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.)

You know Gilbert Gottfried, right? That comedian with the crazy loud voice who tells gross, sometimes kind of tasteless jokes. He was the voice of the Aflac duck at one point, too.

There's really two Gilbert Gottfrieds, though - there's that guy, and there's the pretty quiet guy who has a wife and two kids and, you know, picks up paper towels on the way home or whatever. Now, he's talking about all of that. He's the subject of a new documentary, it's called Gilbert. He talks with Jesse about the process of revealing his private side on camera for the first time.

Then, a deep discussion about Catholicism, love, and privilege with filmmaker Maggie Betts. Her debut film, Novitiate, tells the story of nuns-in-training in the mid 20th century as their lives and society were in total upheaval.

Direct download: Bullseye171017v3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23pm EDT

First up: Amy Ryan. You've seen her as Beadie Russel on The Wire, in The Office, Gone Baby Gone, a bunch more. She's starring in the new movie Abundant Acreage Available too. She'll talk with us about all that stuff, plus, how she convinced her family it was cool to skip college and give acting a real go.

Then, Shea Serrano. He's a writer. He's covered basketball, music and more for ESPN, Vice, the Ringer, and more. And he took kind of an unusual path to making a career out of it. Born and raised in Texas, Serrano was originally a teacher who'd write in his spare time. He only started writing full time a little over two years ago. His new book is a hot one - it's called Basketball and Other Things, it's beautifully illustrated, and it's out now.

Finally: some beautiful words about the baseball team with the worst record this year.

Direct download: Bullseye171010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30pm EDT

This week's Bullseye takes you inside the home of the one and only Carl Reiner. A true legend in comedy - Reiner's been in the game since World War Two. Alongside Sid Caesar, he performed on the pioneering Your Show of Shows. He's best friends with Mel Brooks. Reiner also created the Dick Van Dyke Show, wrote Steve Martin's The Jerk and much more. Now, at 95, he's published his 18th book: it's called "Too Busy to Die." Indeed!

Then, Kate and Laura Mulleavy. If you don't know them by name, you've seen their work: the two co-founded Rodarte, one of the most innovative and desirable clothing labels out there. The Mulleavy sisters aren't content to stay put in fashion, though - they just wrote and directed Woodshock, a heady, awe-inspiring film starring Kirsten Dunst.

Direct download: Bullseye171003.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT

A dynamite pairing this week! First, Rapper Open Mike Eagle talks about growing up in Chicago, his slow and steady rise to success and his undying love for professional wrestling.

Then, Paula Poundstone. You know her as a legendary standup, as a voice actor, too, probably. But I mean, this is NPR. So you know her as Paula Poundstone from Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me, right? We brought her on to talk about the movie she loves so much she wishes she made it: 2011's Bridesmaids.

Finally: an outshot about a baseball card and a word we can't say on NPR.

Direct download: Open_Mike_Eagle__Paula_Poundstone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EDT

Two Bullseye classics this week. First up: Judy Greer. You've seen her as Kitty Sanchez in Arrested Development, as Cheryl Tunt on Archer, in Jurassic World, a bunch more. She's one of the most successful co-stars in Hollywood. It stands to reason. She’s a gifted actress, she’s funny, she’s beautiful, but she still looks like a real human being you might know in real life. She talks with Jesse about her roles on screen, how she came to terms with being a co-star, and what it's like being recognized constantly on the street.

 

Then, Ice-T, from 2012.  He's been acting for over 25 years and he was a pioneer of West Coast hip-hop in the early 80s.  His breakthrough on screen was in 1991's New Jack City, and he spent the last dozen years or so solving crimes on Law and Order: SVU. He's an MC and as the frontman of the metal band Body Count he's released more than a dozen albums in his 30 year music career. At the time, Ice had just directed Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, a documentary about hip-hop's origins. Ice talks with Jesse about the good old days of rap, where it's headed now, and how he ended up writing bars for the one and only Mr. T.

Direct download: Bullseye170919.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:08pm EDT

Two Bullseye classics this week! First up: Jesse's 2014 conversation with The Pointer Sisters, one of the biggest R&B groups ever, about their rise to stardom and struggles to stay together as a family. Then, his 2011 interview with funk bass legend Bootsy Collins. Bootsy talks to Jesse about his career as one of pop music's greatest bass players. Also discussed: how'd he end up playing with James Brown? How'd he keep George Clinton down to earth? And where'd he get those dope star glasses? Twinkle twinkle, baby bubba!

Direct download: Bullseye170912.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:13pm EDT

Tim Gunn of Project Runway and more talks fashion, surviving trauma and more. Even some hot couture takes on the American political landscape! Then, singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton talks about his latest work - a dystopian concept album and companion graphic novel - both called "Solid State."

 

Finally: Did you know Norm MacDonald gave one of the funniest Comedy Central Roasts ever? And it wasn't even a roast, really?

Direct download: Bullseye170905.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:25pm EDT

Joining us this week is actor Wallace Shawn, whose many film credits include roles in The Princess Bride, the Toy Story films, and My Dinner with Andre. An accomplished playwright and author, Wallace talks to Jesse about his recent book, a long essay titled "Night Thoughts."

But first: a visit from Canadian comedian and director Jay Baruchel. Jay talks about directing "Goon: Last of the Enforcers" and explains what makes the Canadian comedic sensibility so unique. Plus, English singer-songwriter Nick Lowe recalls the 1950s country and western song that changed his life. Finally, Jesse praises a story-driven video game that captures the loneliness and ambiguity of our lives.

Direct download: Bullseye170829.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EDT

This week, two of our favorite Bullseye guests. First up: Ellie Kemper, star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. If you haven't seen it, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has a pretty unusual premise. A woman emerges from a mid-western bunker. She’s been held captive there by a cultish kidnapper. She and her fellow captives are national news. So, she moves to New York, the one place she can think of where no one will care. The mix of characters and dense, super joke filled pace has earned Kimmy love from critics and a bunch of Emmy nominations - Ellie's up for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series this year.

 

Then, Flying Lotus. Jesse talked with the musician back in 2010, he'd just released his third record, Los Angeles. Born Steven Ellison, he was at the head of a burgeoning beatmaking scene here in LA that would eventually leave a huge, lasting impact on pop and hip hop. Over the course of five records, dozens of collaborations, FlyLo has created lush, kind of psychedelic soundscapes. It's a little disorienting sometimes, but it's always gripping. Now, Ellison's directed his first ever film. It's called "Kuso," and it's probably one of the most intense, and frankly gross, movies to come out in the last few decades.

Direct download: Ellie_Kemper__Flying_Lotus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:32pm EDT

This week, two Emmy nominated heavy hitters. First up: Alfred Molina. Talk about auspicious starts: Alfred Molina's first American film role was as the "Throw me the idol, I'll throw you the whip" guy in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Since then, he's had over 150 parts. That includes unforgettable roles in movies like Coffee and Cigarettes, Boogie Nights, and yes - even Spider-Man 2. He just got an Emmy nomination for his role on Feud: Bette and Joan.

 

Then, Louie Anderson, the legendary standup and former TV host. His role as Christine on the FX show Baskets just earned him his second Emmy nomination. When he plays Christine, he's in drag, sort of, but there's no camp to it, no winking at the camera. He takes the part seriously, plays Christine funny when she's funny, plays her sad when she's sad. He says that's due in part because the role is played in tribute to his own mother.

 

Finally: Faye Dunaway. Steve McQueen. Sex chess. These are a few of Jesse's favorite things… in the 1968 film the Thomas Crown Affair.

Direct download: Alfred_Molina__Louie_Anderson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34am EDT