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: Nellie McKay, Rob Delaney, and Jordan Ranks America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rob Delaney
Guests: 
Nellie McKay
Guests: 
Jordan Morris
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

Hey Bullseye listeners! You’ll hear a new voice on this show. Guest co-host Julie Klausner joins us for the next two weeks.


Andrew Noz on Autotune and Mixtapes

Andrew Noz of Cocaine Blunts, came by to recommend Turn On the Lights by Future and Bible on the Dash by GunPlay.

Check out more of Noz’s work in his new hip hop column for Pitchfork, Diamonds and Wood.

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Singer-Songwriter Nellie McKay on Shunning Modern Conveniences and Her Silent Spring-Inspired Musical

Nellie McKay is a singer-songwriter, actor and cabaret artist with a wry sense of humor and a throwback aesthetic. Her voice might evoke Doris Day or Peggy Lee, but her lyrics are often sardonic, political and thought-provoking. She’s been a guest on our program in the past, and has since released two albums and created two original cabaret shows. She tells us why she avoids modern conveniences, the reasons why she actually prefers to produce records with her mom, and finds time to play us a few songs on the ukelele, too.

McKay is on a solo tour this fall with her ukelele and piano. You can catch one of her musical cabaret shows, Silent Spring: It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature, and I Want to Live! in New York.

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Jordan Ranks America

Comedian Jordan Morris knows that you meant to make a list of all the things in America today. He went ahead and did it for you, because you’re busy and he’s a nice guy like that.

Jordan is the co-host of the weekly podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go!.

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Comedian Rob Delaney on Alcoholism, Recovery, and Twitter

Rob Delaney is known as the comedian Twitter made. He discovered something about comedy that changed him when he saw an Upright Citizens Brigade show, but it would be years before he was able to capture that spark onstage himself and pursue his calling in comedy. First, he went through a period of alcoholism and survived a devastating car accident and a stint in jail.

He's learned to cope with the physical and psychological damage from his addiction and accident, and he joins us to talk about his recovery, the Twitter evidence of a hard work ethic, and why he's both intrigued and disgusted by the human body.

His new standup special, Live at the Bowery Ballroom, is available now.

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The Outshot: Movin' with Nancy

Our guest co-host Julie Klausner suggests you to immediately track down Nancy Sinatra’s 1967 TV special, Movin’ with Nancy, and find the way to becoming a groovier, happier person.

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Is there a classic television special that speaks to you? Jump over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Antibalas, Beauty is Embarrassing, and Brent Weinbach

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Martin Perna
Guests: 
Jordan McLean
Guests: 
Wayne White
Guests: 
Neil Berkeley
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Brian Heater


A panel from Gabrielle Bell's The Voyeurs

Comics with Alex Zalben and Brian Heater

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben return with more of their favorite comics. Brian recommends Gabrielle Bell’s collected diary comics in The Voyeurs. Alex Zalben suggests you check out The Manhattan Projects: Volume 1, which begs the question -- what if the creation of the atomic bomb was a cover for even more sinister and weird activities?

Brian Heater is the founder of indie comics site The Daily Cross Hatch and the new comics contributor at BoingBoing. Alex Zalben writes about comics for MTV Geek and hosts NYC’s Comic Book Club Live. He’s also currently Kickstarting a new mystery comic called Detective Honeybear.

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The Afrobeat Stylings of Antibalas with Martín Perna and Jordan McLean

The Nigerian band leader Fela Kuti had a vision for a new kind of music that would synthesise traditional African rhythms, highlife and pop music and American jazz and funk. He decided to sing in pidgin English, so the music could be understood and enjoyed throughout Africa. The music became known as afrobeat, and Fela is widely celebrated as a pioneer of the form.

Martín Perna and Jordan McLean continue in Fela’s tradition with their NYC-based afrobeat orchestra Antibalas. Perna founded the band in 1998 and was joined by lead trumpeter McLean and a host of other musicians to create a sound reminiscent of both Fela’s Africa 70 and Eddie Palmieri's salsa-fusion group Harlem River Drive.

Their new album is the self-titled release Antibalas.

Perna and McLean discuss the virtues of the bari sax, a pan-American sound, and the Broadway production of Fela!.

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Comedian Brent Weinbach Relays Some Acting Tips

Brent Weinbach does stand up comedy, but his past records have included lots of tracks recorded without an audience -- alone, in a studio. His particular brand of weird, brooding and often dark comedy earned him an Andy Kaufman Award just a few years ago.

His new album, Mostly Live, was recorded at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles and has more audience interaction. In fact, he gave one lucky audience member a short impromptu acting lesson.

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Punk Rock Puppets, Southern Roots and Pee-wee with Wayne White and Neil Berkeley

Wayne White's name may not ring a bell with you, but his artwork likely would. You may have been of the age to regularly watch Pee-wee’s Playhouse on Saturday mornings in the late 1980s and early 90s, when he designed sets and puppets for Pee-wee’s amazing and kitschy playhouse. Or maybe you’ve seen the visually striking music videos he worked on for The Smashing Pumpkins and Peter Gabriel. Eschewing the idea that people should “do one thing, and do it well,” White has experimented throughout his career with animation, puppetry, set design and fine art.

Neil Berkeley befriended White when they worked together in design and wanted to showcase White's cultural impact. He’s made his directorial debut with a documentary about White’s life and artwork called Beauty is Embarrassing.

White and Berkeley talk to us about deconstructing puppetry, White’s Southern roots, and the backstage world of Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

Beauty is Embarrassing is in select theaters nationwide and rolling out throughout the fall; you can find a theater near you on the film’s site.

BONUS AUDIO: Hear a longer cut of this interview, with more talk about White’s childhood influences and puppetry inspiration HERE!


The Outshot: LiveLoveA$AP

Self-released mixtapes often end up consisting of the dregs of an artist's work. If you’re looking for a mixtape that’s carefully crafted, Jesse suggests LiveLoveA$AP by A$AP Rocky.

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Is there a mixtape that’s stuck with you? Jump over to the MaxFun forum and suggest it as your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: R.A. Dickey, Coyle & Sharpe, and The AV Club

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R.A. Dickey
Guests: 
Mal Sharpe
Guests: 
James Coyle
Guests: 
Erik Adams
Guests: 
Claire Zulkey


The Police Squad Gang

Cop Shows with Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey

This week, the AV Club’s Assistant TV Editor, Erik Adams, shares his affection for Police Squad!, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker classic with Leslie Nielsen. His colleague Claire Zulkey recommends Law & Order.

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New York Mets Pitcher and Author R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey is a pitcher for the New York Mets, and the only man in the majors currently throwing a knuckleball. His new memoir, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, is a story of perseverance more than anything. He had a difficult childhood marked by abuse and poverty, but found his gift in baseball. Early on in his career, the Texas Rangers offered Dickey a lucrative contract but retracted it when they discovered a physical abnormality that theoretically should have kept him from playing ball. Dickey then bounced back and forth between the major and minor leagues and says he floundered, personally and professionally. But he stuck with it, and worked on mastering the wildly unpredictable knuckleball pitch (and finally found stability and peace in his relationships with his family and friends). Now, at age 37 Dickey is just hitting the prime of his career while many players of his age have long since retired. If anything, the knuckleball means his best days may still be ahead of him.

R.A. sits down with us to discuss his search for peace from a troubled past, the art of throwing the perfect knuckleball, and exactly why he names his bats after fantasy swords. Wherever I Wind Up is available in bookstores now. This interview originally aired May 22, 2012.

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Comedy by Coyle & Sharpe: Robbing a Bank

To say Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe were ahead of their time would be putting it mildly. The duo produced hundreds of man-on-the-street interviews in San Francisco during the mid-1960s, always claiming to be something they weren't, all in the name of comedy. Their efforts would go mostly unappreciated for decades, though the dedication of Mal's daughter Jennifer would ensure their work would eventually find an audience.

In this classic clip, the pair try to convince a Navy serviceman to rob a bank for them. You can hear more from Coyle & Sharpe right here on MaximumFun.org, where their archives have been converted to The Coyle & Sharpe Podcast. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.

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The Outshot: The Best Show on WFMU

On the Outshot this week, Jesse makes the rather unconventional move of recommending a radio show that isn't this one -- but you'll want to check it out all the same. It's The Best Show on WFMU, the music show turned character-based comedy call-in program whose cryptic host Tom Scharpling can satirize the role of the radio host while perfecting it in the same breath. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.

Is there a show on the radio that you consider appointment listening? We want to hear it, so let us know on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: W. Kamau Bell, Mike Birbiglia and Eleni Mandell

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Guests: 
W. Kamau Bell
Guests: 
Jason Kottke
Guests: 
Mike Birbiglia
Guests: 
Eleni Mandell


Jason Kottke With the Best of the Web: Dr. Seuss the Ad Man, and Sports Fans After Death

Jason Kottke, from one of our favorite repositories of web links, Kottke.org, joins us to tell us about his favorite stuff on the web right now. First we talk about Dr. Seuss's past as an ad man, then we tackle Errol Morris' new short film Team Spirit

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Comedian W. Kamau Bell on the Sweet Spot of Gentrification, the TV Talk Show World, and More

W. Kamau Bell wants to talk to you about race. And about urban inequality, and politics, and Spider Man too. He came to his own brand of sociopolitical comedy after working as a comic for years, eventually shaping his work into a one-man show in which he promised to "end racism in about an hour."
A lucky break with an audience member at one of those shows – Chris Rock, to be precise – landed Bell his own TV talk show, called Totally Biased. He joins us to talk about transitioning into the talk show world, the sweet spot of gentrication, and remaining true to his own comedic voice.
Totally Biased airs Thursday nights at 11pm on FX.

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Singer-Songwriter Eleni Mandell on the Song that Changed her Life

Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell had one of those experiences as a kid that was a hallmark of experiencing music before the internet. She heard a song she liked, went out to the record store, and picked an album by the same artist. The problem? It sounded totally uncool, and not at all like the song she'd heard. It did, however, open her up to a whole new way of listening to music.
Eleni talks to us about the song that changed her life, Tom Waits' "Tom Traubert's Blues." Eleni grew up in Los Angeles loving both punk rockers X and folk rocker Bob Dylan, and her own music mixes airy vocals with 60s pop, country, and folk sounds.

Her newest album is I Can See the Future. She's headed out on tour this month with Nick Lowe. You can those dates and more about her at EleniMandell.com

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Mike Birbiglia on the Miracle of Actually Making a Movie

Mike Birbiglia knows his own story pretty well by now. After struggling as a stand up, he started working some personal details from his life into his comedy. Some of it was pretty standard, like wrapping his head around the idea of getting married to his longtime girlfriend. And some of it was less familiar stuff, like running out of a window while sleepwalking.

Birbiglia went on transform these thoughts into a one-man show, a book, and now, a movie. And although talking about the subject matter was second nature, directing a movie about it was not. He joins us to discuss being a first-time director, the difficulty of delivering stand up in a casual, easy way, and why he considered long-lasting marriage to be a totally foreign concept.

Sleepwalk With Me is in theaters nationwide.

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The Outshot: Winning Time

Jesse recommends the new ESPN documentary Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks for a look at a volatile shooting guard, an intense basketball rivalry, and some courtside conversations with Spike Lee.

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Are you a sports fanatic with a favorite doc? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye: Kurt Andersen, Ari Graynor, Chris Fairbanks

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kurt Andersen
Guests: 
Ari Graynor
Guests: 
Chris Fairbanks
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Marah Eakin

Our show is guest hosted this week by Jordan Morris. Jesse Thorn will return next week. Check out more from Jordan on the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! or on his blog.


Music and a Movie with Keith Phipps and Marah Eakin

AV Club editor Keith Phipps recommends Quadrophenia, a film based on the rock opera of the same name by The Who. Music Editor Marah Eakin recommends the single I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons.

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Kurt Andersen’s True Believers

Kurt Andersen is the host of Studio 360, co-founder of the satirical Spy Magazine and a novelist. He brought his love of research and cultural criticism to bear when he penned the new novel True Believers, the story of a high profile lawyer who steps away from a nomination to the Supreme Court. True Believers follows her on a quest to piece together a mysterious episode in her childhood during the Cold War and the age of the spy novel.

Andersen fondly recalls his own childhood interests in espionage, and he discusses the leap of faith required for a trained journalist to stop doing research and begin trusting the imagination. The end result is a novel which weaves together generational politics, 1960s counter-culture, and a children's game that becomes all too real.

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MaxFunCon 2012, photo by liezelwashere

Comedian Chris Fairbanks on Being Mugged

Ever had a neighborly mugging experience? Comedian and artist Chris Fairbanks knows what it’s like. He told us this story at the fourth annual Max Fun Con.

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For a Good Time, Call... Ari Graynor

Ari Graynor plays a lot of outrageous, messy roles -- she was a self-destructive college student on The Sopranos, and she played a drunken best friend in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist -- but her characters have heart and a kind of innocence.

The same is true of her most recent role of Katie Steele, the brash-yet-vulnerable young Manhattanite who runs a phone sex line in the new movie For a Good Time, Call. The film is in select theaters nationwide this week.

Ari talks to us about the 80s films that inspired her, the story's depiction of female friendship, and the strange intimacy and appeal of phone sex.

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The Outshot: No Use for a Name

Jordan shares his passion for the music of the late Tony Sly, of punk band No Use for a Name.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Michael Jai White, Carl Jones, Rachel Dratch and Jason Brewer

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Michael Jai White
Guests: 
Carl Jones
Guests: 
Rachel Dratch
Guests: 
Jason Brewer
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder


Mark Frauenfelder Shares His Favorite Geeky Indulgences

Mark Frauenfelder, co-founder of BoingBoing, joins us to share some geeky recommendations: the engaging online / downloadable game Kingdom Rush and David Dufty's tale of robotics in How to Build an Android.

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Michael Jai White and Carl Jones on Blaxploitation and Black Dynamite

Gun-toting and martial arts-fighting – the blaxploitation heroes of the 1970s might have actually been (or been friends with) pimps, gangsters, and drug dealers, but the goal in the end was cleaning up the neighborhood and beating The Man. The genre inspired Carl Jones and Michael Jai White, both behind the new animated series Black Dynamite.

The series is based on a 2009 cult film and blaxploitation spoof of the same name. Michael Jai White, who co-wrote and starred in the film, lends his voice to the animated Black Dynamite. Director Carl Jones (The Boondocks) was brought on to shepherd the concept from film to animation.

Michael and Carl join us to discuss their favorite blaxploitation films, the troubles of Richard Pryor, and fleshing out the relationships and characters of the film for the series.

Black Dynamite airs Sundays at 11:30pm on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

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Jason Brewer on Johnny B. Goode

Jason Brewer wanted to play guitar since he was four. Today, he's writing music, singing and playing guitar for The Explorers Club, a band that incorporates the sounds of the 1960s-era vocal harmonies and orchestral arrangements that obsessed him in his youth.

He talks to us about the song that changed his life – Johnny B. Goode, by Chuck Berry.

The Explorers Club released their second album, Grand Hotel, earlier this year.

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Rachel Dratch on Her Best Impressions, Dating, and Becoming a Mom

Rachel Dratch is a comic actress best known to audiences as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006, and from recurring roles on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Most recently, she's written Girl Walks Into A Bar...: Comedies Calamities, Dating Disasters & A Midlife Miracle. While there are behind-the-scenes stories from her days at SNL in the book, it's mainly the story of life after the show. With plenty of time on her hands, Dratch dove head-first into the dating pool after years of using being busy with SNL as an excuse not to date. The titular miracle was an unexpected pregnancy at age 44, having been in a long distance relationship with the father for just six months prior.

Dratch joins Jesse to discuss her comedy background in Chicago, the development process of getting some of her most famous SNL characters to air, and the inherent humor of balancing midlife motherhood with a romance still in its infant stages. This interview originally aired April 17, 2012.

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The Outshot: Bill Bryson's At Home

Jesse suggests you follow the humorist and travel writer Bill Bryson on his wanderings through the history of the homestead and domesticity (it's not quite as dry as you think). His book is At Home: A Short History of Private Life.

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Got a favorite book you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bob Newhart, Mister Rogers and Me, God on Sports

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Bob Newhart
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Christofer Wagner
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Benjamin Wagner
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Seth Morris
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Jason Kottke


Jason Kottke Shares the Best of the Web

Jason Kottke blogs at Kottke.org and every once in awhile he shows up on Bullseye to tell us about the best stuff on the web. This week Kottke points us toward some of his all-time favorites: The Wire Bible and Survival Tips for the Middle Ages.

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Bob Newhart on Swapping Accounting for Comedy, The Phone Bit and More

Bob Newhart is an actor, stand-up and legend of American comedy. A pioneer comedian in every sense, Bob began his comedy career when he and a friend improvised over-the-phone comedy routines to kill boredom at work, and subsequently sold the bits to radio stations. The "phone sketch" would be a schtick that would last throughout Newhart's career, and featured quite prominently in the release of his 1960 comedy album debut Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart. The album was an unprecedented hit as a comedy recording, outselling Elvis Presley and winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. Its success eventually led Newhart to television, first with a variety sketch show in the early '60s, and then a pair of sitcoms: The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s, and Newhart in the early '80s.

Bob joins us to reflect on his comedy career, from how he honed his craft as a solo straightman -- leaving the wild responses on the other end of his phone conversations entirely in the minds of the audience -- to what keeps him going today when he's accomplished so much as a performer. Newhart still performs dozens of nights a year as a stand-up, while acting in both film and television. You can find him at BobNewhart.com. This interview originally aired April 3, 2012.

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God Gets Real on Sports

Has the Almighty ever swayed athletic outcomes? Does He even care for sports at all? Get the straight truth from The Man Himself. The answer may surprise you.

This excerpt is from The Last Testament: A Memoir By God, with David Javerbaum.

David Javerbaum is an Emmy-winning comedy writer and former executive producer of The Daily Show. You can see more of his work with God on Twitter @TheTweetofGod.

Our voice of God is provided by comedian and Funny or Die writer Seth Morris, who is also on Twitter @SethISMorris. This segment originally aired April 3, 2012.

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The Lasting Legacy of Mr. Rogers

Christofer and Benjamin Wagner are brothers and the co-directors of the documentary Mister Rogers & Me, about children's television personality Fred Rogers, and the effect he had on the lives of generations of kids. For Ben -- who moonlights as a documentarian between his day-job as an executive with MTV News -- it was a project that began more than ten years ago, when he discovered Mister Rogers really was his neighbor, living next door to him at a vacation home in Nantucket, MA. Rogers' heartfelt sincerity, and his ability to truly live in the moment, compelled Ben to learn more about the man and about the countless lives he'd forever changed.

The Wagner Brothers sit down with Jesse to discuss the film, the overwhelming experience of meeting Mr. Rogers in person, and the way he helped so many grow up in ways they might not even have noticed. Mister Rogers & Me is available now on DVD. This interview originally aired April 3, 2012.

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The Outshot: Taika Waititi's Boy

On The Outshot this week, Jesse looks back on the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and finds his favorite film of the fest is only now getting the theatrical release it so richly deserves. The film is Boy, from Māori writer/director/star Taika Waititi. It tells the story of a young Māori boy named, well... Boy. Boy is given the chance to reconnect with his deadbeat father (Waititi) after years apart, as Dad's been away in jail. You can see and hear our interview with Taika Waititi and James Rolleston here.

It's a story bursting with youthful optimism, while the darkness of adulthood creeps in around the edges. It's screening this summer in theaters around the country. This segment originally aired April 3, 2012.

Got a little-known film of your own you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye: Jeff and Steve McDonald of Redd Kross, Matt Braunger, and Todd Barry

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Guests: 
Jeff McDonald
Guests: 
Steve McDonald
Guests: 
Matt Braunger
Guests: 
Scott Tobias
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

Our show is guest hosted this week by Jordan Morris! Jesse Thorn will return next week. Check out more from Jordan on the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! or on his blog.


Jackie Siegel in The Queen of Versailles

Movie Recommendations from The AV Club

Our culture gurus over at The AV Club delve into film this week: head writer Nathan Rabin suggests the documentary The Queen of Versailles, which follows a billionaire’s family (and their undoing) in the wake of the economic crisis. Film editor Scott Tobias thinks you should look into two classic films, Body and Soul and Force of Evil, both written by screenwriter Abraham Polonsky.

The Queen of Versailles is now in theaters nationwide. Force of Evil and Body and Soul are both available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

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Jeff and Steve McDonald of Redd Kross: Music as Pornography, A Lost Decade, and Punk Rock

What do The Partridge Family, Black Sabbath, and David Bowie all have in common? They all nurtured the music- and pop culture-obsessed minds behind the punk band Redd Kross. Brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald started the band as kids in the late 1970s, growing up in Hawthorne, California near a burgeoning LA punk rock scene.

The band flew mostly under the radar of mainstream culture, but found a devoted fan base and was hugely influential to the punk, grunge, and indie rock scenes. Kurt Cobain regularly included their songs on his mix tapes, and they've been name-checked by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, and even Joe Elliott of Def Leppard.

They've just released their first album in fifteen years, called Researching the Blues.

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Comedian Todd Barry on Germaphobia

You think you’ve got issues? Todd Barry might give you a run for your money.

Todd Barry is a NYC-based veteran comedian. You can see him regularly at venues across the country. He collects mundane quotes, misprinted receipts, and subversive Tweets. His new stand up album, Super Crazy, is out now.

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Comedian Matt Braunger on Hangover Foods and Growing Up in Portland

Matt Braunger began his career as an actor and stumbled into comedy, but now is known for both -- he’s been a feature performer on MADtv and toured the country with his standup, and he’s scored a recurring role as the genial, dorky neighbor on NBC’s Up All Night.

He talks to us about growing up in Portland and creating his own blend of stand-up comedy -- observational stories, mixed in with fanciful musings. His new stand up album and DVD special, both entitled Shovel Fighter, are out now.

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The Outshot: Tenacious D and Rize of the Fenix

Our guest host Jordan Morris recommends the duo Tenacious D, for both their comedy and musical prowess, and their new album Rize Of The Fenix .

Got a favorite musical comedy album? Share it on the the MaxFun forum by picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Michael Ian Black, Tom Bissell and Pete Holmes

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Guests: 
Michael Ian Black
Guests: 
Tom Bissell
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben

Comic Book Recommendations with Alex Zalben and Brian Heater

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben bring some of their all-time favorites to the table this week.
Brian recommends Cleveland by Harvey Pekar, the self-deprecating writer best known for American Splendor. Alex Zalben suggests you check out Concrete: The Human Dilemma by Paul Chadwick.

Brian Heater is journalist and the Editor-In-Chief of The Daily Cross Hatch. Alex Zalben writes about comics for MTV Geek and hosts NYC’s Comic Book Club Live.

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Michael Ian Black on Marriage, Parenthood and Personhood

Michael Ian Black is an actor, comedian and author perhaps best known from his work with the sketch comedy troupe The State, or from his subsequent collaborations with State-mates both on television (Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues) and film (Wet Hot American Summer). His charming smarminess made him a perfect fit for the talking-head format of VH1, but that public persona is a troubling aspect of his life -- one of many issues discussed in his memoir, You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations. He goes in-depth on the issues of his marriage, parenthood, and personhood, and the result is a book that is shockingly honest, informative, and incredibly funny.

Michael talks about re-committing himself to marriage in six week intervals, getting into stand-up comedy late in life, and his obsession with Googling "Fat Kevin Federline." He co-hosts the podcast Mike & Tom Eat Snacks and has two new books out this year -- a political commentary with Meghan McCain, and his memoir You’re Not Doing It Right. (Originally aired May 1, 2012)

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Pete Holmes on Awful Sandwiches

If you watch the Super Bowl, or even just television, you probably know comedian Pete Holmes best from commercials, where he adorably doles out financial advice as the voice of the E-Trade baby. Last year he was named one of Variety's Ten Comics to Watch, and with good reason. As a stand-up, Holmes has a mostly goofy and positive energy. But as he reveals on his new album Impregnated With Wonder, there is one thing that can really set him off: a bad sandwich.

You can find Pete's podcast You Made It Weird on iTunes, or by visiting Nerdist.com. (Originally aired May 1, 2012)

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Tom Bissell on Changing Journalistic Paths and Creativity

Tom Bissell is a journalist, video game critic and author whose latest book, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, is a series of pieces attempting to capture all angles of the creative process, in all sorts of artistic forms: from Herman Melville, writer of Moby Dick, to Chuck Lorre, creator of Two and a Half Men; from the mind of filmmaker Werner Herzog to the madness of The Room's Tommy Wiseau. Magic Hours collects the best of Bissell's ten-year career, with essays featured in The New Yorker and Harper's, as well as several pieces written solely for the book.

Tom joins us to discuss the dumb luck that makes some books resounding classics of literature while others fade from the collective conscious, and the value (or lack thereof) of a journalism degree. You can find his video game writing online at Grantland.com. Magic Hours is now available in bookstores everywhere. (Originally aired May 1, 2012)

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The Outshot: Malcolm Tucker & The Thick of It

On this week's Outshot, Jesse recommends one of his absolute favorite shows, the brilliantly profane political satire The Thick of It -- particularly its foul-mouthed protagonist Malcolm Tucker. The show is now available to US audiences on Hulu. (Originally aired May 1, 2012)

Got a hilariously profane favorite of your own? Don't just keep it to yourself, f***ing tell someone by heading to the MaxFun forum and picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: R.J. Smith on James Brown, Cameron Esposito, The Low Times

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
R.J. Smith
Guests: 
Cameron Esposito
Guests: 
Maggie Serota
Guests: 
Daniel Ralston


Summer Music with Daniel Ralston and Maggie Serota of The Low Times

For summer music recommendations, we’re joined by our rock music correspondents Daniel Ralston and Maggie Serota of the Low Times podcast. They recommend Henrietta by Yeasayer and Life by Summer Camp.

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R.J. Smith profiles the Godfather of Soul, James Brown

R.J. Smith is a former senior editor at Los Angeles Magazine and a music journalist who's written for the Village Voice and Spin. For his latest project, he took on the task of profiling the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Smith's extensive biography, The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, follows the musician from his childhood, raised in a whorehouse, wearing burlap sack underwear, to stardom, and then to reinvention.

James Brown was a hugely influential musician and performer, known for hits like "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Get Up (I Feel Like a Sex Machine)," and he was one of the driving forces behind the creation and popularity of funk music. But he was also much more than that -- a tenacious businessman who ran his finances into the ground, a man of messy and confusing political alliances, and a hardliner on drug abuse (who eventually fell to his own drug addictions).

Why didn’t Brown’s politics fit neatly into a particular mindset? And why, unlike nearly all of his black contemporaries, did he endorse Nixon? What drew crowds of screaming fans to his performances? And how did he survive the rise of disco? Smith's book delves into Brown's storied and complicated life and music career of six decades, as well as his effects on pop music, politics, and race relations in 20th century America.

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Comedy from Cameron Esposito

Cameron Esposito is a standup comic who's been featured on this show and performed at TBS' Just for Laughs Chicago, South by Southwest, and the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festivals. She recently moved to Los Angeles right in time for the 4th Annual MaxFunCon, and joined us to perform a set musing on her childhood appearance.

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The Outshot: Cheers

Why not go where everybody goes your name? This week, Jesse recommends that you revisit Cheers.

Do you have a piece of pop culture that keeps you coming back? Share your own Outshot on our forums.

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