Ira, your mother was a psychologist who studied infidelity. When you were growing up, how did that affect your views on love and sex?
IG: Her research into infidelity didn’t affect my views on relationships growing up, but there were certain things that she said that really stuck with me. For example, before people begin an affair, before they cheat, the real transition begins when they confide in someone else. That’s where the betrayal begins. And there are certain scenes in the movie that totally reflect that: when Mike’s character is on the road, and stops talking to his girlfriend about his act —

MB: He doesn’t tell her that he’s doing jokes about their relationship in his act.

IG: And as soon as he starts having truths that he doesn’t tell to her but that he tells to someone else — an audience, in this case — that’s the beginning of the end for them. And when I saw that, I totally thought of my mom.

MB: Spoiler alert. You know, I talked to a psychologist friend of mine recently, who said that statistically, cheating among women is way up.

IG: My mother saw that too, and she said that the reason for this is that people are in workplace situations now where they’re getting much closer with each other. She said that she’d see it in her practice, and what was striking to her was how often a patient would say “I’m happy in my marriage. I never thought of myself as someone who would cheat, but I got close to someone at my job.” And surveys she did backed that up — something like half of all men who cheat and a third of women who cheat are happy in their marriages.

Who has the sexiest radio voice: Peter Sagal, Marc Maron, or Ira?
MB [incredulously]: Sexiest?

IG: I think Maron takes that for sure. I feel like it’s not even a competition.

MB: I’m not turned on by any of those people.

IG: Okay: Melissa Block or Terry Gross?

MB: My answer’s Terry Gross. She’s got a sexy voice.

Louis C.K. is doing really well with Louie, and Sleepwalk’s getting a nationwide release. Would you say emotionally fragile people are “having a moment” right now?
MB: I think that there’s a cultural shift happening right now. We went through a Seinfeldian period of comedy — which was awesome, and hilarious — but it seeped into everyday life, and suddenly you’d see observational comedy in commercials and billboards, and suddenly, everything had to be funny. And I hate that. And what me, and Marc Maron, and Doug Stanhope, and Louis, and Maria Bamford, and a few other comedians sort of arrived at on our own was the need to do something else. Just being vulnerable, and giving the audience something that feels more personal.

With a lot of stand-up comedy, there is a kind of remove or emotional distance; it’s hard to imagine Dane Cook or Daniel Tosh baring their insecurities or personal failings on stage.
IG: Yeah, and I can’t stand that. It’s interesting how what Mike and Louis are doing dovetails with, like, what Judd Apatow or Paul Feig are doing in comedic movies. I know that when Apatow walks into a writer’s room, he’ll ask, “What’s the most painful thing that’s ever happened to us, and how can we make a comedy out of that?”

MB: Absolutely. And Judd’s movies have, if anything, gotten more personal. And, you know, the pendulum’s going to swing back eventually. But right now, that’s where comedy seems to be, and I’m happy about it.

Any parting advice?
IG: The best thing for any couple, anywhere, would be to go see Sleepwalk With Me this weekend. They’ll be set.

Want to meet a sensitive, empathetic stand-up comic? Meet them on Nerve.


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