Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye: John C. Reilly & Shamir [r]

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Bullseye
Guests: 
John C. Reilly
Guests: 
Shamir

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John C. Reilly: "Freedom and Anarchy" On Set, and Honesty in Acting

John C. Reilly has shown off his talent for comedy in movies like Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. He's also played a number of dramatic roles in movies like Magnolia and Gangs of New York, and was nominated for an Oscar for playing the cuckolded husband in the movie version of Chicago.

For the past few years, Reilly has also produced and starred in a bizarre show called Check it Out with Dr Steve Brule. So why does a movie star have a faux cable-access show that runs in the middle of the night on adult swim?

John C. Reilly tells Jesse why he chose to take on the goofy, open-hearted and blustery Dr. Steve Brule with comedy duo Tim and Eric, his summer of fun working on the set of Boogie Nights, and what he thinks his duties are as an actor.

Check it Out with Dr Steve Brule is currently airing on Adult Swim. Reilly's new movie The Lobster is in theatres now.

Shamir: Adding Light to Darkness With His Music

Shamir is a musician who is really hard to pin down. His countertenor voice adds a distinctive flair to his infectious, sometimes poignant dance music but it’s a quality that’s also led to confrontations with classmates who were unaware of his Taekwondo training.

With his debut LP, Ratchet, Shamir drew inspiration from his life in Las Vegas. Shamir's Vegas had nothing to do with The Strip and instead was dominated by tumbleweeds and the distinctive odor of a hog farm.

As Shamir describes it, “I kind of decided to make my music more danceable and lighthearted to take away from the heaviness of the lyrics. Because why not, why does your music also have to be heavy if your lyrics are?”

Shamir tells Jesse about constructing a creative identity in a city known for producing more entertainers than artists; how his love for country music inspired him; and how his mother’s proclivity for earth magic isn't quite his thing.

Shamir's latest album is called Ratchet. He's currently on tour in the US and Canada. You can find more on his website.

The Outshot: The Limey

Jesse recommends Steven Soderbergh's The Limey, a revenge movie that’s really about the way we all fight with our own past.

Bullseye: Rashida Jones & Ramiro Gomez & Lawrence Weschler

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rashida Jones
Guests: 
Ramiro Gomez
Guests: 
Lawrence Weschler

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Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Rashida Jones on Growing Up in the World of Celebrity, Absurdist Comedy and Her Youthful Dreams of Becoming a Judge

Rashida Jones was born into a showbiz family, but she didn’t always think she would follow in her famous parents’ footsteps. A love of acting lead to roles in shows like Parks and Recreation and The Office and for movie parts including The Social Network and Celeste and Jesse Forever, the later of which she also wrote. Jones currently stars in the TBS comedy, Angie Tribeca.

Rashida Jones talks with Jesse about playing absurdist comedy dead straight, her early dreams of going to boarding school and how those dreams contrasted with her jarring first impressions of Harvard University. Plus she tells us about her childhood experiences hanging out with Michael Jackson’s llama.

Angie Tribeca is now in its second season on TBS.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Ramiro Gomez & Lawrence Weschler on the Invisible Service Community in Affluent Los Angeles and Negotiating Multiple Worlds

For artist Ramiro Gomez, the world of the haves and the have-nots are one and the same. His work focuses on affluent communities and their dependence on a community of immigrants, who become culturally invisible. The son of parents who were once undocumented immigrants, Gomez’s body of work has included re-imaginings of the paintings of David Hockney, with domestic workers re-inserted into familiar scenes.

Gomez’s new book, Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez was created in collaboration with Lawrence Weschler. For over twenty years, Weschler served as a staff-writer for The New Yorker and was the two-time winner of the Polk Award. He is the author of several books including True to Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney and A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Account of Torturers.

Ramiro Gomez and Lawrence Weschler sat down with Jesse to talk about Gomez’s experience as a male nanny, how the work of the painter David Hockney influenced his own art and what it’s like to exist in multiple worlds as a both a man of color and a gay man.

Gomez and Weschler’s book, Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez is available now.

The Outshot: The Third Man

Jesse explores the fun, artistry and dark irony of the of the classic noir film, The Third Man starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton.

Bullseye: Joe Bataan & Ali Wong

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Joe Bataan
Guests: 
Ali Wong

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Joe Bataan Talks about Juvenile Delinquency, Boogaloo and Creating an Early Hip-Hop Hit

Long before he was busy in the sound studio making music, Joe Bataan was a young man getting into trouble on the streets of East Harlem. But after a stint in juvenile detention, he left his life as a gang leader behind and became a band leader instead. Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers helped bring Boogaloo music into the mainstream.

As well as releasing popular songs in the genre including Gypsy Woman, Bataan also helped to create and coin the term SalsaSoul. Later in his career, he wrote and performed an early hip-hop hit, Rap-O Clap-O. Bataan is featured in a new documentary, We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo.

Bataan sat down with Jesse to talk about his life as a juvenile delinquent in the streets of New York, how he dealt with the backlash against his musical innovations and how he came to create one of the earliest hits in hip-hop.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Ali Wong Talks Marriage and Money and What It’s Like Performing Thru Her Pregnancy

There are many comedians who use their family life as inspiration for their comedy, but Ali Wong took it a step further when she recorded her latest comedy special while seven and a half months pregnant.

Wong’s comedy is rooted in her willingness to be incredibly frank and honest about her personal life including her relationships, her Asian heritage and the challenges of pregnancy while working as a writer on the hit television show, Fresh Off the Boat.

Ali Wong joined Jesse to talk about being a breadwinner, performing while pregnant and how it feels to talk about painful and personal things like miscarriage in front of a comedy audience.

Ali Wong’s new comedy special, Baby Cobra is available now on Netflix.

The Outshot: Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book

While many rappers are content to explore the harshness of street life in their lyrics, Chance The Rapper is a performer who isn’t afraid to explore the soft and warm memories of childhood. In his new album, Coloring Book, Chance combines beautiful melodies with an open and warm heart.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bob Odenkirk & Rickey Vincent

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THANK YOU to everyone who donated to support Bullseye during this year's MaxFunDrive. We're proud to announce that over 9,400 of you joined or upgraded your memberships this year. That's HUGE, and we're so grateful for your support.


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Bob Odenkirk: Cult-Comedy Icon, Reluctant Celebrity

Millions of Breaking Bad fans know Bob Odenkirk as sleazy criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman. He has reprised the role the spin-off show Better Call Saul which is in its second season.

But comedy fans already knew about Odenkirk from another show -- Mr. Show with Bob and David. Odenkirk’s outrageous and profanity-ridden outbursts were a staple of his performances and helped make him a cult-comedy icon.

Before that he wrote for Saturday Night Live. Perhaps his most notable work was co-writing the sketch Down by the River The bit featured a 35-year-old divorcee motivational speaker played by Chris Farley and is considered one of the best sketches in the history of the SNL.

When Mr. Show ended, Odenkirk appeared in a number of one-off roles for TV before working behind the camera. He directed Let’s Go to Prison, Melvin Goes to Dinner and The Brothers Solomon. Even though he loves directing, it’ll be a while before he decides to gives it another shot. He’ll explain.

Odenkirk talks to us about why writing timeless humor is so difficult, transitioning from comedy to drama and why he still doesn’t consider himself a celebrity.

Odenkirk will also read a selection from his collection of short-fiction humor. It’s called A Load of Hooey and is available now.

Better Call Saul airs Monday nights at 10 pm on AMC.

Cannonball: Touring Parliament's Mothership Connection with Rickey Vincent

Every so often we like to take a closer look at albums that should be considered classics, to find out what makes them great. It's Cannonball.

This week we're joined by author, historian and self-described funkateer, Rickey Vincent. He's going to talk about Parliament's landmark R&B album, Mothership Connection. The album is at once a celebration of the past and a glimpse into the future. It touches on a lot of traditional soul ideas, but delivered with a new funky edge. Vincent will explain more.

Vincent's recent book is called PARTY MUSIC: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. You can also hear his radio show The History of Funk on KPFA.

The Outshot: Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas

Jesse tells us about a song that makes him imagine a better world: the simple but powerful Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Gillian Jacobs & Jonathan Gold

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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.

Her breakout role was 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 currently stars in the Netflix comedy Love alongside Paul Rust. Love's first season is available for streaming on Netflix.

The interview originally aired in October 2013.

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Photo: Anne Fishbein

Food Critic Jonathan Gold on Los Angeles and High and Low Dining

The Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold joins us to talk about -- what else? -- food. With his enthusiastic and equal opportunity criticism, he's become known as the authority on where and what to eat in Los Angeles.

His award-winning work has regularly appeared in numerous newspapers including the LA Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, the latter where he is currently a regularly columnist. His articles and reviews have also appeared in Blender, Spin, Rolling Stone and Gourmet magazines. Along with the Pulitzer, he was the first food writer to be honored as a National Magazine Award finalist in criticism by the American Society of Magazine Editors

He joined Jesse to talk about how he manages the day to day eating, the one food fear he just can't overcome, his thoughts and high and low dining and more. Jonathan is also the author of the highly regarded food guide to LA, Counter Intelligence, which details some of his best food discoveries.

Gold is the subject of a new documentary called City of Gold, which is in theaters next week.

The interview originally aired in December 2011.

The Outshot: Sly and the Family Stone's Perfect Album

Jesse explains how Sly and the Family Stone made a perfect album, even as they slowly disintegrated as a group.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Dwayne Kennedy & Noel Fielding

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Dwayne Kennedy
Guests: 
Noel Fielding

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Dwayne Kennedy on His Debut EP, Using Jokes About Race as a Barometer, and Playing Different Kinds of Crowds

Dwayne Kennedy has been in the stand up comedy game for about thirty years now, performing everywhere, from Showtime at the Apollo to the Late Show with David Letterman, but he's still a bit of a comic's comic.

He'll talk to Jesse about why he's recorded plenty of his sets, but is only releasing his debut stand up EP this month. Plus, he'll explain how he's adapted his comedy for different audiences and how he's used jokes about race as a barometer.

His debut record is called Oh No! It's Dwayne Kennedy and is available now on Bandcamp. You can also check out Dwayne Kennedy's site for a schedule of his upcoming shows. See if he's coming to a city near you!

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Photo by Jesse Thorn

British Cult Comic Noel Fielding on 'The Mighty Boosh' and Creating New Worlds

If audiences in the United States know Noel Fielding, it's for his cult comedy show The Mighty Boosh, a comedy double-act turned radio program and then TV show. It aired here on Cartoon Network's adult swim. But Fielding is much better known in his native UK for not only the Boosh (which has done arena tours) but his appearances on quiz shows and his specific sense of style.

Fielding is touring the United States this spring with a live show called An Evening with Noel Fielding, which features some of his beloved characters and frequent collaborators (like Rich Fulcher).

Fielding sits down with us to talk about his comedy "marriage" with his Mighty Boosh creative partner Julian Barratt, his personal aesthetic, and creating new worlds on the radio, on TV, and on the stage.

His show The Mighty Boosh is available now on Seeso.com. Find out if An Evening with Noel Fielding is coming to a city near you by checking out Fielding's site.

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The Outshot: Beyoncé's "Formation" and Taking Space

Jesse considers the backlash to Beyoncé's new single, and explains why he thinks it's worth your attention.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kaitlin Olson & Jeff Chang

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Kaitlin Olson on "Sweet Dee" and the Morally Bankruptcy in It's Always Sunny on Philadelphia

Kaitlin Olson plays Sweet Dee on the long-running sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dee is the only female member of "The Gang", a bunch of depraved, self-centered pals who run a bar. The Gang is constantly looking for ways to get rich quick, humiliate their enemies, get out of work, and prove once and for all the talent, charisma and brilliance they hold to be self-evident. In an unusual move for a solo female character, Dee doesn't serve to counterbalance the guys' bad behavior -- she absolutely matches their pace.

Olson talks to us about creating a more fully-fleshed character for Dee, how she came to comedy, and how she ended up dating (and marrying) her showrunner.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia just began its eleventh season. It airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FXX.

This interview originally aired in January 2015.

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Photo credit: Jeremy Keith Villaluz

Jeff Chang on Art, Race, and How Diversity Now Means "Them"

About ten years ago, Jeff Chang published his book Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. His new book is a sort of follow-up -- it chronicles some of the cultural and racial shifts we've experienced as a nation. It's called Who We Be: The Colorization of America. It's now available in paperback.

Chang talks to us about what "diversity" means to us today, the struggle for artists to defy racial categorization, and how and why corporations embraced multiculturalism.

This interview originally aired in January 2015.

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The Outshot: What It Means to Be Superhuman

Jesse tells us about the life and legend of Andre the Giant.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Best of Comedy of 2015 Special

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We gave our staff the awesome responsibility of choosing the best comedy albums of 2015. They listened to hours and hours of material, and we're now prepared to showcase some of the best comedy released in the past year.

Like what you hear? Click through to find their albums!

Kyle Kinane - I Liked His Old Stuff Better
Emily Heller - Good for Her
Ron Funches - The Funches of Us
Sara Schaefer - Chrysalis
Hampton Yount - Bearable
Drennon Davis & Karen Kilgariff - I Don’t Care, I Like It
Mike O'Brien - Tasty Radio
Eddie Pepitone - In Ruins
Sheng Wang - Cornucopias Are Actually Horrible Containers
Guy Branum - Effable
Aziz Ansari - Buried Alive
Eugene Mirman - I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome)
Eliza Skinner - Recorded Live at MaxFunCon 2014 - Angry Little Goats Podcast
Matt Braunger - Big Dumb Animal
Wayne Federman - Chronicles of Federman
Beth Stelling - Simply the Beth

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John Cleese & Dee Dee Penny

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John Cleese on His Early Life and the Road to Comedy

John Cleese is one of the most influential figures of comedy. He's best known as one the creative forces behind the legendary comedy troupe Monty Python. But before that, he was almost a lawyer.

Cleese went to Cambridge, studied law, and was about to accept a job with a big firm when another opportunity came up. This one was perhaps slightly less distinguished, but infinitely more appealing to Cleese. The BBC was impressed by his work with his college comedy revue, The Footlights, and offered him a job writing and producing comedy.

In his memoir So, Anyway… Cleese discusses his journey, from his childhood in prep school, to his early days of sketch comedy at Cambridge, to the co-founding of the Pythons.
Cleese will talk about being one of the "scientific" minds of the Pythons, writing and re-writing with his comedy partner Graham Chapman, and how he felt about the recent Monty Python reunion.

Cleese's memoir, So, Anyway is available now in paperback.

This interview originally aired December 9, 2014.

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Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls Talks about Early Days on MySpace, Creating a Persona, and Overcoming Anxiety and Stage Fright

Kristin Gundred, AKA Dee Dee Penny, is the creative force behind the band Dum Dum Girls. But she wasn't always front and center. She's played in bands for almost fifteen years now, playing drums and singing in other people's groups. Eventually she realized the only way to create the music she wanted was to do it herself. So Dee Dee created a MySpace page and started working on her music.

Now Dee Dee and Dum Dum Girls have three studio albums under their belt, including their most recent, Too True.

Dee Dee talks to Jesse about making music in her bedroom, constructing the persona of Dee Dee Dum Dum, and overcoming anxiety and stage fright to be a rock musician.

This interview originally aired August 19, 2014.

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The The Outshot: Is 'What's Up Fatlip' the Least Braggy Rap Song Ever Written?

Don't call it a comeback. Jesse tells us about the LEAST braggy rap song ever written, "What's Up Fatlip?"

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ethan Hawke & Michaela Watkins

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Bullseye
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Ethan Hawke
Guests: 
Michaela Watkins

Our WORLD TOUR OF SEVERAL AMERICAN CITIES kicks off this Friday November 13th in Los Angeles with William H. Macy, Matt Walsh, Brian Huskey, Chicano Batman and Baron Vaughn - get your tickets now!

Plus check us out in Boston, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Philly and DC with guests Barney Frank, Mission of Burma, Tavi Gevinson, David Cross, John Hodgman, Joel Hodgson, Ray Suarez, Dan Deacon and more. It's all at BullseyeTour.com. Don't miss it!

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Ethan Hawke Considers Life Lessons in 'Rules For a Knight'

Ethan Hawke is one of the rare actors that viewers have seen grow up in front of their eyes. They watched him as a teenager in the films Explorers and Dead Poets Society, saw him as a young adult in Reality Bites and Before Sunrise, and even saw him change over the course of twelve years of filming his Oscar-nominated turn in the Richard Linklater film, Boyhood.

Along with his work on-screen, he has also enjoyed success as a novelist with his books. His newest is a set of parables, inspired by Hawke's experiences as a parent, called Rules for a Knight. In it, a knight fears that he may not return from battle, and leaves behind a letter with important life lessons for his children. In the book, Hawke explores themes of honesty, courage, solitude and patience.

Ethan Hawke joins Jesse to share how life as a divorced father has influenced his work as an author and an actor, why child stardom was a double-edged sword, and how a favorite line from one of his films helped him to complete a marathon.

Rules for a Knight is now available in hardback and as an e-book.

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Michaela Watkins on Dating In Real Life and On-Screen, SNL, and Going For the Joke

Michaela Watkins is an actress who is in her element when she can go all-out for the joke. Whether she’s practicing sketch comedy as she did in her time with The Groundlings or her one-year stint on Saturday Night Live or performing on a sitcom like the Trophy Wife, Watkins creates characters that are both funny and memorable.

Now, Watkins brings her wit to the lead role of Valerie Myers in the new Hulu series, Casual. In it, she plays a newly divorced woman who finds herself living with her adult brother, while learning to navigate the dating world as a middle-aged woman.

Michaela Watkins joined Jesse to talk about how taking time for herself helped her to improve her relationships, the insane pacing of Saturday Night Live, and her contributions to Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

Casual is now in its first season on Hulu.

You can find a bit of bonus audio from our interview with Michaela Watkins here.

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The Outshot: The Musicality of an MC

From the early days of rap, the role of the MC was an ancillary one. They were there to support the work of the DJ by keeping the energy level up. The rapper Rakim helped to change that by bringing the role of the MC front and center using a unique blend of words, music and an intoxicating beat.

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