In This Episode
Ira and Louis answer your burning mailbag questions about their favorite albums, who else could have starred in Tar, Nicholas Cage’s Oscar prospects, and more. Plus, Mike Birbiglia joins to discuss his Broadway show The Old Man & the Pool and the current state of stand up comedy.
Ira Madison III [AD]
Ira Madison III And we are back with an all new episode of Keep It. I’m Ira Madison the third. Ho, ho, ho.
Louis Virtel I’m Louis Virtel. You can hear the bells jangling off my collar. You know what I’m thinking about right now is what my mom casually wears around Christmastime. Do you have people in your family who just wear they look like, you know, a red, white and green duvet cover.
Ira Madison III Do not.
Louis Virtel Bells on them and stuff. My mom is always wearing like a festive vest that makes her half look like a blackjack dealer and also like, you know, your aunt.
Ira Madison III Uh, is your mom good at blackjack?
Louis Virtel No, I don’t think my family has any casino history. I used to be obsessed with casinos growing up. I thought I would grow up and love to be around that environment. I would play like Super Nintendo Casino games and then I grew up and then I went to a casino for the first time and I watched somebody lose $800 in like a matter of seconds at a blackjack table, oh wait, it’s horrifying. It’s a very scary place to be.
Ira Madison III Yeah, I feel like there was a brief period where I was into gambling and I was like good at blackjack and also good at poker. And I lost a significant amount of money. And then I had to I’m not going to say how much, but I stayed there until I earned it back. And then I left.
Louis Virtel Oh, well, at least you’re did. One time I did. My friend Andrew took me to Commerce Casino, which is along, I believe, the 110 in L.A. or whatever is on the east side, something over there. And I played poker with a table full of people where the median age had to be 96. No doubt about it. And I made something like $79. But who feels good about that? Look at me.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Louis Virtel It was basically the movie I Care a Lot.
Ira Madison III I want to get back into the world of, like, the celebrity underground poker games, you know, like from like from Molly’s game. What was that like? Tobey Maguire playing them.
Louis Virtel Right.
Ira Madison III Ah, I love that’s still one of my favorite openings of a movie too, and like Ocean’s 11.
Louis Virtel Oh, definitely. Yes, I miss the glamor of casinos. I think also I’m so intimately familiar with like for instance, Jimmy Kimmel does a week of shows in Vegas every so often and I stayed at Planet Hollywood Casino for an entire week. When you’re at a casino on a Wednesday, something has gone wrong. You need to not see that world like Vegas, as far as I’m concerned, should go totally to black from Tuesday to Thursday and Monday. It’s a weekend only time.
Ira Madison III It’s just so people get all these shows during the week.
Louis Virtel Now. Okay, show culture. I accept. But
Ira Madison III The casinos are gross.
Louis Virtel See One Armed Bandit behavior, yeah, on a Wednesday.
Ira Madison III There’s something about still being able to, like, smoke in a casino. There’s just so, so grimy. I love it.
Louis Virtel Yeah. No, there is, like, a loungy-ness that is missing from life. You know, just the words Robert Goulet. You want to say them, you know what I mean? And Vegas has that energy.
Ira Madison III Sometimes in my, like, cig-fluencer era. So. Yeah.
Louis Virtel Oh, didn’t know it.
Ira Madison III It just means I’m chain smoking like Carrie Bradshaw. So that’s it.
Louis Virtel Very good.
Ira Madison III Well,this is our final episode of the year.
Louis Virtel God bless. As far as I’m concerned, we covered everything. And by that, I mean I didn’t pay much attention to the things I don’t know anything about, and I didn’t even try.
Ira Madison III I would say that this year feels like. It feels like it was like six different series. Like, I can’t even tell you what was going on in my life, like January or February this year.
Louis Virtel Well, I think not to say the words post-pandemic, I know it’s still going on, but post that occurring in March 2020. I feel like my memory for what happened three months ago in particular is particular is shorter. There’s you have less of a reason. You’re just moving on with the moment. In a way, is this just adulthood? I feel like I’m sounding like Garfield without Garfield standing in this kitchen wondering where time when.
Ira Madison III Things were easier, you know, where you were when you were younger, kids. When you, you know, you could you could remember what happened based on who your teacher or professor was.
Louis Virtel Right. And then you, like, graduate or you, it’s summertime, and then you’re back at school and it’s different teachers. I do miss that about high school.
Ira Madison III But even with, like, television now, right? It just feels like everything bleeds into each other.
Louis Virtel Yeah. Exactly.
Ira Madison III Especially the shows we watch, like. Like a drag race or like a Real Housewives. It just feels like if it’s always on, it feels like it’s always like. It’s feels like there’s no season changing.
Louis Virtel Correct. It feels like every TV show is on and not on all the time.
Ira Madison III Yeah. White Lotus just ended. It’s almost like. Well, White Lotus is about to start back up again. Right.
Louis Virtel Yeah, right. We have two weeks until the next one. Yeah.
Ira Madison III But no, Succession is coming back soon, and. And Drag Race is coming back. Drag Race is moving to MTV.
Louis Virtel Which I don’t know how I feel about Viacom in general, is just a giant, perplexing sphinx in the sky.
Ira Madison III It’s a hot potato.
Louis Virtel I don’t know what’s going on over there.
Ira Madison III It’s like Drag Race is going to be on Comedy Central in two years.
Louis Virtel Yeah. They’re just passing around the properties. Um, no, I haven’t watched MTV except for the VMAs. I think in the past year, so.
Ira Madison III The VMAs and The Challenge for me.
Louis Virtel Oh, yeah, The Challenge, of course. Yeah, but I still don’t really know what Ridiculousness is. And I understand that’s part of the MTV core mantra, so I need to either lock into that or I’m not really an MTV fan.
Ira Madison III Yeah, there’s there’s like seven different versions of Ridiculousness.
Louis Virtel And I just don’t even like saying the word one time, let alone seven times. So
Ira Madison III At any rate, this episode, as we’ve come to the end of the year, we want it to get everyone presents. But since Crooked will not approve sending all of our listeners iTunes gift cards, we have something just as good. We’re going to do a mailbag episode.
Louis Virtel I have to say, these are my favorite episodes. I like hearing what people are curious about. You know how our friend Sam Griezmann made a comment on Twitter recently where he said, Nobody on Instagram wants to hear you do Q&As about just anybody like no one’s curious where you can ask questions for you. But I think people should be forced to ask questions of other people. I think it’s fun. I think he’s wrong. Yeah.
Ira Madison III Look at you calling one of our friends out for once now?
Louis Virtel I’m thrilled. Yes, it’s freeing.
Ira Madison III No, I love a Q&A and I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve heard what our listeners think about things. So let’s get to a few of our favorite mailbag questions this year. Why don’t you start us off?
Louis Virtel Okay, let’s see. Uh, my name is Marvin, and I love hearing your guys conversations this year on your all time favorite movies. And I was wondering what makes the list of your favorite albums of all time? My top three have stayed the same since I was in high school and I actually feel bad how often I revisit these things. Like a part of me thinks I should be more voraciously devouring new stuff all the time. But I’m Midwestern and Gothickly obsessed with habit, so I have my favorites that I need to keep revisiting all the time. And my main three are my favorite album is Liz Phair Exile in Guyville, which I brought up all the time in the show. It’s funny, crude, heartbreaking, everything about it, but it’s also just a hard rock album. It’s a pop album. It has something for everybody. It’s as much like I had this horrible relationship and also now I’m sitting on a plane just looking out the window, having weird, sort of foggy thoughts about the universe. Lots going on in that album. My second favorite’s Aimee Mann’s Bachelor No2, not just because it’s named after a game show reference per humor. Her seriousness, they mix together. I actually brought that up in our interview with Mike Birbiglia this episode, and my third favorite is Madonna’s first album, which is Lucky Star and Burning Up and Borderline and Everybody, which is her first single. And to me, that song has all the urgency the sexual, in-your-face ness, the bravado of anything she’d release in the future. And she’s not even close to famous at that particular moment. You can just hear the ambition and the rawness, and I always love that particular moment in Madonna’s career. I don’t know about the most, but I love that album the most.
Ira Madison III That’s her sort of like raucous chorus era. But then like, the verses are just sort of like having a conversation over the beat.
Louis Virtel Yes. Getting everybody, where it’s like, I know you want it. You know. Naughty Girl.
Ira Madison III I that’s a hard question to think about my my favorite albums. I would say that The Velvet Rope is always there in that list.
Louis Virtel By the way, it’s probably crucial that these are albums from the time we started being obsessed with the idea of an album that, you know.
Ira Madison III That I would absolutely say Usher 8701.
Louis Virtel Would not have guessed. What’s the definitive 8701 track?
Ira Madison III I mean, You Don’t Have to Call is like my favorite song.
Louis Virtel Also my favorite. Yes.
Ira Madison III And then I don’t know, like I’m probably giving you like. Probably giving you, um, Infinity on High by Fallout Boy.
Louis Virtel Yes. That that triad to me, if someone put those three albums in front of me, I would guess, Oh, this must be Ira’s favorite albums.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Louis Virtel That’s right.
Ira Madison III You know, and that’s excluding, like, musicals, you know, because I feel like that’s a whole other that’s a whole other ballgame, you know?
Louis Virtel You know? But speaking of musicals, by the way, do you know what I think is an underrated song? Is it? If I Could Tell Her from Dear Evan Hansen. It just popped up recently on.
Ira Madison III Oh, yeah.
Louis Virtel Lovely song
Ira Madison III It’s a very sweet song. It’s a very sweet musical.
Louis Virtel Sweetly sung.
Ira Madison III Yeah. Sweet musical and deranged movie.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Ira Madison III But.
Louis Virtel Long movie, too. And it disappeared from memory as soon as I saw it.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Louis Virtel The craziest thing about that is how they handle waving through a window that. That that would flop immediately out of the gate. And then you had the entire movie ahead of you. It’s just the worst feeling.
Ira Madison III Anyway, I think I think those are appropriate for three music albums for me. Our next question comes from Alexis. She has a two pronged question. Well, she has one question and one accusation.
Louis Virtel Great.
Ira Madison III The Keep It intro song starts with horns and then a high pitched voice saying something like, who’s ready for a party or hooray? I don’t know what the voice is actually saying. I’ve been wondering probably for years. Please answer, by the way, please answer. That is a remix of the song Hooray for Hollywood. Yeah. So
Louis Virtel Shrewd listeners would have known. I’m kidding.
Ira Madison III Hooray for Hollywood. If you know, as from the 1937 film Hollywood Hotel. And it was actually made by our original producer, Corinne Gilliard. But her brother remixed this for us.
Louis Virtel So I don’t think I knew that.
Ira Madison III Yeah, that’s what a song came from.
Louis Virtel I need to be more curious. What’s the second part of her question? What’s her second prong?
Ira Madison III Her accusation is for me. I want to ask Ira why he never brought up Evan Peters’ performance in Dahmer, or the series in general. Ira mentioned that being from Milwaukee and Evan Peters stan. So what’s the tea? Just wanted to know his thoughts on the show.
Ira Madison III First of all, I would like to know what I’ve ever presented myself as an Evan Peters stan.
Louis Virtel And he does a perfectly good job. Does that mean you’re a stan?
Ira Madison III I like her work.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Ira Madison III I think I think Evan Peters is attractive in certain roles. I don’t know that I am, you know, proselytizing for Evan Peters in the streets, you know?
Louis Virtel Yeah. Oh.
Ira Madison III My. I don’t have a 95 thesis for Evan Peters to nail to the church door. So.
Louis Virtel Yes.
Ira Madison III Let’s get that out of the way first. Second of all, I brought this up slightly last week, but I just have no interest in watching Dahmer. Whatsoever. I mean, I am from Milwaukee. And so I know the Dahmer story and I feel like I find it exploitative in a weird sort of gross way. And exploitative, not so much that I think that other true crime things that we’ve seen before aren’t exploitative, exploitative in the sense that, like, what else are we learning? You know, it’s just.
Louis Virtel Yeah, I don’t feel like there’s much of a take away.
Ira Madison III No.
Louis Virtel I have to say
Ira Madison III So there’s this like I’d rather something from, you know, I thought My Friend Dahmer was at least slightly more interesting just because it started as a graphic novel. And it was at least from someone else’s perspective of someone who knew Dahmer in school, you know? But unless you’re, like, giving me like a different in to him, I’m just sort of like, I don’t need to see a highly stylized version of Dahmer eating black people.
Louis Virtel Fair points. I’ll give that one to you. Not going to argue that one. Next question. Emily asks If you had to cast someone other than Cate to play Lydia Tar, who would it be? I think I want to give a historical answer for this because it’s such a character for the ages, and I think it has to be an actress who is terrifying. Who, because then when you see them crumble, there should be a different form of terror emerging from them, like that they don’t have any control at all. You know, it’s like, imagine if, like, Trump lost all control, that would be pretty scary to see. Right?
Ira Madison III Mm hmm.
Louis Virtel Not that he’s not scary already. But one of my favorite enraged actresses is Glenda Jackson, who became an MP in British Parliament some years after she won two Oscars. She won a Tony a few years back for three tall women. We actually talked to Alison Pill when she was on the show about that production. Yeah, I would love to see her descend into the video game soundtracking or whatever occurs in Tar.
Ira Madison III I think I could have guessed that you would say Glenda Jackson. To be honest, I feel like she’s got that sort of je ne sais quoi that you love in an actress.
Louis Virtel Oh, she has that kind of Judy Davis. You can see the anger in the neck thing. Yes.
Ira Madison III Yeah. I don’t know who I would go with to play Lydia Tar. You know, I think that.
Louis Virtel Cate arguably did all right.
Ira Madison III Yeah. She was fine. I think you’d need an actress with sort of a masculine pantsuit quality. You know, like, I’m thinking, like, later on. But honestly, it would have been really intriguing to see, like, Katharine Hepburn take on something like that.
Louis Virtel Yes. Oh, totally.
Ira Madison III You know.
Louis Virtel Oh my God, that would have been fabulous.
Ira Madison III Basically, that’s basically who that bitch was like IRL.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Ira Madison III Just walking around in her, like, dirty men’s pants, fresh from the garden. A lot of attitude. That was basically her IRL. So it would have been nice to see a Katharine Hepburn, you know, like a sapphic Katharine Hepburn on screen, too. That sort of was more in line with maybe who she actually was than who our audience has got to see Katharine Hepburn be.
Louis Virtel Yeah. Right. If she could drop that sort of bringing up baby fun whiz bang and just be.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Ira Madison III A centered asshole.
Ira Madison III She was sort of like, really? I mean it’s weird, too, because I’m even even thinking about her roles, you know, I wouldn’t necessarily call them overtly feminine. You know?
Louis Virtel Right.
Ira Madison III Because the actresses of that era used to be able to have this sort of like a servic quality that was sort of like knocked out of actresses when you got to like the engenues, you know, I feel like the good ones like Julia Roberts and like Sandra Bullock would have them in certain roles. But like, even if even like Sandra in like one of her sauciest roles like sort of like Miss Congeniality or something like Julia probably had it more in certain roles, but like they had no one really has that like that bringing up baby that Adam’s rib that, you know, like that that even that Betty Davis, you know, when they’re playing like when they’re playing like a woman, but also one who just seems sort of like they have this sort of masculine quality to them, their jokes are harder, you know, their cynicism is harder.
Louis Virtel I would call them door slammers. These are people who slam the door. Yes. And by the way, I do not hate the idea of Julia Roberts as Tar. I would like to see that also. I love Julia Roberts as hard and as there’s no other word for it cunty as possible.
Ira Madison III Yeah, she talked. I think I brought this up last week, too. Like she brought up they were talking about 3000 and her actors on actors with Patricia Arquette about how like she was originally cast in it, where there was originally supposed to be a much darker film. And she was like, I’m supposed to play this. And Patricia was like, I would love to see you on that version of and I’m like, I’d love to see you and something like that too. Like Julia, I think she’s like, I don’t think she’s fully tapped into everything that she can do as an actress.
Louis Virtel No. Speaking of her and Katherine Hepburn, I would love to see like the Julia Roberts’ Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I want to see it get fucking bleak. I’m going to see her handle like a slow, deep monologue.
Ira Madison III You know who else but Michelle Pfeiffer.
Louis Virtel Oh. I mean, I went through eight different Michelle’s.
Ira Madison III Yeah. Sorry. Michelle Pfeiffer.
Louis Virtel Yeah, she’s ready for that.
Ira Madison III But she really tapped into, like door slamming. She is.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Ira Madison III She is fantastic.
Louis Virtel I think one of the definitive gay moments of my like tweendom is just seeing the commercial for What Lies Beneath and the way she says, your wife. Just the dream enunciation right there.
Ira Madison III And I’ve talked on this show before about how revisiting that film did not did not get the desired result that I wanted.
Louis Virtel I know, I feel the same way. I revisted that in the past few years. Yeah.
Ira Madison III So unfortunately not great, but Michelle Pfeiffer. Yeah. Age of Innocence.
Louis Virtel Yes. Lovely performance. Lucy asks, What is your dream pairing? Living or dead for the variety actors on actors series? Also, why is Taylor Swift doing a Directors on Directors with Martin McDonagh? What are they going to talk about? Do you think she’ll submit all too well for consideration at the Oscars? Can I tell you something? I would be more like hard lined and bastardly about the fact that she, I guess, wants an Oscar, but I’m sorry, guys. When Kobe won for Dear Basketball. That just blew all the Oscars out the window. I’m sorry. May he rest. It’s the worst fucking Oscar win of all time. So, have you seen Dear Basketball?
Ira Madison III It’s very bad.
Louis Virtel It’s like a colored pencil drawing and him reading. I want to be clear that that’s all it is. Has an Oscar.
Ira Madison III I would give the paperclip from Microsoft Word an Oscar before that. Okay.
Louis Virtel Also. So I work at Jimmy Kimmel Live and across the street at the Hollywood and the Highland Mall complex where the Oscars are. There’s a giant mural of Kobe Bryant holding an Oscar. Imagine every day at work, I go in.
Ira Madison III You’re taunted.
Louis Virtel Clock in. I clock in. I’m sitting there, I’m doing my little work. I turn around and I’m haunted by my least favorite Oscars. But that’s my life. That’s what I live.
Ira Madison III That’s your Illinois.
Louis Virtel Yes, right. Me mad at the concept of basketball and the legacy of Kobe Bryant.
Ira Madison III Here’s what I want to say. Sometimes actors on actors, produces dividends of like, you know, like, oh, these really iconic actors are talking to each other about their craft. But for the most part, you kind of just want to be entertained. And I’m sorry, nothing sound more entertaining to me than Taylor Swift and Martin McDonagh talking. Like that is kust like.
Louis Virtel I think she’s going to ask things like, by the way, it’s out, by the way, that interview, isn’t it? And because she asks him, like, what does the finger symbolism in your movie means? She’s so I’m sorry. Her intellect level regarding these things is giving high school grade. Books and discussions.
Ira Madison III It’s very awkward. She’s also talking about when she’s talking about crafting a product, she’s like, Ah, you know, I’m crafting different colors, you know, like what’s going to go into it? Like making it a different era? And I’m like, okay, yeah, the colors, you know, I mean, you know, Almodovar over here. You know?
Louis Virtel Right.
Ira Madison III But for someone thinking of colors, by the way, like except for Lover and literally naming an album Red, her videos are usually sort of like not bright and poppy. I guess the You Need to Calm Down video is bright and colorful, but that sort of like, you know, giving like the MILF Money video, you know, it’s not really giving.
Louis Virtel First of all, ain’t nothing wrong with that. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Ira Madison III Listen, we stan Fergie in this house. Okay. This is pro Fergie podcast. Sit Fergie and Martin McDonagh down. Okay.
Louis Virtel Yeah, there we go.
Ira Madison III Okay.
Louis Virtel There you go.
Ira Madison III I feel like they were both have a lot of things about whether or not a little party could kill somebody.
Louis Virtel That’s right. That’s right. I do want to say about Taylor Swift, though, she said the All Too Well video was partly inspired by Marriage Story. And Kramer versus Kramer. Yes. Those are movies with arguments and them. Thank you so much for your insight. Moving on.
Ira Madison III My movie was inspired.
Louis Virtel Inspirational figure to me.
Ira Madison III My movie was inspired by the seminal soccer classic, The Big Green.
Louis Virtel Oh, you don’t have to tell me about Olivia D’abo, The Wonder Years alumna.
Ira Madison III And of course, she’s going to submit all too well for consideration of the arts. But come on. She also has, like, I believe she has designs on, like, directing herself, you know, like sort of like directing films which, you know, has to be better than her acting.
Louis Virtel I actually thought she was okay in Amsterdam.
Ira Madison III Getting run over by a car.
Louis Virtel Yes, I did of course cheer and take off my clothes. I was thrilled.
Ira Madison III But we kind of missed out by CATS being such a flop that she didn’t really lean into her macavity era.
Louis Virtel Yeah, and it should have been an era.
Ira Madison III It should have been.
Louis Virtel It feels like it was like this blip, really a successful PR move on her part to move on from that.
Ira Madison III I don’t think I brought this up, but I was at a club at I believe it was like in Europe, maybe it was like London or something, but like it was a gay club, and like they were playing a remix to something and I was like, What is the song? And then I realized it was Taylor Swift’s Macavity.
Louis Virtel Oh, my gosh. Wow. That exists. You can buy that.
Ira Madison III So shout out to her. When we’re back, more mailbag.
Louis Virtel <AD>.
Ira Madison III We’re back with more mailbag. Anyway, lastly of Lucy’s first question, your dream actors on actors pairing living or dead.
Louis Virtel Mm. Okay. My answer is, I think the deal is, as you said, you want it to be entertaining and to people who are effortlessly quotable, in addition to having wild careers, it would be Betty Davis and Elizabeth Taylor.
Ira Madison III Hmm. I like that. I like that.
Louis Virtel Because they would respect each other. Also, like because Elizabeth Taylor when her career started, I don’t know that you really thought she would be like the one of the defining prestige actors. And I would like to see Betty Davis size her, size her up a little bit, like I saw you in Father of the Bride and didn’t care for it much. But then, you know, when you got to the The Virginia Woolf era then I started to see.
Ira Madison III I have two. One’s a joke.
Louis Virtel Okay.
Ira Madison III Angelina Jolie. Jennifer Aniston.
Louis Virtel I mean, it took me a second to piece together, but. Yeah, brilliant.
Ira Madison III Yeah. But my real one. And this is Louis’ bae, but Anthony Perkins.
Louis Virtel Okay.
Ira Madison III And Rock Hudson.
Louis Virtel Oh, my God. We would learn so much or it would stay closeted entirely. I have no idea.
Ira Madison III Oh, you know, we would learn a lot if we’re in this imaginary universe, we’re like they’re both dead people who are back and then like, doing an Actors on Actors now, like knowing what we know about them now. I feel like we’d learn a lot or we get a really sort of like queer coded tense interview where they’re not talking about anything, but they’re talking about everything at once.
Louis Virtel Right. Yes. That I do love. Also, I mean, I want to say about Anthony Perkins, you know, I think when we think about closeted actors of a certain era, we we maybe think, oh, their career was so important to them. And then being gay was this. Then they shuffled off to the side and didn’t think about or ignored or whatever. This is a man who wrote a murder mystery with Stephen Sondheim. So, I mean, some real active faggot traits going on aet this point. I feel like at some point it was going to pop out.
Ira Madison III I mean, we the one thing that we ignore is just the fact that tabloid gossip has gotten so much now that like you have paparazzi following people and you can dig up things on everybody. The real. I mean, the real truth is that, like, both of those actors of that time were, like living their lives freely as gay people. Are those, like, the studios and like the tabloid writers were just sort of like paid off or like they were protected in the media in a way that it became impossible to do later.
Louis Virtel Right. Also, like Tony Perkins would go on a set up date with a woman and then if they took two pictures of that, that counted as, oh, we now believe you’re heterosexual for ten years.
Ira Madison III Yeah. Meanwhile, he was on a date. Where’s that famous picture of him on a date?
Louis Virtel With Tab Hunter?
Ira Madison III Yes. Him and Tab, like sitting next to each other and the women on the opposite sides. It’s like we know what’s going on here.
Louis Virtel Yeah, I mean, it really could only be one thing guys. So Meredith sent a few questions ambitiously. The first one. What are the solo artists or bands that aren’t well known, but you’re loving right now? You know what? I don’t really have an answer in terms of obscure people you haven’t heard of. Yesterday at work, someone told me about the song Midnight Blue by Melissa Manchester that I shockingly did not know. And, you know, Melissa Manchester, sort of the quintessential seventies balladeer vocalist. Don’t Cry Out Loud is her big song. But I feel like we’ve sort of forgotten that name. Midnight Blue is an amazing song. Go ahead and listen to that.
Ira Madison III Yeah. I would say. You know, I’m always talking about Tennis. One of my favorite bands.
Louis Virtel Oh, right. Yes.
Ira Madison III Yes. I adore them. Oh, Patrick and Alaina. But then I’m also listening to Liam Benzvi. I’m bringing him up mostly because he’s sort of like a pop rock singer from Brooklyn. And his album appeared on a lot of songs of his appeared on a lot of my friends like Spotify raps like people were sort of like in the know of him with his debut album sort of like, if you’re not listening to him, then you know, then you’re not getting the whole story. Maybe lastly, two openers, two people who opened, I believe for Charlie XCX or one of them was an opener and someone’s opening for somebody else later. But I’m really into Baby Tate, a rapper. She’s fantastic. And Magdalena Bay. Magdalena Bay. Magdalena Bay is great. And I was thinking about them because a song of theirs plays in Wednesday and it reminded me of one of my ticks about teen shows on TV. You know, teen shows on TV, whenever they have a dance scene, always play like indie pop music or some like new obscure band. And I’m like, You are definitely never hearing that music at a high school dance. It is always eighties and 2000s rap.
Louis Virtel Yes. Right, right, right. What’s an independent film that you think people should be paying attention to that came out recently or is coming out soon? I just saw this documentary, All The Beauty and the Bloodshed, which is about the photographer Nan Goldin, and how she became this person who stood up against the Sackler family, who, as you probably know, like they have a wing in every museum there is, and they are the reason OxyContin is in the world, like they basically fed it to the universe and have put us in the, you know, drug crisis that we are still roiling in. Now, Golden established herself as a photographer through like eighties, seventies, eighties, nineties, New York, very active AIDS activist. And it really weaves her story in with how she became the person fighting the Sackler family. In a way, the structure of the movie is a little bit five paragraph essay for me. But she’s great. Very quotable. It’s a three star movie. I think it’ll probably take the documentary Oscar this year.
Ira Madison III Okay. I’ve actually heard of that, but I had gotten the chance to see it, so I’m very excited to actually see it. I think I’ve talked about this already, but I just finally recently watched Drive My Car, which, you know, is independent. But.
Louis Virtel So fucking good.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Louis Virtel And by the way, I think people treated it like, oh, this is some inaccessible thing that no one wants to watch because it’s too long that.
Ira Madison III That’s all I heard
Louis Virtel The actor and actress in that movie should have fucking won. They were amazing.
Ira Madison III That’s all I fucking heard for, like, a year was just sort of like, Oh, you’re going to sit down and watch this three hour movie. And let me tell you something. I mean, first of all, I love I love I love a three hour movie if it’s engrossing to get out. Like I sat down with this film and it is so beautiful. I mean, it’s it’s based on like a Murakami short story, but it’s just like it’s everything about this is what you really sort of want in a film. Like, it feels like it tells a complete story, but it’s cinematic. It’s doing things that you haven’t seen on screen before. The yes, the actors in it are all fucking amazing. And also we talked about Chekhov in this episode because this feels, you know, like with the main characters, like doing Uncle Vanya and it’s sort of like it’s reminding it was actually reminding me that like I don’t pay as much attention to Chekov as I should, someone who loves theater, but it’s just how much hegot the human condition, too, and how much that Uncle Vanya, like, still sort of resonates today. John Franchot is fantastic.
Louis Virtel Oh, yeah. I mean, I mean, just it’s very straight. And also not a thing about that movie is a cliche. You come into the movie. So I don’t know what you expect as you’re watching the story unfold immediately eight things occur that are not just bizarre, but like unexpected. And then the movie is also very sweet. The movies, those are very tough. Lots going on.
Ira Madison III There’s a.
Louis Virtel Great recommendation.
Ira Madison III Yeah. I mean, it truly takes the story to someone who discovers like that they’re their lovers, like having an affair and turns it on its head and turns it on its head in the sense that it makes it very human instead of like going for like the melodrama. So if you haven’t seen that and sit down and watch it in like a space where you’re not on your phone.
Louis Virtel Yes. And I can’t recommend that enough. I literally just watched the movie She Said on TV recently, because you can buy it for $19 and occasionally I’ll just throw it in. No, go to a theater, block everything out. It’s sort of like I think people, when they exercise, should also not have their phone nearby. And I know a big part of exercising is you’re listening to music, but it’s a great time to not be thinking about anything else. And I think you get more effective results that way, too. Other question, what is your biggest Keep It about social media? Mine right now and this has been going on for a couple of years and I blame Bowen Yang who stopped a good thing Bowen Yang.
Ira Madison III It’s kind of her fault.
Louis Virtel Lip synced, yes. Lip synced the Erin Brockovich main monologue in which Julia Roberts reads somebody to filth. For comic effect. And then posted it online. And we loved it because it’s a really verbose monologue. It’s hard to get all the words right. And he got all the micro facial expressions of Julia right, too. So it’s this effective comedy video. Homosexuality unfortunately figured what if we just lip sync really easy things that were 5 seconds apiece and then also called that comedy. And now that’s what TikTok is. Guys, we are smarter than this. These are stupid choices. If you’re like a muscle bound, you know, influencer type and you’re thinking. Should I lip sync something from the White Lotus right now? Girlfriend, I’m telling you, it’s a no. I’m telling you no. Please don’t do it. There won’t be any laughing.
Ira Madison III And here’s the thing. Which is which is not to say that our friend Bowen Yang is not debonair and sexy.
Louis Virtel Yes.
Ira Madison III But here’s a tip, if you’re doing a lip sync and you’re hot, have a six pack and your shirts off during the lip sync, people aren’t coming for that lip sync baby. And you know it. And we know it.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Ira Madison III That is. And like like give it up.
Louis Virtel Right. That’s I think a huge part of the problem here is like the idea that, oh, here I am, sincerely presenting comedy. The fuck you are, the fuck you are, somebody named Colton. Shut up.
Ira Madison III My biggest Keep It about social media is right now people being angry about the new Instagram feature, which I love.
Louis Virtel Right.
Ira Madison III It’s like you can add statuses now. It feels so AIM and throwback.
Louis Virtel Ilove it.
Ira Madison III And I’m like, it’s fun.
Ira Madison III It’s fun.
Louis Virtel Yeah. Got an AIM away message. Just the sheer Hall of Fame, passive aggression. Just like having a normal conversation with somebody and then leaving and putting up dower aong lyrics. Love it.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Louis Virtel What’s the message we’re sending? You know, it’s very confusing.
Ira Madison III It’s like, Oh, I want this boy at school to know that I’m into him. Let me put up this, like, vaguely romantic lyric for everyone to see. But. But it’s. But I’m not necessarily saying anything, but, you know, I’m sending you a message. Always fun when you would write be right back Like brother needs the computer or something. So bring that back.
Louis Virtel I miss hideous colors of fonts on hideous backdrops. I miss like a hideous neon green italicized away message on. A pink backdrop, just, you know, that like vomit inducing watermelon motif that we thought was acceptable throughout the 2000s.
Ira Madison III Yeah. Also, there’s just something about the skill that we all had of non-capital on our capital letter, non capital letter writing. Writing words like that.
Louis Virtel We were all the fucking Riddler. Let’s see here. What are your favorite music, TV or film podcast suggestions? I think we basically covered that here. I don’t listen to podcasts. My life is mostly devoted to music I already have and also Sirius XM Radio because as you know, for some reason, me and all of my brothers, we are all Gen-X and yet I am not Gen-X. I was born in 1986, but all of my brothers and I have a weird kind of we missed the radio, like we missed owning music. Like, everybody in my family is obsessed with having CDs. I can’t explain it. I don’t know what’s up with my family, and I never will.
Ira Madison III Hmm. My favorite podcasts are whatever podcast I’m guesting on.
Louis Virtel Oh, that’s.
Ira Madison III This is my favorite.
Louis Virtel Normally, you don’t say the quiet part out loud, right? Yeah.
Ira Madison III I also weirdly don’t listen to podcasts. I listen to I listen to it daily. Every now and again, our nemesis. And I will listen to, I, i, I listen to Pod Save The World sometimes too, when like something is really going on in the world. And I’m like, I don’t even know where that country is. I’ll do that and I’ll listen. I will listen to like a slow burn or like a if you give me a short, almost documentary podcast where someone’s like, this is four episodes, that I will do, about something, pop culture or something, I’ll do that. But otherwise, like weekly or day to day, my brain has too much going on it already.
Louis Virtel That’s how I feel. Also, if I’m listening to a conversation, I better be in the conversation.
Ira Madison III Right.
Louis Virtel Now I’m the narcissist.
Ira Madison III Listening to convos constantly. Then we’re not going to have time to watch and consume the other stuff that you want us to talk about on Keep It.
Louis Virtel Right time is money. I will say I do love. It’s been a minute since I’ve listened to it, but I love. Well, actually, I love It’s Been a Minute, too, but I love Who Weekly? Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber. I mean, those people provide a service.
Ira Madison III I listen to Who Weekly too.
Louis Virtel Here are names. Yeah.
Ira Madison III That’s fun.
Louis Virtel Here are names you should know and also shouldn’t know. But here they are.
Ira Madison III Yeah, that’s that’s edit actually taps into like I’m ashamed that I know so many of the celebrities that they talk about on Who Weekly, but I mean that’s why I listen to it because it’s very much that fun, that section of Stan culture. So I like Who Weekly as well too.
Louis Virtel The way we feel about Douglas Sirk and Meryl Streep. They feel about Kaia Gerber. So there.
Ira Madison III Addison Rae.
Louis Virtel Yes. Insane names that we just say sometimes.
Ira Madison III Okay, one last thing. This is from Amelia. Hot Take: Nic Cage will win an Oscar in the next ten years.
Louis Virtel He only has two nominations. And it does feel like there’s this bubbling under Tom Cruise like fandom for him in that, he’s the only one that does the thing he does. And we do appreciate it. It’s not like we don’t think he’s less than a genius. But you’re right. It does feel like it’s going to be it’s a mix of the right project for the right guy. And he’s so specific and people love him, I don’t know, about ten years, but somewhere in that vicinity, he’ll be nominated again anyway.
Ira Madison III Is he interested in any more, though? I mean, I feel like we’re so far from Adaptation.
Louis Virtel Right. I mean, people did love that movie. I actually hate it. The unbearable weight of massive talent. I actually hated that movie. But he was so good in Pig.
Ira Madison III He has a nominee. He won an Oscar, though.
Louis Virtel Yes. We’re leaving Las Vegas. This person thinks so.
Ira Madison III So why does he need another one?
Louis Virtel I mean it’s not that many?
Ira Madison III Amelia, let me tell you something. He’s has enough. He has enough. Okay. He’s a Coppola.
Louis Virtel That’s true.
Ira Madison III He’s a Coppola. He has an Oscar. Like, I was like, there’s there’s there’s there’s probably a wine named after him, too. I don’t know.
Louis Virtel Right.
Ira Madison III That’s why there’s so many Coppola wines that I’ve never like. I’ll see a new one, and I’m like, Oh, you have one, too.
Louis Virtel Also, he at some point has owned every weird thing in the universe he owns, like weird, haunted New Orleans Estates, and he had like some gigantic python he owned at some time. He one of the he’s one of these crazy like M.C. Hammer type people who needed that possessed every single fancy thing that we had at one point. He’s also the star of the greatest rom com of all time, Moonstruck. So he does have enough.
Ira Madison III Yeah. Stop giving him things. Stop giving these, stop giving, stop giving me these Coppolas things.
Louis Virtel We keep getting more of that, by the way. They keep leaking out of the woodwork, out of the vineyard. Oh.
Ira Madison III Oh, well, I want, I want the definitive Coppola family documentary.
Louis Virtel Yeah, it’s time. And guess who’s going to make it? The person who can’t stop talking about the Coppolas, Francis Ford Coppola.
Ira Madison III All right. When we’re back, we are joined by comedian Mike Birbiglia to discuss his new Broadway show, The Old Man and the Pool.
Ira Madison III <AD>
Ira Madison III So our guest today is a fantastic writer, actor, comedian, probably the most famous sonambulist we’ve had on the show. You know him from his stand up specials, Orange is the New Black, his movie, Don’t Think Twice. And now you can catch him from now until January 15th on Broadway with his show, The Old Man and the Pool. Welcome to the show, Mike Birbiglia.
Mike Birbiglia Thanks, Ira. Most famous sonambulist, that’s got to be the that’s like a sub tweet right there.
Mike Birbiglia How many, how many famous sleepwalkers are there?
Louis Virtel I was just going to I’ve not been to that Wikipedia. And now I’d be curious.
Mike Birbiglia I’m actually believe in it. I’m in the DSM as the example for my sleepwalking disorder, REM sleep behaviors order.
Louis Virtel That’s a level of recognition most celebrities will never get.
Mike Birbiglia I know.
Louis Virtel I think that’s somewhat flattering.
Mike Birbiglia Now, who is in the DSM? I mean, come on. What comedians? What comedians and playwrights are in the DSM?
Louis Virtel Yeah. It’s like you and Freud. Good for you.
Ira Madison III A quick search says that other celebrities with who have experience sleepwalking are Jennifer Aniston.
Mike Birbiglia Oh, there you go.
Ira Madison III But no, the other people on here have, like sleep apnea or narcolepsy. So I think you got you’ve got Jennifer Aniston.
Mike Birbiglia That’s huge.
Ira Madison III You know, so.
Mike Birbiglia And we should discuss at some point because she did start following me on Instagram when I hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live because she watches every night when I filled in when he had COVID. That’s that’s the inner circle of Hollywood right there. When your guest hosts Jimmy Kimmel Live. Jennifer Aniston follows you on Instagram.
Louis Virtel That’s tea right there.
Ira Madison III I would love them like, you know, like a Frost Nixon between you both about sleepwalking. Because I’m very intrigued as to like what sleepwalking was like for Jennifer Aniston. And what’s it like during the height of Friends?
Mike Birbiglia By the way, by the way, I’m all over this because because that’s what I would. Because I was like, oh, that would be fun for Jennifer Aniston to come on my podcast, working it out. But what would we talk about? And now I know what we’re talking about. We’re just getting all sleepwalking stories for an hour. I think that’s a phenomenal idea.
Louis Virtel Now you’re joking now. And you’ve famously talked about sleepwalking before, but something to me that is so interesting about you is your act keeps evolving and the ways in which we get to know you expand and expand. Do you find yourself surprised at some of the things you are talking about nowadays? Could you have anticipated some of the topics you cover years ago as a comedy?
Mike Birbiglia Oh my gosh. Yeah. I mean, I have to say like that is that is one of the things that like as a writer, people always go, you know, are you always writing everything down when you someone is dying in your family, are you thinking, oh, this will be a good piece of writing, that kind of thing? Think I’ll take it a step further. Not only am I always thinking about writing, but then the other end of that is when I’m on stage talking about these things, I sometimes have the thought, I can’t believe I’m saying this to a group of a thousand people. Like, it’s so weird. And so that’s I mean, with this show, it’s particularly that because it’s sort of like it’s sort of mining into the my my subconscious of like my deepest fears of death and disease and people out close to me dying and all the stuff. And sometimes I am on stage thinking like, there’s no going back. I mean, we’re here. And but but it’s also like in that sense, it’s also satisfying because I have a lot of people say, say to me, like, this was a conversation starter with me and my son or me and my mom or whatever about things that are deep. Because because I think, like, one of the things I’m sure drives you both nuts. The way it drives me nuts is like I’m really short fuzed for, like, small talk. Like, I’m just like I like I get like, a minute into a conversation, and if it doesn’t go somewhere that’s substantive, I’m kind of like, What are we doing?
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Mike Birbiglia So if I can encourage that in any way, I want to be a part of it.
Ira Madison III One thing I really enjoyed about the show was, just first of all, I want to say admit that I was one of the people who was part of the brought in 10 minutes into the show.
Mike Birbiglia Oh, my gosh. Yeah. You’re a late person, yes.
Ira Madison III Yes. Yes. Because the show starts at 7:30 and that 7:30 start shows in Broadway are sort of like an anomaly. And I thought it was at eight. But I come in with, like, 40 people, I feel like. But I love that you made that a part of the show, too.
Mike Birbiglia I, I always talk about late people. I always talk about if there’s any absurd, if someone has an absurd laugh. If someone has a particularly strange reaction to some story, some kind of specialized specialty cringe of sound they make when I talk about surgeries or something like that. I think because I think of theater as like it’s like we’re all here. It’s a we’re all here experience. And I feel like if you don’t acknowledge the things that are happening that are anomalous, then like a little bit breaks the we’re all here of it.
Ira Madison III Mm hmm.
Mike Birbiglia So I yeah, I’d like to talk about when people come in late. And also, you know what’s funny about that? It’s in there’s a little bit of a spoiler alert. Maybe people skip ahead 30 seconds if they’re coming to see the show. So it’s like half the time people are late and I’ll just do like a recap of what they’ve missed. But actually it’s good for people who are kind of half paying attention and they’re like, oh yeah, oh yeah. That is what happened so far.
Louis Virtel I didn’t miss anything. They get to kind of feel smart.
Mike Birbiglia Exactly. Exactly.
Ira Madison III I’m intrigued too, by that sense of, you know, sort of we’re all here and engaging with people who have different things that might affect the show, because does that make the show sort of feel more alive for you and like you’re doing standup almost every night instead of I’m memorizing a one man show and it’s going to be the same thing every night, you know? And I feel like that would be a little bit monotonous for someone like you, as opposed to Audra McDonald doing her, you know, one woman thing all night for Ohio State murders.
Mike Birbiglia Right. No, I think, like, it’s it’s what’s different every night. And it’s true probably for Audra, too. I would be curious to ask her about it is the audience is different always. And the audience when you do solo, when you do solo work, the audience is your scene partner and you actually do not know how they’re going to react. And I think that it does it does impact sort of where what the evening feels like. I’ve had people come, my friend Victoria came last night for the third time and she had like thoughts and notes on like specific moments being different than they were the other two times she saw it and all kinds of and honestly like I love that. Like I, I love. Yeah, I think some people hate feedback like artist hate feedback. Some people do some people love it. I love it because I feel like it’s it’s a tool to keep it. Keeping the theme of the show, keep it or keep it or throw it away. If you can choose, you can when you get feedback, you can choose whether or not that’s something that is helpful for your vision or is not. And so I sort of love that. And yeah, and I do feel like every every night is different.
Louis Virtel Another thing I love about you was I read a Q&A where you specifically said a thing you cherish about other comics is that you don’t relate to them. They’re like that. And.
Mike Birbiglia Yeah.
Louis Virtel That seems in a way elementary, but to me that’s so important. Like, in a way, I feel like if somebody asked you what, like my favorite album is, I have to say, and here are the reasons I related to the fucking thing and it’s just not true. Like, I wish more people just liked something because it wasn’t, it didn’t remind them of themselves at all. And I was wondering what comics in general feel like that to you?
Mike Birbiglia Like the two that I always say, because it’s because I’m in awe of their craft and their writing is Maria Bamford and Doug Stanhope. And whenever I say Maria Bamford, I think people get where that comes from. Doug Stanhope I think a lot of times people go like, Really? Like Doug Stanhope? That’s the person who you’re drawn to? Because he’s, he’s such a provocateur, like to the point where like one time Jenny and I saw him live and we, he brings the audience to like less than zero, in terms of like almost hating the show and it’s very Andy Kaufman esque. Like, it’s and then and then he brings it up, you know, and to an 11 and I love watching that. And he does it. It’s all I mean, I think I haven’t talked to him about it at length, but I think it’s all by design and it’s and you know, I mean, other than that, it’s like all I would say about stand up comedy this moment is, is that I see a lot of people criticizing stand up comedians for things that they don’t agree with, that the stand up comedians say. And I think sometimes we have to zoom out and say that actually that’s not what the art form is for. Like the art form was never intended to be where we get our ideologies from. Like I’ve never, I never watch a stand up comedian and go, Ah, that’s what I’ve been missing in my life. You know, I just, I, I like it when people have. Can I curse?
Louis Virtel Yes.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Mike Birbiglia People have fucking wild takes. And you’re like, oh wow. That person like, went there on that. And, and I don’t know, I love that. But, but, but apparently the way that culture is right now and with, you know, of course, the exponentialization of everyone’s opinion that the noise of people’s opinions about stand up comedy sometimes makes it seem like that that comedian is making like an ideological point. But I’m not so sure they are.
Louis Virtel Mm hmm. I do feel like part of the appeal of comedy is secretly for certain people, though, is a sense of authority. You know, even like impermeability, to a certain extent, like, oh, you’re invulnerable and we trust this person on on stage. But there’s something, you know, maybe a little egomaniacal about that. Do you find yourself analyzing the intentions of comedians as as you’re watching them?
Mike Birbiglia I really don’t. Yeah. Like I think in another example from, you know, is, of course, like, you know, like Stern like Howard Stern is not a comedian, but he’s a radio personality. And I don’t actually take what he says at face value. I don’t know if other people do. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But I sort of listen to it as like like, oh, you know, like, oh, that’s a that’s a swing. You know what I mean? That’s a big swing that I don’t know. That’s how I see it.
Ira Madison III I think there’s this sort of, you know, nebulous idea about whether or not someone is, I guess, doing for lack of better terms, you know, like a bit more like really committing to it, you know, because there’s also this idea that, you know, I grew up watching, you know, like Kings of Comedy, you know, like black standup and stuff like that. And seeing like, seeing like as much as they, like, would really commit to, like, this sort of personality on stage, you know, like Bernie Mac, for instance, you know, what he’s doing that that’s completely different Bernie Mac, when you see interviews with him, you know, when you watch like the Bernie Mac show, you know, it’s like there’s there’s multitudes they have. And if you just sort of sit there and take it all as at face value, this is who Bernie Mac is when he’s doing a standup. But you wouldn’t really know who he is. And I feel like maybe at a younger age I got this idea that just sort of like he’s just be he’s just performing for, you know, his people. He’s performing for the cook out whatever. And right after that, you know, you move on and you become who you actually are.
Mike Birbiglia Yeah. I mean, Bernie Mac is, I think is a great example. He’s like one of the great standups of all time. And it’s like, I want to say, like, is it a stammer or stutter character that he does consistently? And it’s like. It’s like if you were going to analyze that and say, does he have hatred for people who have a stutter or stammer? Like like. I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t know. But my inclination would be no. My inclination, based on everything I’ve heard about Bernie Mac personally, I don’t know him personally, but from Larry Wilmore and other folks who have is like that. He was a really sweet person and really well-intended. And I don’t know. It’s it’s tricky. I mean, it’s tricky stuff because it’s also like it’s also like the people who are the lightning rod for criticism instead of comedy right now. Also like, they seem they seem to kind of relish it, too. I always say whenever people are provoked by stand up, it’s like, I think you’re doing what the person that you can’t stand wants you to do, which is be provoked.
Louis Virtel Something else you said about where your material comes from is that you journal often and I forget what percentage of your journaling you said turned into productive material for you, but it was something like 3%. And my question is.
Mike Birbiglia Yeah. Not an exact science, but sure,. Yeah.
Louis Virtel Is that like a frustrating procedure to be like I’m sitting down to write and you know, almost certainly this isn’t going anywhere, at least professionally.
Mike Birbiglia No, I think it’s honestly that part of the process is therapeutic because it’s it’s and I always say this to people, if you can’t afford therapy, get a journal. Because I think that journaling I say in the show, I go in The Old Man in the Pool, I say, you know, I find that if you write in a journal the things that you’re sad about or angriest about, you can start to see your own life as a story. And when you see your own life as a story, sometimes you can zoom out and encourage the main character to make better decisions. And I find that journaling for me is precisely that. It’s this experience of of putting things down on the page and you start to go, Oh my God, like, I can’t believe I was upset about that three weeks ago. Like when I read back, even as even as recent as a week ago, I go, Oh, wow, I’m really not seeing the forest for the trees here. And it’s really for me, it’s really helpful.
Louis Virtel Does that mean you read back your journals, too?
Mike Birbiglia I do, all the time.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Mike Birbiglia I do. Yeah. Yeah.
Ira Madison III Revisiting the person you were, like, three weeks ago and being angry at them.
Mike Birbiglia Yeah.
Ira Madison III One thing I find interesting about that, too, is just the sort of idea that, you know, as writers and creators, you’re constantly reliving the things that have happened in your life. Yes. But, you know, particularly for standups or someone doing a one man show like this, you’re reliving it constantly, even more so than, you know, someone is reliving a moment that they write into a film or something, you know. And how do you decide how to craft just a moment in time from your life that to make it sort of relevant to what you’re going through now? You know, I feel like you do this very well on this show. Alex Edelman did this really well in his show. You know, it just seems to be this sort of special skill to find this moment, like something you might have a journal about and then be like, okay, I’m going to relate these specific moments to, I guess, the theme of the show.
Mike Birbiglia I think a lot work as a storyteller. I think what you’re trying to ultimately do is if you have the goal of all of my shows, Sleepwalk with Me, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Thank God for Jokes. The new one, The Old Man in the Pool, is to take a series of stories and turn them into a single story so that you ultimately don’t feel the seams too much between the stories. And and I find that this is true. Like, even if you look at like if I look at my favorite movies, you know, and my favorite plays is you want that, you want the causality of the story to have inertia into the next story and the inertia of that to go into the next story so that when you arrive at the end, you feel like you’ve really been on a journey with the person on stage and with the audience. And so a lot of the you know, I’m touring the country and I’ve been touring, so it’s crazy. I’ve been touring as a comedian for 20 years and a lot of what I do when I’m touring is I’m putting essentially drafts of these solo plays on stage and I’m seeing like, is that inertia that I’m talking about? Does it exist? Or am I getting too in the weeds of a tangent or like a bit in the minute? I’m so caught up in the minutia of something that I’m losing sight of the fact that like, No, no, this is a story about how a few years ago I went to the doctor, I failed a pulmonary test. Then I realized I had diabetes. Then it flashed me back to when I had cancer. Then it flashed me back, you know, to, you know, trying to get fit. When I was in play sports, when I was in high school and in a flash me back to this. And now I’ve arrived at this moment where I’m trying to get healthier. I’m trying to and if in if and if, if any of my stories or bits or jokes don’t serve the purpose of going there, I try to just sort of get rid of them. And so a lot of times what’ll happen is like, I’ll tour with something and people go like that. They’ll, they’ll see the final version. They’ll go, What happened to that joke? I love that joke about peanut M&Ms in the minibar at hotels. You know, I used to do this joke early in the process. I this joke I actually love, which is like, if you suck on a peanut M&M long enough, it’s just a peanut. And if you suck on that peanut long enough, you can taste pure shame. The shame starts to turn into pride and you think, Well, I’ve been meaning to eat more nuts. Nuts are pretty healthy. They got protein and and yeah. And I people used to really like, like quote that to me a lot like oh yeah I love peanut and yeah and then ultimately it was like this thing where it was like the that it’s a speak to Ira’s point about like what what stays in the show and what doesn’t the peanut M&M bit used to be in the part of the show where I talk about how I get the news that I have type two diabetes at a hotel room. And it was one of these things where I talk about how I’m ordering a pizza and I’m eating peanut M&Ms.’s blah, blah. And in long term I was like, Well, eating the pizza is actually bad enough for the story beats. Being diagnosed with type two diabetes in a hotel room, and so then it just goes away. And then honestly, like the peanuts M&Ms joke might end up in my next show. I don’t know. It’s all you know, you can see behind me my corkboard from working it out, but it’s like it all ends up on the board somewhere and it. It ends up somewhere.
Louis Virtel You basically mentioned this in some form before, but you take in other comics a lot. You care about what other comics are doing, what kind of pop culture do you watch, go back to, that would that would surprise us, that maybe it doesn’t relate to what you do necessarily on stage.
Mike Birbiglia I mean, I love SNL. It was so funny because this weekend I was so psyched is the I love the please don’t destroy fellows on on SNL right now they make those don’t destroy. Yeah and in the back of the scene this week this past weekend, there was a Working It Out podcast like postcard that was on the bulletin board, like through the sketch and all these people Instagrammed screenshotted it and sent it to me. And so yeah, I love like I love SNL. I think the reason I love SNL is it actually harkens to this thing that Seth Meyers once said about SNL, which is a lot of people criticize SNL. They go like they go like it’s not good anymore. It’s not this is not bad. And it doesn’t fulfill their expectations of what they want. But it’s like what I love about it is it’s on every week. And Seth Meyers does this thing where he goes like some sketch. All one thing is always true. Some sketches are good, some sketches are bad, some sketches are okay. And if you accept that as a concept, the show is pretty fun. You know what I mean? Like, if you don’t have the expectation of like, everything is going to crush, you’re kind of like, Yeah, this one’s not for me, but like, you know, whatever. I really like Weekend Update.
Ira Madison III I was thinking about that in terms of I’m in the weeds of like some Twitter comment where someone talked about asked if someone was sharing like a clip from like Scandal or something, and they were like, Oh, this seems like a really interesting episode, but I quit watching after I hated this one particular episode, which is so weird to me in the age of bingeing, because what I think about television and particularly as a writer now, the entire concept of TV used to be if you watch this one episode, maybe this one sucks, but you know, next week it’s going to be a good episode of TV.
Mike Birbiglia No, it’s weird. Like and also it’s funny you should say the thing about like, I didn’t like this episode or whatever. I actually think this goes back to the thing we’re talking about standup comedy. You don’t have to like the comedian or like the comedians views to enjoy what they’re doing as an art form. And I feel like that’s true in movies and TV also is like is like I’m more interested by succession, which has a lot of people go, I don’t like any of the characters on that show. And I’m like, Yeah, it’s, it’s fun, it’s fine. So wild. Like, you talk about Wild Takes, that show is like 13 wild takes simultaneously. I know there’s no one I agree with on that show. Like, I don’t think there’s a voice of reason character on that show even.
Louis Virtel No, I was going to say that my my mom is particularly obsessed with likability of characters like she’ll leave a movie. I didn’t like anybody in that movie. And I just want to say, like, even on shows that are beloved and age old, like on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, maybe Mary was the only, quote unquote normal person. And you don’t need nine of them. I don’t know.
Mike Birbiglia And Seinfeld was that Seinfeld was the character that was the status quo, actually was the comedian.
Ira Madison III Yeah. Yeah. But then you remember the end of Seinfeld when you confronted the audience with the fact that everyone was sort of awful with everyone else watching it already do. People famously got mad at, you know, like for them being like put to task for their awful shit, they’ve done. Well, but we know they’re awful.
Mike Birbiglia Yeah. Well, there is one other thing on that. Yeah. Success. Yeah, Succession has that. Oh, you know what else has that? And I love it. You’re asking like what I would like? What I like that maybe unexpected. First of all, I just like a lot of drama. Like I like my favorite, like, quote unquote comedies. A lot of them are like James L Brooks movies that aren’t some of them not considered comedies, broadcast news, Terms of Endearment. Like, to me, those things, like, really make me laugh. Like another one is like Noah Baumbach movies. You know, Noah Baumbach is an interesting artist because a lot of his movies people perceive as just like ha dramas, you know, with some comedy in them. But the way I’ve heard him say in interviews, like he views all of his movies as comedies, and I totally get that. And I think James L Brooks is the same way. I’ve actually I asked James L Brooks about that once because I, I saw him at something and I was I was like, you know, I always say to people like Terms of Endearment is one of my favorite comedies, and people think I’m joking, but I’m because it’s a tearjerker, you know, there’s cancer and death and all these things are sad, but it’s actually so funny. And then like the heart, like, honestly, the heart as I laugh is like rewatching like Frances Ha or like Squid and the Whale. Squid in the Whale is like my wife and I quote that movie constantly.
Louis Virtel It’s a great movie.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Mike Birbiglia Well, there’s that. The Jeff Daniels character has so many great lines where he’s so unaware of himself and he talks about the neighborhood that they live in being the filet of the neighborhood or like the part of the neighborhood being the filet of. Jen and I, my wife and I quote that all the time because we just think that the fillet of the neighborhood is just such a cringe g like way to describe something.
Ira Madison III No.
Louis Virtel Yeah. You’re at the funniest moment of, like, Terms of Endearment is when, you know, Shirley MacLaine is screaming during this incredibly tense climactic moment. Reminds me of something Aimee Mann once said. She said, The best serious material is truly light hearted. You know, like it gets to the heart of it when it gets funny, you know?
Ira Madison III I mean Chekhov is funny.
Louis Virtel Right.
Ira Madison III You know.
Mike Birbiglia 100%. And and by the end. And and Godot. Waiting for Godot. Godot is that. Sue It’s both. It’s both. And it’s very sad, very funny. I actually think that when dramas go wrong is when there’s no humor. Because to me, it doesn’t feel like life. It doesn’t feel like anything I’ve ever witnessed in the world. Which which sort of goes back to to my show, The Old Man in the pool, which is, let’s say, the like it’s the idea of like, can you take something that’s fundamentally so sad? I remember going to like one of our best friends in the show and talking about going, Oh, one of my best friends funerals when I was younger and everyone just crying and then getting drunk and like all this stuff and and it’s like trying to find the humor in that. If you can do that, it it gives the audience sort of a roadmap to where they can find humor in their own tragedies and sadness, I think.
Ira Madison III Yeah. I mean, famously, Mary Tyler Moore, with Chuckles and also.
Louis Virtel Yes, a.
Ira Madison III Classic Dawson, Dawson’s Creek when I forget her name. But the bitch in school when she died and then Michelle Williams has to give a eulogy for her and she starts cracking up and she’s like, you all hated her. She was a bitch
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Ira Madison III And that as a kid to be like, yeah, you can laugh when some people die.
Mike Birbiglia That’s nice. That’s a great example. Yeah.
Ira Madison III Well, I just want to say that the show is really fantastic and you know, I feel like it is a show that you can see over and over again. When I when I was there getting my tickets to this woman who recognized me, she was like, oh, this is my fourth time seeing this show. So it’s really just a fantastic sort of representation of life and death. I was moved and the ending, I’m not ruining for anyone, but the ending is truly fantastic. The last the last sort of bit at the end was one of my favorite things that I’ve seen on stage in quite some time.
Mike Birbiglia Oh, well, thanks a lot Ira and that you know, I will tip of the cap to. It’s just Lincoln Center being just spectacular to to visit, especially this time of year.
Ira Madison III Lincoln Center is gorgeous.
Mike Birbiglia Holy cow. I mean, between the fountain and the lights and you got the Nutcracker and the Met and all that. It’s like sometimes with New York City, you know, we forget that we live in the city that has like Lincoln Center, you know, and, you know, and the Museum of Natural History and, you know, and 30 Rock and all these places, it’s like it’s just a it’s a knockout city. It’s a great city. And I feel very lucky to sort of be in one of the neat places, you know, for for five more weeks.
Ira Madison III Well, thank you so much for being here, Mike.
Mike Birbiglia Thanks, Ira. It means the world that you came to the show and you made it. I really means a lot to me. Thank you so much.
Ira Madison III Yeah. Of course. The Old Man in the Pool, it’s playing on Broadway through January 15th. So make sure you go and see it. All right. Well, I think that’s our episode.
Louis Virtel We did a good job.
Ira Madison III Yeah, we did a good job. We gave you Keep Its in there. We gave you. We gave you thoughts about Nicolas Cage.
Louis Virtel Mine were complicated, and so were yours, it turns out. I’m glad Amelia stuck knockout with that weird opinion.
Ira Madison III Yeah, she’s probably a Coppolla
Louis Virtel No kidding, right?
Ira Madison III So we will see you in three weeks on January 11th, where we will officially be celebrating the fifth anniversary of Keep It.
Louis Virtel I actually just clutched the desk. I could feel my stomach move. Wow. We old.
Ira Madison III Five years. We’ve got a lot of twists and turns. We’re officially syndicated.
Louis Virtel I love that. Just like my favorite TV show, Becker. I don’t know why. That was the first syndicated show that came to mind.
Ira Madison III Becker was great.
Louis Virtel You know Ted can’t miss,
Ira Madison III Yeah. And remember to check out full episodes of Keep It on the Uncultured YouTube channel and give us five star reviews when you rate Keep It on your podcast platform of choice, be that Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or whatever. Anyway, thanks again to Mike Birbiglia for joining us and we’ll see you again in three weeks. Keep it is a Crooked media production. Our senior producer is Kendra James. Our producer is Chris Lord and our associate producer is Malcolm Whitfield. Our executive producers are Ira Madison, the third, that’s me, and Louis Virtel. This episode was recorded and mixed by Evan Sutton. Thank you to our digital team Matt DeGroot, Nar Melkonian and Delon Villanueva for production support every week. And as always, Keep It is filmed in front of a live studio audience.