Category Archives: Interviews

Alex Koll


Alex Koll is an absurdist comic working in New York, he’s appeared on Conan, Comedy Central’s Live At Gotham and is a founding member of The Business, a weekly stand up show that has spread across the nation.  His official bio notes that “Alex is currently flightless and unable to lay eggs.” He recently sat down with David Luna for a little chat.

David Luna: What is your earliest memory?

Alex Koll: Man, I don’t know. That’s a tough one. I have a memory of my mom rocking me in a rocking chair, but I feel like I was a little older when that happened.

It’s weird because I’ve been thinking a lot about it in context of myself, because I have a six-month-old and I keep wondering if or not he’s forming memories now.

DL: There are some people who can remember all the way back to when they were born or even earlier.

AK: Really? What do they say usually when it starts?

DL: Oh, I don’t know. Maybe feeling emotions from the tones of voice of people around them.  There’s some writer, I can’t remember who. He recalled entire conversations. What do you call that, when you have complete retention of everything?

AK: Like photographic memory?

DL: Something like that but of every single word.

AK: Wow.

DL: Neither of us have that, unfortunately.

AK: Yeah, not me. What’s yours?

DL: Oh, my earliest memory? Huh.

I was watching a video of myself eating Kraft yellow American cheese singles.

AK: That’s fantastically specific.

DL: What kind of person were you in high school?

AK: I was a bonafide nerd, for sure. I found the pride in that at some point and ran with it. Again, it’s funny–I was rifling through some old school photos, and there’s just a jump between 9th grade and 10th grade where my hair goes down to my shoulders, and I’m wearing this ridiculous vest. It’s like, “This is the year I found the book on the ’60s.”  And those were the six months I was a hippie, embarrassingly.

High school–at the beginning for a lot of people, I think–it’s the years when you bust out. You mature out of a previous personality or something like that.

Again, this is a very interesting question for today in particular. Today is my mom’s birthday, and when I was 17 she passed, so it’s actually been 20 years since she passed away. And that was my junior year in high school, so junior and senior year are very interesting for me.

I was a goofball for a long time.

Continue reading Alex Koll


Emily Heller

The Annual has been fortunate enough to consistently feature interviews with such tremendous contemporary talent, not to mention content from a truly exceptional staff. And our audience isn’t wide, which means you are reading, quite possibly, the most “indie” humor magazine in existence. Allow us to further illustrate this fact; In July of 2014, Vice  released an interview where they asked Ron Funches what happens after death. We featured an interview with Funches asking the same question, in September of 2013. Of course, this is not to imply that Vice has any awareness of The Annual. To the contrary, we are small and we do some pretty cool things. Hopefully you’ll find the following to be just as cool: an exchange of words with stand up comic and host of The Future with Emily Heller


[Sometimes it is difficult to come up with an adequate introduction for someone so pleasant.]

David Luna: What was your earliest memory?

Emily Heller: I think my oldest memory was just sitting in the dining room of my house I grew up in at a little kid table, looking over and seeing my mom on the phone.

DL: Would you consider yourself a feminist?

EH: I do consider myself a feminist.

DL: When did you first start to have an understanding that there really isn’t equality between the sexes?

EH: Pretty young. My mom subscribed me to a feminist magazine for young girls called New Moon when I was in third or fourth grade. There was a section in the magazine called “How Aggravating” where people could write in and tell stories of things that happened to them that frustrated them, and a lot of them were just stories of young misogyny, basically. For some reason that was always my favorite section, because it did make me really mad.

DL: Were you ever bullied as a kid, or were you ever a bully yourself?

EH: I probably was more of a bully than I thought I was. That “30 Rock” episode where Liz Lemon goes to her high school reunion, thinking these were the people that terrorized me in high school, and she gets there and realizes that she was the one who was terrorizing them—I’m always afraid that that would be me.

I was very mean to some of my close friends when I was younger. I was never really bullied. I was definitely excluded a lot, and that had a big impact on me, but no one ever did anything truly awful to me. I probably deserved to be excluded to a certain extent. It sort of forced me to figure out what I was doing wrong. A lot of times people are excluded for the wrong reasons, but I think I was kind of an unpleasant person to be around for a long time. It’s probably why I became a funny, to try to keep people around me.

Make some people feel good and make positive change.

Continue reading Emily Heller

Transcending The Holidays: A Bonus Digital Issue

Last week, we promised we would return in a big way and here it is:

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A Free Digital Bonus Issue to kick off the new year!

Click the picture or the words above to download it (they’ll both do the trick).

This issue features our introspective In/Out list for 2015, and you wouldn’t want to start the year without knowing what’s hot and what’s not. You’ll also find junk mail dug up after the holidays, theatre reviews and the five commandments for attending comedy shows. This issue features an incredible interview with Alex Koll (stand up comic and a founding member of The Business) and so much more. Give it a download, tell your friends, download it on your friend’s computers without telling them and then pick up a subscription. The next issue hits the printers in March, but we’ll have plenty more content right here on the web until then.


An Interview with Sara Benincasa

In The Annual #10, we shared an interview with comedian Sara Benincasa. With the advent of her new podcast, “In the Casa with Sara Benincasa,” we thought we’d better introduce our online readers to this stand-up comedian/YA novelist/memoirist/storyteller/web editor-in-chief who advocates for mental health wellness in LGBTQ youth. She also has an adorable dog named Morley Safer. Yes, she does everything.

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Emily Perper: So how are you?

Sara Benincasa: I’m good! I usually get up at 5:30, which is crazy. I blog—I’m the editor-in-chief of a site, an entertainment-humor site called Happy Nice Time People. Happy Nice Time People runs on an East Coast schedule, so I have to be blogging starting at six a.m. So I get up and walk the dog. I actually got up a little late today because I had an interview that wasn’t until 7:45 with Sirius XM, so that was very exciting.

EP: This is good, because I felt a little bad—“I hope I’m not getting her up really early on a Saturday and ruining any sleeping in plans.” What was your Sirius interview?

SB: It was The Judith Regan Show on Stars. She was this very powerful publishing industry person for a while, and then she transitioned to radio. Now she has this radio show, and it was fun; it was really fun.

EP: Were you talking about [your new young adult novel] Great?

SB: I was talking about Great. And I was talking about my Kickstarter, too, so that was neat.

EP: Good. I’m so glad you’re getting the word out about the Kickstarter. I believe in it. I think we’re going to make the goal. Notice I’m using “we.” I’m obviously very invested in this.

SB: You’re on board! I appreciate that. I really hope so. (Edit: We did!)

EP: I was actually going to ask you about Happy Nice Time People, because you just started that gig, right?

SB: I did. I just started a few weeks ago. I just wanted something steady, because the nature of my career is that—and this is true for a lot of people who freelance—I get a job here, I get a certain amount of money; I get a job here, I get a certain amount of money. I spend a lot of time chasing down checks from different places, and I just thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a steady gig so that it’s not feast or famine all the time?” It’s like I have something that I can rely on. Hopefully one day that’ll be unnecessary because I’ll be so fucking rich, but it seemed like a good idea, and I like the site. It’s fun; I like the content.

Continue reading An Interview with Sara Benincasa

Brad Sherwood

What I’ve come to learn more and more is that comedians aren’t just “funny guys”. Those who excel in any art are not limited to one skill. In fact, their genius reflects upon every other aspect of their lives, making these individuals brilliant in more ways than we can immediately perceive. We can all learn from those with real passion.

 I spoke with someone who has been an outstanding improvisational comedian for over two decades.  He is wise, he loves dogs, and he is not lacking in passion. His name is…

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David Luna: Tell me your earliest memory.

Brad Sherwood: My earliest memory in performing: I was in preschool and I did You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and I was Snoopy, and I was just laying on the doghouse, dancing the whole time. That was my first memory of being in front of an audience.

DL: Can you remember how you felt when you worked your first acting job?

BS: I liked it. I liked being in front of people. I was an only child, so I think I was a little starved for attention. Being around people was such a rarity for me. I felt like I lived a lot of time in solitary with my own thoughts, so any time I got a chance to be with other people was really exciting.

DL: Do you feel the same way today about acting? Do you feel like you always want to be in front of people, or do you also reserve a good chunk of time for solemn introspection or just solitude?

BS: Now the only time I like to be around people is when I’m performing. Now I’m back to being a completely solitary, hermit-like person, except for when I’m performing.

DL: What do you do with the time you have to yourself? Any creative things?

BS: Yeah, I have a lot of different creative outlets. Sometimes I play guitar and write sort of folky, introspective-y kind of songs. Sort of James Taylor, Cat Stevens-like stuff. And I paint, but I haven’t painted in a long time. Mostly abstract, weird stuff, like Peter Max.

DL: Of the music you’ve written, is any of it available for people to listen to online, or is it stuff you do privately?

BS: It’s mostly stuff I do privately. I should actually be a little more organized. Most of it’s in a fairly listenable state that I can actually probably put it on iTunes. I would never be looking for it to be a real source of income, but for people interested in hearing “oh, what kind of songs does Brad write,” I should get more organized and throw it on to iTunes.

DL: Out of the projects that you’ve been involved with, which ones have been the most rewarding?

BS: Really, my favorite is what Colin and I are doing now, which is our live tour. It’s so much fun. We both like being in front of a live audience, we both like making people laugh and we have complete creative control over the show, so we’re the ones calling the shots. We go out 40 to 50 times a year, and it pays our bills and keeps us busy and we still have lots of free time to do other things, including taping Whose Line and other projects. So, it’s really the best of both worlds.

Continue reading Brad Sherwood

Checkin’ in with Interviewees May 2014

Believe it or not, those interviewed by The Annual continue to live their lives and produce new content after being interviewed. Here’s a chance to catch up on some of their current projects/whereabouts.

Tom Cotter:

Tom is set to headline the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival on August 8th in Jamestown, NY. In the next month you’ll be able to see him live in Connecticut, Florida and New Jersey. Click here for his current tour schedule.

Gaby Dunn:

Gaby now blogs for What’s Trending Live while making occasional appearances on the show. She has also launched a new webseries with her best friend entitled Just Between Us, you can hear her Five Minute Not-Cast on Soundcloud and you can read one of her latest pieces in The Jewish Daughter Diaries which will be released on May 6th.

Ron Funches:

Ron plays Shelly on NBC’s Undateable premiering May 29th at 9pm, you can watch the trailer above. In the coming weeks you can find him in Portland, Denver, and San Diego. Click here for his current tour schedule.

TJ Kincaid:

TJ continues to produce around 4-5 new Amazing Atheist videos a week he also runs a new show called The Drunken Peasants.

Colin Mochrie:

Whose Line back on TV, Colin and Brad Sherwood continue to tour together, but did you know that Colin recently released book combining classic literature with improv, it’s called Not Quite The Classics.

Greg Proops:

Greg has digitally released a new hour long special Greg Proops Live a Musso and Frank for $4.99 at He also continues to tour and release The Smartest Man in the World Proopcast. You can see him live at The Bellhouse in Brooklyn, NY this weekend and across Europe throughout the rest of May.

Nick Pupo:

Hitting it’s one year anniversary a little over a month ago, Nick’s podcast Stand Up Close and Personal has been chronicling the lives of three open mic comics.

Justin Roiland:

Rick and Morty has been picked up for a second season and while the return does not yet have a premiere date, you can catch reruns on Adult Swim and hear Justin voicing Lemongrab and various other characters on Adventure Time

John Safran:

While appearing regularly on Austrailian television, John Safran’s recent projects include a true crime novel entitled Murder In Mississippi chronicling the murder of a white supremacist that John spent an uneasy couple of days with while filming his Race Relations special.

Justin Roiland [Part 2]

In my previous conversation with him, I learned this man loves DeGrassi, Jim Henson, and birthing twisted worlds from his imagination. Just as the topics were shifting to a new level of interesting, the call was dropped, ever so abruptly. So I called back and soon answered a lovely voice, a woman named Elizabeth who quickly reconnected me with the sentient entity known as…

Elizabeth Goldsby, (Justin’s assistant): Hello?

David Luna: Hi, Elizabeth. I was talking to Justin, and I don’t know if his phone died, but the call dropped.

EG: Oh! What the hell? Okay, give me one second. He’s probably still talking [laughs]. Hold on one sec.

Thirty seconds go by.

Justin Roiland: Hello?

David Luna: Hey, how ya doin’?

JR: Hey, sorry. I don’t know what happened there.

DL: You were saying you have all these different theories, almost combining aspects of different religions, and that you don’t subscribe to any traditional religions that are oppressive in some way or another. So, what are some of these ideas? And have you ever had any experiences with psychedelics, and is that another thing that ties into these ideas?

JR: Yeah, that’s probably one of the reasons why I’m so skittish about the larger, mainstream religions. I haven’t had a ton of experiences with psychedelics, but it’s definitely influenced my perspective of reality and it’s hard to buy into [mainstream religions] after experiencing some of that.

Different theories I could give you. They’re all weird. Like the idea that you live every single life that will ever live. So, there’s two timelines: There’s chronological time, which is just time marching forward, and then there’s a completely different timeline that’s non-chronological, where you’re being born, going through life, and dying, and doing that almost an infinite number of times. So, you’re technically inhabiting every living person on the planet. You’re me, I’m you, we’re all the same. So when you kill somebody, you will also be killed by yourself. If you do something good for someone, that’s you doing something good for yourself. But it’s all masked and separated by the cycle of life and birth, and these two timelines working independently, but also being interwoven. It’s crazy. I mean, obviously I don’t truly believe that, but those are the kind of thought exercises. And it’s like, who’s to say it isn’t true? Is that any crazier than what some legitimate religions believe? I have another one. A lot of it has to do with reincarnation, different spins on that. The concept of coming back. You basically live a human life, die, then you come back as an animal—a pig, for example. I have a whole thing where I believe that pigs are people, so when we die we come back as a pig, and then when we die as a pig we come back as a person, and it’s this cycle that just keeps going and going. And again, there’s two different timelines. There’s chronological time and the lives that you’ve lived sequentially. And in the sequential timeline, when you come back as a pig after you’ve died as a human, you can come back within a 1000 year window forward and backward. Or 2000 years. I can’t remember exactly what it was. So, you could come back as a pig in the year 1200 if you died today, and then when you die as a pig in the year 1200 you can come back as a human, again within a 2000 year window, forward or backward.

The other idea is what animal you ate the most is what you’ll come back as in your next life. There’s all kinds of karmic versions of it. Because really, for all we know, it could just be one big, giant game. Who knows what this is. There’s a lot of crazy theories as to what is this life really, what’s really going on, and the fact that we all inevitably have to face death. And then we will all experience it. It’s kind of terrifying.

A lot of the Eastern religions are just focused on being, being present and not focusing so much on rituals. Like Christianity, and Muslims, there’s a lot of rituals, being disciplined and punishing yourself. There’s Lent and sacrifices and all this. The other school of thought is just more of a spiritual connection with being, and existing, and trying to be in the moment, and being present.

But I don’t practice any of it. It’s hard for me to because I’m so anticipatory. I’m very anxious. I’m always worrying about what’s coming up. I find it hard to live in the moment.

DL: That’s very fascinating. There are a lot of people, I realize, and not just my circle of friends, this generation seems to have a lot more unifying ideas, where we’re all part of one larger thing, as opposed to separate. Although we are individuals, we’re more inclined to work together and to look past our differences. Race is almost not a big deal at all for anyone born after 1980.

JR: Yeah, to me the idea of racism and prejudice based off of skin color or ethnicity is so comical. Both of my parents taught me and my sister that everyone’s equal and it didn’t even factor in to my upbringing. It’s so foreign an idea; it’s almost comical to me. I have a really dark sense of humor that comes from that. Because the idea of being actually for-real racist is so foreign and comical and hilarious.  But that’s also bad because my experience with it is so far removed from the reality of how horrible it would be to actually be persecuted because of it. I grew up just knowing that [racism] existed and just thinking, “That’s fucking stupid. That’s just weird.” It’s kind of nice to see that hopefully, within a few generations, that whole concept of racism will be so minimalized in society. Hopefully. I think it’s going to be more about classism, if anything. It’s going to be poor people versus rich people.

Roiland Continue reading Justin Roiland [Part 2]