What does the career trajectory of a lifelong political junkie look like? There are the obvious choices, like a major in Political Science, law school...maybe even a career in politics. But Armando Iannucci took a different path – one that led him to Oxford, an incomplete PhD, and work writing and producing comedy, like his acclaimed political satire The Thick of It and the feature film In the Loop.
Iannucci created a new take on American politics in the HBO comedy Veep. Now in its second season, the show follows a fictional Vice President (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) with lofty ambitions but little actual power. Veep showcases the comedy inherent in the struggle for the political upper hand, the constant panic and exhaustion. Seemingly small gaffes quickly escalate into ridiculous catastrophes. The show's dialogue is marked by careful attention to absurd politi-speak and some especially creative cursing.
Iannucci joins us to talk about the difference between UK and US politics, why he sympathizes with our elected officials, and conducting swearing research in Washington, D.C.
Ianucci's new film The Death of Stalin comes out later this year.
Billy Bragg performs politically-minded folk music with a punk rock edge, songs with a tone and attitude somewhere between Woody Guthrie and the Sex Pistols. But what led to him developing his voice as an artist?
As Bragg explains, one of the most pivotal moments in his life happened during his lunch break at a record store. He put on a record that changed his life: Bob Dylan's folk anthem "The Times They Are A-Changin'".
Most of us first knew Julia Louis-Dreyfus from her Emmy-winning role as Elaine on Seinfeld. Elaine flailed, fought, and danced her way into our hearts as the friend to "losers" Jerry, George and Kramer. But Louis-Dreyfus first arrived in entertainment fresh off her college comedy sketch group, as a repertory player in the Dick Ebersol-helmed cast of Saturday Night Live.
After Seinfeld, she went on to anchor several sitcoms, including The New Adventures of Old Christine, with delightful guest appearances on shows like Arrested Development and 30 Rock. Her career has now taken her to a different cast of skewed characters on HBO's Veep.
On Veep, Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer, Vice President of the United States. Though the vice-presidency is a prestigious position, Meyer's day-to-day work is less than impressive. Her staff members claw at each other for power and prestige. She suffers awkward encounters with the media and consistent snubs from the President (a running gag on the show is Selina's off-hand question, "Did the President call?" The answer is usually no).
Julia Louis-Dreyfus joins us to talk about the similarities she's discovered between show business and politics, the boys' club that was SNL in the 80s, and a certain terrible dance that still haunts her to this day.
Veep airs on HBO on Sundays at 10:30/9:30 PM central.
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.
[r] Sleater-Kinney is one of the most-loved indie bands of the past two decades. The band formed in the latter days of the riot grrrl movement in Olympia, Washington, and found an intense following. They were fierce, and they let their ideas "fill the room".
After recording eight albums and tons of touring, they went on hiatus. The band's members pursued other musical and creative projects, but there was a nagging question -- what would it be like if Sleater-Kinney returned?
In January of 2015, the band released a new record called No Cities to Love. It had been nearly a decade since their last LP.
Corin Tucker, the group's co-founder, joins us to talk about soaking up the punk and riot grrrl scenes of the early 1990s, finding her voice, and why Sleater-Kinney returned.
Tom Arnold is a real show business survivor. His first big job in Hollywood was as a writer on Roseanne. He ended up married to her. He became a regular on the show and their relationship was tabloid fodder for five years. By the time they broke up in 1994, you couldn't make it through a late night monologue without a Tom Arnold joke.
But Arnold never stopped working, as a character actor, as a sports talk show host, as a stand up comic, and now in his 50s he's a dad for the first time and he's now been a star in Hollywood for thirty years and continues to make headlines. Arnold also continues to perform stand up across the country.
Tom talks with us about growing up in Iowa and fighting bullies, the difficulties of working in Las Vegas, his enduring respect for Roseanne, and the way he's found satisfaction with his work.
Jesse heartily disagrees with A.O. Scott's review of the film version of MacGruber. In short: MacGruber exists, and the world is better for it.
This week Bullseye with Jesse Thorn breaks format to bring you something from another great show on the Maximum Fun Network.
If you know John Hodgman , it's probably as The Deranged Millionaire on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, his appearances on Red Oaks or maybe from his books of world knowledge. Or, maybe, as the PC from the Mac vs. PC ads. What you might not know is that he's also a fake judge on the internet.
On Judge John Hodgman, he hears disputes from real people all over the world via Skype and tells them who's right and who's wrong. Jesse Thorn is the bailiff. The two cases you’ll be hearing are slightly truncated versions. If you want to hear the full versions, click below.
Mike brings the case against his mom, Maribeth. He says Maribeth knowingly took her daughter-in-law's recipes for a family cookbook and passed them off as her own. Maribeth says that the attribution was implied and there was no wrongdoing.
Naomi files suit against her husband, Spencer. She’s embarrassed by his loud and incessant heckling at baseball games. She’s frustrated that Spencer continues heckling at baseball games despite his promises that he’ll stop.
If you liked what you heard today, there are over 250 episodes of Judge John Hodgman ready and waiting for you, and a new one added each week! Click here to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or look for it in your favorite podcatcher.
Bill Withers is a man who prefers his life and his music on his own terms. The Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter’s last album was released over thirty years ago, and he has no regrets about walking away from a career in music. His back catalog, which include classics like Ain’t No Sunshine, Grandma’s Hands and Lean on Me, is still as vibrant and influential as it was decades ago.
Bill Withers sits down with Jesse to talk about growing up in coal-mining town in West Virginia, why he didn’t dress-up on stage or dance like his contemporaries, and what his relationship to music is like now.
Joe Randazzo knows funny. Starting with his career as section editor for The Onion and continuing with his role as head writer for @Midnight, he has enjoyed a diverse career that has allowed him access to some of the industry's best comedic talents.
He plumbed his own experiences, and that of many of his colleagues and extended network, for the advice he offers in his new book Funny On Purpose: The Definitive Guide to an Unpredictable Career in Comedy.
Randazzo interviewed writers, performers, directors and producers about how they each have managed to create comedy careers in television, film, podcasting and on YouTube. Interviews include conversations with Judd Apatow, Joan Rivers, Jack Handey and -- disclaimer -- our own podcast impresario Jesse Thorn.
Joe Randazzo joins us to discuss what he learned during his career as an editor at The Onion, his forays into stand-up and improv and why it’s essential to build and sustain relationships with other people in comedy (even if it feels like you're competing with them).
Randazzo’s book Funny On Purpose: The Definitive Guide to an Unpredictable Career in Comedy is available now.
Jesse talks about his great American hero - a kid named Harry Altman from the Academy Award winning film, Spellbound.
Pedro Almodóvar has been making art for almost 4 decades. Whether that be music, writing, or directing, he has a distinct, bold, and critically acclaimed vision to his art. Originally from a small rural town in Spain, Pedro moved to Madrid in his late teens to study film. His artistic endeavors flourished during the Spanish cultural revolution that followed Francos death in 1975. His first film of distinction was called Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, for which he was nominated for the 1988 Best Foreign Film Academy Award. Since then, he has won two Golden Globe and two Academy awards, among many others.
This week, Jesse sits down with Pedro to talk about his new dramatic endeavor Julieta, his new wave band, and his unseen ailment.
You can find more information about Julieta here.
Alexis Krauss, one half of the pop-metal band Sleigh Bells has been a musician her entire life. Both of her parents are musicians, and some of her earliest concerts were with her dad performing on the Jersey Shore.
This week, Alexis tells us what song changed her life in a way that only this mid-90’s female pop-rock recording artist could for a young budding musician. You probably oughta know.
Finally, Jesse tells it to you straight: he's fallen hard for 18th and 19th century paintings of cows, and you should too.
Welsh musician and composer John Cale moved to New York during the mid 1960’s. Instantly becoming part of the experimental music scene, along with Lou Reed, he was one of the founding members of seminal band Velvet Underground. He left the band in 1968 and since then has released dozens of albums. One of his most successful albums Fragments of a Rainy Season, originally recorded live during his 1992 tour, has just been reissued.
This week, John tells Jesse about his time in Velvet Undergound, working as a producer for The Stooges and Patti Smith, and who his favorite hip-hop artist is.
You can find more information about the reissue of Fragments of a Rainy Season here.
TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi are two of the most successful improv artists to ever exist. Both veterans of Chicago’s prestigious improv school Second City, they met in 2002 and had an instant connection that is very rare to find in an improv partner.
This week, Jesse sits down with the pair at the first ever Chicago Podcast Festival to discuss their improv methods, their road to longform improv, and why they never left Chicago, and why stand-up would be easier than improv
Solo Project of musician Jason Narducy who has played with everyone from Superchunk to Bob Mould. Here is his set from Bullseye live at the Chicago Podcast Festival.
Find more information and music here.
Comedian Colin Quinn is best known for his work on Saturday Night Live, but would probably describe himself first and foremost as a stand-up comic. You might've seen him in Amy Schumer’s TrainwreckThe Cop Show. He loves New York, and has written and starred in five one-man shows that talk about his lifetime spent in the Big Apple.
This week, he sits down to talk to Jesse about his newest one-man show New York Story, that he produced alongside Jerry Seinfeld available on Netflix. They also discuss his time on Saturday Night Live and the right way to joke about race in 2016.
Padma Lakshmi has gone through many career changes during her time in the public eye. She began her career as a model turned actress, then became a writer, and now hosts TV’s Top Chef on Bravo. She has written two cookbooks, a memoir, and now The Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices.
Padma and Jesse talk about cultural differences she had to reckon with growing up between India and the United States, her role on Top Chef, and her new book The Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices.
Sara Schaefer is a stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and podcast host. She has recorded one comedy album and has appeared on many late night shows. This week, we've included some of her set from last year’s MaxFunCon, a yearly bi-coastal conference that gathers creative and funny people to learn, teach, and most of all have fun. Tickets to MaxFunCon 2017 go on sale this Friday.
This week, Jesse tells us what is so pleasant about the non-pretentious Amazon series Red Oaks.
Jemaine Clement’s upbringing in a small community in New Zealand could have led him to career making cookies or cheese. Instead he found a way to transform his sense of humor into a career making other stuff -- things like music and comedy.
Along with his partner, Bret McKenzie, he is a member of musical comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords which aired as a television show for two seasons on HBO. Clement has also written and produced with McKenzie and other longtime collaborators on movies like What We Do in the Shadows.
Clement join us to talk about working in the comic drama People Places Things, his early comedic influences back in New Zealand, the challenges he faced producing a television show, and how the word “grommet” resulted in his last physical altercation.
Jonathan Ames is a writer who has earned a reputation for ruthless honesty when writing about his own life and those of his fictional characters. Whether the topic is alcoholism, sexuality or depression, Ames’ books and television projects delve deeply into what it means to be human, with wit and care.
Ames created the beloved HBO show Bored to Death. Now, he's the creator and showrunner of the new Starz show Blunt Talk, featuring Patrick Stewart as cable news host Walter Blunt.
Blunt Talk is in its second season and airs Sunday nights at 8:30 est on the Starz network.
Ames sat down with Jesse to talk about how he came to create his new show, why he's obsessed with the "valet", and why his characters are constantly "questing" with greater purpose.
Our takeaway? ALWAYS BE PREPARED.
Growing up in the Calvinist church, Paul Schrader didn't see a movie until his late teens. Since then, he has more than made up for it, writing, producing, and directing influential films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Affliction.
Willem Dafoe, having worked on 7 films in the past with Schrader, trusts his film-making style and sensibility. Dafoe's Hollywood breakout role was in the 1985 film To Live and Die in L.A., and has starred in many other beloved films such as Platoon and the Last Temptation of Christ.
This week, Schader and Dafoe sit down with Jesse to discuss their new film, Dog Eat Dog. They discuss Schrader’s childhood, his earlier screenplay and directorial premieres and Dafoe school’s Jessie on acting and how he gets into character when portraying psychotic characters.
Thirty years ago, David Crosby was one of the biggest rock stars in the world, being a part of two game changing and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted bands Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Byrds. Decades after his depart from playing with bands, he continues to play music on his own.
In conversation with Jesse, David discusses his transition into music, his addiction and recovery from drugs, and his latest album Lighthouse.
This week, Jesse recommends Ray Barretto’s inaugural album Acid as an album that had much ambition and achieved so much at a time when the music on it was still new to the American aural palette.