In This Episode
Ira and Louis speak to Hari Nef about the upcoming Barbie movie, the response to The Idol, and interviewing John Waters. Then, they speak to Alex Edelman about his new Broadway show Just For Us and the musicians who inspire them.
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Ira Madison III And we are back with America’s favorite podcast, Keep It. I’m Ira Madison the third.
Louis Virtel I’m Louis Virtel. No idea where you called those statistics, but I’m going to go ahead and believe it.
Ira Madison III This is coming out after July 4th, Louis. You should be listening to Keep It while firing up bratwurst, hot dogs, sauerkraut, potato salad. Put all of it on the grill, you know, grill your potato salad.
Louis Virtel And then guess what toppings I put on it? Nothing. I like it plain. We’re actually for the 4th of July. I do have a recommendation if I haven’t brought this up before, the 30 for 30 on American Gladiators, which is my favorite red, white and blue enterprise of all time. Very good. I think we’re getting another American Gladiators documentary on Netflix. But this and this one is curiously missing a few key gladiators. But it’s both awesome and devastating. You won’t believe what has happened to some of these people who are, like, injured in ways you never knew about. But the stories are fabulous, fascinating, etc..
Ira Madison III Hmm. I’ve actually never seen that one. So I think I will watch it. I’ve never been a big I’ve never been a big 30 for 30 person, to be honest.
Louis Virtel Me neither. I can only think of a couple of I’ve seen the one about Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova. Like it has to be about personalities and also, frankly, women for me to care. I just if you’re on a team your entire career, that’s not fun. You’re not a celebrity. You’re part of a pack.
Ira Madison III I, I do love the Henry Hill episode.
Louis Virtel Henry Hill, as in of Goodfellas fame.
Ira Madison III Yes. Yes. He like did the point shaving for like Boston College.
Louis Virtel Oh, that might be something different.
Ira Madison III Because Ray Liotta, Because Ray Liotta played him in Goodfellas. And so like Ray Liotta narrates it too. Like I watch it because of like the Goodfellas and Liotta fame. I was thinking about Ray Liotta this week because I randomly I didn’t rewatch it, but I almost rewatched Corrina, Corrina.
Louis Virtel A movie that should come up a little bit more often. I remember the era that’s Tina made Torino to the point where I was like. Yes. Anne Roswell. Correct. Also Ray Liotta. Remember when one of the last things we made him do was that show Shades of Blue with J.Lo. He’s like one of those people that we love, but also took every like, just but he’s like Eric Roberts. He just has to be in a hundred things, you know?
Ira Madison III Yeah. Well, speaking of people who’ve been in 100 things. Our first guest this week, we have two guests this week. Our first guest this week is Hari Nef, who’s literally been in like every buzzy TV show of the past few years.
Louis Virtel Rright, no, she only stars in Twitter trending topics.
Ira Madison III And then our second guest is Alex Edelman, who has a fantastic one man show just for us on Broadway currently.
Louis Virtel And yeah, this originated as a smaller show, was extended a whole bunch of times. And now it’s on Broadway. I mean, how many comedians can say they’ve taken the show to Broadway? It’s really a staggering accomplishment for him.
Ira Madison III Don’t you remember my 1992 run at the Sam O’Neil theater, Louis?
Louis Virtel And it came to blows with Rita Rudner as she punched you right in the face. She said, This is my space.
Ira Madison III It was just me reading Mansfield Park. That was the one man show. It was me reading it out loud and reacting.
Louis Virtel Oh, which I would not like to see, I have to say. But I always think about Mansfield Park because there’s a section of the movie Metropolitan, which I bring up all the time in the show about Mansfield Park, where two characters are debating whether it’s good, and then one of the characters admits eventually, Oh, I just read about the book. I’ve never read the book. And so I think it’s it’s the best part of that movie where the person you’re talking to who you think is this, like, chic, intellectual, is this like proud pose. Ah, anyway, go and watch it and it’s on Max Okay.
Ira Madison III But also, isn’t that the epitome of having an argument with anybody online?
Louis Virtel Right. You have no idea who these people are.
Ira Madison III Yes. You’re arguing about a movie or TV show. And then most of the time they don’t reveal or they they kind of accidentally reveal or something. But it’s like they’ve never seen the thing that you’re arguing about. So it’s like, what the fuck are we doing here?
Louis Virtel No. Right. You just you take it in good faith that the person who jumped up to be heard is on the level with you. But that’s not how. Just that’s not how the Internet works, honey. Pay attention.
Ira Madison III Yeah, you’re. You’re arguing the best Spike Lee films, but they’ve only seen Clockers.
Louis Virtel Right. They mispronounce Chi-Raq. They don’t even know. Yeah.
Ira Madison III It’s actually pronounced Chirac.
Louis Virtel Yes, It’s about the French president.
Ira Madison III Right. Well, we’ve got two interviews for you this week, and they’re pretty good, if I say so myself. So
Louis Virtel I love both of them. They take wild turns. They’re but not circuitous. They explore a lot of ground.
Ira Madison III We talk about John Waters. We talk about Susan Sontag versus Camille Paglia. We talk about Bryan Adams. And we don’t even have Mandy Moore here. So
Louis Virtel You mean Ryan Adams.
Ira Madison III Oh, yeah. Ryan Adams. Do you think Ryan Adams is so angry because people just always they think he’s Bryan Adams?
Louis Virtel Oh, no. Well, he in concert used to perform Summer of 69 because people would jokingly shout it out and also he would get mixed up with that name all the time.
Ira Madison III So maybe that’s his villain origin story.
Louis Virtel I, it honestly could be.
Ira Madison III All right. We will be right back with Hari Nef. Our guest today is the moment right now. She is a prolific writer, a groundbreaking model and an iconic actress known for truly everything, transparent, you know, the marvelous Mrs. Maisel. And Just Like That, currently The Idol. And now she’s a doctor because you can catch her next in the world’s new favorite movie, Barbie, out on July 21st. We’re so happy to have her here. Please welcome to Keep It high def.
Hari Nef Thank you for that introduction, Ira. I was like, damn. My twenties were flashing before my eyes.
Ira Madison III I love when I get to do the intro for people, but I love it when I get to do it for like people I already know. And I’m like, You know what? Let me just talk about everything you’ve done that I’m excited that you’ve been in. And Barbie is, everyone is talking about Barbie, first of all, everywhere.
Louis Virtel Are you like, Are you intimidated by how much people are talking about this movie? I can’t think of a movie with more buildup in the past three years.
Hari Nef Yeah. I mean, like today, like the time covered drop in, like my, like Vogue. Seven days, seven. Looks just like I’m dealing with, like, a phone and it’s a lot. I think I, I think this is really like the come to Jesus of like, you need to change your relationship to the internet now. You need to stop reading the comments now. You need to stop name searching now and you need to stop Googling yourself now because this is scary. It’s also cruel. It’s like obviously it’s even more positive than negative across the board. And if I were in the movie, I would be like annoying and excited about the movie for sure, but it’s pretty overwhelming. It’s not like anything I’ve ever read before. I you know, I usually think that hype is a killer. I feel like, you know, the sway of. Public opinion is always a ping pong, but I don’t know. I saw the movie. I’ve seen it and. It’s really fucking fun. And I it made me feel like a kid. And I don’t think people will be disappointed. I think it’s fun that there’s excitement around something that feels like monocultural, that’s like pink and silly and vibrant and smart and kind of stupid. And for the girls.
Ira Madison III Mm hmm.
Hari Nef And, you know, I feel like you usually encounter this decibel of hype around, like, you know, I got, like. Like a Marvel movie that’s, like, gray and, like, fighting to save the worlds. And this. I mean, this this feels like fab and, like, drag and gay and, like. I love that people are excited about this kind of thing.
Ira Madison III Mm hmm. Yeah. It’s so interesting to hear you say, like, you know, this is like this precipice moment where you’re like, let me, like, change my relationship with social media because, you know, everyone’s so excited for this, which has to be such a funny contrast to whatever everyone writes about The Idol every week. But do you see that? Or are you like, I don’t even want to search The Idol or what people have to say about my performance because we love you. You’re so fun. Like, you have, like, the best lines on the show.
Hari Nef Thank you. I meanThe Idol stuff The Idol stuff seems like it exists primarily kind of in this Internet echo chamber, the way people talk. I mean, obviously, it’s not objective because the people that I talked to about the I don’t know that I’m iThe Idol, but I’m obviously able to have like a critical discourse with people in my life who aren’t going to bullshit me. The way people talk abouThe Idol IRL is very different to the way they talk about it online. They’re. Are a lot of preconceived notions about like Sam and his other work. There are. There’s hysteria around sex, there’s hysteria around Abel. There’s like, there’s so many pop stars in the shower, and people obviously have a lot of feelings about pop stars. And I just think it’s funny that the people who are very vocal about disliking The Idol and taking umbrage with its content are talking about it so much now.
Ira Madison III They’re watching it every week, you know?
Hari Nef Right.
Ira Madison III So it’s.
Hari Nef You know, like if people were trying to like on Sam about saying that he was going to have the biggest show of the summer but like it is the biggest show of the summer because people are talking about it so much. If people really wanted to shut it down, they would just not talk about it and not watch it. But they are watching and they are talking and I don’t know, like it’s a TV show, babe, I welcome the interpretations. I have my own thoughts, feelings and opinions. But at the end of the day, I’m like, you know, as she was actress who took a job and she’s like, Hallelu.
Louis Virtel You’re in the unique position to compare these two people. But I think of, first of all, like Greta Gerwig, as big as she gets and as I would say, generally speaking gets better and better as the years go on, has this unique, very calming presence to me. Like she is not like a enfants terrible in any way. You know, I just I really admired the kind of I don’t want to say poise, but just like cool, she emanates as she does everything. Whereas Sam Levinson has a vibe of, you know, it’s like there’s a general chaos and he rewrote these scripts, whatever. Do these two creators have anything in common, and what is your experience working with them?
Hari Nef Oh, wow. That’s a great question. I think that both of them do a lot of divination during casting. I think that they I think they have a lot of critical thought about casting. And once they’ve. Identified the thing that they are looking for in you. They trust you completely and will frequently kind of build things around you and your vibe. I mean, the role of Talia was written for me and.
Ira Madison III That’s iconic. I love that.
Hari Nef Thank you. Yeah, because, like, I worked with Sam before, my first film was His Assassination Nation, which came out in 2018. And Sam knows what my strengths are. He knows what my vibe is. And this is, you know, he. Slotted that into this role that needed to be felt. And Gretta also has an immense trust of her actors. You know, obviously she’s up there on film Twitter with like, you know, the. Up and coming legendaries of our day, a hauteur wise. But she’s not this like you know, you read about Stanley Kubrick on sad or like, you know, like doing the take 78 times or like David Lynch, who knows, like, exactly what color he wants somebody sucks to be or like, whatever, like she, she it, she knows exactly what she’s doing when she’s doing it and how she’s doing it, but it doesn’t feel that way. She especially for a comedy, like if she thinks you’re funny, she thinks you’re funny. And she’s going to let you rock. And you know, I was definitely coming on as like a supporting actor and, you know, as a supporting actor, which is like what I’ve been doing. You have to pay attention to what the leads are doing. And so I was taking my cues from what Margo was giving, what Ryan was giving, and Ryan especially. Does every take a little different. Like he always hits his mark. He always says the line like he he does everything you need to like check the boxes of effective screen acting. But he he experiments and he deepens and he I don’t know he he’s like the funniest doctor I’ve ever worked with. And he, he, he tries to run things every time and they just get funnier and funnier and funnier the more deeply you go into it. So, you know, I would start kind of standard and then I would kind of build and like by take like six or seven, like it would be weird and it would be bugger. And like so much of the booker actually just look like, like from, from the trailer, like the, like flat, like screaming at the top of my eyes rolling back. That was like take seven or eight. That was like, what if I just like it? Because there were, there were like 18 exclamation points in the script for that. And I’m like, okay, like I’m going to play the 18 exclamation points. I know great credit creates an environment where nothing is off limits and she kind of just wants to see, like, especially for a comedy like this, which is broad and playful, she kind of just wants to see what. Loopy stuff you’re going to do because that’s why you’re here. She’s you know, she she’s not trying to shoehorn you into something. And with Sam, like, I feel like 50%, but actually made the cut. I was improving. We did so much improv. They both have a trust of their actors, which. Is not always the case.
Ira Madison III Hmm.
Hari Nef I love working with both of them, genuinely.
Ira Madison III Speaking of, you know, taking cues from, you know, like, and supporting them, you know, like Margot and Ryan. I want to hear about working with this other icon that you worked with this year, because, you know, I saw you in The Seagull and you were with Parker Posey.
Louis Virtel Oh, who we were just talking about. Yes.
Ira Madison III Yeah, we were just talking about Party Girl this episode. What was it like being, you know, in like a rehearsal space, being on stage, I guess, with her?
Hari Nef I mean, Party Girl is one of the reasons I moved to New York. I know Parker gets told that all the time.
Ira Madison III But it’s true.
Hari Nef You know, she she existed in such a crystalline way in my head as this idea of, like, a New York girl in New York, actress and indie stalwart, you know, somebody who was uncompromisingly her, who found a way to interface that with like a casting landscape, you know, somebody who isn’t the normal proposition, you know, a scene stealer like, you know, I always look to her in that way, kind of like as a role model. And so getting into the room with her was really exciting. But when you get into a room with somebody, you have to kind of dispense with the idea of them and actually just treat them as a collaborator. And, you know, it’s like every it’s like it’s similar. But I was like. Hiding in the bathroom stall, listening to the SJ and Cynthia do their scene as Carrie and Miranda. The greatest acting work I ever had to do in my life was telling myself that I was not listening to Carrie, that I was not listening to like these queens, that I was actually listening to two women in a bathroom that I didn’t know that took every ounce of acting that’s ever had. So like I got into the room. Clean slate. This is Parker. She’s playing Irina or Irene. In that case, for the adaptation that we were in and in Parker. She’s. She’s that. She. You know, she has a very specific process. She brought a lot of her own props. She. She’s very into props. She’s kind of method in a way. I’m not method at all. So I was like, you know, in the end, she’s the lead. So I’m. It was just fun to volley with her and kind of go on her trip, especially with that one big scene we had together where she was like, you know, firing me around the stage and informing me that I wasn’t fab. And then telling me to stand up straight and. You know, she takes control in that scene and I just got to follow her and be enthralled by her because she’s playing this famous actress. So, like, honey, Like what? Acting that I really have to do. Like Parker Posey is there telling me how to be fab and I am me on that stage taking whatever she’s going to give me.
Louis Virtel I was going to say, obviously, it’s not like an intuitive fit. Parker Posey doing check up. But then I think of all the movies she did and it’s like, no, she makes herself an organic fit. You just think like, Oh, this needed that. It’s like when Drew Barrymore is in a movie or something, it’s like, you can’t make this person up. There’s only one of this person and now they belong because that’s the energy they bring. So I’m very glad to hear that. I’m also intrigued with you as a writer. I mean, going forth, you have all these like huge acting projects. How important is it for you to keep writing as the years go on and your acting career, You know, balloons.
Hari Nef I think it’s absolutely essential if you are doing or working in any industry that is contingent on you getting picked to have something else that you can do by yourself and for yourself. And for me that is writing. And obviously with like, you know, capital W writing, you know, you want to get published or etc., etc.. Like there are still groups that are capped in that regard. But I can sit down to write and, you know, alone here in my apartment in a way that I can’t really sit down to act what I’m going to do, like a monologue in the corner and I’ll know when I’m acting. Yes.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Hari Nef Well. Well, yes, I know.
Ira Madison III The Hari Hour. I would watch it.
Louis Virtel On PBS.
Hari Nef It’s giving Patreon. Yeah. No I when I’m not acting, I write and I was writing a lot kind of before this. Stretch of acting bookings that emerged kind of like halfway through the pandemic. I’ve been kind of like giving working actress, but before but you know, several like two years ago I published like three things in art form and like an essay in GQ and I high profile. John Waters This is the other thing. I actually am a celebrity profiler, which people don’t know. I’ve done it, but it’s not that big of a stretch. La la la. Yeah. Like it’s I don’t have any acting work like confirmed finance scheduled. Ready to go after all of this? Barbie noise dies down, so I’ll probably get back to the typewriter. That being said, I am a WGA member, so I will not be doing the screenwriting. But there are many other things to write and. Yeah, I can just do that for myself and figure it out. I, you know, girls always ask me, they’re like, I want to be an actress. I want to be a model. I’m like, Great, you should go for it, but make sure you have something else that is not contingent on getting shows.
Ira Madison III Mm hmm. You brought up your profile of John Waters, and I started out just sort of like, how did you prepare yourself for talking with, you know, this icon and, like, what was it about? Like, you know, preparing for this, going into it being like, I really want to know this about John Waters and ask and then what were you surprised to learn coming out of the interview?
Hari Nef I watched so many interviews. That he had done and I had. I also watched, of course, like all of the films of his that I hadn’t seen. I’d seen most of them, but not all of them. And I don’t know, I think that I could only write about him through the lens of my own interests and my own questions. And I came down to this fundamental question and sort of like observation that especially watching his films, John Waters has broken every contemporary piety around political correctness. You know, he he has gotten edgy with race, he’s gotten edgy with gender. He’s gotten edgy with he’s literally just blown it like no one is safe. Like, if you’re poor, there’s a joke about it. If you’re trans, there’s a joke about it. If you’re a person of color, this joke about it, if you’re gay, if you like it, whatever. Like he he blames. Everyone. And I’m just like. And yet he is beloved, rightfully so. And yet people think that he’s, you know, like, funny, rightfully so, Like he has somehow avoided being canceled. And his his whole ethos is on paper so patently cancel a bill like there are so many like, you know, I can just, like, imagine like. A bustle. Think piece that just goes through them all and like, you know, like. But no, people don’t. And they won’t. And they don’t dare. And I’m like, why is that? What is the secret sauce? Does John Waters have the secret like shield against getting canceled? I wanted to get to the bottom of that, and I kind of just let him talk. That’s that’s the thing. That’s the thing that I brought to Talia on The Idol. If you want to get answers like people fundamentally just want to talk about themselves. And as you too probably know, you kind of just hang back and ask the very specific things you want and people will talk. John Waters definitely has done a lot of press and he says a lot of the same things over and over again. And I know the things that he says over and over again. And I just tried to push past those with specifics. And I think the specifics of, you know, the specifics that I could dive into was actually, you know, around his portrayal of transness and like trans women, you know, there’s the, you know, amazing like chick with a dick seen. I think it’s in Pink Flamingos where, you know, there’s a trans woman and she flashes people in the park and they run away. You know, I was I. Asked him, not in a confrontational way. I was just like. I asked him about the actress and about his relationship to her, and it was so clear in the way that he spoke about her. And she’s still alive and they’re still in contact. But he loves her and loved her. And that that gag in that film was it was her idea. And they were trying to, you know, take the piss out of people’s fear of that. And she was about to get like a sex change. And she’s like, I just want to do this one good time because I’m never going to be able to do this again. And the main thing that he said, which I took away, which became kind of like like I want to like, tattoo it on my forehead, he’s like, I only make fun of the things I love, not the things that I hate. I would also add to that that if you’re funny, you can kind of get away with, you know. The edgier. Echelons of humor. But he he does it with love. And he you know, he was kind of like a hippie and a freak, but they were like making fun of hippies and freaks. If you laugh at yourself for. I mean, this is like, now I’m just quoting RuPaul. If you laugh at yourself first, then you can bring the audience in to laugh at others. And I feel like that. I don’t know about that. Gay like mid mid-late 20th century sensibility is something that I try to hold onto because it feels I don’t know if it makes me feel safe. In a way, it kind of clears the fear of the climate we live in and makes it all not so serious.
Louis Virtel I think he really nailed that, though, when you said like I mean, not only is he very funny and like, making fun of everybody, there’s such a sense about his work, like, let’s all have a good time. Like, it’s not like it’s only for certain people. And other people are left out in a way, even though it’s picking targets. You’re right. It’s very specific to him, though. I can’t really think of somebody else who really nails that feeling.
Hari Nef Right. And I feel like there are so many contemporaries of his that are not as intelligent or sophisticated, whose work has been dismissed because. It’s taking the piss out of marginalized groups and. She found a way to do it. That not only resonated then, but continues to resonate. I love him so much. I think we can learn a lot of lessons from John Waters.
Ira Madison III I’ve got to maybe a weird question. Not weird. Interesting question, because you were talking about, you know, rewatching these John Waters films and sort of seeing, you know, asking, you know, like coming from it from a trans perspective. But I have to imagine, you know, like, there’s a lot of pieces of media that you’ve consumed that you’ve been like. I kind of like the trans representation in this. I hate it, a mess, etc.. Is there something that you’ve seen that maybe you’re a fan of that you were like, if you had the chance to sort of redo that character or come at it from a different perspective, something that you’re like, I want to put the Hari Nef stamp on this and do it right.
Hari Nef The only spicy Letterbox’d review about like a living filmmaker that I’ve ever written and I be on Letterbox’d in like a silly way.
Ira Madison III I love Letterbox’d. It’s so good, so funny, and like, I don’t try to leave a serious review. You’re just like, this movie was a gag.
Hari Nef Dressed to Kill, Brian DePalma. I’m like. Spooky. Sure. Like spooky tranny psychotherapist, killer. I’m like. And I literally wrote an open letter to Brian De Palma. I was like, Let’s do a remake. Let’s get it on and popping. Like, I’m ready. Are you ready? Like, this is cool. We’ve just got to do it a little. Like, it’s a great movie. It’s, you know. Is it transphobic? Absolutely. But I’m also kind of ready and down for, you know, depictions of trans people that are not 100% redemptive or flattering or are particularly unflattering because, like, we’ve we’ve got the redemptive stuff. I mean, another Letterbox’d, this still comes up from time to time. The one Letterbox’d review that I got and some like hot water for was my review of, Save Todd Haynes.
Louis Virtel Oh, yes. Julianne Moore Yes.
Hari Nef I think it was this first class. Julianne Moore. And what I said was, this is something akin to like this film. It speaks more incisively to the experience of being queer than most things I can think of made in the past five years that have actual queer people in them. Like, like, like I was like Todd Haynes made a movie about like a white, straight, rich women. That feels more to me, like the experience of being queer than most of these other things that are getting greenlit that are basically just. Queer in content, not inform like something like the way that film shows and embodies like a person who is in this world where something is wrong and it’s coming from inside of them and like this world is like warping and shifting around her and she’s getting sicker and sicker and sicker and she doesn’t know why. And it’s isolating her from everyone and everything that she loves. And it’s like taking her away from her biological family. And she’s becoming more endeared to this like cult of people that she doesn’t know who are affirming that. That, to me is more like being gay than the prestige television show that has an ensemble of LGBT characters that are hitting the same redemptive sitcom beats as every other show. It’s like we just get our favorite show that stars, you know, straight voices people, but with trans characters. And there’s nothing I don’t know. I feel like the queer experience is just more than surface level. It’s like it’s, it’s it’s a feeling, It’s a vibe. It changes the way you experience the world. It changes your senses. It’s not just the surface. And I am eager for it. And it doesn’t have to be like artsy and weird and avant garde. I think that queer form is more interesting than queer content, but, you know, but like what queer form even is, is up for debate. I would just like to see the girls get on it to try to figure out like, what that could be.
Louis Virtel I’m particularly fascinated with movies that have no you basically said explicit gayness about them, but seem to resonate to like a particular swath of queer people. Like don’t know if you’ve seen Ordinary People recently with Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland, but it’s Timothy Hot and his brother dies and he he lives in the suburbs and he’s traumatized by it. And he’s like the unwanted kid. And his relationship with the parents and his relationship with his therapist. I tons of specifically gay men I feel like relate to that movie. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about how it gets to I’m alienated from these people, but I have this truth that needs to be explored and I believe in it. And it’s taking me away from some people and closer to other people. Anyway, it’s but you’re just that’s very interesting to me.
Hari Nef No, I essence like essences are more they they hit harder then story beats. Yeah linear plots and beginnings middles and ends like I think what’s truly queer is like departing from Once upon a time there was this. Oh, no, a conflict happened. Oh, no. There’s like, that’s, you know, like the story structure that we know is just because of repetition and history is like the hetero story structure. I didn’t go to film school or grad school, but like, I just, I, I think some of you know, I think a lot of the queer content that we are fed is a little obvious, not in, you know, like, I love to see the girls but but on the level of storytelling, on the level of esthetics, on the level of cinema, it’s not it could be. It could go even further. Can’t wait.
Ira Madison III Well, thank you for being here, Hari.
Hari Nef Yeah. That’s it?
Ira Madison III You know. We’re in and out.
Hari Nef Work. Okay
Ira Madison III You said so much. Literally, You said so much.
Hari Nef I talk so much. I’m sorry. I be going on.
Louis Virtel Loved it. Loved it.
Ira Madison III We love it. We love it. We love it. Thank you for being here.
Hari Nef Oh, yeah. Thanks for having me.
Louis Virtel And we cannot wait to see Barbie. Obviously, we haven’t seen that. Oh, yeah.
Ira Madison III I cannot wait to see it. Cannot wait to see what you do next. I mean, I loved when you did, you know, hopped in the theater like you’re doing everything. So. Yeah, I really can’t wait to see what’s next.
Hari Nef Well, if the Screen Actors Guild goes on strike, then I might be hopping back to the theater.
Ira Madison III Let’s bring back A Doll’s House. Yeah.
Hari Nef The Doll’s House. Let Jessica Chastain have it. She has it.
Ira Madison III We will be right back with Alex Edelman.
Speaker 2 <AD>
Ira Madison III Our guest today for this special episode is one of our favorite storytellers, you know, a stand up, his writing and his incredible one man show, Just For Us, started its Broadway run this month. And now he’s joining the pod just for you. Welcome to Keep It the hilarious and wonderful Alex Edelman.
Alex Edelman Yeah.
Ira Madison III Congrats on the show going to Broadway. I saw it during one of its off-Broadway runs and I say one of because I feel like this show has been running forever and it’s been at multiple theaters. So can you tell us where it started and then where it’s been said it’s getting to Broadway. Like, how did you get to Broadway?
Alex Edelman I mean, it’s got a long I mean, I think of the show is like in two iterations, like there’s one iteration of the show that was like sort of like a fringe hour of stand up. So that started in 2018. And like, I loved doing it, but it’s not it’s not what it is now. And then I’m sorry, a helicopter going over my head. They’re looking for em. But yeah, that was a then in 2020, I started putting together a new version of this show of, like 40 minutes stripped out and in a different 40 minutes or a different, like. And, yeah, I sort of changed the show a lot in 2020, but to make a long, boring story short started doing the show in 2018 and the first iteration started doing the show in 2020 and the new iteration show took a two year nap pretty much. And then at the very, very, very end of 2021, started like obviously start from beginning of 2020 to the end of 2021, beginning of 2021 started a run that was supposed to be three weeks, but ended up being like, you know, like a year in New York. And then we were, yeah, we got extended like seven times and kept moving to different theaters that were slightly bigger. And now we’ve moved to Broadway, which has been like the craziest goddamn thing in the world.
Louis Virtel Now, I assume it’s exciting to get that kind of opportunity, but at the same time it means you’ve been priming the same material in jokes for a long time. Are you? Is that any hemisphere of your brain dying to talk about literally anything else, like just going up on stage? Let me talk about whatever the Mona Lisa or something, anything.
Alex Edelman Not to be like, not to be a downer, but not really. Because first of all, you do a thing that resonates with people and you have a million interesting discussions about it, like my show has has to do with like a lot of gray areas in between things that people care a lot about, like Judaism and whiteness and religion and discourse and civility and various aspects of how we talk, you know, how we talk about politics and stuff like that. Like all of those things are really, really important things to me and like. They wind up. Uh, they might have, spurring lots of good conversations and the show changes every single night. And the reason I said I don’t want it to be don’t want be a downer is because I worked on this show for four years with my best friend, a guy named Adam Brace, who is the show’s director. He’s directed all my solo shows and he died like six weeks before our show started on Broadway. So, you know, this is the last thing I got to do with him. And this is it’s sort of the most beautiful shot, right? Like, it’s the most beautiful run it’s ever going to experience. It’s going to be it’s moving to Broadway. So if I’m ever, like, tired of this show, I, you know, I hear his sort of like a he sort of haunts me. He’s like, You better not be fucking tired of the show. You better be like. And also, every night there are things that you have to change the show. The show is always like in a state of getting a little bit better. But but yeah, by the way, I say that like I go to the Comedy Cellar all the time and like, try new shit out. So maybe that’s how I’m like working, working the kinks out while I do like my, like my main job, like, yeah, sorry, wrong answer. But, you know.
Ira Madison III I get it now. So this show is, you know, essentially about you going to sticking it to like a white supremacist, like Nazi meeting. And then what comes out of that, you know, is this conversation about, you know, whiteness, Judaism, etc.. What was your comedy like prior to this? And was it always sort of, you know? I don’t know, investigative, for lack of a better term? Or was this just the first time you were like, I feel like doing something like this? And then the act of doing it was like, oh, this sort of story spilled out of you.
Alex Edelman I mean, my comedy has always pretended not to be political and in service of being political. So my comedy has always been about like my first show was called Millennial, and it was about about generation intergenerational warfare. This is before the word millennial was like a super annoying buzzwords. And my first that was in 2014. People cared about it because, like, I love finding things that everyone can talk about, like. People of color, white people, Jews, non-Jews, Democrats, Republicans, all people, young people like everything. Everyone is interested in, you know, intergenerational warfare and whether or not, you know, and like generational divides. And my second show was about how people are very lonely. It’s called Everything Handed to You. And and so, like, I’ve always done stuff that like but also all of the bits are bits that I wrote and developed in comedy clubs. Like, I want my stuff to be comedy and also be like. Like far too PC without ever. I want to do thought pieces that aren’t ever actually thought PC. So like. So I guess I mean comedy has always been like I dunno if investigative has been the right word. I mean, definitely like journalism. I think my career has always been a little bit like journalistic, but there’s also like stupid jokes about like my shoe size and stuff like that, but not in the show. But I mean, like in my comedy generally. But this is definitely like my most. With heavy air quotes, you can’t see me doing it because bad guys but like, mature, like mature, this is my most mature work and I’m super proud of it. I’m so proud that this show is mature, but like. But yeah, my comedy, I’ve always like the blend of stuff like high, low, serious, non serious political, nonpolitical, accessible and specific. You know, like.
Louis Virtel I was looking at a list of the very famous people who have come to see this show, and some of them are like friends of yours, and you’ve gotten advice from them or whatever. But like when someone like Elaine May or Steve Martin is at the show, are you somebody who’s eager to, like, seek out a response from those people or is it just, okay, they’re there and that’s, you know, accolade enough.
Alex Edelman Now that I think I need everything, Virtel. I need everything. I mean, I want them to love this show and adopt me and raise me on the phone and decide that I’m, you know, I’m Mid-card needed, you know. But my God, yeah. When Steve Martin came to the show and when Seinfeld came in the show, like. Your whole body just goes like, you know, it’s so it’s so crazy. Nathan Lane came to opening on Monday, just like. It was like. I love comedians. I love comedians. I mean, I love actors, but like comedians and writers, like those are the ones that you try to be like performing my show on Broadway. I’m so excited to have, like, written the Broadway show, if that makes sense. Like, I love people who write their own stuff and have written like, if you think about all those people, the thing that they have in common is that they’re writers. And so I just love a writer, I love a genius writer, and I always seek out, like craft advice from those writers. So I’ve had really good advice from Seinfeld and Steve Martin and Billy Crystal gave great notes. And so, like I asked them for notes, like, that’s what I want. I want a little tiny bit of their wisdom to steal and squirrel away for a later, later use, and they get it from them. I won’t let them leave without it. We had to, like, tie Steve Martin to a chair until he gave us all.
Louis Virtel It’s interesting to think, though, that like the the average viewer may shift from someone like a comic to not like a celebrity who goes to the show may be more Broadway oriented, like Nathan Lane or something like I hope Patti LuPone gives you feedback on this show. You know what I’m saying?
Alex Edelman My God. Patti LuPone would be like, don’t join equity like, quitting it. I’m just saying, you know, we’re to be part of this Broadway community all of a sudden, we’re like, Everyone knows who Donna murphy is. Like, I like a lot of names I had never heard of. Like, you don’t know, like, Mare Winningham was at one of our early shows. And I was.
Louis Virtel Fuck yes.
Alex Edelman I mean, like, I love Mare, what they like, but you know, who’s like one of the show’s biggest supporters is, you know, Cherry Jones.
Louis Virtel I’m a human being. Have I seen 24, motherfucker? Did she date Sarah Paulson for four years? Yes. Come on. Yes, yes.
Ira Madison III Our president.
Alex Edelman Cherry, has seen the show like three times or something like that. And like I and I fucking love Cherry Jones and she always like. And she we went to go see a play together. Like I’m like are like it’s we are the weirdest like, couple. We like, go places together now. Like.
Louis Virtel What?
Alex Edelman We went to a play and halfway through she, she’s like this fuckin sucks.
Louis Virtel By the way. She is an intimidating person. I’m not like to hang out with Cherry Jones would be, I would be in my head. Yeah.
Alex Edelman She’s the nicest, nicest woman on the planet. I mean, like, there are so. The album saying is that I love the community of comedians that I’ve been introduced to through doing comedy for like a decade. But I’m also pretty excited about this community of like Broadway people. It’s a little insular. Like it feels like they’re very dedicated to like, you know, like it feels like there are things where someone will tell me about, like this really intense drama, and then they’ll walk away and I’ll have to go ask someone else what names they were like. Like, this is like, I don’t know anyone’s name. And they’re like, No, capitalization on that show is X amount of money. And I’m like, How do you know that? They’re like, It’s public information and like, it’s the most insular community. And I love its little attendant dramas and celebrities that are only celebrities in that community. And like I said, to like the PR people, I was like, I want to do every Broadway PR show that has 54 listeners. Like, I don’t want to. I don’t want to do any thing. It’s big on like, I don’t wanna do any big Broadway podcast. So like, that’s great cause it’s just, you know, there are no big podcasts, but like, like, you know, like, I was like, I want to do like, some guy has a microphone in his mom’s basement and he just talks about how much he, you know, like. Hates Chicago. The city and the chapel. And they want to do that guy’s crazy podcast like that. And they’re like, Great, done.
Louis Virtel But to be fair, that would be. I mean, those aren’t just like regular comedy fans. Like that is a new demographic for you. I mean, and how many people get to break through to those people who are just, you know, sitting around like talking about how devastating Leopold Star was or whatever?
Alex Edelman You’re right. They are. And they care about theater. Like I care about theater. Like, I don’t I’m I’m really I’m more earnest than I think the average comedy fan is, but more cynical than the average theater fan is. Which means I mean, it’s like weird middle space between the two and which is fine. Like my show is more. Comedic than most theater shows and more theatrical than most comedy shows. But the blend seems to have just enough to service both sides. And so, like, I think, Ira, like that question you asked like three questions ago goes like a good question because. Like, I don’t know if it’s if my stuff is like investigative, but the person that I am ever I think I’ve always wanted to go everywhere and meet everyone and do everything. And so like having that I guess reflected in my standup or reflected in my solo show, like Ashley very much is who I am. Like, I want to meet everyone I want to like. And not just celebrities, but like the weirdos. Like, I want to meet the weirdos and like.
Ira Madison III They are the weirdos.
Alex Edelman Working out.
Ira Madison III To be honest.
Louis Virtel For the record.
Ira Madison III Celebrities, the celebrities are the weirdos, for the record. Well.
Alex Edelman Those are the best ones, Ira, right? You’ve got you’ve met a million celebrities. You’re like, God, you’re fucking weird.
Ira Madison III I have a question about your writing because you’ve written, you know, solo shows for yourself. And I know you had like a brief stint on, like a radio or a sitcom once before, but, you know, do you envision yourself writing, you know, you love the theater or you love comedy? Like do you envision yourself writing a comedy film or like writing a comedic show for other people? Or do you have any interest in writing for write characters that other people would you rather just sort of do comedy, you know, for yourself?
Alex Edelman 1,000% I want to write for. I didn’t get into storytelling to just sort of give one perspective my whole life. I really want to. I want to like, you know, the most horrifying advice that’s ever given to a writer is write what you know. Because people are always like, Oh, you’re a farmer from Minnesota, or you’re or you’re a black man from from Seattle or you’re a And so they’re like, you should write about that. What really that means is like, if you know, shame, right? Shame. If, you know, anger and insular ness yearning for something else. Right. That like. And so for me, I understand like because of my like orthodox Jewish background, like what I love is like the struggle between modern and traditional. Like that’s a thing that I understand or the struggle between the community and the individual. Like, that’s something that I understand and like, I’ve always wanted to write about, you know, like, like the book I desperately want to be part of adapting is a book from childhood that I read as a kid called The Ear The Eye in the Arm, which is like an Afro futurist book because, like, it’s got this it’s got this beautiful understanding of the intersection between traditional and future in like traditional and modern. And it’s this beautiful fable and set in like Zimbabwe in the year 3000. And I was always like, I want to adapt that book. And very naturally and very, of course, validly my, you know, the people that I work with were like, I’m now like, you know, like at some point I’ll find the right creative partners to, to do something like that with. But no, I desperately want to like, expand the, the universe of, like the stuff that I talk about. And like, I think that sort of drive to, to actually understand people who aren’t me like part of that is is wanting to, you know I desperate I love writing for other people. I really I spend a lot of I spend a lot more time writing for other people than I do writing for myself even in the shower. My favorite thing, my favorite jokes to make, my favorite things to talk about, and people that aren’t me. Like, I just my whole show actually, people are like, That’s such a personal show. And I’m like, Yeah, but I would say that like 80% of the show is me talking about other people, which is so I mean, it’s not personal. So like, yeah, like I desperately want to write like, plays and books and fucking ballet and opera and like, everything. I don’t know how to write music. That’s going to be a real problem. But like, I really, really mind you, Ira, you’re the same you, you guys, you both like. I don’t know. Right. But you guys also kind of.
Louis Virtel Well, I would say that we yes, we enjoy writing for other people, but we’re like Frida Kahlo most inspired by ourselves ultimately. You know what I mean?
Alex Edelman That’s fucking brilliant. That’s true.
Louis Virtel I was going to say, it’s so interesting that you are just interested in writing, period. And it doesn’t have to be a comedian. Other people like songwriters or people who specifically are not funny that really appeal to you and based on what they do.
Alex Edelman Oh my God. Regina Spektor and of course, the unbelievable I love like Ben growing up, I was such a big Ben Folds guy. Like, I’d say that Ben Folds was such a huge part of my life and upbringing and. Who? Who else? Adam Duritz and Counting Crows. Like I know.
Louis Virtel Oscar nominee. Yes.
Alex Edelman Oh, that’s right. For Accidentally In Love.
Louis Virtel You are correct. Yes.
Alex Edelman But also, like even people who write like music for films. One of my closest pals is Benj Pasek, and I love Benj Pasek and his work is absolutely phenomenal. And. And yeah, musicians who write small. Does, were you, were either of you guys Bright Eyes People?
Louis Virtel That’s exactly that’s exactly our like we’re 36. Like you were in high school, Bright Eyes occurred. Yes.
Alex Edelman Yeah. Bright Eyes was, that that app, that Cassadaga album has, like.
Ira Madison III Yes.
Alex Edelman Five of those songs that are all, like, gorgeous things about other people for wins. If the break man trends my way like I love and and I even use whenever I get asked late stage storytelling or solo shows I always use a song. Walking in Memphis as a template is such a great template for another show. I won’t bore listenership with that, but like truly.
Ira Madison III Which version?
Alex Edelman It’s not the Cher version, baby. It’s the morale. Not. The only Cher version, I can’t get on board with. It’s like I love Cher and I love her covers so much. I just hate that cover because the song was about being an anonymous weirdo who goes like play piano in a bar in Memphis, and he walks in and they’re like, Do you want to get onstage and sing with us? And like, you can just imagine Cher, when she’s doing the cover, she’s like, you know, they bring her to the piano bar, and the lyrics would be like, Is that fucking Cher? You know, like.
Louis Virtel No one really sounds like that but her.
Alex Edelman Yeah, Yeah. There’s a line where they’re like, Tell me, are you a Christian child? And Marc Cohn goes, Ma’am, I am tonight. And like, if it was Cher, me, like, tell me, are you Christian child? And she’s like, You read my Wikipedia. Like, you know, Exactly.
Louis Virtel I’m very well-known. Yeah. Yeah, I have an Oscar. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Alex Edelman Wait, does Cher have an Oscar? Oh for Moon.
Louis Virtel For Moonstruck. Yep. 87.
Ira Madison III I have a special connection to that song. Oh, yeah, Because I first heard it in the X Files. That’s. That’s where she, like, debuted it.
Alex Edelman Wait, Cher?
Ira Madison III Maybe. Possibly. Yes, there’s a fifth season episode like the Post-Modern Prometheus, which is sort of like their Eraserhead Elephant Man episode. It’s done in complete black and white, and it ends with the like Elephant Man-ish like character, like dancing on the stage with Mulder and Scully and Cher singing Walking in Memphis.
Alex Edelman Ira, I have listened to probably eight or nine episodes of this show in the past year, and I know for a fact that this is at least the third time that you’ve referenced The X-Files.
Louis Virtel Oh, excuse me. It’s like 51st Dates over here. We have our five references and we keep making them.
Alex Edelman But yeah.
Ira Madison III I’m surprised that Louis hasn’t brought up the Carpenters yet. Okay.
Louis Virtel I do have to start on. Yes, right.
Alex Edelman Yes. I genuinely like I was I because I remember the first time I heard, I was like, that’s interesting. And then the second time I heard it, I was like, I wonder if Ira, if there’s like an X-Files component to the show that I don’t understand.
Louis Virtel Just a really short memory or only a specific memory for, like, eight things we grew up with. Yes.
Ira Madison III We’ve done this for almost 300 episodes. I think that we have we are we’re in a circular pattern of everything that we’ve discussed ever.
Alex Edelman Who were your who are your guys, though? Even though I feel like I know it. But like, who were your who are your song? Like if you had to pick and not just some people who were your writing song people like.
Louis Virtel Well, I’m I mean like everybody who’s my age would say this probably I mean gay or women but like it was Alanis first and then I got into was Liz Phair and then Aimee Mann. And Aimee Mann, I think is the greatest songwriter who ever lived.
Alex Edelman Really?
Louis Virtel Yes. I just, she’s like you, in that I feel like she’s just inspired by other people. It’s not just here’s a purely autobiographical moment, like use empathy to explain other people and like help help bring you into things like mental illness, whatever. She writes about things I’m interested in, namely, what the fuck is up with that person?
Alex Edelman I mean, I love that song Charmer.
Louis Virtel Oh, and kind of an underrated album, actually, but I love the song charmer. I think.
Alex Edelman So too. And I mean, it came like I was listening to. You guys in an episode with like Connie Britton, who I think is like.
Louis Virtel Oh, Slay boots. Yes, we love her.
Alex Edelman She is fucking cool. And it’s just like. I can’t remember who she was talking about. There was, but there was some musician where she was like, This is right after and someone had died and he was in Haiti. And and you guys were talking about I guess it was like there was a spate of like late nineties, early 2000s female solo singer songwriters. So I was just like and it was country. It was like Mary Chapin Carpenter And like, there it was.
Louis Virtel I tend to be like Jewel and. Yeah. This happening around that time. Yeah.
Alex Edelman Yeah. Yeah. But there were there were a bunch of like, even like Liz Phair, by the way, who like did only like three or four albums or like maybe even fewer than that. But they were like that’s an Extraordinary by Liz Phair is, is a fucking bop and it’s a perfect, perfect pop song. I love Annie. I think I listen to songs just desperately looking for jokes. I mean, I want to see my Spotify with like, I love songs where there’s just like where they’re writing. There’s a band called Guster that I loved growing up so much, and it’s.
Ira Madison III All I know. Guster You know, obviously diverse. Well, I’m from Milwaukee, but I’ve famously never seen Guster because I think I talked about this when Ben Folds came on the show. Ben Folds is one of my songwriters, by the way.
Alex Edelman You guys had Ben Folds on the show.
Louis Virtel Yeah, I remember about that was Ben Folds said specifically he picked the worst era in music history, which was the late eighties, and we talked about hair metal bands anyway.
Alex Edelman Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. What was Ben? Sorry I interrupted you, Ira.
Ira Madison III I was like, No. Guster played big one. I told him the story about how, like there was this year at Summer Fest in Milwaukee where I used to work. Um, Guster was playing at the same time as Ben Folds Five, and I did not know who Guster was at the time. I’ve since found out, but there was this whole big debate between the people at the high school, and they were like, Are we going to see Ben Folds? We’re going to see Guster. It was like, Well, I’m saying Ben Folds. I don’t know what Guster is, but yeah, I know Guster. I love comedy in songwriting. That’s why I would say mine is probably like I know Missy Elliott, you know, like for me, like just like so many rap music growing up and then like having, like someone who was writing it but was like, you know, like the polar opposite of, you know, sort of like the East Coast west Coast battle, like going on. She was just like, really fucking funny when you hear her. Her stuff is really good to me. And I’m like, I’m like a ravenous fan because, you know, I’m like a sad fagot, so.
Alex Edelman I love Guster, so I opened for them at Carnegie Hall last year. They they sent me a message going, Do you want or Ryan Miller, who’s the lead singer of Guster, was like, I heard you’re a fan. And I was like, I’m a huge fan. He’s like, Would you want to open for the Carnegie Hall? And I was like, Yes. And then they let me sing a song with them on stage.
Louis Virtel Like, Wow.
Alex Edelman Your song on Parker and Never Will again. But like, on it, it’s on, it’s on YouTube. SoundCloud is on the radio. And my girlfriend at the time wasn’t able to be there, but she was watching the video and she said, You look like a baby because I’m like bouncing up and down the whole time, like I’m singing. She’s like, You look like a toddler who’s happy. And I was like, Yeah, no, I was so happy. It was like the best thing that ever happened to me is so fucking cool.
Louis Virtel You probably never could have. I mean, like, who would have ever guessed that comedy would take you to that? That’s. I mean, that must be bone chilling.
Alex Edelman There are so many. Like, I started calling them side missions. Like you do a podcast you like as a side mission, getting to like, you know, I did a Q&A the other day with Josh Groban on the 92nd Street Y and it was like, fucking cool. Like, he’s actually hysterical and he’s so funny. He’s so funny and so nice and so thoughtful. And like halfway through I was like, This is a side mission. Like, this is great. Like, you know, meeting Steve Martin, that’s a side mission. Like, I don’t know. But yes, comedy is great for side missions.
Ira Madison III I love Josh Groban. I loved him in Sweeney.
Alex Edelman So you guys had him on the podcast because he would be the best podcast guest.
Louis Virtel I met him once, like ten years ago, and what I remember him talking about, it was bizarre. It was like at the Renaissance Hotel or something. He was talking about how he was at a Bjork concert. He was too scared to meet her. I’m like, Imagine it like a superstar just waiting in the wings and then doesn’t have the nerve to greet you. That said, if it’s Bjork, though, I’m sorry, baby. You should be intimidated. Sorry. That’s like Mozart out there.
Alex Edelman I am going to get angry tweets for this. I’ve never said this aloud before. Can’t fully get the Bjork thing.
Louis Virtel Well, what I’m going to do is send you a list of songs that will help ameliorate what you just did to my podcast. Me, Louis, I and yeah. But you will learn.
Alex Edelman I’ve heard you and I know Bjork if they like. I just like I love. So I love Bjork. I just don’t understand why Bjork is like this. And like, just to pick another Icelandic artist. I know there’s more than two, but like Sigur Ros is like, not because, like, why is why, why Bjork? Like, is it like clearly the art is incredible and like, but like, is it so virtuosic that it’s like. You know.
Louis Virtel I would argue, yes. I mean, this is a longer discussion. We can have another time. But also, Bjork, you have to remember, was there was a yes. Right. You will pass away. But she was also a child celebrity in Iceland. They got a record deal when she was 11. And so she has this legacy of being like a very known prodigy before she became an electronic artist and all these other things.
Alex Edelman So I just don’t know it. I just I’m not I just like, I just, like, missed it. It’s one of those things where, like, I am. I am the craziest fan of Autores though. Like back I open for back for a little while. Oh, that’s amazing. Then I got to watch him and I had had a bad experience opening for Ryan Adams before that. I like opening for musicians. I think it’s a good thing for comedians to do, and it’s hard, which I think is a really good reason to do it, actually. But like, fans actually love it because who would you rather see a comedian you’ve never heard of or a band you’ve never heard of? Most people would actually, when they think about it, like enjoy a comedian more and like that does everything. Like Beck sits down and he writes the songs and then he makes it like he does it all himself. And so, like, I have respect for like, for, like specific artists who do, who do certain things. But sometimes I, like, feel like there should be like an oeuvre, like I’ve just missed Bjork’s oeuvre. Like, I don’t know about her.
Louis Virtel So quickly, what happened with Ryan Adams?
Alex Edelman You just, like, wasn’t very nice. Like, that truly is the. Like, he was just kind of a just kind of like mean to to to me and his crew and he wasn’t drinking, which is very admirable. But he was he did that thing where he, like, enforced some Minaya like a maniacal thing on everyone else to never, ever be drinking like these guys were all like living in secret. And like, there were weird, like, dramas that he had with, like, lighting people and sound people. Like he had a pinball machine on tour that only he was allowed to play. And it was like in and he would like just kind of just like a not a very nice man. And it left a really like sour taste in my mouth for musicians. And then like, back, genuinely back who I never mad, sort of called me up out of nowhere. I was like, You want to come, come work for us? And I was like, Please. And, but yeah. Ryan Although. Ryan I don’t know that it’s a secret anymore that Ryan was, was unpleasant. I want to pile on someone who has been, you know.
Ira Madison III No, this is a pro Mandy Moore podcast. So. Yeah.
Louis Virtel Yeah. Also pro Liz Phair. Liz Phair has some quotes about yeah I did.
Alex Edelman I did. I didn’t know that I knew about Mandy. I didn’t know about that Liz Phair. And I’m very vague. I’m not like dogpile on someone. But like he was, it was just, it was really, really bad. He knew I was a big Garry Shandling fan and Shandling and Ryan were friends. And so when he was angry at me in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, over some of the humans, Garry Shandling would have hated, You know, it was.
Louis Virtel Good Lord. What.
Alex Edelman Although he had apologized for and his band was like, you can’t say it. And, you know, wow, I have I have some sympathy for him. I think he’s gone. I think he’s he’s not entirely well. And I think he goes goes through things. But but and please don’t click this one bit out to make it make it seem like I just just talked about.
Louis Virtel Contrive a little graphic with you in boxing gloves.
Ira Madison III It’s like Alex Edelman destroys Ryan Adams. Wait. What was the pinball game? What was the pinball game?
Louis Virtel Come on, Addams Family.
Alex Edelman I’ve got now. But I’ve got it. I’ve got a picture of it somewhere, hold on just le me search.
Louis Virtel The Harrisburg files.
Ira Madison III I want it to be like Indiana Jones pinball game.
Alex Edelman No, it was. It was some. It was a band. It was a band of some kind. I think it was like. I think it was like some sort of AC DC pinball game.
Louis Virtel Oh, that’s pretty rad.
Alex Edelman Which was. It was actually pretty rad. And he’s an amazing, you know, just, you know.
Louis Virtel The thing about AC DC that I’ve learned is that also men are from Australia. I didn’t know that. I thought it was like people named Nicole and Kylie and stuff. No, there’s a lot of stuff.
Alex Edelman That is so fucking funny.
Ira Madison III It would not shock you to know that I’m an AC DC fan.
Alex Edelman What.
Louis Virtel I am not pleased with does the two songs, you know, of theirs. Go ahead to name four songs.
Ira Madison III First of all.
Louis Virtel Spouse rocket will go on.
Ira Madison III I loved Highway to Hell.
Louis Virtel How do you like Like a Virgin, too. Let’s get a little deeper.
Ira Madison III Well, first of all, I love I love High Voltage. Okay. Hard as a Rock.
Louis Virtel Okay. We can patch this up some other time.
Alex Edelman Back in Black
Ira Madison III 1977 is a very good album.
Louis Virtel All right.
Alex Edelman What’s that you give me?
Ira Madison III I like. AC DC. I like AC DC because I read a lot of Chuck Klosterman, and all he ever talks about is like eighties rock bands.
Louis Virtel Oh, so you saw the words and text, and that means you’re a fan of the band. I got it.
Ira Madison III Well, I saw them in high school, so I started listening to them.
Alex Edelman Oh, okay. Are you and are you a big Chuck Klosterman fan? I’m a huge.
Ira Madison III Yeah.
Alex Edelman I think if Chuck Klosterman had to write for Chuck Klosterman is like if David Foster Wallace was forced to write for New York magazine. Like, anything. Like. Like he’s. I like Chuck Klosterman because he’s not always, like, doing backflips to show his intellect. But there are so many ideas in the in the, in the thing like I’m a big I it’s Chuck Osterman like around does he, like do stuff.
Ira Madison III He’s around He just had a new book come out called The Nineties.
Alex Edelman I did not know that. I’ve only read of course, you know.
Ira Madison III Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.
Alex Edelman Which everyone has read.
Louis Virtel Yeah, he’s only like 51. Like that. Sex, drugs and cocoa bars is like over 20 years old. Like, it’s crazy how young he was when he produced some of that stuff.
Alex Edelman Wow. Have have you guys been following this. Some people have been like recently uncovering the Susan Sontag. Carmine Paglia.
Louis Virtel Oh, I mean, Susan Sontag. Those interviews are unbelievable to watch. She is so nasty. And also, it’s like then you start if you look into her history with, like, Annie Leibovitz, there’s, like, dubious qualities to it. And did you know that Cate Blanchett’s performance in TAR is largely based off Susan Sontag?
Alex Edelman Are you serious?
Louis Virtel Yes. Which makes total sense. I can’t believe I didn’t intuit it myself. I can’t believe she had to tell me. Do you know that.
Alex Edelman Susan Sontag joke in Bloody bloody Andrew Jackson does this? No. Okay, Bloody, Bloody Jackson, for those of you that may not know , was a was a music, was a rock, was a rock musical that basically crawled so that Hamilton could fly, which.
Ira Madison III Was the public first. Right?
Alex Edelman It was at the public first. And it was directed by Alex Timbers, who is not just a genius, but also a three man who’s a creative consultant on our show who stepped in after Adam died. And I love Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. And there’s a joke in there. There’s a song in there called Illness is Metaphor, which is the because Susan Sontag wrote an essay about how her cancer was a metaphor for life or something. And the song is about is about that is basically a song version of that with these clear allusions to Susan Sontag. And the last line of the song, though, and this is by the late Michael Friedman is and it produced such a reaction. I’ve never seen this from any audience ever. The last line of the song was that Susan Sontag was dead, so I guess her cancer wasn’t metaphorical after all. Jesus Christ, it was such a never heard a it wasn’t even a gasp, but it was just a full like it was an audible recoil from the audience. And it was actually like something about it. Where it was contextualized in the show was so beautifully done that I just like, I don’t know, I think about that joke probably once a week. Like it’s fucking brilliant.
Louis Virtel It’s very, very memorable. Also, I think Susan Sontag, who was a certain kind of cynic, ultimately, whatever, really enjoyed it.
Alex Edelman I think, yeah, I think we spent a lot of time offended for people who who would really actually love jokes at their expense.
Ira Madison III Also, Camille Paglia, like, had a very awful comment about Anita Hill, so fuck her.
Louis Virtel Well she sucks. She sucks. She sucks.
Alex Edelman I don’t know anything about her, by the way. She was. I’ve never heard of Camille Paglia. And I was like, I think it was Camille Paglia. Like, am I missing some great. Right? She was like, genuinely guys like Louis. Shit. I know. I know more about Camille. Should I be pretending to know who she is? Because I just don’t know the work of.
Louis Virtel An abridged version. She was somebody who, in the eighties was sort of like that, like a sort of like, in-your-face, brash version of a new kind of feminist. So it sort of felt like she was this essential perspective. But then ultimately, it’s like it’s it’s the kind of person who’s like going for scare headlines and is I don’t know about ingenue won, but.
Alex Edelman Was it like Lizzie Wurtzel or was it like or was it legitimately like, you know.
Louis Virtel I see this as somebody who had a heyday and then immediately everybody was over it.
Alex Edelman Okay. Yeah.
Ira Madison III Also, she looks like a French cherry Jones. So take that as you well know.
Alex Edelman Fantastic. Sorry for that.
Louis Virtel Alex. Oh, no.
Alex Edelman Gosh.
Louis Virtel This was such a fruitful conversation. Thank you for talking about not just your awesome comedy, but also everything else. Rarely do people just go with us.
Alex Edelman I’m so sorry for the for the ADHD ness of the conversation, but I will say that I do I do really love the podcast, especially when you have like, you know, Andrea Riseborough Like you guys have such wonderful guests and I’m so, I’m so I’d say I’m honored actually to be subject in person to I was X-Files to the X-Files and you’re.
Louis Virtel I consider you the comedy Andrea Riseborough You’re a talent mutant, just like.
Alex Edelman Her and and not to arm and not to lay it on thick. But when I came to the show at the show, I was really in one of our off-Broadway runs. I was really, really excited. And and if either you guys want to want to come back and see it on Broadway, I’d be I’d be. I’d be so thrilled. It’s really. It’s. Yeah. Anyway, I’m a fan. Oh.
Ira Madison III Oh, thank you.
Louis Virtel COunt on it. I’ll be there.
Ira Madison III Yeah. I love the show. And I love you so. Yeah. I’ll come see it again. I got to see it on Broadway.
Alex Edelman Yeah, you got to see it in the nice. In the. In the nice house. In the big house. So, yeah, I mean, at least I’m not doing it in a prison, but yes, like yeah, come see it.
Ira Madison III Well, that’s our episode. Thank you to Hari Nath. Thank you to Alex Edelman. Thank you to my favorite problem child, Louis Virtel, for being here. That’s an AC DC song and a horrible movie.
Louis Virtel Yeah. First of all, the sequel. I prefer. Love. Wait, hold on. Did you know what? At the beginning of the movie Cape Fear, they are watching the movie Problem Child in the theater. And that’s where you start to realize Robert De Niro’s a crazy person anyway. Problem Child is in a Martin Scorsese movie. Moving on.
Ira Madison III I think I’ve seen Cape Fear once, and I think that most of my memory of Cape Fear is from the Sideshow Bob episode of The Simpsons.
Louis Virtel Right, which is a fabulous episode of The Simpsons that, believe it or not, I have seen. But watch it again for Juliette Louis, that is a five star performance.
Ira Madison III All right. Well, that’s our show this week. We will see you as usual, next week. 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 and Louis Virtel.
Louis Virtel This episode was recorded and mixed by Evan Sutton. Thank you to our digital team, Megan Patzel and Rachel Gaewski and to Matt DeGroot and David Toles for production support every week.
Louis Virtel And as always, Keep It as recorded in front of a live studio audience.