"That Thing Angela Bassett Did!" w. Audie Cornish and Zara Larsson | Crooked Media
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February 22, 2023
Keep It
"That Thing Angela Bassett Did!" w. Audie Cornish and Zara Larsson

In This Episode

Ira and Louis discuss Ariana DeBose’s exuberant rap at the BAFTAs, Kelly Ripa ditching Ryan Seacrest as her co-host, Ben Stein’s affinity for Aunt Jemima, Sweetgreen salads, and more. Audie Cornish joins to discuss her new podcast The Assignment, what keeps her inquisitive about a variety of subjects, and why she’s not interested in playing herself on camera. Plus, Zara Larsson joins to discuss why the best pop music comes out of Sweden, the music that inspires her, and her new single “Can’t Tame Her.”






Ira Madison III And we are back with an all new episode of Keep It. I’m Ira Madison, the third.


Louis Virtel I’m Louis Virtel and I did the thing.


Ira Madison III Louis Virtel did the thing. Did the little dance.


Louis Virtel You know what? I have to say what we’re referencing is Ariana Debose performing the opening number at the BAFTAs. And guys, I am thankful for this because awards season is going to be six months long. I mean, it feels like we start Christmas in about September. That’s what it feels like. We need random things to keep the conversation going. And at least people were talking about the BAFTAs, which is wild. I don’t know. I can’t think of a time we had a sustained conversation about the BAFTAs. That wasn’t along the lines of Have they heard of black people yet?


Ira Madison III Yeah, Every year it’s really been like, Oh, the BAFTAs, all these white people. This year, the nominees were very diverse. And especially for the women, you know?


Louis Virtel Yes. Yeah. Danielle Deadwyler got nominated there and not here. Yes.


Ira Madison III Yeah. What’s going on with London when the UK is more in tune with black women doing great performances than the US?


Louis Virtel Yeah. I’m. I’m J.K. Rowling in the aisles thinking of what the what could be going on there.


Ira Madison III Well, we’ve actually got J.K. here because we need a background on the BAFTAs this week like we’ve done for the other award shows now.


Louis Virtel She pipes up, Oh, God of magic. Okay. So we have to talk about the nature of this performance. I didn’t think this would even come close to a segment on our show at first. And then something happened with this Ariana Debose performance where it’s all I can think about. And also I attempted watching it several times and the girl is giving it gusto. She’s been on key, but no one is denying. She’s unbelievably talented. She’s struggling to turn Oscar Victor. Yes, she has. You know, she has a Tony nomination and an Oscar win. But this particular performance, she went so straightforwardly earnest and it was the rapping quality I would compare to Encircle Novelty single that really sticks out. And I think the main reason why I can’t get this performance off my mind is it’s at the BAFTAs, which is I think the most sedate awards show there is. Like the BAFTAs are developed for Helena Bonham Carter to mutter three self-deprecating jokes and then walk off the stage. It’s not really about, you know, Billy Crystal type Oscars numbers. And by the way, just this week, I was reacquainted with the fact that Billy Crystal, once in one of his musical numbers, explained the plot of Secrets and Lies, a movie. Ira and I both love them to the tune of the Brady Bunch theme, like we went crazy in the nineties. Look this up. You will not believe it ends on a joke about Dennis Rodman that could only exist in 1997. I apologize that you’ll be seeing it, but I was curious about this performance since everybody was talking about it. And the producers of this defended Ariana Debose and they ended up saying. A quote I thought was extremely funny. This guy goes, I think a lot of people don’t like change. And there’s a view that the BAFTAs have to be the slightly stiff traditional British Middle England messaging. But American award shows have much more razzmatazz, much more show biz and perhaps a broader range of people being involved. We felt we’re not about revolution, we’re about evolution. Can you imagine defending a performance by using the word razzmatazz? Your Honor, it was razzmatazz. Like.


Ira Madison III I don’t think I’ve heard the word razzmatazz probably since, I don’t know, the last episode of Keep It. It sounds like a word you would say.


Louis Virtel Right. I mean, it’s a word I would. I mean, razzmatazz, parentheses, derogatory. You know what I’m saying?


Ira Madison III I could imagine. I’m trying to think of who you’d be interviewing on the show, where you’d be like. You know, I would say your oh, your performers had, you know, a lot of razzmatazz to it. And Barry But maybe Barry Kyogre. Or Mia Goth in X, alot of razzmatazz.


Louis Virtel Yeah. That’s a razzmatazzer right there. Yeah it’s a very like 1940s variety columnist word but yeah, tell me what you thought of this. Okay. Also I want to say about this performance before I ask you, I think something else that is jarring about it is she kind of is just rhyming the nominees initials, which I just want to say about initials. Most of them rhyme. So it’s not that impressive. And then secondly, it was like she was out on a limb. The performance began with her doing a medley of sisters are doing it for themselves and we are family. So we’re already on your grandparents cruise ship. And then she goes out to the audience to do this celebratory wrap of the women nominees this year. And she’s saying nothing about them other than their names. So she was recruiting them to be along for the ride, and yet there was nothing to be along for the ride for it was just their names. So it just remains. I’m sorry if I sound like I’m on Molly talking about this. I just can’t get this performance off my mind.


Ira Madison III So you sent me a text last night to, like, we have to talk about this. And the thing you also said was, like, you’ve watched it so many times. I’ve watched it so many times. But also you struggled to watch it so many times because. Yes, when I first got it, I’m not a person who likes audience participation, for one.


Louis Virtel Like, ever, ever.


Ira Madison III If I go to a stand up show, anything like magic, imagine me on a magic show. But I don’t like I don’t like being involved. And something about unless it’s like a bit with like a specific comedian or something, something about the host of a show trying to get other celebrities or people in the audience involved in their bit just makes my skin crawl. And so seeing Ariana, like amongst the crowd, the reactions, it was very much like, what is going on here? And it’s fun. I mean, there’s a reason all these beams keep happening. It’s fucking funny. I’m like.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III There’s also no rhyme or reason to what she’s saying. No, it’s so funny because Angela Bassett did the thing is like, what does she do?


Louis Virtel What are we referring to? Yes.


Ira Madison III You know, and so and to dance with it, it’s just so well-crafted. It’s almost like she improved it.


Louis Virtel Yes. It needed for somebody who’s that polished like a Broadway performer. It did feel like I’m running around in the audience inventing dance moves on the fly, sort of inventing this rap on the fly. You know, also, I think there’s something about her where she is so traditionally like Broadway and that her vibe is celebrating everybody, that there was not even a note of sarcasm in the performance that I think would make this performance a success for someone like Rachel Bloom, who, you know, would come out and there’d be like this note of like, slight anarchic Broadway ness that she brings. But because it’s Ariana Debose, it was just and we’re all happy to be here. And so everybody has to be caught up in the giddiness or they’re not. And, you know, we’re most concerned.


Ira Madison III It was the BAFTAs, not the People’s Choice Award. Yes.


Louis Virtel Yes. No, Emma Thompson is, you know, nibbling on a scone and trying to figure out what’s going on.


Ira Madison III Meanwhile, like Barry Keough is in front of the audience, like living for this, just living. For like it’s like his his killing of a sacred deer character. He’s just living for it, being like, this is chaos. I love it. I always love. What I say. Like the things that make my skin crawl when there’s audience participation. I also always love the celebrity who cannot contain themselves. And it seems like they are having the laugh that the people watching at home are having. My favorite in recent memory is Ryan Gosling during the whole La La Land – Moonlight thing. He is cracking up.


Louis Virtel Right. Right. And as opposed to like Meryl Streep, who looks like she’s watching like, Judgment at Nuremberg or something. Yeah, it really was. This Ariana Debose performance was. And I’m just thankful for it. I’m thankful we have like a strange a reason to talk about, like Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis and Danielle Deadwyler and just the conversation we had preceding, you know.


Ira Madison III Like the fact that she’s in it is fantastic to me because she won’t be mentioned at the Oscars at all.


Louis Virtel No, I mean, but correct. I don’t see a way that would happen.


Ira Madison III And also, Ariana won the Oscar, so she’s definitely presenting at the Oscars this year. And so I hope we get another reference to it.


Louis Virtel Yeah. Yeah. What if she just like, comes out and just does the number while presenting the award, whatever it is.


Ira Madison III Which brings me to maybe an early Keep It. Once again, something that’s weird and goofy and funny and people are having a good time. It’s just unfortunate that people could change something that was just pure innocent fun.


Louis Virtel Here it goes. Yeah.


Ira Madison III To drama, because then it became the story became like she was bullied off of Twitter by deactivating her Twitter. Guys, has she released a statement that said, I left Twitter because of the mocking? My thing is, she’s not a person who tweets. She commented on Evan Ross Katz’s Instagram with memes of it with, Oh my God, I love this. So if she was actually terrified and in hiding, I feel like she wouldn’t be commenting on and engaging with the memes on that page.


Louis Virtel I do think historically, like I remember during her Oscar year, she responded somewhat randomly, I think, to Kyle Buchanan with like whose, Keep It guest, writes about Oscar’s movies for The New York Times, with a sort of scorn comment when he definitely did not mean it that way. So I feel like she she might have a somewhat contentious relationship just with the online universe, period. But you’re right, she hasn’t said anything about it. So, yeah.


Ira Madison III So I mean, I just don’t want to imagine that, you know, she’s hiding in an attic somewhere, you know? I was just going off of your Nuremburg joke.


Louis Virtel I will say also, it’s just funny to imagine Ariana Debose hiding in an attic. That’s got to do with that.


Ira Madison III Listen, They’d find her. Okay. It’s like 10 minutes up there. She should be doing this. Should be doing Push the button for Color Purple. Singing scales.


Louis Virtel We found her. She’s doing pas de Bouurees. Yes.


Ira Madison III I love her.


Louis Virtel I know she kind of is now, this one of a kind presence. We used to say she was, you know, just sort of like the traditional, like a Hutzpah oriented Broadway performer. But really, who else is doing that right now? I’ve heard a couple of people comparing her to like, the way we used to receive Anne Hathaway is like way to get to be there, a little cloying or schmaltzy. But at the same time, I have to say I think people are so obsessed, obsessed with not seeming cringe that literally that word cringe, that humor in a way has become this opposite of cringe where you’re like obsessively cool all the time, are like dry, removed, sarcastic, you know, like, even like all the humor on, like TV is the same in that way, I feel like. And so it’s.


Ira Madison III Let me tell you something. Not everyone’s cool. Okay.


Louis Virtel No. Yes. Let’s go with that. Yes.


Ira Madison III Exactly. Daria, Everyone thinks they’re like the bomb.


Louis Virtel Rihanna. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Everyone thinks they’re Christian Slater in Heathers. Like you’re not.


Louis Virtel No, exactly.


Ira Madison III Cool has to mean something. There have to be some people who are just inherently cooler than other people.


Louis Virtel When I think of West Side Story, there’s a place for us that means nerds. That means nerds. Okay.


Ira Madison III Lastly, I want to say if anyone was bullying Ariana Debose online, it was intra-community bullying because the only quote unquote shady comments I was saying are from people who are theater actors themselves.


Louis Virtel Oh, you don’t say, wow.


Ira Madison III So.


Louis Virtel I’m going to tell Equity. I’m going to Equity.


Ira Madison III Okay. The shade was coming from inside the EWquity building. Okay. And if they’re being shady towards Ariana, then that means maybe it’s like a personal beef.


Louis Virtel Right. Right. .


Ira Madison III Or a jealousy moment. But, you know, it was like it wasn’t us. Okay. Call was coming from inside the house.


Louis Virtel Yes, right, Right.Right.


Ira Madison III And the stage manager picked up the phone.


Louis Virtel Okay. Well, I’m curious to learn more about that. I ultimately applaud this performance. I hope we get more of them. I hope people have the bravery to go this hard in this performance, literally sounding out of breath as Ariana did halfway through.


Ira Madison III All right. Well, we have got a packed episode of Keep It this week. First, we are joined by the wonderful Audie Cornish of CNN and their new podcast, The Assignment with Audie Cornish. We’re going to talk to her for a bit.


Louis Virtel Great talker. Can you believe that? She hosts the podcast and is a great talker. Ira and I are, of course, still learning English, but she is great.


Ira Madison III We need Amy Adams in a sign. Also, Kelly Ripa killed Ryan Seacrest.


Louis Virtel You know, but it was euthanasia. They both had agreed to it beforehand. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Yeah. A Dr. Kevorkian moment.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III It’s very exciting. So we’re going to talk about that. And then if that wasn’t enough, we have a second guest this week. Zara Larsson.


Louis Virtel Pop icon Zara Larsson popped into this zoom and was razzmatazzing from from the jump. I was loving it. She is hilarious and very insightful. And she’s Swedish. So ABBA comes up.


Ira Madison III Yeah. So we will be right back with more Keep It.




Ira Madison III You already know our next guest’s voice. She is a brilliant journalist and correspondent for CNN and with her podcast The Assignment with Audie Cornish. She is on a mission to rescue you from the echo chambers online and give you the real stories from the people actually involved. Please welcome to Keep It, Audie Cornish.


Audie Cornish Hey, how are you?


Ira Madison III Good.


Audie Cornish It’s nice to see you not on social media. I’m just used to seeing you guys’, your avatars.


Louis Virtel Oh, where we are our worst selves. So I’m so sorry about that. Yeah.


Audie Cornish You know, social media tends to bring that out of all of us.


Louis Virtel No, I say, just in your intro, we talked about how getting people out of their echo chambers, do you have a particular favorite or I guess least favorite way people are sort of stuck in their echo chambers when it comes to understanding certain topics or issues?


Audie Cornish You know, I think over time I’ve become a little less enamored with the. Should we be platforming this concept? Which I think especially for progressives, is very closely held and is a criticism that’s always worth thinking about. But I think sometimes it is deployed too quickly and with too little consideration for sort of the issues at hand. And the conversation when you talk about it always spirals into something loony. It’s like, well, what if it was Hitler? It’s like, okay, you know, you’ve lost once you’ve said that, right? Like, don’t use Hitler, don’t do that. And theere’s certainly.


Ira Madison III You have alot of articles.


Audie Cornish Exactly.


Ira Madison III By the way, you know.


Audie Cornish There’s certain things obviously like that I don’t feel like doing, but for editorial reasons. So is it the best case use of my time to talk to a white supremacist who’s advocating actual segregation or separation or whatever because he doesn’t think I’m human? That’s not a conversation that’s going to go anywhere. Right. And I do think we’re in an age where some of our, like white colleagues can step up and do those things in a smarter way than they might have in the past. And then there’s other things like the initial episode of the podcast. I chose kind of a topic for this reason of having these women on who were like conservative activists who were running and winning school board seats, and people were just like, why would you even talk to them? Whereas to me, I’m like, They’re now in control of somebody’s school.


Ira Madison III Mm hmm.


Speaker 2 Who are they? What do they think about? How did they get here? What drives them? I just think that there is something to be said for understanding people who pull the levers of power in particular. And I understand why I won’t. Gonna go on a rant like I understand. We’ve. We’ve abused it a little bit. You know, like, there’s been a lot of articles, some kind of soft articles on unsavory people over the years.


Ira Madison III Mm hmm.


Speaker 2 But I still think that that is part of the echo chamber. Problem is, like, I just don’t want to hear this person or that person, period.


Ira Madison III Mm hmm. I think particularly you saying, like, you know, who’s pulling the levers of power is the thing that’s interesting to me, especially, you know, like a journalist digging into something like that, it’s very different from, you know, I think we all experience, you know, the constant profiles of, like white people across America during like the Trump era, you know, very much. Who are they voting for? You know, like, I don’t care what this person who, you know, works at a gas station is talking about who they’re voting for. But let’s talk about someone who is influencing people.


Audie Cornish Yeah, but, you know, at the same time are like, was that with those stories? Was the problem the stories or was it the problem that the stories were basically nine months? Too late. Right. It’s like we were doing this digging way after the fact. Yeah. And then it was just kind of like the white supremacist next door. Like, it got weird. Whereas earlier in the process, when his enthusiasm and the rallies and all this stuff, I think there could have actually been a little more digging about what it means to be disaffected, to be a white, disaffected voter. I think that that could have applied to obviously some Bernie supporters as well. And I think the media had a way of treating these things as kind of like, well, those weirdos, who knows what’s going on there? And then after the fact, wanting to do a kind of forensic discussion. And that I agree with. Like, I understand the criticism in that context, because it’s like, well, I didn’t need this now. I needed this when he was winning the primary. You know, like, that’s when we needed to have this discussion about how this person was picking off every major establishment Republican to stand next to him who was who was cheering him on. I don’t think we did a good enough job early enough. Understanding the dynamics at play.


Louis Virtel I want to say about this podcast, though, you really cover everything. Like it’s not just this conversation makes it sound like it’s all political. But for example, you talk about people not coming back to the movies and, you know, by prestige, movies are certainly are alienating some people or a certain kind of prestige movie is going away. And I guess my question is, what is what keeps you inquisitive about all these issues? And how do you actually decide what becomes an episode since it feels like basically everything’s on the table?


Audie Cornish Yeah, I think my staff hates me for that reason. Like when I was first pitching the show, I’m like, you know, the people, the headlines are like that language is so overused that nobody got it. Everyone is like, Whatever the new girl wants to do this thing, we’re just going to let her try it. I sort of I mean, my brain works and Venn diagrams. It’s like there’s one circle, you know, that’s like, Zeitgeist. So is this something that everyone, air quotes, is talking about? And that is such an amorphous thing, right? That is a mix of social media. What’s being written about in magazines or hot takes or kind of the weird chatter that happens on like The View or talk shows, but it’s very, very surface. You know, everyone’s just like, ha ha. And then like, they move away from this thing. That’s me.


Louis Virtel That’s us. Yes, exactly.


Audie Cornish And then there’s another circle that’s like real person slash primary experience. Like, are you like actually, there probably is an Only Fans creator we can talk to, You know, like, actually there is a person we can talk to who is in the rota, who could talk about Harry and Meghan and the British press like. And we. And then the last thing is sort of, you know, what is the big question that can be asked? You can probably hear in the way structure the show and in the way I think I just like to ask questions. I’m not a person that’s like and here’s what it means, you know, and that’s the rest of the story. And like, here’s my chalkboard and string. I am just curious like everyone else. And, and so that’s what happens. We just get chattering and we’re like, should we do a Harry and Meghan thing? It’s kind of feels like, are we sick of these people? Do we love these people? What was that like? What was that media sort of blitz? You know, Blitz was probably the wrong word for that. But it’s the idea that just like helping people understand, like, what was that? What was that only fans thing? What was that? You know, Harry and Meghan thing, the movies thing is a good example where every single person I told I was doing it said, Oh, that’s weird. But you know what? Me and my brother or my uncle, like, we were arguing about going to the movie and then they would like go on this rant about why they were or were not going to the movies.


Ira Madison III Mm hmm.


Audie Cornish And that’s usually, to me, the sign of a good episode that, like, people stop talking about the episode and they just get carried away talking about the topic. They kind of continue the conversation on their own.


Louis Virtel Yeah, I feel like all the topics in your show have. Like now that you mention it, I do have an opinion about that guy.


Audie Cornish Yeah.  Exactly.


Louis Virtel You know.


Audie Cornish That’s the goal. But you know, of course it’s terrifying. I’m like, am I going to run out of ideas? Like, what’s happening here? I’m scared. And I think it helps that like, I was always sort of terrible at beats. And I used to work on a show called All Things Considered. So I am an omnivore, I’m voracious intellectually, and any time I have to sit anywhere too long, I start to get antsy and I start to be like, Yeah, but I really do want to talk about why the pros don’t do slam dunks anymore. Like, what is that like? Like, everyone is so excited talking about the slam dunk contest, but no one gave me an adequate. Reason why nobody was doing it anymore. And I’m sure there’s some complex, interesting reason why. And that’s the kind of thing that will sort of send me down the rabbit hole of it. Of an idea.


Ira Madison III Mm hmm. That’s interesting, too. You know, I’m bringing up, you know, All Things Considered from NPR era that people always joke about, you know, like the NPR voice and sort of like how you’re presented on that show. If you felt like you’ve had if you felt like you’ve either unlearn sort of how you used to speak on All Things Considered or find yourself more casual now.


Audie Cornish Well, it’s interesting because I came up in the generation that was still shadowing the sort of initial NPR crowd. So like, I’m sitting next to Robert SIEGEL, I’m sitting next to Melissa BLOCK. I’m sitting next to these people that have, like the voice that everyone’s talking about. And obviously, to some extent I have it or else I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did. And this is my voice. This is how I was talking when I was like ten and 11. Trust me, it was unnerving for everyone involved. So but as I was doing the job, podcasting starts to come into existence, right? And it brings with it a more casual. It reintroduces a kind of casual approach that NPR, I think, in its early days stayed away from because it was trying not to sound like commercial radio. Right. NPR’s coming up. And commercial radio sort of wobbling a little bit and going through consolidation. They want to sound different. And at the time, they thought they sounded pretty casual. Frankly, that’s something people don’t. They were trying to move away from the Edward the Edward Murrow years, you know, So NPR thought it was being casual and the next generation is like, you’re not casual enough. And now here we are. I would say the difference is that. Fundamentally, NPR is a really wonderfully curated and edited experience. It is about pristine editing. The sound is pristine. The choices of people they speak to are interesting, and it’s edited so well to produce so well. But I turn in a script and, you know, like 15 people would rewrite it. And I think some of the things that people are hearing now in my writing and talking and and being what you consider casual is like is me. This is actually how I talk and think and digress. And it’s just like a tiny bit less curated.


Ira Madison III Mm hmm.


Louis Virtel By the way, I think we are ripe for a return to the Edward R. Murrow years. I want to hear the cigar smoke, and I want to see someone leaning over a microphone. Eyebrows just pointed at the ground.


Audie Cornish I Oh, well, I mean, I keep trying to pitch a radio show to CNN. I’m like, it’ll be Don Imus, but not terrible like I. Have headphones. Like, if all those guys could be on TV, why can’t I be on TV? So, yeah, there’s I’m I’m going to bring it back. I’m going to bring back the audio to TV.


Louis Virtel Something you brought up in several interviews. Is this feeling you’ve had throughout your career of imposter syndrome, which to me feels crazy because you have such a traditional, as you just said, veracious inquisitiveness. So I feel like you would be almost like the engine that would run any journalistic unit wherever you go. And I’m wondering where that came from and how you find yourself breaking out of it.


Audie Cornish Oh, um, I am a black girl from Massachusetts, so that would have been baked in, you know? Sure. Immigrants. And it just comes from being an outsider, right? So much of when you look into kind of what imposter syndrome originally was envisioned, sort of how they thought about how it played out. It’s just when you’re on truly from the outside of a community and it’s very easy to be outside of a community in the Boston area if you didn’t grow up there, etc.. So there was that that was a strike. And then once I started moving in these journalism spaces, you know, I was generally the youngest person. I was generally the brown as person. I was a lot of times just one of one or two or three women. And so we had a different set generationally of like references and ideas and approaches to things. And sort of the people I would find interesting, they wouldn’t. Not because those weren’t interesting people, but they weren’t totally familiar with it. When I was coming up at NPR, I remember doing a story about Fred Thompson, who at the time was a Tennessee politician who was running for president, and for exactly 3 minutes and 32 seconds, everyone thought he had a chance. NARRATOR He did not have a chance. And I wrote in a story that he entered the room like a celebutante. And to me, at the time, celebutante was like a word people said on the Internet. And the editor was like, What does this mean? People are not going to know what this means. Like, I think we should take this out. Like, these tiny, tiny things would become like battles, like editorial battles. And so I sort of perfected the art of jamming my scripts with as many weirdo comments and references and things as I could, because I was like, Well, they can’t take them all out. And I think there’s a lot of people out there who operate the same way. Like, I actually don’t think I’m all that rare. If you look across the landscape now, I think so many creative people in podcasting are that person that didn’t quite fit and now they have found a home, you know what I mean? Sharing their ideas, and that’s what draws people to them.


Louis Virtel I can if I can boringly sidebar you for a second, I do occasionally monologues on Jimmy Kimmel where I talk about gay stuff and.


Audie Cornish That’s a flex. And I just so we’re clear.


Louis Virtel One time we did a whole thing about like, I don’t know what, but I called somebody snatched or something. Right. The straight head writers had to like exchange glances. And it is this moment of I’m not trying to revolutionize anything by using a word I hear literally every day, but I have to, like, push it to this level where you understand it’s just a very I understand what you’re saying. It’s a very like, strange moment when you’re taking something that’s just common knowledge to you. And then suddenly it’s unbelievably shocking information to whomever is put in.


Audie Cornish Or they have to be like, that’s when you suddenly understand when someone says to you, like, Well, our audience may or not. And you’re like, Who’s our? Who’s your audience? Like, Now we’re telling the truth about who you’re talking to and why and what you think might offend them or not. The flip side, I’ll just prepare you for this because it’s going to come for you one day when you age as some young person will walk up to you and go, Hey, so do you know what this word means? And then you’ll be like, Yay or nay, And then they’ll turn around to their friends like, Oh, okay. They know, like we can use our word. The old person said snatched. And you’re just like, Oh, my God. You’re like, staring into the middle distance. Like, Oh, this. I knew this day would come, but not so quickly. Not so quickly.


Ira Madison III One thing that’s so interesting to me is, one, when you look at your IMDB. Uh.


Audie Cornish Oh my God, why would you do that? I can’t believe I have one.


Ira Madison III That is what we do here.


Audie Cornish What is on there? Like random cameos on adult animation.


Ira Madison III Yeah, So it’s so hilarious that it says it’s so IMDB always has been known for like at the top and it’s like maybe one of your most popular credits. And for you it says known for BoJack Horseman.


Audie Cornish BoJack Horseman. First on that show is the Bomb. Yeah, I love that show.


Ira Madison III And that just brought me to the thing that, um, yes, I feel like so many anchors are at this point, you know, have IMDB credits because it’s always it’s commonplace now to see someone, you know, like Anderson Cooper playing himself in a movie or something like that. Is that something that you find fun and interesting? Were you just like a BoJack Horseman fan? Or were you like um, or is this something that you’d also love to do? Would you love to be in, you know, like Independence Day three?


Audie Cornish Yeah.


Ira Madison III Aliens are attacking.


Audie Cornish I would, I would if they’re. Yeah, they need a jet fighter. I have to be honest with you. I am not a big fan of performing yourself in a news setting in fiction. I don’t actually think that is what I’m going to do, ever. So I actually did that and the show work in progress, which is amazing. But in it it was like a dream sequence. And I appeared like at the kitchen table with someone and talked to them in a very personal way. And that was on the border for me. You know, I feel really like. My credibility is all I have, and it’s in this environment, super duper fragile. And I really try and avoid anything that feels a little bit celebrity seeking or making me or what I do a joke or part of a fake depiction of how our job works was people already have such dumb ideas about how we do our jobs. Frankly, it does not improve when I see it on film. So while I’m a I’m a huge fan of that kind of thing, like when I see my coworkers do it, I remember one scene, I think it was like Daniel Schorr in the game or something, and I was just like, Oh, this is incredible for me. I feel really uncomfortable doing it. And I think that’s probably why you’ve noticed I have done stuff that’s like animation or, you know, something that’s like an Easter egg for people who are going to get a kick out of hearing like The Voice in a different context.


Ira Madison III On your idea of not being, you know, like celebrity seeking and not wanting you to perform yourself. You do have an interest in performance, though,. It feels like, you know.


Audie Cornish I don’t.


Ira Madison III You don’t at all? Okay.


Audie Cornish No. I hate performing myself. I hateTik Tok. Like, this is like I’m like, wait, I perform for billionaires in an algorithm and they don’t pay me. What the hell deal is this? This is trash. It’s the same thing with Instagram. There’s this all this pressure to be not just the best version of yourself, but a commodity, commoditized and and kind of hyper polished, branded version of yourself is really quite awful. You know what I mean? Like. Like I’m not an entertainer and I’m not paid to entertain. And and what I do is not entertaining. Now, if you have some laughs along the way, if you if I can bring something to you that feels additive and add value to you, understanding the human experience, I’m all for it. But like doing a dance, You know what I mean? Like just for the likes. Like this is a picture of me on vacation. I don’t love it. I don’t love it. I think it’s great for actual entertainers and the pressure to do it as a news person has grown so much. You know, it’s really intense and it’s been one of the harder parts for me in terms of coming to television is, you know, being asked like, well, your brand X, Y and Z, And I’m like, I’m not a brand. I’m not a product. That’s very hard right now to say to anyone.


Louis Virtel I just want to say I want to go back to what you said about not performing as yourself in like movies or TV or something. There is such a slight difference between watching, say, like like the host of The Tonight Show appear in a movie and then like a real life journalist. It’s like you guys aren’t the same thing. And like, I shouldn’t be getting like this, like endorphin from recognizing this person behaving like they’re being a journalist. Right? I’ve never thought about that before.


Audie Cornish It’s it’s like, probably innocuous, but I do I give myself pretty strict guardrails in general because I really I really want to stay focused. And I am realizing as I’ve made this transition into a different space, it is incredibly easy to suddenly be focused on yourself just because of the way kind of TV production works, the way celebrity works, the way advertising in a way works, right? Like you guys are having me on as a guest to talk about the podcast and you feel like it will appeal to your audience, etc.. And in the past, I just didn’t do any of that because it was like, Why would you talk to me? You know, like you should just talk to whatever the story is about. And I sort of come around to the idea of like. I can shine my light on these other voices. If I take advantage of it. Do you know what I mean? Like, so now everyone might listen to this podcast full of total weird, interesting, wild, divergent voices and ideas because they heard me with you. And that’s valuable. You know, every audience you reach out to is valuable. And I wanted to get out of my own echo chamber, so to speak. Right? I wanted to get out of the NPR bubble. Mm hmm. So here I am. You can tell me if it’s working.


Louis Virtel My book. In my opinion you did it.


Audie Cornish I don’t even know. Every day, I’m just like, What am I doing? What am I doing?


Ira Madison III I find the concept, you know, of, you know, audiences even learning about something new, like so interesting, not just, you know, like people we book for Keep It, you know, but it’s just like, you know, reading like a magazine, you know, reading like Vulture or something. You know, like it might be like someone because I’m reading it in general, like someone who I’m not necessarily interested in. I look at that and then you look up, you know, the book that they wrote or something sad. I’m just constantly intrigued by how people process things that aren’t necessarily for them or they might not know were for them. I guess it goes back to you saying, you know, like when someone would be like, this isn’t what our audience says, you know? But it’s so interesting because I feel like maybe it’s, you know, being black, maybe it’s, you know, like me and Louis being gay. You know, it’s you know, it’s like we are I feel like we are constantly consuming culture and media that isn’t necessarily for us. And the people making it aren’t thinking about us when they’re making it. For some reason, we are constantly consuming it and intrigued by it.


Audie Cornish Yeah, and there’s so much amazing programing now that does appeal to affinity audiences, so to speak. And some of my friends, as we were coming up, we would have this debate, you know, like, Oh, is it better for me to work on the black show that they’re making? Is it better for me to work on this, the big national show, but like, have to beat my head against the wall every day to pitch a story about other communities? And we’ve all taken sort of different paths. Like, Sam Sanders is a great example, you know, of somebody who’s just like really reaching out to an audience that identifies with him along with a national audience. And I kind of have to admit I just took the harder path. Like I’ve just spent years and years muscling my way to the table so that the next person doesn’t have to have the dumb fight, you know, and the next person doesn’t have to make the explanation and mentoring people. And even now coming to CNN like CNN is a kind of a headline news place. So if I’m going to be value added, then I’m going to bring you behind the headline and just slow things down and make something complimentary to what they do. Like, I try and put a lot of thought into. How do I talk about people? Like you’ll notice on the pot, I never say anyone’s race. Ever. But the guests are super diverse. But like in my old job, you would just routinely hear all the time, just like so-and-so is black, So-and-so is right. As like, I get that it’s radio, but come on, you know, like context clues matter. And also, sometimes it doesn’t matter. You know, if I bring on a business owner and they’re Latino, they’re not a Latino business owner like they’re a business owner. If someone comes on and their pronouns are they and them, I’m just referring to it. There’s no use to be was known as like blah, blah, blah. And a lot of times people tell you in the course of the interview, like who they are, they just say it. So it’s the stuff that’s so minor, but to me is trying to be what I want to see in the news business.


Louis Virtel I just want to say that, by the way, you could also sell the concept of the dumb fight as a podcast right in the room. I think we could.


Audie Cornish It really is. Everyone in every office has one fight. That’s the dumb fight. And it’s it happens over and over again with different, like Christmas ornaments hanging off it. You know what I mean? It’s like, Oh, this time the fights about X, it’s like, no, at the end of the day, it’s still about this thing. Whatever it is, generational or racial or like a class thing. Like, I just feel like every newsroom certainly has that.


Ira Madison III Yeah. The idea too, of people telling you who they are in conversation is basically just the sort of concept of reading in general, right? You know, I feel like now since we we get something like adaptations of like classic books or things, you get people online upset that like, this is a you know, this person was written as white or like, this is how, you know, like I perceived this person. But I’m just, you know, like a lot of classic literature or things that you would that I grew up reading. It’s it’s doesn’t open up with you know like Gatsby was had white pale skin, you know and like brown hair. You know, you read something and there are no descriptions like that. And you can assume that maybe, you know, like they’re you could assume they were writing about white people because you’re, you know, Fitzgerald And, you know, Hemingway, like they’re writing about white people. But as you’re reading it, you’re reading it and telling yourself a story and you’re not being sort of boxed into a journey immediate.


Audie Cornish Yeah. And for the I think for I still have people who will say like, oh my goodness, I didn’t know you were black. Like, oh, my goodness, I’m so surprised. Happily, sure. But like, to me, that’s good. You know, like I’m bom. You should love me no matter what. And I’m like, Let’s go along on this ride together. And it’s really hard to talk like that in this day and age. I think it’s just like far more profitable to be like, I need to speak to my audience because no one is paying attention to them and blah, blah, blah. Whereas I’m like, There’s also a way to center the people you care about in a discussion that hasn’t been done that way before. And like, maybe you have that power, maybe you have that skill.


Ira Madison III I get you. I mean, I grew up with the name Ira. I love surprising people too. Surprising people with the fact that I’m like black.


Louis Virtel You don’t look like the Gershwins. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Every job interview at a high school and college.


Louis Virtel Audie CORNISH, thank you so much for being here. And your podcast is so fun. And by the way, a snap. It’s like a half hour and I learn about something.


Audie Cornish So I definitely like short podcast, spread the word.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Audie Cornish We’re doing it for an hour and ten. Stop.


Louis Virtel Yeah. Oh, you think we’re you think we stop at an hour or ten? Something’s wrong with us over here.


Audie Cornish So I just I’m like, I listen in between dealing with my kids. And I said, that was the one thing I said to myself. I was like, This needs to be mom sized so that you listen on the walking the dog, you listen, whatever. Like, I’m still that NPR girl in a way. I’m still, like, thinking about you all listening. I see you all listening in my mind. And I’m making it for these imaginary people out there that I can see. And I’m so glad you’re all interested. And along for the ride.


Ira Madison III I know a half an hour is very ideal of, like the bold and the Beautiful, you know, like 30 minutes in the middle of the afternoon. Okay.


Audie Cornish I love it. I love.


Ira Madison III Well, thank you so much for being here.


Louis Virtel Yeah. God, what a pleasure.


Audie Cornish No, no, it’s great. And like I said, I have followed you guys for a long time, and I love the pod.


Louis Virtel God, we’re so sorry, Jesusu. Jump ship at any time.


Audie Cornish I remember at the end of the day of doing sad news, like, I really want to get out of my own head. I really want to listen to something else. And so it’s right up my alley, like, I appreciate what you do.


Louis Virtel That is unbelievably complimentary. Thank you so much.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Thank you so much.


Speaker 2 Yeah, we need it. Trust me, it’s like dark times. So Keep It up.


Speaker 4 Listen to The Assignment every Thursday, wherever you get your podcasts. When we’re back. Kelly Ripa.




Ira Madison III Kelly and Ryan are dead.


Louis Virtel Thank you Tom Stoppard.


Ira Madison III Kelly and Ryan is dead. Long live Kelly and Mark. Now that Kelly is working with her husband, Mark Consuelos. So we finally have our host that is not threatened by the power Kelly Ripa brings.


Louis Virtel Oh, for once.


Ira Madison III You know, with her luminous blond hair and just effervescent personality.


Louis Virtel One of my favorite lines ever on Billy on the Street. I did not write this. This precedes my time. I think Billie is talking to Andy Cohen. And he says, And you’re friends with Kelly Ripa and his lovely wife, Mark Consuelos. And something about that makes me scream. So good.


Ira Madison III I have always been a fan of Kelly Ripa.


Louis Virtel Sure. Imagine not being a fan of Kelly Ripa. She is just shows up, is ratty, is immediately guileless to the point, engages your guests and she’ll be like the nastiest person on screen if she has to be.


Ira Madison III And I think what I think that maybe, like, you know, listen, I was never an ABC soap person so much like, I mostly want One Life to Live in college. But, you know, she was on All My Children with Mark.


Louis Virtel Yes.


Ira Madison III That’s sort of where they met. And I think that, you know, growing up on like a soap opera and being a teenager and having your, you know, love interest be there, who then becomes your husband in real life, I think that’s also why so many people of a generation older than us are like attached to Kelly Ripa.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right. I think also, just like you can jump into her show and pull vibe at any point. It’s never like you’re missing anything about Kelly Ripa. You could start watching her today and just be like, Oh, this is somebody who is extremely relatable. And there’s no she’s not attempting to be cool in any way. She’s never above any conversation or behind. I would almost compare her to someone like Gayle King who, like, just knows who everybody is. Just like, you know, like if Gayle King went up to if you know who Danny Directo is, he’s on Entertainment Tonight and he’s just like this, like gay, super giddy, awesome guy. Journalist. And she came up to him and knew exactly who he was. She just like somebody. There’s certain types of people who just want to know everybody. And Kelly Ripa is one of those people.


Ira Madison III Who is Kelly’s Oprah?


Louis Virtel Meaning as and who inspired her?


Ira Madison III Well, no. Well, you know, Gayle is a girl.


Louis Virtel Oh, I see. Oh, gosh. Well, would that be Andy Cohen?


Ira Madison III Maybe. I don’t know if I want to think about Andy Cohen being Oprah.


Louis Virtel Right. I mean, like I mean.


Ira Madison III What he does is he does have a lot of intense sit downs like Oprah.


Louis Virtel Yeah. I mean, I maintain that Andy Cohen is my favorite interviewer when it comes to legendary actors or actresses, by the way. Speaking of, we’re getting into a conversation of what makes a host interesting. We did not get really into the death of Barbara Walters when she passed away. I was watching old interviews with her recently. I’m sorry. Barbara routinely dropped the ball. She was like she was like so surface level or like so asking like an obvious question or so. Just like I never got the sense that she had, like, her own real insights. And for example, she was talking to Bette Davis once. And by the way, Betty Davis gives you false hope about the coolness of old celebrities because she is so fucking funny all the time. It makes no sense. Like she was barely a writer anyway. But Barbara Walters goes in my favorite movie of yours, All About Eve. You’re torn between your career and your husband. No, she’s not. What the fuck are you talking about? It’s about. It’s in the title. It’s All About Eve. What are you talking about?


Ira Madison III I’m going to go out on a limb and say Barbara Walters never seen All about Eve.


Louis Virtel That’s how I feel about it. And I feel like someone like Kelly Ripa is just genuinely interested in who she is talking to, no matter what it is, which we were just talking to Audie CORNISH. That’s a rare quality, you know, even among so-called journalists, even among, you know, genteel talk show hosts.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I mean, I feel like we, you know, have at least the privilege of, you know, deciding who we’re going to talk to. You know, it’s a weekly podcast. You know, it’s not right. We’re not on Good Morning America. You’re not on The Talk. You know, you’re not on a late night show where someone. You know, is booked just because they’re hot, you know, And it’s got to be I always find people who are interested in other people so interesting because, I mean, I don’t know, going going back to, you know, when I did Colbert to talk about Keep It, the fact that he, you know, was like had read up on what it was, had listened to an episode or something, you know, was like interested in who I was, me, this person. I’m like, there’s no reason Stephen Colbert, should know, who the fuck I am, You know.


Louis Virtel This is a fraud. Right.


Ira Madison III And we joked about that on the show, too, you know, And I just always think about your know, you’re a real good interview with a person who is just interested in people. If you can make an interview interesting with someone who now has their first starring role on a TV show or is featured in a movie, because those people, it’s usually like they’ve never been interviewed before in this capacity.


Louis Virtel So they kind of don’t know the rules of what’s out of bounds either.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel Not that they’ll say the wrong thing, but like they’ll bring up stuff, you know, they’ll be excited to chat.


Ira Madison III Maybe they’ll have a funny story. Maybe it’s but, you know, it’s like those are always the people. It’s like because how do you make someone who nobody tuning in knows who the fuck this person is? Really.


Louis Virtel Right.


Ira Madison III How do you make them interesting or how do you get them? How do you ask them the right questions to help them be interesting, you know? And that’s why I brought up Cobra, because I felt like he asked the interesting questions to just get me talking about pop culture and making jokes about it.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III And I think that’s what an interviewer has to do, is you have to be sort of interested in someone as a person or just interested in people in general to get them to talk about things. And yes, Barbara Walters never really was interested in what people wanted to say about things. More often than not, I feel like people were resharing clips too, of like, you know, her being just sort of like, awful, like the like the Katharine Hepburn, you know.


Louis Virtel Also. And Katharine Hepburn absolutely decimating her ass. Yeah. It’s it’s so crazy how hard Barbara goes down on that video.


Ira Madison III But it was a lot of the interviews were her sort of sharing her rude opinions about things to the people she was interviewing.


Louis Virtel Right. And doing it just kind of with a straight face and saying, you know, but they would say in response, we I mean, a talk show we’ve talked about a lot on this show that I still think is the gold standard. Exactly. In the regards you’re talking about is the Rosie O’Donnell Show. Because, for instance, take how obsessed she was with Broadway. She would have Broadway actors on. And of course, half of America does not know. But, you know, at the time what Stomp was or what. But any of those. You’re a good man, Charlie Brown. Like she basically introduced Kristin Chenoweth to the rest of the world, who, by the way, great interview. If you listen to that Keep It episode, she was A-plus. But it’s like you need the confidence or what I like in an interviewer on a talk show is they have the confidence to know that their enthusiasm is an amazing conduit for other people to express their enthusiasm. And I think that’s a quality I really usually just associate with women. I don’t really think of too many. Like I work for Jimmy Kimmel. I think he gets people excited, but it’s not really an ebullience thing. He knows everything, so he has a really good memory and he can tap into people that way. But like growing up, men like the Rosie O’Donnell, just like. Her obsessiveness, her. I’m going to bring up that weird movie you are, and I’m going to bring up that person, you know. Oh, we have this mutual friend. Okay, let’s move it a lot. It’s just like the the energy is what’s so exciting in interviews like that.


Ira Madison III Well, and it’s so funny that you brought up, you know, people being afraid to be, quote unquote, cringe earlier. Yeah, right. You know, because I feel like Rosie O’Donnell, you watch those episodes, you might call that cringe now, you know. Yeah. Oh, I remember when, you know, we used to get comments online. People were going like, why are they so excited about these people they’re interviewing sometimes they’re like, you know, telling them like, oh, you’re great in this. It’s like, why is it a bad thing to be fans of people, you know, or to be interested in what you’re talking about? Because Rosie O’Donnell interviewing people that she was actually interested in was more fun to watch because she’s coming from an insight of like, I care about this thing and I want you to care about it, too.


Louis Virtel And this is something I think a lot about in regards to whenever I watch like an awards red carpet, you see like E correspondents who it’s their job to be literally enthusiastic for everybody. There’s not their job description is not to be critical. So they have to figure out this other way to seem human while talking to famous people and not just seem like they’re being kind of steamrolled by the PR machine that’s led that celebrity to being there.


Ira Madison III You know who is so fucking good? Laverne Cox.


Louis Virtel But now I was going to say, I feel like Laverne Cox could stand to be a little bit saucier with these people. But you’re telling me that.


Ira Madison III You know what I feel like the ones that go viral with Laverne, I feel like she’s saucy with people she knows. She knows a lot of people to them, like a Kelly Ripa sort of way. I feel like the people that Laverne knows, she gets like, more personable with them, you know?


Louis Virtel Yeah. I mean, you know who I do love are Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski. When they meet anybody, it’s like they don’t delete the part of their brain that is that that has like a slightly loaded joke or a slight, you know, their own perspective. I think I if I’m watching somebody give an interview, I need to have the sense that they’ve had opinions about this before and that they’re not just there to appease. And I know the feeling as we’re sitting here, like we want people to feel comfortable. So you want to be somewhat comforting, but at the same time, you have to be bringing this other brain into the situation, too. You have to be bringing a little a sense of, but everybody out there has opinions, so I need to share mine too, you know?


Ira Madison III Yeah, I feel like the ones I hate the most are always someone who’s on the red carpet and it’s like. Now. Now, you said something very funny that people were talking about, like on line the other day. You know, it’s like I know I’m thinking about like when Omar Apollo made the joke, but when someone asked him if he was gay online and he says, Yeah, I sucked it.


Louis Virtel Right.


Ira Madison III And I think it was like, I don’t know, like Marc Malkin or something like was asking him like on the red carpet about that. And I was just like, those things always feel so like older person trying to find out if this younger person is cool or like just trying to like, be in, you know, And it doesn’t feel natural to me.


Louis Virtel That that’s also an interesting situation where I think a gay journalist is trying to zero in on the gay space. That’s like this interview. It’s like, it’s like because I’m gay, can I ask this question that other people can’t ask? And, you know, it’s just like a fascinating question, you know.


Ira Madison III Because he does tend to ask gay questions of gay celebrities more, which is interesting because we’ve it’s I like when those do happen because we rarely see that on a red carpet, too, you know?


Louis Virtel Right, right, right, right. You know, I’m totally.


Ira Madison III Bringing up Rosie O’Donnell, by the way, there was a clip that was I forget who showed it. Maybe Danny Pellegrino or someone else shared it, but.


Louis Virtel Almost certainly was him.


Ira Madison III Yes, It was this clip of Rosie O’Donnell, Celine Dion and Richard Simmons doing a cooking segment. And it is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life because it put those three personalities together was. Insane. And it’s Richard Simmons doing a segment about, like low fat food, too. And Rosie O’Donnell is like, I want to eat this low fat shit. And it’s like, try to get Celine Dion, you know? But whatever Rosie’s like out of like, that’s what I don’t want to eat that. Like, virtually, like, take the food he throws him on the floor. It’s like, okay, we’re not eating that.


Louis Virtel Also, all three of those people in their own way are like, true foghorn. I can’t believe you got them all together. Also, Celine is such a crazy person because, you know, Celine eats like one out of every 17,000 food items. You know, that’s like a very strict diet. She did some interview once, or she was like, No dairy products. No. And she went through all 90 of the things she doesn’t eat.


Ira Madison III And that’s one of my favorite genre of celebrity, is talking about their diets, Of course. I mean, the thing Angela Bassett did was talking about her Ezekiel bread. That interview.


Louis Virtel Also that rant about what she eats and doesn’t. I mean, it was almost like iambic pentameter, what she was going through, like to the beat. She had this down. But I mean, the era of Richard Simmons on a talk show, there are there are only like two or three real wild card guests where you would just bring them on. And look, I’m sure one day I know we had like the Richard Simmons Renaissance a couple of years ago with that podcast, but I still feel like all the stories have not come out about how Richard Simmons would go on a show and just grope half the staff. I’m sorry. Something is not right about what was going on there. And believe me, I grew up on sweatin to the oldies. I love Richard Simmons, but something was so uncontained about what he brought as a guest and just as a person. And I don’t know that talk shows can recover from whatever he brought.


Ira Madison III That’s also it era of a celebrity that doesn’t exist anymore. Just that kind of celebrity who will appear and then, oh, you know what I’m doing? You know, I’m just going to start doing jumping jacks in the middle of the interview.


Louis Virtel Right. It’s also like because the kind of celebrity he was and what he represented, you know, he had like VHS tapes he would want out of that. So now dominated in an influencer space. And that’s like a you know, you have to be cool or you have to be put together. It’s not about being like, who is zany anymore? You have like a Billy Porter type, I guess. But that’s.


Ira Madison III Even though that’s a more controlled. And it’s like it’s less chaotic for lack of a better term, you know, like a Billy Porter or like a Sam Smith moment, too, you know, it’s less like I don’t know what’s going to happen in this interview. I mean, when Billy Porter’s in an interview, you sort of know what’s going to happen, you know, like he’s going to look like one of the furniture pieces from Beauty and the Beast.


Louis Virtel And, you know, yeah, a couple of moments, a couple of lines where he ends in a scream.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And, you know, talking about like this industry didn’t this industry didn’t want me as a black gay fagot. And now I’m here. Ryan Murphy. And here we go.


Louis Virtel  Right. All right. And we’ll throw out a break.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Yeah. But there’s. There’s less chaos. I miss chaos. I feel like I miss chaos. And I miss, you know, the interviewer could handle chaos, I guess.


Louis Virtel And I think someone like Kelly Ripa knows she is hosting a very controlled environment that’s not chaotic. So she’s introducing snippets of her own personality. And I don’t want to say chaotic way, but in a, you know, rambunctious way. So I think that is kind of what we need going forward in order to make this format of show remain interesting.


Ira Madison III Speaking of morning chaos, I wish celebrities still did this are specifically pop stars. I missed the era of like the Nicole Scherzinger, Fergie, like in leather pants grinding on a stage at 8 a.m. in front of a crowd in New York.


Louis Virtel Oh, I mean, your lips to God’s ears. Fergie, in that performance, we brought this up before on the show, but as you know, she did a performance of I actually don’t remember what.


Ira Madison III Barracuda. Which was.


Louis Virtel Oh, yes.


Ira Madison III Her cover of Heart’s Barracuda, which was on the I believe, Shrek three soundtrack, maybe two Shrek Heads. Please stay out of my DMS. It’s one of those. It’s one of those.


Louis Virtel Yeah, but she ends up doing one handed cartwheels. And, you know, in an in a Debose-ian fashion, we don’t know where this is coming from or why it’s occurring, really, but people are just standing astounded. And it’s like it’s it’s so much that you can’t react at all, that kind of thing.


Ira Madison III It is amazing that that woman gave us three iconic live performances. That.


Louis Virtel The national anthem recording.


Ira Madison III Yes. And also singing Live and Let Die. And there’s like a cord attached to her head and she’s being flown around the stage. It is truly mesmerizing.


Louis Virtel Wow. I mean, like flying around the stage. That’s something, you know, Pink does with some a line. But when Fergie does it, you know, I’m calling the cops. It’s a little crazy.


Ira Madison III The Dutchess, still an iconic album, no skips. And also. I thought she was a real duchess.


Louis Virtel Even though in the title it’s spelled with a T because it’s like dutch about like, marijuana.


Ira Madison III Yeah, yeah, yeah. A lot of people don’t get that.


Louis Virtel Yeah. Did you maybe just get it now?


Ira Madison III Oh, maybe so. Oh. Which is weird, because I’m always explaining to people that Rihanna’s album Loud is called Loud because it’s a reference to marijuana.


Louis Virtel I actually did not know that. But as you know, marijuana and I don’t agree with each other. So, I


Ira Madison III And I would never agree with being in a room where you’re on marijuana.


Louis Virtel Oh, God.


Ira Madison III You thought reefer madness was scary.


Louis Virtel But by the way, last note on this conversation. I do think Drew Barrymore for bringing us up.


Ira Madison III She’s chaotic.


Louis Virtel Unhinged quality. Yes, that’s unhinged. Like when she did that Megan thing and Allison Williams sat there with her hands on her face like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. That was frightening for everybody. And we need people to be a little bit scary.


Ira Madison III There’s always something so funny about a celebrity who’s part of something that captures the zeitgeist, but it’s like, okay, every interview they do now is going to be like someone doing something weird. And a reference to that, like Allison Williams is is never going to get away from Megan references now.


Louis Virtel No, which that’s a scary place to be. That’s its own horror movie.


Ira Madison III Good for her. You know, because she she’s been a part of a lot of things, to be honest. You know, she probably prefers this to talking about the rimming theme on Girls or, you know, Peter Pan, if you remember that.


Louis Virtel Oh, my God. Peter Pan, where she looked like, you know, the cutest six foot Twink that ever lived.


Ira Madison III All right. Well, back to what we initially talked about. I’m intrigued to see what Kelly and Mark is actually like as a show. You know, it’s think like starring a couple like husband and wife, like hosting a show.


Louis Virtel Yeah. How much the can they possibly reveal about their real lives in that space? I hope it devolves to a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf type bitter spat thing we get to see every so often.


Ira Madison III Well, no. That would be live with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.


Louis Virtel He gets to be henpecked and she gets to be Alpha. Love it. Love to see it.


Ira Madison III I can’t believe they did Plaza Suite together. They were in the same place at the same time for several days in a row. Shocking.


Louis Virtel Also, they might still be doing Plaza Suite. Who knows?


Ira Madison III All right. When we’re back, we are joined by the Swedish sensation Zar Larsson.


Louis Virtel <AD>.


Ira Madison III Today we are talking to an industry powerhouse who’s been blowing mind since she was ten years old, a Swedish sensation. Her fourth album drops this year, and the lead single Can’t Tame Her is what I call an absolute banger. Welcome to Keep It, Zara Larsson.


Zara Larrson Hey.


Ira Madison III Hi.


Zara Larrson Hi.


Ira Madison III It’s so nice to have you here. And I think we have Luis’s first question is, why are Swedish people just so good at pop music?


Louis Virtel Why? What is it?


Ira Madison III What is going on over there?


Louis Virtel Why are you better than us?


Zara Larrson Yeah, it’s a good question. I get it a lot. So to answer,  all the Swedes, I would say, you know, there’s probably a million different reasons why. If we’re beating like, favorites with it. I think one of the reasons is that we get like, we have a Social Security like net work going on. I think you can chase your dreams and put some time into art and what you feel like is fulfilling for your soul. And not be scared of like ending up on the street because you can’t pay rent or like, can’t buy food because you would get funding from the state. And I think also, I’m lucky to be born into like this era because so many people before me have kind of paved the way. And I think once one person is doing it and then like another person is doing it, all of the people that will come after them will have an easier time. That’s just how it works in the world. So I think we’ve just been really lucky. And then that the way we speak is the language because we’re not like very poetic. I think when people think about good pop songs, it’s usually like the melodies and like production and it’s all, you know, it’s pop and it’s fun, but it still has a little bit of like depth to it, I would say like in the melody, because we’re a little sad up there. We’re sad that it’s very dark. Even though it’s pop, there’s still a feeling of like, melancholy, which really brings out like. Dimension in pop music? I don’t know. Yeah.


Louis Virtel You’re totally right. When I listen to the songs I’m thinking about, there is it’s this combination of what I would call, like the, like, perfect rhythms and then also a lingering sort of poetic. I guess melancholy is the only word for it. Like there’s there’s that there’s a push and pull there that makes it interesting and better than what we do here.


Zara Larrson Thank you. Yeah, you said that.


Ira Madison III I mean, yeah, I mean, even the ABBA songs are, you know, are. They’re sad.


Zara Larrson They are sad. You listen to it, you’re like, Oh, my God. Like, that’s a hobby at all. It does have some, like, melancholy to it. And I think we we’re not that happy. I mean, we like, we were good with, I guess the sense of. Like living standards. I think we’re all happy, but we get sad. Get down with the sadness, I think.


Louis Virtel I just think in general, the best pop has. Like there’s some irony layered into how it sounds compared to what is being said. Like, I don’t know if you’re a fan of the song Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox, but in that song, you know, she’s I’m walking on Broken glass, like literally proclaiming I’m in terrible pain, but the melody is so banging. It’s like, Hey, what are we act? What’s actually being said here? It’s so interesting, you know?


Zara Larrson No, it’s so true. It’s so true. It’s like Dayglow’s Crying on the Dance Floor.


Louis Virtel Totally. Yes. Absolutely.


Zara Larrson Robyn, Queen that.


Louis Virtel Right? Right. Robyn really has done something special in that world of I’m my life could not be worse and this beat could not be better.


Zara Larrson Exactly.


Louis Virtel Now, speaking of your new song, how long does it take to polish a song like this into banger status? Because what I’m listening to this, it really feels smooth too. A just an incredible finish like it must have taken. And how much did it sound like exactly what you had conceived when you were writing it?


Zara Larrson No, it sounds pretty much exactly the same. And I don’t know, sometimes it’s just magic happens. I mean, I wrote it with MNEK, who was one of my absolute top, top writers in the world. I think he’s like, so incredibly tale.


Ira Madison III I’m friends with Uzo. I love Uzo


Zara Larrson Uzo, love to death. He’s incredible. And he’s also a very funny person. And I love him. And, you know, we we wrote my first ever song that I wrote together. I mean, he’s you know, he’s been doing it for a while, but my son I ever wrote was never Forget You. And he was like, fully confident in that room. So that felt great. And ever since, we’ve just been collaborating a lot. And I think also like growing up and just feel a bit more secure in what I like and what I want to sing and like just take up space in a room. It’s always nice, but when you do with somebody that you know, it feels even more like comfortable. So how I like to do it is because we had like three days together and how I like to do it is to just start like a couple of different songs. You maybe write a verse and you write a chorus, and then you move on to the next song and the next beat, and then you write a verse and a chorus, and then like day two or three, you will kind of pick out like the favorites, the snippets that you did and finish them. But when we started Can’t Tame Her, all of a sudden, we we had written like the second verse, and that’s always a really good sign because you just want to be with the song, you don’t want to move on. So we wrote it like really quick. It felt great. We were listening to this like late seventies, early eighties tracks and like, let’s do something like this, because in general, my album will it will sound like it’s a little bit of like. You know, it’s a little bit of everything. So I wouldn’t say this single represents the rest of the album, but I don’t really feel like any song does. So I really love it. And me and Uzo, we have previously written songs in Third Person, which I also think is quite fun, that it’s not like I’m crazy, like I’m going out, I’m having fun. It’s like she she crazy like she’s going out. I and like, it could be me. I don’t know. Which is like telling a story, you know? And yeah, it when it went really quick and literally, like I did some co-production with the drums to just make it sound like, you know, but in general it was just it’s just done just like that. And I kept it like, like play it again, Play it again and again and again. Play it again. Like I couldn’t get enough of it. And that’s just what I want from a song, really, to just that like replay value. And I just don’t get tired of it. And to me, honestly, it just gets better and better. And so, yeah, I feel really happy.


Ira Madison III And so like, what would you say some of your favorite I guess music influences growing up were or just like even sort of form, you know, your sort of vocabulary for the kind of music you like. I mean, you’re also talking about working with Danger and you’ve worked with Max Martin too, and these are like the pop gods, they’ve crafted, Like they ran the 2000s.


Zara Larrson Totally totally.


Ira Madison III You know. Like.


Zara Larrson Yeah. I mean, and still do, you know, I think growing up funny enough, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but like, I was never really a huge music fan. I was a huge performance fan. Like what I was watching was like live performances of my favorite girlies, you know, big voices. I love a vocalist. Beyonce is obviously my number one. Whitney Houston. Celine Dion. Like Christina Aguilera. My mom loves like, like old, you know, Aretha Franklin, like Etta James. They just like big voices, like soulful voices. So growing up, I was never really, like, into like, oh, like this guitar beat. I was listening to whatever. I felt like I would do a performance in the mirror, too, you know? And that was usually like, you know, because I like Beyonce when use them like. So those were my influencers or they were influencing me growing up just because I wanted to be on stage. And like when I everything that I was doing was just standing in the mirror. I was pretending I had a stadium in front of me. And that was all that I did. Literally that those all that I did after school, I would hang out with friends and then we’ll go home and I’ll be like shows. I’m like, Yeah, yeah.


Louis Virtel How often do you find yourself having to, like, fight to protect the thing that kept you propelled into this career when you were a kid? I mean, like, you’ve done it for now so long it’s been like 15 years and now it’s, you know, the thing you do to make money. It’s not just the thing you do to, like, feel to feel the fantasy, so to speak. How what do you feel? You have to fight to protect that thing.


Zara Larrson Interesting question. I think. Yes. Sometimes, you know, I do ask myself, I’m like, do I really, really want this or do I have I just tricked myself into thinking I want this because it’s all I’ve ever known my whole life. Like I’ve been so determinated since I was like this small that it’s like, is this really what I want? Or is this just autopilot? Like, have I put myself in a box, you know? But I find myself just feeling so joyful and, like, truly happy when I get to this thing. And maybe that’s like a universal. Human thing. I think everybody feels good when they think, especially together with people. But I feel like I’m kind of born as. An entertainer. So if I weren’t saying, I would probably, I don’t know, do podcasts, maybe host radio, I would maybe act. I would. Maybe I’ll be a fucking standup comedian. Like, I don’t care. I would just I like I crave the validation of like, stranger so bad that I would put myself on stage no matter what it was. And then I just happened to be like, good at singing from an early age. So, you know, they just merged really well together. But I still feel happy when I sing. And I think as long as I feel that I will just keep doing it. And I actually really like all parts of being an artist, like I really like promo days. I really like going to the race. Some people don’t, but I like love going to the radio station, like work for fun and show up, have some glam come in over in the morning, and then you go and you talk about yourself and like stuff you love and then you go home, like Dream day for me.


Louis Virtel That by the way, I don’t hate stand up for you, by the way. I don’t hate it. I can feel the formation of a joke. I think you’d love crafting. I think it’d be fun having that joke.


Zara Larrson And I love like, I don’t know, like, I like I like people to feel maybe a part of it is like escape from your regular world. Like, that was what I was doing when I was younger, and I will stand in the mirror like I was in my own fantasy and I was really not that I needed to like escape from my reality. I was just bored, I think. And it’s so nice to just be in your head and like, it’s a form of daydreaming, I guess, and like manifestation also kind of somehow. And yeah, I just really like that.


Ira Madison III Mm hmm. This is all making so much sense. Because I would also say that, um, one thing, especially about being a current pop star, is that there’s all this promo that goes into it, but also, you know, like staying in touch with, like, fans on social media and promoting your music that way. You are truly one of the few people I feel like. Like I love following you on TikTok.


Zara Larrson Oh, you do?


Ira Madison III Where you actually enjoy interacting with fans. Like you’re so fucking funny on TikTok for one.


Zara Larrson I’m shy on Tik Tok. I feel like I should post more. Thank you though. I really appreciate it.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I just like how. How do you feel being so tapped into what I guess are what we would call like Stan culture online. You know, especially for like a young woman in pop music. Yeah. You know, you, you get those moments where everyone’s like, if your song isn’t charting, you know, for ten weeks at number one, they call you a flop.


Zara Larrson I know. No, it truly is like that. And I think I like it used to really affect me. And I think maybe to some extent, like because I’m just a person and like, when I see things online, you know, I’m also very empathetic and I I’m sensitive. I think that’s the word. I am sensitive. But I think when people you know, I think it’s so beautiful when people make stan accounts for me, obviously. But then it’s it’s also that like level of, you know, are you okay? You know, like, do you have friends? Is your family nice to you? Because that also is a form of escapism maybe. And like, it’s weird to me when I read about like, let’s say this another fan account stanning and another pop girl, and they’re like, telling me that I’m not doing good enough because the person that they’re stanning is doing better. And I’m like, Why are you? That’s not even your accomplishments. Like you are flexing on me with somebody who doesn’t know you like, you know what I mean? Like, it’s yeah, it’s a really weird. And then sometimes, like the meanest people, I sometimes go in and I read the profiles and I’m like, Oh, but like, you’re, you’re crazy. Like, you know what I mean? Like, oh, okay. I’ll be like, I can imagine because you’re insane. Like, you know, I would. Yeah, I feel bad for you in a way, but it is, you know, I do see everything and I spend a lot of time, all of my and sometimes I read friends, like. Video. So I start for people like, How have you seen this? And I’m like, I spend like a good 10 hours on my phone. Like, I heard stuff online. But I think the growing like, growing older. I’m 25 now to just. Remind yourself what’s real and what’s not, because what’s real, it’s like people showing up to my shows or, you know, people like having a conversation with people that’s not really real to see, like somebody with. I’m just picking a person. I like an Ariana Grande like picture that I don’t like. I don’t know who that is. I really don’t. So I’m trying to remind myself that. It’s not really real, you know?


Ira Madison III Mm hmm.


Louis Virtel Yeah, it’s hard to say. Like, you know, when people are like that rabid and mean or whatever you want to be like, Well, consider the source. And people are really good at concealing who they actually are. And also, I think our refrain on this podcast has been, you cannot trust anybody who stands one thing. Yeah. Like, it’s just nobody is that good. So if your whole identity is built around like one random person, it’s like, what is going on here? There’s it can’t just be the.


Zara Larrson Music, you know, you forget the most of those people. There are like 13, 14, and there’s something totally in your brain when you’re a young teenager because you’re like, erratic, like I remember maybe 13, 14. I was not like I am now. Like, you know what I mean? I don’t think I would like myself very much if I met me now as a teenager. And then you, like, mature and you find like other things in life. But there is the beauty in that, like crazy teenage. Like rage, I guess, too, in a way, because I don’t know. I feel like it’s very personal to me. Like I could definitely have had like stan accounts being 13, 14. But then you think you’re like having this level conversation with somebody more mature and then it’s like, Oh, you’re actually still a child, so I’ll give you slack, you know?


Ira Madison III Mm hmm. It reminds me, too, of one of my favorite videos, which, obviously you know.


Zara Larrson You stan Zara Larrson.


Ira Madison III It’s like fighting on the, You Stan Zara Larrson. But also, I was reminded of that because I’m. Was that the same person who recorded the video of them rapping Ice Spice to Lea Michele?


Zara Larrson He goes everywhere He’s done that to like every celebrity and yet Harry will always and forever in my heart. But it is an interesting thing in pop culture because also, you know, in a way like that is kind of creating. Some of the people who have fan accounts for me, like, you know, I don’t I wouldn’t know, like how well my songs are doing or I wouldn’t know, like, I couldn’t make a song trend on Twitter by myself or even that they are kind of doing the job for the record labels, you know what I mean? Like sometimes going, Wow, you’re really out here, like putting in the work, and this whole machine, like, wouldn’t really be the same without those people. So there is like. A complex relationship, I guess. But I think in general, the people, the what I’ve seen, like the people who follow me, are very nice. And I try to tell people to like, Hey, if you see some negativity, just like, ignore that, you know? Don’t start to like, okay, bazaars. She actually sold blah, blah, blah. Like, you know, and it’s not going to lead anywhere. But I do understand that you would feel the need to, like, prove somebody wrong, because I love that. But yeah the stan Zara Larrson is like iconic in pop culture, elephant in the sand world for sure.


Ira Madison III I like it when they get like I like it when it’s over the top and not like evil eye. Like there’s nothing funnier to me than like.


Zara Larrson In a way, yeah.


Ira Madison III There’s nothing funnier than, like, the replies to, like, a Pop Grave tweet, you know, where someone’s like.


Louis Virtel Right.


Ira Madison III Someone’s like Demi is flopping. And then someone will say, like, No, Ariana’s flopping like, on Mars. Like, like when they like


Zara Larrson Take it so far.


Speaker 3 When it goes to the extremes, then it’s funny


Zara Larrson Yeah. Or like, you know, if they think how great post is out be that I posted and like Zara Larrson looks incredible and I just know the first column, the final incredible number you and I be like all my life. I know exactly what they will say and I know it’s like their own little culture down there.


Louis Virtel Yeah, I think they maybe underestimate you. I mean, that was pretty savvy, what you just said. Like, you have it down, you have their mania down to a science. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Zara Larrson That’s true. That’s true.


Louis Virtel Now, you said you might be somebody who would have started a stan account when you were 12 or 13. Who do you think would have driven you most rabid?


Zara Larrson Beyonce.Oh, yeah. Easy, easy.


Louis Virtel What era would that have been? That would have been around Single Ladies time?


Speaker 1 Yeah, like, probably. Hmm. I first started out like, loving her like B-day era, but I might have been too young to, like, be on Twitter, let’s say, or bound like I am. Sure. You know, around that, maybe I would have gone on Twitter. I didn’t really know about Twitter at that point. It’s not huge in Sweden. I think the people who use it like mostly are a group of people that I don’t want to associate with. They’re mostly like extremely right wing. You know, they’re so organized on Twitter. Every time I trend in Sweden, on Twitter, I know it’s not for my music and I know it’s about those people not agreeing with something I said. And it should just be, you know. But now when I do. Oh yeah, but now when I do music, you know, it’s obviously a different thing. And I think majority of my followers are international.


Louis Virtel Mm. I just want to say, by the way, I love the poetic pause you put before or after I am and before Sasha Fierce. Really respectfully, that there isn’t a ilypse there.


Ira Madison III It jumped out. So now I have to, as the fourth album is coming. Is it done?


Zara Larrson Pretty much, yeah. It really is. It feels like it’s not mixed mastered completely, but I would say it’s it’s there, like the frame of it. It’s all there. And I feel really excited about it. That’s why I think also I’m usually so, so anxious before a release, like before a single release. I, I’m just like, maybe this isn’t for me. Like, you just feel like you’re so.Pressured and it’s scary, you know, having to work on something for a long time and then you release it because you don’t have control over it anymore. But what I feel so good about now is that I feel ready and I feel prepared and can paint. I feel really good. I always feel really good about my songs that I’m releasing, but I think it’s the things I really that takes over me before. But now, compared to the other times, I’m like, way more prepared. We got the video and the song for the next one, and then we got the song after that one. And then we got like the song, the coming on with that person. It’s like and then the album’s come and it feels like a very good planned rollout, and I haven’t really had that before. Yeah.


Louis Virtel Mm hmm. Um, speaking of album, and you talked about how this coming album is kind of all over the place, that not one track really stands for the whole thing. Is that something you have to build confidence about? Because I just. I think of myself intuitively. I’m not a musician at all putting an album together, and I feel like this has to lead the and narratively this has to follow this or whatever. So how much like reconfiguration and second guessing goes into sequencing an album?


Speaker 1 Well, I don’t think it’s completely, completely crazy. I do think a lot of the songs are like cousins, you know, with each other. But I wouldn’t say sonically like, well, you know what it is? I think this time I’ve been working a lot with like a very small group of people, so that have allowed me to be like creative with my little bubble. And then just like naturally, the way it’s being produced is it doesn’t the songs aren’t like maybe sounding exactly the same, but they might be some elements that are the same, like their strings, or it might feel a bit more organic or there’s like piano in there and the drums like Danger, like gun, the drums and produced like the majority of the album, not like started off. I can tame her, but a lot of the songs have been with Rick and Danger. Rick Knows and Danger, which is also a really interesting combination, I think, and it sounds so amazing and that, you know, I think it’s also like Rick Knowles is a legend and he is, thank God, one of those people who doesn’t want like nine people in the room. It’s very personal. And he would sit down and he’ll be like, he would expect me to come in with. Song titles. He would expect me to be prepared. He would expect me to, like, have an idea of a melody. And then we, like you sit here and it would be right in front of the piano. And I’m like, Look in my eyes, we’re going to jam. And, you know, he’s very serious, but also brings out, like, the best in me. I think so. Did you find that confident? Honestly, I think I’ve always been a little bit like that. When you listen when I listen to my older, like albums and EP’s that aren’t available outside of Scandinavia, it’s it’s all pop, you know, It’s not that crazy. I think I’m also exaggerating a little bit maybe, but it definitely is some some ballads. Just a piano track. There’s some like songs. There’s just like eighties vibe. There’s some more like R&B or hard hitting, like more hip hop sounding drums. There’s some like, you know, You know what I mean? There is a bit of everything. It’s still pop. And I think honestly, maybe it’s just my voice and the quality of the songs. Because the reason why I love Rihanna and why the world loves Rihanna is that she’s also kind of doing everything again, right? I think like everything she’s doing is really good. And that’s a dream to get to do something like that where it’s like, Oh, it’s a little bit of everything, but everything’s like high quality.


Ira Madison III Exactly. I’ve always said that one I love. I love the Spotify. I love the algorithm of like when you do like a start radio from a song. Like it really sort of matches, like your music tastes and it can go like, anywhere. But one of the hardest people to do it for is Rhianna, because if you pick like, Please Don’t Stop the Music, you’re going to get that kind of music. But if you do like any song from like Anti, it’s going to sound completely different to, you know, like there’s so many different eras of Rihanna that sound wildly different from her.


Zara Larrson Yeah. And I guess, you know, it’s hard to kind of think of it as you’re making it in the moment. I think my only thing is like, is the song good? That’s that’s it, you know. And then when you look back at it, maybe in a few years you’ll say, Oh, it’s so obvious that the sound is like this. But now when I’m in it, I’m like, It’s crazy. It’s all over the place. When I don’t know, I look back at it and be like, Oh, now I can see what it is. So I do songs. I just want to have good songs. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that to me.


Louis Virtel And I guess my final question is, who is your favorite live experience?


Zara Larrson Beyonce.


Louis Virtel What artists have you seen? Again, yet again, you don’t say.


Ira Madison III Which tour?


Zara Larrson I actually loved the Formation tour. I thought that was.


Ira Madison III Yeah, that big cube. Was gorgeous.


Zara Larrson And it was. Yeah. Like sometimes we play stadiums. It’s really hard to feel like I’m in here with the artists, like whoever performs in the stadium. But I think I either had really good seats or she was amazing. Maybe it was both there, but it really like I was crying like a baby. I always cry Beyonce at concerts, but I think like, that was like, wow. I think it was my first stadium experience in a poor concert. And yeah, the big cube, everything was just so sleek. And I just loved that whole album. I think that was like my best. You know what? Who’s also incredible, incredible experience that I’ve had for my, you know, him from Belgium. And he blew me away. Like, if you ever get the chance to see him, I would say, go do it. Because that was just like he’s so he oh, the details of that man is out of this world. And he. He’s very artistic and he cares about his art and his craft a lot. That was incredible to.


Ira Madison III Great.


Zara Larrson Yeah.


Ira Madison III It’s so nice to meet you. I really do. I do love your music. So I was. I was. You know, I. I love your lyrics, too.


Zara Larrson Thank you


Louis Virtel So witty too. When people can get actual, like, wit into, like, the fast syllables of a pop song. I mean, that is, like, damn near impossible. It sounds so good.


Zara Larrson Thank you so much


Speaker 4 The amount of times that I put on, like, as the last song before I’m going out Ain’t My Fault because I love I specifically love the line. I just called the Uber and it’s right outside. I like it’s. Exactly. It’s outside.


Zara Larrson What about it? Yeah, I love that. Another one. Another Uzo MNEK banger.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I mean, he’s he’s really great.


Zara Larrson Truly.


Ira Madison III We love the single.


Zara Larrson Thank you


Ira Madison III Can’t wait for the album. And thank you so much for being here.


Speaker 1 Thank you so much for having me. I had a great time and you talking to me.


Ira Madison III Can’t Tame Her is out now and it is a banger. Go with that. And when we’re back. Keep It. And we’re back with our favorite segment of the episode. It’s Keep It, Louis, what’s yours?


Louis Virtel Mine is a Keep It, I guess, to this person in general. But today, Ben Stein, who you know from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, he was a one time Nixon speechwriter, He said today that he misses the good old days when and I guess this is some funny video. I don’t know when, quote, a large African-American woman was on his sirup bottle, but woke corporate culture ruins everything. Why do people have to Bill Maher They’re their asses into the conversation every day with their lame fucking take. Ben Stein, you have an established career. You nearly ruined it with that movie Expelled, where you talked about how creationism needs to be taught in schools. The number one thing I resent about Ben Stein, is that he is the subject of one of my favorite game shows of all time when Ben Stein’s Money. Truly, I will go back on YouTube and watch that game any day. It’s some of the hardest trivia, most unexpected trivia, and the contestants are so pleased to do well on that show. It’s such a pleasure to watch. Jimmy, who is my boss, by the way, is a great co-host on the show. They actually both won Emmys for that. But it’s just, you know, one like you can count on somebody to say horrible things in the news, like if they’re trending, they’ve done something horrible. But there’s this added indignity to the fact that you did love something they did once upon a time. Ben Stein is absolutely one of the key figures in that milieu for me. And then I have to like. Sort of lash myself every time I see his name trending is just the worst feeling. You know, it’s like Kirstie Alley or, you know, even like someone like Roseanne or something like that. It’s just grim that I have to see their name and know like, oh, God, more of this.


Ira Madison III How much of his money that they win? I mean, damn, are  you broke?


Louis Virtel It must be falling on hard times. Yeah.


Ira Madison III I always find this particular argument so funny just because how many of these people were eating pancakes every morning and using Aunt Jemima?


Louis Virtel Right. Was that our favorite sirup? I just don’t know about that.


Ira Madison III No, I like Mrs. Butterworth.


Louis Virtel Right.


Ira Madison III You know, maybe. I mean, it’s not and it’s not even one of those like, well, we weren’t allowed to have Aunt Jemima up in our house, you know, It wasn’t one of those. I think we just got Mrs. Butterworth.


Louis Virtel Mhm. Yeah. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other. I don’t know that I’ve ever taken in the artistic splendor of a syrup bottle and thought it needs to be this one way in order for me to enjoy myself.


Ira Madison III Now I would watch an Aunt Jemima- Butterworth like one season limited series.


Louis Virtel Oh sure. Oh you got to cast that right now I because I will not. So you can cast that.


Ira Madison III Your I you know what I think you know, like.


Louis Virtel Oh, look here. Oh, she’s that’s the role she needs. That’s what she wants. And that’s what we should do with our Oscar winners.


Ira Madison III Alicia Vikander.


Louis Virtel Oh, wow. A real stretch for her.


Ira Madison III She’s Ms. Butterworth.


Louis Virtel Wow. The the Danish girl. And that you put her over a Danish.


Ira Madison III Girl can’t be worse than when she was Lara Croft.


Louis Virtel So. And apparently, we’re still getting some other Lara Croft thing, like a series or something. It’s so interesting, the staying power of that character, which, I mean, like, I know there are recent video games in the Tomb Raider universe, but it still feels very 1998. It feels like if we were constantly trying to make new superhero movies out of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or something.


Ira Madison III Well, once again, I’m going to be upset that there’s no thought, too, because we have all these mission impossible’s. We have Harrison Ford, you know, leaving his crypt to do Indiana Jones. I’m kidding. We love him. We love Harrison Ford. That was so nasty of me.


Louis Virtel But he lives in Idaho. That is a crypt. So.


Ira Madison III Harrison, I am sorry. I love you are. And Calista.


Louis Virtel Please.


Ira Madison III I would. I would never disparage you. I mean, Hollywood Homicide. You and Josh Hartnett is one of my favorite movies. I don’t know why it’s not a good movie, but it’s one of my favorites.


Louis Virtel It’s nice that you question that.


Ira Madison III And I love I love Harrison Ford. That was that was rude of me anyway. But he is doing this new Indiana Jones movie that I’ll probably see, but there’s no urgency in me seeing it, you know, And it’s sort of like a how did this get made situation, even though the last one, which Shia Lebeouf was probably more of a how did this get made situation? This one at least has you know fleabag in it.


Louis Virtel Yeah. What was her name? Phoebe Waller-bridge. Yeah. The fact that Phoebe Waller-bridge straddles the Indiana Jones and Star Wars universe is very unexpected.


Ira Madison III Also with Fleabag cause I was blanking on her name and it would have been very misogynistic of me to say Martin McDonagh’s girlfriend.


Louis Virtel Right. But I also I want to say about this Indiana Jones movie, I’m looking forward to it because I’m sorry we still need a refresh after that last one where Cate Blanchett served Barb and also, I believe was served a one way ticket to the Green Mile. That is her worst performance for sure. Oh, I’m obsessed with the reference, the Green Mile right now. I can’t explain.


Ira Madison III It. There’s nothing wrong with having a little bob.


Louis Virtel Oh, no. I have a poster of Lee Grant behind me. I think that’s all people should serve.


Ira Madison III Look at us always getting off track. I brought that up because there’s no reason why a new Laura Croft movie shouldn’t just have Angelina Jolie in it.


Louis Virtel Please. Oh, God. What are we even doing with her?


Ira Madison III She looks better. She looks better than these old men dusting off their franchises. Right? You know, and you know, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider. We already know that she you know, it’s still tomb raiding in real life. You know, she is taking Brad Pitt for everything in the divorce.


Louis Virtel Right. What about a movie called Salt and Pepper? Who plays Pepper?


Ira Madison III Huh? I think we have to get Jessica Chastain.


Louis Virtel Oh, no, Not back to the three, five, five guys. We just got out of there.


Ira Madison III Aw, It’s a joint sequel, and it’s Jennifer Garner because she starred in a movie called Peppermint.


Louis Virtel Okay.


Ira Madison III Maybe you don’t remember, like, 2018, like vigilante film. She did, but.


Louis Virtel Mysteriously no. I think my brain said it’s a scab.


Ira Madison III I did not see it. I think it’s one of her few missteps. The trailer was very much like. Mexicans are crossing the border and let me murder them all.


Louis Virtel Oh, I’m not really signed onto the logline, I have to say.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I don’t know. Salt and Pepper. Listen, if that’s what I have to do to get Salt two made.


Louis Virtel All right? No, I think it’d be fabulous. Ira, what is your Keep It this week?


Ira Madison III My Keep It goes to this mom and pop salad place in New York.


Louis Virtel Uh huh.


Ira Madison III Called Sweet Green.


Louis Virtel Oh, that’s more popular than you’re leading on. Yeah, I have had it a couple of times, even just this weekend.


Ira Madison III Uh, I am kind of over Sweet Green. Let me tell you about it. One, they change their bowls up. So like the bowls are huge now and when you get a salad, it highlights the fact that you’re literally just being giving like given like a clump of a arugula.


Louis Virtel Hmm.


Ira Madison III With like some other ingredients sprinkled on. It’s like eating a side salad at this point and it’s still $20.


Louis Virtel Right? It is an expensive salad, I will say.


Ira Madison III Yeah, it’s not it’s not I’m not really feeling nourished anymore. It happened with Chipotle. It happens all the time. You know, like all of a sudden it’s like, well, here’s a little bit less.


Louis Virtel It’s giving morsels. Yes.


Ira Madison III Yeah. So I’m a little over Sweet Green. I am now in love with Kava.


Louis Virtel Never had it.


Ira Madison III Yeah. So Kava is like Mediterranean bowls. And I think Mediterranean it’s in this year. Okay.


Louis Virtel I’m somebody who needs, like, a dependable salad place. This speaks to me. I don’t know. And also, it’s like, I can’t explain it. I always spend too much money on it. Like, I think I can’t make one myself. But by the way, I also can’t make one myself. So it’s true.


Ira Madison III I feel like the nineties, late nineties, early 2000 is one, sort of like salad culture rose. And then it started being like, Well, we’re going to charge you a lot to make to mix these things in with, with greenery, but you really could make it home. And it’s deceptively hard to make a salad at home, but it’s easier than you might think. It depends on what salad you’re making. I will never make a kale salad at home.


Louis Virtel Right, right.


Ira Madison III I’ve never been able to cook kale.


Louis Virtel I don’t want to learn how to. It’s. I’m so baffled by people being gratified by cooking. I just.


Ira Madison III I love cooking. But, you know, I’m not. I’m not beating the kale. You. You got to like 12 Years a Slave that shit to get it to taste good.


Louis Virtel What we have done to Lupita Nyong’o goes legacy. Just in the past 15 minutes of this podcast is really dark and unfortunate.


Ira Madison III She did that by being in Star Wars.


Louis Virtel Oh, yes. Playing, I believe, Goo. I don’t know what that character was.


Ira Madison III Yeah, and it was not Goo from My Brother and Me.


Louis Virtel Who sold goo punch with such relish. We’re talking about My Brother and Me recently. I don’t know why this is top of mind.


Ira Madison III But on Twitter were talking about it. You were talking about.


Louis Virtel Oh, yes, I was talking about how in the nineties you would see every episode of their show 75 times because they only made a certain amount of episodes of most shows and then they would replay them for years and years. So My Brother and Me, which by the way, is, shall we say, not a good show. I still saw every episode of a million times.


Ira Madison III There were 13 episodes of the show it was put in. Yes, that was the era where it used to be like 100 episodes. So getting the syndication from like primetime shows or whatever. But when you had cable, like a Nickelodeon or something, they would just re air their own shows. And so My Brother and Me was always on.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III And you would think there was more episodes to go, but there would not be. I kept waiting for new episodes of My Brother and Me right now.


Louis Virtel Like I think the most episodes they did have a show would be like 65, and that was something like Clarissa explains it all her rugrats at the time. But for the most part, those shows ended early and abruptly so that you would only see. But like Sylvia Schwartz has under 30 episodes, for example. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Right. I remember being sad when like Ghost Writer was canceled.


Louis Virtel I love that show because reading is so cool and they understood that.


Ira Madison III Ghost Writer ended in season three with the episode like Attack of the Slime Monster, and there was a Speaking of goo. It was like this purple doll called Gooey Gus that I feel like Jamal’s little sister was carrying around and they were helping like Casey write like a short story. So as a short story about the slime doll attacking them all. So it’s that thing, you know, where like, someone’s writing a fictional story. And so the fictional stories being acted out by characters in the show are iconic, but also the last episode of Ghost Writer.


Louis Virtel Ever weird? Yeah, there’s no show that’s like that. The Nineties PBS There needs to be a specific oral history of that time and that Carmen San Diego and all the fun stuff, the Geography Bee, things like that.


Ira Madison III Believe it or not, I was talking about Carmen Sandiego yesterday.


Louis Virtel You don’t  say.


Ira Madison III I couldn’t. I was asking, so what the distance like how long it gets, how long it takes to get from like Connecticut to Vermont or from like New York to Vermont. And I was like, I have to confess, I know where most of the states are except for the East Coast.


Louis Virtel I have to say.


Ira Madison III It’s very confusing.


Louis Virtel I have seen a map of the U.S. many times. I am a trivia oriented and obsessed person. I have to say the northeast part of the United States is still a little bit tricky for me. I have to say. It’s like I’m shocked to say it.


Ira Madison III Where’s Rhode Island? Next to Florida.


Louis Virtel Right. I’m a little I think I’m a little bit more accurate than that much, but a little bit.


Ira Madison III But I brought that up because I remember I specifically tried to learn where African countries are because I always felt it was a little racist with it. Give these white kids the the challenge at the end of where in Carmen San Diego for people who didn’t watch it involves standing on a map and you had to run around and like stare countries are on a big map. And it was like when a kid got Africa, it was it was a wrap.


Louis Virtel No. That you knew that they were over on the prize budget. You know, they were like, Jenny is not going to space camp today.


Ira Madison III But let me tell you, if you got to Europe. That’s beautiful.


Louis Virtel Or like South America where there’s, like, you know, 11 countries or something. Yeah. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Shout out to the kids who would not get Brazil.


Louis Virtel Yeah. And you made it to the bonus round. Really shocking stuff.


Ira Madison III Means you were dumb.


Louis Virtel Means the comedy. And that show is really good. I like Greg Lee, the host, and Roc-A-Fella. Like the way they incorporated everything. Lynn Thigpen. Of course.


Ira Madison III Wonderful stuff. We need to bring that back. Bring back learning.


Louis Virtel Yeah. No, there’s a whole we talked about that with Adam Conover. I believe there’s a whole initiative at the time about like, education. It’s like why Animaniacs was so good. Anyway, we’ll talk about that another episode.


Ira Madison III And now we don’t want anybody in America to be smart. You know?


Louis Virtel It’s too dangerous.


Ira Madison III Yeah, Well, thanks, Ron DeSantis. So that’s our show this week.


Louis Virtel Whole lot of show.


Ira Madison III Thank you to Audie Cornish for joining us. Thank you to Zara Larrson for joining us. And we’ll see you next week. Remember to check out full episodes of Keep It on our official Keep It YouTube channel and please rate and review. Keep It on your podcast platform of choice, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, etc.. 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.