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.)

For over a decade, actress Geena Davis has been spearheading an institute that gathers the numbers on gender balance on-screen. On this week's episode, she shares her fascinating take on what they do with all their findings plus, some heartwarming stories about how her work has shaped the way her children think about TV and film.

 

Then, writer and humorist, Jack Handey of SNL's "Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey" offers an explanation as to why the voice of Deep Thoughts might be a psychopath, but definitely not insane.

 

And finally, for this week's outshot: Jesse thinks about the lasting amusement found in a 20-year old website. Welcome. To Bullseye. Welcome to Bullseye. Anything is possible at Bullseye. Welcome to you, who are at Bullseye. Welcome!

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This week, writer and director Robert Smigel breaks down what really happened when he was showrunning "The Dana Carvey" show. Plus, he'll talk about so much more including his time on SNL, and his new movie "The Week Of" on Netflix. And probably his best known creation: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

 

Then, Gillian Jacobs. You know her from her roles on "Community", "Girls,"  and "Love." She'll be in two upcoming films: "Life of the Party" and Netflix's "Ibiza." She keeps busy, but after working so hard these past few years, she tells Jesse why she's taken some time off for a little self-care.

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This week, two great musician interviews from the Bullseye archives. First up: Neko Case. It's hard to think of a singer/songwriter more beloved in the alt country / indie rock world Case inhabits. Her work - about half a dozen solo albums and a long list of collaborations with artists like New Pornographers and kd lang - has thrilled critics for decades now. She and Jesse talk about her transition from drummer to singer and guitarist, her move to a farm in Vermont, and more.

 

Then, Thao Nguyen. Her band, Thao and the Get Down, Stay Down, have been making pop music with a bold, confessional bent for a while now. She and Jesse talk about artistic growth, nurturing relationships with estranged parents and her most recent record - 2016's A Man Alive. Both Thao and Neko are embarking on a big nationwide tour this Summer - find links to dates on the Bullseye page at MaximumFun.org!

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This week, we're talking with two *very* funny people. First: Roy Wood Jr. Roy's a correspondent on the Daily Show these days, but the road he took to get there is fascinating. Roy produced, wrote and hosted on a grab bag of different radio shows, first in his hometown of Birmingham, AL, then in Los Angeles. He's also a standup with his own weird, kind of brilliant form of truth-telling. Don't miss this one.

Then, actor/director/writer Peter Serafinowicz. He's got a starring role on Amazon's The Tick but Lord alive, what a career he's had! He's a music video director, co-creator of some of England's weirdest (and funniest) comedy shows - he also did the voice of Darth Maul in the phantom menace. Remember that?

Finally, if you ever found yourself falling in love with a team because of their goofy logo, have we got a blog for you!

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Don't sleep on this one. It's a celebration of one of the best shows ever: The Wire!

 

First, you'll hear a vintage Bullseye interview (recorded live to tape in the apartment back in '08) with two of the show's most beloved stars: Wendell Pierce, who played Det. Bunk Moreland, and Andre Royo, who played Bubbles. Royo and Pierce talk about the slow response the show got at first, the love they get now and the painstaking efforts Simon and co took to make sure the show got Baltimore right.

 

Then, author Jonathan Abrams. He just wrote a brand new book about the Wire - it's called "All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire." Abrams interviewed cast and crew and writers to unveil a nuanced, fascinating look inside on of the greatest TV dramas of all time.

 

The Outshot will return next week. Spot on!

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Emmy Award winning actress Edie Falco and San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence are our guests on this week's show. Edie Falco is a brilliant, charming person. She's best known for her roles in "The Sopranos" and "Nurse Jackie." These days, she's been getting a lot of movie work: she's starring opposite Jay Duplass in the new movie "Outside In," which is out now.

Then, Hunter Pence. He joined the San Francisco Giants in 2012 and helped bring the team two world series victories. He's a beloved member of the team known for a wacky and kind of inexplicable playing style. Also, he wears high socks. What's not to love!

Finally, for this week's outshot: The Netflix British television comedy "Toast of London." Which might be too weird to watch. But still: watch it!

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Comedy nerds, rejoice! This week Jesse talks with Eugene Levy - the SCTV vet, co-creator of great Christopher Guest movies and American Pie star. Levy just wrapped up season 4 of his terrific CBC series Schitt's Creek. He talks about working with his son, who co-created the show with him, plus lots of great stories from SCTV's good old days!

 

But first: legendary director Alexander Payne. One of the most charming and stylish dudes around. He talks about Downsizing, his latest film. Plus: writer and director Kay Cannon tells us about the Craziest ******* Day of Her Entire Career and Jesse tells you about the pathos and beauty behind the lost bird posters that used to dot San Francisco's Mission District.

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This week, two Max Fun favs. First up: Andrew W.K.! He just released a new album: You're Not Alone. It's his first in almost a decade. You're Not Alone has that same classic Andrew W.K. of inspirational party rock - sometimes delivered in song, sometimes in spoken word. And Andrew reveals a lot of himself in the record, too. He talks about all that with Jesse, plus why he welcomes any and all Mr. Rogers comparisons.

 

Then, Bill Hader. Of course, you know him from his time on Saturday Night Live. He was kind of an impressions guy - he did a mean Vincent Price. But his most famous character was Stefon, from Weekend Update. You remember Stefon, right? He left the show in 2013 and took up acting - he stars alongside Fred Armisen on IFC's Documentary Now! His latest project is a TV show called Barry, out now on HBO. Hader stars as the show's title character, Barry Berkman. Barry's an ex-marine, turned low rent hitman in Ohio, turned aspiring actor in Los Angeles.

 

And finally, Van Morrison doesn't really like to perform live, but that didn't stop him from making a perfect live album. Jesse tells you about it on this week's Outshot.

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Two more classics from the Bullseye archives, y'all. First: pack your knives and listen up! Padma Lakshmi, host of TV's Top Chef, stops for a chat. She literally wrote an Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs - like, literally that's the title of the book. She's got spice recommendations for Jesse, plus she talks about her fascinating childhood spent bouncing between New York and Chennai.

 

Then: how do you make a joke about death?  How about an entire standup special? Well, you just do it. Conan writer and comedian Laurie Kilmartin made a show (and later, album) called 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad, which is about exactly what the title suggests it is. She's also the author of the new book "Dead People Suck: A Guide for Survivors of the Newly Departed."

 

Finally, Jesse recommends a Simpsons episode that tells you everything you need know about the Bay Area tech boom.

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This week, some heavy hitters! First, Forest Whitaker. He's of course the star of *countless* great movies. He's got this knack for taking huge figures from history and portraying them complex, fascinating, sometimes really fragile people. He played Charlie Parker in Bird, won an Academy Award for playing  Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Now, he's starring as Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the new film The Forgiven. He talks with Jesse about getting to know Archbishop Tutu as a character and a friend over the years. Plus, hot takes on Battlefield Earth!

 

Then, Armando Iannucci. He's a brilliant comic writer - he created Veep, In The Loop, The Thick of It. And  in all of those projects, he's found most of his material in the vain, ambitious and insecure people who run democracies - UK cabinet ministers in The Thick of It, presidential wannabes in Veep.  His latest project is called "The Death of Stalin" and it's about, well, Stalin. How do you make a comedy based on a guy like that? Listen to find out!

 

Finally, Jesse tells you about The Coup, a group that puts a human side to hard line, radical political rap.

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