Billy on the Street

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Billy Eichner and Ali Wong

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Billy Eichner
Guests: 
Ali Wong

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Billy Eichner and the Pop Culture Maniac That is Billy on the Street

[R] This week, we'll revisit our conversation with comedian Billy Eichner. He's probably best known for roaming the streets of New York with a camera crew, roping unsuspecting pedestrians into playing his game show, "Billy on the Street." While Cash Cab paved the way for street-ambush game shows, Eichner's approach has a unique twist.

The correct answers are often subjective (as in the game "Dead or Boring") and his game show persona is hyper-energetic and over-the-top. He's ready to swoon with a contestant who shares his love of Meryl Streep, or yell and stalk angrily away from a contestant who doesn't.

Eichner tells us about his screaming encounters with Madonna, the influence of Pee-wee Herman on his on-screen persona, and the role that game show laws played in the development of his show. (It turns out that "game show compliance lawyer" is a real job.)

New episodes of "Billy on the Street" are available online on Funny or Die. You can also see him on "American Horror Story," "Difficult People," and so much more.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Ali Wong talks marriage and money and what it’s like performing through 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 the 2016 comedy special "Baby Cobra" 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."

When Ali Wong joined Jesse a couple years ago she talked 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 has another new comedy special: "Hard Knock Wife." She did the entire special pregnant, again. It's available to stream now on Netflix.

The Outshot: João Gilberto

On the Outshot, Jesse features João Gilberto, a musician who stripped away the heat and intensity of samba to create a cool, minimalist genre: bossa nova.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Swamp Dogg and Joel Kim Booster

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Swamp Dogg
Guests: 
Joel Kim Booster

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: David McMurry/Courtesy of Swamp Dogg

Swamp Dogg: On His Musical Upbringing, New Album, and Six Decade Career

Singer/songwriter and three-time Bullseye guest Jerry Williams is best known by his recording name Swamp Dogg. He started in show business as a kid. He put out his first song at the age of twelve with his mom playing drums. Then, in the 60s, he was a record company man. He worked A&R, produced bands, and wrote a few R&B hits.

He adopted the name Swamp Dogg in the early 70s and put out a bunch of classics: "Total Destruction To Your Mind," "Rat On!," "Cuffed, Collared & Tagged."

His music is straightforward soul with a hilarious psychedelic lens.

These days, more and more people are getting hip to Swamp's music. His old LPs have been reissued and he's still making music! He's closing in on two dozen albums now, and just put out a new one called "Love, Loss and Auto-Tune."

Swamp Dogg tells Jesse about what's it's like to for him to still be performing today and, a time he was mistaken for being a white musician.

Click here to listen to Swamp Dogg's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Joel Kim Booster: On His Stage Persona, Defying Stereotypes, and Growing Up in A Conservative Christian Home

A quick warning: This next segment features some frank talk about sex. If that isn't the kind of thing you want to hear, just a heads up.

Joel Kim Booster is a writer and comedian. He's written for "Billy on the Street," "Problematic with Moshe Kasher," and Netflix's "Big Mouth." As a standup, he's appeared on Conan, Comedy Central, @Midnight and more.

He's Korean American and was adopted and raised by a white family in suburban Illinois. His upbringing was conservative and very, very religious - he was homeschooled until he hits his teens, and came out to his parents about being gay in his late teens.

In this interview, he talks to Jesse about his "hot" and "dumb" stage persona, his hopes for the afterlife, and the feedback he gets from other Asian American entertainers and his Asian American followers.

Joel's comedy album is called "Model Minority." You can find out the latest about Joel on his website: I hate Joel Kim.

Click here to listen to Joel Kim Booster's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Outshot: Simon Rodia's Watts Towers

In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about the masterwork of a four-foot-ten-inch tall, 42-year-old, barely literate, Italian immigrant who wanted to make something big.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Kroll, Billy Eichner, Brad Tolinski

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Kroll
Guests: 
Billy Eichner
Guests: 
Brad Tolinski
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: The Struggle for Catan and Anomia

Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and the podcast Gweek zeroes in on his favorite card games. His first pick is The Struggle for Catan, a spin-off of the colony-building board game Settlers of Catan. He also plugs Anomia, a crazy-fast word game that "makes your brain confuse being first with being the loudest."

Share Mark Frauenfelder's Game Recommendations


Nick Kroll in character as "Aspen Bruckenheimer"

Nick Kroll on Finding Comedy in Humanity's Worst

Nick Kroll has a knack for taking humanity's very worst and turning it into comedy. You can see it in his portrayal of Ruxin, the overly-aggressive lawyer and fantasy football player of FX's The League, but it's even more apparent in his new Comedy Central series, Kroll Show.

Kroll Show features amazingly specific characters that have become familiar as artifacts of our reality-show, fame-gripped culture: self-indulgent trust fund party boys, vapid PR professionals, and a wannabe record producer who lives with his mom.

Kroll returns to Bullseye to discuss how he finds inspiration in people lacking self-awareness – and, on the other hand, the perils of being too self-aware.

Kroll Show airs Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central.

Embed or Share this interview with Nick Kroll.

Canonball: A Tour of Led Zeppelin's III with Brad Tolinski

This episode marks the debut of our new segment: Canonball. We'll take a flying leap into the canon of popular music and find albums that deserve a closer look.

This week, we're joined by Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World and author of the new book Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page.

He'll tell us about Led Zeppelin III. With that album, Led Zeppelin moved away from the 60s obsession with authenticity and deep ideas -- and into a whole new sound.

Embed or share this segment: Canonball: A Tour of Led Zeppelin's III with Brad Tolinski.

Billy Eichner and the Pop Culture Maniac That is Billy on the Street

Comedian Billy Eichner roams the streets of New York with a camera crew, roping unsuspecting pedestrians into playing his game show, Billy on the Street. While Cash Cab paved the way for street-ambush game shows, Eichner's approach has a unique twist.

The correct answers are often subjective (as in the game "Dead or Boring") and his game show persona is hyper-energetic and over-the-top. He's ready to swoon with a contestant who shares his love of Meryl Streep, or yell and stalk angrily away from a contestant who doesn't.

Eichner tells us about his screaming encounters with Madonna, the influence of Pee-wee Herman on his on-screen persona, and the role that game show laws played in the development of his show. (It turns out that "game show compliance lawyer" is a real job.)

Episodes of Funny or Die's Billy on the Street are available online and air Fridays at 10/9c on FUSEtv.

Embed or Share this interview with Billy Eichner.

The Outshot: João Gilberto

On the Outshot, Jesse features João Gilberto, a musician who stripped away the heat and intensity of samba to create a cool, minimalist genre: bossa nova.

Embed or Share this Outshot on João Gilberto.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mark Adams, Dave Hill, Jordan Ranks America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jason Kottke
Guests: 
Mark Adams
Guests: 
Dave Hill
Guests: 
Jordan Morris


Culture Recommendations with Jason Kottke

Jason Kottke brings us this week’s pop culture picks. He's the curator of the blog kottke.org, one of the finest sources of informative and entertaining links on the web. He shares two of his more recent favorites: the contents of the golden record on the spacecraft Voyager and a rare piece of audio of the normally reticent director Stanley Kubrick.

(Embed or Share Jason Kottke's Picks on Bullseye)


Mark Adams, Author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu

Mark Adams is a critically acclaimed writer and an editor at National Geographic Adventure. Despite his outdoor magazine credentials, he considered himself an armchair adventurer before he embarked on a journey for his latest book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu was an old and dependable topic for National Geographic, but Adams was determined to dig a little deeper when revisiting the subject. A hundred years ago, the lecturer turned explorer Hiram Bingham III brought the ruins of Machu Picchu to the attention of the outside world but raised a host of questions about his methods and intentions for doing so. Adams decided to take on some of those questions by retracing Bingham’s expedition, taking his tender-footed self into the wild with an Australian guide and a handful of coca leaves. Adams talks to us about his transformation -- from a man who had never slept in a tent as an adult, to a full-fledged adventurer.

(Embed or Share Mark Adams on Bullseye)


Jordan Ranks America, July 2012

The only constant in this crazy country is change. Even the most well-informed American might throw up their hands over the big questions -- what’s hot? And what’s not? Luckily, comedian Jordan Morris is here for guidance. For more, check out his comedy podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! or follow him on Twitter @Jordan_Morris.

(Embed or Share Jordan Ranks America on Bullseye)


Comedian and Writer Dave Hill

Dave Hill is best known as a New York-based comedian, but he's dabbled in a lot of things. He's interviewed fans of Chick-Fil-A for This American Life, been a semi-successful rock musician (they're big in Japan), and even had a job as a pedicab driver for a few days.

One of his trademarks is making himself and others uncomfortable during a performance, whether he's asking inane or (alternately) inappropriately suggestive questions in his man-on-the-street interviews, performing stand up or hosting his talk show The Dave Hill Explosion. He mines a number of uncomfortable situations in his new book of essays, Tasteful Nudes: ...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation.
He talks to us about how being a rock musician made him realize he loved comedy, and how he ended up performing at Sing Sing for maximum security felons.

(Embed or Share Dave Hill on Bullseye)


The Outshot: Billy on the Street

Are you ready for the pop culture maniac who is Billy Eichner? This week, Jesse recommends his favorite game show, Billy on the Street.

If you know of a must-see show, share it on the MaxFun forum by picking your own Outshot.

(Embed or Share The Outshot on Bullseye)

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