Tonight marks the "season finale" of Catie Lazarus's Employee Of The Month show at Joe's Pub, which we really should have told you about sooner. Luckily there is still time if you don't already have tickets, and it'll be worth your 20 bucks. We'd say Lazarus is ending the season with a bang, but she has consistently booked incredible guests, including: Wallace Shawn, Andrew Rannells, Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem, Rosie Perez, even the co-owner of Russ & Daughters. And tonight she'll welcome Martha Plimpton, Tony Award winner James Monroe Inglehart (Alladin), The Good Wife's Josh Charles (Will Gardner!), and more. Below, learn a little bit more about one of the finest hosts in NYC, and her show (which will return in September).
Can you tell us a little bit about Employee of the Month? Employee of the Month is a talk show about work. There's a live taping once a month at Joe's Pub and a weekly podcast weekly, which includes interviews that are done 1-on-1. Considering how much time we clock at work, I wanted to hear from folks who (mainly) love what they do.
There are a slew of canned talk shows, so I avoid questions I already know the answer to or think I do. My hope is that the conversations are thought provoking, ideally fun, and honest. I'm guessing I'm the only talk show host who dropped out of her doctorate in clinical psychology to do comedy and write journalism. I live for the moments when fans come back for the forth or fifth show or a guest offers unsolicited praise. Like Dick Cavett said, "I'm good, like him, but sexy." I loved his show(s). The only time I ever saw Woody Allen crack up was on Dick Cavett's show, and I doubt John Kerry would ever be as candid today on a talk show as he was on Dick Cavett's. Still, it'd be thrilling to experiment and see if it's possible to replicate the intimacy of my live show and podcast on television. Granted TV is also appealing as it would be nice to earn enough to afford an apartment with a washer/dryer within a sixty foot radius.
Who has been your favorite guest so far? I don't have a favorite guest. I'm not just saying that the way a parent might not publicly confess to having a favorite child. I pick guests I have a work crush on, for some reason or another. It never get's old finding out that I admire them for an entirely new reason. Like I, as with every other human with a pulse, admired Rachel Maddow's intellect. But on the show she was also hilarious, so quick on her feet, and a generous scene partner.
Do you have a dream guest? Yeah. There are countless folks I dream about interviewing, but a dream guest means that the fantasy of conversing with said person matches the reality. Does the person have a rich interior life and is willing to open up? Did my guest admit that I had kale stuck in my teeth? These are some key qualities of a good interviews.
You've performed at a lot of venues—and as a part of a lot of shows, like the Moth (which I love!)—around the city, what's been your favorite stage? Joe's Pub, where I'm an Artist-in-Residence, and UCB in Chelsea, are where I feel most comfortable in my skin. I'll never forget performing at The Laugh Factory in Times Square, which is now closed. It had replaced this Sex World Emporium, but they never got rid of the creepy mirrors or side rooms. Anyway, I once noticed an audience member was pleasuring himself during the comedy show. I called him out. Instead of feigning an apology or even ignoring me, he chastised me for, in his words, "disrespecting the building's history." Really he was just revealing that this was not the first time he'd made use of the premises.
You have a pretty crazy family history, from Thanksgiving ties to department stores to Quiz Game shows; can you share any family anecdotes? I wasted so much of my youth mortified by how different my life felt, whereas now I try and enjoy some of my family's quirks. Like my mom attended Harvard Law School, when so few women did, and is a career attorney. Yet, she joins Jane Austen fans at these annual conventions, where she'll dress up and rate the sex appeal of various fictional characters. If I walked near Harvard Law School's campus, I'd probably be escorted off out of fear I'd diminish the school's appeal to straight laced students. I did go to one of the Jane Austen convention's and it's more like a cross between Comic Con and one of those craft fairs where you have to be menopausal to eligible to set up a booth with your hand-made velvet and lace broaches.
Finally, can you tell us about your favorite podcast, your favorite NYC comedy night, and any current NYC comedians you're following? Oh wow! I could rattle off a zillion comedians, storytellers, writers, performers and their shows and podcasts based in New York, and I'd end up forgetting to mention so many equally brilliant and fun ones. (Yes, zillion is not an actual number, so don't waste your time trying it in Words with Friends.)
Most recently, I loved every minute of This American Life's spectacular taping at BAM, Justin Sayre's benefit Night of a Thousand Judy's, Bridget Everett's monthly Joe's Pub show, Andy Chritstie's LIAR, and a taping of Dale Seaver's podcast, which is reminiscent of Alan Partridge's 1st season on the BBC radio.
Tonight, before my season finale of Employee of the Month, I'm telling a story Leslie Goshko's exquisite storytelling show at KGB before Employee of the Month. There's nothing more fun than double dipping in a night, and New York remains one of the few places, you can tumble down utterly different rabbit holes in one evening, five blocks from each other. Speaking of which, I better get some sleep beforehand.