Category Archives: Blog

Emily West & Taylor Williamson from “America’s Got Talent”

The “America’s Got Talent Live: The All Stars Tour” comes to the Chicago Theatre this Thursday, October 8.  We visited with two of the performers, host and stand-up comic Taylor Williamson and singer Emily West.  Taylor talked about hosting a variety show vs. an evening of stand-up and why the show is family-friendly despite his being frequently without pants.  Emily talked about her song selection and fights over bunks on the bus.

The Movie Man HATES space movies

A current war on Twitter suggests that The Movie Man hates space movies.  He explains that’s not exactly true when he gives us his thoughts on “The Martian” (A two hour NASA commercial?). He also reviews Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Pepe LePew accent as Phillippe Petit in “The Walk.”


The Big Wakeup Call Interview: Scott Aukerman

In the newest installment of “Written Radio: Official Big Wakeup Call Transcripts,” we feature our interview with Scott Aukerman, host of Comedy Bang! Bang!  Scott called in to talk about new episodes, a new bandleader, and potentially new jokes.  It’s radio in convenient printed form!

 The Big Wakeup Call Interview:  Scott Aukerman

Ryan Gatenby: It’s time for our next guest. He is the host of Comedy Bang! Bang!, which is back on IFC with all new episodes Thursday nights at 10:30/9:30 central. It’s Scott Aukerman. Hi, Scott!

Scott Aukerman: Hi, Ryan! Hello, listeners!

RG: Scott, we are so happy to have you back on the show. Of all of our favorite guests, we believe you are the favoritest.

SA: Really? So, of all the favorite guests – which is a separate subset just from guests, I am the favoritest of those guests. That’s amazing!

RG: Did you receive the engraved plaque that we sent over to commemorate that status?

SA: I did not, and I truly, truly believe with all my heart that you are lying right now.

RG: (Laughs.)

SA: And, you know, I don’t want to blow up your spot or anything, but you are a proven liar.

RG: Before we get too far into this, Scott, I saw that you recently did one of those “Ask Me Anything” sessions online.

SA: Sure, why wouldn’t I?

RG: Were there any questions that were left out, or did you pretty much cover everything? Is this interview that we’re doing right now just superfluous?

SA: Yeah, this is just moot. Anyone who is interested in any aspect of my life – I covered it all; pretty much from the moment I was born until I die. I covered all of that information, so just head on over there. Turn off your radios right now – or better yet, just throw your radios against the wall or into a bathtub if you’re sitting in it. Just head on over to “” and you can find it anywhere on that.

RG: So the floor is no longer open for questions?

SA: It is not, I’m so sorry – but you know what? I’ll allow it. You can ask me anything you like.

RG: Oh, thanks! So Comedy Bang! Bang! is back on IFC Thursdays at 9:30 Central.

SA: Yes, you are in the Central time zone, so it is on at 9:30 after this show called “Maron.”

RG: I’m not familiar with that one.

SA: Yeah, I don’t what it is, either. I wouldn’t even dare turn on my television at 9 to watch that thing. I would wait until 9:29:59 and then hurriedly turn on your TV.

RG: So you’ve got new episodes, you have a brand new bandleader, and I’m going to assume you have new jokes?

SA: (Laughs) No, that’s the only thing we didn’t change. We have the exact same jokes. We did 70 episodes with Reggie Watts as the bandleader, and so we’re just recycling through all of those. We’ll do 70 more with Kid Cudi – “re-enactments” is what we call them.

RG: Well, you could have gone back to the original episodes and just edited him in.

SA: Oh my God! Where were you? Why did I have to re-shoot all that stuff? I’ve wasted my life!

RG: To break in Kid Cudi, your new bandleader, did you book any secret gigs or do practice shows, or maybe book a residency up in the Catskills so you could get your timing down?

SA: It’s interesting, because a lot of shows do that. They do practice shows and all that kind of stuff, and we didn’t. We just kind of threw him into it, and, weirdly, his very first scene that he shot with us is this episode coming down the line where he has to speak French. And, you know, he doesn’t speak French! It was such a weird scene for him to start where he gets into an argument with a hockey player and starts speaking French.

But what’s cool about him is that he really wants to do weird comedy, and so he just kind of like dove in headfirst. It took him a while to get acclimated, I think, but people are going to see the shows and really be happy with what he’s doing.

RG: You’ve got Michael Cera on the show this season, but he was killed on season one. Is that season one episode not part of the official Comedy Bang! Bang! canon?

SA: Well, that’s an interesting question. In the official Comedy Bang! Bang! canonical universe, the timeline is very odd – people die all the time, and then you see them again. We are going to address this at a certain point, but Michael Cera is dead, and he is on the show again, yes.

RG: Okay, because I just needed to know how to handle this so when I write my Comedy Bang! Bang! fan fiction I make sure I have everything in order.

SA: Oh, what type of fan fiction? Do you write the romantic fan fiction where, you know, Cudi and I look across the room at each other longingly and then we fall into each other’s arms, or is it like space opera fan fiction? What type do you do?

RG: It’s usually just you and I and the whole cast –

SA: Oh, you’re involved! (Laughs.)

RG: I’m involved. I always take you guys on an eating tour of Chicago neighborhoods.

SA: (Laughs) Okay. So what’s the best neighborhood, would you say, in Chicago to go eat?

RG: Right now the hottest neighborhood would be Ravenswood. You’ve got your deep- dish pizza, your Chicago-style hot dogs, and then like hot dogs baked into the pizza crust.

SA: Is that where Pizza Hut got it? Doesn’t Pizza Hut have some sort of new hot dog crust?

RG: Well, Chicago invented the deep-dish pizza, and then Pizza Hut came out with their own, and then, yeah, they took that idea from a pizzeria in Chicago.

SA:  Really? Does it taste good?

RG: No, it’s disgusting.

SA:  Okay, thank you (laughs).

RG: What is the timeline, Scott, from when you first write a show to when it finally airs? Like the episode tonight – how long has this been in the works?

SA: This particular episode, I would say we started writing it back in – wow, this is a really tough question for me – I think we started writing it back in November, maybe? October or November, somewhere around then – and then we shot probably in February, and now you guys get to see it.

RG: Is it difficult to talk about a specific show – like tonight, it will be brand new to us, but you’ve been finished with it for a while now. Do you have to re-watch these and kind of catch up?

SA: I re-watch them every single morning – every single episode we’ve ever done. I just want to be prepared if anyone ever asks me a question about it.

RG: (Laughs.)

SA: We’ve done – tonight is our 71st episode, so it takes me about 35 hours to do it, but I do it every single day. It takes up most of the day, I would say.

RG: I’ve got my DVR set to record Comedy Bang! Bang! tonight –

SA: Oh, thank goodness!

RG: Even though I watch it live – and by the way, if you DVR it, you should watch it within three days, am I correct?

SA: That’s what they say. They say it helps with the ratings if you watch it within three days. I don’t know how any of that works, but I would appreciate it people watched it live or within three days, yes.

RG: I just wanted to make sure it was all set to go, and I have AT&T U-verse, and they have the weirdest description of your show — have you heard it?

SA: (Laughs) No! What is it?

RG: I have it here: “Host Scott Aukerman and comic Reggie Watts” – so right there, it’s outdated.

SA:  Yeah, that’s incorrect now.

RG: “…join several famous celebrities as they partake in funny events, including fake interviews and musical performances.”

SA: “Fake interviews!” I mean, I’ll give them “funny events,” but “fake interviews?”

RG: What are they suggesting, that you’re not actually interviewing your guests?

SA:  You know, what they’re probably talking about is we actually film the interviews with me and the celebrity back-to-back, and we’re not looking at each other, and then we flip the image so that it looks like we’re looking at each other, but we’re not actually talking to each other.

RG: (Laughs) Oh, okay.

SA: That’s probably what they’re talking about, if I had to guess – if I had to hazard a guess or offer a guesstimate, that’s probably what they’re talking about.

RG: One of the things I saw on the “Ask Me Anything” was the Internet community buzzing over one of your latest catch phrases, “heynongman!”

SA: “Heynongman!” Yeah, if you watch the TV show, you will not see “heynongman,” but if you listen to the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast, you will hear it quite often (laughs).

RG: Was that really born out of happenstance, or did you have that phrase and you guys were looking for a way to drop that in?

SA: Yeah, I’m a master manipulator. For people who want to know what “heynongman” is, I was talking to celebrity Jason Mantzoukas, and he said, “hang on, man,” and I thought he said “heynongman,” and then that became something we said over and over and over. But, yeah, it was something I thought of – similarly, back in November, and I’d been looking for an opportunity and just looking for one person to say “hang on, man,” and then no one over said it.   So Jason and I planned it out and we did a rehearsal show. We put it up at the UCB Theatre in L.A. and we rehearsed it, and then did it for a small crowd just to see how it would go over.

RG: (Laughs.)

SA: They went wild for it, so we just said “okay, let’s get in the studio as soon as we can,” and eight months later we had time, and there it is. It’s just an amazing success story.

RG: Brand new episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! are on Thursday nights at 9:30 Central on IFC – don’t tune in a minute earlier —

SA: Please don’t. You’ll be shocked and horrified by what you see if you do.

RG: And of course, hosted by Scott Aukerman, our favoritest guest of all the favorite guests.

SA: Of all the favorite guests. But again, am I the favoritest of all guests, or just the favoritest of the favorite guests?

RG: Well, if we create a Venn diagram, then you would be right in the center, overlapping all as the favoritest guest of all time.

SA: Wow, Ryan, I appreciate that so much. It’s truly an honor. It truly, truly is.

RG: Well, it’s an honor for us to have you call in, Scott. Thank you so much.

SA: Thanks. All right, goodbye everyone in the world. You will never hear from me again.


Summer party advice from Alison Deyette

We always have a good time when TV host and lifestyle expert Alison Deyette calls in, and not just because she always gives us some great new cocktail recipes.   Alison shared some fun ideas for summer parties, and was very impressed by my insistence that all of my guests wear white linen suits to my backyard barbecues.

Bill McCormick tells us how we’re going to die

It’s all over, folks.  Polar bears and chimps will soon rule us all.  Bill McCormick shares the details from the World News Center.

Jaime Murray on Season 3 of “Defiance”

Jaime Murray currently stars as Stahma Tarr on the Syfy series “Defiance.”  We talked about how her character has evolved, the explosive premiere episode of season 3, and why St. Louis was chosen as the site for the alien arrival.   New episodes of “Defiance” air at 8/7C on Syfy.

More on Deadpool & Suicide Squad from Bill McCormick

Bill McCormick from the World News Center gives us the latest from the sets of Deadpool & Suicide Squad, and leaves us on a happy note with a teaser about chimps lighting fires.

Emmett Scanlan, Saul on A.D. The Bible Continues – The Big Wakeup Call Interview

Continuing our series of Written Radio, here is a transcript of our recent interview with Emmett J. Scanlan, who is currently seen as Saul (soon to be the Apostle Paul) on NBC’s “A.D. The Bible Continues.”  New episodes air Sunday nights at 9/8 Central.

Ryan Gatenby:  Our next guest stars as Saul – of course, soon to be known as the Apostle Paul on NBC’s “A.D. The Bible Continues.”  Catch new episodes Sunday nights at 8 Central on NBC-5 Chicago.  It’s Emmett J. Scanlan.  Welcome to the show.

Emmett Scanlan: Thank you very much, Ryan.  Hello, Chicago!

Ryan Gatenby:  For people who may know you mainly from playing a sociopath on “Hollyoaks,” do you think they’ll be startled to see you playing a significant figure in the history of Christianity?

Emmett Scanlan: I hope it just adds to my resume, to be honest.

Ryan Gatenby:  There you go!

Emmett Scanlan: But yeah, I know I have that kind of face where sociopath or psychopath seems to be a regular role for me.   But Saul is a character that’s utterly intriguing.  He’s motivated by faith – an extreme faith in God, the temple, the old laws and traditions – in the Torah.  He’s fanatical, he’s zealous – when you first meet him, he’s a Pharisee, which is the equivalent to a militant right-winger.

Ryan Gatenby: Right.

Emmett Scanlan:  He’s reared on fierce debate and persecutes those who go against God – and go against him, such is the arrogance of the man, even if that means killing – he did kill for what he believed in, or more importantly, what others failed to believe in.  This was the type of person he was before his conversion on the road to Damascus.

Ryan Gatenby:  Is it intimidating at all to portray such a historical figure, or do you approach it as it is – this is the series, this is the character to play.  Does the gravity of the character or the story affect your performance at all?

Emmett Scanlan:  That’s an awesome question.  I love the pressure that comes with it.  How iconic Paul is as a character in history and the responsibility that comes with that – I just love it.  I’ll either fall flat on my face, or I won’t.  I love that risk and the magnitude of it.   The only thing as an actor that we ever have control over is what we do on set, and even then, the real magic is only found when you lose control, so I don’t even own that.

And once you step off set, you give your performance over to a director, the editor, the production, the audience – you let go of that power, and that’s hard to do, but that’s part of the process.  I don’t know what famous actor said this – maybe one of your audience members can help me – but he said that acting is standing up naked and turning around very, very slowly (Editor’s note:  attributed to Rosalind Russell). It’s just a vulnerable art, so either it works or it doesn’t, but as an experience, no matter what the pressure, it’s a privilege to be a part of.

Ryan Gatenby: How did you get involved with this series?  I’m always curious about the audition process.  I think a lot people have it in their heads that it’s like a “Ten Commandments”-type audition, and a lot of people are standing around in full Biblical costumes and shouting out their lines.

Emmett Scanlan:  Yeah, you tend not to get cast if you turn up in costume.

Ryan Gatenby:  Right. (Laughs)

Emmett Scanlan:  The process was pretty much like anything else, really, the only difference being my girlfriend – now fiancée – auditioned for this show just before me – she pays Herodias, who comes in for episode 3.  We were in Ireland at the time – that’s where I come from; I come from Dublin – and she got the great news and we celebrated as only the Irish could for about three or four days.  Then she flew off to Ouarzazate, Morocco to start filming this series.

I had already put myself on tape previously for the role of Peter, but I never heard back about it.  I was doing another job at the time in Atlanta, and I didn’t think anything of it.  Then Roma (Editor’s note:  Roma Downey, executive producer) got in touch for me to audition for Saul, and I was addicted to the scripts.  I thought they were incredible – just beautifully written scripts.  I went down for the audition, and five days later I was cast in it.  I flew over to Ouarzazate – which is a trek-and-a-half, three planes.  I arrived in the same hotel as my fiancée and said “hey, baby, this is kind of fairy tale stuff,” to be honest.

Ryan Gatenby:  As you mentioned, Saul turns from a vehement – even a violent critic of the early Christians to perhaps the biggest champion of Christ.  So as an actor, this character is going through not just a mental and spiritual transformation, but there’s also a physical transformation to Saul.  How do you prepare yourself to approach the series of changes he goes through?

Emmett Scanlan:  It’s not without it’s difficulties, of course.  Saul’s faith is unquestionable, whether he’s enforcing the old or is reborn and preaching the new, he does so with fearless faith, and I can’t help but be charmed by that type of character.

On the road to Damascus, Jesus appears to him and he’s blinded for three days.  I don’t know how one gets into that, but I can tell you a process that I used to a certain extent.  When I was blinded on the road to Damascus, I kept the blindfolds – the bandages on my head all day.  I fasted, and I was carried to and from set in order to better get into the character.  I’m not saying that it helped me in the portrayal, but it certainly helped me as an actor to find some level of truth.

But the physical transformation was quite frightening.  I was behind the bandages for so long and seeing only darkness, I felt like a child again, and I wept behind those bandages as well.  It’s draining, but it is what it is.  You need to give 100 percent, because the trick to acting is to not get caught doing it, and you hope that when its gets on screen, that’s exactly what happens.  You give 110 percent and hopefully people will buy into it.

Ryan Gatenby:  And going through that physical transformation and the work you did – do you feel closer at all, either to your character or to the situation.  Does that make it more real for you, and then, as you said, as an actor that becomes second nature, you’re finally in the moment and you can find the truth?

Emmett Scanlan: Of course, you become more connected to that character – so much so that you don’t want the series to end when you’re filming it.  You learn things that I wouldn’t have previously known.   As well as that, you have to remember that we’re shooting in Morocco.  The backdrop is wonderful.  They’ve built sets there that would dwarf some of the biggest sets I’ve been on in my career.  I was in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and it would give that competition.

It was one of those things where it’s like your homework is done for you.  There’s flies getting into your face, the smells, the streets, the people – everything about it is very visceral and real, so that helps, and it’s hard work, but that’s a first world problem.  How blessed are we to say that we can get up and play make-believe for a living?

Ryan Gatenby: Finally, Emmett, as you mentioned, your girlfriend – and now fiancée – is starring with you on this series.  You proposed and became engaged while working on it.  Did you propose in full Paul mode, like “A Letter from St. Paul to My Future Fiancée?”

Emmett Scanlan: (Laughs) I think she would have said no if I was in full Paul mode, to be honest.  We were in the middle of negotiations for A.D. at the time, and I didn’t know whether or not I wanted the job or was going to get it, because I was doing another job, as I said, for NBC in Atlanta.

I was trying to pitch what I should do to my friends and my agents, and I wasn’t getting the right advice, so I rang up my daughter, and she told me – you know, because kids don’t carry the shackles that we do.  They have no fear and they have no ego.  And she told me that every time I talk about A.D., I sounded happy.  So she made up my mind as to why I was going to take the job.

When I put down the phone, I looked up to God and said, “If I get this job, I will propose to my girlfriend” – and anybody who knows me knows that commitment is a massive fear of mine.  “If I get this job, I will propose to my girlfriend,” and no sooner had I sad that than my phone goes off, I check my email, and I got the job.  I looked back up to God and said, “any chance you didn’t read that?”

Ryan Gatenby: Nice! (Laughs)

Emmett Scanlan:  Long story short, I proposed to her on Christmas Eve, and now we’re getting married in New York City on New Year’s Eve.

Ryan Gatenby: Well, congratulations, Emmett, and of course congratulations on the series.  It’s “A.D. The Bible Continues,” Sunday nights at 8:00 central on NBC-5 Chicago.

Thank you so much for joining us today.  It was great to talk to you.

Emmett Scanlan:  Much love and respect to you all.  Thank you.

Thank you to our production assistant P.J. for transcribing this interview!


We’re in a rebuilding mode

Quick updates for today:

  • We’re slowly getting back on track following the hacker attack.  We’ve been calming our nerves while we work by listening to the music of Zack Attack, and have been working on rebuilding the interview archives.
  • If I win the “perfect bracket” thing from Yahoo and Quicken Loans, everyone who has visited this site between now and the end of the NCAA tournament will get a gift certificate for a free taco.*
  • I’m planning on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a rousing game of “Jordan vs. Bird” on my old Commodore 64.


…we now return to The Big Wakeup Call

March 12, 2014

After what we were told was a particularly vicious, nasty, unseemly, dastardly, potentially criminal and basically not-at-all-nice “denial of service” attack on our main server, we are now back online.

However, the individual or individuals who decided to have fun poking around in our server left a mess o’ malicious things behind, so we had to strip away a LOT of our archives.

We’ve got folks working tirelessly (okay, they get really super tired, but we’re making pitcher after pitcher of Kool-Aid) to get everything pretty much back the way it was, but this time safer and more secure.   In fact, we’re wrapping the whole server in bubble wrap and putting a blanket over it.

Thank you for your patience as we re-build a better website for you.  Yes, you (not including the guy/gal/robot who wrecked it.  Definitely not you!!).