15 Minutes: a podcast about fame, with Jamie Berger
Episode 48 - Elna Baker
Elna Baker - writer, storyteller, performer, comedian and author of the 2010 memoir, “The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance.” You may have heard her tell stories on the Moth, TAL, among other places. On top of telling and producing stories for This American Life for six years, she’s also on the staff of the show. I’m not sure exactly what her title is, but it’s along the lines of producer, consultant, comedian. We talk about that a bit. We’ve met a few times through NYC comedy-world friends. Earlier this year we ended up having dinner with a group of friends after a show at the NY Podcast Festival. I found myself sitting across from Elna, and her This American Life boss, Ira Glass, and while Ira was uninterested, at best, when I found my way around to talking about my podcast - something to the effect of “Why would anyone want to listen to famous people talk about fame” - I clarified that it wasn’t just famous people talking about it, point is, Ira was clearly never going to be a listener, let alone a guest, Elna, perhaps out of politeness, seemed genuinely interested in the topic. And now, here she is. It’s especially gracious and trusting of Elna, of anyone involved with a show like TAL, to come on a show that’s all about lengthy, free-form conversations, because it’s pretty much the opposite of what they do over at TAL, which is to make beautiful, challenging, highly produced-polished little gems of thought and storytelling. We talked about some of her recurring themes in her work - family, sex, Mormonism and her leaving it, her 100-pound weight loss and the accompanying change in self-and-others-perception. We also ended up revisiting a live show Elna and colleagues put on six years ago at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival that featured Ira Glass, Rachel Maddow, John Hodgman and a slew of others. That evening isn’t available on the internet, or anywhere, that lives on only in infamous legend, which I am proud to have a small part in keeping alive. It was called “The Drunk Show,” and … well, you’ll hear about it. We talked on the phone on a Friday evening in early October. Find Elna telling stories at http://elnabaker.website Find us at http://15minutesjamieberger.com Thanks.
Eugene Mirman (re-edit/reboot) - Episode 75
Back in 2016, aka a zillion horror-movie lifetimes ago, my friend Eugene and I had a late-night conversation about fame, comedy, having a newborn baby boy, and much much more. I re-edited it to put it back out here on the occasion of the streaming release of the wonderful documentary "It Started as a Joke," which follows the decade long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival along with the parallel story of Eugene and his wife Katie's battle with her cancer. That may sound like a rough juxtaposition, but it's extremely well done. You'll laugh, you'll cry - see it, it's not like you don't have any free time right now.http://prettygoodfriends.com/it-started-as-a-jokeBest to all in these strange, tough times.-j
Beth Lisick (reboot) - Episode 74
Re-edit reboot of my 2017 two-episode conversation with Beth Lisick on the occasion of the publication of her great new and first novel, "Edie on the Green Screen." Congratulations, Beth!The episode starts with a serious #metoo conversation before moving on to lighter topics. So if you're needing light in these heavy times, after the intro, jump ahead about a half an hour.Best to you all, I wish you the best lives you can possibly live right now!-jamie
Michael Ian Black - re-edit/reboot of episodes 50 & 51
Back in 2017, I spoke to actor/writer/comedian Michael Ian Black for this show. At the time, I broke our conversation up into two episodes, each preceded by a long rant by me about the political and social injustices of the day. Well, it's the end of the year, and I'm exhausted by injustice, and decided to re-edit the conversation into a single, more entertaining whole. I think you'll enjoy it. We talk about fame of course, and about our mothers, about toe fungus, his feud with Marc Maron, the list goes on. Listening back, I found this, on how what's better than being a lead, the famous one, on a TV series, is being somewhere around 5-7 on the call list:"“If I knew that I would have an acting job for the next five years on a network show, where I didn’t even really have to think, it was just showing up, doing some scenes, having a free lunch and collecting a fat paycheck, I would like to do that for the next five years with the full knowledge that at the end of the five years I’d have enough money in the bank to write a novel, devote myself to the podcast, five years of being number 5-7 on the call sheet. There’s a sweet spot there that’s just ideal. I don’t want to be in every scene, I don’t want to solve the crime.”***I wish us all better times, and a free and fair election, in 2020.-Jamie B.