"Into The Abyss"

a non-comedic podcast with comedians

Episode 1: Justin Grace

Justin Grace is a writer, improviser, stand-up comedian, and character performer. I met Justin some time around 2007, at Columbia University, where we collaborated on some live shows in various formats.

He's had an exciting life, with all kinds of funny stories, but we don't talk about those. We talk mainly about his difficulties holding down jobs, expressing vulnerability in a confidence-based industry, fitting into hierarchical systems, giving himself credit, and coming from a poor background into a rich kids' world (though he's quick to acknowledge lots of people have it much worse).

I'm not much for resumes, but people in the various comedy communities in New York might know him from "Super Buffet," a monthly character showcase he co-hosts.

Episode 2: Glo Tavarez

Glo Tavarez is an improviser, and actor, and a writer. She's been part of the all-woman talk show "The Female Gaze," has been in all kinds of improv shows, and recently become a Story Pirate — part of a troupe of actors who perform stories by and for kids and encourage them to be writers.

I first met Glo through Trumane Alston, who, soon after we met, recruited both of us and five other people to form the improv team that eventually would become Freight. We didn't get along at first—we're polar opposite personality types, and had clashing views on the improv community—but eventually became friends, and this podcast was a lot of fun.

Glo has done a lot of hilarious work, but talks mainly about what gets in the way of it, and how even well-intentioned liberals can keep fucking up her world.

She also used her musical improvisation skill to create the first ever "Into the Abyss" theme song.

Episode 3: Maritza Montañez

Maritza Montañez is a comedian, starting with improv comedy and branching out into more scripted performance and standup. She hosts the long-running, locally popular show "Kaleidoscope" and performs improv with a bunch of teams.

She also works on political activism—the Obama campaign, labor rights, civil rights, financial coaching—and sometimes feels guilty when she prioritizes personal and creative goals over political duty. But sometimes it's what she needs to do.

This was the longest episode to date, it takes awhile to get to the comedy, and we never get to the quitting. But we talk about balancing personal life and causes, managing short hours, finding meaning in comedy, the sick human desire for approval, confronting power structures, managing incomplete privilege, and trying to smash it all and escape through comedy.