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Longtime journalist Nick Zaino interviews the people who create what he loves -- comedy, horror, and music on this weekly podcast. Plus a featured song or comedy routine on every episode! Visit the blog at

Longtime journalist Nick Zaino interviews the people who create what he loves -- comedy, horror, and music on this weekly podcast. Plus a featured song or comedy routine on every episode! Visit the blog at
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Longtime journalist Nick Zaino interviews the people who create what he loves -- comedy, horror, and music on this weekly podcast. Plus a featured song or comedy routine on every episode! Visit the blog at








DoT EP79: Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola Discuss 2018 Horror Films and Their Latest, Clickbait plus New Music from Whispering Sons

This is a special edition of the Department of Tangents Podcast, a look back at the year in horror films with filmmakers, musicians, and writers Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola, who released their own horror film in 2018 called Clickbait. We talked about the best, the most disappointing, and a few mixed reviews, including bigger releases like Hereditary, A Quiet Place, Halloween, Sorry To Bother You, the Suspiria remake, Annihilation, and Mandy, as well as some indie releases like...


DoT EP78: North East Comic Con Comedy Panel w Carolyn Plummer, Kathe Farris, Erin Spencer, and Emily Ruskowski, with New Music from illuminati hotties

This week's episode is a panel discussion with comedians Kathe Farris, Emily Ruskowski, Erin Spencer, and Carolyn Plummer with new music from illuminati hotties. It's the very first time the Department of Tangents was recorded live in front of an audience. The North East Comic Con and Collectibles Extravaganza expanded its podcast panels and its comedy offerings this year, and I was lucky to nab all four comedians on the Friday night show presented by The Boston Comedy Festival before they...


DoT EP77: Celebrating 30 Years of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Kids In the Hall on TV

This week’s episode is a bit different from previous episodes, in that it doesn’t feature an interview with one person about their work. For the Thanksgiving week episode, I am celebrating a couple of things for which I feel very thankful, and that it the existence of The Kids In the Hall and Mystery Science Theater 3000. Both happen to be celebrating 30th anniversaries in television this year, so it seemed fitting to put them together. The Kids In the Hall first came together as a group...


DoT EP76: Ryan Lee Crosby Talks Raga Blues, plus "I'm Dissatisfied"

I’ve written about Ryan Lee Crosby’s music in the past. I’m not sure when the first time was, but back then he had finished playing with his rock band, Cancer To the Stars, and had moved on to a more acoustic singer/songwriter sound. He has been the type of musician that, if you lose track of him for a little while, he may be doing something completely different when you find your way back. That’s what I found with his new album, River Music. Crosby moved on from singer/songwriter mode to...


DoT EP75 Musician Perry Serpa

I have known Perry Serpa for several years as a press guy. He has been a regular in my inbox, sending me notices about new music. A couple of years ago, I was surprised when he sent me a press release about his own music, helming a band called The Sharp Things. After doing my homework, I found out he is a skillful pop and rock craftsman, and I featured a print interview with him about Everybody Everybody on the Department of Tangents blog. Then, a couple of months ago, I got an e-mail...


DOT PODCAST EP 74 Gad Elmaleh

Gad Elmaleh has a fascinating story. He was born in Casablanca, went to college in Montreal, and then moved to France where he became a stand-up superstar. Three years ago, he moved from the place where he is most popular to America, where he was somewhat known but not a huge star. He was still learning English, and his goal was to get good enough to be able to do an hour in English. He accomplished that quickly, releasing his American Dream special on Netflix earlier this year. This...


DoT EP73: Mike Vago, Author of Selfdestructible, plus New Comedy from Shawn Carter

This episode is an interview with author Mike Vago with new comedy from Shawn Carter. Vago is a talented writer and humor columnist. You may have seen his Wiki Wormhole feature, which has run for the past five years in the Onion’s A.V. Club. Or you might have seen his debut novel, Selfdestructible, about super heroes who have to deal with real-world problems. A teenager discovers he can set things on fire when he’s angry, and the part he’s most excited about, at least at first, is that he...


A DoT Minicast: Paula Finn, Author of Sitcom Writers Talk Shop

This week’s episode is a minicast, an interview with Paula Finn, author of Sitcom Writers Talk Shop: Behind the Scenes with Carl Reiner, Norman Lear, and Other Geniuses of TV Comedy. It’s a collection of interviews with some of the finest writers in television history, including big names like Reiner, Lear, James L. Brooks, Larry Charles, Phil Rosenthal, Mike Reiss, and Al Jean, and some important figures lesser-known outside of TV nerd fandom like Treva Silverman, Leonard Stern, and...


DoT EP72: Wild Artist Cari Ann Shim Sham, plus New Music from the Chandler Travis Three-O

I love Halloween, and I live just a few minutes from Salem, Massachusetts, celebrated for the Salem Witch Trials and home of a full month of Halloween insanity through the month of October. You’d think someone would have created a horror-themed festival for the city a long time ago, but it wasn’t until last year that the Salem Horror Fest sprung up, and with it the shorts program where I saw Cari Ann Shim Sham’s film, The Parksville Murders. I had just watched a whole evening’s worth of...


DoT EP71: Matt Leslie, Writer/Producer of Summer of '84, plus New Comedy from Jo Firestone

I was lucky enough to see Summer of ’84 a few weeks ago in Salem, Massachusetts, not far from where Matt Leslie grew up in Ipswich. I had not heard of the film before, but it was sponsored by the Salem Horror Fest, and I trust the tastes of the folks who run that, so I went into it with no hype, knowing virtually nothing about it. I greatly enjoyed the film. It has the same vibe as movies I enjoyed, oddly enough, as a teenager in the mid-eighties like The Lost Boys or The Goonies. Davey,...


DoT EP70: Spencer Garland is PR Newman, plus New Music from The Innocence Mission

If you listened to EP69 with comedian and author Guy Branum, you heard a little taste of the new PR Newman album, Turn Out. If not, I hope you’ll take a listen and come back to this conversation. There is a lot to talk about with this music. I got an advance of the album a month or so ago, and wound up listening to it in the car over and over for the next several days – which is the mark of a good album. Car listening is essential. Every time I listened, I heard something different. It...


DoT EP69: Writer, Comedian, and Goddess Guy Branum, plus New Music from PR Newman

I am honored to have Guy Branum as my interview guest this week. He is an accomplished television writer, having worked on Chelsea, Lately and written for Joan Rivers, as well as one of the most consistently entertaining sitcoms of the past decade, The Mindy Project. He also currently hosts Talk Show The Game Show on truTV, on which guests get points for witty stories, just the right amount of name dropping to avoid getting a yellow card, jokes, and applause breaks. It’s a fresh and funny...


DoT EP68: Author David Wellington from NECON 38 plus New Music from Beanpole

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Rhode Island for NECON 38, the 38th edition of Northeastern Writers Conference. It’s also known as Camp NECON, and it is attended mostly by horror writers, aspiring horror writers like myself, and fans. It was my first time at the conference, but it didn’t feel that way. It is a professional conference, with a full slate of panels on writing and horror-related art, but it is also very social. The regulars think of themselves as family, and that is very much...


DoT EP67: Late Show Comedy Booker Jessica Pilot plus New Music from Walter Salas-Humara

Jessica Pilot has one of the best jobs in the business. She finds stand-up comedians for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and helps them perfect their set for television. That means watching as much stand-up comedy as she possibly can, at festivals, in clubs, or, every once in a while, in a pizza shop. As I am recording this voiceover now, she is out scouting at the Just For Laughs Festival. It’s a dream job in a lot of ways, but it is still a job. There is a lot of work involved in...


DoT EP66: Comedian Myq Kaplan plus New Music from The Rails

Myq Kaplan’s mind is in constant motion. If you saw him early on in his career, you might have caught him in a constant barrage of one- and two-line jokes, all quick-witted stuff that would flit from one premise to the next. Over the years, Kaplan has retained that rhythm, but he has developed the ideas more. Those smaller bits are woven around a larger theme, as with last year’s No Kidding in which Kaplan explored his lack of desire to have kids. Kaplan is about to bring his next show,...


DoT EP65 The English Beat's Dave Wakeling plus Sloane Crosley's Look Alive Out There

One of the best things you can do as a fan of any art is to go into something with no real expectations and find something you think is wonderful. That explains my relationship with The English Beat. The band played their first show in 1979 and were part of the two-tone movement in the early 80s, but I didn’t hop on board until I saw the band last year. They were on the Retro Futura Tour, which also featured Paul Young, Katrina Leskanich from Katrina and the Waves, Modern English, Men...


DoT EP64 Comedian Julie Goldman with New Music from Tyler Childers

This is yet another episode springing from the 2018 Women In Comedy Festival here in Boston. It had been a very long time since I’d gotten the chance to catch up with Julie Goldman, so long that neither of us could quite remember exactly when we’d first met or talked. I interviewed her for the Boston Globe to preview the festival, and the conversation went so many different directions, I wanted to follow up and make sure I got her on the podcast. I saw a lot of great sets at the festival,...


DoT EP63 Musician Mark Geary featuring "Don't Break"

Years ago, I reviewed Mark Geary’s album Ghosts for the sadly departed Boston Phoenix. I would pop that CD in my player on occasion, but fell out of touch with his music for a while. Then a couple of months before this interview, I got an instant message from Geary on Facebook that he’d be playing a few miles away. It was around two in the morning, but I got my tickets a few minutes later, and saw a fantastic show at a little place called The Carriage House in Newburyport, Massachusetts. It...


DoT EP62: Jonathan Katz Talks Dr. Katz on Audible, plus New Music from

For this week’s episode, I sat down with Jonathan Katz in his home in Newton, Massachusetts to talk about his career in stand-up comedy and Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist, his popular Comedy Central show which is now an audio series on Audible. Season Two of the new incarnation is coming up this summer, and Katz gives the complete rundown of new guests, plus a preview of what’s happening with Dr. Katz, his son Ben, played by H. Jon Benjamin, and his receptionist, Laura, played by Laura...


A DoT Minicast: An Interview Flashback with Lily Tomlin

Occasionally I dip back into the archives of comedians, musicians, and authors I’ve interviewed for the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix, or various other publications over the years and give you a few short bits of the recordings. This episode, it’s Lily Tomlin, whom I interviewed for the Globe in 2008 and 2013. Tomlin is a delightful person and a delightful performer. If you’ve never seen her live, make a point of it. If you can’t feel good about being a human being after you’ve seen her,...