Grown Up Show and Tell with The B*tch Seat’s Lyssa Mandel!
Something I have been discovering lately in LA? The live podcast recordings. Usually under 10 bucks, there are so many fantastic chances to catch great content being created, as well as sometimes even getting to see your favorite childhood stars.
A few Friday’s ago, I was invited to head out to Meltdown Comics on Sunset Boulevard to attend Grown Up Show and Tell with The Bitch Seat. With hosts Lyssa Mandel and her partner in crime beau, Phil Casale, the duo had a packed schedule that included FX star of Snowfall, Angela Lewis, comedian Brent Sullivan and Mara Wilson. Yes, that Mara Wilson! Having grown up loving Wilson in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, she sealed the deal that I had to attend.
I was lucky enough to also get an interview with Mandel and was thrilled to learn more about her and her creative background. Enjoy!
What got you here?! How did you dream up this podcast?
I was a prolific journaler growing up. I poured myself out in those books; I confided in them as if they were best friends; I even named them. Of course I saved them all, because they felt like an external hard drive of my soul. About 4 years ago, when I was practically living at The PIT in New York (my comedy home), a friend of mine offered me a slot on a variety show there, to do whatever I pleased. There were comics and storytellers and character bits, and I took my 10 minutes to read some especially dramatic excerpts from my old diaries.
The idea of a talk show seemed dynamic and sustainable. Everyone’s got puberty in common, so it’s a universal uniter. At first, I hosted the show alone, with Phil popping in as a special guest from time to time. Eventually we decided that our banter created a nice balance in the show, and he became my permanent co-host.
The Bitch Seat was a monthly live show for two years before we ventured into podcast land; now we release podcast episodes weekly. The live show is still the dearest to our hearts, though, because the electricity and spontaneity that comes with a live audience can’t be duplicated.
How did you and Phil meet?
We were cast together in a Charlie Brown parody play at The PIT called “A Charlie Brown Apocalypse,” in which Phil played the Charlie Brown analog, and I was the Peppermint Patty. We came from very different performance backgrounds–Phil from a sketch comedy mindset, and me from a Meisner conservatory. We were two extremes who ended up balancing each other out remarkably well.
I nerded out at seeing Mara Wilson. Have you had any guests on the show that got you star struck?
It does take a lot for me to be star struck, probably because I’ve got lots of practice being in rooms with fancy people and realizing they’re just people. That said, author/speaker Rob Bell was a guest on one of our live shows in LA, and I about lost my mind with glee. He’s a not a huge actor or a rock star or anything, but he’s a brilliant thinker with a buoyoant energy who just makes so much SENSE to me. It was listening to his podcast on long, winter subway commutes that kept me afloat when I was having serious existential crises.
What do you miss most about the 90’s?!
HA! I have a whole screed in my 7th grade diary about HATING the 90s, and wishing I’d come of age in the 80s. Full disclosure–I was a teen in the 90s, but I was a weirdo, and grunge was never my vibe. That said: I miss watching Saturday morning cartoons (namely Garfield and Muppet Babies) with my little brother, Snick on Nickelodeon, Sunday Night at the 80s on KC101 in CT, reading Fear Street and Babysitters Club books, and writing real letters! I know that’s not exclusive to any particular pre-digital decade, but I miss my analog life a lot of the time. Being bored promoted creativity. I didn’t get a cell phone till I was 20.
Lyssa is an absolute sweetheart. Learn more about her and Phil and The Bitch Seat here and I hope to see you out at a podcast recording! xo
(*Disclosure: I was invited to cover this show. All opinions are mine alone)