david letterman

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kathryn Hahn and David Letterman biographer Jason Zinoman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kathryn Hahn
Guests: 
Jason Zinoman

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Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer / Stringer

Kathryn Hahn on her new Amazon series, I Love Dick

Kathryn Hahn is an actor and has been in comedy films like Step Brothers, the Anchorman movies, and a bunch more. She's also starred in the NBC series Crossing Jordan and was also on Parks and Recreation, playing Jennifer Barkley, the political consultant.

Lately, she's been working a lot with the writer and director Jill Soloway. She was in her 2013 film Afternoon Delight, she plays Raquel the rabbi on Amazon's Transparent, and now she's starring in another Amazon series called I Love Dick, based on the Chris Klaus book by the same name.

Hahn and Jesse talk about the inherently feminist space that I Love Dick inhabits, and the deeply complex character that Kathryn plays on the show. She talks about working with Jill Soloway on many of her most recent projects, and the special and deeply creative environment that Soloway creates on her sets.

You can catch Hahn in I Love Dick on Amazon now.

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Jason Zinoman on "The Last Giant of Late Night", David Letterman

Jason Zinoman is a writer and a critic covering comedy over at the New York Times. He also writes for Slate and Vanity Fair. He's got a new book out - it's called Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night. More than a biography of David Letterman, it is about one of the funniest TV hosts of all time and why so many people are fascinated with him.

Jason and Jesse talk about the span of David Letterman's career, from parodying regional radio on his college radio station, to his time working as the weekend television weatherman, to his late night show segments that appealed to really basic comedic instincts in the audience (i.e. "Dropping Stuff off a 5 Story Tower" and "Stupid Pet Tricks" and "How many Guys in Spider-Man Suits Can Fit Into a Jamba Juice").

Jason's book Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night is out now.

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The Outshot: Concrete the Superhero

Jesse tells us about Concrete, one of the saddest and most honest superhero comics he's ever read.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Paul Shaffer, Javaka Steptoe, and Louis Theroux

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Paul Shaffer
Guests: 
Javaka Steptoe
Guests: 
Louis Theroux

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Paul Shaffer on Leaving The Late Show and his new album

Paul Shaffer is best known for his work as the band leader and music director on David Letterman’s late night TV shows, from the late 80’s until 2015. Though he was in charge of choosing and playing the music that would appear on the show, Shaffer was kind of a sidekick to Letterman, pulling things out of hats and setting up joke punchlines for him. Before Shaffer was on The Late Show, he was a band member on Saturday Night Live. He would appear in sketches with Bill Murray and would play piano during the Blues Brothers sketches. Letterman took notice and decided he wanted that rapport to be a part of his show.

Shaffer is not just known for working with Letterman. He has written a couple of really great disco tunes, including the 1983 jam It's Raining Men, and plays with The Late Show's The World's Most Dangerous Band.

He and Jesse talk about his expansive career, what it was like working on a show everyday for half of his life then not, and his impressive eyewear.

You can catch Paul Shaffer & The World's Most Dangerous Band on tour this Spring. Their new album is on sale now.


Photo: Gregg Richards

Javaka Steptoe on his Caldecott Award Winning book Radiant Child

Javaka Steptoe is a children's book author and illustrator who has made a career of biographizing his heroes and creating books that reflect the diversity of his neighborhood. He makes an effort to illustrate books that have people of all races, all kinds of families, from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds present.

Growing up in New York and being the son of children's book author/illustrator John Steptoe, Javaka knew he was going to be an artist from the time he was a child. His first book In Daddy's Arms I am Tall, received the Coretta Scott King award for Illustrators in 1997, and many of his subsequent books recieved awards and recognition. His newest book, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has won the 2017 Caldecott award, which is basically the Pulitzer Prize for children's books.

Javaka joins Jesse to talk about what it was like to grow up with a well known father, where his passion and interest in Jean-Michel Basquiat came from, and why he finds it important to create diversity in the books that children read.

Javaka's book Radiant Child:The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is out now.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

The Craziest Day Of My Career: Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux is a British documentarian whose career has found himself interacting with some of the most depraved and despised people in our society. He reported on the family who runs the Westboro Baptist Church and spent time with the the leader of the White Aryan Resistance and his family. Louis, whose main interest is finding out why members of niche political parties and subcultures do what they do, also spends time with less harmful people, such as UFO hunters and Swingers on his BBC program Weird Weekends. As a part of this series, he reported on the pro-wrestling community in the United States, and took on the challenge of training with the new recruits. Louis recalls that experience for us as the craziest day of his career. Lets just say, things did not end well.

Louis has a new documentary out now called My Scientology Movie.

The Outshot: John Wick 2

What makes a perfect action film? No dialogue.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Weird Al, Geoff Nunberg, Andrew Noz

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Weird Al Yankovic
Guests: 
Geoff Nunberg
Guests: 
Andrew Noz


Hip Hop with Andrew Noz: DJ Quik's Pacific Coast Remix and Rammellzee's Beat Bop

Hip hop blogger and Pitchfork columnist Andrew Noz joins us with a couple of his all-time favorite hip hop tracks. His first recommendation is Pacific Coast Remix by DJ Quik (featuring Ludacris), a track devoted to sunny Los Angeles's dark side. He also suggests checking out the 1983 track Beat Bop by Rammellzee and K-Rob. It's a song from an era where the uptown and downtown communities mingled in a way that the rap world would rarely see again.


Weird Al Yankovic: King of Parody

Weird Al Yankovic is the undisputed king of parody music. Inspired by the novelty songs he heard on broadcasts of The Dr. Demento Show, Yankovic began writing his own comedy songs for the accordion -- starting with a love song to his parents' car, entitled Belvedere Cruisin'.

He sat down with us in 2011, before his album Alpocalypse was released. He talks about his food parodies (think "Eat It"), his special talent for rapping, and having an unusually long and successful career for a parodist (or musician of any kind).

Weird Al just kicked off a nationwide summer tour. He's also just released a new children's book, My New Teacher and Me. You can find more information .


Linguist Geoff Nunberg on The First Sixty Years of Assholism

Geoff Nunberg is a professor at UC Berkeley, the resident linguist of Fresh Air, and the author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years. He talks to us about his studies into the word "asshole," which began life as a bit of slang used by WWII servicemen and has come to envelop the concept of modern incivility.

We spoke in 2012. The book is now out in paperback.

(More of our conversation with Geoff Nunberg that didn't make the radio edit! Click to listen and share.)

The Outshot: The Late Show with David Letterman

Jesse explains what makes David Letterman such an especially gifted late night host in a world of very good late night hosts.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Pick your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.>

(Embed or share this Outshot on David Letterman)

St. Vincent: Cruel

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A sweet yet haunting late-night listen. St. Vincent was on Letterman last week singing "Cruel" from her new album, "Strange Mercy", which is set for release on Sept. 13th. If you want to hear more, you can stream the album now on NPR.org.

Joe Wong on Letterman

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It's stand-up Saturday morning again!

Here's Joe Wong's recent appearance on Letterman. Remember, kids: No means no. Except when it means nitric oxide.

Video: Zach Galifianakis' Debut Performance on Network Televison

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Yesterday, Steve Agee posted this clip of Zach's network television debut. It's an appearance on Letterman's show, but Janeane Garofalo was guest hosting because Dave was having heart surgery.

Terrific inaugural performance and the subtitles only heighten the fun.

Video: Louis C.K.'s first appearance on Letterman

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Louis Did you catch the sweet two-episode set of "Louie" last night? One of the shows featured flashbacks to Louie's early days in standup and his relationship with a comic who started out with him. In the final flashback, Louie reveals that he has been asked to appear on Letterman. From there, we know that Louie goes on to success and acclaim, but his friend does not. It's a classic and moving story of how even close friends can evolve and slowly grow apart.

Apparently our good friend Adam Lisagor (of "Put This On") was so intrigued by the episode that he searched through the interwebs to find video of the referenced Letterman appearance and posted it on his Tumblr, Lonely Sandwich.

Here it is:



Adam also had a great observation about the set:

"Louie CK’s first appearance on Letterman, 1995.

Referenced on last night’s Louie (with a young Louie portrayed confusingly by a kid who looks less like Louie in ‘95 (anybody else see some Fincher in there?) and more like Ham from The Sandlot.

Louie, from this point in his career, shows every bit of the brilliance he does now. And still, it’s refreshing to see him tell one of the worst hacky 90s jokes ever written, at the very end of his set. Still figuring shit out. Just like the rest of us."

Amy Sedaris on Letterman

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A) This is my favorite thing in the world.
B) I am so excited to interview Amy again on Friday night.
C) This show with Amy and Jimmy Carr is one of my favorite middle-period Sound episodes.

Jack Hannah on Letterman, 2005

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My new thing is watching Jack Hannah clips from Letterman.

I highly recommend watching the clip above, which was shared on the forum by GloriousKyle.

Even more than that, though, I recommend watching Thursday's show online. The whole thing's great, including the musical performance by a wonderful country singer I'd never heard named Jamey Johnson, but if you want to cut straight to the animals, fast forward to the second dot on the timeline. Then watch, and laugh like you've never laughed before.

If I ever get a talk show, I want it to be all demonstrations. Cooking segments, animals... fuck celebrities. Just all dumb stuff, all the time.

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