SNL

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jenny Slate

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jenny Slate
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon

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Larry Busacca /Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Jenny Slate on Marcel the Shell, Besties, SNL and 'Obvious Child'

Jenny Slate has probably already turned up in one of your favorite shows -- she spent a season on Saturday Night Live, and she's had recurring roles on Parks and Recreation, Kroll Show, and Bored to Death. But if you don't recognize her face, maybe you know this voice. The voice of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Slate co-wrote two animated shorts about Marcel, the anthropormophic shell with one googly eye, and gave him his signature voice. The shorts have racked up over thirty million views on the web.

Now, Slate is moving into leading lady territory. She's the star of the upcoming independent film, Obvious Child, about a stand up comic who gets dumped, fired, and then finds out she's pregnant from a one-night stand.

Slate joins us to talk about the comic one-upmanship she practices with her best friend, her infamous f-bomb on SNL, handling abortion as part of a storyline, and what it was like to expand her acting horizons.

If you somehow missed the Marcel the Shell with Shoes On craze, you can find the shorts on YouTube. Slate's movie, Obvious Child, will be theatres June 6, 2014.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour: Why 'Fargo' Is Worth Watching, a Memoir about Diner Life

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a few of their favorite new things to read and watch.

Linda recommends catching up with the movie-to-television adaptation Fargo. It stars Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Alison Tolman and is finishing up its first season on FX.

Glen highly suggests checking out Mimi Pond's Over Easy, a graphic novel memoir about her experiences working in an Oakland diner in the 1970s.

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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Song Exploder no. 8: Loren Bouchard on 'Bob's Burgers

Bob’s Burgers is an animated show that just finished up its fourth season on FOX. It follows the travails of Bob, his family, and their hamburger shop. The voices on the show include the very funny H. Jon Benjamin, Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal. The creator of the show, Loren Bouchard, Also created its opening music.

Loren Bouchard talked to Hrishi Hirway for an episode of his podcast Song Exploder. It's a show where Hrishi asks musicians to deconstruct their songs, track by track. Since Bouchard pulls double duty as composer and creator, he wrote music that’s deeply connected to the themes of the show.

You can listen to other episodes of Song Exploder here at MaximumFun, in iTunes or wherever you download podcasts.

The Outshot: Bring In Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk

This week Jesse will tell you about the one time he actually believed that live theater was better than just going to the movies.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: June Diane Raphael, Bill Hader, The Internet, Jasper Redd

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
June Diane Raphael
Guests: 
Bill Hader
Guests: 
The Internet
Guests: 
Jasper Redd

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.

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This week's show was taped in front of a live audience at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, California. Thanks to KPCC, the Forum, and everyone who came out that evening! Catch Bullseye every Saturday at 3pm on KPCC.

A montage of our evening at the Crawford Family Forum - photo by KPCC

Jasper Redd is Not a Funeral Person

Comedian Jasper Redd stops by the live show to clear up a few things. He’s been drinking all week, he stays away from food that’s pink and fluffy, and, most importantly, he is not a funeral person.

For more from Jasper Redd, follow him on Twitter.

Painful Experiences and Clown Class with June Diane Raphael

Our first guest on the program is June Diane Raphael. You've probably seen her in a number of TV shows, web series and movies over the past few years -- she's played a gynecologist on New Girl, a federal agent on NTSF: SD: SUV::, a dating show contestant and bachelorette on Burning Love, and vapid office worker Tynnyfer on Parks and Recreation.

Raphael co-wrote and co-stars in the new movie Ass Backwards with her longtime friend collaborator Casey Wilson (of Saturday Night Live and Happy Endings fame). The film is available on VOD and is in theaters this week. Raphael and Wilson play Kate and Chloe, two clueless best friends who go on a road trip to participate in their hometown beauty pageant.

Raphael’s bond with Wilson goes all the way back to their freshman year of college. It was a special moment in time when they both found themselves in a class dedicated to the art of clowning.

June stops by the live recording to discuss her new movie, one of the worst moments of her life and the dreaded clowning Ring of Fire.

Bill Hader on First Impressions, Vincent Price, and Saying Goodbye to Stefon

You probably know Bill Hader for his spot-on impressions from his eight seasons on Saturday Night Live. They weren't always the most topical -- Alan Alda, Peter O'Toole, and Vincent Price don't make the headlines every week -- but they were endlessly funny. And yet he came into the SNL fold with nary an impression to his name.

He also helped create original characters like Stefon, the New York City correspondent on Weekend Update, the cranky elderly newscaster Herb Welch, and Italian talk show host Vinny Vedecci.

Hader sits down with Jesse to talk about his favorite sketches that never made it to air, his obsession with old movies and his last moments at SNL.

The Internet Performs "Dontcha" Live

The soul / trip-hop group The Internet, part of the Odd Future collective, stops by to perform their new single “Dontcha.”

The band's new album Feel Good is out now. You can also catch them performing at the Odd Future Carnival this Saturday, November 9th in Los Angeles.

The Outshot: Babe: Pig in the City

The natural reaction to talking animals, especially CGI-rendered speech in farm animals, is more than likely a dismissive chuckle. However, an exception should be made for a movie about a brave little pig who takes a dangerous journey through a bustling metropolis. This week, Jesse explains why Babe: Pig in the City depicts one of his heroes.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Nathan Rabin, Benjamin Nugent Author of American Nerd

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Benjamin Nugent
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben

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Insane Clown Posse

Becoming an Enthusiast: Nathan Rabin on Loving Phish and ICP

Some bands thrive in the cultural middleground. You can play their music in the grocery store, and no one objects. Neither the jam band Phish nor the horrorcore hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse plays that kind of music. Each group has a rabid, devoted following of fans, and on the flip side, has inspired intense loathing. Phish's noodley covers and original songs are derided as music for druggies and hacky-sack playing college students. Insane Clown Posse and their dark, often violent music is for "Juggalos", their group of Faygo-drinking, clown makeup- wearing fans.

As a longtime culture critic and former Head Writer of The Onion's AV Club, Nathan Rabin thought he was immune to the draw of either group. Their music and communities weren't high-brow. They weren't terribly fashionable or cool. So he set out to write a kind of sociological text about the groups, and find out why they had such die-hard fans. He didn't know he would end up a convert.

Rabin's new book is You Don't Know Me, But You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, And My Adventures With Two Of Music's Most Maligned Tribes.

Rabin tells us about his psychedelic experiences at their concerts, his mental breakdown halfway through researching the book, and finding solace in music and community among Phish Heads and Juggalos.

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Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Comic Recommendations From Brian Heater and Alex Zalben

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben stop by to recommend their favorite graphic novels as of late.

Brian recommends Aesthetics: A Memoir by Ivan Brunetti. A self-taught artist, illustrator for the New Yorker, and currently on faculty at Columbia College Chicago, Brunetti examines his many influences and how they combined to make his unique, simple, DIY style.

Alex suggests Matt Kindt's Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. In the town of Red Wheelbarrow, no crime gets by Detective Gould. But can this hardboiled detective connect the dots between a young woman who obsessively steals chairs, a man who carts dirt around town, and a photographer whose subject matter is others' private tragedies?

Brian Heater is the author of BoingBoing's comics column, Comics Rack. He also hosts the new podcast, Recommended if you Like.

Alex Zalben is a producer for MTV Geek and host of the Nerdist podcast Comic Book Club.

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An early "nerd" sketch on Saturday Night Live

Nerding It Up With Benjamin Nugent

This interview originally aired in 2008.

Benjamin Nugent's book American Nerd explores a people and their history. Nerds have been an archetype for decades now. But where did they come from? What is a "nerd", anyway? Benjamin Nugent set out to write a loving portrait of nerds and nerdiness -- including his own.

He talks to us about the origins of "nerds" in the humor pages of college newspapers, Saturday Night Live's first dig at nerds , and the underappreciated toughness of his nerdy friends in middle school.

Nugent released a novel, Good Kids, earlier this year.

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The Outshot: Thief

Jesse recommends the 1981 noir Thief, starring James Caan. It's a crime thriller about one last job, but it's just as much about running from loneliness as it is about running from the cops. Director Michael Mann infuses it with a cool, dark beauty unlike any robbery film you've seen.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Michael Jai White, Carl Jones, Rachel Dratch and Jason Brewer

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Michael Jai White
Guests: 
Carl Jones
Guests: 
Rachel Dratch
Guests: 
Jason Brewer
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder


Mark Frauenfelder Shares His Favorite Geeky Indulgences

Mark Frauenfelder, co-founder of BoingBoing, joins us to share some geeky recommendations: the engaging online / downloadable game Kingdom Rush and David Dufty's tale of robotics in How to Build an Android.

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Michael Jai White and Carl Jones on Blaxploitation and Black Dynamite

Gun-toting and martial arts-fighting – the blaxploitation heroes of the 1970s might have actually been (or been friends with) pimps, gangsters, and drug dealers, but the goal in the end was cleaning up the neighborhood and beating The Man. The genre inspired Carl Jones and Michael Jai White, both behind the new animated series Black Dynamite.

The series is based on a 2009 cult film and blaxploitation spoof of the same name. Michael Jai White, who co-wrote and starred in the film, lends his voice to the animated Black Dynamite. Director Carl Jones (The Boondocks) was brought on to shepherd the concept from film to animation.

Michael and Carl join us to discuss their favorite blaxploitation films, the troubles of Richard Pryor, and fleshing out the relationships and characters of the film for the series.

Black Dynamite airs Sundays at 11:30pm on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

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Jason Brewer on Johnny B. Goode

Jason Brewer wanted to play guitar since he was four. Today, he's writing music, singing and playing guitar for The Explorers Club, a band that incorporates the sounds of the 1960s-era vocal harmonies and orchestral arrangements that obsessed him in his youth.

He talks to us about the song that changed his life – Johnny B. Goode, by Chuck Berry.

The Explorers Club released their second album, Grand Hotel, earlier this year.

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Rachel Dratch on Her Best Impressions, Dating, and Becoming a Mom

Rachel Dratch is a comic actress best known to audiences as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006, and from recurring roles on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Most recently, she's written Girl Walks Into A Bar...: Comedies Calamities, Dating Disasters & A Midlife Miracle. While there are behind-the-scenes stories from her days at SNL in the book, it's mainly the story of life after the show. With plenty of time on her hands, Dratch dove head-first into the dating pool after years of using being busy with SNL as an excuse not to date. The titular miracle was an unexpected pregnancy at age 44, having been in a long distance relationship with the father for just six months prior.

Dratch joins Jesse to discuss her comedy background in Chicago, the development process of getting some of her most famous SNL characters to air, and the inherent humor of balancing midlife motherhood with a romance still in its infant stages. This interview originally aired April 17, 2012.

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The Outshot: Bill Bryson's At Home

Jesse suggests you follow the humorist and travel writer Bill Bryson on his wanderings through the history of the homestead and domesticity (it's not quite as dry as you think). His book is At Home: A Short History of Private Life.

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Got a favorite book you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rachel Dratch, the creators of Eagleheart, Jason Kottke and Jordan Morris

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rachel Dratch
Guests: 
Michael Koman
Guests: 
Andrew Weinberg
Guests: 
Jason Woliner
Guests: 
Jason Kottke
Guests: 
Jordan Morris

Internet Recommendations from Jason Kottke

This week's pop culture picks come care of Jason Kottke, of Kottke.org -- a site that's been called the New Yorker of internet links. Jason tracks down the best the internet has to offer, and he shares two of his favorites with us this week: Jerry Beck's list of the 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected By 1,000 Animation Professionals, a Warner Bros.-heavy list topped by some Looney Tunes classics, and What the Space Shuttle booster saw, an HD video journey out of Earth's atmosphere.

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The Creative Team of Eagleheart: Michael Koman, Andrew Weinberg and Jason Woliner

Michael Koman, Andrew Weinberg and Jason Woliner are the creative team behind [adult swim]'s hilariously funny and blood-soaked action-comedy Eagleheart, starring Chris Elliott. Koman and Weinberg had worked together as writers on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, where they were responsible for culling the clips played whenever Conan pulled the Walker Texas Ranger Lever. It was a job that required them to wade through hundreds of hours of Walker, Texas Ranger, and the inspiration for Eagleheart was born out of a desire to parody the show. But to call Eagleheart a parody of WTR sells it way short, as the show is much crazier and more comically-inspired than that.

Koman, Weinberg and Woliner join us to discuss the show's ability to cram an absurd amount of story into an eleven-minute run-time, making magic happen fast on Eagleheart's wild production schedule, and what inspires them about the show's star, Chris Elliott. Eagleheart has just begun its second season on Cartoon Network's [adult swim], airing Thursdays at midnight.

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Jordan Ranks America, for April 2012

It's an upside-down world out there, and some days you just don't know what to make of it. Luckily for us, there's one man who can keep this country in order! Comedian Jordan Morris puts America in its place for the month of April 2012. You can find Jordan on Twitter @Jordan_Morris.

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Comedian, actress and author Rachel Dratch

Rachel Dratch is a comic actress best known to audiences as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006, and from recurring roles on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Her new book is the very funny memoir Girl Walks Into A Bar...: Comedies Calamities, Dating Disasters & A Midlife Miracle. While there are a number of behind-the-scenes stories from her days at SNL in the book, it's mainly the story of life after the show, as Dratch dove head-first into the dating pool after years of using being busy with SNL as an excuse not to date. The titular miracle was an unexpected pregnancy at age 44, having been in a long distance relationship with the father for just six months prior.

Dratch joins Jesse to discuss her comedy background in Chicago, the development process of getting some of her most famous SNL characters to air, and the inherent humor of balancing midlife motherhood with a romance still in its infant stages. Girl Walks Into A Bar... is available now in bookstores everywhere.

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The Outshot: “Swiss Movement”, by Eddie Harris & Les McCann

For this week's Outshot, Jesse digs into the record collection and pulls out a vibrant classic: Swiss Movement, by Eddie Harris and Les McCann. The live album, recorded in 1969 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, was the first time the band had ever played together, and the record captures the feeling-out process as the group pioneered the soul-jazz genre. It crackles with life.

Is there a classic record that never fails to get your toe tapping? Let us know! Head on over to the MaxFun Forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Swamp Dogg, John Mulaney, Comic Book Picks, and Kasper Hauser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Swamp Dogg
Guests: 
John Mulaney
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser



Comics with Alex and Brian

Our comic book experts are in residence! Brian Heater and Alex Zalben recommend My Friend Dahmer, and the novel Dotter of Her Father's Eyes.

Alex Zalben is a writer and a host of the show Comic Book Club. Brian Heater is a journalist and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Cross Hatch, which highlights alternative comics.
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Soul Musician Swamp Dogg

Swamp Dogg, born Jerry Williams Jr., is a legendary psychedelic soul musician. He put out his first record in 1954, under the name Little Jerry. Over the next 15 years, his stage name would change to Little Jerry Williams before dropping the "Little" and performing as simply Jerry Williams. Finally, in 1970, he re-christened himself as Swamp Dogg for the release of his first LP, Total Destruction of Your Mind. The album combined humor and social commentary with the acid-soaked psychedelic sound of the late '60s / early '70s, and the Swamp Dogg name stuck.

Swamp sat down with Jesse in 2008 for a laugh-filled conversation discussing his long career in music, from the mindset behind all those name changes, to finding his best successes as a songwriter for country music, including a Grammy nomination for writing the Johnny Paycheck #1 hit "(Don't Take Her) She's All I Got".

His career compilation, It's All Good: A Singles Collection 1963 - 1989 is available now.
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Kasper Hauser News Update

We here at Bullseye feel a moral obligation as a public radio show to provide you with some news content, so to get you caught up on all the top stories you've never heard of (as they're entirely made up), here's the latest from our fake news team: the San Francisco-based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser.
You can catch Kasper Hauser live next month, performing alongside the honorable judge John Hodgman at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco on Sunday, April 29th.
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Comedian and SNL Writer John Mulaney

John Mulaney is a stand-up comedian and comedy writer based in New York City. He served as a writer on the Comedy Central series Important Things with Demetri Martin, but you probably know him best from his current job, writing for Saturday Night Live. One of John's responsibilities on SNL is writing ridiculous recommendation lists for the Bill Hader character Stefon, a regular contributor for Weekend Update. Mulaney has also performed on Update himself, showcasing his upbeat brand of humor on a segment called "I Love It".

John joined Jesse back in 2009 to talk about somehow earning money while getting black-out drunk, and subtle differences between writing for sketch and writing for stand-up. His hilarious new comedy special New in Town is available now on CD and DVD. You can follow him on Twitter @Mulaney.
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The Outshot: Jerry Lee Lewis' "Live at the Star Club"

On this week's Outshot, Jesse hails the wild-child rock & roll of Jerry Lee Lewis's Live at the Star Club, Hamburg as perhaps the best live album ever recorded. In 1963, at the deepest depths of his career, Lewis went to Germany a man disgraced, and played for a crowd willing to embrace him regardless of his troubles. The result is an historic scorcher of a performance from the man they call "The Killer".
Is there a live album you feel should be considered the best of all time? You can make your pick by heading over to the MaxFun forum and naming your own Outshot.
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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jenna Fischer, Jack Handey, Video Game Picks and Kasper Hauser

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Jenna Fischer
Guests: 
Jack Handey
Guests: 
Heather Anne Campbell
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser

This week!
Video Game Picks: Comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell tells us about some of the games she's most excited about right now: a game in the canon of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Resident Evil Revelations. (Embed or share this segment)

Actress Jenna Fischer: Emmy-nominated actress Jenna Fischer, best known for her role as Pam on The Office, talks to us about her early days in Hollywood – her totally-made-up-sounding first acting gig in LA, auditioning for The Office, and what all the actors are doing on their computers when they're in the background of a shot. The Office is now in its eighth season. (Embed or share this segment)

Kasper Hauser: San Francisco-based comedy sketch group Kasper Hauser takes us to the set of Mundos de Perros. You can find more from them on their podcast, or catch them live this week at SF Sketchfest. Click here for the Kasper Hauser podcast.

Humorist Jack Handey: Yes, he's totally real. Writer Jack Handey, whose one-liners are an enduring part of Saturday Night Live history, will talk about his days as Steve Martin's neighbor, and which of the many, many Deep Thoughts are his favorites. Plus, Jesse will reveal his favorite SNL sketch of all time. (Embed or share this segment)

The Outshot: And finally, the outshot for this week – Bo Jackson. How is a guy that fast, that strong? And how is a guy that strong, that fast? (Embed or share this segment)

You can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the RSS feed -- stay tuned for next week's Bullseye!

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Steven Wright on SNL in 1985

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Hulu recently posted this clip of Steven Wright performing on SNL in 1985 - which is also the year when Wright released his first album, the classic I Have a Pony. It's rather fun to watch the early broadcasts of a style that would become so influential over the following decade. Also: I love staying in to sip coffee and watch stand-up with you. Going outside is too risky. I don't want to get poison ivy on my brain.

Comedy Writer, Actor and Director Bruce McCulloch: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bruce McCulloch

This week, actor, writer and comedian Janet Varney is guest hosting for Jesse! Janet is one of the hosts of the long-running segment Dinner and a Movie on TBS, a writer for the DVD commentary series Rifftrax, and is one of the co-founders and producers of SF Sketchfest (an amazing celebratory festival of comedy in San Francisco).

She'll talk to Bruce McCulloch, best known as one of the members of the comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall. Since his KITH days, Bruce has written and directed for film and television. Among his projects are movies like Superstar, Dog Park and Stealing Harvard, the ABC series Carpoolers, the KITH miniseries Death Comes to Town, and even a stint on SNL. In this interview, Bruce talks about tracing his musical comedy roots, the dynamics of The Kids in the Hall, producing comedy, and more.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.
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JANET VARNEY: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Janet Varney in for Jesse Thorn.

My guest is none other than Bruce McCulloch. For years he's been a member of the amazing Canadian comedy troupe Kids in the Hall. They had a television show in the 90s; the movie Brain Candy that was released in 96; and the awesome recent miniseries, Death Comes to Town.

On his own, Bruce has released two comedy albums. He's directed films like Superstar and Stealing Harvard, and he's collaborated with Bill Burr, Norm McDonald, and many others. We'll talk about all that, but first let's hear this clip from Kids in the Hall with Bruce appearing as Gavin; a grade school boy who's eager to have interactions with nonplussed adults.

Bruce McCulloch you guys know, of course, as a member of Kids in the Hall, but he's also released two comedy music CDs, Shame-Based Man and Drunk Baby Project; he created the ABC series Carpoolers, and has written and directed several films including Dogpark and Comeback Season. He also has a young impetuous Standard Poodle named Meatball.

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Bill Hader, Actor and Comedian: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Hader as FBI Agent Haggard in the new movie "Paul".
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bill Hader

Bill Hader has been a cast member of Saturday Night Live for several years, and has become known for his impressions, from Vincent Price and Alan Alda to Al Pacino.

His last appearance on The Sound was in 2007, shortly before his appearances in a spate of movies including Superbad, Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder, Hot Rod, and Adventureland.

His newest role is in the film Paul, a sci-fi comedy about two English comic book nerds touring alien sites in the American Southwest. Hader plays an FBI agent who becomes involved in tracking the nerds after they pick up a stray alien. The film comes out March 18th.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program, Bill Hader, has been a cast member of Saturday Night Live for quite a number of years now; he’s also managed to worm his way into some of the best comedy films of the past ten years, including movies like Tropic Thunder and Superbad, among many others. He’s now featured in the new film, Paul, which is just about to hit theaters, and of course, he’s in the current season of Saturday Night Live. Bill, welcome back to The Sound of Young America.

BILL HADER: Thanks for having me, man.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.
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