Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
Bullseye from NPR is your curated guide to culture. Jesse Thorn hosts in-depth interviews with brilliant creators, culture picks from our favorite critics and irreverent original comedy. Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney's, which called it "the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world." (Formerly known as The Sound of Young America.)

It's an Academy Awards spectacular! First: Jesse talks with the amazing Laurie Metcalf. She's up for the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in the great Lady Bird. It's her first ever nomination! Laurie's a sincere actor's actor. She was a founding member of the legendary Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. On the hit TV sitcom Roseanne, she played Jackie, Roseanne's sister. She's also starring in an upcoming Broadway rendition of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.

 

Then, two Oscar winners: Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez! Together they wrote the song "Remember Me," from the hit Disney film Coco. Before that, Kristen and Robert wrote the songs for Disney's Frozen - including the Academy Award winning "Let it Go." They talk with Jesse about how they met, how they collaborate and keep a happy marriage and how Robert is one of only 12 people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, and Oscar and a Tony.

 

That's right - we got an EGOT in the house!

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First up, a favorite here around the Bullseye office: David Wain! He's a comedy legend, an actor, too. And he just directed the new Netflix film “A Futile and Stupid Gesture.” He and Jesse talk about Doug Kenney, the movie’s subject, whose work changed the trajectory of American comedy.

 

Then: break out the 8mm cameras and the oversized sunglasses! It's time for Belle & Sebastian. Jesse talks with frontman Stuart Murdoch about their latest series of EPs - a trilogy called “How to Solve our Human Problems.” Also: Baseball. Turns out Stuart is Glasgow's biggest Mets fan!

 

Finally, on this week’s outshot, Jesse walks us through the career of rapper Scarface whose lyrics, more than most rappers, mulls over the fear, rage, and consequences of gang violence.

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First up: Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman. They created and star in the brand new Comedy Central show "Corporate."

 

Look. Technically, Corporate is a workplace comedy. But it's so much darker, weirder and universal than that. The show follows the lives of Matt and Jake, two junior executives in training at Hampton Deville, a hopeless megacorporation. They have just enough power and money to keep working there, but not enough to make any real impact in the company. The show tackles themes like the capitalism, art, suicide, and even the meaninglessness of life. They join Jesse in the studio to chat about getting the shows tone right, what it was like pitching the show to a corporation, and why they cast Lance Reddick, who played Cedric Daniels on <i>The Wire</i> to play the CEO of Hampton Deville. Plus, they talk about how magic mushrooms helped them write some of the episodes -- you don't wanna miss that!

 

Plus, cartoonist and writer Mimi Pond tells us about the craziest day of her entire career. And finally, Jesse tells us about  "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud -- a comic book  about understanding comic books. If you've never picked up a comic book before this is a good place to start, obv.

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One Bullseye episode. *Four* Oscar nominees! First up: Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. They co-wrote "The Big Sick" and you probably heard about it already - the Academy just nominated it for Best Original Screenplay. They're two fascinating, sincere and brilliant people, and the film is a unique, hilarious and subversive take on modern romance. Jesse talked with them earlier this year.

 

Then, the hits keep coming. Director Michel Gondry talks about the song that changed his life. Oscar-nominated actress Allison Janney (West Wing, I, Tonya, Mom) talks about how Paul Newman helped jump start her career. And Jesse tells you about the last movie Orson Welles ever directed.

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Have you heard of Another Period? It's a series on Comedy Central with a brilliant, simple premise: it's a reality show set in the gilded age - like the Keeping up with the Kardashians meets Downton Abbey. It's really fun to watch - over the top, subversive, weird and chock full of absinthe references! Its stars and co-creators are Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome and they talk with Jesse about the show, which is entering its third season this week.

 

Then, the one and only Egyptian Lover. Born Greg Broussard he's a DJ, a producer, a rapper sometimes, too. He came up with Uncle Jamm's Army, a hip-hop crew that featured promoter and DJ Rodger Clayton, Ice - T, and shared the bill with acts as big as Run-DMC back in the day. As a solo artist he's released 9 albums, mixing Kraftwerk, Prince, a little bit of G-Funk every now and then, too. He's about to kick off on a world tour with dates in Berlin, Cape Town and Long Beach. He talks with Jesse about the early days of LA hip hop and electro, what a 10,000 person dance party looks like and how he bonded with his future wife over a Kraftwerk record. The ultimate meet cute!

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Buckle up, y'all, we've got a dynamite lineup!  First off: Rian Johnson, writer and director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which is discussed in extensive detail (don't say we didn't warn you). Besides directing a film in one of the biggest franchises in history, Rian's created the acclaimed movie Brick - kind of a Coen Bros inspired film noir starring teenagers in Orange County. He also wrote and directed the sci-fi thriller Looper, and a few of the most memorable Breaking Bad episodes, too.

 

Then, the Go! Team. Formed in the year 2000 in Brighton, England, the band's basically the brainchild of Ian Parton. He recorded a lot of the band's first album in his parent's kitchen and released it as Thunder, Lightning, Strike - a solid record. On that album you'll find the track "Huddle Formation" - AKA the Bullseye theme song. Their newest album just dropped - it's called Semicircle.

 

Finally: can you be super glamorous and deeply real at the same time? Of course you can, just ask Sylvester.

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Fresh New Year, fresh new Bullseye! This week, legendary director Errol Morris. He's the kind of filmmaker that gets shown in film school all the time. He's contributed that much to the field of documentary making. Morris has a way of painting portraits of people in his films that's incredibly vulnerable. A perfect example of this is his first documentary “Gates of Heaven” released in 1978. It’s a film about pet cemeteries, and the connection people feel to their deceased pets. Some of his films, like "The Thin Blue Line" try to find objective truth. That film ultimately helped secure a innocent man's freedom from prison.  

 

His latest project is a six-part miniseries for Netflix called "Wormwood." The series explores the CIA LSD experiments in the late 1950's, and the effects on a man named Frank Olson. The story is mostly told through interviews of Frank’s son, Eric, who's worked for years to uncover the truth. The film is kind of a departure for Errol's signature style -- it blends dramatic reenactments and real life interviews.

 

Plus,  Merrill Garbus of the band Tune-Yards tells us about the song that changed her life. And for this week's Outshot: The 1991 film "The Commitments."

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Two Bullseye favorites from the archives this week. First: Terry Crews. A linebacker from Flint Michigan, Terry was picked by the LA Rams in the 11th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. In 1996, he played his last season ever for the Eagles.  Then he took up acting - he starred alongside Ice Cube in the Friday After Next, played Chris Rock's Dad on Everybody Hates Chris. Now he plays Sergeant Jeffords on Brooklyn Nine Nine. Lately he's been in the news for taking speaking out against sexual harassment of all kinds - he says he was a victim himself.

Then, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, from 2014. The two co-created and starred in the show Playing House on USA, a favorite of ours here. It just wrapped up its third and final season last year. Male friendship is well represented in comedy, really, really well represented, but female friendship - not so much. And when we do see female friendships, the characters are sort of rote - there's always the same 3 or 4 characters, you know? On Playing House, Parham and St. Clair framed it differently. Their characters are less Carrie and Miranda and more Laverne and Shirley. You can actually imagine them being friends.

Plus, calling all prog rock fans! This week Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell, the editors of the prog rock anthology Yes Is The Answer: (And Other Prog Rock Tales), explain why the King Crimson album In The Court of the Crimson King is a classic, and how it laid the foundation for a whole genre.

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Look, you're an NPR listener. So we probably don't need to tell you this, but it's been an intense year.  2017 was a lot of terrible and thrilling and amazing things, but it was also a banner year for stand up comedy.

So this year, the Bullseye team put their heads together. Mined the internet for the best in stand up - big names, small names, guests I've talked with before, guests I want to talk with again. You're gonna hear comedy from people like Dana Gould. And Emily Heller. And Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher. And Roy Wood Jr. Say farewell to 2017 with a hearty laugh!

Direct download: EndofYearComedySpecial.mp3
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Light up the menorah, trim the tree, take a walk out in the cool/cold/wet/whatever weather and take it all in: it's the Bullseye holiday spectacular!

We've got Andy Richter, Conan O'Brien's faithful and hilarious sidekick. He says now that he's a father, he finds joy in celebrating Christmas with his family that wasn't really there before. You'll hear holiday etiquette advice from the one and only McElroy Brothers. We'll also talk with Jane Lynch, the star comedian and actor *and* terrific singer. Plus: need a movie recommendation? The Pop Rocket Crew at Max Fun HQ has got you covered.

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