell Hammond, and especially Tracy Morgan) and a host that did the show twice in less than a year, including the premiere episode of one season. I think also, working with Dane Cook selling out 2 shows in one night in Boston and Madison Square Gardens—over 80,000 people in a week and producing his albums—two of which entered the Billboard 200 chart in the Top 5, which last happened once in the 70’s with Steve Martin.

If you were to put the Barry Katz stamp of approval on any emerging stand up comedians out there working today, who would it go to?

i dont think its fair to do that when there are so many talented young artists out there—but generally the artists themselves know who they are…and so do their peers. they are undeniable charismatic forces of nature who construct jokes with a flair for wordsmanship, rhythm, timing, and originality.

Listeners of Industry Standard will surely know about this by now, but can you tell new readers a bit about I Killed JFK? How did you become involved with such a strange and insightful project?

A friend of mine asked me if I would take a meeting with a guy who had some found footage that I would be fascinated by, so I took the meeting and what was described would be an understatement and it blew me away. So much so that I flew to Amsterdam to meet with the guy who shot alot of the footage and conducted the interviews to see if he would let me make my own documentary from all of his footage about the only person in history to ever admit to killing JFK. I’m a comedy guy, but I decided to take on the challenge of making this documentary…and it turned out amazing…and so I decided to see if I could get it out in there so the people all over the world could decide for themselves if they felt his story was believable. I’m happy to say I just received worldwide distribution through flame and a special theatrical release during the week of Kennedy’s 100th birthday in late May.


So what are you looking forward to the most in 2017? Anything you would like to plug here?

I’m mostly just looking forward to being able to continue what I love most—allowing the artists I represent to tell their stories and the stories of those that write for them when they dont write the words themselves…as well as telling my stories and the stories of other artists that I don’t represent and bringing them to a global audience.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My boys—I interviewed Jeanie Buss and because of her generosity, I was able to bring them to a few Lakers games where they sat close enough to smell the sweat of Luke Walton…and got to go back to the Chairman’s Club under the arena and meet a ton of players for the Lakers, the Cavs, and the Clippers—organically without pressure and hang out with three of my favorite people in comedy—Jay Mohr, Chris Tucker, and Dave Chappelle. To give your kids a gift that you never had as a child—based on the generosity of another…is one of the greatest feelings in the world…and if that doesnt make you smile…nothing on earth will.

I Killed JFK will be available in theatres for one night only on May 31st! Discover more at ikilledjfk.com.

 

Check out this haunting teaser trailer for I Killed JFK, available soon:

Joe DeRosa [Interview]


For fans of comedy, Joe DeRosa is staple to say the least. And for damn good reasons too. He is one of the funniest people in the world of stand up comedy right now. I will arguably put up his special, You Let Me Down, up against some of the most legendary comedy specials of all time. I’d be willing to digitally fight anyone who doesn’t believe it is a special that ranks up there with Chappelle’s For What It’s Worth! But, the only comparison that would be correct to make between the likes of DeRosa or Chappelle, is that they are both truly original comics in their own right. A Joe DeRosa comedy performance is always something that will be like nothing else you have ever experienced. He is the real fucking deal folks, and we are so honored that he was willing to share a few words with us as we wrap up this wonderful week of showcasing some amazing comedians.

So let me stop this hack bit of an intro, and let you all get to reading this amazing interview with comedy legend Joe DeRosa! Enjoy!

When did you first realize you were a hilarious human being, and stand up comedy was a way for you to take a natural talent and use it to earn a living?

The hilarious part I’m still trying to realize. As for stand up, I knew I was somebody who had a lot of opinions and I knew I wanted to yell them at people. Watching George Carlin let me know that you could do that. Making them funny was always–and still sometimes is–a necessary evil.

I understand you came up into the game in Philadelphia with folks like Big Jay Oakerson, also the home of the legendary Dom Irrera, a couple of decades before you. In the standing of cities for comedy, how do you believe Philly ranks? What was it like coming up around there?

Philadelphia was the best place I ever could’ve started. I was one of the only non-black comedians in an all black, urban comedy club called the Laff House. The challenge of getting on stage and commanding a room was amplified by the fact that I was so culturally different. It was an amazing experience. Comics like Turae Gordon and the Legendary Wid (my mentors) taught me the tricks of the trade that I still use to this day. I’ll never forget them or that club.

Much like your old pal Bill Burr did with Breaking Bad, you have stepped into the wild imagination of Vince Gilligan as well in the equally fascinating show Better Call Saul. How has this experience been for you, and what do believe it is about Gilligan’s writing style that leads itself to be able to have professional comedians perform in a dramatic fashion?

It’s such a thrill to work on Saul. Vince is the best! Jonathan Banks is the best! Every scene with him is a crash course in acting. Bob Odenkirk was a comedic idol of mine when I started out, so working on his show is an honer. They’re all so amazing. Vince writes completely real situations, characters, and dialogue. When Comedy is right, it’s real. So comedians appearing on that show makes a lot of sense to me.

So, I am actually a recent transplant to the UK, if you didn’t know, or care. I am planning on attending the Fringe Festival for the first time, this summer. I know you were there last year for some gigs, so what should I look for and be excited to see while I am there? What was this experience like for you working as an American comedian?

I didn’t know, but I do care. Fringe is a terrific, enlightening experience. Just dive in head first and see everything you can. The diversity is amazing. Also, you’re going to drink A TON. I had a blast over there. I was there, performing every night, for the month leading up to the taping of my special. Doing that material in front of audiences I wasn’t familiar with improved my hour in ways I never could have imagined.

What are some of the best green room snacks you have been provided in all of your years as a stand up? What are some of the best pre-game supplies that could be provided before a show?

Give me some coffee, water, beer and whiskey backstage and we’re good. Keep that goddamn deli tray. I eat before I show up to the gig.

In your obviously professional opinion, do you believe we are in a sort of golden age for comedy right now? Is there a possible over-saturation problem, or is it better that more opportunities are out there for comedians?

I think it’s a good time for comedy, but far from the Golden Age, especially since so many comics play it safe and say the same stuff as the next guy. I don’t really see multiple acts pushing the envelope like they had in the ’70s. To me, that was the Golden Age. We have tons of opportunities now, which is great. I just wish more people utilized them more interestingly.

What sort of advice would you give to the avid comedy show attendee? And what do you believe it is that makes some people unable to not just sit down and shut the fuck up? Is it only alcohol, or some sort of psychological thing?

My advice would be to have fun and shut up, which you’ve already addressed. There’s that old psychology class scenario where they discuss a person being robbed on a street, all the residents watching from their windows, yet nobody calling the police for help until someone else does it first. It’s the same thing with hecklers. They wanna be the daring hero (like the comic) but need to see someone do it first (the comic) and that then gives them the balls to attempt becoming the center of attention. It never works though, which is good. Fuck them.

So what is next for you? Anything you would like to plug to our fine reader(s)?

Always wanna plug the podcasts: We’ll See You In Hell on the Headgum Network and Emotional Hangs on Feral Audio. Also, go get my special on iTunes! It’s called You Let Me Down.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Jay Mohr, graciously per my request, doing an impression of Joe Pesci instructing on how to bake a Christmas ham. I cried. It’s on this ep of his pod if you wanna check it out: http://j.mp/2oYMQE3

 

Check out this clip from Joe’s most recent, and damned hilarious Comedy Central Special, You Let Me Down:

Henry Phillips [Interview]


It’s all about the comedy this week, good folks! And we have another amazing interview for you all today! Henry Phillips has been one of my favorite working comics for a while now. I first came across his film Punching the Clown on Netflix oh so many years ago, and knew right away that this man’s comedic styling and self-deprecating attitude was exactly what I wanted to see. And as it turned out, his stand up turned out to be even more impressive than his filmmaking.

Phillips has been pleasing audiences since the mid 90’s, and definitely has a great story to be told. He’s experiencing more of the ups and downs of the comedy world than you could even fathom. Thankfully for us, the highs have been extremely high, casting a large shadow over the lows, of which I could even name. I just love what he has done with stand up comedy, and am extremely grateful that he was willing to share a few words with us here today. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some very nice words from the amazing stand up comedian, actor, filmmaker, writer, love maker……Henry Phillips!

How old were you when you realized you wanted to be hilarious for a living? What drew you to the world of stand up comedy?

I was 24. As a teenager the dream was to become a musician for a living, but when that started looking unrealistic, I went to college and gave up on the arts. I had always been a big fan of comedy, but never even imagined myself doing it professionally. But in 1994, I had a song that my friends all used to laugh at, and I was urged to go up and try it at an open mic. It ended up being a hit, and I was so excited to have people laughing at my humor, it was addictive. That’s what I said to myself, “maybe I can do this”.

What are some of your favorite cities to perform in that are not NYC or L.A.? What places tend to surprise you with their crowds? (For example, I hear the words “Bloomington Indiana”, and I have no idea where that is, but it seems like a decent place for comedy)

Yes, Bloomington has a reputation for being one of the best comedy audiences. College towns in general are pretty good. Not necessarily because of the college students themselves, but maybe because of the cultural influence a university has on the community. Maybe more open-mindedness? Which I think is extremely important for humor. San Francisco, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Nashville, Austin, Madison, are all wonderful Comedy places. My first “road” experience was the Laff Stop in Houston Texas, which had a magic about it. The audiences used to laugh so heartily at that club, it’s a big part of the reason that I decided to stick with it. No idea why that was, just one of those things.

You’ve been going at it in the comedy world for a quite a while now. In your opinion, how has the comedy world changed since you first began doing it? And has advancements in technology elevated the comedy game, or is it hurting it?

The biggest change that’s happened since I started Comedy in the 90’s is that now there are more things that you can do to be proactive. It used to be that you would try to make your act as good as possible and hope that you were picked to be a TV or a movie star. Kind of like waiting for a winning lottery ticket or a seat on a lifeboat. Now, if the phone doesn’t ring, you can make your own TV show and put it on YouTube, or you can start your own podcast, or you can develop a personal fanbase and organize a tour and sell your tickets online, skipping the middleman. There are just so many things that can be done now that empower the individual comedian. That’s a change I welcome, and really try to take advantage of. I have 2 web series, several digitally self-released CDs, and even 2 independent films, which would’ve been nearly impossible to achieve back in the 90s.

Your film Punching the Clown has been hailed (at least by me) as a MUST WATCH for true fans of stand up comedy. And now we are fortunate enough to get a sequel with Punching Henry. For old fans of Clown, what can we expect to be different this time around? What direction are you taking our beloved Henry?

Plotwise, it’s similar, but you would replace the record label with a TV network, and replace my brother with my lesbian musician friend, played by Tig Notaro. It’s much higher production value, some really beautiful imagery, great sound and some big name cast members. The feedback I’m hearing from fans of the first one is that this one’s a little bit darker, and a little bit more desperate. There is no female love interest, and the villain in the movie is really just life itself. Ha, that definitely doesn’t sound like a winning pitch for a comedy movie, but in my opinion it really works. Not only do I feel that we really nailed the big funny scenes, but I think there is a very honest pacing throughout that lets you know that you’re watching something real.

I adore your amazing web series Henry’s Kitchen. On the surface, one might think it’s just another set of cooking videos on YouTube, but in reality it is so much more. For those who are unaware, can you tell us a bit these videos and what makes them unique? And where did the idea for your version come from?

Henry’s Kitchen was inspired in 2011 at a time when I was doing a lot of cooking by myself at home. I would go to YouTube and Google, for example “French toast recipe”, and I used to really laugh at some of the amateur chefs out there teaching how to make French toast. At one point I said to myself, “I have to do one of these”. So I made my French toast video, and it was a hip among all my friends. Then I made my video “chili for one”, and it actually went viral. I was so excited, I always wanted something like that, and I finally got it. So then I just started cranking out more and more. There are 25 now, and there have been a great outlet for me creatively. I love coming up with one liner type jokes to say while I’m cooking, and scoring the soundtrack and writing the songs has really helped me stay in touch with my musical side. They are a ton of fun, and I’m amazed at how many people out there have seen them. I’ve been recognized at several airports, and in the streets in cities from Montreal to LA, by all these people that think that I’m just a terrible cook.

I am a huge fan of the podcast Doug Loves Movies, and you are hands down one of my favorite guests to frequently appear on the program. And whenever I get the chance, I have to ask people who are fortunate/insane enough to be on the show…what is that experience like? Is it just another for of publicity, or do you really enjoy doing it?

That podcast is nothing but pure fun. At first I was intimidated to be a guest on it, because I’m insecure about my knowledge of recent movies, especially all the marvel/superhero ones. And I’m not really good at coming up with trivia answers on the spot. But the bottom line is that Doug Benson is one of the funniest people ever, and he’s a genius at making the show funny, regardless of the trivia performance of the guests. It’s really fun.

What would you consider your greatest non-artistic accomplishment? 

It might be boring, but I guess finishing my political science degree at UCLA. it was great to learn all about a field that I had previously known little about. And there was a real sense of accomplishment, especially toward the end, when I was fulfilling all of the requirements. I had to study French, learn about statistics, take random science classes, etc. I guess I consider it an accomplishment now, because looking back it’s the only real time period when I wasn’t interested or involved in the arts at all.

So what is next for you? Anything coming soon that you can tell our readers about?

Well, Punching Henry is now out on Blu-ray and on iTunes and Amazon. It will also be on Showtime in August. I’m also working with an animator on a potential animated comedy Christmas special. And I am really hoping to make a couple more episodes of my other web series You and Your Fu&king Coffee, by the end of this year. In general, I think there will be much more filmmaking for me from this point out. But I will always be a traveling comedian as well, as long as there is an audience that wants to see me.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A video I just saw. Comedian Brendon Walsh has been pranking this gossip show by appearing as a guest Skyping in from home, and he keeps getting naked dudes to walk by in the background. Pretty damn hilarious.

Henry has made more recent Henry’s Kitchen episodes since this one below, but for introductory purposes, you HAVE to check out this amazing episode:

 

Graham Elwood [Interview]

 

We’ve got a legend in our midst today, my dear readers! Today we are talking with the legendary comedian, filmmaker, creator of the L.A. Podfest, and all around brilliant human being known as Graham Elwood. I will be perfectly blunt and state that I first became aware of Graham’s work through his brilliant guest spots on the wildly popular podcast Doug Loves Movies (which we will discuss further), but I have since learned that this man is a talented comedic monster in his own right, and I was actually enjoying his work long before I knew the man by name.

Besides being a hilarious comedian, Graham has given us two amazing documentaries: Laffghanistan, about comedians performing for the troops that is as hilarious as it is heartwarming. And Ear Buds: The Podcasting Documentary. Both films are fantastic, and the latter is an absolute must watch for anyone who obsessively listens to podcasts (such as myself). And one of those podcasts that hits by queue constantly is Graham’s own podcast, Comedy Film Nerds, that is an absolute delight for fans of comedy, films, comedy films, anything! I simply can not say enough nice things about the great Graham Elwood. Therefore, I shall let him tell us a bit more about himself. So please enjoy some great words with the legend himself, Mr. Graham Elwood!

What made you decide to join the world of stand up comedy, especially at a very young age? What were some of your inspirations to join a world like  stand up comedy?

I grew up watching and listening to comics like Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and others. I knew at a young age that I couldn’t hold a real job so telling dick jokes to drunks seemed more realistic.

There have obviously been some pretty major changes in the world of stand up since you started 30 years ago. But, I am interested to know what you believe is still the same. Are there elements about stand up that existed in the late 80’s that still hold true today?

Well, the art of writing and telling jokes is still very similar but it’s the technology or delivery to public that has changed. When I started you only had Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show. Now you can have, Netflix, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

Continuing with that theme….what have been some topics that have always seemed to work for you throughout your career? What are the fail safes basically?

I like talking about people and things I’ve seen in all my travels. Telling a true story about a crazy event will always work for me. Lenny Bruce said all good comes have a built in bullshit detector.


You have had a down right captivating movie based podcast in Comedy Film Nerds. Just so good. For our readers who may not be aware of it, can you give us a bit of insight about CFN? How did it manage to come about? And what is it that you personally believe sets your movie podcast apart from

all of the others?

CFN started as a website with movie reviews written by stand-up comics. It then grew to a podcast that has become the focus or our entire business. I think that we stand apart because Chris Mancini and I are both filmmakers and comedians. We went to film school and got heckled at dive bars. So we feel this gives us a unique insight as to what makes a good film and what is an excuse for doing honest work.

You have also been the driving force behind the finest Podcast Festival the world has ever known, the L.A. Pod Fest. What should attendees be looking forward to in 2017? Is it already shaping up to be a pretty amazing event yet again?

This year the LA Podfest have moved to the historic Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA. It’s our 6th year and now we have an iconic venue with a lot of showbiz history. Also getting some big name first timers, like Bill Burr, Bobby Lee, Laurie Kilmartin and Bert Kreischer is nice.

And just to add to your amazing versatility, you have created two amazing documentaries about equally amazing experiences with Laffghanistan and Ear Buds. What drove you to enter the world of filmmaking?

My parents took me to the movies as a child and that impacted me. I always wanted to make films and talk about them. The two docs I’ve directed were just being in a unique place at the right time and wanting to tell a larger audience.


As the person I am currently dubbing ‘The Godfather of Podcasting”, I feel like you are the most appropriate person to ask this: What is something you believe to be absolutely crucial to have when starting a podcast that the common person may not know is essential to the process?

Passion and good equipment helps. Also, now you’ve forced me to put a horse’s head in Chris Hardwicks bed.

I have to confess that I became aware of your work because of a podcast that was not yours, but featured you and had me laughing hysterically. It was Doug Loves Movies. You are always a delight to hear on that show. Frankly I become disappointed when I DON’T see your name on the bill. It sounds like you have a lot of fun doing it. So is it fun? What is it that you enjoy about doing the show, and what keeps you coming back besides the advertisement side of things?

DLM is like a cocktail party with a bunch of funny friends where you play movie trivia just to make each other laugh. I’ve had so much fun on that show over the years. I’ve also met some great comics, actors and filmmakers from DLM. It’s a great place to get guests for CFN.


So what is next for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Since the election I’ve been more involved with what’s going on in the world. I started a YouTube show, “The Political Vigilante.” I’m a progressive who is done with the two parties and corporate media.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The Thor: Ragnarok trailer.

Find everything you need to know about Graham and how to watch his films and how to listen/see him at the Comedy Film Nerds website.

 

For a quick example of what Comedy Film Nerds has to offer, check out this video of our heroes talking about one of our favorite things in the world, screenwriting!:

Todd Pipes [Interview]

Regular readers here at TWS will definitely notice that we have a HUGE soft spot for “90’s music”. I don’t really believe that this needs to be a genre or labeled as such. But, we just happen to be huge fans of some amazing pop and alternative (another weird name for a “genre”) artists who hit it big in the last decade of the 20th century, and are still going at it hard today. And today is no exception! Todd Pipes will be best known as one of the co-founders of the sensation group we know and love as Deep Blue Something. DBS became a world wide sensation in 1995 with the release of their hit single “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, a song that is a god damn staple for it’s time, and 22 years later, still hits us so damn hard with one of the most catchy choruses you will ever hear.

After a bit of a hiatus, Deep Blue Something came back to us in 2014! But, Todd Pipes has never slowed down, releasing a couple of solo records, producing other artists, and just constantly creating magic each and every time he picks up a guitar and puts his brain to paper, and makes our ears feel the magic. He is also a very delightful human being! So delightful in fact, he took some time out of his busy schedule to share a few words with us! Aren’t you guys just the luckiest god damn readers in the world? So let’s get to it! Ladies and Gentlemen, Todd Pipes!

When did you know that you wanted to be a musician for a living? When do you remember realizing this was to be your calling?

That’s easy: second grade. Three of us on the school bus had discovered KISS by way of some older kids talking. . . It was instantaneous. My mission was actually to somehow join KISS. It’s bizarre to think back on that; there being no transitional period of just liking music as a listener. I was immediately attracted to the bass as well. I realized pretty quickly that they’d be too old to be in a band with, so I was okay with moving ahead on my own. At this point, I started picking out the bass lines to Jeff Lorber’s Fusion album on a toy guitar I had. I remember my dad coming into my room as I was playing along to “Wizard Island” and asking me how I’d learned it. I also remember the look of concern on his face when he exited. Dave Brubeck’s Take Five album was big with me then too. . . Second grade was a big year.

The 90’s were a peculiar time for music, and left us with some of the best work to date, in my opinion. And Deep Blue Something was definitely a major player in the scene. In your personal opinion, what do you believe it is that set you guys apart from the numerous “alternative” acts that came about during this magical period?

I think that, for being so jangly, we had a particular melancholy aspect that made us different. Maybe it came from the overarching influence of the Smiths or the Jesus and Mary Chain; I’m not sure. Our use of the acoustic guitar came straight from Love and Rockets’ Earth, Sun, Moon album (a vibe Ash had already started in Bauhaus). It creates lots of sonic space where Toby could do his echoey lead guitar stuff. We were also definitely a lot less ‘bro-ish’ than the more grungey bands of the time, which was always funny to me—all the physical posturing of these dudes wearing camo-jorts and combat boots, and singing all ‘grrrrr and yerrrrrrllll,’ then you meet them. . .hilarious. . . and you feel like a giant. . .

When you finally had “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” wrapped up in what would be it’s final cut, did you instantly realize that you had a hit single on your hands? And what was it like to find yourself suddenly on top of the charts?

It was actually the first time we played it live. I’d written it one morning (we had a show that night), and we did our typical, “let’s run through the set before we load the gear” thing that we still do, and I asked if we could try a new one to see how it sounded. They agreed, and afterward someone suggested that we just go ahead and play it that night. We assumed there’d be the usual exodus to the bar that immediately follows when a band announces, “here’s a new one we just wrote,” but there wasn’t. We had a solid following by this time, and they connected with it right away. Everyone instinctively knew to jump up and down during the chorus, and I thought, “hmmm, this is interesting.”

As far as “suddenly finding ourselves on the charts,” it definitely wasn’t that way for us. It was a station by station, town by town, state by state, country by country STRUGGLE. Every program director told us that it didn’t fit their format. We played acoustic in so many conference rooms and office lobbies just to try to get them to spin it just one time. If we could get that one play, we’d top the requests and get full rotation on the station. It didn’t even matter where else the song was working . . . Ultimately, we’d literally conquered the world and the geniuses at the UK branch (of our own record company!!) told us, “the British charts are currently dominated by British bands, and you’re so American-sounding that we’re not going to release it—congratulations on your success elsewhere. . .” They were only forced to release it because everyone was buying German imports after they’d heard it on foreign radio which drifted across the English Channel. When we went number one, these same morons showed up backstage at Top of the Pops with a fruit-basket saying “funny ‘ow fings go, innit?” I had to be physically restrained.

Deep Blue Something has recently regrouped, and released the wonderful Locust House EP on Kirtland Records. What was it like getting back into the saddle with the crew after a hiatus? Is it like old times again?

It has been exactly like old times. These are people I spent every waking moment with for years. It’s all of the in-jokes and codified language that you miss. And talking about gear—I’d forgotten how much we talk about gear. Kirk sent us a text a few days ago with a picture of this ultra-rare distortion pedal that he’d just acquired, and we were all, “ahhhhhh.” So much discussion of signal direction flow in cables, and pickup impedances, ohms and tubes. . . sometimes we even get around to writing songs and recording them. . .


In your personal opinion, what is the main difference between DBS’s work today as opposed to say, 20 years ago. What has time and experience granted you all as far as growth?

As with many things, when you can return to the starting point—the source, all of the unspoken reasons for starting all of this become clear. We’re all the way back to just doing it because we enjoy the processes involved in the creation of music. With the passing of all of those years, I’d also had simply forgotten what amazing musicians everyone is. At the time, I always thought of us as a single unit—a band. For some reason while doing the Locust House sessions, the focus was on everyone individually and the whole time I just kept thinking, “it was never this easy when I was producing other bands. . .”

How did Bass Propulsion Laboratories come about? And what are some projects you have had come out of it?

Simply put, one day my wife finally ventured upstairs (where all of the recording equipment that Toby and I had amassed over the years), and we’d taken over the whole place—mics and cables everywhere—drums in one room, guitar amps in other rooms, a control room—and she said, “this is our house! We live here. . .can’t y’all rent a space somewhere?!?!?!” I thought, “yes indeed.” It was named Bass Propulsion Laboratories because we lived near NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratories when I was young. We ran it for years but closed it down a while back—we had everyone from Drowning Pool to DJ Shadow to Maren Morris in there . . . when she first started making records at BPL, she couldn’t even drive. Great times. I ended up building a small studio on our property, where I continue to do mastering projects. As I mentioned earlier, I love gear, and it’s all got to go somewhere. . . My son and his band are making a record in there now.

As you have watched the music world shift dramatically with the digital advancements that have taken place, what are your opinions on its state? What are some positives, as well as downsides, to the way the business has shifted since we moved into a streaming and digital download environment?

The idea that anyone can release a record to the world certainly seems positive, but the reality is that artists find difficulty in anyone ever hearing it. More than ever, artists are in competition for attention–to the point that they’re giving the music away. Everyone is now used to getting their music for free (through gifting, streaming, or stealing), so they don’t value it. I cherished the records I bought as a youth BECAUSE they cost me something. I had to do chores, save birthday money, etc just to be able to buy one, and then ride my bike miles and miles to the record store and back just to hear it. Every band was a personal investment, and because of that I stuck with the bands and their music. Music has now been relegated to commercials and background noise for video games. And yet things do manage to poke through somehow, and band comes along like Ghost. Somehow their music found its way to us from Sweden, and my whole family loves them.

So, what is next for you? You always seem to be gearing up for or in the middle of something cool, what can our readers look forward to in the near future?

DBS is currently writing and recording new stuff; I’ve got projects to mix and/or master. I may finally finish my PhD. . . I’d like to get a tour going.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Yesterday, my son mentioned something he was doing for a girl he’s started dating, and how it would earn him ‘brownie points’ with her. When he left the room, my daughter called me over to ask what exactly ‘brownie points’ were—suspecting there was some sort of merit-based ranking system involved with high-school dating of which she was unaware. I love innocence.

Check out the official video for Deep Blue Something’s 2015 single “Make Believe Off”:

Christopher Thorn [Interview]


Hey there Everyone! Remember when we used to talk about music a lot? I know that TWS has sort of become the MTV of the blog world, as we have shifted away from the plethora of album and artist reviews we used to do. But, we are so excited about these amazing interview opportunities that have been bestowed upon us. So, how about we combine the two. How about we showcase two of the best guitarists of our generation in one week? And tell you about some new shit you need to hear? Would you like that? Well, that’s what you’re going to get!

Christopher Thorn is the real deal in the modern world of music. For almost 30 years, Thorn has been thrilling audiences and listeners alike as the man behind the guitar for some of the finest acts of the 90’s and through to the present. In fact, he was the driving force behind one of the bands that was posed to be one of the greatest of all time, had tragedy not struck them so hard. I am talking about the legendary 90’s act Blind Melon. With just two albums released, the band was hit hard with the death of their truly unique and talented lead singer Shannon Hoon, that is now widely known. It is honestly hard to tell just what sort of magic Blind Melon might have been able to create had they been able to continue on. But, life doesn’t always work that way. So, we are left with two amazing albums that we can never be taken away from us.

Thorn’s later work has always been on our radar, as he has definitely refrained from diving out of the spotlight. He has continued to work with other amazing acts, as well as releasing his own wonderful projects. But, we will let Chris tell you about them himself! Ladies and gentlemen, Christopher Thorn!

As you were growing up, when did you first decide that you wanted/needed to join the world of music? Do you have any specific memories that still stick out to this day?

By the age of 12 or 13 I knew I wanted to play music and make records for the rest of my life. Once I made that commitment I had a focus and dedication that I never knew I had. I would wake up an hour early before school every day and practice. I had an amazing music teacher at school named Jeff Snyder who would let me practice in the music room during my study halls. I practiced before, during, and after school. I was obsessed and it felt great to find my passion .

As our old friend Marc Maron might ask, Who were your guys? What bands influenced you the most when you were coming up?

My influences are all the obvious ones. Jimmy Page and Keith Richards made me want to play guitar. Once I heard Bob Dylan and Neil Young, my focus changed more so to song writing and the craft of making a song that can drop you to your knees! The Beatles were also a huge influence as far as songs and production.

Would you be able and/or willing to give a brief synopsis of the formation of your first major group, Blind Melon? What were the early days like? And could you even fathom the amount of success you guys would have in such a seemingly short period of time?

I placed an ad in the LA local music mag in 1989 looking for a bass player. I met Brad Smith through that add and about a year later he and Rogers met Shannon. Brad called and said I found an incredible singer and we are looking for another guitar player. I went over and Shannon played me a new song he wrote called ” Change ” – When I met Shannon for the first time I thought this guy is exactly like all the legendary front men I have always read about. I had never met anyone with that much charisma, charm, and talent. He fucking blew my mind from day one. The rest is history as they say.

I don’t think anyone could really fathom that sort of success. I was a country boy from a tiny town in PA and I ended up on the cover of Rolling Stone. To this day when I even hear myself say that it sounds like I’m making it up. It still feel unreal.


Blind Melon struck a chord with the audiences of its time, and for great reasons. During this time of the sort of alternative renaissance as I have heard it called, what do you believe it was that made you guys stick out of the crowd? I know why it is special to me, but what was special for you?

I think we stuck out because we were not grunge. We were lumped in with that scene but we were on our own path. I also think Shannon’s personality and stage presence was a big part of that too .

Can you tell us a bit about Unified Theory that you started with bandmate Brad Smith and fellow rock geniuses Dave Krusen and Chris Shirin?

Unified Theory was a great time. We all got along really well. Brad and I produced the record in our own studios in Seattle and it was the first time we had control over every detail when it comes to the recordings. We toured our asses off and had a blast. I am very proud of the two records we made .

I have also become aware that you spent some time as a member of another group that I consider to be one of the finest rock acts of all time, the band Live. When was your period with this band? And how was this experience unique to you?

I was asked to join the band Live in 1998. I did a short tour including the Tibetan Freedom Concert and made The Distance To Here record with them. Around that same time I met Chris Shinn and I decided I wanted to form my own band. I asked Brad Smith and Dave Krusen to join and we were off and running. My time in Live was amazing . They had sold 20 million records by then and were riding high bu,t my time with them made me realize that starting over and forming my own band was more important than taking the easy road being a side man in Live .

And lets make more with the present, and ask about Sonny Boy Thorn. What can you tell us about this project, and what can the fans of modern times expect to hear, or have been hearing for a while?

In 2012 I toured the world with Awolnation as lead guitar player. I had a blast and it was a privilege to ride the wave of another hit song that I was a part of. The song “Sail” went on to sell 10 million copies but once again, I knew that starting over… ( again) and making my own music was something I had to do. I met Davie Dennis (Singer for SBT) around that time and we started writing songs . We brought in all our friends to help record. Glen Graham from Blind Melon, Matt Flynn from Maroon 5, Hayden Scott from Awolnation, Rami Jaffee from the Foo Fighters and Jim Keltner ( John Lennon , George Harrison, Joe Cocker and a million more ). It was an incredible experience. We have 20 songs complete and are just trying to figure out the best way to release the music . I truly feel like its the best record I have made since the Soup record .


Besides your own stuff, what are you listening to these days? Do you manage to keep up with the new trends in music?

I listen to a lot of new music . My new favorite band is Mondo Cosmo from LA . I love the Arc’s record as well . Queens of The Stone Age is also a modern fav . When it comes to Hip Hop I’m really digging Post Malone who recorded at my studio last month. He is the real deal and it might sound odd but his charm and charisma reminded me so much of Shannon.

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

I have some really big plans for the future that I have been working on. Art projects is all I can say at this point. I think the Melon fans will be very excited when I reveal what I have been working on. I am also excited about the Danny Clinch/Shannon Hoon documentary . It is one of the most unique and intimate films I have ever seen . Shannon shot all of the footage . Its like looking at some ones private journals .

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was Nico Hoon and her mom came out to Joshua Tree to spend time with my family and we all pretty much laughed our asses off for the entire week!

Check out this amazing video for Sonny Boy Thorn’s single “Wild and Free”: