INTERVIEW: After Trek Host Matt Mira
Matt Mira wears many hats. He’s the informed, funny host of After Trek, a staff writer on The Goldbergs and he co-hosts several Nerdist podcasts. Many folks will also remember him as co-host of Attack of the Show, while others listen to him and his wife co-host the podcast Matt & Doree's Eggcelent Adventure. Discovery and After Trek will return to CBS All Access on January 7, and StarTrek.com caught up with Mira to discuss his current projects, history with Trek and what’s to come on After Trek…
On a given day, at your busiest, how many shows and podcasts are you actually juggling?
My busiest 24-hour period is from the taping of After Trek because then I fly. I don't go to sleep. I fly back to Los Angeles, sleep on the plane and drive to Sony to write on The Goldbergs. Then, I leave The Goldbergs at about 6 p.m., drive to Burbank and shoot my talk show. And then Monday, let's see, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday I do The Goldbergs and a podcast each day. Then, Friday I fly back to New York after work.
How big a Star Trek fan are you?
I've been going to conventions since the early 90s. My mother was a fan of The Original Series, and then of Next Gen. By virtue of her, I absorbed it through osmosis. We, as a family, would watch TNG episodes first-run. The Original Series was on at 4 p.m. after school every day, five days a week in Boston, and I would catch it most days.
Let’s do a Trek speed round before we talk After Trek. Favorite episode -- doesn't have to be best -- of any Trek show… ever?
I'm going to have to go with what I re-watch the most, which would actually be "Relics."
Favorite Trek movie?
The Wrath of Khan.
If you could play any alien for a day, what alien and why?
An Andorian. I feel like they're under-utilized.
What's your favorite Trek line of dialogue?
It's weirdly from the episode "True Q." Picard is talking to Olivia d'Abo's character, and says the following: "You have a unique opportunity here. Avail yourself of it." That is the line that always stuck in my head.
Finish this sentence without using the word "prosper." "Live long and ..."
... Have fun.
How did you land the After Trek gig?
I heard the show was happening. I asked (Chris) Hardwick if he was doing it. When he said, "No," I then reached out to my agent and manager and said, "Find out who's hosting that show. See if there's anything I can do with it, whether it be consult or write or just go to a taping." They did, and then one of the people at Embassy Row that produced the show for CBS had listened to the podcast I do with my wife about IVF and was familiar with me and my love of Star Trek. They emailed me and asked if they could meet with me to talk about what this show would be, what After Trek would be.
I went to that meeting, and it became pretty clear that they really were looking at me less as a consulting producer and more as a possible host. I then talked to my agent and manager and said, "What can we do here? Do we need to cut together a reel of me or anything like that?" I'm not sure who ended up doing it, actually. It might have been Jeremy, the showrunner of After Trek, who cut together a reel of all the times on Attack of the Show that I had interviewed Trek people. So, that was Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton, and we had Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn at the same time, and George Takei. And they had cut something together of me doing on-camera stuff and sent that over. Then, through a whittling process, I guess, I eventually got the job.
The set must have still been wet that very first show…
Yeah, it was pretty crazy because when I started having a conversation, I had to check with my boss here at The Goldbergs, Adam Goldberg, who luckily is a nerd and understands all nerd-dom. I told him, "Hey, there's a chance this thing could come up. Would you be OK if I missed a little work? I'll miss as little work as possible." And he very generously was like, "Oh, of course. You have to go for that. You have to do that thing. If that comes up, you got to do it." With that in my head, throughout the whole process I was like, "Am I getting it? Am I not getting it?" Hollywood is kind of a small place. You hear a lot of people who are up for it. You hear when they got a call that said they didn't get it, and I had yet to get that call. I was driving in to work on the Tuesday, the day of the premiere of Discovery at the Arclight. I was driving in and got a phone call from my manager, who said, "Hey, they want you to go to the premiere tonight." My response to him was, "Well, I'm driving to work and I don't have a suit." Well, a suit with me. They were like, "Well, we'll see what we can do. Maybe we can message her and get your suit all ready."
I went in to work and said to Adam, "I have to go to the premiere. May I leave a little bit early?" He said, "Sure." Went home, got a suit, went to the premiere. Still didn't know what was happening. Talked to the head of Embassy Row at the premiere. He seemed very keen on it happening. We find out the next day we're going to close the deal. “You fly out the next morning.” So, I fly out on Thursday, meet all of the production people, talk about the show a little bit and we start breaking down what the show is, what the segments are going to be.
What was your main contribution during that conversation?
My biggest contribution to the show was having them say the technobabble of the week. Often, my favorite part of Star Trek is the technobabble. I also really enjoy procedure and how things run on a starship. One of my favorite things is when they have to go back into starbase to get a baryon sweep. I like that. So, I was like, "Let's do a segment on the technobabble, what's happening in the day-to-day operation on the Discovery." That was the one thing I added, and they said, "Let's do that" immediately. Then, I had done live TV in the past, so that wasn't crazy, but my biggest worry was being accepted by the fans of Star Trek as a fellow fan of Star Trek. I had a lot of anxiety about that. I'm not entirely sure I'm officially accepted yet, but I always worry about the fans. I want the fans to be happy.
How much fun, anxiety aside, are you having hosting the program?
I love it. I mean, it's a hoot. I've really enjoyed meeting everybody involved in the show, involved on Discovery. We’re really there to support Discovery. We're there to have a forum to discuss what's going on in Discovery. I found that the best way to do that is to understand that there's 50 years of canon, but also understand that there's a television show that's being made and that has to be entertaining and it's 2017. That's the part we all have to keep in perspective.
Who's been the most memorable guest for you personally so far?
That's hard. They've all been great. I really enjoyed having Jason Isaacs on. He's a very funny, very smart, very kind actor who speaks his mind, which I always appreciate.
Discovery’s second chapter is about to start, meaning you're about to be back in action. What lessons did you and the After Trek team learn from the first nine that you'll be applying to the back six?
I think actually what we're going to do this go-round is take questions from people who are in our studio audience. That is going to be, I think, fun. We're going to be able to interact with the people that are there. These people who come and watch the show are fans. They're people who want to be there, who love Star Trek, have loved Star Trek, and I think are going to be coming up with questions that maybe the rest of us have missed because we're thinking about it from a television production standpoint, and they're thinking of it from a fan standpoint. So, I'm excited about that. I'm excited about getting to interact with the audience.
Last question: Who will be your first guests when Discovery and After Trek return on January 7?
Wilson Cruz is coming back and I believe Mary Chieffo will also be there (in person). And we’ll have Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts by Skype.
Star Trek: Discovery is available on CBS All Access in the U.S., Space Channel in Canada, and Netflix in the rest of the world. After Trek airs on CBS All Access right after new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery.