Miriam Katz

  • Still from Crashing, 2016–, a TV show on HBO. Pilot episode. Pete (Pete Holmes). Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
    interviews December 20, 2016

    Pete Holmes

    Los Angeles–based comedian, actor, writer, and podcaster Pete Holmes could have been a youth pastor. Instead, he makes dumb jokes with deep meaning. Below, Holmes discusses his recent HBO comedy special Faces and Sounds, as well as his HBO TV series Crashing, produced by Judd Apatow, which premieres on February 19, 2017.

    BEFORE MY WIFE LEFT ME, I was already a comedian, but I didn’t really see an urgency to make people feel good or give people another perspective on the world. I was fine and everything seemed fine and I made a lot of light, observational humor, which was great—I still like that

  • Caption: Ate9, EXHIBIT b, 2015. Performance view, April 2015, Los Angeles Dance Festival. Photo: Denise Leitner.
    interviews August 16, 2016

    Danielle Agami

    In 2010, after five years of performing with the Batsheva Dance Company, Danielle Agami left her native Israel and made her way to New York, where she introduced American students to “Gaga,” an improvised form of dance created by Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin. Two years later, she changed gears once again, this time making her way west, where she formed the Los Angeles–based dance company Ate9. Below, Agami discusses her choreographic process and ethos, including an embrace of both struggle and awkwardness, all of which may find its way into Ate9’s collaboration with the LA Philharmonic

  • Left: Comedian and singer Bridget Everett. (Photo: Jose Negrete) Right: Tenacious D's Kyle Gass and Jack Black. (Photo: Ryan Chin)
    diary November 09, 2014

    Supreme Being

    “FUCK THIS VIP SHIT—I want some real California dick!” cried a braless Bridget Everett as she made her way toward the general admission section of the crowd. Everett eventually found an object for her affection, a masked dandy she nicknamed “Corky” (cause he was “Down’s-y in the eyes”), whom she cajoled into playing a grown-up game of airplane, bearing the weight of her significant frame right there in the middle of the stage. Soon enough she was motorboating Peaches (the musician, not the fruit), forcing a security guard’s head up her dress, and crooning gorgeously about lady parts of various

  • Left: Comedians Rory Scovel and Kate Berlant. Right: Designer Kelly Fadem and comedian Josh Fadem. (All photos: Miriam Katz)
    diary February 01, 2014

    Riot On!

    “GUYS, you just saw a baby deer bouncing through the forest for the first time—how am I supposed to follow that?” It was 1 AM on a Friday night in a packed dive bar during the second annual RIOT Alternative Comedy Festival in Los Angeles, and a very stoned Guy Branum was sending up Whitmore Thomas’s endearingly sloppy performance at the “Midnight Run” show, for which comedians get extremely high (in Thomas’s case, for the first time ever) just before stepping onstage. (Audience imbibement was also encouraged; this was California, after all.)

    The event was quintessentially RIOT, a four-day

  • Musician Dan Deacon at the Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival. (All photos: Seth Olenick)
    diary October 10, 2013

    A Supposedly Funny Thing

    “IT FEELS LIKE we’ve inserted a bizarre multiverse within the ship.” Comedian Kurt Braunohler and I stood on the aft of the Royal Caribbean cruise liner, gazing out at some heat lightning scarring the horizon on the third and final evening of the Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival (aka “boatparty.biz”), masterminded by the Maximum Fun network of podcasts. Indeed, our group of 250 tattooed, Twitter-literate, tech-savvy weirdos did stick out from the other 90 percent of RC passengers (the “normals,” as they were fondly dubbed), who seemed to view us with a mixture of curiosity and confusion.

  • Left: Joan Rivers. (Photo: Eric Myre) Right: Aparna Nancherla and Brent Weinbach. (Photo: Miriam Katz)
    diary August 12, 2013

    Laugh Track

    “DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW LUCKY YOU ARE? I’m eighty years old—I could die at any moment,” bellowed Joan Rivers to a crowd of five thousand during the 2013 Just For Laughs festival in Montreal. “Never mind all this shitty comedy. You’d be invited to dinner for the rest of your lives: ‘You were there?!’”

    Well, no such luck. If there was a whiff of death, it’s because Rivers killed onstage, crawling around in a royal purple sequin robe as she attacked celebrities, derided her aging body and mind, and invoked a range of ethnic slurs with refreshing equanimity (“everybody’s something, calm down already”).

  • Left: Maximum Fun founder and podcaster Jesse Thorn. Right: A superhero battle. (Except where noted, all photos: Kenneth Lecky)
    diary July 19, 2013

    Just for Fun

    FOR YEARS NOW I’ve heard about MaxFunCon, a mythical mountain retreat for comedy creators and lovers in Lake Arrowhead, California. Instead of a “fan con” where people migrate to some loathsome locale to froth and idolize with like-minded genuflectors, MFC, organized by the Maximum Fun network of podcasts founded by NPR host Jesse Thorn, encourages attendees to actually do what they love, offering classes and workshops in subjects ranging from animation to improvisation. For those of us who in fact enjoy a bit of adulating, there are also lectures and performances by some of the greatest talents

  • Left to right: Chad Raines, Amanda Palmer, Michael McQuilken, Village Underground, New York City, 2012.
    interviews August 26, 2012

    Amanda Palmer

    Last April former lead singer of the Dresden Dolls Amanda Palmer launched a month-long Kickstarter campaign to fund an album, a book, an art exhibition, and a live music tour. Here, the performer discusses the successes of the campaign, which raised over one million dollars, as well as the intersection between art and business. Palmer’s album, Theater Is Evil, will be released September 11 and her year-long, world-wide tour begins September 10.

    A LOT OF THE DRESDEN DOLLS BAND PHILOSOPHY was about inviting people on stage and getting them into the circus. It’s the same on the Internet— I like to

  • Left: Comedians Todd Barry and Annie Lederman. Right: Comedian Marc Maron.
    diary August 09, 2012

    Funny Business

    “IF YOU WERE being raped and you saw a shooting star, would you use your wish to stop the rape? Or would you look at the bigger picture?”

    The question came courtesy of twenty-four-year-old LA-based comedian Jerrod Carmichael during his set at the cozy Théâtre Sainte Catherine in downtown Montreal. I had arrived from the airport just hours before for the final week of the monthlong, annual Just for Laughs festival. The latest iteration, the fest’s thirtieth, featured dozens of shows per night in bars, tents, strip clubs, and opera houses radiating outward from the crowded Place-des-Arts.

    Given the

  • Left and right: William Wegman, untitled, 1993, silver gelatin print, 20 x 16”.
    interviews July 13, 2012

    William Wegman

    Throughout his career, William Wegman has consistently created drawings, paintings, photographs, and videos about and within the natural world. From July 13 to October 21, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art will present “Hello Nature,” an exhibition featuring some thirty years of work inspired by Maine, where the artist spends his summers. Here Wegman discusses his long-standing relationship with nature and how it has influenced his work.

    I GREW UP IN RURAL WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS in the 1940s and ’50s in an era when parental supervision wasn’t so important. We didn’t have play dates. We were on

  • From left: Lydia, Lovey Guerrero as Santa, and Ann Liv Young as Sherry. (Photo: Michael A. Guerrero)
    interviews December 03, 2011

    Ann Liv Young

    Since graduating from Hollins University’s dance program in 2003, Ann Liv Young has riled and thrilled audiences with her performances. Integrating music, movement, and direct engagement, in recent years Young has begun to make work that leans more toward improvisation than choreography. Here the artist discusses her alter ego Sherry, the subject of a “mid-career retrospective” (in Young’s first solo gallery exhibition). “Sherry Is Present” opens at Louis B. James in New York on December 7.

    “SHERRY” IS A TOOL that I made when I was pregnant. I thought, “How am I going to make art and support a

  • Nathalie Djurberg, Deceiving looks, 2011, still from digital video, 5 minutes and 58 seconds.

    Nathalie Djurberg

    In Nathalie Djurberg’s frenzied stop-motion animations, even innocuous actions—a kiss, a lick— quickly turn violent.

    In Nathalie Djurberg’s frenzied stop-motion animations, even innocuous actions—a kiss, a lick—quickly turn violent. The crude, childlike appearance of the Swedish artist’s handmade figures and environments renders her work all the more sinister and unsettling. For “The Parade,” her largest exhibition in an American museum to date, Djurberg explores the social psychology of birds—their mating rituals, flocking patterns, and territorial displays—with eighty-five freestanding mixed-media sculptures and five films (all of which are synced to one incongruously