Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Zach Galifianakis and Michael K. Williams

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Zach Galifianakis
Guests: 
Michael K. Williams

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: Jesse Thorn

Zach Galifianakis on Unlikeable Characters, Sudden Fame and Facing “Heartbreaking” Criticism on Public Radio

[r] Zach Galifianakis is an actor, writer and stand-up comedian whose humor isn’t for everyone. His comedic observations and characterizations in television and film have made him a unique voice that some people love and others love to hate.

Galifianakis is probably best known for his roles in The Hangover films and in the Between Two Ferns web series. But he's also been in a lot more, from Up in the Air, to Birdman to Bored to Death. He's now the star and co-creator of the FX series, Baskets, currently in its second season. In the show, he plays a clown who can't keep up with the tuition or his classmates at his French clowning school, and returns to his hometown of Bakersfield, California to work in a rodeo.

Galifianakis sat down with Jesse to talk about creating a show that revolves around a mean and unlikeable character, how he contended with the sudden fame that came with The Hangover and what it’s like be dissed on public radio.

Baskets airs on Thursday nights at 10 pm on FX.


Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Michael K. Williams on His Club Kid Days, Breaking Ground with The Wire and Why a Pop Song Touches Him So Deeply

Michael K. Williams is an actor and dancer who broke out in the role of Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire. His characterization of a criminal “with a code” made the show a favorite among critics and viewers, one of whom was President Obama.

He was a club kid turned professional dancer, and later turned to acting. His resume includes everything from Boardwalk Empire to Twelve Years a Slave to Inherent Vice. He currently co-stars in the new Sundance TV series, Hap and Leonard, which begins its second season in March.

Williams sat down with us to talk about his memories of being a New York club kid, the difference that playing Omar made in his life and others and the opportunity that led him to realize that being a performer could be a career, rather than just a job.

The second season of Hap and Leonard begins airing on March 15.

The Outshot: Gravediggaz’s Poetic

Jesse remembers the poignancy of the late rapper Poetic, who detailed his harrowing fight with cancer in one of his final songs.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Pete Holmes and Mike Mills

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Pete Holmes
Guests: 
Mike Mills

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: Frederick M Brown/Getty Images

Pete Holmes, creator and star of HBO's Crashing

This week Jesse talks with standup comic Pete Holmes. He's the creator and star of Crashing, a brand new show on HBO that's based in part on his life.

Compared with many of his standup peers, Pete had somewhat of an atypical upbringing. He was raised as an evangelical Christian and attended a Christian college, where he studied to be a youth pastor. He began performing standup in his early 20s, getting his start in New York City's club scene before playing to crowds around the country.

At the age of 28, Pete's marriage fell apart, which forced him to reevaluate his life and beliefs. Pete talks to Jesse about how setbacks such as his divorce and the cancellation of his late night show on TBS, The Pete Holmes Show, ended up paving the way for his current success. His divorce also supplied autobiographical material for his new HBO series Crashing. In the show, he plays a young comedian who finds himself dazed and newly single after his wife leaves him for a boxer.

Crashing premieres on HBO on February 19th.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Mike Mills, director of 20th Century Women

Jesse also talks with Mike Mills, director of 20th Century Women, which is up for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Before his career in feature films, Mills made his name directing short films and music videos, working with bands like Air, Blonde Redhead, and Pulp.

In 2010, Mills directed Beginners, a comedy/drama that told the story of a fictionalized version of his father, who came out of the closet in his late 70s. Christopher Plummer, who played his dad, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Mills' latest film, 20th Century Women, is about his mom. It tells the story of Dorothea (Annette Benning), a single mom living in a big house in Santa Barbara with two boarders and her teenage son, Jamie. The movie is also an exploration of the 1970s cultural landscape, including 2nd wave feminism and punk rock.

Mike talks with Jesse about his relationship with his parents, who grew up in the Depression era, as well as his philosophy on character development. He also tell Jesse about one of his first loves: skateboarding.

Learn more about 20th Century Women and where you can watch it.

Photo: YouTube

The Outshot: Babe: Pig in the City

You might laugh if you hear about a movie with CGI-rendered talking animals, but that just means you haven't seen Babe: Pig in the City. In this week's Outshot, Jesse explains why a movie about a brave little pig wandering through a bustling metropolis makes him cry every time he watches it.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Cristela Alonzo and Stretch Armstrong

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Cristela Alonzo
Guests: 
Stretch Armstrong

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: Tommaso Boddi / Stringer

Cristela Alonzo has a new stand-up special on Netflix, Lower Classy

Cristela Alonzo is a veteran standup comedian, actress, writer, and producer. She's also something of a pioneer. You might remember her from the ABC sitcom Cristela, where she was the first Latina to create, write, produce, and star in her own show.

In this week's episode, she talks to Jesse about her formative years growing up in South Texas with an undocumented parent. Hiding from police and immigration raids were daily realities in her small border town. Her family was also desperately poor--she recalls squatting in an abandoned diner.

Down the road, Cristela discovered she had a talent for weaving those tough experiences into comedy gold. That gift is on full display in her new Netflix standup special, Lower Classy, as she takes on difficult topics including racial stereotypes, immigration, poverty, and parenting, all with her trademark smile and laugh. Cristela recalls the long journey that led to the special, and how being a comedian is, for her, about more than simply making people laugh.

Cristela Alonzo's new standup special, Lower Classy, is available to stream on Netflix now.


Photo: John Phillips / Stringer

Stretch Armstrong

Stretch Armstrong is a renowned DJ, record collector, and writer. It's impossible to tell the story of New York rap in the 1990s--what some people consider the Golden Era of Hip-Hop--without at least mentioning The Stretch and Bobbito Show, the influential college radio program that he and Robert "Bobbito" Garcia co-hosted from 1990 to 1998.

In their time, Stretch and Bobbito were among the only FM radio outlets for a generation of New York rappers. MCs like Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious BIG, and Nas. The behind-the-scenes stories from those days are the stuff of hip-hop folklore, and the subject of documentary that came out a little over a year ago, called Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives. It's available to stream on Netflix now.

Stretch, whose real name is Adrian Bartos, also recently co-authored a book. He and Evan Auerbach teamed up to make a visual history of New York City's club scene, called No Sleep: NYC Nightlife Flyers 1988-1999.

The Outshot: "Wells for Boys"

In this week's Outshot, Jesse shares a Saturday Night Live sketch that spoke to him in a particularly magical way. Behold, Wells for Boys:

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: One Day at a Time, Todd Mayfield, and SAINt JHN

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Gloria Calderon Kellett
Guests: 
Mike Royce
Guests: 
Todd Mayfield
Guests: 
SAINt JHN

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: Jesse Thorn

Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce on their new show One Day At A Time

Gloria Calderon Kellett has been in show business as a writer, producer, and actor for almost two decades. She began her career writing on Andy Richter’s show Quintuplets. She also worked on How I Met Your Mother and Rules of Engagement. When Norman Lear, the legendary TV producer approached her about doing a reboot of One Day at a Time - his 1970s hit sitcom - she jumped at the chance.

She was joined by Mike Royce, a veteran TV producer of shows like Everybody Love Raymond and Men of a Certain Age, and Gloria. The two tell Jesse about how they began to conceptualize the new show, how Gloria avoided being being labeled as the "latina writer" during her career, and how they approached writing about marginalized communities in a sitcom format.

You can watch the reboot of the Norman Lear classic One Day At A Time by streaming it on Netflix.


Photo:Jesse Thorn

SAINt JHN tells us about The Song That Changed His Life

New York based rapper SAINt JHN spent his youth travelling between Guyana and New York. He realized early on, following his older brother’s lead, that he wanted to be a rapper. He began his career as a songwriter, with credits that include Usher’s 2016 hit Crash. He's now writing songs for himself and creating work for GØDD COMPLEXx, his music and art collective.

He knows the record that got him started - it's a 1999 album: Jay Z's Vol 3. He even remember the song that changed his life: Jay's classic Dopeman.

You can listen to SAINt JHN’s latest single Roses on his Soundcloud and make sure to watch the music video that he directed and produced.


Photo: Self/Twitter

Todd Mayfield

You might think that growing up the son of one of history’s most beloved R&B and Soul singers would be the greatest gift. But Todd Mayfield and his siblings didn’t always see it that way. Curtis Mayfield, who defined a whole generation of politically conscious music, left behind an incredible legacy of stories, music, and touched lives. Todd, despite his propensity to separate himself from his father in his younger years, felt it necessary to biographize his father’s life through anecdotes, interviews with friends and family.

This week, Todd and Jesse talk about what it was like growing up with Curtis Mayfield as a father, his musical transition from the 1960s to the more politically involved records of the 1970s, and the incredible music that he was able to create when he was paralyzed from the neck down during the late 80s to his final days in 1999.

Todd’s biography of his father, Traveling Soul: The Life of Curtis Mayfield is out now.

Photo: Daniel Boczarski / Stringer/Getty Images

The Outshot: YG

This week, Jesse talks about LA rapper YG’s particular sound and philosophy.

Bullseye Comedy Night @ BAM

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Date: 
02/11/2017 - 19:30 - 22:00
Show: 
City: 
New York City
Venue Name: 
BAM - Brooklyn Academy of Music

Bullseye brings the best of comedy to the stage at this year’s RadioLoveFest at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Saturday, February 11. Guest host Guy Branum, from Bullseye's sister podcast Pop Rocket is joined by Solomon Georgio, Maeve Higgins, Phoebe Robinson, and special guest Hari Kondabolu, offering audience members an intimate glance into some of the most revered and revolutionary minds in comedy.

Tickets start at $35 and are on sale now! Get them at the BAM website while you can. It'll be a blast!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Laurie Kilmartin and Throwing Shade's Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Laurie Kilmartin
Guests: 
Erin Gibson
Guests: 
Bryan Safi

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: Jesse Thorn

Laurie Kilmartin on parenthood, losing her father, and her new SeeSo comedy special

Comedian and writer Laurie Kilmartin is probably best known as one of the finalists on the 7th season of Last Comic Standing. She has also written 2 books and has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy award. Last year, Laurie's 83 year old father was diagnosed with cancer. She had to take time off from her dream job as a staff writer on Conan O’Brian’s late night show and flew up to visit her father in Northern California as much as she could. During the months of her father's declining health, she took to Twitter writing jokes about her experience of losing a parent to cancer.

She talks to Jesse about her new SeeSo comedy special called 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad. She gets candid about what it’s like to lose a parent and how instrumental Twitter was in coming to grips during the process.

You can find more information about how to stream her special here.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi on their new TV Land show Throwing Shade and how to be funny without being offensive

Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi are comedians, writers, actors, and podcast hosts. They met in 2010 as writers for Current TV, a news channel that was created by Al Gore and Al Jazeera. Erin covered feminist issues while Bryan covered the LGBTQ beat. In 2011, when Current TV closed its doors, Erin and Bryan knew that they still had more to say so they decided to start the Throwing Shade podcast hosted by Maximum Fun.

In studio with Jesse, they discuss their origin story, the differences between making podcasts and TV, and how to have a sincere and funny opinion without being offensive.

You can watch Throwing Shade on TV Land every Tuesday evening at 10:30/9:30c.

The Outshot: The Simpsons move to Cypress Creek

This week, Jesse tells us what an almost 20 year old episode of The Simpsons has to do with Silicon Valley, and why we should care.

Corin Tucker & Tom Arnold

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Corin Tucker
Guests: 
Tom Arnold

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 credit: Jesse Thorn

Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney on The Early Riot Grrrl Scene, Finding Her Voice, and Sleater-Kinney's Return

[r] Sleater-Kinney is one of the most-loved indie bands of the past two decades. The band formed in the latter days of the riot grrrl movement in Olympia, Washington, and found an intense following. They were fierce, and they let their ideas "fill the room".

After recording eight albums and tons of touring, they went on hiatus. The band's members pursued other musical and creative projects, but there was a nagging question -- what would it be like if Sleater-Kinney returned?

In January of 2015, the band released a new record called No Cities to Love. It had been nearly a decade since their last LP.

Corin Tucker, the group's co-founder, joins us to talk about soaking up the punk and riot grrrl scenes of the early 1990s, finding her voice, and why Sleater-Kinney returned.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Tom Arnold Talks About Shaking Off the Bullies and Making His Own Way

Tom Arnold is a real show business survivor. His first big job in Hollywood was as a writer on Roseanne. He ended up married to her. He became a regular on the show and their relationship was tabloid fodder for five years. By the time they broke up in 1994, you couldn't make it through a late night monologue without a Tom Arnold joke.

But Arnold never stopped working, as a character actor, as a sports talk show host, as a stand up comic, and now in his 50s he's a dad for the first time and he's now been a star in Hollywood for thirty years and continues to make headlines. Arnold also continues to perform stand up across the country.

Tom talks with us about growing up in Iowa and fighting bullies, the difficulties of working in Las Vegas, his enduring respect for Roseanne, and the way he's found satisfaction with his work.

The Outshot: MacGruber

Jesse heartily disagrees with A.O. Scott's review of the film version of MacGruber. In short: MacGruber exists, and the world is better for it.

Bullseye's Judge John Hodgman Special

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Show: 
Bullseye

This week Bullseye with Jesse Thorn breaks format to bring you something from another great show on the Maximum Fun Network.


Judge John Hodgman

If you know John Hodgman , it's probably as The Deranged Millionaire on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, his appearances on Red Oaks or maybe from his books of world knowledge. Or, maybe, as the PC from the Mac vs. PC ads. What you might not know is that he's also a fake judge on the internet.

On Judge John Hodgman, he hears disputes from real people all over the world via Skype and tells them who's right and who's wrong. Jesse Thorn is the bailiff. The two cases you’ll be hearing are slightly truncated versions. If you want to hear the full versions, click below.

Grand Theft Risotto

Mike brings the case against his mom, Maribeth. He says Maribeth knowingly took her daughter-in-law's recipes for a family cookbook and passed them off as her own. Maribeth says that the attribution was implied and there was no wrongdoing.

Assault and Hey Batter Battery

Naomi files suit against her husband, Spencer. She’s embarrassed by his loud and incessant heckling at baseball games. She’s frustrated that Spencer continues heckling at baseball games despite his promises that he’ll stop.

If you liked what you heard today, there are over 250 episodes of Judge John Hodgman ready and waiting for you, and a new one added each week! Click here to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or look for it in your favorite podcatcher.

Bill Withers & Joe Randazzo

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bill Withers
Guests: 
Joe Randazzo

Jesse Thorn sits down with legendary musician Bill Withers to talk about growing up in West Virginia, working in the music industry and why he wouldn’t dance onstage. Plus comedian and writer Joe Randazzo joins Jesse to discuss his book Funny on Purpose: The Definitive Guide to an Unpredictable Career in Comedy.

Episode links:

Bill Withers

Joe Randazzo

Funny on Purpose: The Definitive Guide to an Unpredictable Career in Comedy

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