Philosophy vs. Improv #38: The Bones of Tragedy with Jay O. Sanders

Jay Sanders, famed not only for his appearances on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and The Day After Tomorrow and many many other screens and stages, joins us to talk tragedy, how he's applied the lessons of improv to his scripted acting, and more. Jump into the improv maelstrom with us! In the post-game, which just this once, we're sharing with the general public, we  Continue Reading …

PvI#37: Season One Final Round

It's all down to this. Which discipline, which host will prevail? Will a third-party cheater bust in and take the big prize? All stakes are on the table, and if this thinking isn't critical enough, if these scenes aren't congruent enough, if we fail the big scan-tron test that is life, then it's all been for nothing. Get out your cushion and get in the lotus position, clear  Continue Reading …

PvI#36: Authentic Authenticity w/ Skye Cleary

Skye teaches and Columbia and the City University of New York, and she recently published How to Be Authentic: Simone de Beauvoir and the Quest for Fulfillment. She joins Mark and Bill to talk about what authenticity might mean for an existentialist, how it relates to truth, responsibility, and picking a theme for your birthday party. For more on this ladder of  Continue Reading …

PvI#34: Possible Diners w/ Barry Lam

Barry teaches at Vassar and hosts a documentary-style philosophy podcast called Hi-Phi Nation, and his most recent season had a four-episode run on David Lewis, America's foremost philosopher of possible worlds (also covered by PEL), after Dr. Strange, of course. So we talk about that notion, in the philosophy of metaphysics and language, and also in the literal physics  Continue Reading …

PvI#33: Virtuous Garbage Director w/ Jack Newell

Bill is a sad but steadfast street sweeper. Mark has secret character traits. Filmmaker Jack C. Newell is our inaugural non-philosopher, non-improviser guest, and his film knowledge leads to us talking about ethics in terms of film tropes plus some meta-historical-reenactment. Learn more about Jack's (non-garbage!) work at jackcnewell.com. Image by The Children of Arendal.  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #32: “On the Standard of [Bad] Taste” w/ Babette Babich

Prof in the house! Babette teaches at Fordham and recently edited the collection "Reading David Hume's 'On The Standard of Taste,'" which Mark made use of for The Partially Examined Life's treatment of that essay in #289. So this can serve either as a follow-up to that discussion or as a fresh cogitation on the idea of an art critic. Can such people's superior tastes be defined  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #31: Signs, Signs, Ubiquitous Signs w/ Brooke Breit

Contemplate the difference between signs, symbols, and symptoms. Did our improv scene get Zoom-bombed, or is that just real life intruding? THINK OF THE CHILDREN (eating Doritos)! What flavor of chip is Bill trying to teach today? Why is Brooke sad? BBrooke is of course an improviser and has also been on TV and works for Jackbox Games. Follow her @brookebreit, For more  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #30: In Historica Res

...which, as I was saying, is right in the middle of a sentence or scene! Sheesh! How should our personal and family histories shape our behavior, both in real life and in improv scenes? Do these histories, these stories we tell ourselves, nail us down as people? Are we all old before our time? Are those your real parents? Hang on to your poser wallet! Image by Julia as  Continue Reading …

PvI#29: Personal Panpsychism w/ Jack Symes

Panpsycast host Jack, the Liverpudliest Liverpudlian of all, brings his promiscuous philosophy of mind to the show, wherein mind is here, there, and everywhere. But what does that mean? Skits about renting a flat for nefarious purposes and designing software for Nozick's experience machine reveal all! But the question remains... So what? You have to care! Hear Jack on his  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #28: Enhanced Interrogation w/ Adal Rifai

Today's episode is about questioning: how one might question, what sets the parameters for a proper answer, and how to give those answers in an informative and/or dramatically effective way. Watch out for dream pigs! Also, how to get into the VIP room at Stuckey's. Perhaps a pair of paralegals can help. In the post-game, included JUST THIS ONCE for public enjoyment, we  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #27: Normaliticitizationism w/ Andrew Lavin

We are joined by the young purveyor of the Reductio podcast, who wrote his dissertation on normality, which was such a normie thing to do. Can "abnormality" be morally neutral, or is that term cursed? We talk disability studies. You down with OTPs? Repeat after mes! How many towels do you need? Listen to Andrew explain his dissertation uninterrupted. Here's that offensive  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #26: Monetize Your Syphilitic Storytelling w/ Linda Orr

Is money the root of all evil, or does it save us from needless cabaret bartering? What is money qua social construction? Should we retain the chocolate fountain? Are you ready to run? Did you bring your NFTs to trade for blue powder? Bill is master of the frustration scene. Here's the Stanford article about money and finance. Listen to Linda and her husband Noah (who was  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #25: Questionable Causal Practices

We are guest free! We are unrestrained in exploring various conversational topics in a facetious manner, from hairballs to boogers to color vision among inanimate objects and rules for unicorn play. When the bad-ass, smelly, screaming white ball hits the 5 ball, how does the causality work? Is skepticism about physical forces just conspiracy theory? Image from this NY Times  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #24: Game Time w/ C. Thi Nguyen

Thi is a philosopher of games, making him a perfect match for this podcast. Why are games worthy of philosophical study? What counts as a game, anyway? We play a frustration game, finish each others' sentences, and ask dumb questions on a museum tour. It's an unusually discussion-focused episode! Picture is by Zahra, grabbed from this article. Audio editing by Tyler Hislop  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #23: Things Mean Things w/ Tommy Maranges (aka Philosophy Bro)

Can we have an entertaining discussion inspired by Aristotle's most boring book? Bill leads Mark and our guest Tommy through some let's-describe-what's-in-an-imaginary-room exercises.  Dark Tourist, I'm Sorry, the bookCan we have an entertaining discussion inspired by Aristotle's most boring book, The  Categories? Bill leads Mark and our guest Tommy through some  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #21: Sentient Garage

The scene is its own entity. What else might be its own entity? Can a machine that passes the Turing test know what it's like to be a bat? We bring in emotions from irrelevant contexts, and we keep hearing them long after they're gone. Episode art by Alvin Alvaro. Audio editing by Tyler Hislop at Pixelbox Media. Hear more PvI. Support the podcast to get bonus stuff and  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #20: The “Other” Story w/ Jenny Hansen

What is "othering"? Why did Bill get such a bad grade? Is it because of his feather quill pen? Don't miss our anti-vaxxer drama! This is our first episode with a real philosophy professor on it, and we get to talk about her experience as an academic as it relates to this most socially relevant philosophical topic. Listen to Jenny talk in more depth with Mark and co. on The  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #19: Broken Atomic Dogs

Let's all lose our jobs and talk instead about fundamental ontology and social dynamics.  Image by I don't remember. Audio editing by Tyler Hislop. Hear more PvI. Support the podcast to get bonus stuff and good karma! Sponsors: Visit betterhelp.com/improv to be matched with a licensed, professional therapist. Learn about St. John's College at sjc.edu/improv.  Continue Reading …