“The Steenburgenda” w. Adam Conover | Crooked Media
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June 01, 2022
Keep It
“The Steenburgenda” w. Adam Conover

In This Episode

Ira and Louis discuss their memories of 90s daytime television, the chokehold Top Gun has on men of a certain age, Ray Liotta’s career, Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein, Kate Bush chart resurgence, and more. Plus, Louis obsesses over Mary Steenburgen and Adam Conover joins to discuss his new series The G Word, comedy as education, and giving notes to President Obama.


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Ira Madison III: [AD]


Ira Madison III: And we’re back, with an all new episode of Keep It. I’m Ira Madison III.


Louis Virtel: I’m Louis Virtel and based on the week and I have I should sound emphysemic. And yet here I am with my parrot like clarity. Now I was supposed to be complimenting myself. A parrot you don’t want to hear, actually, but my chanticleer like clarity.


Ira Madison III: The squawking bird bitch.


Louis Virtel: I ran my scales right beforehand, I’m sure I sound adorable.


Ira Madison III: Oh, you know, I’m sure my Newport smoking voice is gravelly this week.


Louis Virtel: Oh, are you a Newport smoker?


Ira Madison III: You know what it feels? It feels like I’m, you know, connecting to my youth, the nineties, my mother. You know, it’s it’s it’s kitschy, you know, whenever you pull them out, someone’s like, ooh, can I go to Newport?


Louis Virtel: My, my aunt. My aunt growing up had Winstons and she would watch soap operas all day and then she would let me watch game shows. So she enabled me to be the person I became, but literally still, like, if I’m near like a, like a carpet that still smells like Winstons or whatever, it takes me right back. It’s like, quote unquote glamorous smell to me. Are Winstons like trash? I actually know nothing about the brand.


Ira Madison III: I feel like maybe. I don’t know. I feel like Winstons are fine. Winstons are fine.


Louis Virtel: Okay. I know the name WInston.


What shows did she watch?And which shows did she watch?


Louis Virtel: Oh, she was an obsessive Days of Our Lives fan.


Ira Madison III: Okay.


Louis Virtel: That’s the one. Is that the one? Where can Stephano pull off the baby switch?


Ira Madison III: Yes. Stephano switching babies. Stephano kidnaping Marlaina?


Louis Virtel: Yes.


Ira Madison III: Possessions. Yeah. A lot going on there. Yeah. That’s the one Eileen Davidson was on. Eileen Davidson. Lisa Rinna. Other famous people, Jensen Ackles from Supernatural was on it. Cara Delevingne ex-fiancee Ashley Benson.


Louis Virtel: Oh wow. You could truly say anybody and I would believe it. Yeah. Katharine Hepburn. She did five seasons.


Ira Madison III: You know what? Famously. Julia Roberts used to be like the I wonder if she still is. She was like the biggest Days Of Our Lives, fan. Like, she introduced them at, like, the Daytime Emmys one year. Like she was like so into the show, like in the nineties. It’s weird she never did a cameo or anything, but like, I wonder if Julia Roberts is still like, check it out, Salem.


Louis Virtel: That would be fucking rad. You know what? I was just thinking about Julia Roberts because an and Kelly McGillis and Kathleen Turner and Sigourney Weaver, everybody who was really famous, I guess, in the late eighties, but really the eighties. Remember when you would just absolutely, definitely see your leading lady in a trench coat and whatever movie they did? Every time. Just not like we associate the eighties with shoulder pads, but really long coats were what it was all about. I miss that desperately. Julia Roberts was on David Letterman. Yes. Or like the longest blazer. Like, the proportions were just fucking whack. It was talking heads.


Ira Madison III: Oh, yeah. I love a long blazer look.


Louis Virtel: I guess we do. It’s not that. It’s like.


Ira Madison III: I think it’s. Come back.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, yeah, it’s around. You see it now? But once upon a time, it was just the standard. Here comes a professional lady who, you know, is starring opposite name a person, Eric Roberts. And. She’s got the. She’s got a giant vermillion blazer on.


Ira Madison III: If you’re listening at home it took 3 minutes for Louis to bring up Eric Roberts.


Louis Virtel: I actually was going to save him for the Top Gun discussion because. Oh not Top Gun, not Top Gun, Ray Liotta, because I think he, Ray Liotta and Eric Roberts had a similar track going where they were like hot but also like dangerous.


Ira Madison III: Someone asked me if Eric Roberts was your favorite actor.


Louis Virtel: Do I really bring him up that often?


Ira Madison III: You bring up Eric Roberts like I break up Days Of Our Lives.


Louis Virtel: Oh, okay. Well, I mean, he’s remarkable. Is he the one who has the most IMDB credits? It’s like between him and Christopher Lee. Like the most movies they’ve been in.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. I mean, after after Bruce Willis’s final year, who knows anymore. But…


Louis Virtel: Oh yeah, that’s right. Yeah.


Ira Madison III: Racking up. Racking up.


Louis Virtel: His Bonanza.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. Racking up those Director Roku films. So…


Louis Virtel: Right. Roku minus. Yes.


Ira Madison III: I also love that this entire conversation came from me promoting smoking to teenagers. Yeah. The teenagers who listen to this podcast I like in the milieu of, like writing my book, which is like due very soon and it’s like set in the nineties and I’m just sort of like trying to place myself back in that era, drinking a lot of Snapple Apple too.


Louis Virtel: Hmm. I was recently acquainted with the fact that Snapple used to be an actual flavor of that. Like Snapple became the whole brand, but that used to be like an apple flavor of tea. Speaking of which.


Ira Madison III: It was?


Louis Virtel: Yeah, well, speaking of the nineties, I feel I’m still constantly unlearning what I learned in Dare. The Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education of our youth. And I remember specifically one time in a workbook, we had to dissuade us from smoking. There was a character, a sort of grizzled lady named Nicotina, who was supposed to make us, you know, hate Cigarettes. I’m telling you, I was simply astounded by her glamor. I simply thought whatever she has, I want it. Is it. I don’t care. I mean if it’s lung cancer, I’m in .


Ira Madison III: Yeah. I always remember Darren the lion.


Louis Virtel: What did he look like?


Ira Madison III: Darren the lion. He just walked around, like, looking like, honestly, looking at photos of him now he’s like sexy, like a like old like adult Simba like Darren the lion is, Darren the lion fucks. All right, he is. He is looking fine. And predates older Simba, like 93. The nineties had a lot of workbooks didn’t it?


Louis Virtel: Yeah.


Ira Madison III: In school, like like a we they used to give us a lot of like things that you had to fill out while teachers you know did nothing.


Louis Virtel: It was it was a lot of Xeroxed copies from workbooks. But I truly thought most of what you did as a teacher was stand at a copier and cry. Like here I am, like a minor character at 9 to 5, you know?


Ira Madison III: Oh, yeah. The the chokehold that Xerox has had on us during that era, I would love a trip to, like, the copy machine.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Oh, I. Well, I was very obsessed with what was happening in the teacher’s lounge, too. You know, the idea of sipping coffee and just muttering like you sort of had the idea. There was an entire other half of your teacher’s personality and maybe you even thought it was grim, but you had no idea and you never found out.


Ira Madison III: Right. Because I think that was before the era where like. We started to realize our parents were human beings, too, right? You just thought of adults as like adults. And what I try and think about, like, the shit that we talk about now, I’m like, is that what our teachers were talking about? Where our teachers that were teachers just like hung over in the teacher’s lounge. Talk to me about the previous episode of Seinfeld or Melrose Place, or they’re like, Did you see Julia Roberts in that blazer last night?


Louis Virtel: Right.


Ira Madison III: On Leno


Louis Virtel: I would. If they were talking about her blazer size, I simply, the missed opportunities because I was absolutely one of those kids who would stand at recess sometimes and talk with the fun teachers about what I was up to. And they would indulge me and then I assume go to their car and drink.


Ira Madison III: But I learned not to trust teachers at a younger age because you tell them something and somehow your mom would find out.


Louis Virtel: Right. Oh my god. All the time.


Ira Madison III: Teachers were snitches. Teachers were snitches. And I learned early on in grade school, don’t trust a bitch.


Louis Virtel: Oh, yeah, no. And, and they would, like, inspire confidence sometimes because they would come up to you and ask warmly and you would trust them since, you know, they through the spelling bee is in the spelling bees. Where your favorite thing. Am I projecting right now? Is that just me?


Ira Madison III: I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever addressed this grudge on this show, but back when I wanted to be a fiction writer. Like, I wanted to write my own Goosebumps books. I wrote a horror novel like fourth grade, and it was set like at a like a theme park, like on a roller coaster, an evil roller coaster. I remember only having like one copy of this that I printed out, and I gave it to our substitute teacher in fourth grade. I wish I remember this bitch’s name, but it was Mr. Horowitz’s class and she was the substitute or like teacher’s assistant. One of those people. Fourth grade. Golda Meir. Milwaukee, 1996. Yep. I gave it to her to read and she never gave it back to me.


Louis Virtel: What? As if you have access to a copier. No, that’s her job.


Ira Madison III: Never gave it back to me. And she ruined my great American novel.


Louis Virtel: Oh I do remember I had a in fourth grade. Actually, there’s a huge saga in my family because I was in a gifted pull out math class in second grade, and then I became ineligible for this woman’s. She had an entire gifted class for all subjects the following year. And like my my points for whatever test I took were like a half point off or something, or this woman decided I shouldn’t be in the class and my mom was angry with her about it. Okay. Anyway, fourth grade. I am allowed to be in this woman’s gifted fucking class and she is old school like somebody who she like. The kind of person who would have like games around the classroom that were like from the fifties for smart kids were like, you know, you move the pegs on the different poles and like. Anyway, it’s like little mind games for strange children with large IQ’s. Okay. Anyway, I gave her. I wrote short stories when I was a kid. I wrote short mysteries that you could solve, like Encyclopedia Brown. And I gave her my first couple. And I remember she and I was, like, excited, too, like, and endear this woman who was so frosty and Miranda Priestly-esqu who went by the name Marty, by the way, that should have been my first indication that something was off. And she just wrote back on it, lowercase in her weird Palmer method handwriting. Great. That’s it.  Just great. Nothing. Lowercased. I wasn’t even worthy of punctuation or a capital letter.


Ira Madison III: Great. Lower text. No punctuation. A response like via like text would devastate me.


Louis Virtel: Right, let alone handwritten. Like, come out. Like you, you could have just put like a heart or something. And I don’t know what i wanted, but I know a comedy writer desperately airing it out.


Ira Madison III: Fourth grade were our villain origin stories.


Louis Virtel: Right.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Anyway, um, we’re going to talk about Top Gun this week and summer movies we’re looking forward to or not looking forward to. In Louis’s case, I’m sure you can’t wait for Thor.


Louis Virtel: Ugh. God. Did you know, they’re still making these guys? Apparently. Apparently, people love them.


Ira Madison III: We’re also going to talk about Italian ex icon Ray Liotta.


Louis Virtel: Very sad that he died.  I interviewed him a few years ago for some blog, at some point. I don’t even remember the movie he was in. In that case, he had such an awesome perspective on his career. Rad person will get into it. You guys love Ray Liotta, too, I’m sure.


Ira Madison III: And we’re also going to talk to comedic genius Adam Conover today and we’ll see if he ruins this podcast.


Louis Virtel: I think we’re doing a good job without him.  But fine.


Ira Madison III: Ira and Louis ruined. Keep It by themselves. We’ll be right back with more of it.


Ira Madison III: All right, Louis. Uh, you know, I was, uh. I was taking a drive the other day, and, um, when I got up. Yeah. You know, and, uh, I took the highway straight to the danger zone.


Louis Virtel: Oh, you don’t fucking say, bitch.


Ira Madison III: Top Gun Maverick finally out in theaters this weekend, and its already the biggest debut of Tom Cruise’s career with over 160 million, which is wild to me.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Also, it kind of surprises me that there is a lasting cultural memory of Top Gun. I’m not saying it wasn’t a sensation at the time. It obviously was. But that’s not a movie I see on TV now very often, you know, and it hasn’t it hasn’t held on the way. Something like maybe The Breakfast Club has, where you just keep running into this movie 100 times a weekend.


Ira Madison III: Here is what I’m going to say about Top Gun, which I fucking loved. I thought it slapped.


Louis Virtel: I like the last 30 minutes.


Ira Madison III: I have documented on this show, you know, all my daddy issues. And I think that a lot of people.


Louis Virtel: Thank you, Timmy.


Ira Madison III: I think that a lot of people who were like our age or parents in the eighties and early nineties and then also people who were the age that we were in the nineties who were growing up like without fathers or like with complicated relationships with their fathers. Movies like this, movies like the Creed reboot like this is specifically for them. This is about men dealing with their emotions. And I think that like Top Gun, the original is like one that sort of been like, I guess dormant in the minds of men. And it was just reawakened by this movie because I was sobbing. Men were sobbing. Okay, okay. This movie is about men loving other men and not the gay way, but maybe in a gay way.


Louis Virtel: Thank you for telling me that, because I had no idea.


Ira Madison III: I just think that’s where it’s been, you know, like and I think movies like this are particularly made anymore, not just like the blockbuster that sort of like, you know, like a movie like this because like sometimes those Tom Cruise still makes these movies like the Mission Impossibles. But like this specific kind of movie is really sort of rare, like a movie that’s really just about like The Bro’s, like, supporting the Other Bro’s and like saving your best friend’s life.


Louis Virtel: I think also it’s not just that there’s that emotional quality, which is a sort of a hidden gem of the movie. It’s also juxtaposed with the cocky bro energy, so you get both, right. Because you get a lot of Glenn Powell raising an eyebrow and snickering in Tom Cruise’s face. You get, you know, Val Kilmer squaring off again with Tom Cruise and both loving him and criticizing him. So you get that. But I think it’s that that juxtaposition makes you feel like you get an entire male character, which I’m sure fans of the original really like. I will say the original Top Gun thinking about how quote unquote the iconic or legendary is. It’s a pretty conventional movie, but the actual plot of it, nothing really surprises. But I will say I did miss I already brought her up. Kelly McGillis. And I also missed Meg Ryan, who they just decide has died. C’mon now, we wnt to see Meg Ryan. What an amazing opportunity that would have been to see Meg Ryan.


Ira Madison III: Tom Cruise  didn’t want to see Meg Ryan.


Louis Virtel: I fucking guess.


Ira Madison III: I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s weird that she’s not in it. But let me tell you something. This movie is very conventional, too. Yes. As as I feel like it taps into my heartstrings and it feels like such a good summer movie because. It like follows like every sort of like beat you’re expecting it to follow. And also, I will say the director is heavy handed in that every time. It was like watching Days of Our Lives, but every time the camera lingered on a photo of Maverick and Goose, I’m like, Girl, I know he’s dead.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, we remember. Yes. It was a little nostalgia overkill for the first 45 minutes. It was.


Ira Madison III: But damn. Tom Cruise is the star. Like he is a fucking star and like, he’s still he feels like Tom Cruise. And, like, I know we’ve been inundated with, like, all of these Mission Impossible films, which are iconic, by the way. You know how I feel about those movies. But he’s like, he feels different than Ethan in this movie, too. Like, he’s still Tom Cruise, but like you still he’s so acting.


Louis Virtel: I also think something really impresses about him when you compare him to the other performances where like the young guys are all I’ve already used this word, but mainly just cocky like that. It’s not really about gravitas ultimately. And there’s something about the way he responds with like, you know, these classic Maverick quips. You know, a character will say to him, I don’t like that expression on your face. And he’ll say, It’s the only one I’ve got. And he doesn’t say it like flatly, like John Wayne would say that, for example, he says it with almost a self-deprecating air, somehow. There really is an unexpected I don’t want to say the word humanity because that feels like a crazy word to say in conjunction with Tom Cruise but.


Ira Madison III: It’s going to win the Humanitas prize. Okay, that’s what Top Gun Maverick’s going to win.


Louis Virtel: But there’s a shocking groundedness and yeah, humor that is that isn’t going for a hard laugh either. You know, it’s just a sort of lived in sensibility about this character that is deeper than expected.


Ira Madison III: Well, I loved our boy, Miles. Miles Teller in the film though.


Louis Virtel: Okay. Here’s my problem with him, though. And I do love Miles Teller’s acting. I don’t love the headlines about Miles Teller, which have been frightening to me recently. But Miles Teller, there’s a twist regarding his character in this movie, and it would hit harder if we had met that character well enough beforehand. But he really had like what, six or seven lines before we were told, Oh, he’s this he’s important in this other way, too.


Ira Madison III: Mm hmm. I was also nice to see him lighter in this film. Like the the scene where they play football on the beach, you know, is just as fun as the original volleyball scene in the first movie. And it was nice seeing Miles Teller smile, I guess, because I don’t know if we’ve seen him smile at any fucking movie he’s been in in the past ten years. They’re very depressing movies.


Louis Virtel: Yes. And his first breakout role was Rabbit Hole. And he sort of just kept that streak.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. That that dead baby movie.


Louis Virtel: Yes, that’s the one. Yeah.


Ira Madison III: That movie’s rough.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. That’s among one of the rougher movies you’ll ever see. That’s. That’s among the hardest crying I’ve ever seen in a movie. Viola Davis said, calm down.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. What is wild about the movie, though, is I don’t know if you got this, but Nicole Kidman’s AMC ad comes on and then it transitions into a video introduction that Tom Cruise made to like welcome you back to the theaters. And I’m like, if only she thought to put a clause about that in the divorce proceedings.


Louis Virtel: But by the way, it’s sort of a testament to the brilliance of Tom Cruise’s PR team that it basically smashed cuts from Nicole doing her gay monologue about sitting at movies to him. And I didn’t think for a second, oh, there’s some irony there. Like really? Like, I don’t associate those two names with each other, even though they were utterly hyper, famously linked once upon a time. I guess she herself has moved on in a very serious way, too. But it’s. I’m shocked that you have to tell me, oh, isn’t it fucking weird that we went from Nicole Kidman telling us to go see movies to Tom Cruise telling us to go see movies? And it didn’t strike me as, you know, tragically ironic or anything.


Ira Madison III: I mean, and it’s not like Tom Cruise’s monologue wasn’t as gay as Nicole’s ad either. Welcome back to the movies, fellas. I missed you so much.


Louis Virtel: You should have been wearing an old timey Usher outfit. That would have been fun.


Ira Madison III: I believe that he has eyes in every screening, so he might as well be an usher. They’re just they’re just watching. Everyone reacts to this movie and they’re like, if you’re not if you’re not crying, you get shot.


Louis Virtel: Right. Well, also, he ends it ominously, but the message says, We made it for you, which is so big brother-esque. But by the way, we must talk about Jennifer Connelly in this movie. Okay. Among the thankless roles a human being could have, Jennifer Connelly in this movie is mostly leaning over a bar and smiling at Tom Cruise. I mean, that’s all she has to do. But were you also surprised she has lighter hair in this movie and at times she is a dead ringer for Kate Walsh? At times I was like, wait, is this Kate Walsh in this movie? They looked utterly the same. And in fact, it felt like they were sort of in conversation with each other. And I’m glad they were, because in that way the movie passes the back door test and fails every other way.


Ira Madison III: Jennifer Connelly and her daughter talked about homework, at least once right. So.


Louis Virtel: Oh, I don’t know. We’ll have to check with the judges and I. Allison, if you’re there to let us know.


Ira Madison III: The last thing I will say about this movie is, um. We talked about how bad that Gaga song was. It really hits how bad it is, when he holds her hand at the end of the movie. And then you just have Gaga screaming, Hold my hand, hold my hand in the theater. It’s like it sounds even worse en surround.


Louis Virtel: Right. And also, again, it’s going for epic and it’s trying to match it. I guess she sings loudly enough that it sort of satisfyingly ends the movie. But otherwise, again, I wouldn’t even really call that a song.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, it’s just. It’s sort of a mantra. It’s a it’s a cult mantra. Maybe that’s what she and Tom were cooking up.


Louis Virtel: It could be. I just feel like this is. A pattern Gaga picked up around the Born This Way album, which has tons of songs that are just sort of a good hook that she kind of ruins by over singing. And she goes back to that every once in a while. You know, perfect illusion. I’m looking at you.


Ira Madison III: You know what? What you are not going to do is come for songs written by Kevin Parker. Okay. We are not going to do that to Tame Impala today anyway. It’s hot as hell in New York right now. Top Gun, I feel like kicked off summer officially. Sure. What else are you looking forward to this summer?


Louis Virtel: Well, the word out of Cannes is a bit dubious, but I really am looking forward to Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis movie, even though he is, I think, my least favorite mainstream director. I find him constantly disappointing, but I want to see what he does with the just an era I really love. I love the foundations of rock and roll as we know it. Or the rock era. I know Elvis wasn’t the first rock singer. I know he was thefting entirely from black men. But yes, I am interested in whites. It’s going to be it’s going to slay.


Ira Madison III: I always love when people discover one, that people just go fucking crazy at Cannes. Because like, I remember someone texting me, they were like, This movie got a how long standing ovation. I was like, This happens every year, baby. Like, there’s always one movie where it’s like they, like they they clap. Like Oprah just gave the entire audience cars.


Louis Virtel: Right. And the deal is they’re excited to be there and they’re excited to be around the stars. And so it’s a very there’s an air of privilege in the room about everyone getting to be there. And they confuse that for quality.


Ira Madison III: And people always discover what a new Baz Luhrmann movie comes out, that this man is a heterosexual.


Louis Virtel: Right? He’s sort of just a normal straight guy.


Ira Madison III: Which makes sense. It makes sense. It makes sense because his movies aren’t great.


Louis Virtel: Right. Right. It’s that is sort of the missing ingredient, you know, Moulin Rouge. The thing that’s missing is hot gay men.


Ira Madison III: I would say that the only, um, one of the few straight men to accomplish, like a gay Fantasia, is Robert Zemeckis. Death Becomes Her.


Louis Virtel: Definitely, yes. I think Ba Luhrmann’s greatest accomplishment is directing the performance of Elizabeth Debicki in The Great Gatsby. She fucking slayed in that movie.


Ira Madison III: Oh, you know what? Also slayed that movie, the soundtrack. And that’s usually what is great about a Baz Luhrmann film, the beat. I like the beat.


Louis Virtel: Yes. Right. No and Lana should have been nominated for that song because that really nailed the languor and the. Just the the the patina of glamor that The Great Gatsby has and also the sadness underlining everything in that movie.


Ira Madison III: Um. I am. For some reason, looking forward to Jurassic World Dominion.


Louis Virtel: Jurassic Park has entered the realm of Star Wars, where I just feel we have explored every possible facet about it. We’re going to get into like micro movies about stegosaurus plates soon.


Ira Madison III: I also was watching the trailer for Dominion and I recently revisited Jurassic Park and it’s still fucking amazing. But the conceit of that into the Lost World, into what we’re in now, is like they’ve become action movies, like you’ve got Chris Pratt running around jumping on ice, like like flair guns. It’s like it’s all like you’re watching Mission Impossible. It’s like you’re watching an Avengers movie. And that’s not what the original Jurassic Park movies were.


Louis Virtel: I actually but also compare it to Star Wars and that the thing I love about the original, I mean, aside from the action sequences, is that the characters are amazing. The you know, and they’re one of a kind. I can’t really put them into any other movie. Like Laura Dern in Jurassic Park only belongs in that movie, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, etc.. And that goes for the original Star Wars movies where like, there’s a real sardonic edge to the humor in that movie, to Carrie Fisher, to Harrison Ford, of course. And as the movies keep getting churned out, that one of a kind character thing goes away, and Chris Pratt is sort of in the tradition of the people who preceded him in these movies. But also, I don’t know if he feels like he could be anybody in a way.


Ira Madison III: Well, you know, he talks to dinosaurs.


Louis Virtel: That’s right. that’s right.


Ira Madison III: That’s his thing, right? Like he talks to volociraptors..


Louis Virtel: In his church.


Ira Madison III: Characters. Of course, Chris Pratt is in Thor, Love and Thunder, which I’m looking forward to because I do love Taika Waititi. And I know you have your thoughts about Ragnarok.


Louis Virtel: Yes. I mean, I went there intending to enjoy it. And I just got. Cate Blanchett taken that check. And. Well, really, that’s it. I don’t think she gave us anything else. I mean, the main movies I’m looking forward to this summer are Fire Island and Bros. And I’ve actually seen both, thanks to being friends with the people who made these movies, but really. Fire Island, which is about going to Fire Island, the place we talked about last week on this show, and Bros, which is Billy Eichner’s , Apatow produced, gay rom com. These movies really get into the nitty gritty of being a gay guy in 2022. There are certain things in this movie that I really in these movies that I really thought I would never see. First of all, in Fire Island, the explanation of casual gay drug use is unparalleled. I mean, you’ll learn about ketamine. You’ll get jokes about ketamine. Your parents are about to learn about ketamine.


Ira Madison III: Your parents are about to learn about gee.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, right. And as somebody said to me, there’s this weird danger about this movie where it feels like your parents, or straight people in the middle of the country, are going to watch this and think, oh, it’s exaggerated because it’s a movie. But actually the events in Fire Island are not exaggerated. I would call it basically a journalistic rundown of what occurs at a gay resort.


Ira Madison III: I would also describe Fire Island as journalistic. I absolutely love the movie. I feel like if anything,


Louis Virtel: It’s creative, by the way and it’s so much.


Ira Madison III: I feel like if anything, it’, yeah, journalistic and toned down.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, no PG 13 in most ways and quaint.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, I think that’s because it’s a Pride and Prejudice adaptation too. It’s so good. But also it feels sweet and quaint in a way that doesn’t feel neutered, like it’s a love victor or something, you know? It feels like it’s honest, but it’s such a joy to watch and I’m looking forward to Bros as well.


Louis Virtel: And you get glimpses of debauchery, like they’ll show you a dark room at a gay party where like actual banging is going on. And then they play with that comically too, which is cool to see. But then, you know, you get back to the romance of it, you get back to the sweetness of the friendships in the movie. And also, by the way, if it were literally just about friendship and that’s the main focus of the movie, that would have been enough. But it really succeeds on a number of layers. And I’m just so impressed with Joel Kim Booster, who wrote it via this adaptation of Pride and Prejudice stars in it. And I think it’s my favorite acting moment of his, too. He basically plays, you know, a relatable protagonist who has flaws. You know, he’s vain, a bit concerned with a maybe concerned with sexual satisfaction and conquering Fire Island in a certain way. But that’s also relatable. I think everybody comes to Fire Island with some ambition of some sort. You know, it’s not just I’m going to go there and relax. It’s like, no, you want the the vigor of a gay experience when you go there. And this movie captures that.


Ira Madison III: You know, my favorite acting by way of this was episode five of Sunnyside, but I’m more of a Joel Kim Booster connoisseur than you.


Louis Virtel: Oh, I see. Wow. All right. You’ve done the homework. Yeah.


Ira Madison III: He’s absolutely great in the film, and I’m proud of the work that he’s done on it. And it’s really such a joy, actually, to see a movie like this with so many of your friends in it involved in the making of it. Because they’re all great. Bowen’s great. Yeah. Matt is great. Mick Adams is great. Like every everyone is like really like at their best in this film. So it was a joy to watch and I’m glad that I got to see it’s coming to Hulu. You can watch it on Hulu, but like I was glad I got to see it on a big screen with a bunch of gays.


Louis Virtel: I thought it really gained something on it. Yeah, because it’s a movie you want to scream at, you know, there’s lots of uproarious comic moments, etc.. So it’s fun to watch in a theater. But you know, when you’re watching Drag Race, this coming in the coming weeks, you can watch this alongside it and, you know, bring that energy, bring the screaming at the bodyness.


Ira Madison III: I texted Louis this week because I was like, this episode of Drag Race was made for you.


Louis Virtel: There have only been a couple of times in my life where I was either experiencing something or watching something, and I thought. This is only for me. I can’t believe this is happening. It feels so catered to me and almost in a way like you did a bad drug. And now you’re concerned the world is funneling in on itself or something. In this episode of Drag Race, Vanna White was not the guest judge, but they surprised the queens on the runway. And it was a pageant themed category. It was actually Vanna White, Glamor, I think, was the name of the theme. And they just surprised them with Vanna White on the runway as they walked. So you actually got all of the queens spontaneously, reacting to the glamor and star power of Vanna White, one after the other. And these old queens in particular were fucking living Raja reacting to  Vanna White and literally putting her face in her hands and saying, oh, my fucking God, I feel like I’m over here. Always touting the greatness of game shows and just how fun they were, how much I loved them, and how much I want to be a game show host, etc.. To watch other gay men react to Vanna White like she was. I mean, it was it was like a president was there or something very affirming. Amazing to see.


Ira Madison III: It taps in the sort of like what we were just talking about at the beginning of the episode? Right. Like with. You’re. You’re. You’re, um. Your aunt, you know, like smoking Winstons, you know, like watching her soaps and then letting you watch game shows. It was like, you got to see Raja. But, you know, I just love seeing, like, Jada and like Monet and Shay reacting to like, Vanna White, too, because it was like that was the era where, um. Everyone was connected by like this stuff that aired during the daytime. And whether it was your aunt, whether it was your mom, whether it was your grandmother, like watching the soap operas and then watching like Wheel of Fortune. It was like we all grew up on Vanna White..


Louis Virtel: Totally. And it’s just she’s that rare person who has had the same job for 40 years. Like, even people on soaps, for the most part have been turned over. They’re a little bit less than. But Vera has literally been there four decades doing the same thing, and she loves it. When she does interviews about her job. She’s like, There’s a famous quote. Somebody said, Have you fulfilled all your career ambitions? And she replied, Yes. Ding. Win Vanna White.


Ira Madison III: She’s turned every fucking vowel. Okay.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, right. Any one time she turned Q is okay. She’s got versatility.


Ira Madison III: I feel like I feel like the only way for her to fulfill something new would be like if we discover new letters of the alphabet.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. When she gets into. Yeah. Cyrillic Wheel of Fortune, that’ll be a fun turn for her.


Ira Madison III: Wheel of Fortune, Hieroglyphics.


Louis Virtel: Solving the puzzle takes years. Yeah.


Ira Madison III: All right. When we’re back. Adam Cordova from Adam Ruins Everything joins us to discuss his new Netflix series, The G Word.




Ira Madison III: Keep It. I’m afraid we might be erasing the antics of Bonkers the Bobcat, Louis.


Louis Virtel: Are you suggesting a bobcat’s a marsupial?


Ira Madison III: No.


Louis Virtel: You’re doing great, sweetie.


Ira Madison III: Uh. You know him from his show Adam Ruins Everything. And now you can see him in his new comedy docu series, The G Word on Netflix. Please welcome to Keep It, Adam Conover.


Adam Conover: Hey, thank you so much for having me, guys.


Ira Madison III: Hi thanks for being here.


Louis Virtel: Oh my god, he’s coming in with that classic morning zoom residence we love. Yes, yes.


Adam Conover: You know, this microphone my. My friend is a music producer, said that this microphone is often called the secret weapon for the male voice on radio. And so that’s why I picked it up. I want to sound like Howard Stern, I guess. I don’t know.


Louis Virtel: Oh, yeah. You’ve always reminded me of. Yeah.Yeah. All of the greats.


Adam Conover: Yeah, that’s that’s how I got my start telling racist jokes on Long Island.


Louis Virtel: It’s worked out for you.


Adam Conover: Well, yeah. Thank you so much for having me.


Ira Madison III: I have a very important question about the G Word which you produced with Barack Obama you know about. And it’s about the government you’re focusing on sort of one topic, I guess, instead of, you know, the minutia that you would dig into on Adam Ruins Everything. The first big question is about the first scene that you filmed with Obama. Unfortunately, I feel like he ate you up in these scenes with his comedy. Like, act like he is so good. And when did you realize that, like, he is just, like, a natural on camera?


Adam Conover: I mean, it’s infuriating. I knew it going in that he could, you know, deliver a joke because I used to see him. Do you know the White House Correspondents Dinner?


Ira Madison III: Mm hmm.


Adam Conover: And, you know, I remember specifically the year that Seth Meyers did it. And Seth Meyers is a great comedian. He spent, you know, his entire life trying to perfect those skills. Barack Obama was so much funnier than Seth Meyers that year. I remember being professionally angry and thinking, Seth Meyers must be angry, too. And yeah, you know, I mean, I have timing and can deliver a joke because I spent you know, I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I spent ten years doing comedy for free in basements in New York City, in order to do this. This motherfucker’s running the free world, right? And somehow he is funnier than me. Give me a break. I don’t think he’s funnier than me. I think he’s very funny. That’s the only. That’s the only way I’ll beg to differ is I do think I’m funnier, but, you know, because I, by the way, wrote the lines that he delivers. So give me a little bit of credit.


Louis Virtel: That’s a good save. That’s a good save.


Ira Madison III: Yeah.


Louis Virtel: No, no. It reminds me of when, like, professional athletes are funny for some reason, like, no, this is my job. Do you understand? Like I don’t go and play basketball in front of you and do it amazingly.


Adam Conover: And it’s annoying when you watch them go, you know, Michael Phelps going on SNL or whatever and they’re bad. That’s annoying. It’s even more annoying when they’re good because it’s stay in your lane. Be good at one thing. We want you to be a good swimmer, good runner or whatever. We want you to suck at everything else so that the rest of us feel a little bit better, you know? But oh.


Ira Madison III: Yeah.


Louis Virtel: I love when they have people on SNL who are athletes and then luckily they’re terrible. Like, I remember specifically one time Nancy Kerrigan was the host. I was like, Look, if Nancy Kerrigan is going to be funny, I’m going to just quit the business. And then luckily she was like a three.


Adam Conover: And it’s okay to not be funny, you know? It’s all.


Ira Madison III: Yeah.


Adam Conover: It’s okay. You know, I went to the White House Correspondents Dinner this year and they sent me there to promote the show. And Joe Biden is the right amount of funny. I think he he delivered he got he got through the monologue. He did a couple of jokes. He got some laughs. They were good. He did a film sketch with James Corden where he basically just sits there while James Corden runs around him in circles and sweats. And that’s what we want. We want someone who can have fun with the joke, but not someone who’s going to outshine the professionals. Please. Well, no, it was a it was a lot of fun. It was also very fun giving the president notes that was the best part was when we were sitting there and I was like, Hey, Barack, could you do that one a little bit faster? And he’s like, Yeah, of course. Whatever you need. I’m like, Holy shit. I just I just gave a I just gave a former president a note, and I didn’t get shot by a Secret Service agent. It was kind of an out of body experience.


Louis Virtel: I’m still picturing what James Corden was doing with you, and it sounds like he’s just a 1920s film actor. Yeah, that sound hasn’t been invented yet. Yeah.


Adam Conover: That’s what that’s what he was doing with Corden specifically.


Louis Virtel: Yeah.


Ira Madison III: And so this series, what was it like approaching this as opposed to, you know, Adam Ruins Everything.


Adam Conover: Right. So, you know, this show came about because Barack Obama’s production company optioned the Michael Louis book, The Fifth Risk, which I had read. And it’s an incredible book about the inner workings of the U.S. government, and they want to make a TV show out of it. And they needed a pitch. Right. And I pitched an. I said, Hey, what if I do it like I’m interested in the government? Let’s let’s, you know, spend six episodes diving into it. And the challenge was that, you know, and Adam Ruins Everything. We would always look for a topic that we knew the audience would be interested in that had an easy in for them. That would take us to an interesting place. For this show, it’s like kind of a topic that a lot of people are not interested in or specifically our as our angle is, as our thesis is, we don’t want to talk about the government in America. We love to argue about politics because that’s fun. We get to argue about people and how stupid they are and etc. and make fun of them. But we spent four years, you know, arguing over who’s going to run the government. Almost none of us know anything about the thing that those we’re actually hiring those people to run. That’s all. That’s boring. I don’t want to hear about it. Oh, you’re gonna make me hear about the IRS. Right. And so the challenge was finding a way to approach it that would make it really vital and important to people that would that would make its importance leap out. Because the truth is, it is one of the most important topics in America. It is fascinating. It was just a matter of of making it interesting by talking about how it affects our everyday lives. And that’s sort of where I am as a comedian now, is I enjoy you know, there’s no there’s no topics that you can’t do with comedy. There’s just topics that take a little bit more work than others. And so for me, now that I’ve been doing this for so many years, it’s a lot more fun to to say, okay, how do I take something that people think might be boring and show them why it’s fascinating?


Louis Virtel: Is it daunting to create a show about the government while working with a former U.S. president? I mean, did you think like, oh, I can’t really be, you know, myself, because, I mean, watching Adam Ruins Everything, not that you’re, you know, upending the entire world or screaming that like all U.S. presidents, namely Barack Obama, are horrible or stupid or whatever. But I think you would probably prefer the option to be critical over somebody like that. That must be strange to work with them.


Adam Conover: That’s true. And that was the strangest thing about the project. But, you know, I approached it much the same way that I approached being on advertising, supported television when I was making Adam Ruins Everything for TruTV. We did topics that, you know, frankly, most of the show was about advertising scams and, you know, the problems with capitalism and consumer culture. And here we are in advertising, supported television. And sometimes that entailed, you know, a tough conversation with the network where, you know, I had to go to battle with them. And, you know, the fact that I was willing to go to battle and fight for those topics and most of the time was able to win. That’s why I was able to, like, sleep at night doing that show. Right. And so I took a similar approach here. When we got started, the first thing that I said to, you know, the people who work for the people who work for Barack Obama, which is that, you know, that’s that’s who I’m working with. I said, look, everybody, the death of this show will be if it is seen in any way as being propaganda for, you know, Barack Obama’s preferred policies. And it cannot be that. And they say, yeah, we agree, we’re concerned about that as well. So I said, Well, the way to solve that is to give me editorial independence in the show. I’m going to cover the topics that I want to cover and cover them the way I want to cover them. And they agreed to that. And that was the way that we made the show. And we did lots of topics over the course of our six episodes that are critical of the Obama administration. We talk about, you know, the overreliance on private partnerships, you know, private businesses rather than, you know, public programs that that I think the Affordable Care Act is emblematic of. We talked about the government’s development of drones, of unmanned combat drones and how those went up by tenfold under the Obama administration. But we talked about those things. And, you know, there were a couple of times that there were tough conversations, right. When I what I told them we were doing the the drone segment, they were like, are you are you sure you want to do that? I’m like, Yeah, yeah, no, I’m sure we are. I’m sure we want to do that. Because my strategy is always to find the topic that the audience thinks we won’t be able to do, that people that the cynics in the crowd will think, well, no way is you going to talk about this. I live when this show is announced, I literally had people texting me going, but you’re not going to do drone strikes. Well guess what motherfuckers, we did. So what are you going to talk about now? And and so that’s that was my approach to solving that problem. Now, I’m not going to go out on a limb and say that this is the most, you know, pure work of journalism of all time, because, yeah, there’s a there’s a president’s name on it, you know, but within that constraint, which is all that we can do when making content under capitalism, is work under the system that we are stuck under. We pushed as hard as we could to do a show that had integrity and, you know, didn’t cover the government with neither fear nor favor is, as I think the cliche goes.


Louis Virtel: Whenever I think of the work you do, I am reminded of what I consider a really golden age of infotainment that I grew up with. Like, for example, like on this show, we are very trivia oriented. I am particular, I’m very trivia oriented. And I think I wouldn’t be that way if it weren’t for shows like Animaniacs, if it weren’t for a show like things that really like drilled you with information but also giving you like something other, something else that was more whiz bang and entertaining. Yeah. And I was wondering, was that the kind of thing that really affected you growing up and shaped your comic sensibility? Because I feel like while we do have infotaining stuff now, once upon a time it was just a much more Bill Nye.


Adam Conover: Yeah.


Louis Virtel: Kind of television universe.


Adam Conover: Yes. And there’s a fascinating reason why this is the case. I was I was obsessed with all those shows. I watched Bill Nye. Beakman’s World.


Louis Virtel: I was I literally was just thinking of that.


Adam Conover: Beakman’s World, frankly, to me, better than Bill Nye. I actually had the joy of interviewing Paul Zulum, who played Beakman on my podcast actually a couple of years ago. Incredible show. Animaniacs is another great example. I watched Animaniacs daily. And the reason shows like that existed this is this is going to bring me right back to my theme of the government is that in the nineties there started to be this big outcry about how much commercial programing was on kids TV. You know, I don’t know if remember, like in the late eighties, kids TV shows were literally 10 minutes long and they would have 20 minutes of commercials because kids would sit there and watch everything. So Congress actually passed some laws that reduced, you know, put a mandate on the amount of commercials that could be on kids TV. And they added an educational content minimum that was mandated that every broadcast network, you know, every broadcast station, NBC, ABC, Fox affiliate had to have a minimum amount of educational content. And the reason they made those shows like Bill Nye and Beakman’s World were in response to that government mandate. Now, flash forward to 20 years later. All the content is on cable and on streaming, which those laws don’t apply to. They only applied to broadcast television, and so we no longer are pushing that incentive to have that educational programing. But you’re right, there was a golden age of educational kids content on commercial TV. Those weren’t PBS shows, right? Those were commercial shows. And yeah, I grew up watching them and they and they deeply affected my what I do. And actually, when I started doing Adam Ruins Everything, I found the kids almost immediately started watching the show. I didn’t expect them to. It was on at 10:30 at night, you know, but we immediately developed a huge fan base among kids. And I think it’s partially because kids love to learn these things. They love to laugh and, you know, they love it when those things are next to each other. And so I’m very happy to be carrying that torch forward. I wish it were a little bit easier for more shows like that to get on television because, you know, the biggest barrier that I face is when I go in front of TV executives and try to pitch and I tell them, no, people love to learn things. People love information. They don’t believe me. They’re like, Nah, unless it’s true crime. Nobody wants to learn anything. And I know that’s not true people. And by the way, I think the success of the show that I’m working on now is proof of that. And so maybe we’re making that case a little bit more to the to the industry.


Louis Virtel: I will say similarly, something about you that feels like a throwback to me is just the general sense of humor, like the not just the now the knowledgeable quality you have, but the cynical quality. The it just reminds me of old comics like Greg Fitzsimmons or that just in the nineties you turn on TV and somebody be rolling their eyes at something and like you loved it, you know? And I wonder if you feel kind of like a step out of, I guess like someone like John Oliver is sort of like that. But like even that feels a little bit more, I don’t know, Pat Sajak-y to me, like traditionally mainstream. Do you feel like your humor is also a bit of a throwback?


Adam Conover: Oh, that’s a very good question. I haven’t really thought of it. I mean, yeah, I did grow up again watching Comedy Central, you know, and the sort of comedy there. And you’re right, there’s a lot of eye rolling at society and culture and media that I think I’m sure influenced me. But I also think that, like, I’m I sometimes feel that I’m pushing it to something new, which is that the comedy that I do, I think, is also fundamentally sincere. That a lot of comedians throughout history, quite rightly so, have taken a cynical point of view. Everyone’s a liar, everyone’s a cheat, you know? And I do comedy where I’m like, Hey, some of the comedy is about, Oh my God, this person’s incredible. Like on this show, you know, I introduce you to these, you know, incredible government employees, the folks who are inspecting  our meat every day, folks who are flying planes into hurricanes so they can measure where the hurricane is, where it’s going, make sure people can evacuate in time. And those people are only doing those things because they give a shit, you know, because the. It pays well. But it’s a government job. You know, they get they get good health insurance. But also, they could all be making more money working for a private company, you know, flying a private jet rather than flying into a hurricane. But they choose to get up and do that every day because they know somebody needs to do it. And that’s incredibly anti cynical. And a lot of the comedy I’m doing is like, isn’t that crazy? Isn’t that incredible? Which which to me is like, I’m not going to say is brand new in comedy, but is not something that I grew up seeing. So I guess I have a foot in both worlds, I’d say.


Ira Madison III: Hmm. I would ask to, you know, we know you so much for Adam Ruins Everything. And now this, you know, like we were discussing, you know, like the infotainment comedy. But I’m like is what would an Adam Conover sort of like stand up special look like or is that something that you feel like you have any interest in? Like, is that the kind of comedy that you did? Like when you were doing comedy and basments? And like, you’re like, I’ve gotten away from that shit now. Or like, do you still think that there’s other avenues of comedy that you want to tap into?


Adam Conover: Oh, Ira, I’m so glad you asked. I, in fact, do still perform standup comedy. And if the if people are interested in seeing me, you can find my tour dates at Adam Conover dot net slash tour dates traveling. I’m doing a big summer tour going to Pheonix, Nashville all over the place. So yeah, look, I got my start doing standup comedy. It is my first love in comedy. It is still my favorite form of comedy to have that direct connection between the comic and the audience with nobody intermediating it, to be able to just like it’s one of the most direct forms of art, I think just people talking to people. And, you know, I’ve been incredibly busy working on TV over the past five, six years. I have never been able to put together the exact standup special that I wanted to, but I’m working on a new hour now that is called Pay Attention. It’s all about my own diagnosis of attention deficit disorder. It’s about the attention economy and tick tock. It’s about our own cultural and inability to pay attention to anything. It’s I’m really proud of the material. I’ve been working on it for four months now and I hope to film it as a special. This tour is to really, you know, bring it out, bring it to people and take it across the country and and put the final touches on it. So I hope, folks come check that out. Adam Conover dot Net slash tour dates.


Ira Madison III: I think lastly I want to ask like how does it also feel? I feel like you were recently thrust into like the the main the Internet conversation through your, you know, anti-Caruso right now well now you got you know like Kim Kardashian opposite you. Has political activism been something that you want it to like be, you know, a part of outside of your comedy? Or is this just something you felt that like you needed to do because you live in L.A.? And it’s important to you.


Adam Conover: I mean, it’s something that I think comedy has brought me to, that the work has brought me to. You know, I’ve had the experience on Adam Ruins Everything of sharing the truth about the world, right? We do the research. We find out things like, you know, oh, my God, polygraph tests don’t work. And the criminal justice system is incredibly biased and corrupt against defendants. And, you know, innocent people are being thrown in prison, you know, and I and I did that on national television. I was like, I did it. I fixed things. Right. And then a couple of years later, I was like, oh, hold on a second. The cops are still using polygraph tests. They’re still throwing people in prison who shouldn’t be mass incarceration. I said it really loud and people saw it and they were like, Wow, great. But nothing changed. And I started to realize that, you know, we need political change to to actually, you know, create the better world that I’m, like, screaming for. And so, you know, a lot of this show, the new show, The G Word is about me wrestling with that problem. How do I actually create that change instead of just shout about it on television? And our entire final episode, episode six is all about how you can create that change in your own community. About the answer that I found of that question, which is that change is local, that like, especially when it comes to criminal justice reform, it’s all local, right? Mass incarceration is caused by your city or county district attorney, which is a race that you can vote for. And you probably don’t know the name of your county, city or county district attorney. I certainly didn’t before we were working on the show. And so, you know, we make a plea. We profile these incredible activists in Philadelphia called Reclaim Philadelphia, who got Larry Krasner, the progressive DA, elected there, who’s changing criminal justice. And we saw like they’re making a massive change in their own community. And you can, too. And that led to me getting more involved in local politics here in Los Angeles, which I’m very enmeshed in now. It’s incredibly satisfying work. And yeah, I mean, I ended up speaking out about Rick Caruso because I was like, nobody is nobody is saying this yet. Nobody is noticing that, you know, we’re we’re about to let the election be bought by another mini Trump here. A dude, a real a billionaire real estate developer with a tan who won’t release his taxes. Is nobody is nobody seeing this what’s happening? And so I just needed to do a little bit of shouting about it. But even more important than, you know, my tweet. Right. And far more important than Kim Kardashian’s Instagram story is the work that we can show up to do every day, like in our actual political systems, like what I’m pleading with people to do is to, you know, make your tweet, make your tweet about politics, go for it, then find a meeting that you can go to of a local group that’s working on an issue that you care about homelessness, criminal justice, reforming, you know, whatever party you want to be a member of, etc.. And just like find the low level group that you can go join and show up to every week and then show up the next week and show up the next week. And then once that happens and you meet activists and they start saying, Hey, Adam, you’re pretty involved in this, would you help us organize a fundraiser next week? Would you help us get the word out about this election? Would you go knock on doors? Once you’re doing that, you don’t have time to, like, scroll Twitter and be depressed about the state of the country anymore because you are suddenly too busy and you will so quickly see the fruits of your labor like. And once you do, I’ve had that experience. Once you do , like , you suddenly realize the sky is the limit for how much you can change in your community. And so that’s that’s what brought me to that.


Louis Virtel: And now you’re standing across the aisle from Gwyneth Paltrow, who is stumping for Rick Caruso and the bravery it takes to face the goop empire. Yeah.


Adam Conover: Oh, my God. You know, millionaires love billionaires. That’s the thing that we learned is, like, if you’re a millionaire and hold on. So a billionaire wants to talk to me. Oh, the billionaire really wants to talk to me? Oh, yes, of course. Oh, yes, Mr. Billionaire, I can help. Oh, oh, sure, sure. Let me help you in the in the in the fight of of wealthy people. Like that’s all that’s going on there. That’s literally all that’s happening.


Ira Madison III: I mean, literally me when, you know, I met Jenna, what someone that they want to pay, you know, all I need is to all I need is $200 thrown on the table and do anything I want.


Adam Conover: For real.


Ira Madison III: Adam, thank you so much for being here and thank you for the G Word. I found it, like, really fun to watch. I hope that I hope that you continue to do more of this. Actually, I would love to know more, not just more about how the government works, but maybe how other other governments work. Dig into the French government.


Adam Conover: Oh, that’s I mean, you know, Netflix is international. And so maybe they’ll want to do a follow up specifically for France. I would do it. I do it. I mean, look, they’re calling this a limited series, but people seem to be watching it and in success you never know what they’ll want me to do. So I and look, no matter what, I’m going to keep doing, you know, educational, informative content like this that challenges and provokes people because that’s I don’t know, it’s what I was put here to do. So I really thank you for bringing me on to talk about it.


Adam Conover: Yeah. Thanks for being here. .




Ira Madison III: Iconic actor Ray Liotta passed away last week at the age of 67. He was in the Dominican Republic filming Dangerous Waters and died in his sleep. And I don’t know anything about the plot of Dangerous Waters, but it sounds like an Ashley Judd vehicle from 94, which is exactly what I’d want to see Ray Liotta in.


Louis Virtel: You can just picture the part for the movie, like it’s a little bit swimmy.


Ira Madison III: I was half shocked, but not really shocked by like the outpouring of like sort of like sentiment from people like our own age, really like for Ray Liotta when he passed and it’s sort of like hit me that a lot of the roles that he was in like covered I think like the gamut of like specific like nineties film experiences. Goodfellas, Field of Dreams like that that covers, you know, the whole like sort of like bro macho sphere, but also like emotional shit, you know, like Fields is like Field of Dreams is very much in that vein of Top Gun, you know, about men crying with other men.


Louis Virtel: Dead Poets Society. All those movies. Yeah, yeah. Well, we’ll start with Field of Dreams where he plays Shoeless Joe. He appears basically in a dream. He’s like, you know, a mirage, kind of. And he really has the star power to pull that off. Watching that movie back, he just you can’t take your eyes off him. He lends the movie the sort of transcendent quality it needs to be more than just, you know, kind of a schmaltzy movie. But also, obviously, he’s legendary in Goodfellas. I when you tell me to think of a crazy laugh in cinema, Ray Liotta in Goodfellas comes to mind first. But also something’s interesting about his career. He would just pop up everywhere, you know? He sort of moved away from being a prestige actor and to, you know, somebody who would just be in everything. You know, this guy who’s in Hannibal and B-movie and Date Night and Heartbreakers.


Adam Conover: Okay, first of all.


Louis Virtel: Oh my god, Heartbreakers.


Ira Madison III: Shades of Blue is prestige TV.


Louis Virtel: Okay for who?


Ira Madison III: For me.


Louis Virtel: Yeah.


Ira Madison III: He and J. Lo did what needed to be done.


Louis Virtel: Which was get a check. I mean, that’s what needed to be done. Honestly, can we study this moment in American history? J.Lo on a primetime cop show. What. It still shocks. It’s it’s like it’s like it’s. So Celine Dion did a cooking show for four years. No. What? You know.


Ira Madison III: It’s so weird, but it’s also, I guess, sort of that pendulum of celebrityA because it made all the sense in the world that J.Lo would have been doing that in like 2016. But that I feel like the the A-Rod breakup and then back into Ben Affleck, like catapulted her back up to like A plus celebrity and not like A A minus. She’s always been A. But like, it’s it’s the minus or plus that’s sometimes in front of your name.


Louis Virtel: I continue to be baffled, but I want to say about Ray Liotta. He I would compare him maybe to someone like Mary Steenburgen, where at the beginning of his career he was like award worthy and like a star. And like we were figuring out what to do with him. And then as his career moved on, you would just see them in everything and they would be, you know, kind of utility actors. You’re always happy to see them, but they’re not super prone to be in one genre or anything. They just belonged wherever they ended up. Though I do have to say I thought he ruled in Marriage Story. I wish that performance got a little bit more traction.


Ira Madison III: He was so fucking good in it. And I think that, you know, like Laura Dern, Adam Driver got, you know, like the most of the accolades for it but he was so good. I thought he had the scene with him and Laura Dern was just like that scene was electric to me in the way that Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are like and never mustered that sort of electricity in the film for me.


Louis Virtel: Right above it, they were very screamy and Laura Dern and Ray Liotta are in, as the Dern character says, a street fight. You know, they’re like using all of the tools that are disposable to get their clients what they need. I actually love Laura Dern’s win for that. I know it’s a dubious win for a lot of people, especially because she got she won in the year where people were obsessed with get ready Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers.


Ira Madison III: Do you think do you think Ray was on separate text chains with both of them during that year?


Louis Virtel: I would love to hear it. Oh, my God. Is that what killed him?


Ira Madison III: Coming for them.


Louis Virtel: You can’t handle it.


Ira Madison III: I’ve had enough ladies. Um I really did love them in that movie, though. It was sort of reminded me of like like Intolerable Cruelty, a movie which isn’t perfect, but someday someone will get that movie right. I mean, it’s basically an Adam’s Rib, but, like, there’s really been no good Adam’s Rib remake since then. Um, and Intolerable Cruelty tries to get there, but, you know, it’s like, I think Marriage Story, the scenes between them comes the closest.


Louis Virtel: I just want to say that I continue to be baffled about the movie Adam’s Rib. This is a Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy movie from 1949 where.


Ira Madison III: Continue to be baffled by a movie from 1949. That is as that is the Louis Virtel mantra.


Louis Virtel: In that movie are both Jean Hagan. Later, her signature role is, of course, in Singin in the Rain and Judy Holliday, who won the Oscar the following year for Born Yesterday. Both of those women basically gave identical performances in those movies. And yet and they look a lot alike, and yet they are both in Adam’s Rib. I just it boggles the mind that that actually happened. Moving back to reality now, Ray Liotta, another movie he’s great in I assume you’re a huge Something Wild fan.


Ira Madison III: I mean.


Louis Virtel: Let me let me say it again. I assume you’re a huge Something Wild fan.


Ira Madison III: You know that I consider myself a Demme-sec. Which is what we call Jonathan Demme fans.


Louis Virtel: Such an unusual movie in his career. Obviously like nothing connected all the movies he made there other than great performances, but Something Wild, a caper that was both romantic and extremely intense. The kerfuffle, the Melanie Griffith character gets in with Ray Liotta is not cute, and Ray Liotta is fucking scary in that. Which reminds me of get ready, Eric Roberts.


Ira Madison III: You know what? I would actually say that what I think connects Jonathan Demme is that is it’s like a bit of horror and comedy.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Intensity in comedy.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. Cause, you know, like, Something Wild is very much like Psycho in that it’s almost two different movies, you know? Like, it starts as this light comedy with Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels. It’s like, Oh, my God, you’re impersonating like my husband, like my high school reunion. Ha ha. And then Ray Liotta shows up and it turns into a thriller.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Right. Well, also, let’s talk about Rachel Getting Married for a second. Seems like a normal family drama, but then the psycho thing occurs. And I mean, Debra Winger slaps you across the face. And if that’s not a Hitchcock level terror, I don’t know what is.


Ira Madison III: Ugh.


Louis Virtel: Sorry. Punches you in the face. Punches you in the face.


Ira Madison III: I mean, that that’s Philadelphia, you know, Married To The Mob. Um, The Truth About Charlie is a thriller in that I’m always terrified that Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton decided to remake Chiraq.


Louis Virtel: Right. Who gave them? Who gave them the right?


Ira Madison III: Also very underrated Ray Liotta film is Corrina Corrina.


Louis Virtel: Another movie that we’ll see all the time on TV, and I feel like it’s lost a time. Well, Whoopi Goldberg is the exact person where she’s in a ton of movies that everybody used to used to see. And now there’s no conversation about them, like Jumpin Jack Flash. Terrible movie. Birds are terrible movie. Growing up, you saw it eight times.


Ira Madison III: I mean, I feel like in my household, my grandmother had every Whoopi movie from that era on VHS. So, like, if I didn’t see them on TV, I would just, like, rewatch them often, but. Wow. I’d be like Eddie.


Louis Virtel: Right. What? What? I mean, like, Whoopi Goldberg stayed starring in movies throughout the nineties. It’s just you won’t believe what she chose.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, we only think of really like Sister Act, Sister Act Two, Ghost and Soap Dish, but like Made in America with Ted Danson.


Louis Virtel: She did that movie where she reinvented a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court, but she was starring in it like she goes back to Camelot times.


Ira Madison III: Yes. And then there’s a Theodore Rex.


Louis Virtel: See.


Ira Madison III: The associate where she plays the white man in business. She plays. Ah, what’s his name?


Louis Virtel: Okay, that’s funny.


Ira Madison III: Robert S. Cutty.


Louis Virtel: She did that.


Ira Madison III: A her movie. It was a Knight in Camelot. And it was a TV film from 98. A wonderful world of Disney film which.


Louis Virtel: Saw a dubious world of Disney.


Ira Madison III: I mean, someday we just really need to tap into the lost classics from the nineties that were wonderful world of Disney, like Sunday movies that are truly only movies that people are. A If you’re younger than us, you have no idea these movies exist.


Louis Virtel: No. Right. They’re being kept from you. They’re not, shall we say, jumping out of the vault.


Ira Madison III: I wonder if this is on Disney Plus.


Louis Virtel: Oh, my God. Because I remember when Disney Plus was rolled out, they they quote unquote, had everything, you know, that wasn’t Song of the South or whatever. So maybe. Ray Liotta. Consummately good actor. I was thrilled when he popped up and stuff. Surprised he fucking died.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. Wild movie that he’s in that people always forget exists. Operation Dumbo Drop.


Louis Virtel: A VHS classic. I can picture exactly where it was on the four star video shot in LeMans, Illinois.


Ira Madison III: All right, when we’re back. Keep It. And we’re back with our favorite segment of the episode. As usual it is. Keep It, Louis. What’s yours?


Louis Virtel: Well, mine’s exciting because I’m saying Keep It to both sides of an argument so. I’m not here to make friends, etc..


Ira Madison III: You’re Coral.


Louis Virtel: It goes. Yeah. Yes. I’m just like Coral. Yes. I’m going to teach everybody about Marcus Garvey this episode. My Keep It to begin with, is the promo pictures for Bradley Cooper in the Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro. Okay. I mean, they dial them up to look like Leonard Bernstein later in life. And it’s giving Rick Baker, it’s giving Undercover Boss. It’s giving. It’s so it’s just it’s just hilarious how much biopic promo picks follow a pattern the can you believe an actor is doing this? Can you believe his nose looks different now? You know, I guess Monster with Charlize Theron is the classic example. But, you know, Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye. Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland.


Ira Madison III: There’s a special thing about biopics where they have these said and they cake them up like they’re Mrs. Doubtfire. Like Leo. Leo in J. Edgar.


Louis Virtel: Totally. No, I want to emphasize there is that Mrs. Doubtfire quality about the makeup here, too, which just adds to the LOL why are we doing this factor? But also, I do want to say Keep It to people who are cynical about biopics. I mean, I like I feel like on Twitter all the time. I see people be like, oh, look, he’s wearing all this makeup. And now people are clamoring for him to get an Oscar. And getting an Oscar should be more about just a physical resemblance. Honestly, when I saw the movie Judy with Renée Zellweger, I mean, I think literally she was my Keep It beforehand. And then I saw it and I thought she should win the fucking Oscar. It’s an electric performance. So I think it’s fair to be cynical about the promotion of biopics, but I don’t think it’s fair to be dismissive of the of what a biopic can bring quality wise. Like, look, this may be interesting. I’m sure there’s a lot most people don’t know about Leonard Bernstein. I’m happy the information is going to be out there. I’m happy people are going to be probably re-absorbing his entire career, especially in the wake of, you know, someone like Stephen Sondheim’s death. The people appreciating West Side Story again has been nothing but awesome to me. But.


Ira Madison III: I will offer to that, you know, like for an actor, being under that much makeup is probably a bit freeing to give like an electric performance. You know, it’s a bit, you know, like um, like the Italians, you know, whether they would don a mask for the commedia dell’arte.


Louis Virtel: Pants alone, yes, I can tell you, come from the theater. Yeah. Uta Hagen over here.


Ira Madison III: And worse, the prosthetics for Maestro. I just want to say that in the trailer for Elvis, you see Tom Hanks playing Colonel Tom Parker, who Elvis’s manager. And the prosthetics that they have on Tom Hanks are what really should be sending somebody to the gulag.


Louis Virtel: By the way, I am worried about that performance. I don’t want to think of Tom Hanks as unhinged or out of control or living the protagonist’s life from the Christina Aguilera song Not Myself Tonight, but it seems he is doing just that in this movie.


Ira Madison III: What are you saying that Baz Luhrmann doesn’t often churn out after his best performances?


Louis Virtel: I know it seems wild, but.


Ira Madison III: Oh, all right. Bye. Keep It this way. It goes to Stranger Things.


Louis Virtel: I’m always surprised when Stranger Things comes out that everybody has kept up on it and they are fucking thrilled for it. Not that it’s bad or anything, but it’s everybody’s favorite show secretly.


Ira Madison III: I feel like because of the time that you are left between each season like it’s easy for like it to be dormant. Like people don’t go crazy about it all the time, but when it comes back, you’re reminded that like your favorite thing is on. I fucking love Stranger Things. To be honest, I think it’s great. Ah, it’s weird that it’s, it’s weird that it’s one of the final shows of the like earlier Netflix streaming era before they canceled everything.


Louis Virtel: Right in the Grace and Frankie category.


Ira Madison III: Yes. But my specific Keep It isn’t to the show, but season four is starting out pretty well so far. I’m not done with it yet, but. There’s a musical moment in in episode four that, you know, everybody is talking about. And it involves Kate Bush’s iconic song, Running Up That Hill A Deal with God. And I just want to say. Congrats to Kate Bush. You know, congrats to Stranger Things for running up those sales for this song. But


Louis Virtel: Those sales, oh my god.


Ira Madison III: She, has other songs. And I’m not just saying Keep It to Stranger Things. This is to Pose which which did you only like three years ago with I think it was in the premier of Pose. It was it was very much in the romance between Evan Peters and Indya Moore. It used the exact same song. And I’m like, If you were a music supervisor doing a show in the eighties, I implore you to listen to anything else in Kate Bush’s discography.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, it’s kind of like if they use Madonna in TV shows, but only Material Girl, you know, like only the song you definitely remember of her from that time.


Ira Madison III: I’m like, Can we get some love for Hounds of Love?


Louis Virtel: Oh, please. Oh, Cloudbusting. Oh, what a beautiful song. And she produced that whole album herself. Kate Bush.


Ira Madison III: This Woman’s Worth.


Louis Virtel: This Woman’s Worth. Yes. Maxwell Inspo. Kate Bush. Now it must be said about Kate Bush. She really is one of these people. First of all, nobody has more. Nobody has inspired more people. You can go right down the line. It’s like Tori Amos. It’s PJ Harvey. Big Boy. Yeah. Big, Big Boy. Yes, Big Boy. Obsessive Kate Bush fan. And her her legacy speaks for itself. But and I want people to discover her music. And this song is fabulous. And there’s a recent cover by somebody named Meg Meyers. I really enjoy of Running Up That Hill, too. But you’re right. I hope people do the homework. I hope they discover more of what she’s done. But once upon a time, all you heard about Kate Bush was Wuthering Heights. I feel like people would bring that up at a gag because her vocal on that is so iconically strange and shocking and pixie like.


Ira Madison III: It’s a loving.


Louis Virtel: Babooshka we love yeah.


Ira Madison III: It’s a loving Keep It, only because I feel like this brought out of the woodwork too a lot of black Kate Bush stans, because we exist . But I feel like was always lost in the conversation is like to be a Kate Bush that means that like you understand how weird she is and I feel like Running Up That Hill is like such a conventional song in so many ways that you can become obsessed with it, but not obsessed with just how, like, weird Kate Bush is as an artist.


Louis Virtel: Yes, I Kate Bush is as brilliant as an artist can be, while also seeming 100% like a Christopher Guest character.


Ira Madison III: She’s Janet from another planet. She is she is holding you hostage in a hole in a basement all summer.


Louis Virtel: Just a weirdo peering into the camera, you know, sustained strange eye contact. Very Parker Posey.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. And I need to visit some classic, like Kate Bush interviews. I’m sure you have a favorite one.


Louis Virtel: Was she didn’t give a ton of interviews. She went on press tours for her albums at the time, but then she became a bit of a recluse thereafter.


Ira Madison III: A woman in the window, if you will.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, that’s right. I love Big Sky by Kate Bush. I love the entire album. The Dreaming are Sensual World, great album anyway. Not she’s wonderful and no one sounds like her. No, no. Like there’s something about the voice that is only her. And you can’t you don’t replicate that by getting, you know, whatever comes up on the allmusic.com list of artists like her, you know, it’s only Kate Bush.


Ira Madison III: Lastly, I want to say that all the talk about Kate Bush led me to what are the funniest tweets that someone sent me this week? And it was from Zach Budryk, a reporter at the Hill. And he tweeted, I think a lot of people on here praising Kate Bush were condemning her husband, George, just last week. And it’s even funnier because of the, like, earnest responses.


Louis Virtel: Right? No, they actually aren’t married. American politician and former president George Bush and British rave. Okay.


Ira Madison III: I want to see that First Lady series, though.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Oh, my God.


Ira Madison III: Just kickass. That’s a magic fantasy. It’s just Kate Bush married to George Bush. I’d watch it.


Louis Virtel: Also. But speaking of that, you know who could play Kate Bush? Kind of. Now, I already brought up this episode. She in the eighties, looked exactly like Mary Steenburgen. So anyway, they should collab.


Ira Madison III: Okay. You really pushed on the Steenbergen agenda this week.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Oh, oh, you got to push something. I got. Yes, right. You know what? I’m not? I mean, talk about the number one couple, two Stan. Sorry, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan.


Ira Madison III: All right. That’s our episode as a reminder. Keep it as not on next week. So we will see you.


Louis Virtel: Frightening.


Ira Madison III: In two weeks.


Louis Virtel: You sounded like Chuck Woolery right there. We’ll be back in two and two.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. Same Keep It channel. Same Keep It time. But in two weeks. Thanks again to Adam Conover for joining us. And that’s our episode. Keep It is a Crooked Media production. Our senior producer is Kendra James. Our producer is Chris Lord. Our executive producers are Ira Madison, III.


Louis Virtel: And Louis Virtel.


Ira Madison III: Our editor is Charlotte Landes and Kyle Seglin is our sound engineer.


Louis Virtel: Thank you to our digital team, Matt DeGroot and Nar Melkonian and Delon Villanueva for our production support every week.


Jon Lovett Hey, everybody, it’s Jon Lovett.


Tre’vell Anderson: And Tre’vell Anderson.


Jon Lovett And we are so excited to team up to let you know what Crooked is up to this Pride Month. We’re bringing you incredibly queer content across the entire Crooked network that includes What A Day, Lovett or Leave It, Keep It, Strict Scrutiny and more.


Tre’vell Anderson: Plus, we’re fundraising for Trans Lifeline, Equality Florida and Trans Education Network of Texas, all of whom are working tirelessly to support the queer and trans communities nationally and locally.


Jon Lovett To get the scoop on all of it, head to Crooked.com/pride.