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
Paul Shaffer is best known for his work as the band leader and music director on David Letterman’s late night TV shows, from the late 80’s until 2015. Though he was in charge of choosing and playing the music that would appear on the show, Shaffer was kind of a sidekick to Letterman, pulling things out of hats and setting up joke punchlines for him. Before Shaffer was on The Late Show, he was a band member on Saturday Night Live. He would appear in sketches with Bill Murray and would play piano during the Blues Brothers sketches. Letterman took notice and decided he wanted that rapport to be a part of his show.
Shaffer is not just known for working with Letterman. He has written a couple of really great disco tunes, including the 1983 jam It's Raining Men, and plays with The Late Show's The World's Most Dangerous Band.
He and Jesse talk about his expansive career, what it was like working on a show everyday for half of his life then not, and his impressive eyewear.
Javaka Steptoe is a children's book author and illustrator who has made a career of biographizing his heroes and creating books that reflect the diversity of his neighborhood. He makes an effort to illustrate books that have people of all races, all kinds of families, from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds present.
Growing up in New York and being the son of children's book author/illustrator John Steptoe, Javaka knew he was going to be an artist from the time he was a child. His first book In Daddy's Arms I am Tall, received the Coretta Scott King award for Illustrators in 1997, and many of his subsequent books recieved awards and recognition. His newest book, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has won the 2017 Caldecott award, which is basically the Pulitzer Prize for children's books.
Javaka joins Jesse to talk about what it was like to grow up with a well known father, where his passion and interest in Jean-Michel Basquiat came from, and why he finds it important to create diversity in the books that children read.
Javaka's book Radiant Child:The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is out now.
Louis Theroux is a British documentarian whose career has found himself interacting with some of the most depraved and despised people in our society. He reported on the family who runs the Westboro Baptist Church and spent time with the the leader of the White Aryan Resistance and his family. Louis, whose main interest is finding out why members of niche political parties and subcultures do what they do, also spends time with less harmful people, such as UFO hunters and Swingers on his BBC program Weird Weekends. As a part of this series, he reported on the pro-wrestling community in the United States, and took on the challenge of training with the new recruits. Louis recalls that experience for us as the craziest day of his career. Lets just say, things did not end well.
Louis has a new documentary out now called My Scientology Movie.
What makes a perfect action film? No dialogue.
This week, Wyatt Cenac sits in for Jesse Thorn.
Sam Richardson is an actor, writer, and comic. He was born in Detroit, but he has a Ghanaian mother. His childhood was split between the two places. After college, Sam moved to Chicago to pursue comedy through The Second City improv theater. He then moved to LA where he landed a couple of small roles in TV comedies like The Office and Arrested Development, eventually getting his breakout SAG nominated role as Richard Splett on HBO's Veep. Now, Sam's co-created and starred in the new Comedy Central show Detroiters produced by Lorne Michaels and Jason Sudeikis. It's about two young men (Sam and co-creator Tim Robinson) who acquire an advertising company in Detroit.
Sam talks to Wyatt about creating his new show, what it was like growing up between the United States and Ghana, and what people get wrong about Detroit.
Syd was born and raised in Los Angeles, and has been making music for most of her life. She began her career producing and singing on tracks in the music collective Odd Future when she was still in high school. In 2011, she and producer Matt Martians started an R&B band called The Internet. Six years later, they are signed to Columbia Records, have three albums under their belt, and one Grammy nomination. This year, Syd decided to venture out on her own and released her first solo album Fin to great reviews
Syd sits down with Wyatt to talk about about how she wrote and produced her new album, the influence of her parents on her music, and why she is not in a rush to meet her idols.
This week, Wyatt tells us about the 1972 Blaxploitation film The Thing with Two Heads.
Danny McBride is a comedic writer and actor who started his career starring in the cult classic comedy, The Foot Fist Way. Although the film went to Sundance and was a modest success, McBride went back to North Virginia to work as a substitute teacher. Danny and frequent collaborator Jody Hill began creating the series Eastbound & Down, which would jumpstart McBride’s career and make him a film and television star.
He has appeared in a number of comedies, such as Tropic Thunder, 30 Minutes or Less, and Observe and Report. McBride is perhaps best known for writing and starring in the HBO series Eastbound & Down, where he plays disgraced MLB player, Kenny Powers.
McBride sat down with Jesse to talk about about working with Jody Hill, writing for Eastbound and Down, and dealing with people who idolize Kenny Powers just a little too much.
The second season of Vice Principals is out this summer.
Jazz bassist Miroslav Vitouš explains how working with Weather Report on the composition "Morning Lake" is an experience he will never forget.
Miroslav Vitouš's new album is called Music of Weather Report.
Jesse talks about the film Hunt for The Wilderpeople and why calling it "twee" is actually a compliment.
Desus and Mero have worked together since 2013 when they started their first podcast Desus vs. Mero but have actually known each other since going to summer school together in The Bronx. Both Mero and Desus have huge Twitter followings, where they first cultivated a rapport. Eventually, they transferred it to podcasting. After their first podcast ended, they started The Bodega Boys which has a similar vibe and is everything that makes podcasts great; improvised, diverse, hilarious, and irreverent. Their success in podcasting has lead to Vice tapping them to host their flagship late-night show on Viceland, the new television network. It's called Desus & Mero, of course.
In for Jesse Thorn, public media legend Ray Suarez talk with Desus and Mero about their new TV show and the differences between being funny on twitter and producing a TV show or podcast. They tell us why they talk about race so much, and give us a look into what it was really like to grow up in Bronx in the 1980's.
Three time Academy Award winning sound designer and film editor Walter Murch has been a part of Hollywood scene for over 50 years. One of his most frequent collaborators is Francis Ford Coppola - he worked on Apocalypse Now and The English Patient. In his free time, though, he does something completely different: astrophysics. He's particularly mesmerized by Bode's Law, the almost 250 year old theory that explains the spacing and orbit of the planets. Murch is the subject of Lawrence Weschler's new book Waves Passing in the Night, which chronicles Murch's education in astrophysics.
Murch tells Ray about how the move from analog to digital machines changed the game, his obsession with science and astrophysics, and what he learned about sound editing from Marlon Brando.
Waves Passing In The Night is out now.
Ray tells us why the HBO limited series The Young Pope is so surprisingly captivating.
[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.
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.
Jesse remembers the poignancy of the late rapper Poetic, who detailed his harrowing fight with cancer in one of his final songs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
This week, Jesse talks about LA rapper YG’s particular sound and philosophy.
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!
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.
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.
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.