Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: W. Kamau Bell and Mike Pesca

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
W. Kamau Bell
Guests: 
Mike Pesca

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.


Photo: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

W. Kamau Bell on his television show "United Shades of America"

W. Kamau Bell is a stand-up comic with a handful of albums and specials to his name. He's hosted not one but two TV shows.

In 2012, he landed a television show: “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” "Totally Biased" was kind of a hybrid between a political satire show and a talk show. And although he was the show's star, Kamau preferred to put the spotlight on his guests and just ask the questions--funny and serious both.

His latest show is the Emmy award-winning "United Shades of America" on CNN. It's up for another Emmy this year in the "unstructured reality programming" category. "United Shades" is basically a show about nuance, and about asking tough questions. "United Shades of America" is available to stream right now on Hulu.

This week, Kamau discusses his relationship with the South, his childhood, why he loves the television show "Doc McStuffins," and what it was like to be the son of Walter Bell, who served as Alabama's Insurance Commissioner. Plus, why he's really proud of his latest show "United Shades of America."


Photo: Andreasilenzi via Wikimedia Commons

Mike Pesca on his new book "Upon Further Review"

What if baseball teams only played once a week? What if Title IX never was? Or if basketball rims were smaller than basketballs?

Those are a few of the excellent questions posed in the book compiled by Mike Pesca: "Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History." It's a collection of essays from over 30 different writers - people like Robert Siegel, Nate DiMeo, Jesse Eisenberg and more all asking - then answering, thoughtfully - hypothetical questions about sports that range from the trivial to the existential.

Mike Pesca was a sports reporter here at NPR for a time and still contributes every now and then. He also hosts "The Gist," a daily podcast over at Slate, where he covers the news of the day. But most importantly: Mike Pesca loves a good hypothetical, and to argue about it – exploring every possible outcome.

Mike Pesca will talk about his new book, what it was like working for NPR as one of two sports reporters, how he keeps up with the news for his daily podcast, and how his Long Island accent impacted his work in radio. Plus, what it was like to host "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me" and the outcry he faced when he interviewed Kim Kardashian West when he hosted.

The Outshot: Remembering Aretha Franklin

For this week's Outshot Jesse breaks down "Aretha Live at the Fillmore West." This was the second live album by Aretha Franklin recorded in the spring of 1971 in San Francisco.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jonathan Gold and Beth Ditto

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jonathan Gold
Guests: 
Beth Ditto

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.


Photo: Larry Busacca / Getty Images

Remembering food critic Jonathan Gold

This week, we'll remember the late Jonathan Gold by revisiting our conversation with him from 2011. Jonathan died last month of pancreatic cancer at the age of 57.

His work in food criticism was legendary. He was the restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times. His award-winning work regularly appeared in numerous newspapers including the LA Weekly. His articles and reviews also appeared in Blender, Spin, Rolling Stone and Gourmet magazines.

In 2007, his work earned him a Pulitzer. To this date, he's still the only food critic to ever earn that honor. Along with the Pulitzer, he was also the first food writer to be honored as a National Magazine Award finalist in criticism by the American Society of Magazine Editors

If you're not familiar with Jonathan Gold, a documentary from 2015 called "City of Gold" might be a good place to start. Or you might want to check out the segment he did for This American Life in the late 90's, which revisits his astonishing exploration of mapping Pico Boulevard using his sense of taste.

When he joined Jesse they talked about about the one food fear he just couldn't overcome, and how he discovered Los Angeles one meal at a time. Plus, he threw shade at the burritos from the Mission District in San Francisco.

Friends of Jonathan Gold have organized a online fundraiser to help his wife and children with funeral and other ongoing expenses. You can visit the page for the drive here.

Listen to this interview on YouTube

The interview originally aired in 2011.


Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Beth Ditto on Going Solo

Beth is a singer and songwriter. She was born and raised in Searcy, Arkansas and moved to Washington State out of high school and made a name for herself as the singer in Gossip.

The band first broke through in the early 2000s, coming up with dance punk groups the Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, and Liars. But Gossip was different – they were proudly queer, and female led. Gossip broke up in 2016, and in the wake of all that, Beth Ditto has released her first ever solo record called Fake Sugar.

In conversation with Jesse, Beth opens up about her childhood, from setting up punk shows in her small Arkansan town to her move to Olympia, Washington after high school. Beth talks about the process of creating her new solo album, and about her time fronting Gossip.

Beth's album Fake Sugar is available now.

She'll be opening for Sam Smith this summer. Check out the tour dates here.

The interview originally aired in 2017.

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.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

This segment originally aired in 2016.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Academy Award nominated director Debra Granik and stand-up comedian Johan Miranda

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Debra Granik
Guests: 
Johan Miranda

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.

How Johan Miranda opens up about his immigration status through stand-up comedy

Currently, there are about 700,000 people enrolled in the US Government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Participants in the program are people who were brought into the US as kids without proper documentation. DACA allows them to stay, and offers them certain protections. Johan Miranda is one of the thousands of people that signed up when DACA was first introduced in 2012 under the Obama Administration.

He came to the US when he was three from Peru. His parents traveled to the US on a Tourist Visa. When the Visa expired he and his parents stayed. His family started a new life in San Francisco. When he first started out in comedy a lot of his material was kinda observational - funny, but nothing with a super distinct voice or perspective. Which isn't unusual for a lot of new comics.

But that changed in November of 2016, after the election. With a new administration, the residency status of the folks covered by DACA became uncertain. The new US elected president promised to implement some of the strictest immigration policies in history, and to repeal the DACA policy he was protected under.

As you might expect it was at this point that Johan says he wasn't feeling to hot about the government having his fingerprints and information. But in a way, it's what gave him the courage to find his voice and be talk honestly during his stand-up routine. And it's really funny, of course!

He'll talk about what it was like to finally get his driver's license after he was approved for DACA, and going to barber school only to find out he needed a social security number at the end of the program. We'll also learn about the material he was working on before the election – some unused material about the movie "Titanic" – get a preview of the bit, which he says might be working back into his set after this interview.

If you're in LA this weekend you can check out his new one man show, "Why Johan Miranda Should Be Deported," this Friday, July 27 at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Cafe.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Debra Granik on her new film 'Leave No Trace'

Debra Granik, wrote and directed the acclaimed 2010 film "Winter's Bone." After 8 years, she's just released her follow up - it's called "Leave No Trace."

"Winter's Bone" was sort of a modern film noir, except instead of LA or New York, it was set in the Ozarks. And instead of a fedora wearing gumshoe, it followed a 17 year old girl as she pieced together the story behind her father's disappearance. Ree Dolly walked through burned out meth labs, negotiated with crime families, bail bondsmen and cops. And, of course: Ree Dolly was played by Jennifer Lawrence. It was her first ever starring role.

Like Winter's Bone, her new film "Leave No Trace" puts a compelling but compassionate focus on marginalized groups - one of the main threads is a combat veteran's struggle with trauma and homelessness.

It tells the story of a father and daughter who live entirely off the grid in a nature reserve not far from Portland, Oregon. The film detail regular life for Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie, another new actor). They forage and cook mushrooms. Will teaches Tom to play chess. They build fires for warmth. The way they live is peaceful, but not exactly legal. They are discovered in the woods by the police and social workers get involved, offering housing, work, school. But as you might imagine, it's a tough transition – especially for Will.

Debra Granik talks about the process of making her new film at length. Debra is also working on a film based on the book "Nickeled and Dimed," which is a thoroughly investigated, brilliant work of nonfiction about the impact of the 1996 welfare reform act on the working poor in the US. She'll tell us how she plans to turn that into a narrative film. Plus, she explain what she learned about film making from being wedding videographer long before she was a film director.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Adult Swim

The Outshot: Adult Swim's 'Joe Pera Talks with You'

This week, Jesse tells us why the Adult Swim show "Joe Pera Talks With You," is a brilliant and funny guide to the world. The show's not for everyone. For one thing, it's not what you call laugh-out-loud hilarious – but despite the awkward, kinda strange tone, Pera makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Check out this segment on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bo Burnham and Won't You Be My Neighbor's Morgan Neville

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bo Burnham
Guests: 
Morgan Neville

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Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Bo Burnham: From Youtube Celebrity to Writing and Directing His First Movie

Guest host April Wolfe sits in for Jesse this week. April's a film critic and panelist on the Maximum Fun podcast "Who Shot Ya." She also hosts her own show here at MaxFun - it's called "Switchblade Sisters" where she talks with female filmmakers about movies.

First up: April sits down with Bo Burnham.

You may have come to know Bo Burnham through his latest standup act "Make Happy," which debuted on Netflix in 2016. Maybe you've seen even him act in "The Big Sick," "Parks and Recreation" or "Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous"- his show on MTV. Or maybe you knew Bo way back when, over ten years ago as one of the original YouTube hitmakers. Before Justin Bieber, before Rebecca Black, before Leave Britney Alone, Bo became internet famous back in 2006, when he set up a camera in his bedroom and started belting out songs like "My Whole Family Thinks I'm Gay" and "Welcome to YouTube."

Today, the comedian and musician can now add filmmaker to his credit. He wrote and directed the new film "Eighth Grade." It's a movie that, in a lot of ways, rejects the medium that got him famous.

The movie follows Kayla, a thirteen-year-old wrapping up her last week of middle school. She's quiet, like a lot of 13-year-olds. She's a little awkward, like a lot of 13-year-olds, too. And like pretty much every 13-year-old today, she's extremely online. She snaps, she texts, she runs a Youtube channel nobody watches.

And through Kayla, "Eighth Grade" tells us a story that's both uniquely 2018 but also totally universal - a movie about identity, school, and the human condition.

Bo talks with April about the message he hopes the movie will carry and why he thinks "Eighth Grade" is the only project he's worked on that he can enjoy watching.

Click here to listen to Bo Burnham's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Samsung

Director Morgan Neville on the Timeless Lessons of the Late Fred Rogers of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood"

Morgan Neville is a documentary filmmaker. His latest is "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" - a documentary about the late Fred Rogers - Mister Rogers.

Maybe you already heard about it - it's the documentary out now that made your mom cry. And if you go see it, you'll probably cry, too. "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" is an honest portrait of one of the kindest, most sincere people to have ever lived.

For the first decade in his career, almost all of the movies Morgan made focused on musicians - people like Iggy Pop, Muddy Waters, Johnny Cash. His breakthrough came in 2013 - with "20 Feet from Stardom." It's a touching, really human portrait of the lives of backup singers.

Since then, he's branched out. He covered William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal's televised debates in 2015's "Best of Enemies." He worked on the Netflix food series "Ugly Delicious," too.

Morgan tells Jesse about how Fred Rogers' lessons can make us better people today and also, you'll hear how Mr. Rogers made even Jesse cry!

Click here to listen to Morgan Neville's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Courtesy of Foundation for Filmmakers

The Outshot: "Wanda" by Barbara Loden

In this week's Outshot, April talks about how frustrating it is to see a movie so good, so fully realized and to find that the director only made one in their lifetime. "Wanda," written and directed by the late Barbara Loden and released in 1971, is such a film.

"Wanda" tells the story of a simple Pennsylvania woman who drifts through life, not good at much, so she's just stopped trying. We meet her when she bums some bus fare from a friend to get to court. Her husband asked for a divorce, and Wanda... well, she can't really argue with his assessment that she's a bad wife and mother.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Heat Rocks Special, feat. Jay Smooth, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Vernon Reid

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jay Smooth
Guests: 
Meshell Ndegeocello
Guests: 
Vernon Reid

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 a music lover, you'll want to subscribe to Heat Rocks as well.

We're doing something a little different this week - we're listening to three of our favorite interviews from Heat Rocks, one of our sister shows at Maximum Fun. Heat Rocks is a music podcast about passion. It's hosted by Oliver Wang, a veteran hip-hop writer, and Morgan Rhodes - she's a music supervisor who's worked closely with Ava DuVernay. Each week, Heat Rocks brings you a conversation with a guest about the album that shaped their lives. Morgan and Oliver have talked with people like Cut Chemist, Ishmael Butler, Ann Powers and more.

Expect deep, compelling conversations about R&B, Soul, Jazz, Hip-hop and more. Oliver and Morgan use each record as a jumping off point to talk about its history and its context.


Jay Smooth on 'Raising Hell' Run DMC

Jay Smooth is a legend. His cultural and political commentary, much of which he does through his pioneering Ill Doctrine videos, have positioned him as one of the hip-hop generation's leading pundits. He's also hosted one of the longest-running rap shows in the world: The Underground Railroad on WBAI.

Jay wanted to revisit Raising Hell, a paradigm-shifting rap album that, as we discuss, has seemingly become underrated through the passage of time, though it is unquestionably one of the most important hip-hop releasesever. We get into the moment in which Run DMC first arrived, how they changed the game for rap artists (for better and for worse) and of course, all our fire track and sleeper jam picks off this LP.

Check out this segment on YouTube!

This interview is only a small segment from a full interview of Heat Rocks. You can listen to the full interview here!


Photo: Mike Coppola / Getty Images

Meshell Ndegeocello on 'Purple Rain' by Prince

Meshell Ndegeocello is a songwriter, a singer, a rapper and a bass player. She broke through in the 90's as a signee to Madonna's Maverick Records label. She was a huge player in the soul and dance scene - she still is, actually. And if you aren't familiar with her by name, you almost definitely heard her duet with John Mellencamp, a cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Night."

Morgan and Oliver asked her for her Heat Rock, she picked a stone cold classic: Prince's Purple Rain. She'll tell us what it felt like when she heard Prince wanted to sign her onto his record label.

Check out this segment on YouTube!

This interview is only a small segment from a full interview of an upcoming episode of Heat Rocks. Keep an eye out for the full interview here!


Vernon Reid on 'Band of Gypsys' by Jimi Hendrix

Vernon Reid is one of rock's greatest guitarists, having rising to stardom in the 1980s as a member of Living Colour. It's not surprising, therefore, that he'd choose an album by one of rock's other great guitarists: Jimi Hendrix and his final album, Band of Gypsys, recorded live at the Fillmore East and released in the spring of 1970, less than a year before he died. Reid gave us an amazing lesson into what exactly made Hendrix so brilliant.

Check out this segment on YouTube!

This interview is only a small segment from a full interview of Heat Rocks. You can listen to the full interview here!

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

Bonus! Bubble's Jordan Morris and Nick Adams

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jordan Morris
Guests: 
Nick Adams

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.

Hey all! Just popping in to give you a special treat this Thursday. You've probably heard about it already, but Maximum Fun - the company that makes Bullseye, Judge John Hodgman and more - just produced its very first scripted series. It's called "Bubble," it's sort of a sci-fi sitcom and we're all *extremely* proud of it.

The show follows four twenty-somethings working the same side hustle to make ends meet. They're contract workers for an app called Huntr. The app hires people to kill the monsters that occasionally slip through the town's protective barrier.

On this special bonus episode of Bullseye, you'll hear Jesse talk with creator Jordan Morris and writer/producer Nick Adams. It's a discussion not just about the show but about cities, why people live in them, and the insane lengths some of us will go to just to stay.

Give it a listen and, if you haven't already, subscribe to Bubble! You'll be glad you did.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George Clinton and Cristela Alonzo

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Clinton
Guests: 
Cristela Alonzo

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.


Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

P-Funk's George Clinton: From Doo Wop to Funk, and Saving His Musical Career

This week, we'll revisit a couple of our favorite interviews from Bullseye past. First up, the legendary George Clinton. He's the musician, producer and mastermind of Parliament-Funkadelic. He started his career singing doo wop, later found himself writing songs for Motown, and finally wound up creating a wholly unique sound and visual experience with Parliament-Funkadelic. They made hits like "One Nation Under A Groove" and "Flashlight" and their performances were as funky as their tunes.

In recent years, Clinton has found himself entangled in a series of legal battles over the copyrights of his songs. While fighting in the courts, George found himself fighting for his health as well. The doctor of the Funk gave himself his own prognosis: if he was going to continue a musical career and regain agency in his business affairs, he had to clean up his act, and he has.

The pioneer of funk joins us this week to talk about the evolution of his sound, getting wild onstage, and putting forward momentum back into his working and personal life.

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are still touring and recording. You can track him down on his official website.

Check out this interview on YouTube!

This interview originally aired in March of 2014


Photo: Tommaso Boddi / Stringer

Cristela Alonzo has a new stand-up special on Netflix, Lower Classy

Cristela Alonzo is a veteran stand-up comedian, actress, writer, and producer. She's also something of a pioneer. You might remember her from the ABC sitcom Cristela, where she was the first Latina to create, write, produce, and star in her own show.

She talks to Jesse about her formative years growing up in South Texas with an undocumented parent. Hiding from police and immigration raids were daily realities in her small border town. Her family was also desperately poor--she recalls squatting in an abandoned diner.

Down the road, Cristela discovered she had a talent for weaving those tough experiences into comedy gold. That gift is on full display in her Netflix standup special, Lower Classy, as she takes on difficult topics including racial stereotypes, immigration, poverty, and parenting, all with her trademark smile and laugh. Cristela recalls the long journey that led to the special, and how being a comedian is, for her, about more than simply making people laugh.

Cristela Alonzo's stand-up special, Lower Classy, is available to stream on Netflix now. You can also hear her on Maximum Fun's new scripted podcast "Bubble," in which she plays an evil corporate executive.

Check out this interview on YouTube!

This interview originally aired in February of 2017

The Outshot: "Wells for Boys"

In this week's Outshot, Jesse shares a Saturday Night Live sketch that spoke to him in a particularly magical way. Behold, Wells for Boys:

This segment originally aired in February of 2017

Check out this segment on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Alia Shawkat and Mackenzie Crook

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Alia Shawkat
Guests: 
Mackenzie Crook

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.


Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Alia Shawkat on her new film 'Duck Butter'

This week, Alia Shawkat swings by the Bullseye studio! You probably know Alia from her role as Maeby Fünke on "Arrested Development." It's a role she's had on and off since she was 14. You can check her out on the fifth season of the series, which was recently released on Netflix.
These days she stars in "Search Party" on TBS. She's also the star of the new film "Duck Butter," which she co-wrote with Miguel Arteta.

In the film, Alia plays Naima, an aspiring actress living in Los Angeles. Naima is reserved and clever, but when it comes to dating she's vulnerable and naive. After a bad audition Naima meets a woman named Sergio (Laia Costa) at a nightclub. They hit it off and decide to spend the next 24 hours together awake and totally present - to get all relationship stuff over with: the sex, the fights, all the ups and downs. Together, the two make for a movie that's modest, intimate and really sweet. You can buy or rent it from pretty much any online platform and, starting July 1, you can stream it on Netflix, too.

Alia talks about writing "Duck Butter," and how she relates to Naima. We'll also talk about what she's learned over the years working on "Arrested Development," and why hanging out with the cast always feels like a high school reunion. Plus, she'll talk frankly about the strip club her father owns, and the short documentary she made about the family business.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Mackenzie Crook on the new season of 'Detectorists'

Earlier this year, we told you why Detectorists is such an amazing show. This week, creator and star of the show Mackenzie Crook will talk about the third and final season of the series, which can be streamed now on Acorn TV.

If you've seen the original version of "The Office," then you probably know Mackenzie Crook for his role as Gareth. He's the office dope -- very awkward, and doesn't really get social cues.

Mackenzie will talk with Jesse about his time on "The Office," and what it was like to get an intentionally terrible haircut from a posh Soho hair stylist for the role of Gareth. And he'll give us a behind the scenes look at "Detectorists." The whole nine yards -- how the idea came to be, getting killer b-roll of insects and frogs, and the complicated world of using metal detectors.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Outshot: Barry Sanders

Jesse will tell us why Barry Sanders is one of the greatest running backs of all-time.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Metta World Peace and Cut Chemist

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Metta World Peace
Guests: 
Cut Chemist

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.


Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

Metta World Peace on his new book 'No Malice: My Life in Basketball'

Throughout his 18 year career in the NBA Metta World Peace played for 6 teams, was an All Star and became an NBA champion in 2010 as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was drafted in the first round in 1999 by the Chicago Bulls. As a player, he was always an elite defender. But he had a reputation for losing his cool. When it worked, it made him passionate, tough and nearly impossible to get past. But when didn't, things went south easily.

In 2004, at a game in Detroit, a hard foul between players escalated into an all out brawl between players and fans. The incident, now infamous, was called the Malice at the Palace. He's written a memoir about his life: "No Malice: My Life in Basketball." In it, he recounts his triumphs and shortcomings, including, of course, that incident in Detroit.

He's one of the most fascinating people in basketball. This week, we cover a lot of ground with him - the highs and lows of his career - the championships, the fights. He'll also talk about what it was like to grow up in Queensbridge, the biggest public housing complex in the country. And, of course, if you're a fan of his you've probably heard the story about the first time he met Kobe Bryant in a shower - but did it really go down the way people say? The answer might surprise you.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The Song That Changed My Life, with Cut Chemist: Park Bench People by Freestyle Fellowship

Lucas McFadden is a DJ and producer, best known for co-founding the iconic underground hip-hop group Jurassic 5. If you ever catch him spinning records on a turntable he does so under the name Cut Chemist.

He'll tell us about "Park Bench People" by Freestyle Fellowship. The Fellowship was a boundary-defying underground crew fronted by MC's Myka 9 and Aceyalone. Find out how the song changed his idea of what hip-hop could be.

Cut Chemist's first record in 12 years drop earlier this year, it's called "Die Cut." The album features collaborations with musicians like Chali 2na, Mr. Lif, Biz Markie, and his hero - Myka 9.

Check out this segment on YouTube!


Photo: Courtesy of the Ed Roberts Campus

The Outshot: The Life of Ed Roberts

This week, Jesse pays tribute to Ed Roberts, a pioneering leader in the disability rights movement. In the late 80's, Jesse's father worked for Ed, and they were best friends. Jesse reflects on his dad, and his dad's friend, and those memories from his childhood.

Check out this Outshot on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: H. Jon Benjamin and Sara Driver

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
H. Jon Benjamin
Guests: 
Sara Driver

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.


Photo: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

H. Jon Benjamin on his new book 'Failure is an Option: An Attempted Memoir'

If you don't know H. Jon Benjamin you certainly might recognize his voice. He's best known for his extensive voice work. Over the years, he's played slackers like Ben, the son of Dr. Katz, in "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist;" and the hilarious Coach McGuirk and Jason on "Home Movies." Most recently, you know him as the voice of Sterling Archer from FX's "Archer," and as Bob from Fox's "Bob's Burgers."

Long before his recognizable voice work Benjamin's comedy career began in Boston. A lot of his earlier work was often done in groups or duos and emphasized on improvised comedy. He was part of "Tinkle," a live show combining music and sketches co-hosted by David Cross and Todd Barry. Then, there was the popular UCB show "The Midnight Pajama Jam," in New York City with Jon Glaser. Seriously, have you ever seen The Fuggedabuddies?

He just wrote a new book called "Failure is an Option: An Attempted Memoir." In it, he recounts a lot of failures, which eventually opened the door to success. He talks about failures in family, in work, and in serving fajitas.

This week, he talks with Jesse about how the start of his career in comedy meant the end for his parents family business, the differences between voicing Bob and Archer, and an honest look at his ebay purchase history. Plus, he'll reflect on his improv and stage days, and why he felt more comfortable performing with other people.

Click here to listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Rob Kim / Getty Images

Sara Driver on her new film 'Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat'

Then, filmmaker Sara Driver, she just directed a new documentary called "Boom For Real: The Late Teenage years of Jean-Michel Basquiat." The film explores the early career of the great artist through people who knew him. Sara was one of those people. And she remembers what it was like to live near the Lower East Side of New York in the late 70's. She interviewed more than a dozen people who knew Basquiat personally.

In the film, we hear from people like Alexis Adler. Now she's an embryologists, and but back then she was photographer. She was a good friend of Basquiat and often would go to concerts at local clubs in New York. She helped Basquiat find his first apartment when he was struggling to find a place to live. Other people featured in the film include Lee Quiñones. Lee is known for his colorful murals and bold wild style of graffiti on New York Subway trains. He talks about the brilliance of Basquiat's simple graffiti art techniques. The film also explore the bubbling downtown art scene, and music venues like the Mudd Club where Basquiat's band Grey played their first shows.

"Boom For Real" kind of tells two stories: there's Basquiat's - who shows up in archival footage but never speaks. And there's New York City's. Pre-9/11, pre-Reagan, pre-real estate boom. Boom for Real strikes a careful balance between nostalgia and danger.

Sara Driver will talk about how she scored so much archival footage of Basquiat doing mundane things. Plus, she'll talk about a Whole Foods that opened up in neighborhood a couple years ago. She'll tell us why she loves it, but why it made her miss the old New York.

Click here to listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Josh Edelson / Getty Images

The Outshot: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's a different one this week. It's not a film, tv show, or album recommendation. But please, enjoy this delicious recipe. Jesse will tell you how to make the best mint chocolate chip cookies you've ever had.

Click here to listen to this segment on YouTube!

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