Northwestern alum Mark Bazer makes leap from page to screen


Source: Mark Bazer

Mark Bazer (Weinberg ’95) interviews actor Hannibal Buress in his talk show, “The Interview Show.” Bazer runs his live show every month at a bar in Chicago and recently decided to bring it to WTTW, Chicago’s PBS affiliate.

Emily Chin, Assistant A&E Editor


Mark Bazer (Weinberg ‘95) never had a stage background. But 24 years after he began cracking jokes as a humor columnist for The Daily, Bazer is hosting his own television talk show.

Aired on Chicago PBS affiliate WTTW, “The Interview Show” has featured one-on-ones with guests such as comedian Hannibal Buress and David Axelrod, chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

“The show is very focused on the interview, not on other things you would see in a talk show,” he said. “The goal is to have topics that are both substantive and entertaining and funny.”

On the first Friday of every month, Bazer brings interview subjects from a wide range of backgrounds to the live show at a Chicago bar called the Hideout, where they converse about subjects ranging from their most recent project to their new haircut. After creating the show in 2008 and airing it on YouTube, Bazer decided to air it on TV for an eight-episode run starting April.

At The Daily, Bazer was a humor columnist for three years and also served as an arts editor. He said his experience at The Daily made him realize that he wanted to continue writing and interviewing people after college.

“Without having written that column I would not be doing the show now,” Bazer said. “It got me to find my voice, to make me realize that I could write things that were funny.”

Before creating “The Interview Show,” Bazer appeared in multiple performances at the Hideout, which made him realize he enjoyed being on stage, even though he wasn’t an actor.

One of these shows was “Funny Ha-ha,” which was created by Claire Zulkey (School of Professional Studies ‘08) and “The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green. “Funny Ha-ha” includes people performing standup comedy, storytelling and reading pieces. Bazer said performing in the show inspired him to create something similar of his own, which ultimately culminated in the creation of “The Interview Show.”

“He has grown so much as a host and a humorist,” Zulkey said. “His asides to the audience are really funny. He’s a really charming and sincere host.”

The people Bazer have featured on his show span a wide range of careers, including a political consultant, a rapper, an investigative reporter and a professional wrestler. In addition to interviewing Green, he has interviewed chef Rick Bayless, who founded Frontera Grill, and novelist Veronica Roth (Weinberg ‘10).

Bazer said his favorite interview was with Green, a friend of his. The best conversations, he said, are the ones you least expect.

“I try to find the right balance and a diversity of guests,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to have five people who seem to be coming from the same point of view. You want to get as many different voices as you can, and I will never satisfy that requirement.”

David Nagler (Communication ‘95), Bazer’s senior year roommate, said “The Interview Show” has the same type of humor as Bazer’s previous Daily columns. Nagler appeared on the show as a guest when Bazer brought the show to Brooklyn, New York, and once at the Hideout. He had been working on a musical project based on poet Carl Sandburg, and the interview was the first time he was able to speak about it in a public way.

“Mark is a really great interviewer,” he said. “He’s funny and smart. All the things that I knew about him growing up is brought to this show.”

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