PODCAST

Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso

iHeartPodcasts and Pushkin Industries

Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso is a weekly series of intimate conversations with artists, activists, and politicians. Where people sound like people. Hosted by Sam Fragoso. New episodes every Sunday.

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The Supreme Court Conversation We’re Not Having
6d ago
The Supreme Court Conversation We’re Not Having
Last month, a leaked draft opinion offered a repudiation of a 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights. The historic leak was followed by both pro-choice and pro-life protests across the country. While we await the Supreme Court’s decision, attorney Neal Katyal has been fighting back. Formerly the Solicitor General under the Obama Administration, Katyal joins us to discuss the historic nature of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion (4:18), the ‘super precedent’ that Roe v. Wade has set (6:24), and why the Constitution is designed to protect individual rights (9:45). We also look at the states that have begun restricting abortion (16:05) and their unnerving parallels to Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (20:23). After the break, Neal outlines the aftermath of Alito’s draft opinion, should it come to pass: including other rights that could be in jeopardy (26:17), the erosion of public confidence in the courts (32:58), and a restrictive reimagining of the Judicial Branch (36:13). To end, Katyal reflects on a life in the courtroom and where he still finds hope—‘even in this darkest hour’ (44:29).  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Supreme Court Conversation We’re Not Having
6d ago
The Supreme Court Conversation We’re Not Having
Last month, a leaked draft opinion offered a repudiation of a 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights. The historic leak was followed by both pro-choice and pro-life protests across the country. While we await the Supreme Court’s decision, attorney Neal Katyal has been fighting back. Formerly the Solicitor General under the Obama Administration, Katyal joins us to discuss the historic nature of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion (4:18), the ‘super precedent’ that Roe v. Wade has set (6:24), and why the Constitution is designed to protect individual rights (9:45). We also look at the states that have begun restricting abortion (16:05) and their unnerving parallels to Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (20:23). After the break, Neal outlines the aftermath of Alito’s draft opinion, should it come to pass: including other rights that could be in jeopardy (26:17), the erosion of public confidence in the courts (32:58), and a restrictive reimagining of the Judicial Branch (36:13). To end, Katyal reflects on a life in the courtroom and where he still finds hope—‘even in this darkest hour’ (44:29).  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
David Sedaris: A Life On and Off the Page
Jun 12 2022
David Sedaris: A Life On and Off the Page
This week we’re joined by beloved author David Sedaris! We begin with the timely opening essay from his latest collection, Happy-Go-Lucky (4:05). Then, David describes growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina (10:07), his mother’s “Group Therapy” sessions at the dinner table (11:03), the night his father heckled him during a live performance (16:02), and what he learned about writing at the Art Institute of Chicago (26:55). On the back-half, David reads a tribute to his mother from Calypso (32:55). We also unpack the way his work has evolved (35:09), the transformation that occurred in his father’s final days (39:20), and why, after forty years, he continues to keep his daily diary (46:45). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Actor Jon Bernthal: Leading Man
Jun 5 2022
Actor Jon Bernthal: Leading Man
This week we’re joined by actor Jon Bernthal! To begin, we discuss his latest performance on HBO’s We Own This City (6:00), policing and gun culture in America (9:15), growing up grappling with toxic masculinity (14:47), his pivot to acting in college (23:30), and the powerful history of theater in Moscow (27:25).  On the back-half, he reflects on his first year in Los Angeles (32:45), the night that changed his life (37:44), and the magic behind the making of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (45:05). To close, Jon shares his hopes for the future (51:00) and how, as a father, he’s processed these tragic weeks in America (52:58). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Performer Meg Stalter Heals Through Comedy
Jun 1 2022
Performer Meg Stalter Heals Through Comedy
This week we are joined by comedian Meg Stalter! With season two of Hacks, we talk about her role as Kayla the assistant (5:50), a formative experience in a middle school drama class (12:50), moving from Ohio to Chicago to perform (17:54), and how she pushed boundaries on stage (19:47) with the support of her comedy community (22:34). We also unpack the strange sensation of going viral (25:19) before reenacting a trademark Meg Stalter bit (27:14).  On the back half, we discuss her beloved quarantine sets on Instagram Live (34:52), the specificity of her Midwestern characters (41:16), and how her curiosity in people is at the core of her work (42:52). To close, Meg reflects on her blessed journey (48:54) and where she hopes to go in the years ahead (49:52). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
What Will It Take To Change? (with Stacey Abrams)
May 29 2022
What Will It Take To Change? (with Stacey Abrams)
To start, a reflection on the week that was. Then, we return to our conversation with Stacey Abrams. She won her Gubernatorial primary this week in Georgia, where she hopes to unseat Brian Kemp this November. We talk about the systemic challenges that small business owners face (6:32), the impact of Georgia’s new voting laws (11:20), the threat of election subversion (14:02), what a functional democracy could look like (16:48), the lessons learned from her 2018 bid for governor (19:31), and how she plans to win in 2022 (24:23).  On the back half, Abrams reflects on growing up in the south (29:50), her earliest political ambitions (35:10), and how literature has offered a human complexity not always granted to people in politics (40:18), especially Black women in positions of power (42:17). As we leave, Stacey shares a personal story about her first visit to the governor’s mansion (46:05), the need to move past tribalism (50:42), and why she still wants to be in this fight in 2022 and beyond (52:55). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Author Jennifer Egan: Writing Through Time
May 22 2022
Author Jennifer Egan: Writing Through Time
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan (“A Visit from the Goon Squad”) joins us this week. She describes the structural pulse of her new novel (4:00), why she’s drawn to nonlinear storytelling (6:33), and what “The Candy House” reveals about authenticity (7:40) in the digital age (14:26). Then, we revisit a formative trip to Europe (21:21) that inspired her to write (26:30) and move to New York, where she worked as a secretary to a countess (32:16) and rediscovered her creative voice (34:12). On the back-half, Jennifer reflects on her late brother Graham (36:57), his courageous battle with schizophrenia (38:30), and his lasting presence in her work (40:13). We also discuss the role of luck (50:02), the value of pushing past boundaries (52:00), and how she continued to write in the face of loss (55:57). To close, she reads a healing passage from “Manhattan Beach” (57:22). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Pedro Pascal: A Life of Dreaming
May 15 2022
Pedro Pascal: A Life of Dreaming
This week we sit with actor Pedro Pascal! We begin with the release of his new film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (5:02), working with childhood idol Nicolas Cage (6:50), why his parents left Chile (11:40), the John Hughes classic his dad wouldn’t let him watch (17:00), and the Tony Kushner play (20:21) that inspired him to give acting a go in New York City (25:07).    On the back-half, Pedro reflects on his first jobs on screen (27:52), the story of his mother’s passing (29:50), the friends who kept him afloat (36:20) as he built a career in theater (36:48), redefining childhood dreams in adulthood (42:34), and what really matters to him at age 47 (47:37). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Mother’s Day with Minnie Driver
May 8 2022
Mother’s Day with Minnie Driver
This Mother’s Day, a special talk with actor Minnie Driver. On the heels of her debut essay collection Managing Expectations, she discusses the role of luck (3:40), her bifurcated upbringing (5:12) and how it shaped her view of motherhood (11:28). As we walk through the 1970s, Minnie describes discovering acting in boarding school (12:00), her proclivity for running away (13:02), the story of her performance (16:05), the aftermath of Circle of Friends (21:16), an unnerving series of commercial auditions in her 20s (21:16) and what they taught her about misogyny in Hollywood (30:32). On the back-half, she tells a tender story from the making of Good Will Hunting (35:06), the media pressure she faced following the film (40:40), finding refuge in songwriting (43:10), and how having her son, Henry, changed her course (46:20). To close, we sit with her mother’s final days (54:10) and how she defines love at age 52 (57:52). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Bill Hader Finds His Story
May 1 2022
Bill Hader Finds His Story
This week, legendary actor and comedian Bill Hader! We discuss the return of Barry (4:57), the thematic evolution of the series (7:02), and how it draws from films like Taxi Driver and Goodfellas (10:36). Then, Bill reflects on growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma (13:16), the influence of his late grandfather (17:04), his path from community college to his early PA jobs in Hollywood (18:25), landing on Saturday Night Live (21:36), the weekly pressure of the show (26:07), and how he made it through by collaborating with John Mulaney (29:51).   On the back-half, Bill shares a piece of advice from Jeff Bridges (35:14), how Barry came to be (37:27), the personal connection he has with the show (40:07), the enduring power of movies (47:52), and how, after some detours, he’s finally where he’s supposed to be (49:57). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Poet Rupi Kaur is Here to Stay
Apr 24 2022
Poet Rupi Kaur is Here to Stay
This week, our guest is poet Rupi Kaur. Ahead of her international tour (4:44), we sat to discuss her childhood in Canada (13:05), how she processes trauma through writing (22:13), her college photo series on menstruation that went viral (23:33), and the self-published poetry collection (milk & honey) that followed (29:20). In the aftermath of this unexpected attention, Rupi speaks candidly on the emotional toll of the last decade (30:43) and how she reckons with her critics today (32:35), before reading a poem written in response to their harassment (41:09). On the back-half, Rupi describes her powerful connection to her heritage (42:41), understanding her mother’s sacrifices (43:15), which she recounts in Broken English (45:52), and the ways in which her work has evolved (54:08). To close, she performs two personal pieces from home body (56:17) and shares why she’s ready to get back on the stage, doing what she loves to do (58:43). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Play It Again: Ocean Vuong
Apr 20 2022
Play It Again: Ocean Vuong
Today we’re revisiting a favorite conversation with poet and author Ocean Vuong, following the release of his new book, Time Is a Mother. He first joined us in June of 2021. We discuss reckoning with one’s work from a distance (6:18), why he wrote his autobiographical novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (7:40), the cage of American masculinity (12:10), how he’s stayed the course, creatively, amidst oppressive systems (19:56), and what it means to be a first-generation writer (23:53). On the back-half, we wrestle with the grief of his mother’s passing and the tragic shootings in Atlanta (29:40), along with the collective uncertainty of the year (44:48). Before we leave, a tribute to his late mother (51:42). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Love Songs with Syd (The Internet, Odd Future)
Apr 17 2022
Love Songs with Syd (The Internet, Odd Future)
This week we’re joined by musician and founding member of The Internet, Syd! With the release of her new solo record, Broken Hearts Club (3:15), we discuss the origin of the album (5:45), how she healed in the process of making it (10:32), her evolution from engineer to singer-songwriter (11:50), the salad days of Odd Future (15:37), the depression that followed (20:25), and how she found her voice on the other side (31:00). After the break, Syd talks about performing through her stage fright (32:22), reckoning with Odd Future’s hyper-masculinity (35:20), the media’s outsized expectations for queer artists (38:02), actualizing her mother’s musical dreams (44:34), a full circle moment with Erykah Badu (50:00), and what she hopes for in the decade to come (50:48). Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Let’s Talk About Sex (At the Movies)
Apr 10 2022
Let’s Talk About Sex (At the Movies)
Film historian Karina Longworth is the host of You Must Remember This, a podcast exploring the forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.  This week she joins us to discuss her new series, “Erotic 80s” (4:48), the seismic shift created by films like Last Tango in Paris and Deep Throat (7:58), the way in which these movies sold a distorted view of “female sexual liberation” (11:58), and how the cultural perception of these X-rated pictures evolved as the public learned of the abusive conditions in which they were made (12:50). As the 1980s took hold, Karina outlines how Hollywood capitalized on sex in the movies (16:50), making a film like American Gigolo (18:00), which transformed Richard Gere into a “distracting” sex symbol (22:09) and lead to “MTV aesthetic” in films like Flashdance and Risky Business (24:28).  On the back-half, we wrestle with the legacy of director Adrian Lyne’s work (28:00), the way cinema has drifted away from the center of culture (31:57), why Karina continues to make You Must Remember This (40:50), and a refrain she shares with 1930s actress, Kay Francis (42:53). Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Anita Hill is Getting Even. We Believe Her.
Apr 3 2022
Anita Hill is Getting Even. We Believe Her.
This week we’re joined by Professor Anita Hill. She’s an author, lawyer, and host of the new podcast, Getting Even with Anita Hill.  We begin by discussing her excellent new program (5:24), which reexamines her landmark testimony against Judge Clarence Thomas (9:04), her precarious relationship with the legal system (12:57), the unnerving attacks she received in the aftermath of 1991 (19:34), the survivors of sexual harassment emboldened by her work (27:35), and why the structural barriers to justice remain in 2022 (32:17). After the break, Anita replays the phone call she received from President Joe Biden in 2019 (36:45), the weight of her decision to speak out (41:35), the significance of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination (44:48), her mother’s enduring influence (49:15), and a poem by Pauli Murray that keeps the song of hope alive in her (51:00). Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Oscar Sunday with Questlove
Mar 27 2022
Oscar Sunday with Questlove
To celebrate Oscar Sunday, we’re returning to our talk with legendary bandleader of The Roots and director of Summer of Soul, Questlove! We discuss his winding road to making the documentary: from a trip to Japan (9:00) to a cold pitch backstage at The Tonight Show (10:30) to releasing the film last year (12:30). He also explains the cultural significance of the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969 (15:39), the indescribable warmth of analogue sound (17:11), and why B.B. King's Why I Sing the Blues endures (18:03). Then, in the spirit of Summer of Soul, we dive into the musical past of Questlove: listening to Sly & the Family Stone in the bathtub at age six (19:56), Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield at age 2, performing in a traveling band with his parents (23:35), before eventually creating The Roots (28:35). With distance, Questlove reflects on the group's European excursion (34:34), the infamous Philadelphia jam sessions that placed The Roots in a larger, cultural context (39:30), how his definition of success has evolved with age (41:17), and the profound final words of his manager Richard Nichols (44:12). To close, we sit with the words of Nina Simone (48:43) and how they've inspired Questlove to preserve and restore the history of Black music for future generations (51:36). To submit a question, comment, or reflection for our mailbag episode, write us at mail@talkeasypod.com. Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present
Mar 20 2022
Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present
Marina Abramović is a pioneer in the field of performance art, using her body as both the subject and the medium. This week, we sit with the legendary performer in her New York City apartment. To follow along with the works discussed, visit our guided, virtual exhibit at www.talkeasypod.com/abramovic. We start with her relationship to Ukraine (8:00), creating art out of hardship (12:42), a Rainer Rilke poem that shaped her childhood (15:39), and the curiosity that propels her forward (23:00) in the face of sexist attacks from the press (29:15). On the back-half, Marina reflects on her groundbreaking work in Rhythm 0 (34:45), her tolerance for pain (39:50), the deep-seated influence of her mother (40:12), finding happiness at age 75 (45:27), how her seminal piece, The Artist Is Present, lives on (49:10), and what it means to be still, together (53:37). Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Pieces of David Byrne
Mar 13 2022
The Pieces of David Byrne
This week we head to New York City to sit with the legendary David Byrne (Talking Heads). We discuss how he’s processed the pandemic (3:29), finding creativity in unlikely places (4:23), the evolution of his Broadway show ‘American Utopia’ (5:22), the influence of poet William Blake (7:26), his gift for collaboration (10:16), and the power of the song, Glass Concrete & Stone (15:30).  On the back-half, David opens up about his pivot from New Wave to Latin music (18:34), getting comfortable with creating on his own terms (21:25), and why he turned to performance as a response to being neurodivergent (29:48). He also reflects on his relationship to the Talking Heads at age 69 (34:54), the cross generational impact of his art (36:36), the unique interpretations of American Utopia (38:25), and how he “found the world” through making music (41:45). Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Author Margaret Atwood’s Burning Questions
Mar 6 2022
Author Margaret Atwood’s Burning Questions
Today we are joined by legendary writer Margaret Atwood! We begin with her new collection of essays, Burning Questions (4:18), which wrestle with catastrophe (4:59), growing up in the wilderness (7:05) under egalitarian parents (10:00), and how she circumvented the traditional roles for women of the 1950s (12:20). She also shares some personal stories: her first book signing event (15:40), the day she met her late husband Graeme Gibson (17:20), and the innumerable ways in which he'd shape her life (20:11). On the back-half we discuss the historical antecedents behind The Handmaid’s Tale (24:11), its renewed relevance amid threats to Roe v. Wade (25:43), the debate around ‘the writer as political agent’ (29:53), patriarchal gatekeeping inside the publishing industry (32:42), the limits of art-making (34:20), and why she continues to write at age 82 (39:17).  To close, Margaret reads from both her elegiac poem Dearly (40:05) and her essay “Polonia” (45:27). To submit a comment, question, or reflection for our upcoming mailbag episode, write us at mail@talkeasypod.com. Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Stacey Abrams’ Guide to Preserving Democracy
Feb 27 2022
Stacey Abrams’ Guide to Preserving Democracy
This week, we’re in conversation with author, voting rights activist, and gubernatorial candidate for the state of Georgia: Stacey Abrams. To begin, we talk about the systemic challenges that small business owners face (4:26), the impact of Georgia’s new voting laws (8:38), the threat of election subversion (11:52), what a functional democracy could look like (14:40), the lessons learned from her 2018 bid for Governor (18:14), and how she plans to win in 2022 (22:12).  On the back half, Abrams reflects on growing up in the south (26:00), her earliest political ambitions (31:49), and how literature has offered a human complexity not always granted to people in politics (36:34), especially Black women in positions of power (38:07). As we leave, Stacey shares a personal story about her first visit to the governor’s mansion (41:53), the need to move past tribalism (46:34), and why she still wants to be in this fight in 2022 and beyond (48:31). Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
W. Kamau Bell: How Do We Talk About Cosby?
Feb 23 2022
W. Kamau Bell: How Do We Talk About Cosby?
Comedian and documentary host W. Kamau Bell has built a career out of having difficult conversations. Today, he returns to the show with his latest project, the four-part docuseries We Need to Talk About Cosby. We begin with Kamau's reluctance to talk about Bill Cosby (7:35), whose legacy became something he decided to publicly grapple with (8:30) and examine chronologically through this piece (10:17). Kamau speaks on his approach to the series (13:10), the integral women who helped create it (14:40), and a formative United Shades of America moment that transformed the way he encounters and tells painful stories (16:24). On the back half, we unpack Cosby’s impact on Black history and representation (24:00), how he changed the stunt industry (27:53), a philosophy on truth that became embedded in the documentary (34:38), and how the project permanently altered Kamau’s course (35:04). Learn more about your ad-choices at omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.