SNL

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Eugene Levy

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Eugene Levy

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Photo:Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Eugene Levy on improv comedy and "Schitt's Creek."

Eugene Levy is hands down one of the funniest people in history.

The Canadian-born actor and funnyman has been a part of so many of our favorite moments from television and film. You know him from SCTV where he usually played the incredulous straight man who somehow still made you giggle with glee to some of the cast's sillier characters. The Canadian-born Levy got his start in the world of comedy when he joined The Second City. There, he perfected his craft in improvisation, opting to work within an ensemble than alone on stage as a stand-up.

His film credits include such classics as Splash, A Mighty Wind and Waiting for Guffman. He's collaborated numerous times with fellow improv mockumentarian Christopher Guest. Most notably in the hilarious comedy Best in Show And who could forget his work in 1999's American Pie?

Levy joins us to talk about his amazing life in television and film. We'll hear about the very funny SCTV sketch that inspired Saturday Night Live's Norm McDonald and he'll talk about working on all eight of the American Pie movies. You read that right. Eight! Plus, he'll talk to us about what it's like working with his son Dan on their hit show Schitt's Creek, now in its fifth season.

He was recently nominated for an Emmy for lead comedy actor. This is his first Emmy nomination in 36 years! We'e sure his son couldn't be prouder.

This interview originally aired in April of 2018.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Comic and actor J.B. Smoove

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
J.B. Smoove

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

J.B. Smoove on Curb Your Enthusiasm, writing on Saturday Night Live and more

J.B. Smoove is without a doubt one of the funniest people we've ever had on Bullseye.

He got his start in television as one of the stars of Def Comedy Jam in the mid-90's. In the early aughts he became a writer on Saturday Night Live. J.B. wrote sketches like a commercial for "Tylenol Extreme," and a hypothetical remake of Norman Lear's "Good Times." He's probably best known for his role as Leon on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Currently, you can check him out in Spider-Man: Far From Home. In the film, J.B. plays Peter Parker's teacher, Julius Dell. He has some really funny moments as Parker's chaperone.

J.B. joins us to talk about his time on SNL. He'll explain how an audition to be a featured cast member actually landed him a job as a writer instead. We'll hear about a few of his favorite sketches that never made it to air.

He'll also talk about his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and why he always goes to an audition in character. Plus, he'll tell us about the time he told Howard Stern, and we quote: "You can't eat spaghetti on an open patio." Join us to learn exactly what he means!

When he's not working on screen he keeps busy on the road. He tries to test out as much new material as possible. You can see him on tour all over the country this summer and fall. Check out his website for latest dates.

A heads up to listeners, this episode contains many censored expletives throughout the interview.

Who Shot Ya? Episode 91: 'Booksmart' with Guest Host Ellington Wells

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Show: 
Who Shot Ya?
Guests: 
Ellington Wells

Booksmart

This week we’re joined by guest host Ellington Wells, a writer and comedian whose credits include The New Negroes and Adult Swim’s Lazor Wulf. The panel discuss the teen comedy Booksmart, and what distinguishes this film from others in the “one crazy night” genre.

Kayla in Seattle called the Who Shot Line after seeing Captain Marvel, a movie that helped her shake off the idea of what women are supposed to be. She wondered if the panelists could point to any movies that helped them contextualize their place in the world.

In news, Rotten Tomatoes fights back against review-bombing trolls, director Xavier Dolan takes issue with describing his latest film
Matthias & Maxime as a ‘gay love story’, and former SNL star Chris Kattan’s new memoir
Baby, Don’t Hurt Me alleges Lorne Michaels pressured him to have sex with ‘Clueless’ director Amy Heckerling.

Staff Picks
Drea: Fits and Starts
Alonso: Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Ellington: Strictly Ballroom

With Alonso Duralde, Drea Clark, and Ellington Wells.

You can let us know what you think of Who Shot Ya? on Twitter or Facebook. Or email us at whoshotya@maximumfun.org

Call us on the "Who Shotline" - WSY-803-1664

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Paula Pell

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Paula Pell

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: Jesse Thorn

Paula Pell on 'Wine Country' and working at 'SNL' for almost two decades

So many of the sketches Paula Pell has written for Saturday Night Live are stone-cold classics. There's the Culps, Ana Gasteyer and Will Ferrell's bizarre pop music duo. The Spartan Cheerleaders. The Tony Bennett Show. Remember when Justin Timberlake brought us on down to Omeletteville? We have Paula Pell to thank for a lot of wonderful and hilarious work on SNL.

Pell spent 18 years behind the scenes as a writer on the show. She's truly an SNL MVP. After her time on SNL she wrote for 30 Rock, the Oscars, and the Golden Globes. She's had roles on Parks and Recreation, Big Mouth, and, most recently, the NBC show AP Bio. She plays Helen, the goofy high school administrator who eats tomato sauce and hair.

Pell joins us to talk about her latest project: Wine Country. She co-stars alongside SNL alums Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Rachel Dratch. It’s a story about a group of women reconnecting over a birthday weekend in Napa. The group became life-long friends during their stint working at a Chicago pizzeria. People moved. Got married. Grew apart. This movie deals with preserving those friendships despite life getting in the way. It's based in part from a real wine trip the stars took for Dratch's 50th birthday.

Pell also pulls back the curtain and discusses some of her more controversial work on SNL. Plus: why, when she was a writer on SNL, she was so much more comfortable as a writer than a performer.

Sincerely, one of the funniest people we've ever had on the show. Don't sleep on this one!

A quick warning about this interview you're about to hear: there's some talk about sex in it. Nothing super graphic or descriptive, but we wanted to give you a heads up.

Pop Rocket Ep. 221 - The New Negroes & Black Sketch Comedy

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Ellington Wells

This week Wynter and Karen chat with Ellington Wells, a comedian and writer on Comedy Central’s brand new sketch show The New Negroes with Open Mike Eagle and Baron Vaughn. The panel takes a look at how black sketch comedy has involved and Wells tell us what Robert Townsend TV special inspired Vaughn to create a show with a similar sensibility.

All Abouts

Wynter: No Good Nick
Karen: Season 4 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Ellington: Britney's Gram podcast special episode

That's My Jam

Ellington: Ava Max - Sweet But Psycho

Guy: BTS (방탄소년단) IDOL (Feat. Nicki Minaj)

Wynter: Nat King Cole - Harlem Blues

Karen: An Luu - Pourquoi tu me fous plus des coups?

With Karen Tongson, Ellington Wells, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh

Did you know that you can now call and leave voicemails for the show? You can! If you want to comment on an episode, give us any feedback or just call to get advice from a panel member, the number is: (530) 237-4108

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced and edited by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Ep 30: Go Fact Yourself with Sasheer Zamata and Samm Levine

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Jay Kogen, J. Keith van Straaten, Samm Levine, Helen Hong, Sasheer Zamata
Guests: 
Sasheer Zamata & Samm Levine
Guests: 
Cat Thomas & Jay Kogen

"The Simpsons," Quentin Tarantino and comedy come together on Go Fact Yourself!

Sasheer Zamata is best known for her roles on "Saturday Night Live" and as the host of the variety showcase Sasheer Zamata Party Time. She’ll tell us about why a very... confusing invasion of her privacy has her so protective of her personal possessions.

Sasheer will go up against actor Samm Levine, who you may know from the Quentin Tarentino film Inglorious Basterds. He’s also in the beloved, but short-lived, TV series "Freaks and Geeks." He’s heard from a lot of fans who say they wish that show hadn’t ended so abruptly. But good news: he’ll share his solution to keeping "Freaks and Geeks" going for just a little longer.

What’s the difference: Space

What’s the difference between a meteor and a meteorite?

What’s the difference between a nook and a cranny?

Areas of Expertise

Sasheer Zamata: Beyonce, the films Kill Bill: Vol. I and Kill Bill: Vol. II and show choir.

Samm Levine: The first three Die Hard movies, poker and "The Simpsons" seasons 3-9.

Appearing in this episode:

J. Keith van Straaten
Helen Hong
Sasheer Zamata
Samm Levine

With guest experts:

Cat Thomas, award-winning costume designer for film and television.

Jay Kogen writer for "The Simpsons"

This episode is sponsored by The Big Quiz Thing and the Maximum Fun Jumbotron program.

Go Fact Yourself was devised by Jim Newman and J. Keith van Straaten, and produced in collaboration with Maximum Fun. The show was recorded at The Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles.

Theme Song by Jonathan Green.
Maximum Fun's Senior Producer is Laura Swisher.
The show is edited by Julian Burrell.

Pop Rocket Ep. 199 Hip Hop, Pop, and Mental Health w/ Clarkisha Kent

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Margaret Wappler, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, Clarkisha Kent, Karen Tongson
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Clarkisha Kent

Kanye West’s rambling, pro-Trump speech on SNL late September may have surprised casual observers, but by that point, his fans had heard both his outrageous statements and his frank talk about mental health for months. Charlagmane tha God lamented his canceled TimesTalk with Kanye on Instagram as a missed opportunity, writing, "Normalizing being mentally healthy is a conversation that I really wanted to have with Kanye because he's been so vocal about his own mental health struggles. Unfortunately, I think to have that conversation with him right now would not be productive and a total distraction from the point of the convo which is to eradicate the stigma of mental health especially in the black community."

Well, we’re going to have that conversation today and we're joined by Clarkisha Kent, film and pop culture critic- known to some as a "professional hater." The panelists discuss rapper Mac Miller's death, Chris Brown's history of domestic violence, and Jay-Z's openness about lacking the necessary emotional tools for marriage, among other things.

To be clear, we are not medical professionals.

All Abouts

Margaret is all about Lucy McBath. Lucy is the newly elected Representative of Georgia's 6th Congressional district. She is a national spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which she joined after her son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in what is believed to be a hate crime.

Karen is all about Sharice Davids. She's one of the two Native American women elected to Congress in the midterm election and represents Kansas's 3rd district.

Clarkisha is all about the Twitter beef between herself and other black critics and Rebel Wilson over Rebel's claim that she is the first plus-sized woman to lead a romantic comedy.

Wynter is all about Season 4: The Dream Door of the Syfy channel's horror anthology TV show "Channel Zero."

That's My Jam

Margaret - Jamie Isaac - Doing Better

Karen - Ariana Grande - thank u, next

Clarkisha - The New Respects - Something to Believe In

Wynter - Tori Amos - Cornflake Girl

With Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler, and Clarkisha Kent.

Did you know that you can now call and leave voicemails for the show? You can! If you want to comment on an episode, give us any feedback or just call to get advice from a panel member, the number is: (530) 237-4108

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria. This episode was engineered by Christian Dueñas.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kamasi Washington & Simon Rich

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kamasi Washington
Guests: 
Simon Rich

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: Jesse Thorn

Kamasi Washington on Street Fighter II, South Los Angeles, and Touring with Snoop Dogg

Saxophonist Kamasi Washington is one of the most talented jazz musicians around. He's collaborated with Thundercat, Ryan Adams, Flying Lotus, Run the Jewels - that's just naming a handful. On Kendrick Lamar's classic "To Pimp A Butterfly," you can hear his saxophone and arranging work, too.

To define Kamasi Washington by the people he's collaborated with, however, would be doing him a disservice. He's recorded about half a dozen solo records. He's a dynamic, thrilling composer and bandleader.

If you love the work of Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders, you'll hear something familiar in Kamasi's music. Like them, Kamasi writes songs from a transcendent, spiritual place. It's strange and lush. There's usually a melody that hypnotizes you. The songs run long, but just like the free jazz greats, you'll lose yourself in them.

Kamasi was born in the 80s, raised in Los Angeles, and he grew up listening to jazz classics, but also N.W.A., Marvin Gaye, and Snoop. The music he makes is eclectic. It's why his albums have ended up on so many critics' top 10 lists, and it's also why those same critics often ask whether Kamasi Washington is the one to make jazz a young person's game again.

His latest album Heaven and Earth is out now, and he's also touring North America.


Photo:Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Simon Rich Reads from His Latest Book: Hits and Misses

Simon Rich is one of Jesse's favorite comedy writers. He started young: first as editor of the Harvard Lampoon, then, at just 23, Simon was hired as a writer on SNL. He's also written for Pixar, The New Yorker, and is the author of seven books. He created the FXX TV series Man Seeking Woman and just had another pilot picked up by ABC.

Simon hasn't even turned 35 yet.

Earlier this year he wrote a book called Hits & Misses. It's a collection of short stories - some of his funniest work to date. This week, he reads us a story called "New Client."

Click here to listen to Simon Rich read from his latest book on YouTube.

Ep 17: Go Fact Yourself with Louis Virtel and Laraine Newman

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Jerome Vered, Helen Hong, Laraine Newman, J. Keith Van Straaten, Donnie Dunagan
Guests: 
Louis Virtel & Laraine Newman
Guests: 
J. Keith Van Straaten
Guests: 
Helen Hong
Guests: 
Jerome Vered
Guests: 
Donnie Dunagan

Louis Virtel is a comedian and a co-host of the podcast Keep It. He’s also the winner of Jeopardy, whose Double Jeopardy celebration went viral shortly after it aired on TV.

Laraine Newman returns to Go Fact Yourself, this time as a contestant. Newman is best known as an original cast member of the Not Ready for Primetime Players on Saturday Night Live, and she was a founding member of the legendary Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles. If she sounds familiar to you, you may recognize her as the voice of Crab Lady on SpongeBob SquarePants, Nana from Trollhunters: Tale of Arcadia and lots of other shows.

In this episode, we’ll learn how Louis’s love of publicly answering trivia questions stems from a 3rd-grade spelling bee that he came up short in and why the winners of Jeopardy love keeping in touch with each other after their victories. Laraine will explain why she never tires of hearing people announce her name in the fashion of SNL’s Don Pardo, and how she decides what the voice of each of her characters sound like.

What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between a “thumbs up” sign and the “okay” sign in SCUBA diving?

What’s the difference between a “Dead-End” and a “No-Outlet” on the road?

Areas of Expertise
Louis Virtel: Jeopardy, world capitals, and Aimee Mann.
Laraine Newman: Electronic Dance Music, cooking, Universal horror movies from the 1930’s and 40’s.

Appearing in this episode:

J. Keith van Straaten
Helen Hong
Louis Virtel
Laraine Newman

With guest experts:
Jerome Vered, writer and all-time winner of Jeopardy.

Donnie Dunagan, U.S. Marine Corp Drill instructor and the voice of the titular character in the Disney movie Bambi.

Go Fact Yourself was devised by Jim Newman and J. Keith van Straaten, and produced in collaboration with Maximum Fun. The show is recorded at the Angel City Brewery in downtown Los Angeles.

Theme Song by Jonathan Green.
David McKeever is the Live Sound Engineer.
Maximum Fun's Senior Producer is Laura Swisher.
The show is edited by Julian Burrell.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Geena Davis and Jack Handey

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Geena Davis
Guests: 
Jack Handey

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: Jesse Thorn

Geena Davis on Gender Diversity, Archery and Quieting the Inner Critic

Geena Davis has made a lasting impression as an actress both on film and television in her roles in "Beetlejuice," "Thelma and Louise," "A League of Their Own," "The Accidental Tourist" and "Commander in Chief." Her performances have resulted in acclaim and a lengthy career both in front and behind the camera. It's also garnered her a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

Davis is just as committed to her work for gender awareness and diversity in film and television. She founded the research-based Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, to educate, and influence, the entertainment industry with regard to gender representation on screen. Davis also founded the Bentonville Film Festival, which showcases films featuring minorities and women in both cast and crew and which guarantees distribution to the festival's winners.

Geena Davis joined Jesse on Bullseye in 2016 and spoke about gaining confidence in voicing her opinions on set, how she feels about being recognized in public and how quieting her inner-critic helped her to almost qualify as an archer for the Summer Olympic games.

Today, her work at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is still going strong and they're doing a lot of really insightful, fascinating work. You can also see Geena Davis on the new season of "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC.

Click here to listen to Geena Davis's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Humorist Jack Handey confirms that yes, he is a real person

Make a few clicks on the internet and you'll run across ten fake "Deep Thoughts," and if you're lucky, a few real ones. Our guest Jack Handey created the seminal "Saturday Night Live" interstitial segment and authored several book collections of the material. He also wrote numerous other classic Saturday Night Live sketches, from "Happy Fun Ball" to "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer." He's been writing in The New Yorker's Shouts and Murmurs section, and these writings, plus work for Outside Magazine and other publications, have been collected in the hilarious "What I'd Say To The Martians: and Other Veiled Threats."

We spoke to Jack in 2008. What's he up to lately? Jack is still writing for The New Yorker, still putting out books, too. His latest book is "Please Stop The Deep Thoughts," which just came out last year.

Click here to listen to Jack Handey's interview on YouTube.

The Outshot: Zombo.com

Jesse on the lingering amusement provided by the absurd and simple website, Zombo.com.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on Zombo.com on YouTube.

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