Monty Python

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: Chris Rock, John Cleese & Scott Aukerman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Chris Rock
Guests: 
John Cleese
Guests: 
Scott Aukerman


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Chris Rock Explains His Commitment to Stand Up

Chris Rock has never strayed for too long from stand up comedy. He started performing stand up in his late teens, then he was handpicked by Eddie Murphy to be in Beverly Hills Cop II. Rock then spent a few years on Saturday Night Live and In Living Color, and eventually turned to stand up yet again in the mid 1990s.

You probably remember what happened next. Rock released a series of stand up specials, earning him several Emmys and cementing his status as one of the industry's best comics.

It was Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing that inspired him to work behind the camera, as a movie director. Rock directed two movies in the 2000s, Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife. His latest is a comedy called Top Five. Rock stars as Andre Allen, a famous comic who wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Andre can't get audiences to embrace his dramatic turn in a movie about the Haitian slave rebellion -- they just want him to be funny.

Rock will talk about why he's making movies instead of touring stand up clubs, why he isn't worried about becoming "old Bob Hope", and the real reason he's afraid of losing his fame.

Top Five is in theaters this week.

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I Wish I'd Made That: Scott Aukerman on Twin Peaks

Artists are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something an artist sees is SO good, so PERFECT that they wish they had made it themselves.

This happens so often to the people we talk to, that we made a segment about it. It’s called I Wish I’d Made That.

Today you’re going to hear from the Comedy Bang Bang host Scott Aukerman. One of his early jobs was as a writer for the comedy program Mr. Show.

So why does this comedy aficionado wish he'd made the dark, surrealistic murder-mystery show Twin Peaks? He'll explain.

Twin Peaks is currently available on Blu-ray and Netflix, and will be returning to air sometime in 2016 on Showtime.

You can hear more from Aukerman on the TV show and podcast Comedy Bang! Bang!. Season three of the show is wrapping up on IFC.

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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 new 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 new book, So, Anyway… is available now.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.

The Outshot: Transparent

Why does Jesse like Transparent? Well, it's the rare television show that has people acting like... real people.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Offerman, The Birthday Boys, Brandon Bird

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Offerman
Guests: 
The Birthday Boys
Guests: 
Brandon Bird
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon

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 looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Nick Offerman Talks Mustaches, Woodworking, and Luck

Nick Offerman is a man accustomed to being recognized. As Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, he sports one of the most revered moustaches in recent television history.

It would be easy to conflate Offerman with Swanson. They’re both masculine, moustachioed men with a penchant for carpentry, but Offerman is quick to distinguish himself from his civil servant counterpart. He credits the writers of the show for giving Swanson possession of larger-than-life quirks, such as the ability to ingest mountains of bacon or guzzle moonshine by the jug. Offerman, however, has a much more relatable story to tell.

He grew up in small town Illinois and studied theatre in college before performing in several Chicago-based theatre and improv companies. He joins us to talk about his rural roots, why woodworking has remained an important part of his life (and not an affectation), and the public perception of Ron Swanson as the personification of manliness.

Nick Offerman's new book of essays is Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living. You can also catch him on the sixth season of Parks and Recreation, airing now.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Talks Movies and Comics

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a couple of their current favorite things.

Linda recommends 12 Years a Slave, a film about the true story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Steve McQueen, tells the story of a man thrust into a life of injustice he doesn’t deserve. And as Linda explains, it's more than just an "important" movie.

The movie is in theaters on October 18.

Glen recommends the new comic Sex Criminals, written by Matt Fraction with art by Chip Zdasky. It may have a racy title but, at its heart, it’s the classic coming of age story about a girl who discovers that by doing the deed, she can stop time.

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR's Monkey See blog.

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Brandon Bird's "Lazy Sunday Afternoon"

Brandon Bird on Painting, Mr. T and Learning How to Make Art

Brandon Bird is a painter, but the purpose of his work isn't to capture the light dancing across a lake. Or to make a broad point about society. The point of his art is to make people laugh.

Brandon tells us about the day he became an artist, and how he went from making fan art to creating something really special.

His new activity book, Brandon Bird's Astonishing World of Art, includes Law and Order SVU valentines, a page where you can draw Nicolas Cage a new hairstyle, and a painting of Peter Dinklage as Wolverine (among many other things).

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Comedy Sketch Group The Birthday Boys Asks: "What if Seven Morons Were Doing That Thing?"

The Birthday Boys' work is silly. Really silly. They're a group of seven comedians, and their sketch comedy is warm, almost never obscene or profane, sort of uniquely American. Not too long ago, they caught the eye of comedy superstar and Mr. Show co-creator Bob Odenkirk. He's now the executive producer, cast member and an addition to the writer's room on their new television show for IFC.

Group members Jeff Dutton, Tim Kalpakis and Chris VanArtsdalen join us to talk about why they commit to the silliness, what makes a good sketch and how one of their idols became creatively involved in their first TV series.

The Birthday Boys premieres on October 18 on IFC.

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The Outshot: Michael Palin

You probably know him from hamming it up for Monty Python in the ‘70s, but since then Michael Palin has released a steady stream of travel documentaries. Jesse talks about Michael Palin and why he’s everything good about British colonialism.

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Monty Python - The Architect

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Does this every happen to you? You just start thinking about a Python sketch, and then you just have to watch it seven or twelve times?

To say Python are the greatest sketch group ever is to make a serious understatement.

"May I ask you to reconsider? I mean you wouldn't regret it. Think of the tourist trade."

Holy Flying Circus

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Shortly after Monty Python released "Life of Brian" in 1979, John Cleese and Michael Palin went on BBC2's "Friday Night, Saturday Morning" (a chat show with an opening sequence which suggests that it is ideal post-coital viewing) to defend their work in a debate against author Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood, the then Bishop of Southwark.  The result was a now somewhat famous broadcast which has been excerpted frequently (as in the documentary footage above from "Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut)"), but only rarely presented in its entirety. 

Now, according to the Guardian, BBC4 is making a drama about Python's creation of "Brian" and the troupe's subsequent struggles to defend the film.  The show, "Holy Flying Circus", which will air sometime this autumn, was written by Tony Roche (who also wrote for "The Thick of It") and will focus much of its attention on this odd yet fascinating bit of television history. 


Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: Hospital

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This is the sketch they played in my birthing class. Unfortunately, they played it with the sound all the way down, so you couldn't hear any of the dialogue. You could just barely make out the sound of the machine that goes "bing," though. Graham Chapman was a physician, of course, and I suppose that meant that some of the group's sharpest satire was reserved for the world of medicine.

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Greatest Document Ever?

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