Bullseye

Bullseye is a public radio show about what's good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

Bullseye is equal parts funny and fascinating. Whether you're already plugged in to the culture map, or looking for a signpost, Bullseye will keep you on target. More About Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Gilbert Gottfried and Filmmaker Maggie Betts

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Gilbert Gottfried
Guests: 
Maggie Betts

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

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Gilbert Gottfried on his career in comedy, losing gigs, and the new documentary Gilbert

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried has been entertaining the world since he was 15 years old. His roles include being a cast member on season 6 of SNL, an accountant in Beverly Hills Cop II, and voicing the parrot Iago in Aladdin, the classic Disney cartoon.

Gilbert has a reputation for pushing boundaries in comedy. On stage he plays sort of a character - he squints his eyes, screams at the top of his lungs, and his material usually hovers between tasteless, dumb, and more often than not: really, really, funny.

But the real Gilbert is sensitive, quiet and friendly. And it's that Gilbert Gottfried that's featured in the new documentary. It's called Gilbert, directed by Neil Berkeley. In the movie, Gilbert opens up about his second life we don't know much about: his wife and kids, his childhood, his successes and failures.

You can keep up to date with Gilbert Gottfried on his website.

You can also catch Gilbert Gottfried on his podcast Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast!.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Gilbert Gottfried!

C Flanigan/FilmMagi

Maggie Betts on her new film Novitiate

So far, Maggie Betts has directed only three films. A documentary, a short, and now her first-ever narrative feature, Novitiate, which hits theaters October 27. The film follows a group of women training to be nuns in 1964 a time when Catholic church was at a crossroads: society was changing, attendance was down, and the church responded to all that by executing a bunch of reforms, some popular, some not so much.

An interesting fact about Maggie is that she grew up with the Bushes. Her dad was good friends with George W. Bush, she was roommates with his daughter Barbara.

Maggie talks to Jesse about what inspired her to make Novitiate, and not needing permission to make movies.

Watch the trailer for Novitiate here.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Maggie Betts!

The Outshot: 1998 Out of Sight

In this week's Outshot, Jesse points out how Out of Sight created the George Clooney that we all know.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on Out of Sight!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Amy Ryan & The Ringer's Shea Serrano

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Amy Ryan
Guests: 
Shea Serrano

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

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Amy Ryan on her leading role in Abundant Acreage Available and being a character actress

First up is actress Amy Ryan. You've seen her as Beadie Russel on The Wire, as Holly on The Office, in movie like Gone Baby Gone, and a bunch more stuff. She's now starring in the new movie Abundant Acreage Available. She sits down with Jesse to talk about all those roles, and growing up as an aspiring actress in Queens, New York -- including the time she convinced her family it was cool to skip college and give acting a real go.

Watch a trailer for Abundant Acreage Available, out now.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Amy Ryan!

Photo by StockX

The Ringer's Shea Serrano on hip-hop, basketball, and following his writing dreams

Next up is the writer Shea Serrano. He's covered basketball, music and more for ESPN, Vice, The Ringer, and more.

Born and raised in Texas, Shea was originally a middle school teacher who'd write in his spare time. Though he only started writing full time a little over two years ago, he now has a huge legion of followers on social media, a New York Times bestseller in The Rap Yearbook, and an AMC television show in development that's based on the same book.

His new, beautifully illustrated book is called Basketball and Other Things, and it's out now.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Shea Serrano!

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Outshot: Losing in Baseball

In this week's Outshot, Jesse argues that losing in baseball isn't so bad. It's actually kind of comforting.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on losing in baseball!

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Carl Reiner & Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Carl Reiner
Guests: 
Kate Mulleavy
Guests: 
Laura Mulleavy

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

Carl Reiner on His Time in The Army, His Relationship with Mel Brooks, And on His Memoir

Comedy legend Carl Reiner has been doing comedy since World War II. He's the creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Carl also co-wrote and directed one of Steve Martin's most successful shows, The Jerk. And as expected, his best friend is no one other than Mel Brooks. Get this: they watch Wheel of Fortune when they hang out.

Carl is also a prolific writer with nearly 20 book titles to his name. Still writing at the age of 95, he recently released a memoir, Too Busy to Die, about his journey to who he is today.

Carl invited Jesse to his home to talk about his time in the army and his memoir.

You can find Carl Reiner's memoir on Random Content.

And you can check out Carl's screen credits on IMDb.

Click here to listen to Carl Reiner's interview on YouTube!

Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/Getty Images

The Mulleavy Sisters on Their Fashion Company, Rodarte, and Their New Venture into Filmmaking

Kate and Laura Mulleavy are fashion designers who grew up in Northern California and graduated from UC Berkeley. Kate and Laura blew up after they designed just ten pieces in their parent's kitchen. They made the cover of Women's Wear Daily, and they got a face to face meeting with Anna Wintour.

In 2005 they founded Rodarte, their clothing brand. Acclaim has followed since. Kate and Laura won the CFDA award for womenswear designers of the year. And they even helped design costumes for the movie Black Swan.

Now, Kate and Laura have directed their first-ever movie, Woodshock, starring Kirsten Dunst.

The sisters join Jesse to talk about directing a movie and running a fashion company.

You can keep up with Kate and Laura's fashion company on their website.

Click here to listen to Kate and Laura Mulleavy's interview!


Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

The Outshot: Dead Prez's Hip-Hop

In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about how Dead Prez created the most urgent sound hip-hop ever produced.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on Dead Prez's hit song, "Hip-Hop"/!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Open Mike Eagle and Paula Poundstone

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Open Mike Eagle
Guests: 
Paula Poundstone

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Open Mike Eagle on his unconventional path to becoming an emcee, Chicago rap, and getting laid off

You could call Open Mike Eagle an up-and-coming rapper, though his rise has been anything but typical. Mike currently lives and makes his living in Los Angeles, but he was born in Chicago. He was a teacher for the first part of his adult life, and he actually didn't release his first album until he was almost 30.

Mike's known for crafting humorous and clever rhymes, which isn't altogether uncommon in rap. But his style is weirder, left of center, and even self-deprecating at times. For example, the first album he released was titled "Unapologetic Art Rap."

Things are looking up for Mike these days. Mike's latest album dropped a couple weeks ago, called Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. Outside of rap, he co-hosts Tights and Fights, a wrestling podcast on Maximum Fun. Also, he and comedian Baron Vaughn just got their own Comedy Central show that's currently in development, called "The New Negroes."

You can stream and buy Mike's album on Bandcamp.

Click here to listen to Open Mike Eagle's interview on YouTube!

Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

I Wish I'd Made That: Paula Poundstone on Bridesmaids

Also, Paula Poundstone joins us to talk about a movie she wishes she made.

Paula's been doing standup comedy since 1979. She's appeared on pretty much every talk show, has had recurring roles on TV and a bunch of specials. And you almost definitely know her voice from the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!

These days Paula's keeping busy with a bunch of new projects. She hosts a new NPR podcast called Live from the Poundstone Institute where she interviews experts and academics in front of a live studio audience. She also has written a new book called The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness. In it, she tries pretty much every trick in the book to live a happier life, including taekwondo, reorganizing her house, and driving a fancy new car.

We asked Paula if there was any TV show or movie she wishes she made, and she was ready with an answer: 2011's smash-hit comedy, Bridesmaids.

Check out Paula's new podcast, Live from the Poundstone Institute on NPR One or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Click here to listen to Paula Poundstone talk about Bridesmaids!

The Outshot: 1989 Billy Ripken Baseball Card

In the world of baseball card collecting, some of the most rare and highly coveted cards are those with printing errors. In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about an error card to top them all: a 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken card, number 616.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on the 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken card!

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Judy Greer and Ice-T

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Judy Greer
Guests: 
Ice-T

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Judy Greer on Her Unexpected Hollywood Trajectory as a Co-Star

[r]When Judy Greer first got out of school she auditioned for leading parts and not getting them. So she shifted gears. She became a co-star. Turned out she became one of the most successful co-stars in Hollywood. It stands to reason. She’s a gifted actress, she’s funny, she’s beautiful, but she still looks like a real human being you might know in real life.

She’s been a best friend in a pile of romantic comedies, like 27 Dresses and 13 Going On 30, she’d been in dramatic films like The Descendants and Jurassic World, she’s been on every kind of TV show, from Two and a Half Men, to ER to Arrested Development. On Arrested, she played the memorable role of Kitty Sanchez - an insane administrative assistant bent on driving home any point she makes by showing her boobs.

When Jesse talked to Judy in 2014, it was right after the release of her memoir, "I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star."

Click here to listen to Judy Greer's interview on YouTube!

Ice-T on Hip-Hop and Directing

Ice-T is, of course, an entertainment business legenad. He's been acting for over 25 years and he was a pioneer of West Coast hip-hop in the early 80s. His roots are so deep that his first screen credit in 1984's Breakin' was as "Rap Talker."

His breakthrough on screen was in 1991's New Jack City, and he spent the last dozen years or so solving crimes on Law and Order: SVU. He's an MC and as the frontman of the metal band Body Count he's released more than a dozen albums in his 30 year music career.

When Ice-T talked to Jesse in 2012, he had just directed his first ever movie. It was a documentary called Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap. In it, he travels from coast to coast talking to rappers from Grandmaster Caz to Kanye West about the work of the MC.

Keep up with Ice-T by visiting his website.

Click here to listen to Jesse's interview with Ice-T on YouTube!


The Outshot: Quick Change

Hey - hey you. Want to know about a cool Bill Murray thing? You probably haven't seen it before. It's not Scrooged, not some SNL bit or a viral thing he did for Funny or Die. It's Quick Change, the only movie he's ever directed.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on Quick Change!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Pointer Sisters and Bootsy Collins

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Bullseye
Guests: 
The Pointer Sisters
Guests: 
Bootsy Collins

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

The Pointer Sisters on going from being mid-size R&B stars to huge, mega hit makers

[r]The Pointer Sisters ruled the 1980s with hits like "I'm So Excited" and "Jump (For My Love)." Growing up in Oakland, California, they had a reverend father who taught them that rock and roll was "the devil's work." But when their parents were not around, they snuck in listening sessions to Elvis, The Supremes, and James Brown.

Bonnie and June Pointer were the first to form the group in 1969, and they were followed by Ruth and Anita in later years. They recorded their debut self-titled album in 1973, and the single "Yes We Can Can" became their first hit.

Ruth and Anita joined Jesse in 2014 to talk about their vintage style, forging their own musical path, and mixing family with business.

Learn more about the Pointer Sisters by visiting their website.

Listen to The Pointer Sisters' interview!

Bootsy Collins on funk, LSD and more

Bootsy Collins is a funk legend. A bassist by happenstance, in his teen years Bootsy was discovered and hired by James Brown to be part of the band The J.B.'s. At only 19, Bootsy was on the rise and made the move to play with another inventive and pioneering funk artist, George Clinton, as part of Funkadelic-Parliment up until the formation of his own band Bootsy's Rubber Band.

In 2011, Bootsy spoke to Jesse about sharing the stage with James Brown, experimenting with LSD, the freedom he felt with the Parliament-Funkadelic collective and his solo career.

Bootsy is currently working on his 14th solo album, World Wide Funk. Keep up with the latest on Bootsy by visiting his website.

Listen to Jesse's 2011 interview with Bootsy Collins!

The Outshot: The Muppet Movie (1979)

Say what you want about the Muppets. Maybe you didn't like the new movies, maybe you missed the TV show. Jesse tells you why the original Muppet Movie is still a classic.

Listen to this week's Outshot!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jonathan Coulton and Tim Gunn

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Jonathan Coulton
Guests: 
Tim Gunn

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

Photo by Jesse Thorn

Jonathan Coulton on his new album Solid State, and using humor in songwriting

This week Jesse talks to singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton. About 12 years ago, Jonathan decided to quit his job as a computer programmer to pursue a full-time career in music. And he did so by starting maybe one of the most ambitious songwriting projects ever: he decided he would write, record, and release one song every week for an entire year.

That project, called Thing a Week, was a runaway success. And while the novelty of the project eventually wore off, he gained a huge following of fans smitten by catchy and humorous songs of his like "Code Monkey," "RE: Your Brains," and even an acoustic cover of "Baby Got Back" so popular that the TV show Glee ripped it off. His career took off, leading to opportunities like writing songs for the popular Portal video games, and landing a gig as the house musician for the NPR quiz show Ask Me Another.

There's always been an underlying sadness and tragedy in some of Jonathan's music, funny songs included. Those themes come to the fore on his latest album, Solid State, which came out this year. It's kind of a dystopian concept album about the future of the internet, with songs about cat photos and trolls. He also just put out a companion graphic novel book with the same title.

Jonathan tells Jesse that even though he owes his career to the Internet, sometimes he actually hates it. As he gets older, he has increasingly mixed feelings about effects of Internet culture on our lives and relationships, an ambivalence that pervades his latest record. He also plays a couple tunes!

Learn more about Jonathan's music and where he's playing next on his website.

Listen to Jonathan Coulton's interview and in-studio performance!

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Tim Gunn on Project Runway, and what our clothes say about us

Next up this week is Tim Gunn from Lifetime's Project Runway! If you can believe it, the show just started its 16th season last month. If shows like Top Chef brought haute cuisine into America's living rooms, Project Runway did the same with fashion.

Alongside host Heidi Klum, Tim's a teacher and mentor on the show. He guides aspiring designers on their path to stardom with his intelligence, compassion, and sense of humor. Even when he has to get tough on his students, he still comes across as thoughtful and winsome.

Even though Tim's won an Emmy for his work on Project Runway, he's far more than a television personality: he's got a brilliant mind for fashion. He taught design at the New School for 25 years, and was a department chair for five of those years. Tim talks to Jesse about the relationship between architecture and fashion, and the powerful messages that our clothes send to others. He argues that dressing well is something that everyone should be thinking about, not just fashion hounds. He also talks about those early years of working on Project Runway, and why he was initially skittish about being on TV.

Learn more about Project Runway, now in its 16th season.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Tim Gunn!

The Outshot: Norm MacDonald's "Roast" of Bob Saget

Jesse's never cared much for Comedy Central roasts, except for one. In this week's Outshot, he remembers Norm MacDonald's subversive performance at Bob Saget's roast in 2008.

Listen to this week's Outshot !

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Wallace Shawn, Jay Baruchel & Nick Lowe

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Wallace Shawn
Guests: 
Jay Baruchel
Guests: 
Nick Lowe

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

Jay Baruchel on directing Goon: Last of the Enforcers, starring in Undeclared, and Canadian humor

This week Jesse talks to Canadian comedian and director Jay Baruchel. You've probably seen Jay in some great comedies like the FXX show Man Seeking Woman and Judd Apatow's Undeclared. He also starred in the How to Train Your Dragon movies as the voice of Hiccup.

This year, Jay directed his first ever feature length movie. It's called Goon: Last of the Enforcers, and it's the sequel to Goon, a movie he co-starred in a few years ago. The movie tells the story of an enforcer named Doug Glatt who's played by Seann William Scott.

Jay talks to Jesse about his love for hockey and the important function that violence plays in the Goon movies. He also shares a bit about his experience on the set of Undeclared and how it shaped him as a comedian. Plus, Jay drops some knowledge about his home and native land: specifically why Canadians are well represented in American comedies, and misconceptions about Montreal, his hometown.

Goon: Last of the Enforcers comes to theaters and VOD on September 1. You can pre-order it on iTunes now.

Listen to Jesse's conversation with Jay Baruchel!

Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for SAG Foundation

Wallace Shawn on acting and his latest book, Night Thoughts.

Also this week, the character actor Wallace Shawn. On screen he has over 180 credits, including films like Clueless, The Princess Bride, My Dinner with Andre. He's also had regular roles on Gossip Girl and Crossing Jordan. You probably also know him as the T-Rex from the Toy Story movies.

Wallace is also an Obie award-winning playwright and the author of several books. His latest is called Night Thoughts, an extended of essays touching on topics like politics, morality, and privilege.

You can find Night Thoughts on Amazon or your local bookseller.

Listen to Wallace Shawn's interview!

Photo: GARI GARAIALDE/AFP/Getty Images

The Song That Changed My Life: Nick Lowe on "Fatback Louisiana, USA"

English singer-songwriter Nick Lowe recalls the indelible mark that the 1950s country and western song "Fatback Louisiana, USA" by Tennessee Ernie Ford left on him as a young boy growing up on a Royal Air Force base.

Nick Lowe is gearing up to tour the Midwest and East Coast this fall. Find out if he'll be playing near you on his website, NickLowe.com.

Hear Nick Lowe talk about the song that changed his life!

The Outshot: The story-driven gameplay of Firewatch

Jesse praises Firewatch, an adventure game that combines gripping narrative and well-written dialogue to make for a deeply human experience.

Firewatch is available as a download on Windows, Mac, Linux, Playstation 4 and XBOX One.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on Firewatch!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ellie Kemper & Flying Lotus

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Ellie Kemper
Guests: 
Flying Lotus

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Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Ellie Kemper on her career as a comedic actress, wrestling with privilege, and her Emmy-nominated role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

[r] Ellie Kemper first achieved breakout success as Erin Hannon on the NBC sitcom The Office. Her turn as the happy-go-lucky office receptionist was popular with fans and critics alike and showcased her gifts as a comedic actress. Those talents have since been leveraged on the big screen in box office hit films like Bridesmaids and 21 Jump Street.

Now she plays the title character in the Netflix Original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a role for which she recently earned her second straight Emmy nomination for Best Comedy Actress. Despite the show’s dark premise -- Kimmy Schmidt was held captive by a cult leader for years in an underground bunker -- the show plays it all for laughs as she tries to rebuild her life in New York City. Her years of isolation have left her ignorant of many cultural touchstones, but she pushes through with an enthusiasm and tenacity that is both endearing and hilarious.

Ellie joined Jesse in 2016 to talk about her early experiences of living and working in New York, mining material from her time at Princeton and her self-consciousness about privilege.

Catch all the episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. The show was recently renewed for a fourth season.

Listen to Jesse's 2016 interview with Ellie Kemper.

Flying Lotus on his aunt Alice Coltrane, J Dilla, and more

Flying Lotus is a critically acclaimed music producer whose sound lies somewhere between progressive hip-hop and dance music. In 2010, Jesse spoke to him about his unique style and his remarkable musical lineage -- his aunt was the great jazz pianist Alice Coltrane. FlyLo also tells Jesse about how his mother convinced him to submit music to Cartoon Network's [adult swim], and the influence of the late hip-hop producer J Dilla on his music.

You can find out what Flying Lotus is up to next at Flying-Lotus.com. You can also watch his 2016 film Kuso on iTunes, or wherever else you rent your films.

Listen to Jesse's 2010 interview with Flying Lotus.

Photo: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

The Outshot: Remembering Phife Dawg

Jesse fondly remembers Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest as a "big brother" figure in hip-hop.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on the late rapper Phife Dawg.

Bullseye: Alfred Molina and Louie Anderson

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Alfred Molina
Guests: 
Louie Anderson

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


Photo by Jesse Thorn

British actor Alfred Molina on portraying director Robert Aldrich in Feud: Bette and Joan and playing bad guys

This week Jesse sits down with British actor Alfred Molina to talk about his starring role in the FX series Feud, which tells the story of the rivalry between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during the making of the film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? He plays legendary director Robert Aldrich, for which he's earned an Emmy nod.

Alfred Molina grew up in England, and as the son of immigrants from Spain and Italy, he didn't always feel fully at home there. He tells Jesse that he was even told to change his name when he got his start in acting.

Alfred has a particular knack for being able to capture your attention in whatever project he's in, even when he's playing unlikeable characters, including villains. He talks to Jesse about his approach to playing unsavory people, whether it's a backstabbing guide in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dr. Octopus in Spiderman 2, or a crazy drug dealer in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights.

Be sure to catch Alfred as Robert Aldrich in the FX series Feud: Bette and Joan. You can also find out what he's up to on Twitter.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Alfred Molina.

Photo by Jesse Thorn

Comedian Louie Anderson on playing Christine Baskets in the FX series Baskets, family, and standup

Also this week: a visit from comedian and actor Louie Anderson. Louie's been doing standup for close to thirty years. Outside standup, he's had a long career in film and television. He had his own cartoon on FOX in the mid-'90s, appeared in Coming to America and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and he even hosted Family Feud for a few years. Louie's also written three books, one of which is a collection of letters to his late father.

Lately, Louie's career has taken a slightly different turn. In the FX series Baskets, he plays Christine Baskets, the mother of a hapless rodeo clown named Chip Baskets, who's played by Zach Galiafianakis (Zach spoke to Bullseye about playing Chip Baskets in 2016). You could say he's performing in drag, but he plays the role completely sincere, injecting it with humor, sweetness, and vulnerability. The result is something that borders on magical.

Family looms large in Louie's comedy and work. Christine Baskets is loosely based on his late mother, Ora Anderson, whom he says was the glue that held his family together during his difficult childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota. Louie talks with Jesse about the passing of his younger brother and the effect it had on him. They also talk about Louie's perceptions of his own career, including his comedy style and on-screen appearance.

Find out the latest with Louie, including his latest projects and standup dates, at LouieAnderson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Listen to Jesse's full interview with Louie Anderson.

The Outshot: The Thomas Crown Affair

Faye Dunaway. Steve McQueen. Sex chess. These are a few of Jesse's favorite things in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair.