Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Holiday Special 2014

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Mitchell Kezin
Guests: 
Bill Corbett
Guests: 
Elliott Kalan
Guests: 
Dan McCoy
Guests: 
Stuart Wellington


Christmas Music Fanatics and Mitchell Kezin's "Jingle Bell Rocks"

Mitchell Kezin is the director of the new documentary Jingle Bell Rocks! Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree at 33 ⅓ RPM. In it he unravels the backstories of twelve alternative Christmas songs that you won't hear on the radio or in department stores. You'll hear a few of those tracks today.

The film includes other famous Christmas-music lovers including Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips and John Waters.

Kezin will tell us why a grumpy Christmas song helped ignite his love of holiday music and how the US Air Force produced a Christmas album in the late 1960s (complete with fighter jets). He'll also recommend some of his favorite records for people who want to branch out from Bing Crosby.

Jingle Bell Rocks! is available now on VOD and DVD.

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Bill Corbett on Riffing and Rebooting Christmas

If you've ever listened to Mystery Science Theater 3000 or RiffTrax, you know who Bill Corbett is. He's been mocking bad movies for decades, alongside his collaborators Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy.

He's also kept busy as a writer, a screenwriter and a playwright. He writes for the public radio show Wits, was a contributor to A Prairie Home Companion and even wrote the Eddie Murphy movie Meet Dave.

This year, he's getting into the holiday spirit. What if Santa Claus and Rudolph were actually super heroes that went by the names Red Avenger and Caribou? What if they spent their time fighting the villainous Ebenezer Scrooge? That's the premise of Corbett's new graphic novel Super-Powered Revenge Christmas.

Corbett will tell us why he chose to tackle a Christmas reboot, and explain why his most important holiday tradition involves melted cheese. And we couldn't let him go without divulging one of his favorite bad Christmas movies -- he'll tell us about Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.

Super Powered Revenge Christmas is now available.

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The Flop House Tackles the Holiday with Flash Gordon

The Daily Show writers Dan McCoy and Elliott Kalan host The Flop House podcast along with their pal, Stuart Wellington. The films the show covers aren't complete amateurish duds like The Room or Birdemic. Rather, they deal with Hollywood gone wrong. Think films like Pompeii or Dracula 3D.

Now the show's hosts have written a new holiday comic: The Flash Gordon Holiday Special: 2014. The adventures Flash and his crew go on show the hero in unusual situations that you may not expect; especially if the only thing you know about Flash is the 80's Queen song.

They'll talk about the Flash Gordon mythos and some of their favorite bad Christmas films. Plus, they'll explain how they celebrate Cagemas; a special holiday tradition that's all about Nicolas Cage.

The Flash Gordon Holiday Special: 2014 is out this month from Dynamite Comics.

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The Outshot: The Peewee's Playhouse Christmas Special

Jesse doesn't have many holiday traditions. But he'll tell you about the one thing that he makes time for every year: The Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Chris Rock, John Cleese & Scott Aukerman

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Chris Rock
Guests: 
John Cleese
Guests: 
Scott Aukerman


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Chris Rock Explains His Commitment to Stand Up

Chris Rock has never strayed for too long from stand up comedy. He started performing stand up in his late teens, then he was handpicked by Eddie Murphy to be in Beverly Hills Cop II. Rock then spent a few years on Saturday Night Live and In Living Color, and eventually turned to stand up yet again in the mid 1990s.

You probably remember what happened next. Rock released a series of stand up specials, earning him several Emmys and cementing his status as one of the industry's best comics.

It was Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing that inspired him to work behind the camera, as a movie director. Rock directed two movies in the 2000s, Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife. His latest is a comedy called Top Five. Rock stars as Andre Allen, a famous comic who wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Andre can't get audiences to embrace his dramatic turn in a movie about the Haitian slave rebellion -- they just want him to be funny.

Rock will talk about why he's making movies instead of touring stand up clubs, why he isn't worried about becoming "old Bob Hope", and the real reason he's afraid of losing his fame.

Top Five is in theaters this week.

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I Wish I'd Made That: Scott Aukerman on Twin Peaks

Artists are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something an artist sees is SO good, so PERFECT that they wish they had made it themselves.

This happens so often to the people we talk to, that we made a segment about it. It’s called I Wish I’d Made That.

Today you’re going to hear from the Comedy Bang Bang host Scott Aukerman. One of his early jobs was as a writer for the comedy program Mr. Show.

So why does this comedy aficionado wish he'd made the dark, surrealistic murder-mystery show Twin Peaks? He'll explain.

Twin Peaks is currently available on Blu-ray and Netflix, and will be returning to air sometime in 2016 on Showtime.

You can hear more from Aukerman on the TV show and podcast Comedy Bang! Bang!. Season three of the show is wrapping up on IFC.

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John Cleese on His Early Life and the Road to Comedy

John Cleese is one of the most influential figures of comedy. He's best known as one the creative forces behind the legendary comedy troupe Monty Python. But before that, he was almost a lawyer.

Cleese went to Cambridge, studied law, and was about to accept a job with a big firm when another opportunity came up. This one was perhaps slightly less distinguished, but infinitely more appealing to Cleese. The BBC was impressed by his work with his college comedy revue, The Footlights, and offered him a job writing and producing comedy.

In his new memoir So, Anyway… Cleese discusses his journey, from his childhood in prep school, to his early days of sketch comedy at Cambridge, to the co-founding of the Pythons.

Cleese will talk about being one of the "scientific" minds of the Pythons, writing and re-writing with his comedy partner Graham Chapman, and how he felt about the recent Monty Python reunion.

Cleese's new book, So, Anyway… is available now.

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The Outshot: Transparent

Why does Jesse like Transparent? Well, it's the rare television show that has people acting like... real people.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bob Odenkirk

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Bullseye
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Bob Odenkirk


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Bob Odenkirk: Cult-Comedy Icon, Reluctant Celebrity

Millions of Breaking Bad fans know Bob Odenkirk as sleazy criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman. He’ll be reprising the role in February in the spin-off show Better Call Saul.

But comedy fans already knew about Odenkirk from another show -- Mr. Show with Bob and David. Odenkirk’s outrageous and profanity-ridden outbursts were a staple of his performances and helped make him a cult-comedy icon.

Before that he wrote for Saturday Night Live. Perhaps his most notable work was co-writing the sketch Down by the River The bit featured a 35-year-old divorcee motivational speaker played by Chris Farley and is considered one of the best sketches in the history of the SNL.

When Mr. Show ended, Odenkirk appeared in a number of one-off roles for TV before working behind the camera. He directed Let’s Go to Prison, Melvin Goes to Dinner and The Brothers Solomon. Even though he loves directing, it’ll be a while before he decides to gives it another shot. He’ll explain.

Odenkirk talks to us about why writing timeless humor is so difficult, transitioning from comedy to drama and why he still doesn’t consider himself a celebrity.

Odenkirk will also read a selection from his new collection of short-fiction humor. It’s called A Load of Hooey and is available now.

Odenkirk also just released his debut stand-up comedy special, Amateur Hour. We'll be showcasing a clip from it in our Best Comedy of 2014 Special at the end of the year.

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Cannonball: Touring Parliament's Mothership Connection with Rickey Vincent

Every so often we like to take a closer look at albums that should be considered classics, to find out what makes them great. It's Cannonball.

This week we're joined by author, historian and self-described funkateer, Rickey Vincent. He's going to talk about Parliament's landmark R&B album, Mothership Connection. The album is at once a celebration of the past and a glimpse into the future. It touches on a lot traditional soul ideas, but delivered with a new funky edge. Vincent will explain more.

Vincent has a new book out. It's called PARTY MUSIC: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. You can also hear his radio show The History of Funk on KPFA.

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The Outshot: Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas

Jesse tells us about a song that makes him imagine a better world: the simple but powerful Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mavis Staples

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Bullseye
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Mavis Staples


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Mavis Staples talks about Singing Gospel, Civil Rights, and Working with Prince

Mavis Staples is one of the greatest singers of our time-- a gospel, soul and R&B vocalist known for her rich, throaty voice. She began as the lead member of The Staple Singers in the 1950's, a family gospel group formed by Pops Staples and several of his children.

The Staple Singers achieved hits with "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do it Again". They also became a musical voice of the American Civil Rights Movement with their protest music.

Staples has reinvented her sound over the decades. She's worked with Curtis Mayfield, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan and Prince (Yes, THAT Prince).

Her most recent album One True Vine was released in 2013 and produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. You can find a partial transcript of this interview here.

This segment originally aired January 30th, 2011.

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My Brother, My Brother and Me Offer Pop Culture Advice

Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy from My Brother, My Brother and Me join the show to answer pop culture quandaries from listeners.

Are you ever too old to hang up posters on your walls? Should you ever tell your children that the shows they like actually suck? Is it ever a good idea to talk to a stranger about the book they're reading? The brothers proffer their advice with a healthy amount of goofs mixed in.

If you liked what you heard, over 200 episodes of My Brother, My Brother and Me are available on
iTunes and right here on Maximumfun.org

This segment originally aired February 28, 2012.

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The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the portrait is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

This segment originally aired March 24, 2012.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Paul Reubens, Aasif Mandvi and Kimbra

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Paul Reubens
Guests: 
Aasif Mandvi
Guests: 
Kimbra


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Pee-wee Lives! Paul Reubens on his Past and Pee-wee Herman's Future

Paul Reubens is famous for being the creator and embodiment of Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee has appeared in stage shows, on TV, and in movies for almost 30 years -- from cameos in movies like Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, to his first special on HBO, two feature films in the 1980s, and a successful run on Broadway just a few years ago.

So why has the character of Pee-wee Herman endured? Maybe it's because Reubens worked so hard to make Pee-wee seem real.

Reubens has been busy the last few years with a new stage show, putting together the next Pee-wee Herman movie and now with the release of Pee-wee's Playhouse on Blu-ray.

Reubens will talk about growing up in a circus town, how Pee-wee almost appeared on the Surreal Life, and the latest details on a brand new Pee-wee Herman movie.

The remastered Blu-ray edition of Pee-wee’s Playhouse is available now from Shout Factory.

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Kimbra on “The Song That Changed My Life”: The Mars Volta's "Cicatriz E.S.P."

If you've heard the Grammy-winning mega-hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye last year -- and who didn't? -- then you already know Kimbra, who performed the female vocals on the record.

But the avant-pop musician had already been performing and recording for a decade. As a teenager growing up in New Zealand, she was writing music, playing guitar, and exploring the musical landscape.

Kimbra says that "Cicatriz E.S.P." by The Mars Volta showed her production tricks and psychedelic sounds she had never experienced before.

You can hear some of that psychedelic influence on her new album, The Golden Echo.

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Aasif Mandvi is "No Land's Man"

You probably know Aasif Mandvi as the Senior Muslim Correspondent on The Daily Show. He says he's probably not the best person to represent Muslim culture. But then again, that’s kind of the point. (He’ll explain.)

Mandvi had already been acting on the stage and screen for many years when he was called to audition for The Daily Show in 2006. And though he's been a mainstay of the show for seven years, he's continued to write and act in other projects, like the 2011 indie comedy Today's Special and the upcoming HBO series The Brink.

Mandvi talks to us about how he found himself making a 9/11 joke on his very first day at The Daily Show, what it was like being an Indian kid growing up in Northern England and Florida, and that time he almost got punched by a member of Congress.

Aasif Mandvi's new book of personal essays is available now. It’s called No Land’s Man.

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Steve Reich's Different Trains, Kronos Quartet

The Outshot: Steve Reich's "Different Trains"

Jesse will talk about how Steve Reich’s 1988 orchestra piece “Different Trains” transports him.

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Judge John Hodgman Special

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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, 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 and see the supporting evidence, click below.

The Right to Remain Silent

Chris wants his daughter, Sophie to get over her shyness and show more confidence in uncomfortable social situations. Sophie believes in making progress in her own way and doesn’t need any pushing from her dad. Eugene Mirman made a special appearance on this case to help weigh in on the dispute.

My Legal Pony

Nancy brings the case against her friend Becky. They are both veterinarians. Nancy lives out in the country, and owns a herd of Shetland ponies. She says the ponies act as ponies do and are perfectly fine just as they are. Becky says Nancy’s ponies are ill-mannered. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Only one man can decide.

If you liked what you heard today, there are over 180 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, in the RSS feed, or look for it in your favorite podcatcher. Here are a couple of our listener recommended episodes:

Father Gnaws Beast

Die Flederhaus

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Sergio Mendes and The Pogues’ James Fearnley

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Sergio Mendes
Guests: 
James Fearnley
Guests: 
Brent Weinbach


Courtesy of Sergio Mendes

Sergio Mendes on the, "very sensual, very romantic," Sounds of Bossa Nova

For a time, Sergio Mendes was the most famous Brazilian musician in the world. He grew up learning classical piano, heard Dave Brubeck's "Take 5" and took a turn towards a jazzier sound. His band Brasil '66 was at the forefront of a bossa nova explosion that introduced the genre to listeners across the world.

Throughout his career, Mendes has collaborated with many artists, including saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and Janelle Monae. But he also once collaborated with Harrison Ford… in an unexpected way. He'll explain.

Mendes will talk about how his music has evolved over the years, why his encounters with other musicians have been so important, and why the sensual, romantic sound of bossa nova has such universal appeal.

Sergio Mendes' new album is called Magic. To find out where he's going next on his tour, check out his website.

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Comedy: Brent Weinbach at MaxFunCon 2014

Abstract. Experimental. Weird. Funny. Those are all good words to describe Brent Weinbach. But none of them come close to summing up how special he is. Or the faces he made during this set. You'll just to have to imagine those.

He performed for us at the most recent MaxFunCon -- as part of a comedy showcase in the woods. We present part of his set here to you.

Tickets for MaxFunCon 2015 go on sale November 28th. You can find more of Brent Weinbach's upcoming shows on his website.

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James Fearnley: Heavy Drinking in a Minivan and Navigating Irish-English Relations

James Fearnley plays accordion for the English folk/punk band The Pogues. The band formed in the early 1980s, and made a name for themselves with a Celtic-inspired sound.

Fearnley will talk about his time with the Pogues, how they finally decided that frontman Shane MacGowan had gone off the rails, and whether as an Englishman, Fearnley feels secure in the band's Irish heritage.

Fearnley's memoir is called Here Comes Everybody: The Story of The Pogues.

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Outshot: Black Jesus

Courtesy of Facebook: Adult Swim

What Jesus lived in America, in 2014? Jesse will tell you why Black Jesus, a new show from Adult Swim, is so affecting.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Mitchell and Bob Edwards

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Bullseye
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Elvis Mitchell
Guests: 
Bob Edwards
Guests: 
Damian Kulash

Elvis Mitchell, Film Critic

Elvis Mitchell is film critic, best known as the host of KCRW’s "The Treatment". Since 1996 he’s interviewed scores of film industry writers, actors and directors on the show. He’s even gone into filmmaking for himself, producing a series of documentaries about race and success called The Black List.

But don’t mistake Mitchell’s tastes for being conventional. He may very well be the only critic in America quoted as enjoying the film Pootie Tang.

He’ll talk about the interplay between television and film, how he got his start in pop culture and why he was arrested on the Canadian border with Cuban cigars and $15 thousand in cash.

You can listen to The Treatment every week on KCRW and on iTunes

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This segment originally aired 06/26/2012


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Damian Kulash with "The Song That Changed My Life"

OK Go is band who broke out in 2006 with a hugely popular homemade video for their single "A Million Ways".

Lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash talks to us about one of the moments that led him to his place in music- hearing "Rockit" by jazz legend Herbie Hancock of the 1983 album Future Shock.

OK Go just released a new album. It’s called Hungry Ghosts.

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This segment originally aired 08/24/2011


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Bob Edwards: Broadcasting Icon

Bob Edwards was around at the very, very beginning of NPR. He was the original host of Morning Edition back in 1979 and stuck with public radio for decades. His interviews and insight earned him the Peabody award in 1999 and cemented him as a broadcasting icon.

In 2004 Edwards was controversially removed from his hosting job. Listeners didn’t take kindly to it, but Edwards was quick to move on- to satellite radio. For almost a decade The Bob Edwards Show aired daily on Sirius XM. And a weekend version of the award-winning program was aired on public radio stations via Public Radio International.

Production of The Bob Edwards Show ended in September. To celebrate Edwards’ 40-year career, Jesse will play his 2005 conversation with him. Edwards will talk about his early days at NPR and why he stuck with non-commercial radio for so long.

Reruns of The Bob Edwards Show can still be heard on Sirius XM and on iTunes.

This segment originally aired 08/27/2005

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Outshot: Ric Burns' Coney Island

Ever feel nostalgia for a time or place that you never even experienced firsthand? That’s what Jesse felt after watching Ric Burns’ documentary Coney Island, a beautiful portrait of America caught somewhere between its past and its future.

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This segment originally aired 05/27/2013

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Live in L.A. with Dan Harmon and Rob Corddry

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Steve Agee
Guests: 
Dan Harmon
Guests: 
Rob Corddry
Guests: 
Andy Kindler
Guests: 
Sara Watkins

This week's episode was recorded live on stage in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Our thanks to them for hosting us. Additional thanks to NPR's Generation Listen for sponsoring the event.


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Comedy: Steve Agee Talks About His Year

Steve Agee is a comedian, writer and actor, known mostly for his work on The Sarah Silverman Program. He performed as part of our live show in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

If you want to hear more from Steve Agee he has a podcast where he interviews all sorts of television and music personalities. It’s called Steve Agee: Uhhh and can be downloaded on iTunes.

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Dan Harmon Explains Why He Was Fired from Community (and Why He Was Rehired)

Dan Harmon created the NBC sitcom Community. It’s a show about seven misfits at a community college trying to get their lives together as they deal with their new friendships. The show’s offbeat humor and characters earned it a devoted following and helped Harmon rise to fame.
Harmon was fired from Community after its third season, but it wasn’t long before he was able to find a new job… as the showrunner for Community.

In the year that Community went on without him, he took his podcast on the road. Documentarian Neil Berkley produced a movie about the tour and Harmon’s impact on others. It’s called Harmontown.

Harmon will talk about his mindset going into the sixth season of Community, what he likes and dislikes about traditional sitcoms and why he will never again share a personal voicemail from Chevy Chase with a public audience.

You can catch the documentary Harmontown in select theaters and available on demand now.

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Rob Corddry’s Golden Childhood

Rob Corddry has been a correspondent for The Daily Showand starred in a bunch of different movies, but more recently his face -- covered in clown make-up -- has been a fixture of Los Angeles billboards and bus stops. It’s because he created and stars in adult swim’s Children’s Hospital. It’s probably the silliest show to have ever won an Emmy.

Corddry also plays a doctor in the webseries Wedlock. In it, he attempts to help a couple played by Mark Duplass and Jennifer Lafleur who are desperate to start a romantic relationship, but have none of the chemistry necessary to make it happen.

Corddry will talk about growing up as the oldest sibling, what he worked out in therapy, and what it’s like being on-set with Michael Bay.

Wedlock is available through Vimeo on Demand. Children’s Hospital can be seen on Adult Swim .

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Comedy: Andy Kindler Is Legendary

Andy Kindler was the second comedian that joined us live on stage in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. He’s had two specials on Comedy Central and has an annual State of the Industry Address at Montreal’s Just For Laughs, festival.

You can catch Kindler as the voice of Mort in the animated series Bob’s Burgers and as a fictionalized version of himself in the IFC series Maron.

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Sara Watkins and members of the Watkins Family Hour perform "You and Me"

Singer and fiddler Sara Watkins has been busy in the bluegrass scene since she founded Nickel Creek with her brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile in 1989. She's released five studio albums as part of the band. In 2009, she began her own solo project and has released two albums.

Watkins joined us to perform the single "You and Me" from her 2012 album Sun Midnight Sun. Her band included Sean Watkins on guitar, Don Heffington on drums and Benmont Tench on piano.
Sara and Sean have a monthly podcast called Watkins Family Hour in which they banter and play music with fellow bluegrass musicians. You can download it on iTunes.

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photo courtesy Dana Robinson

Outshot: The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Jesse tells you about The Museum of Jurassic Technology, a place that does very little to explain its exhibits, but is no less beautiful for it.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: DJ Quik

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Bullseye
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DJ Quik

If you're in Los Angeles, you've got less than 48 hours to buy tickets to Bullseye with Jesse Thorn LIVE on Wednesday, October 15th at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Featuring conversation with Rob Corddry (Wedlock, Childrens Hospital) and Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown), music from Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour), comedy from Steve Agee (New Girl, The Sarah Silverman Program) and Andy Kindler (Maron, Letterman) and more! Plus, your ticket gets you a free beer after the show at our meet-and-greet sponsored by NPR's Generation Listen.

Tickets are going fast - get yours now, and we'll see you there!


Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

DJ Quik Talks About Bollywood Samples, Life Imitating Art, and Hairstyles

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 record is The Midnight Life. It's available now.

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Photo: Mandee Johnson

Comedy: Cameron Esposito Explains Why Difference is Good

America is a place of differences. And in an excerpt from her new stand up comedy album, Cameron Esposito explains why we should celebrate that.

Esposito's new record is called Same Sex Symbol. It's available now from Kill Rock Stars Records and on iTunes. She's also one of the co-hosts of the action and sci-fi podcast Wham Bam Pow.

The Outshot: Skymaul 2

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.

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