15 Minutes: a podcast about fame, with Jamie Berger
Episode 62 - Sonny Smith
Sonny Smith is an old San Francisco friend I hadn’t spoken to in fifteen years.
Here’s what Mother Jones had to say about his new album:
“On his own, or as leader of Sonny and the Sunsets, the engaging Sonny Smith specializes in finely observed vignettes about everyday people that showcase his wry, slackerish voice. For all its rough edges, though, there’s nothing casual about his scruffy garage pop, which tempers a streak of melancholy with offhand, self-aware wit. Produced by Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach (who knows a thing or two about making eccentricity accessible), Rod for Your Love is Smith’s most commercial effort yet—it’s all relative—boasting a brighter sound and sunnier vibe than before. Witness the jaunty, toe-tapping optimism of the irresistible “Lost,” where he chirps, “I know the way this time,” or the romantic drama “Burnin’ Up,” featuring Angel Olsen’s tangy harmonies. While Smith may never top the charts, he’s never been more entertaining or more deserving of mainstream attention.”
We talked about flying to Nashville to be produced by a rock star (and guests Pat Sansome of Wilco and Angel Olsen), and about then deciding to head home and onto his next projects instead of hitting the road to promote that album. We traded Robyn Hitchcock and Spalding Gray stories. We went into the tough decisions artists need to make regarding creative living versus promoting a creative life. To name just a few topics. We had a lot of fun reconnecting. Or at least I did. I think we both did.
We mention a few names and places. Virgil = Virgil Shaw, Kelly = Kelly Stoltz, Atom = Atom Ellis, and the Make Out Room is a bar I used to work at and he used to play at in the Misison in SF.
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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.