Rachel Bloom is a comedian whose humor often involves her bursting into song. She embraces the classic tropes of the Hollywood musical comedy adding her own contemporary twist on her CW show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The show has already earned her a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award.
A veteran of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, Bloom has also worked on television shows Allen Gregory and Robot Chicken. But it was her absurdist and hilarious musical videos that first brought her to the industry's attention. The video for her song, Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury went viral and earned Bloom a Hugo Award nomination. She has released two albums including Please Love Me and Suck It, Christmas!!! (A Chanukah Album).
Rachel Bloom sat down with Jesse to talk about her love for musical theater, gaining self-confidence in Hollywood and the logistics involved in being lifted in the air in a giant pretzel.
Singer, songwriter, bassist and cellist Esperanza Spalding explains how Petrouchka by Igor Stravinsky introduced her to a world of sound that she hadn’t known existed.
The Grammy Award winning artist’s latest album is Emily’s D+Evolution.
Find Esperanza Spalding online at EsperanzaSpalding.com.
Jesse explains why he loves a movie that aspires to be nothing more than silly, goofy and funny.
Popstar is in theaters now.
John C. Reilly has shown off his talent for comedy in movies like Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. He's also played a number of dramatic roles in movies like Magnolia and Gangs of New York, and was nominated for an Oscar for playing the cuckolded husband in the movie version of Chicago.
For the past few years, Reilly has also produced and starred in a bizarre show called Check it Out with Dr Steve Brule. So why does a movie star have a faux cable-access show that runs in the middle of the night on adult swim?
John C. Reilly tells Jesse why he chose to take on the goofy, open-hearted and blustery Dr. Steve Brule with comedy duo Tim and Eric, his summer of fun working on the set of Boogie Nights, and what he thinks his duties are as an actor.
Check it Out with Dr Steve Brule is currently airing on Adult Swim. Reilly's new movie The Lobster is in theatres now.
Shamir is a musician who is really hard to pin down. His countertenor voice adds a distinctive flair to his infectious, sometimes poignant dance music but it’s a quality that’s also led to confrontations with classmates who were unaware of his Taekwondo training.
With his debut LP, Ratchet, Shamir drew inspiration from his life in Las Vegas. Shamir's Vegas had nothing to do with The Strip and instead was dominated by tumbleweeds and the distinctive odor of a hog farm.
As Shamir describes it, “I kind of decided to make my music more danceable and lighthearted to take away from the heaviness of the lyrics. Because why not, why does your music also have to be heavy if your lyrics are?”
Shamir tells Jesse about constructing a creative identity in a city known for producing more entertainers than artists; how his love for country music inspired him; and how his mother’s proclivity for earth magic isn't quite his thing.
Jesse recommends Steven Soderbergh's The Limey, a revenge movie that’s really about the way we all fight with our own past.
Rashida Jones was born into a showbiz family, but she didn’t always think she would follow in her famous parents’ footsteps. A love of acting lead to roles in shows like Parks and Recreation and The Office and for movie parts including The Social Network and Celeste and Jesse Forever, the later of which she also wrote. Jones currently stars in the TBS comedy, Angie Tribeca.
Rashida Jones talks with Jesse about playing absurdist comedy dead straight, her early dreams of going to boarding school and how those dreams contrasted with her jarring first impressions of Harvard University. Plus she tells us about her childhood experiences hanging out with Michael Jackson’s llama.
Angie Tribeca is now in its second season on TBS.
For artist Ramiro Gomez, the world of the haves and the have-nots are one and the same. His work focuses on affluent communities and their dependence on a community of immigrants, who become culturally invisible. The son of parents who were once undocumented immigrants, Gomez’s body of work has included re-imaginings of the paintings of David Hockney, with domestic workers re-inserted into familiar scenes.
Gomez’s new book, Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez was created in collaboration with Lawrence Weschler. For over twenty years, Weschler served as a staff-writer for The New Yorker and was the two-time winner of the Polk Award. He is the author of several books including True to Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney and A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Account of Torturers.
Ramiro Gomez and Lawrence Weschler sat down with Jesse to talk about Gomez’s experience as a male nanny, how the work of the painter David Hockney influenced his own art and what it’s like to exist in multiple worlds as a both a man of color and a gay man.
Gomez and Weschler’s book, Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez is available now.
Jesse explores the fun, artistry and dark irony of the of the classic noir film, The Third Man starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton.
Friday, September 23, 2016
London Podcast Festival
90 York Way, London, N1 9AG
Bullseye (formerly known as The Sound of Young America) is a weekly celebration of the best of arts and culture. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring listeners in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.
The show is carried by public radio stations around the United States, and was the first public radio program west of the Mississippi to podcast. It has received plaudits from publications like Time Magazine (which called it ‘Pick of the Podcasts’) and Salon.com. It was also honoured by the iTunes editorial staff as a ‘classic’ Best of iTunes selection. Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.
Long before he was busy in the sound studio making music, Joe Bataan was a young man getting into trouble on the streets of East Harlem. But after a stint in juvenile detention, he left his life as a gang leader behind and became a band leader instead. Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers helped bring Boogaloo music into the mainstream.
As well as releasing popular songs in the genre including Gypsy Woman, Bataan also helped to create and coin the term SalsaSoul. Later in his career, he wrote and performed an early hip-hop hit, Rap-O Clap-O. Bataan is featured in a new documentary, We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo.
Bataan sat down with Jesse to talk about his life as a juvenile delinquent in the streets of New York, how he dealt with the backlash against his musical innovations and how he came to create one of the earliest hits in hip-hop.
There are many comedians who use their family life as inspiration for their comedy, but Ali Wong took it a step further when she recorded her latest comedy special while seven and a half months pregnant.
Wong’s comedy is rooted in her willingness to be incredibly frank and honest about her personal life including her relationships, her Asian heritage and the challenges of pregnancy while working as a writer on the hit television show, Fresh Off the Boat.
Ali Wong joined Jesse to talk about being a breadwinner, performing while pregnant and how it feels to talk about painful and personal things like miscarriage in front of a comedy audience.
Ali Wong’s new comedy special, Baby Cobra is available now on Netflix.
While many rappers are content to explore the harshness of street life in their lyrics, Chance The Rapper is a performer who isn’t afraid to explore the soft and warm memories of childhood. In his new album, Coloring Book, Chance combines beautiful melodies with an open and warm heart.
DJ Quik is one of the most prolific figures in West Coast hip hop. He's a great rapper, but first and foremost, he's always considered himself a producer. He's produced some of the most inventive samples and beats of the genre. And even though he geeks out about latest and greatest studio equipment, he's always used whatever it takes to capture the sound he wants -- even if it means recording a music sample with a VCR.
Quik first made a name for himself in the hip hop scene in the late 80's and early 90's, handing out homemade mix tapes and deejaying around Los Angeles. He's since released ten albums, and produced records for everyone from Tupac, Snoop Dogg and Xzibit to Tony! Toni! Toné!.
He'll talk about why a leaked record and a couple of guns made him realize he needed a new circle of friends, why he never wants to stop making pretty beats for his records and his inspiration for his awesome, awesome hairstyles over the years.
DJ Quik's new EP is calledRosecrans. It's available now.
Michael Ian Black is an actor, comedian and author perhaps best known from his work with the sketch comedy troupe The State, or from his subsequent collaborations with State-mates both on television (Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues) and film (Wet Hot American Summer). His disarmingly charming smarm made him a perfect fit for the talking-head format of VH1, but it also makes him a terrific author, as evidenced in latest book Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but also my mom’s, which I know sounds weird).
Michael Ian Black performed live at MaxFunCon East in 2012.
Have you ever picked up and actually flipped through one of those in-flight catalogs? Well, the sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser takes all of the grotesque and excessive product offerings of Skymall, and brings them to another level in Skymaul 2: Where America Buys His Stuff.
Maria Bamford is a stand-up whose comedy is equal parts confessional and surreal. Using events from her own life, including her struggles with mental illness, she finds comedy in the painful and absurd, infusing both with an infectious joy that has endeared her to fans around the world.
You might know Maria from her roles on shows like Arrested Development, Comedy Bang Bang, Maron and Louie. She found wider national fame during the 2009-2010 holiday shopping season when she appeared as a super-enthusiastic shopper in a series of Target commercials.
Maria sat down with Jesse to talk about her own experiences as a patient of various Los Angeles mental health facilities, finding love and how wanting to work less proved to be a good career move.
Wanda Sykes is a comedian and an actor with an incredible force of personality. Her distinctive voice both as a writer and a performer has earned her success on stage, television and film. She’s been nominated for seven Prime-Time Emmy Award including a win for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special for her work on The Chris Rock Show.
The Curb Your Enthusiasm star joined Jesse to talk about transitioning from a career with the NSA to stand-up comedy, coming out “accidentally” during a rally against California’s Proposition 8 and why she believes that Bob Hope may have been a super spy.
Jesse was especially excited to talk with Wanda about one of his favorite characters in film, Biggie Shorty from the Louis C.K. directed, Chris Rock produced blaxploitation parody, Pootie Tang (or as we had to refer to it on NPR, “shmooty shmang”).
Wanda Sykes is beginning her tour this month which includes recording dates for her next comedy special.
Sykes is performing two shows at the Theater at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles this Saturday, May 21st. The shows will be filmed for her Epix special out later this year. It's called What Happened…Ms. Sykes? Find out more at WandaSykes.com.
Margaret Cho has always found a way to make her life inform her art. With her work as a stand-up comedian, an actor and a singer-songwriter, she has used the events of her life, both good and bad, to inspire her. Whether it’s growing up as a Korean-American girl in San Francisco or breaking through the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy in the early nineties, Cho has always found a way use all of life’s experiences to create entertainment.
Cho famously co-created and starred in the first sitcom that focused on an Asian American family. All-American Girl was cancelled in its first season, but it became a part of American television history and helped lay the groundwork for sitcoms like Fresh Off the Boat. Since then, Cho has continued her standup career, and appeared in numerous film and television shows including Dr. Ken, Family Guy, Sex in the City and on 30 Rock, where in separate episodes, she played North Korean dictators: Kim Jong Il and later his son Kim Jong-un.
Margaret Cho sat down with Jesse to talk about beginning her career during the 90s comedy boom in San Francisco, growing up in a Korean immigrant family, and how the community around her family’s gay bookstore continues to touch and inspire her life.
Margaret Cho’s new album American Myth is now available on iTunes and on her website, MargaretCho.com. She's also out on tour this May and June.
Whit Stillman is a writer-director who makes comedies of manners. With his films Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, the director often explores the world of young upper-class adults who are struggling to find their way in the world both at home and abroad. The films were each made on modest budgets and received praise from critics; his very first film, Metropolitan, garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.
His latest film Love and Friendship is adapted from Lady Susan, an unfinished novella by Jane Austen. The movie explores the familiar comedic tropes of Austen’s work including class, sexuality, deceit and manipulation.
Whit Stillman joined Jesse to talk about his love for Jane Austen, the importance of language in his films and how the comedy of Will Ferrell infiltrated his new period piece.
Whit Stillman’s new film Love and Friendship is in theaters this week.
Jesse sings the praises of a basketball scrapper who may not get all the fame, but is no less deserving of the glory.
Geena Davis has made a lasting impression as an actress both on film and television in her roles in Beetlejuice, Thelma and Louise, A League of Their Own, The Accidental Tourist and Commander in Chief. Her performances have resulted in acclaim and a lengthy career both in front and behind the camera. It’s also garnered her a Golden Globe and an Oscar.
Davis is just as committed to her work for gender awareness and diversity in film and television. To turn a light on gender disparity in Hollywood, she created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a research-based organization that was created to educate and influence change in the entertainment industry. Davis also founded the Bentonville Film Festival, which showcases films featuring minorities and women in both cast and crew and which guarantees distribution to the festival’s winners.
Geena Davis joined Jesse on Bullseye to talk about gaining confidence in voicing her opinions on set, how she feels about being recognized in public and how quieting her inner-critic helped her to almost qualify as an archer for the Summer Olympic games.
The Bentonville Film Festival takes place in Bentonville, Arkansas this week. Tickets are available to the public.
Louis C.K. may be known to most as a stand-up comedian, but he's also a writer, an actor, an editor and a producer who thrives when he is creating on his own terms. And that’s what he has been doing with his comedy specials and television shows, including his Emmy-award-winning FX series, Louie.
Louis C.K. has succeeded not only by becoming one the world’s funniest comedians, but by reinventing how an artist succeeds creatively and financially. His direct-to-fan sales of his concerts and videos via his website have proven incredibly successful and have inspired other comedians and artists to offer their content directly to consumers.
He used this model of distribution to release his latest television show, Horace and Pete which features an ensemble cast including Steve Buscemi, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange and Edie Falco. The show, set in a run-down Brooklyn bar, borrows elements from both film and stage plays, to create a unique experience for both the audience and the actors. CK produced the show in complete secrecy, and didn’t leverage pre-press marketing and press junkets to promote the show.
Louis C.K. sat down with Jesse to talk about why he chose to pay for Horace and Pete using his own money, challenging himself as an actor and what inspired him to come up with the family name for the title characters.
Jesse on the lingering amusement provided by the absurd and simple website, Zombo.com.
Mike Judge entered the world of animation with little more than a 16mm Bolex film camera, an audio recorder and a stopwatch. In the early nineties, his animated shorts were extremely popular as part of touring animation shows including Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation Festival. These shorts served as the birthplace for some of his most memorable characters, including the iconic Beavis and Butt-Head.
Beavis and Butt-Head were awkward and naive teenage boys, whose vocabulary seemed limited to a series of snickers and grunts. However, the show became a cultural touchstone as well as a lightning rod of criticism for conservative social critics.
The show led to more opportunities for Judge both in film and television. They included the hit animated series, King of the Hill and forays into films with the cult classics Office Space and Idiocracy. His latest show, Silicon Valley is in its third season on HBO.
Mike Judge joined Jesse to talk about the parallels between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, his early years in animation and how the character of Homer Simpson helped him maintain the integrity of his own animated patriarch, Hank Hill.
Sharon Horgan has a knack for the creating shows that reveal her characters as determined, funny, sexy, complex and at times, very flustered. Her comedy is more than a series of jokes (though there are plenty of them), and includes insightful observations into what it means to be a professional woman trying to negotiate her other roles of lover, wife and mother. In other words, a real person. You can see that in full display on her latest show, Catastrophe which streams on Amazon Prime.
Though she may be relatively new to American audiences, she has proven herself a talented actress, writer and producer and enjoyed success with her previous show, Pulling which she co-wrote and starred in. Though it ran only for two seasons on British television, it was nominated for several television and comedy awards and established her as a modern comedic voice.
Sharon Horgan sat down with Jesse to talk about getting past the awkwardness of writing (and then having to film) sex scenes with her co-star, the challenge of showing the evolution of a relationship before and after having kids and why she likes playing a character who can sometimes come off as a jerk.
Jesse remembers how the musician Prince inspired people to dare to be themselves.