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: Bubba Sparxxx and Ian MacKaye

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bubba Sparxxx
Guests: 
Ian MacKaye
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon
Guests: 
Megan Mullally
Guests: 
Stephanie Hunt

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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Bubba Sparxxx on Schoolyard Rap Battles, Overcoming Addiction and Country-Hip Hop Fusion

Bubba Sparxxx defines his life as a cycle of "falling down and getting back up." He’s a white rapper from the South who you may know for his hit with the Ying Yang Twins, "Ms. New Booty," -- or perhaps you remember his debut single from 2001, "Ugly".

Sparxxx grew up in a rural area near LaGrange, Georgia, where he was no stranger to the occasional schoolyard rap battle. After high school, he made the move to Athens, Georgia with hip hop ambitions and, eventually, released the album Dark Days Bright Nights with the help of record producers Timbaland and Organized Noize. His next two albums, Deliverance and The Charm, established his commercial success and Sparxxx became known as a rapper who could effectively blend country and hip-hop.

However, after The Charm’s release in 2006, Sparxxx stayed relatively silent for the next seven years. He appeared on a couple Girls Gone Wild DVDs, rumors surfaced of his troubles with the IRS and he struggled with drug addiction. With the release of Pain Management in 2013, he came back on the hip hop scene with a fresh perspective. On the album, Sparxxx returns to his small town roots with songs like the celebratory "Country Folks" and the nostalgic "LaGrange," proving that, after a long fall down, he can always get back up.

His newest album, Pain Management is out now.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour on Deadpan Satire and Early John Cusack

Glen Weldon and Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to share some of their all-time favorite comedies.

Glen recommends the 1992 film Careful, directed by Guy Maddin, which is partly a parody of the German mountaineering films of the ‘20’s and ‘30’s. It’s set in the fictional town of Tolzbad, where the townspeople, petrified of starting a devastating avalanche, supress their emotions to live as quietly as possible.

Linda’s pick is The Sure Thing, a 1985 comedy directed by Rob Reiner. It stars a pre-Say Anything John Cusack who hits the road in an effort to reach a "sure thing".

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda’s writing on NPR’s Monkey See blog.

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I Wish I’d Made That: "Singin’ in the Rain" and "The Music Box" with Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt

Have you ever listened to a song or watched a movie so exceptionally perfect that you thought "I wish I’d made that!"? We’ve been there too. In this segment, we talk to creative people about the works that inspired them, and maybe inspired a little envy too.

This week, we caught up with Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and Stephanie Hunt to talk about the things they wish they’d made: a Laurel and Hardy short called The Music Box and a classic scene from Singin’ in the Rain.

We caught up with Megan and Stephanie at Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme where they performed in their band Nancy and Beth.

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Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat & Fugazi: Love for Ted Nugent, His First Show, and Punk Ethics

As a member of Fugazi and Minor Threat, Ian MacKaye made history in the punk rock world. Fugazi’s DIY ethics made a lasting impression on the music industry and Minor Threat’s song "Straight Edge" managed to start a movement, even though it was never MacKaye’s intention.

He grew up in Washington D.C. in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Back then, it wasn’t a city known for its rock scene. That didn’t stop him from teaming up with drummer Jeff Nelson to form the band Minor Threat, which would go on to have a profound and lasting impact on hardcore punk. Although the band was short-lived (1980-83), it was enough to start a movement. MacKaye coined the term "straight edge," which referred to a punk rocker who abstains from drugs and alcohol. Eventually, a subculture formed around the concept and individuals who wanted to listen to their music with a clear head began calling themselves "straight edge".

Later in his career, he formed Fugazi, a band which would go on to make six studio albums and had a pretty unique approach to touring practices. The group would travel cross-country, rarely charging more than five or ten dollars for a show as a reaction to the uncontrollable greed of the music industry.

This week, Jesse revisits his 2009 interview, conducted live on stage with MacKaye. They’ll talk about the MacKaye's roots in D.C., his lasting legacy, and why he loves to work.

MacKaye is a co-founder and owner of Dischord Records and currently sings and plays baritone guitar in The Evens.

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The Outshot: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Every now and then, a movie comes along that’s so quotable and unexpectedly funny that it begs for a sequel...but it doesn’t get one. After nine long years, it looked like Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s Anchorman wouldn't return with its own brand of special weirdness.

This week, Jesse This week, Jesse explains why you should make your way out to the multiplex.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Best Comedy of 2013 Special

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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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

It was a great year for comedy. Everyone from seasoned stand-ups to musical comedy groups came out with hilarious new material. We listened to all of it and picked the absolute best for you to enjoy. Get ready for the Best Comedy of 2013 Special, as picked by our staff at Bullseye.

You’ll hear selections from the following, almost all of which are available for purchase (with the exception of the sets from the Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival).

Kumail Nanjiani - Beta Male

Kathleen Madigan - Madigan Again

Pete Holmes - Nice Try, the Devil

Moshe Kasher - Live in Oakland

Bill Cosby - Far From Finished

Maria Bamford - Ask Me About My New God!

Mike Birbiglia - My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

Eugene Mirman - An Evening of Comedy in a Fake, Underground Laboratory

Todd Glass - Todd Glass Talks About Stuff

Craig Ferguson - I'm Here to Help

Chris Hardwick - Mandroid

The Lonely Island - The Wack Album

Dana Gould - I Know It’s Wrong

John Roy - Alexander Hamilton

Josie Long - from the Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival

Jasper Redd - from the Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival

Kurt Braunohler - How Do I Land?

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ronnie Spector, Fred Schneider, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Ronnie Spector
Guests: 
Fred Schneider
Guests: 
My Brother, My Brother and Me
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

It’s the time of year when Bullseye focuses on what truly matters during the holiday season: great interviews with fascinating people. Celebrate with the Bullseye Holiday Special.

Girl Group Legend Ronnie Spector on Christmas, John Lennon, and a Perfect Coiffure

Ronnie Spector was the lead singer of the 1960s girl group The Ronettes. Along with her sister and cousin, she sang on five Top 40 hits, most notably Be My Baby, which still gets regular airplay on oldies stations.

But when it comes to her recordings with her ex-husband and producer Phil Spector, it might be the holiday songs off A Christmas Gift for You that remain closest to our hearts.

Spector spoke with Jesse in 2010 and explained that Christmas has always been a part of her life. When she was six years old, she sat on Santa’s lap at Macy’s and fell in love with everything about the holiday. The Ronettes recorded “Frosty the Snowman,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “Sleigh Ride” for the album and, since their release in 1963, all three songs have become holiday classics.

Spector talked to us about puzzling over Santa's journey to her NYC apartment as a kid, going on stage at the famed Apollo Theater as an eleven-year-old, and knocking on doors with The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards.

This segment originally aired in December 2010.

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Andrew Noz on Holiday Rap: Outkast and Gucci Mane

Holiday songs don't have to all be Dean Martin or Michael Bublé. Hip hop critic Andrew Noz stops by the show to suggest a couple of rap songs that will be perfect for your holiday party.

The first is Outkast’s Player's Ball. It was originally recorded as a Christmas song for the LaFace Family Christmas album and with a few tweaks, it was repurposed as the group’s debut single. Then, Andrew says you should check out Gucci Mane’s Weird. It’s a great track that features a whole bunch of weird lyrics that allude to Christmas.

You can find Andrew Noz on Pitchfork, the Fader, or check out his blog at Cocaine Blunts.

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My Brother, My Brother, and Me Give Holiday Advice

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to answer some of your most pressing holiday quandaries. They take on Dickensian fairs, lazy gifting, and the perfect playlist for your holiday party.

If you’ve still got questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts, and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

This segment originally aired in December 2012.

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The B-52s' Fred Schneider on Christmas Music, Wacky Poetry and Creating a Signature Sound

There are few bands that better define outrageousness than The B-52s. And there is no greater symbol of that group's outrageousness than Fred Schneider. As frontman for The B-52s, he’s crossed a Georgia drawl with a unique style of talk-singing in songs like Love Shack and Rock Lobster.

In 2010, Jesse sat down with Schneider to talk about the holidays. The vocalist had just recorded a new Christmas album with his band The Superions. The album is called Destination… Christmas! and features several goofy holiday songs like “Fruitcake” and “Crummy Christmas Tree”.

Schneider tells Jesse how he comes up with his nutty lyrics, why he decided to write poetry in college and, most importantly, how to compose holiday songs on the fly.

This segment originally aired in December 2010.

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The Outshot: This Christmas by Donny Hathaway

On this week’s Outshot, Jesse tells you about his absolute favorite holiday song. He puts it on every year, and explains why you should too. Take a listen to This Christmas by Donny Hathaway.

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Special Credits

Be sure to check out these holiday classics, also in this week's show:
Father Christmas - The Kinks
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
I Hate Christmas - Oscar the Grouch
Down On Christmas - Stompin’ Tom Connors

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jack Black and Bun B

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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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Our guest host this week is the author and The New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean. You can find more from Susan at her website or follow her on Twitter. Thanks, Susan!


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Jack Black on Musical Snobbery, Childlike Innocence, and the Roles He's Yet to Play

Jack Black always seems to be on the verge of breaking into song. Whether he’s a slacker substitute teacher in School of Rock, an earnest funeral director in Bernie, or a snobby record store clerk in High Fidelity, music has a way of seeping into his performances. Maybe that’s because Black’s portrayals often possess an unbridled joy that’s difficult to capture with spoken dialogue.

Although he's known for his comedic strengths and has often played the "shlubby loser", Black has showed that he's capable of much more. For Peter Jackson’s King Kong, he played a 1930s filmmaker intent on creating an epic narrative, no matter how far into the heart of darkness he has to travel. In Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding, he was a disappointing groom prone to occasional bursts of anger. Most recently, he played the titular character in Richard Linklater’s Bernie, a film based on the true story of a kind, gentle mortician accused of murder in a small Texas town. It’s the subtlety of performances like these mixed with the intensity of a man who also headlines the rock band Tenacious D that truly make Black a unique performer.

Guest host Susan Orlean gets to the bottom of Black’s career, from his early days performing one-man shows in his living room to working with some of the biggest names in show business. They’ll talk about some of his early childhood performances, dissecting musical tastes, a new HBO pilot, and why seeing him on Broadway wouldn’t be entirely out of the question.

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Ian Cohen on New Heavy Music Releases: Death Grips and Iron Chic

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some new heavy music releases.

He suggests a listen to two new records: Government Plates by experimental hip hop and noise group Death Grips, and Iron Chic's The Constant One.

You find Ian's writing at Pitchfork and Grantland, or follow him on Twitter.

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Bun B of UGK on Rhyming, Big Breaks and Mourning Pimp C, "The Yin to My Yang"

Bun B was half of UGK and still is one of the South’s greatest hip-hop lyricists. Alongside partner Pimp C, he spent two decades rhyming and recording classic hip-hop and helped establish Texas as a force to be reckoned with in the national hip-hop scene. Pimp C died six years ago this month, but Bun has continued to record and release music as a solo artist. His newest album, Trill Og the Epilogue, was released in November.

Jesse sat down with Bun B in 2009 to talk about underwriting a music career with street crime, rhyming with Jay-Z, and his reaction to Pimp C's frequent arrests, setbacks, and untimely passing.

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The Outshot: The Sorcerer of the Guitar

Guest host Susan Orlean goes under the spell of "Franco" Luambo Makiadi, The Sorcerer of the Guitar.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Henry Bushkin on Johnny Carson

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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.

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Troubled, Brilliant and Intensely Private: A Look Back at American Icon Johnny Carson with "Bombastic Bushkin"

The late night show is still a staple of pop culture. Leno, Letterman, Conan, Fallon all hold their own interviewing celebrities and delivering monologues -- but there's no single late night show that is appointment viewing for all people, no host as essential as Johnny Carson, the thirty-year Tonight Show host and television icon.

He was publicly known by many, Johnny Carson didn't have a lot of close personal friends. Though he was fun and friendly on-screen -- cavorting with celebrities like Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra -- off-screen, he was very private and hid his emotions well.

It says a lot that Carson once described Henry Bushkin, his lawyer and business associate, as his "best friend". Bushkin came on to Carson's team as a fixer, someone to take care of his problems both professional and personal.

This week, Mike Pesca fills in for Jesse and talks to Bushkin, who served as Carson’s lawyer and closest confidante for nearly two decades. Dubbed ‘The Bombastic Bushkin,’ his relationship with Carson was a mix of professional and personal and he witnessed some of the icon’s darkest moments. Their friendship and business relationship eventually soured, but not before Bushkin collected a wide variety of experiences. This week, Bushkin dives into those privileged moments, from the good to the bad.

Bushkin’s new book, which recounts his time with Carson, is called, simply, Johnny Carson.

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The Dissolve on New Releases: Folk Stories in Inside Llewyn Davis and Fascinating Footage from Narco Cultura

Editorial Director Keith Phipps and Editor Scott Tobias from film site The Dissolve stop by to recommend the best films this winter has to offer. They recommend you check out the new movie from the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis and a film that examines both sides of drug cartel culture, Narco Cultura.

You can find both films in select theaters nationwide this week.

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Canonball: Wire’s Pink Flag with Jim DeRogatis

Sometimes we like to take a flying leap into the canon of popular music and find albums that deserve a closer look. This week, Jim DeRogatis of WBEZ's Sound Opinions guides us through the art-punk band Wire’s debut album, Pink Flag. He'll tell us why you don't necessarily have to have mega-musical talent to make a great song -- just some brilliant ideas.

You can hear Jim DeRogatis weekly on his nationally-distributed public radio show, Sound Opinions, or find his writing at WBEZ.org.

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Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Lisa Kudrow Talks Friends, Brain Science and Playing the Eternal Optimist

In the ‘90s and early 2000s, Lisa Kudrow was part of an elite, six-member group. America tuned in to NBC every week as this tight-knit collective went through the ordinary struggles of twenty and thirty-somethings living in New York City. The show was called Friends and, in its decade-long run, it was one of the most successful sitcoms of all time.

Kudrow won an Emmy for her role as Phoebe Buffay, the ditzy member of the ensemble who is sometimes optimistic to a fault. Whether she’s singing about her odorous feline or recounting cringe-inducing tales from her colorful past, Phoebe retained a sense of playfulness that brightened even the darkest aspects of her character.

Since Friends, she's played some characters with darker sides -- people defined by their narcissistic tendencies. On Web Therapy, she plays Fiona Wallice, a therapist who limits her patients to three minutes a session, since the rest is usually boring filler. The series shows Fiona's professional and personal life through sessions with patients that usually have their fair share of quirks.

Jesse Thorn spoke with Lisa Kudrow in 2012. Web Therapy is now in its fourth season online.

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The Outshot: Keith Olbermann’s Return to Sports

This week, Mike Pesca cheers sports journalist turned political pundit Keith Olbermann's return to the world of sports, with his ESPN2 show, Olbermann.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Brett Gurewitz, Jimmy Pardo, Maya Rudolph, Gretchen Lieberum

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Guests: 
Brett Gurewitz
Guests: 
Jimmy Pardo
Guests: 
Maya Rudolph
Guests: 
Gretchen Lieberum
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz on Songwriting, the Rise of Punk, and Making Christmas Music

When Brett Gurewitz and his high school friends Greg Graffin, Jay Bentley and Jay Ziskrout joined up in 1979 to form the punk band Bad Religion, their biggest dream was to maybe play a backyard party.

Over thirty years later, Brett continues to play guitar and write for Bad Religion and has owned the thriving Epitaph Records label for almost as long. Still busy producing music, Bad Religion released their album True North in January and just put out their first holiday-themed album, Christmas Songs. However, it was a long journey between time spent playing in a garage and their days routinely selling out stadiums.

The band’s first shot at mainstream success came in 1994 with Stranger Than Fiction, which featured the singles Infected and 21st Century (Digital Boy).

This week, Brett talks to guest host Jordan Morris about musical influences (from The Adolescents to Elton John), what money often means for punk music, and creating the sound of a Christmas album.

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Cookie Making and Geek Dating with Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of BoingBoing, which bills itself as a "directory of wonderful things" and the host of the Gweek podcast. He joins us to share some of his recent finds.

This week, it’s the deceptively simple-looking web game Cookie Clicker and the surprisingly practical tome The Geek's Guide to Dating by Eric Smith.

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"I Wish I’d Made That": Talking about Prince's Purple Rain with Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum

Have you ever felt creative envy? Maybe you've listened to a song or watched a movie or and thought "I wish I'd made that!"? We've been there too. In this segment, we talk to creative people about the works that have inspired them, and maybe made them feel a little envious, too.

This week, we talked to Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids) and singer-songwriter Gretchen Lieberum to discuss the thing they wish they’d made: the 1984 rock drama Purple Rain.

We caught up with Maya and Gretchen at Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme where they performed in their Prince cover band, Princess.

And if you missed our first installment of "I Wish I'd Made That" with Fred Armisen, check it out here.

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Jimmy Pardo on Showbiz Dreams, "The Toast Theory", and Perfecting Rapid-Fire Improvisation

Maybe there's a reason comedian Jimmy Pardo can go from pleasing date-night crowds in Cleveland to alternative comedy aficionados in Los Angeles. He's not a straight-up joke teller, with one-liners he's finessed over years and years of re-telling. Instead, he specializes in seemingly effortless crowdwork. Pardo’s material is fresh and spontaneous, with every show a unique blend of practiced bits and riffed interaction.

This week, Pardo talks with Jesse about his career in full, from a third-grade illustration of his dream career (a picture of a spotlight on a microphone) to adjusting his routine for the digital age. He delves into working as the opening comedian for Conan, his struggles with alcohol abuse, and the complete conviction he shows to a joke.

You can hear Jimmy Pardo on his new comedy album Sprezzatura or catch him on his podcast Never Not Funny, now in its thirteenth season.

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The Outshot: Superman for All Seasons

Okay, so Superman can seem a little square and maybe holier-than-thou. Although he's from another planet, he embodies what it means to be a virtuous, hard-working American. He’s unconditionally virtuous and, regardless of the consequences, always makes the moral decision.

This week, Jordan Morris recommends Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s 1998 comic book Superman for All Seasons for its attempt to represent the Man of Steel as less superhero, more human.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: "The Room" Star Greg Sestero with Tom Bissell and Rookie's Tavi Gevinson

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Guests: 
Greg Sestero
Guests: 
Tom Bissell
Guests: 
Tavi Gevinson
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Our show is guest hosted this week by Jordan Morris.


The Room co-stars Juliette Danielle, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero


"The Room" Star Greg Sestero with Tom Bissell: Behind the Scenes of a Spectacularly Bad Movie

Ten years ago, an indie film called The Room entered theaters in Los Angeles. It showed in two theaters, and it grossed only $1800 before it was pulled. The few critics who saw it, panned it. The dialogue was stilted and the plot didn't make sense. It was billed as a drama, but the effect was comedy. The movie was written and directed by its star, Tommy Wiseau.

Though he may not have intended to, Wiseau created a film that's been hailed as "the best bad movie ever made".

Greg Sestero co-starred in the movie and acted as Wiseau's right hand man throughout the production. His new memoir, written with the journalist Tom Bissell, explores his relationship with the mysterious Tommy Wiseau and the hows and whys of the making of The Room. The book is called The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made. It's in bookstores now.

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Photo by Kenneth Lecky at MaxFunCon 2013

Comedy: How to Talk to Humans and Cats with Kyle Kinane

Comedian Kyle Kinane details a couple of his latest interactions with other beings -- both human and feline.
This set was recorded at MaxFunCon 2013, held in Lake Arrowhead, California. Tickets for MaxFunCon 2014 go on sale the day after Thanksgiving. More information can be found here.

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Fake Fables and Emily Dickinson's Tiny Handwriting: New Book Recommendations with Carolyn Kellogg

The Los Angeles Times book critic and blogger Carolyn Kellogg stops by to share some of her favorite new books. She suggests The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, a graphic novel of fake fables (have you heard the one about the old lady and the poisoned sausages?).

And whether you're a poetry freak or just someone who enjoys beautiful things, Carolyn recommends getting a copy of The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems to try and decipher Dickinson's tiny handwritten poems, as seen on her original correspondence.

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Rookie's Tavi Gevinson on Her Teenage Experience

Tavi Gevinson's interest in the artistry of fashion inspired her to start her blog, Style Rookie, when she was in middle school. Drawn to unusual color combinations, proportions, and textures, Gevinson sought to create narratives with her outfits -- which caught flack at school, even as fashion magazines praised her sense of style.

Most recently, Gevinson founded and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine Rookie, a beautifully curated website for teen girls featuring content spanning myriad topics, including feminism, fashion, and how to build the very best forts. Gevinson has curated some of Rookie's first two years of content into Rookie Yearbook One and Rookie Yearbook Two.

Gevinson joins us to discuss what sparked her foray into the fashion world, people's tendency to fixate on her age, and the qualities that make people worth writing about.

This interview originally aired November 20, 2012.

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The Outshot: The Station Agent

For some of the best hanging out ever committed to film, Jordan Morris suggests a viewing of The Station Agent, starring Peter Dinklage and Bobby Canavale. Then, grab a friend and prepare to get to know them better.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: June Diane Raphael, Bill Hader, The Internet, Jasper Redd

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
June Diane Raphael
Guests: 
Bill Hader
Guests: 
The Internet
Guests: 
Jasper Redd

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.

If you want to share a segment from this week's show, click on the heading or visit our page on Soundcloud.

This week's show was taped in front of a live audience at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, California. Thanks to KPCC, the Forum, and everyone who came out that evening! Catch Bullseye every Saturday at 3pm on KPCC.

A montage of our evening at the Crawford Family Forum - photo by KPCC

Jasper Redd is Not a Funeral Person

Comedian Jasper Redd stops by the live show to clear up a few things. He’s been drinking all week, he stays away from food that’s pink and fluffy, and, most importantly, he is not a funeral person.

For more from Jasper Redd, follow him on Twitter.

Painful Experiences and Clown Class with June Diane Raphael

Our first guest on the program is June Diane Raphael. You've probably seen her in a number of TV shows, web series and movies over the past few years -- she's played a gynecologist on New Girl, a federal agent on NTSF: SD: SUV::, a dating show contestant and bachelorette on Burning Love, and vapid office worker Tynnyfer on Parks and Recreation.

Raphael co-wrote and co-stars in the new movie Ass Backwards with her longtime friend collaborator Casey Wilson (of Saturday Night Live and Happy Endings fame). The film is available on VOD and is in theaters this week. Raphael and Wilson play Kate and Chloe, two clueless best friends who go on a road trip to participate in their hometown beauty pageant.

Raphael’s bond with Wilson goes all the way back to their freshman year of college. It was a special moment in time when they both found themselves in a class dedicated to the art of clowning.

June stops by the live recording to discuss her new movie, one of the worst moments of her life and the dreaded clowning Ring of Fire.

Bill Hader on First Impressions, Vincent Price, and Saying Goodbye to Stefon

You probably know Bill Hader for his spot-on impressions from his eight seasons on Saturday Night Live. They weren't always the most topical -- Alan Alda, Peter O'Toole, and Vincent Price don't make the headlines every week -- but they were endlessly funny. And yet he came into the SNL fold with nary an impression to his name.

He also helped create original characters like Stefon, the New York City correspondent on Weekend Update, the cranky elderly newscaster Herb Welch, and Italian talk show host Vinny Vedecci.

Hader sits down with Jesse to talk about his favorite sketches that never made it to air, his obsession with old movies and his last moments at SNL.

The Internet Performs "Dontcha" Live

The soul / trip-hop group The Internet, part of the Odd Future collective, stops by to perform their new single “Dontcha.”

The band's new album Feel Good is out now. You can also catch them performing at the Odd Future Carnival this Saturday, November 9th in Los Angeles.

The Outshot: Babe: Pig in the City

The natural reaction to talking animals, especially CGI-rendered speech in farm animals, is more than likely a dismissive chuckle. However, an exception should be made for a movie about a brave little pig who takes a dangerous journey through a bustling metropolis. This week, Jesse explains why Babe: Pig in the City depicts one of his heroes.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elizabeth Gilbert, Gillian Jacobs, Fred Armisen

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Elizabeth Gilbert
Guests: 
Gillian Jacobs
Guests: 
Fred Armisen
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Curiosity, Writing "The Signature of All Things" & Life After "Eat, Pray, Love"

If you know of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert, it's probably from her 2006 memoir, Eat Pray Love. Gilbert's book -- about travel and love and re-gaining confidence and a sense of self -- spent years atop the bestseller list, inspired a movie starring Julia Roberts, and saddled Gilbert with a certain kind of fame.

Gilbert was already an accomplished novelist, biographer and journalist when that happened. But the massive success of Eat, Pray, Love necessarily transformed Gilbert's creative life.

Gilbert has returned to fiction with her first novel in thirteen years, entitled The Signature of All Things: A Novel. She spent several years researching for the book, which adventures of Alma Whittaker, a 19th century botanist who studies moss. The book shines with Alma's curiosity for life and science and the struggle of self-discovery.

Join us for an extended conversation with Gilbert, including talk of "dirty words" from the 19th century which didn't make the radio edit.

She'll talk about why she chose to write a "great moss novel", how she chose to write her heroine Alma (homely, brilliant, and moneyed), and how she dealt with the fame that her memoir bestowed on her.

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The Dissolve Talks about All-Time Favorite Movies: "Real Life" and "To Be or Not to Be"

This week, a look back at some favorite films. Staff writer Nathan Rabin and Editorial Director Keith Phipps of film site The Dissolve join us to talk about some of their all-time favorite films.

Nathan recommends Albert Brooks' 1979 satire Real Life, a prescient look at documenting "real life" in pre-reality television times.

Keith recommends the 1942 Ernst Lubitch classic To Be or Not to Be (Criterion Collection), starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

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"I Wish I'd Made That": Talking about Kraftwerk's "Computer World" with Fred Armisen

We often talk to artists about their influences -- the movies, music, and art that inspired them creatively. Some of that stuff is so good and so perfect that they sometimes wish they’d made it themselves.

So we're introducing a new segment that's just about those things. We're calling it "I Wish I'd Made That."

This week, we're talking to eleven-season cast member of Saturday Night Live and the co-creator of Portlandia, Fred Armisen.

We caught up with him just a few weeks ago at Tenacious D's Festival Supreme. He had just performed as his British punk alter-ego Ian Rubbish (alongside Bow Wow Wow's Leigh Gorman on bass, Blondie's Clem Burke on drums and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols on guitar).

Armisen talked to us about Computer World, the 1981 release from the German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk.

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Gillian Jacobs on Surviving Juilliard and the Unique Challenges and Joys of Working on NBC's "Community"

Gillian Jacobs may never know what it’s like to play the ingenue. As an actress, she has an energy that’s hard to pin down, but it’s anything but naive. After a tough stint at Juilliard's acting school, Jacobs pursued a career in film and television, often being cast in dark, gritty roles. However, in 2009 her career took a sudden lurch in the opposite direction when she was cast in a very different role.

You probably know her as Britta Perry, the confident and outspoken student opposite Joel McHale’s self-involved lawyer-turned-study group leader Jeff Winger on Community. Britta is exceptionally eager, mostly to the vexation of her peers who often voice their displeasure at her stances on social issues. Her friends often describe her as "the worst", but she's ever-confident in her own identity.

When Jacobs signed up for the role in Community, all she knew was that Joel McHale had been cast in it, but she soon realized that it would be a very unique and ambitious show.

In this extended conversation with Jacobs, we'll talk about why she didn't fit in at Juilliard, her big break on Community, and get a peek behind the scenes on a beloved but aggrieved network show.

Jacobs co-stars with Ken Marino in the new movie Bad Milo!, available now on VOD, and plays Britta on NBC’s Community. The show's fifth season premieres in January.

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The Outshot: Grand Theft Auto V

Jesse tells us why a perfect balance between the real and unreal makes Grand Theft Auto V so enticing.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bill Withers

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bill Withers
Guests: 
Ian Cohen
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Brad Tolinski

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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Soul Legend Bill Withers Talks about Dignity, The Music Industry, and Striving to Be a "Complete Human Being"

The singer/songwriter and soul music legend Bill Withers may have written some of the most memorable songs of the past half century, but his person doesn't loom large in the public eye. He wasn't eaten up by fame, and he didn't disappear and try to claw his way back. He just walked away from the music industry, for the most part, making the decision to live life on his own terms.

With no formal songwriting training (he enlisted in the Navy at 17, and then worked as an aircraft engineer), Withers rose to fame with his first album Just As I Am, recorded in his thirties. The album, produced by Booker T. Jones, showed an already fully-formed talent with “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands.” Since then, more of Withers' hits, like “Lovely Day,” “Just the Two of Us,” and “Lean on Me” have endured the test of time.

Jesse sat down with the music legend in 2009 to talk about his life and career, around the time that the documentary Soul Power was released. Withers discusses his roots in a coal mining town, enlisting in the Navy, and why he was able to start a music career later in life.

Withers also opens up about his decision to stop performing, his gratitude for the fame when it came to him, and why he continues striving to be “a complete human being.”

Related interviews:
Booker T. Jones

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Pitchfork's Ian Cohen on his Favorite Heavy Rock

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some of his all-time favorite heavy rock releases.

He tells us about an album which (in a move unusual for its genre) has an entirely pink cover. Deafheaven’s newest album, Sunbather, has been well-received and is on its way to becoming “an absolute landmark.”

In addition, Ian recommends the most recent Swans album,The Seer. In a bold creative move, the band creates a title track well over thirty minutes long.

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Davy Rothbart’s Lost and “Found”

Davy Rothbart, editor and publisher of FOUND Magazine, shares some of his favorite "finds".

FOUND collects notes, photos, to-do lists, love letters, and other ephemera (basically society’s flotsam and jetsam). The magazine is on its eighth issue and posts new finds all the time on their website. If you've got a cool find, be sure to share it with them.

Rothbart's new documentary Medora, about a small-town Indiana basketball team, opens in New York City and Los Angeles on November 8.

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Canonball: Remembering When Rock Got Weird, with Led Zeppelin's "III"

With Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music to find albums that deserve a closer look.

This week, we’re joined by Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World and author of Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page.

He tells us why we should take another listen at Led Zeppelin III, the band’s third album, which took a strange turn on its unforgettable first track (“Immigrant Song”) and tapped into the zeitgeist of its time with the bold tracks that followed.

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The Outshot: The Cane

Ideally, the cold open on a sitcom (the segment right before the opening credits) should be a self-contained nugget of comedy perfection. This week, Jesse recommends one of his favorites with NewsRadio’s “The Cane,” featuring the comedic talents of the bombastic Phil Hartman and the ultimate straight man, Dave Foley.

After all, it’s just like that old saying: “Everybody loves a cane.”

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