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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Aisha Tyler, Bilal Oliver, God on Sports

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Aisha Tyler
Guests: 
Bilal Oliver
Guests: 
Seth Morris
Guests: 
Marah Eakin
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

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The AV Club's All-Time Favorites: Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" and Warren Zevon's "Stand in the Fire"

The AV Club's Music Editor Marah Eakin and Head Writer Nathan Rabin discuss a few of their all-time favorite albums. Marah is a fan of the layered, sampled feel of Fleetwood Mac's post-Rumors album, Tusk. Nathan Rabin suggests a listen to Warren Zevon's intimate but ferocious live album Stand in the Fire.

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Aisha Tyler: Actress, Comedian, and Former Third-Grade Maypole

Like a lot of funny people, Aisha Tyler often found herself on the outside looking in as a kid. She was the only black girl in her school and thought of herself as kind of a geek... Standing six-feet tall by third grade didn't help things, either. Ultimately, feeling out of place gave her the feeling that she could survive anything -- and the confidence to pursue performance. She's since performed stand up, hosted E!'s Talk Soup, appeared on CSI, 24, Friends...and even competed on an episode of Jeopardy.

She also has a starring role on the FX animated series Archer, where she voices Lana Kane, a beautiful and brilliant secret agent who plays the straight man to her idiot co-workers.

Aisha joins us to talk about her choice to do comedy in her own voice, the challenges of voice acting, and about living a real-life version of Fame in high school.

Archer airs on Thursdays at 10/9c on FX. The show is in its fourth season; it was just renewed for a fifth. Aisha will host The CW’s reboot of Whose Line Is It Anyway? this summer. You can also catch Aisha at a performance of Archer Live!.

This interview originally aired in January 2012.

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Comedy: An Excerpt from The Last Testament: A Memoir By God

You'd think that God would be pretty focused on the choice of a new Pope right about now. But might some of that attention be diverted to.... spring training? Has the Almighty ever swayed athletic outcomes? Does He care for sports at all? Get the straight truth from The Man Himself (as relayed to David Javerbaum). The answer may surprise you.

This excerpt is from The Last Testament: A Memoir By God, with David Javerbaum.
David Javerbaum is an Emmy-winning comedy writer and former executive producer of The Daily Show. You can see more of his work with God on Twitter @TheTweetofGod.

Our voice of God is provided by comedian Seth Morris, who is also on Twitter at @SethISMorris.

This segment originally aired in April 2012.

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Bilal and His Unique Blend of Soul, Hip-Hop, and Jazz

Here's one way a musical artist can succeed: artist records album, sends it off to the label, label rejects album, album is leaked online, fans and critics love album, artist goes independent.

That's exactly what happened to jazz and soul singer Bilal, who wanted to follow up his debut album, 1st Born Second, with something a little more experimental. That album (titled Love For Sale) was never officially released, which left a nine-year gap between his debut record and his second album, Airtight's Revenge. That album earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

The wait between Bilal albums this time around is a little more manageable: his new album, A Love Surreal, was just released last week. It's a beautiful, headspinning collision between 1960s soul and modern hip-hop, sounding like neither the past or the present.

We spoke with Bilal back in 2010 right around when Airtight's Revenge was released. Bilal talked to us about his high school identity, growing up with jazz music, and his choice to go wild on Jay Leno.

Bilal's new album, A Love Surreal, is available now.

This interview originally aired in September 2010.

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The Outshot: The Cold Open

Looking for the perfect cold open? Jesse's found it. Newsradio. Season 2, Episode 9.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Fran Lebowitz, Karriem Riggins, and Mark Frauenfelder

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Fran Lebowitz
Guests: 
Karriem Riggins
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

Subscribe to Bullseye in iTunes or the RSS feed! And if you enjoy this episode, SHARE IT! You can find links to each of our segments on our SoundCloud page.


Mark Frauenfelder on The Jon Ronson Mysteries and Light Emitting Daves

Boing Boing.net and the Gweek podcast's Mark Frauenfelder joins us this week to share some top-rate pop culture picks. He recommends British author Jon Ronson's new book, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, which collects profiles of some fascinating individuals and Sir Benfro's Brilliant Balloon, a beautifully illustrated and simple to play iOS game.

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High School Expulsion and The Fear of Writing with Fran Lebowitz

Fran Lebowitz's literary career had a somewhat inauspicious beginning -- not long after being expelled from high school, she moved to New York, showed up barefoot at a publishing house to submit her poetry collection, and was incredulous when it was rejected. Her determination, fearlessness, and sharp wit were undeniable, however, and she soon became not only a successful author, but one of New York's most important social critics.

Lebowitz shares stories of teenage rebellion, getting started as a writer, and why she considers herself to be the least envious person on the planet. A collection of her essays, The Fran Lebowitz Reader, is now available in audiobook form.

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Karriem Riggins on The Song That Changed My Life

You may not immediately recognize his name, but chances are good you've heard Karriem Riggins's work. He's a jazz drummer who's played with greats like Diana Krall and Ron Carter, and he's produced hip hop for Erykah Badu and The Roots. Riggins' new solo album, Alone / Together, fuses his drumming with his production chops.

He joins us this week to discuss the song that changed his life: "Give it Up or Turnit a Loose" by James Brown.

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The Outshot: Ice Cube's “It Was a Good Day”

"It Was a Good Day" is rapper Ice Cube's biggest hit -- a solid rap song with a great beat, it's easy to see why this record was so successful. What makes this song truly great, however, isn't Ice Cube's vivid description of his good day, but looming, omnipresent possibility of a much worse day.

Is there a song that speaks to you with what it doesn't say? Head over to the MaxFun forum and share YOUR outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Vijay Iyer, Dave Hill, and Demetri Martin

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Vijay Iyer
Guests: 
Dave Hill
Guests: 
Andrew Noz


Andrew Noz's Picks: Rapping About a Haircut and Pencap Beats

Hip hop blogger Andrew Noz joins us again this week to recommend some of his favorite tracks of the moment. What's he listening to now? Aesop Rock's ode to a haircut in Racing Stripes and Alpoko Don's stripped down track All I Know.

Andrew Noz writes about hip hop for Cocaine Blunts and has a regular column, Diamonds and Wood, for Pitchfork.

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Vijay Iyer on the Brain, the Body, and the Experience of Music

The Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer began learning classical violin at age three and started improvising on the piano only a few years later. While he studied math and physics at Yale and UC Berkeley, he couldn't stay away from music. He found himself doing academic work by day, and moonlighting as a jazz pianist in Bay Area clubs.

His music is known for its complex, pulsing rhythms and creating unusual covers of artists like Stevie Wonder, Flying Lotus, and Michael Jackson.

He talks to us about exploring rhythm with math (remember Fibonacci's sequence?), the social experience of creating and listening to music, and the idea that "music is action."

The Vijay Iyer Trio's newest album is Accelerando.

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Demetri Martin on People Watching

Demetri Martin is the kind of person who's obsessed with puzzles and linguistic and cultural ironies, and you've probably seen him explore those on his show Important Things with Demetri Martin. But he's usually got a big sketchpad, slides projected overhead, and a piano to riff on. He's put the theatricality aside in favor of straight ahead one-liners in this clip from his new special, Standup Comedian.

Want to learn more about Demetri Martin? Check out our interview with him about This is a Book.

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Dave Hill Pals Around with Maximum Security Felons

Dave Hill is best known as a New York-based comedian, but he's dabbled in a lot of things. He's interviewed fans of Chick-Fil-A for This American Life, lived the life of a frontman for a semi-successful rock band (they were big in Japan), and even had a job as a pedicab driver for a few days.

One of his trademarks is making himself and others uncomfortable during a performance, whether he's asking inane or (alternately) inappropriately suggestive questions in his man-on-the-street interviews, performing stand up or hosting his talk show The Dave Hill Explosion. He mines a number of uncomfortable situations in his recent book of essays, Tasteful Nudes: ...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation.

He talks to us about how being a rock musician made him realize he loved comedy, and how he ended up performing at Sing Sing for maximum security felons. This interview originally aired July 2, 2012.)

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The Outshot: The Dirtbombs' Ultraglide in Black

Rage, garage punk, and R&B. The Dirtbombs' music has it all, and Jesse suggests you check out their album Ultraglide in Black.

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What's your favorite mashup of genres? Head over to the MaxFun forum and tell us YOUR outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Robert Glasper, Pendleton Ward, and Davy Rothbart

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Robert Glasper
Guests: 
Pendleton Ward
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder


Recommendations from Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing

Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and the Gweek podcast brings us this week's culture recommendations: The Harvey Girls: Little Audrey, Little Dot, and Little Lotta and The Internet Archive's Classic TV feed.

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Jazz Pianist Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist and the band leader of the Robert Glasper Experiment. Glasper's life in music began early, as his mother, a jazz and blues vocalist, would often bring her young son along to clubs with her, where he would watch from backstage. His music today blends classic jazz influences with soul music and modern hip-hop, forging something fresh and new out of a genre he says is in dire need of a shake-up. His new album, Black Radio, includes collaborations with hip-hop artists like Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, as well as old friend and frequent collaborator Bilal.

Glasper sits down with us to reveal some of his more embarrassing musical influences, reflect on working alongside the late J. Dilla, and dish on what he feels is wrong with today's jazz culture. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)

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Found Things, with Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart is the editor of Found Magazine, an annual publication collecting lost letters, tests, essays and notes, all found and submitted by readers. Found put out its first issue nearly ten years ago, and Davy has been a regular guest on The Sound of Young America ever since. In his first appearance on Bullseye, Rothbart recounts the cryptic tales found within the pages of some of his favorite lost treasures, brought to him by readers on Found's national tours. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)

If you've found something special you'd like to send in, either digitally or by mail, visit www.FoundMagazine.com/submit.

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Animator Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time

Pendleton Ward is a writer and animator, and the creator of the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. The show follows the adventures of Finn the boy and Jake the shape-shifting dog, through a magical post-apocalyptic Earth. It's very witty and full of humor, and is one of those rare programs that works just as well for kids as it does for adults. Pen is a born artist, who even during this interview can't help but capture his host on paper. He joins Jesse to discuss drawing as a comedic outlet, the delicate art of writing a quality fart joke, and the influence of Dungeons & Dragons on the fantastical quests of Adventure Time. The show just began its fourth season; you can catch new episodes Monday nights on Cartoon Network. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)

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The Outshot: BESTIE x BESTIE

For this week's Outshot, Jesse delves into the often contrived world of quirky viral videos and finds something genuinely hilarious: the web series BESTIE x BESTIE, starring Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman. You might know Slate as a former featured player on SNL or as the writer and voice of another internet smash, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. In BESTIE x BESTIE she and best friend Liedman take turns trying desperately to remain serious while the other does their best to make them crack. The results are often as funny as anything on the internet. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)

Is there a web series that tickles your funny-bone like none other? Help it go viral by sharing it on the MaxFun Forum and picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rachel Dratch, the creators of Eagleheart, Jason Kottke and Jordan Morris

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rachel Dratch
Guests: 
Michael Koman
Guests: 
Andrew Weinberg
Guests: 
Jason Woliner
Guests: 
Jason Kottke
Guests: 
Jordan Morris

Internet Recommendations from Jason Kottke

This week's pop culture picks come care of Jason Kottke, of Kottke.org -- a site that's been called the New Yorker of internet links. Jason tracks down the best the internet has to offer, and he shares two of his favorites with us this week: Jerry Beck's list of the 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected By 1,000 Animation Professionals, a Warner Bros.-heavy list topped by some Looney Tunes classics, and What the Space Shuttle booster saw, an HD video journey out of Earth's atmosphere.

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The Creative Team of Eagleheart: Michael Koman, Andrew Weinberg and Jason Woliner

Michael Koman, Andrew Weinberg and Jason Woliner are the creative team behind [adult swim]'s hilariously funny and blood-soaked action-comedy Eagleheart, starring Chris Elliott. Koman and Weinberg had worked together as writers on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, where they were responsible for culling the clips played whenever Conan pulled the Walker Texas Ranger Lever. It was a job that required them to wade through hundreds of hours of Walker, Texas Ranger, and the inspiration for Eagleheart was born out of a desire to parody the show. But to call Eagleheart a parody of WTR sells it way short, as the show is much crazier and more comically-inspired than that.

Koman, Weinberg and Woliner join us to discuss the show's ability to cram an absurd amount of story into an eleven-minute run-time, making magic happen fast on Eagleheart's wild production schedule, and what inspires them about the show's star, Chris Elliott. Eagleheart has just begun its second season on Cartoon Network's [adult swim], airing Thursdays at midnight.

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Jordan Ranks America, for April 2012

It's an upside-down world out there, and some days you just don't know what to make of it. Luckily for us, there's one man who can keep this country in order! Comedian Jordan Morris puts America in its place for the month of April 2012. You can find Jordan on Twitter @Jordan_Morris.

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Comedian, actress and author Rachel Dratch

Rachel Dratch is a comic actress best known to audiences as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006, and from recurring roles on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Her new book is the very funny memoir Girl Walks Into A Bar...: Comedies Calamities, Dating Disasters & A Midlife Miracle. While there are a number of behind-the-scenes stories from her days at SNL in the book, it's mainly the story of life after the show, as Dratch dove head-first into the dating pool after years of using being busy with SNL as an excuse not to date. The titular miracle was an unexpected pregnancy at age 44, having been in a long distance relationship with the father for just six months prior.

Dratch joins Jesse to discuss her comedy background in Chicago, the development process of getting some of her most famous SNL characters to air, and the inherent humor of balancing midlife motherhood with a romance still in its infant stages. Girl Walks Into A Bar... is available now in bookstores everywhere.

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The Outshot: “Swiss Movement”, by Eddie Harris & Les McCann

For this week's Outshot, Jesse digs into the record collection and pulls out a vibrant classic: Swiss Movement, by Eddie Harris and Les McCann. The live album, recorded in 1969 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, was the first time the band had ever played together, and the record captures the feeling-out process as the group pioneered the soul-jazz genre. It crackles with life.

Is there a classic record that never fails to get your toe tapping? Let us know! Head on over to the MaxFun Forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Robert Glasper, Pendleton Ward, Andrew Noz and Davy Rothbart

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Robert Glasper
Guests: 
Pendleton Ward
Guests: 
Andrew Noz
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart


Andrew Noz on Rap

Blogger Andrew Noz from Cocaine Blunts kicks off this week's show by recommending some recent favorites from the world of rap -- Kendrick Lamar's 'Cartoon & Cereal' featuring Gun Play, and 'Big Beast' by Killer Mike, featuring T.I. & Bun B. For more from Noz, check out CocaineBlunts.com, or read his cover story on Kendrick Lamar for The Fader.

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Jazz Pianist Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist and the band leader of the Robert Glasper Experiment. Glasper's life in music began early, as his mother, a jazz and blues vocalist, would often bring her young son along to clubs with her, where he would watch from backstage. His music today blends classic jazz influences with soul music and modern hip-hop, forging something fresh and new out of a genre he says is in dire need of a shake-up. His new album, Black Radio, includes collaborations with hip-hop artists like Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, as well as old friend and frequent collaborator Bilal.

Glasper sits down with us to reveal some of his more embarrassing musical influences, reflect on working alongside the late J. Dilla, and dish on what he feels is wrong with today's jazz culture.

(Embed or share this interview with Robert Glasper)


Found Things, with Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart is the editor of Found Magazine, an annual publication collecting lost letters, tests, essays and notes, all found and submitted by readers. Found put out its first issue nearly ten years ago, and Davy has been a regular guest on The Sound of Young America ever since. In his first appearance on Bullseye, Rothbart recounts the cryptic tales found within the pages of some of his favorite lost treasures, brought to him by readers on Found's national tours.

If you've found something special you'd like to send in, either digitally or by mail, visit www.FoundMagazine.com/submit.

(Embed or share Davy Rothbart’s Found Things)


Animator Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time

Pendleton Ward is a writer and animator, and the creator of the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. The show follows the adventures of Finn the boy and Jake the shape-shifting dog, through a magical post-apocalyptic Earth. It's very witty and full of humor, and is one of those rare programs that works just as well for kids as it does for adults. Pen is a born artist, who even during this interview can't help but capture his host on paper. He joins Jesse to discuss drawing as a comedic outlet, the delicate art of writing a quality fart joke, and the influence of Dungeons & Dragons on the fantastical quests of Adventure Time. The show just began its fourth season; you can catch new episodes Monday nights on Cartoon Network.

(Embed or share this interview with Pen Ward)

The Outshot: BESTIE x BESTIE

For this week's Outshot, Jesse delves into the often contrived world of quirky viral videos and finds something genuinely hilarious: the web series BESTIE x BESTIE, starring Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman. You might know Slate as a former featured player on SNL or as the writer and voice of another internet smash, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. In BESTIE x BESTIE she and best friend Liedman take turns trying desperately to remain serious while the other does their best to make them crack. The results are often as funny as anything on the internet.

Is there a web series that tickles your funny-bone like none other? Help it go viral by sharing it on the MaxFun Forum and picking your own Outshot.

(Embed or share this Outshot on BESTIE x BESTIE)

Subscribe to Bullseye in iTunes or the RSS feed!

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Roy Ayers' Everybody Loves the Sunshine, Fela-fied

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Roy Ayers performs an Afrobeat version of Everybody Loves the Sunshine that is so f'ing awesome.
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Gil Scott-Heron & Jay Smooth

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I had some of the same feelings about Gil Scott-Heron's passing as Jay did. The difference, I think, is that Jay is one of the most thoughtful, brilliant cultural commentators we have, and I was busy working on this tweet about baby kangaroos .

Fela Kuti Re-Issues from Knitting Factory

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Another segment from The Grid: a little piece I wrote recommending Knitting Factory's re-issues of some of Fela Kuti's amazing mid-70s albums. Some cool archival footage in there of Fela, too.

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