Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso

Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso

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.


December 10, 2023 60 mins

Willem Dafoe has built a career out of shapeshifting. His latest role in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things demonstrates exactly that.

Today, he joins us to discuss his compelling performance in the imaginative tale (7:00), the elaborate details he discovered on set (9:20), and the three-hour physical transformation he underwent each day of filming (12:38). Then, Dafoe describes his upbringing in Wisconsin (15:15), his early love of B-...

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Nobel Peace Prize-winner Maria Ressa has spent the past decade advocating for the protection of journalists. Today, we return to our urgent conversation with the trailblazing author and activist.

We begin by unpacking the fragmenting effects of social media (6:08), how the internet gave power to authoritarian regimes around the globe (8:49), and Ressa’s five years uncovering those operations (9:20). Then, we walk through her early...

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November 26, 2023 63 mins

Throughout his fifteen-year moviemaking career, director and actor Benny Safdie has been drawn to naturalism and first-time performers. Fittingly, his recent collaboration with comedian Nathan Fielder (“Nathan for You”) was a perfect match.

Benny joins us today to discuss their satirical black comedy series The Curse (9:10), the timely premise that inspired the show (13:35), and Safdie’s history of capturing real-life personalitie...

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For more than a decade, actor and writer Brit Marling has made futuristic work that reveals truths about our disquieting present. Her latest endeavor, A Murder At the End of the World, is no exception.

We recently sat with Marling in front of a live audience as part of this year’s On Air Fest LA Annex, where we discussed her excellent new show on FX (8:34), the role artificial intelligence may play in the future of filmmaking (14:...

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November 12, 2023 59 mins

Writer and comedian Ziwe has made a career out of conducting charged and satirical interviews. She joins us this week to discuss her debut essay collection, Black Friend (5:45), the backstory behind her essay WikiFeet (10:19), her early affinity for broadcast news (13:06), the influence of satirists Jonathan Swift and Stephen Colbert (15:10), and her early, formative experiences working in comedy (35:05).

On the back-half, Ziwe re...

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November 5, 2023 53 mins

Marina Abramović is a pioneer in the field of performance art, using her body as both the subject and the medium. Today, we return to our special conversation with the legendary performer from her New York City apartment. To follow along with the works discussed, visit our guided, virtual exhibit at

We start with her healing installation in Ukraine (7:45), creating art out of hardship (12:24), a R...

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Upon taking a walk with crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, writer Michael Lewis had a sense that there might be a story here. In the intervening two years, that story has taken a series of twists and turns, resulting in Lewis’ new book Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon.

At the top, we walk through the latest events in Bankman-Fried’s Manhattan trial (7:27), the subject at the center of this winding story (12:06)...

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Singer-songwriter Weyes Blood is one of the most inventive musicians working today. One year ago, she released her prescient album And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow.

On the heels of her whirlwind tour (4:00), she joins us this week to talk about her post-pandemic anthem “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody” (10:04), her religious upbringing (13:22), the formative punk shows she attended as a teenager (20:17), and the influence of art...

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Last fall, George Saunders published Liberation Day, his first short-story collection in nine years. This week, we return to our conversation with the beloved author.

At the top, we discuss his process creating the book (3:40), the influence of Chekhov and Gogol (4:56), and a timely passage on democracy from “Love Letter” (8:35). Then, we unpack how he builds stories (13:30), a guiding philosophy from our first talk (14:58), and a...

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One year ago, The New Yorker staff writer and critic Hua Hsu published his singular memoir entitled Stay True. Earlier this May, the autobiography won a Pulitzer Prize.

Upon its paperback release, Hsu joins us to discuss the epigraph that frames the book (5:30) and his nomadic upbringing (9:45) scored by mixtapes (12:23) created by his Taiwanese father (15:14). Hsu then reflects on his arrival at UC Berkeley in the mid-90s (23:09)...

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Novelist Zadie Smith is one of the most acclaimed and beloved writers of her generation. Editor David Remnick has called her “a blessing not merely to The New Yorker but to language itself.” Author George Saunders has praised Smith’s work for its “heart and moral ambition.” I, too, think she’s quite good.

And so today we’re joined by Smith to discuss her prescient historical novel The Fraud (8:20), her instinctive writing process ...

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Writer Sandra Cisneros has been making sense of the world on the page since 1984’s The House on Mango Street. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to replay our 2022 conversation with the beloved poet.

We discuss her first poetry collection in 28 years, Woman Without Shame (4:40), why she chooses to write ‘dangerous’ pieces (6:18), and the significance of her poem, “My Mother and Sex” (8:38). Then, we walk through Sandra...

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For the better part of a decade, David Byrne was the front-man of Talking Heads. To celebrate the revival of Jonathan Demme’s concert film, Stop Making Sense, we’re revisiting our special talk with the legendary musician himself.

At the top, we discuss how Byrne processed the pandemic in New York City (6:45), finding creativity in unlikely places (9:50), the evolution of his Broadway show ‘American Utopia’ (10:47), the influence o...

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For nearly two decades, Matt Belloni (The Town) has been observing and writing about Hollywood. He joins us today to unpack the latest on the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

After a review of TIFF 2023 (6:50), Belloni dives into Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher’s decisions to return to their talk shows without WGA writers (10:45), the vital issues the guild is fighting for (19:20), and how their negotiations have progressed over the past ...

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Jazz singer Laufey wants to bridge the gap between the past and the present.

Today, she joins us upon the debut of her latest album, Bewitched. We discuss her songwriting process (5:20), her bossa nova-inspired piece “From The Start” (8:12), and her guiding light as a musician (12:30). Then, we walk through Laufey’s Icelandic upbringing (14:07), how fate led her to the Berklee College of Music (20:10), and the coming of age she ex...

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Sam Sanders is the host of Into It, a twice-weekly podcast surveying all things pop culture. Today: he joins us for a review of summer 2023!

At the top, we discuss Barbenheimer (7:20), the dual Hollywood strikes (14:12), Trump’s mug shot (19:00), the RNC debate (21:50), and the Montgomery Riverfront brawl (26:05).

On the back-half, Sanders reflects on growing up in Texas (36:30), his childhood of churchgoing (42:48), and how he f...

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Today, we return to our conversation with musician and actor Alana Haim!

We first sat with Alana around her on-screen debut in the film Licorice Pizza, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Making her acting debut, Alana shares the serendipitous backstory that led to the project (6:00), the “7th grade forever theory” that helped her get inside the character of Alana Kane (13:17), a high school house party where she baked cake and fell...

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August 27, 2023 62 mins

Musician and composer Este Haim has had quite the year.

Today, she reflects on HAIM’s eventful summer as part of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour (5:45), her pivot into scoring feature films (8:40), including Netflix’s You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah (13:12), growing up in a family band called Rockenhaim (17:46) and the formative musicians that inspired her and her sisters as teenagers in Los Angeles (21:41).

On the back-hal...

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August 23, 2023 67 mins

Today, our conversation with actor and writer Abbi Jacobson! We sat with Abbi last summer around the release of her latest series, A League of Their Own (5:35), to discuss the legacy of the 1992 film (10:35), her earliest comedic influences (15:05), moving to New York City post-college (21:04), falling in love with improv at UCB (25:08), the night she met Ilana Glazer (32:40), and a handful of memories creating Broad City (37:20).


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For over a decade, composer and record producer Ludwig Göransson has created some of the defining music of our time. This week, he sits with Sam to discuss his latest work in Oppenheimer.

At the top, Göransson describes the collaborative process with director Christopher Nolan (6:48), the instrument at the heart of the film (9:30) and its hauntingly beautiful theme (11:06). Then, we walk through Ludwig’s instinctive approach to ma...

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