Chance The Rapper

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lily Tomlin and Rick Moranis

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Lily Tomlin
Guests: 
Rick Moranis

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Photo: Greg Gorman

Rick Moranis on growing up Jewish, Canadian comedy, and quitting showbusiness

This week on Bullseye, Jesse brings you some of his favorite interviews from 2013. The first of which is his conversation with Rick Moranis. You know him from Strange Brew, Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Honey I Shrunk the Kids. He is the bespectacled man in argyle socks, who plays nerdy characters with goofy dad jokes. In the late 80's and early 90's, it seemed like he was the star of every family friendly comedy to hit the big screen. But, after his wife passed away in 1991, he quit the movie business, to raise his children. The last time he has been seen on screen was 20 years ago, in Honey We Shrunk Ourselves.

Nearly a decade after pretty much signing out of show business, Moranis returned in 2005 with a Grammy-winning album of original music, Agoraphobic Cowboy. In 2013, Moranis released his second album My Mother's Brisket and Other Love Songs, which is a collection of comedic music inspired by Moranis's Jewish upbringing in Toronto.

Jesse and Rick talk about his first job selling hockey programs in the nosebleed section, SCTV and the ironic outcome of his famous nose-thumbing at Canadian content laws, and his decision to be a stay-at-home father.

Click here to listen to Jesse's interview with Rick Moranis!

Lily Tomlin on being someone else... in her own way

Lily Tomlin is a comedic actress if there ever was one. She has incredible rang, whether she's playing a precocious six-year-old on Laugh-In or a pill-popping sixty-six year old on HBO's Eastbound & Down, Lily inhabits her roles in a way that few performers can. She was nominated for an Oscar for her 1976 performance in Nashville, as well as being awarded the Mark Twain Prize for humor back in 2003.

Back in 2013 when Jesse and Lily spoke, she had just appeared in the Tina Fey led and Paul Weitz directed movie Admission. This was 2 years before a resurgence in her career, which would earn her recognition in Grandma, her first lead in a film in 27 years, and a Golden Globe nomination for the Netflix series Grace and Frankie.

Lily talked to Jesse about shaping her role in Admission, the moment that she decided she wanted to be a professional actor...and yes, a certain YouTube-famous confrontation (link NSFW) with I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell.

Click here to listen to Jesse's interview with Lily Tomlin!

The Outshot: Chance The Rapper's Acid Rap

Jesse tells us about Chance The Rapper's 2013 mixtape Acid Rap.

Click here to listen to Jesse's outshot about Acid Rap!

Bullseye: Joe Bataan & Ali Wong

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Show: 
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: Rick Moranis and Booker T. Jones

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rick Moranis
Guests: 
Booker T. Jones
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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Rick Moranis on Growing Up Jewish, Canadian Comedy, and Quitting Show Business

Rick Moranis's big glasses and nerdy goofball humor appeared in some of the biggest Hollywood comedies of the 80s and 90s. In just a few years, he starred in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Those movies filled theaters, sold tons of merchandise, and made Moranis a star. And then, at the peak of this fame, Moranis decided to retire. His wife passed away in 1991, and Moranis decided to become a full-time stay-at-home dad.

Nearly a decade after pretty much signing out of show business, Moranis returned in 2005 with a Grammy-winning album of original music, "Agoraphobic Cowboy." And now Moranis has released his second album, My Mother's Brisket and Other Love Songs, a collection of comedic music inspired by Moranis's Jewish upbringing in Toronto.

Moranis talks to Jesse about his first job selling hockey programs in the nosebleed section, SCTV and the ironic outcome of his famous nose-thumbing at Canadian content laws, and his decision to be a stay-at-home father.

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Related interviews:
Mel Brooks
Catherine O'Hara
Joe Flaherty

Carolyn Kellogg Recommends "The Unknowns" and "Hothouse"

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two new books to put on the top of your summer reading list.

First, she recommends The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth. This debut novel set in 2002 follows a Silicon Valley millionaire whose brain betrays him whenever he tries to do the right thing. Parties, ecstasy, sex -- and that's just the first few pages.

Kellogg's next pick is Boris Kachka's Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Kachka, a veteran New York Magazine journalist, delves into the juicy history of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, the publishing house of Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen. The book focuses on the personal lives of founder Roger Straus and editor Robert Giroux and provides an insider's look at the secret, ferocious world of publishing.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing at the LA Times' blog Jacket Copy.

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Comedy: Doug Benson on Taken 2 and a Missed Opportunity

What if the folks behind the second "Taken" movie had just given a little more thought to tying the series together? Comedian Doug Benson considers the Taken series, with Liam Neeson, in this clip from his new album, Gateway Doug.

Doug Benson hosts a weekly podcast, Doug Loves Movies, and hosts the ongoing live series, Doug Benson's Movie Interruptions.

Booker T. Jones: Master Of Memphis Soul

Whether he was touring with Otis Redding, backing countless soul stars in the Stax studio, or composing his own instrumental hits like "Green Onions," Booker T. Jones, along with his band The MG's, defined the sound of southern sixties' soul.

Born in Memphis in 1944, Jones was gigging around town before he had entered high school. By college, he was a seasoned session musician and multi-instrumentalist with a hit single to his name. And by 1968, when Stax Records came under new ownership, he had played on over 600 Stax records, including "Try A Little Tenderness" and "These Arms Of Mine".

Perhaps even more impressively, Jones hasn't stopped. He continues to team up with some of the biggest names in jazz, soul, rock, and classical music and, at nearly 70 years old, he has no plans of letting up anytime soon.

Jones tells us stories about the first time Otis Redding sat down next to him at a piano, producing "Ain't No Sunshine" with the (as-yet-unknown) singer-songwriter Bill Withers, and Jones' plans to continue making all kinds of music.

Jones' new album, Sound The Alarm, is out now.

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Related interview:
Bill Withers

The Outshot: "Paranoia" by Chance the Rapper

The Outshot: Paranoia by Chance The Rapper

Jesse recommends "Paranoia," a track off Chance The Rapper's free mixtape Acid Rap. It's a song about an entire part of our country that feels ignored. It's Chance's appeal for human connection.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mel Brooks and Directors of "The Source Family"

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Mel Brooks
Guests: 
Maria Demopoulos
Guests: 
Jodi Wille
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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Hip Hop Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Juice by Chance The Rapper and Picacho by Young Thug (feat. Maceo)

Andrew Noz joins us to provide some recommendations from the world of hip hop. First, he talks to us about Chance the Rapper's self-proclaimed lyrical challenge, as evidenced in Juice, a track off his latest mixtape, Acid Rap. And what if Lil Wayne stayed off the beaten pop music path? It might sound like Young Thug's weirded-out track, Picacho.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game, and also blogs and Tumblr-s regularly at Cocaine Blunts and Tumblin 'Erb.

Embed and Share Hip Hop Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Juice by Chance The Rapper and Picacho by Young Thug (feat. Maceo)


Mel Brooks catching up on the present in between takes of History Of The World: Part I. (Photo by Pamela Barkentin Blackburn.)

Mel Brooks Takes Down Hitler (and Makes a Few Wonderfully Bad Jokes Along the Way)

It's hard to imagine what American comedy would look like without Mel Brooks. With a sharp eye for parody, a seemingly infinite supply of gags, and enough destruction of the fourth wall to make a postmodern novelist blush, his work has set the tone for countless comedy TV shows and films. It's hard to imagine SNL's relentless TV parodies without Your Show Of Shows (which Brooks wrote for alongside Sid Caesar back in the 50s), The Simpsons without his filmography full of sly pop-culture references, or the careers of Airplane! creators Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker without Brooks' shameless love of (self-admittedly) awful jokes.

A new PBS American Masters documentary, Mel Brooks: Make A Noise, explores the life and career of the EGOT winner and man behind The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and so much more. Brooks talks to us about fighting in World War II (where he managed to even make a few Germans laugh), the genius of Gene Wilder, and that time Sid Caesar dangled Brooks out the window of a Chicago hotel room.

PBS's American Masters documentary Mel Brooks: Make A Noise premieres Monday, May 20. Check with your public television station for local listings. A box set from Shout! Factory with over ten hours of rare and exclusive footage was also released late last year.

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Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille on The Source Family, LA's Most Famous Hippie Cult

The Source Family fit the conventional image of a typical hippie cult in a lot of ways – assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as a typical hippie cult. You could point to the commune, the long hair, the Jesus-y robes...not to mention occasional hits of what they called "sacred herb". Dig deeper, though, and it becomes clear that there was plenty that separated the Source Family from stereotypes.

The group was just as unique as their leader, a man who called himself Father Yod. He was a former Marine, stuntman, jujitsu expert who founded the Source Family alongside a highly successful vegetarian restaurant. Out of the back of that restaurant, the family sold recordings of their regular jam sessions, which became the stuff of psychedelic rock legend. Perhaps most unlike your average cult leader, Father Yod was not particularly attached to any particular ideology – not even his own. In direct violation of his own commandments, Yod married thirteen wives, a move which both alienated a number of family members and caught the LAPD's attention. This caused the Source Family to flee to Hawaii, which ultimately resulted in the group's demise.

We're delving further into LA's most famous hippie cult with the help of Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille, the directors of a new documentary called The Source Family. They discuss the group's run-ins with celebrities (and law enforcement), why Father Yod once told his followers to cut their hair and get jobs, and whether or not they would have joined the group, if given the chance.

The Source Family is in limited nationwide theatrical release. For information about screenings at a theater near you, check out the film's website.

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The Outshot: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson

This week, find out why Jesse's been spending a lot of time with Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, a home-tome that gracefully runs the housekeeping gamut from sections titled "Administering Insurance Policies" to "Privacy, Sex, and the Constitution".

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