Working

Working

Hosts Rumaan Alam, Isaac Butler, and June Thomas interview creative people about how they write, compose, paint, and more.... Show More

Episodes

October 18, 2020 52 min
This week, host Isaac Butler talks shop with Alex Lacamoire, who was the arranger, music director, conductor, and orchestrator for Hamilton. In the interview, Alex explains what an arranger does and details some of the specific creative decisions that went into songs like “You’ll Be Back,” “Ten Duel Commandments,” “That Would Be Enough,” and “Burn.” After the interview, Isaac and co-host June Thomas answer a listener question about...
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This week, host June Thomas talks to novelist, critic, and co-host of Working Rumaan Alam about his new novel Leave the World Behind, which has already garnered critical acclaim and a nomination for the National Book Award. In the interview, Rumaan talks about the origins of the novel, his writing process, and how he was able to craft memorable characters despite being, in his words, “face blind.” After the interview, June and co-h...
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This week, host Isaac Butler cracks the code of the heist film genre with Phil Alden Robinson, director of the 1992 cult classic Sneakers. In the interview, Phil talks about Sneakers’ nine-year writing process, the film’s alternate endings, and how he landed a cast of cinema legends, including Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier, to portray his meticulously crafted characters.  After the interview, Isaac and co-host June Thomas talk ...
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This week, host Rumaan Alam talks about the aims of literary criticism with novelist and book critic Charles Finch. In the interview, Charles discusses the impact of platforms like Goodreads (where anyone can be a critic) and explains why it’s so hard for people to make a living writing book reviews. He also talks about how a book’s popularity can affect his response to it and how it’s possible to get burned out from writing too ma...
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This week host June Thomas talks about the underrated art of scrapbooking with Ali Edwards, who managed to turn her love of crafting into a full-time career. In the interview, Ali discusses her most popular scrapbooking projects, like “December Daily,” and explains why the practice of pairing photographs with words and artistic flair can lead to personal growth and reflection.  After the interview, June and co-host Rumaan Alam talk...
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This week, host Isaac Butler learns the finer points of costume design from Brenda Abbandandolo, who recently dressed two different characters played by Seth Rogen in American Pickle. Brenda also designed costumes for The Disaster Artist, directed by and starring James Franco, and spent some time working on SNL’s digital shorts. In the interview, she talks about how costumes can communicate information about characters and how prac...
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This week, host Rumaan Alam talks about the importance of museums with writer and art advocate, Kimberly Drew, whose Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art set her apart as one of the most promising young voices in the visual art world. It also led to a job as social-media manager at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the interview, Kimberly discusses her new book, This Is What I Know About Art, and talks about the role art has played ...
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This week, host June Thomas talks to novelist, journalist, editor, and radio host Kurt Andersen, who talks about the curiosity and drive that has fueled so many of his creative pursuits. He also discusses his latest nonfiction book, Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America, and he ponders the legacy of Spy magazine, a publication he co-founded in the 1980s.   After the interview, June and co-host Isaac Butler discuss the difference b...
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This week host Isaac Butler traces the creative origins of Michael R. Jackson’s Pulitzer-winning musical A Strange Loop. In the interview, Michael talks about his early songwriting attempts and the gradual process of turning a monologue about his experiences as a young, Black gay man into a one-man show and then turning that one-man show into a “proper musical.”  After the interview, Isaac and co-host June Thomas discuss Michael’s ...
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This week, host Rumaan Alam talks to artist Paul Mpagi Sepuya about his unique style of intimate studio photography. In the interview, Paul breaks down the difference between artist and photographer, shares what it was like to get recognized for his work early in life, and explains why critical success doesn’t always translate to monetary success.  After the interview, Rumaan and co-host Isaac Butler talk about why it’s so difficul...
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This week, host Isaac Butler talks to composer Michael Abels about what it’s like to write music for suspenseful movies like Get Out, Us, and the recent HBO movie Bad Education, starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney. In the interview, Michael digs into the collaborative nature of film scoring and offers tips on how to capture your creativity.   After the interview, Isaac and co-host Rumaan Alam talk about the music they listen t...
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August 2, 2020 46 min
This week, host June Thomas talks about her deep love of audio fiction with longtime radio and podcast writer-producer John Scott Dryden. First, they discuss the U.K. origins of the genre and the growing appetite for audio fiction in the U.S. Then they dig into John’s production process and discuss how he creates immersive stories using sounds and voices from all over the world.  After the interview, June and co-host Rumaan Alam an...
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This week, host Rumaan Alam talks to cartoonist and New Yorker cover artist Adrian Tomine, who just released a graphic memoir called The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist. In the interview, Adrian talks about what it was like for his childhood hobby to become a full-time job, and how his art has evolved over the years.  After the interview, co-host June Thomas interviews Slate writers Dahlia Lithwick and Molly Olmstead abo...
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This week, host June Thomas talks to Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armisen, creators of the HBO show Los Espookys. The three comedians talk about what it was like to craft a bilingual TV show with dialogue in both English and Spanish and why the show isn’t set in a particular country. They also discuss the show’s supernatural elements, which intentionally lack specific rules and logic.  After the interview, June and co-host I...
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This week, host Isaac Butler talks to novelist and celebrity profile writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner. In the interview, Taffy shares how she’s able to land interviews with celebrities and how she structures her pieces. She also explains why she’s a “champion advice-taker” and tells the story of how her bestselling novel, Fleishman Is in Trouble, started as a failed magazine pitch. Don’t miss her New York Times Magazine profiles of Gwy...
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Host Rumaan Alam talks about elevating Black voices in the book publishing industry with Tracy Sherrod, editorial director of the Harper Collins imprint Amistad Press. In the interview, Tracy explains how the predominantly white publishing industry has created barriers for Black authors over the years. She also digs into the details of her work, including the process of negotiating book deals with new authors.  After the interview,...
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This week, host June Thomas digs into the romance genre with bestselling author Jasmine Guillory, who started her career as a lawyer and then went on to release five novels including Party of Two, which was released on June 23. In the interview, Jasmine talks through her writing process and shares how she was able to publish five novels in such a short period of time. She also explains why her characters don’t fit into the usual tr...
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Host Isaac Butler talks to novelist Mira Jacob about the process of writing her comic book memoir, Good Talk. They discuss what it was like for Mira to switch mediums, how the constraints of that medium helped her tell her story, and why it’s so hard to share personal details with a large audience.  After the interview, Isaac and co-host Rumaan Alam talk about how fatherhood has helped them get more work done.  Send your questions ...
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Host Rumaan Alam chats with comedy writer and performer Cole Escola, who’s known for his roles on Hulu’s Difficult People and truTV’s At Home With Amy Sedaris as well as his sketch comedy videos on YouTube. In the interview, Cole talks about his new special Help! I’m Stuck!, which he filmed alone in his apartment and released on YouTube. He also discusses his comedic influences and talks through what it means for his work to have a...
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This week host June Thomas learns about all the work that goes into making YouTube food videos. Her guest is online cook Adam Ragusea, who explains how he was able to monetize something that started as a fun side project. He also offers tips on how to make engaging videos that get to the point and respect the audience’s intelligence and time. Then, he talks about how he overcame the awkwardness of speaking directly into a camera le...
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