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Author: The Daily Beast

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Welcome to ‘The Last Laugh’: Real conversations with really funny people. Every Wednesday, The Daily Beast’s Matt Wilstein interviews some of the biggest names in comedy—as well as the new voices crashing the party—about what it’s like to make people laugh during this current cultural and political moment.

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As a mainstay at New York’s prestigious Comedy Cellar for many years, Keith Robinson has long been the definition of a comedian’s comedian. But it wasn’t until he suffered two debilitating strokes over the course of four years that he finally landed his first hour-long special on Netflix. In this episode, Robinson talks about how managed to get back on stage so quickly after his first stroke (against medical advice) and how he was able to find so many cathartic laughs in what has otherwise been a truly terrifying experience. He also discusses how he felt about the standing ovation that opens his special ‘Different Strokes’—especially with so many comedian friends in the room—and looks back at the chaotic early days of his career, including stories about working with Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, Chris Rock and more.Follow Keith Robinson on Twitter @1keithrobinson and Instagram @keithrobinson438Follow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
It’s been nearly a year since John Early released his first stand-up special, Max’s ‘Now More Than Ever.’ But it’s only now that he’s gotten the chance to talk about the go-for-broke special in-depth, with any chance at promotion waylaid by last summer and fall’s back-to-back strikes. And the comedian, best known for his work on ‘Search Party,’ ‘30 Rock,’ and with collaborator Kate Berlant, is relishing his overdue moment in the spotlight. In this episode of The Last Laugh podcast—Early’s second appearance on the show, following his 2022 visit with Berlant—he opens up about the genesis of his Emmys category-breaking special, including how he sees himself as less in step with his fellow campaigning comics and more in the mold of performers like Bette Midler.Plus, Matt and Allegra take a look at John Early’s Emmy competition in the Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-recorded) category and share their thoughts on who else deserves some love over the same old contenders.Follow John Early on Twitter @bejohnce and Instagram @bejohnceFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow Allegra Frank on Twitter @LegsFrankFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
It’s been more than three decades since Wanda Sykes first stepped onto the stand-up stage. And sometimes, it feels like she’s just now getting her due. This past year, the legendary comedian received her first-ever Grammy nomination for her latest Netflix special ‘I’m an Entertainer,’ which also landed nods at the Emmys and Golden Globes. The hard-hitting hour takes on many of the most divisive topics of the year without pandering to either side or ever punching down. “It’s just noise. And I like to try to cut through that,” she says of the way her comedy reacts to the broader political conversation. In this episode, Sykes takes on everything from the problem with Dave Chappelle’s anti-trans jokes to why she was shocked Will Smith didn’t get dragged out of the Oscars for slapping her friend Chris Rock to what Joe Biden has to do to win back Black men in 2024 to how she thinks about her place in the comedy pantheon and a lot more. This episode was originally published on December 20th, 2023.Follow Wanda Sykes on Twitter @iamwandasykes and Instagram @iamwandasykesFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Since first getting what she thought was her big break on ‘Last Comic Standing’ almost 15 years ago, comedian Rachel Feinstein has been waiting for something to come along and help her achieve the next level of success. “By the time this comes, I’m going to be a star,” Feinstein says. “Hopefully after this interview, I’ll at least get a Clorox commercial or something.” In this episode, recorded just after she taped her latest ‘Tonight Show’ appearance and right before her debut Netflix special ‘Big Guy’ premiered, Feinstein reveals that she may never have gotten this breakthrough moment in her career had she not done the one thing that “scared” her the most: getting married to the New York firefighter husband she spends much of her special mocking and then having a daughter. She also shares stories about mentoring Lil Jon in stand-up comedy on Donald Trump’s ‘The Apprentice,’ roasting Gilbert Gottfried’s Hitler as Anne Frank on Netflix’s ‘Historical Roasts,’ and more. Plus, Matt and Allegra break down what makes ‘Hacks’ the only funny comedy series on TV right now—and why Shane Gillis’ ‘Tires’ on Netflix is the exact opposite.Follow Rachel Feinstein on Twitter @RachelFeinstein and Instagram @rachelfeinstein_Follow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
With his delightfully silly roles on shows like ‘The League,’ ‘Veep,’ ‘The Good Place’ and many others, comedian Paul Scheer has always projected a sense of unencumbered fun. That’s partly why, as he explains in both his new memoir ‘Joyful Recollections of Trauma’ and on this episode, he was so hesitant to reveal the very real pain that dominated much of his childhood. Scheer talks about how comedy helped rescue him from the violently abusive household in which he was raised and has continued to be an essential part of his life as he raises children of his own. He also tells some unbelievable stories about his bizarre run-ins with celebrities like Christopher Walken and Bill Cosby, describes the unique experience of improvising opposite Larry David on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and explains how he was able to emotionally move past a whopping four unsuccessful auditions for ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Buy ‘Joyful Recollections of Trauma’ by Paul Scheer on AmazonFollow Paul Scheer on Twitter @paulscheer and Instagram @paulscheerFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Live from Netflix Is a Joke Fest in Los Angeles this past week, comedian Mae Martin returns to the podcast to share stories about making out with ‘Ted Lasso’s’ Brett Goldstein on stage, making Jon Stewart laugh on ‘John Mulaney Presents: ‘Everybody’s in LA’ and the exhilarating feeling when a new stand-up bit that kills for the first time. Martin also looks back on the surreal experience of watching their autobiographical show ‘Feel Good’ take off on Netflix at the very start of the pandemic and teases their new narrative series for which they are strongly considering becoming a brunette. And make sure to stick around until the end of the show to hear a very special acoustic performance by Claud. Plus, ‘John Mulaney Presents: ‘Everybody’s in LA’ wildly exceeded our expectations, leading Matt and Allegra to wonder whether we deserve more or should just be happy with the perfect six episodes that streamed during the festival.Follow Mae Martin on Instagram @hooraymaeFollow Claud on Instagram @claud.mp3Follow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
The last time Nikki Glaser was on The Last Laugh podcast, our conversation ended up producing material for her stand-up act. Now, in her return to the show, she apologizes for throwing me “under the bus” before sharing even more unfiltered thoughts about her objections to motherhood, struggles with suicidal thoughts and the very tricky balance between self-censorship and saying something she knows could get her “canceled”—all of which are integral to her latest HBO special ‘Someday You’ll Die.’ The comedian also reveals her approach to roasting Tom Brady at Netflix’s epic live event, explains why she decided to leave it all on the table with her jokes about Ted Cruz, Majorie Taylor Greene and other political figures while guest-hosting ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ and shares how she’s feeling about turning 40 next month. Come to a live taping of The Last Laugh podcast with special guest Mae Martin at Netflix Is a Joke Fest on May 8.Follow Nikki Glaser on Instagram @nikkiglaserFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
The massive, sprawling Netflix Is a Joke Festival kicks off in Los Angeles today and host Matt Wilstein is joined by The Daily Beast’s Allegra Frank and Sean L. McCarthy to preview what comedy fans can expect—including a starry roast of Tom Brady, a live Katt Williams stand-up special, a John Mulaney-hosted late-night show and a lot more. They also delve into how Netflix came to dominate the streaming comedy world—for better and, occasionally, for worse. Come to a live taping of The Last Laugh podcast with special guest Mae Martin at Netflix Is a Joke Fest on May 8.Follow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow Allegra Frank on Twitter @LegsFrankFollow Sean L. McCarthy on Instagram @thecomicscomicFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Laura Benanti has been nominated for five Tony Awards (with one win) and appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies since making her Broadway debut at 19 years old as Maria in ‘The Sound of Music.’ But as the title of her new solo stage show attests, she still reminds herself on a daily basis that ‘Nobody Cares’ about her many accomplishments. In this episode, Benanti talks about mining her most embarrassing life stories for musical comedy in her new show, which returns to the New York stage and premieres on Audible next month. She also reveals how playing Melania Trump on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ finally made people take her “seriously” as a comedic actress and what she thinks is going through the former first lady’s head as her husband stands trial for paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels.But first, Matt and Allegra break down Conan O’Brien’s triumphant (or is it?) streaming premiere after his decades-long run on late-night TV with the new travel series ‘Conan O’Brien Must Go’ on Max. Come to a live taping of The Last Laugh podcast with special guest Mae Martin at Netflix Is a Joke Fest on May 8.Get tickets for Laura Benanti: Nobody Cares at Audible.comFollow Laura Benanti on Instagram @laurabenantiFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Demetri Martin just put out his first new stand-up hour in six years. But when he sits down for this interview with The Last Laugh podcast, he’s about to tape the second of what will be a trilogy of specials for Netflix. It’s quite a comeback moment for the (shockingly) 50-year-old comedian, who has remained mostly out of the spotlight in recent years as provocative, autobiographical stand-up comedy has overtaken the one-liner “joke machine” style that he has been honing for more than half of his life. In this episode, Martin breaks down the meta-concept behind his new ‘Demetri Deconstructed’ special, reveals why he started bringing drawings on stage, shares his take on some of the more concerning comedy trends and a lot more. Plus, Matt and Allegra take on the state of ‘Saturday Night Live’ and why this past weekend’s Ryan Gosling-hosted episode was the show at its very best. Follow Demetri Martin on Twitter @DemetriMartin and Instagram @demetrimartinofficialFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Alex Edelman was having a hectic week before an unexpected earthquake briefly knocked out the internet in his New York apartment just before our podcast taping. “I feel crazy every day,” Edelman admits on the eve of his solo show, ‘Just for Us,’ premiering on HBO. “But also, this is what a comedian wants for his work. I’m very verklempt.” In this episode, the 35-year-old Jewish comic shares the unique challenges of bringing his story about attending a white supremacist meeting in Queens to the stage and screen, including the sudden death of his director just before opening on Broadway and how performing a show about antisemitism changed after October 7th. Edelman also discusses the surreal experience of getting notes from comedy heroes like Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld and Billy Crystal, tells a story about the time he baffled Mel Brooks by calling him “woke” to his face, and teases his next stand-up hour on the Israel-Gaza war. But first, Matt and Allegra break down the series finale of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ including an unsentimental goodbye to Richard Lewis and a surprising twist on the infamous ‘Seinfeld’ ending.Follow Alex Edelman on Twitter @alexedelman and Instagram @alexedelmanFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
It’s been six years since W. Kamau Bell’s last special ‘Private School Negro’ premiered on Netflix. And after hosting CNN’s ‘United Shades of America’ for seven seasons and directing two hit documentaries, he’s not totally sure that he should still be considered a stand-up comedian. In his third appearance on the podcast—taped in-studio in his native Oakland—Bell speaks frankly about his ambivalence around pursuing the life of a comic right now and why he keeps finding himself on stage, especially as the 2024 election heats up. Bell discusses comedy’s role in the Biden vs. Trump rematch, why comedians like Joe Rogan have embraced third-party spoiler RFK Jr., the fallout from his ‘We Need to Talk About Cosby’ docuseries and a lot more. But first, The Daily Beast’s Allegra Frank joins host Matt Wilstein to answer some burning questions about the first episode of ‘Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show.’ How real is it? Is the identity of the anonymous masked man supposed to be so obvious? And why do we find this deeply sad show so funny? Follow W. Kamau Bell on Twitter @wkamaubell and Instagram @wkamaubellFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
It’s been more than a decade since Tig Notaro broke through in a big way by walking onto the stand-up stage in Los Angeles and telling her audience, “Hello, I have cancer.” And for better or worse, she has even more medical scares to joke about in her latest special ‘Hello Again,’ streaming now on Amazon Prime Video. In this episode, which marks the five year anniversary of The Last Laugh, Notaro returns to the podcast to discuss how she manages to keep finding humor in these terrifying life experiences. The comedian also opens up about collaborating with her wife Stephanie Allyne, who directed the new special, getting heckled by her twin boys at a charity event, mining her awkward interactions with celebrity friends for comedy and a lot more. Stream Tig Notaro’s ‘Hello Again’ on Amazon Prime VideoPre-order David E. Low’s ‘Transgressive Humor in Classrooms’ (20% off with code EFLY01)Follow Tig Notaro on Twitter @TigNotaro and Instagram @therealfluffnotaroFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
It’s genuinely disorienting to see Kyle Kinane without the signature beard that has become his comedy brand over the past 15 years or so when his clean-shaved face pops up on Zoom. “God, I hate brands so much,” he says. “I love nothing more than exploding personal brands.” In this episode, Kinane opens up about his decision to leave Los Angeles for Portland after losing his coveted gig as the official voice of Comedy Central and why he no longer feels like he needs the corporate structure that has kept so many of his fellow comedians tethered to the center of the entertainment industry. He also discusses why his comedy seems to appeal to both sides of the political aisle—for better or worse—and why he has no respect for any comedian who embellishes the truth on stage in an effort to “garner sympathy.”Stream/download Kyle Kinane’s new special ‘Dirt Nap’Follow Kyle Kinane on Twitter @kylekinane and Instagram @kylekinaneFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Despite never really doing comedy before ‘Girls5eva,’ Renée Elise Goldsberry has managed to steal nearly every scene she’s been in over the two seasons of that show’s initial run on Peacock and third, which arrives with a splash on Netflix this week. In this episode, the Tony and Grammy Award winning actor reveals what it was like to find her comedic voice as the self-obsessed diva Wickie Roy, including how the character has inspired her to become more ambitious in her own career and the parallels between mastering Tina Fey’s brand of rapid-fire jokes and learning to rap for her role as Angelica Schyuler in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton.’ Goldsberry talks about getting cut out of Fey and Amy Poehler’s movie ‘Sisters,’ meeting co-star Paula Pell in their musical episode ‘Documentary Now’ and why she would be “shocked” if there wasn’t a fourth season of ‘Girls5eva’ coming to Netflix in the near future. Follow Renée Elise Goldsberry on Twitter @reneegoldsberry and Instagram @reneeelisegoldsberryFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Comedian Bassem Youssef has been widely known as “The Egyptian Jon Stewart” ever since he gave up being a heart surgeon and made himself into the premier political satirist of the Arab Spring. Now, more than a decade after that career transformation took place, Youssef has been back in the news thanks to his mega-viral with Piers Morgan and subsequent outspoken commentary against both Israel and President Joe Biden. In this episode, Youssef breaks down how he has employed the darkest of humor to draw attention to the fate of the Palestinian people, shares his strong reaction to Stewart’s recent take on the Israel-Gaza War, and reveals why he thinks it might be “too late” for Biden to win back the Arab-American support he may well need to beat Donald Trump. Get tickets to see Bassem Youssef on ‘The Middle Beast Tour’Follow Bassem Youssef on Twitter @Byoussef and Instagram @bassemFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Before Donnell Rawlings was a professional comedian, he was an amateur heckler. He would go to comedy clubs and yell back at the stage, sometimes getting even bigger laughs than the guy with the mic. So even with his Dave Chappelle-produced stand-up special ‘A New Day’ dropping on Netflix this week it’s perhaps no surprise that he recently came full circle, getting caught on camera heckling fellow comic Corey Holcomb at The Laugh Factory in L.A. for going after both him and his famous friend of more than 20 years. In this episode, Rawlings breaks down that viral incident and talks about the long and “humbling” road he took to finally get his own Netflix moment. He also reflects on making a huge mark on “Chappelle’s Show” with relatively little screen time, how he felt about Chappelle walking away from that show without telling him and why he has no time for anyone who might be offended by their comedy. Follow Donnell Rawlings on Twitter @donnellrawlings and Instagram @donnellrawlingsFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Comedian Rory Scovel has never really known what he was going to say when he walked onto the stand-up stage. But that all changed when he decided—20 years into his career—to finally do the “homework” of actually writing a complete and cohesive hour. The result is his new special, ‘Religion, Sex and a Few Things in Between,’ which Scovel describes as the “tightest” set of material he’s ever produced (and is streaming now on Max). In his return to the podcast for this bonus episode, Scovel discusses how this new approach changed his experience on stage, how he still strives to stay ultra-present in his work and why he has decided to lean into politics (with an eye on George Carlin) for his next act. Follow Rory Scovel on Instagram @roryscovelFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Jenny Slate has never been a traditional stand-up comic. And after a lengthy hiatus that followed her 2019 Netflix special ‘Stage Fright’ and included both a global pandemic and the birth of her daughter, she wasn’t sure she’d ever get up in front of an audience again. “I didn’t have a system in place for how to get back up on stage. I didn’t know how to do that,” she says in this episode. But now, with her new hour ‘Seasoned Professional’ set to premiere this Friday, Feb. 23 on Amazon Prime Video, Slate breaks down how she made her way back in front of the mic and why she decided to get so intimately personal in the special. Slate reflects on how her one unfortunate season as a ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member has informed the rest of her career, from finding the right kind of community on projects like ‘Kroll Show’ and ‘Bob’s Burgers’ to learning how to make her own unlikely success as ‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.’ And she discusses what it was like to pass the torch of her mixed race character on ‘Big Mouth’ to Ayo Edebiri, why she’s not sure ‘Obvious Child,’ her comedy film about abortion, would hit viewers in the same way 10 years later, and a lot more.Follow Jenny Slate on Instagram @jennyslateFollow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Laurie Kilmartin knew that naming her new stand-up special ‘Cis Woke Grief Slut’ might be a little provocative. “I'm open to hate watches!” the comedian and longtime ‘Conan’ writer jokes in this episode. No stranger to controversy, Kilmartin also breaks down why she decided to tweet an incredibly dark series of jokes as her mother was dying of COVID in 2020, opens up about the experience of receiving death threats from right-wingers after making an abortion joke on MSNBC and why she prefers reluctant, involuntary laughter to the type of agenda-affirming applause that currently dominates late-night television. Stream Laurie Kilmartin’s new special ‘Cis Woke Grief Slut’Follow Laurie Kilmartin on Twitter @anylaurie16 and Instagram @anylaurie16Follow Matt Wilstein on Threads @mattwilsteinFollow The Last Laugh on Instagram @lastlaughpod and Threads @lastlaughpodHighlights from this episode and others at The Daily Beast Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
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Comments (5)

Jimbo Jett

Melissa sounds like such a fantastic person! I watch/listen to everything I find her in - she's 100% interesting. And this was a really great interview. Nice job, Matt! It's obvious you didn't just look her up on Wiki or Youtube; you seem to be a fan. This session came off very natural and comfortable. Tag this episode for your professional portfolio 🙂 But ultimately... Melissa! Nice.

Oct 26th
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Random Stuff

Tom Green was, is and always will be an icon he paved the way for podcast platforms today😎

Jun 6th
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James Palmieri

libtards

Aug 5th
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Sasha Anne Lyn

Your notes were en pointe.

Dec 28th
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Accordionbabe

Love this!

Oct 11th
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