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.)

Take pity on our poor intern Brian. We sat him down in front of a computer with a stack of comedy CDs as high as an elephant’s eye. He sifted through hours of hilarious stand-up specials and narrowed them down to the very best. Now we’re ready to share the results with you. It’s here. The Best Comedy of 2013 Special.

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[r] It’s hard to imagine what American comedy would look like without Mel Brooks. Jesse talks to Brooks about about fighting in World War II (where he managed to even make a few Germans laugh), working with Gene Wilder, and that time Sid Caesar dangled Brooks out the window of a Chicago hotel room. Then later, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann talks to Jesse about why she didn’t choose the path of a typical pop star. Gospel singer Shirley Caesar talks about the song that changed her life. Carolyn Kellogg from the LA Times shares a couple of her all time favorite reads. Lastly, Jesse talks about arecord written by a brilliant man, isolated from the word.

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[r] This holiday season, listen back to Jesse’s interview with Ronnie Spector. As the lead singer of the Ronettes, she recorded some of the most iconic Christmas music ever made. Then later, hear Jesse’s interview with Fred Schneider. You know his voice. He sang for the B-52s. In 2010 Schneider recorded a Christmas album with his other band, the Superions.  Bullseye’s resident hip hop expert Andrew Noz will tell us about a couple rap songs that will fit in at your holiday party. The hosts of the advice podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me will guide you through some Christmas gift etiquette. Lastly Jesse will talk about the song that he puts on pretty much every holiday season -- and that you should, too.

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Jack Black will talk to guest host Susan Orlean about which came first, the acting or the music. He'll also talk about why he'd like to work with David Lynch and why he almost didn't take the part in High Fidelity. Then, we’ll revisit Jesse’s conversation with the rapper Bun B. He was one half of UGK, and remains one of the South's greatest hip-hop lyricists. Plus, Pitchfork and Grantland's Ian Cohen will tell you about some new heavy music worth hearing and Susan will tell you about a guy from the Congo who people called 'The Sorcerer of the Guitar'.

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Who WAS Johnny Carson? Guest host Mike Pesca will talk to Henry Bushkin about just that. He was Carson’s longtime lawyer and fixer. Carson even once called Bushkin his best friend. And Johnny didn’t make friends easily. Then later, we revisit Jesse Thorn’s conversation with a woman who was part of an entirely different television phenomenon - Friends. Lisa Kudrow will talk about playing the “dumb” one on Friends, but also her real life career in brain science. Plus, Jim DeRogatis talks about how the arty punk band Wire proved that you don’t need mega-talent, just some really good ideas. And our friends at the film site The Dissolve will tell you which of the dozens of movies out now are actually worth watching. Lastly, Mike talks about why he’s cheering Keith Olbermann’s return to sports.

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[r] Actress Catherine O’Hara talks about her start with the Second City’s SCTV, blockbuster success with Beetlejuice and Home Alone, and her perfect encapsulation of comic absurdity in Christopher Guest films like Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind.

But first, Jesse talks to Big Boi -- one half of OutKast. The hip hop duo swung back and forth across the spectrum of popular music -- zigging with cult favorites like “ATliens” and zagging with top 40 hits like “The Way You Move”. Plus, the hosts of My Brother , My Brother and Me offer some advice for your pressing pop culture problems, and Jesse talks about the magical thing that a man built inside his rented garage.

 

[The segments in this episode aired earlier this year.]

 

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Guest host Jordan Morris is back to talk with Brett Gurewitz. Not only is he a founding member of Bad Religion,  he also owns the juggernaut independent punk label Epitaph Records. Jordan asks Brett about his career with Bad Religion and the effect fame and money can have on punk music. Then later, Jesse Thorn talks to stand-up comedian Jimmy Pardo about how he’s been able to craft a perfect sense of artful carelessness in his act. Plus, Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum talk about the roots of their Prince cover band and Jordan talks about the comic book that finally turned him on to Superman.

 
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Guest host Jordan Morris sits down with actor Greg Sestero and journalist Tom Bissell. In 2003, Greg co-starred in a movie called “The Room”. Its stilted dialogue, weird plot points and bizarre aesthetics turned the movie into a cult hit. There were a lot of questions about how and why it was made, so Greg worked with Tom Bissell to write a book about the film and its eccentric director Tommy Wiseau. Then later we revisit Jesse’s conversation with fashion blogging star Tavi Gevinson. She'll talk about how weird it is to be a teenager in the world of fashion and why her website Rookie is alternative, but not in the way you'd expect. Plus, Jordan asks the LA Times’ Carolyn Kellogg about what two books you should be reading right now and we play exclusive material from Kyle Kinane’s stand-up comedy set at this year’s MaxFunCon.

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Take a listen to our show taped live at KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum! Bill Hader reveals some of his favorite characters that never made it onto SNL, talks about what it felt like to say goodbye to Stefon, and then storms out of the room shouting expletives at Jesse. Also, June Diane Raphael talks about how she met her longtime collaborator Casey Wilson. Their new movie is called Ass Backwards. Plus, we hear a song from the band The Internet. And be sure not to miss one of Jesse’s most important Outshots ever.

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Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel traces the life of a woman living in the 19th century as a botanist. Jesse will ask Elizabeth about what the reaction to ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ has meant to her -- both the good and the not-so-good. Then Jesse sits down with Gillian Jacobs. She plays Britta on the NBC sitcom Community. Plus, Portlandia’s Fred Armisen talks about the album he wishes HE had made; our film critic buddies at The Dissolve pick out a couple of films you’ll want to watch ASAP, and Jesse tells you why a perfect balance between the real and unreal makes one particular video game so enticing.

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[r] Tune in for a rare interview with the soul legend Bill Withers. He retired from the music industry in the mid 1980s and, with a few exceptions, has stayed out of the public eye for more than 20 years. He and Jesse will talk about why he enlisted in the Navy, the challenge of making his first record in his thirties, and why he ultimately retired from the music industry. Plus, Pitchfork and Grantland writer Ian Cohen will bring in a couple of his all-time favorite heavy records; Brad Tolinski will share the album that kicked off a new era of rock in the 70s, then Davy Rothbart from FOUND magazine offers up a couple of his best finds. And lastly, Jesse will tell you about the NewsRadio scene that makes him laugh every single time he watches it. Spoiler alert: it's all Phil Hartman's fault.

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Nick Offerman plays Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation. Swanson is one of the most beloved characters on TV… known for his love of meat, his hatred of big government, and his healthy mustache. Jesse also talks to a few of the members from the sketch comedy group The Birthday Boys. They talk about what it’s like to make a TV show with their comedy hero, Bob Odenkirk. Plus, painter Brandon Bird talks about the day he became an artist; the folks from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour tell you about a couple of their favorite new things,  and Jesse talks about why it’s worth following Michael Palin around the world.

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Nicole Holofcener has written and directed five films. The fifth, her newest is called ‘Enough Said’. It's a sweet and sharp movie starring Julia Louis Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini. The movie looks at a bunch of life-stuff -- the aftermath of divorce, how tough it is to make new friends as an adult, and the weird ways we deal with people who might be richer or poorer than we are. And then later, we go from the end of marriage, to the beginning. ‘Husbands’ is a sitcom that lives on the web. It was created by Brad Bell and the longtime TV writer Jane Espenson. Jesse sits down to talk with both of them. Plus, Erik Adams from The AV Club shares a couple of off-the-radar TV picks for the Fall.

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Junot Diaz has a book of short stories out now in paperback. It’s called ‘This Is How You Lose Her.’ Junot’s book is new, but the protagonist Yunior isn’t. This is the third time the Pulitzer Prize-winning author has written about him. Is Yunior just an alter-ego for Diaz? Jesse will ask. Then, we revisit Jesse’s interview with the actress Carrie Fisher. She’ll talk about what it's like to play one of the most recognizable characters in movie history. Later in life, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then treated it with electroshock therapy. She’ll talk about what that was like, too. Plus, the hosts of My Brother My Brother and Me answer listeners’ pressing pop culture problems; Ian Cohen introduces us to a couple of great new heavy records; and in the wake of The Accidental Racist, Jesse will tell you about a record that mixed country and hip-hop to the benefit of both.

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Stephen Merchant says he didn’t get into comedy to become popular. He did it mostly to please himself. But then, with his buddy Ricky Gervais, he made a  TV show called ‘The Office’ and it changed both of their lives. Jesse and Stephen talk  about how the original version of the immensely popular sitcom was created, and why it was tough for the pair to decide on what to make next. They’ll also talk about Stephen Merchant’s new series for HBO called ‘Hello Ladies.’ Plus, comedy from Myq Kaplan, and Jesse plays the one song that is absolutely, 100% guaranteed to get any dance floor MOVING.

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[r] Stephen Tobolowsky is a veteran character actor. Now he's an author, too, but his book isn't about Hollywood stuff. It's about normal stuff from his life like getting held up at the grocery store, or spending Christmas tripping on acid. Plus, comedian Demetri Martin shares one of his favorite hobbies, we hear some all-time rock picks from music critics at The Low Times, and Jesse talks about how soul-singer Solomon Burke can seriously tear the house down. This episode originally aired in 2012. 

 
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From Bob Newhart to George Carlin, the comedy duo Bob & Ray influenced some of the 20th century’s finest entertainers. Jesse will talk with comedy writer David Pollock about how Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding created that bond with their audience. Pollock’s new book is called Bob & Ray, Keener Than Most Persons. And then, we revisit Jesse’s interview with the Emmy-nominated actor Tony Hale. He's having a pretty good year. He's been in a couple of big television series in recent months -- Arrested Development and Veep. Plus, our go-to rap critic recommends some all-time great tracks, and Jesse tells the true story of a man who spent the last decade and a half of his life secretly building something amazing in a rented garage.

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When it comes to sharing the planet with other animals, you might think that we humans are just screwing it all up. Ruining everything. Hogging all the resources. But what if it’s a little more complicated than that? What do the stories we tell ourselves about wild animals actually mean? Jon Mooallem’s new book Wild Ones attempts to explain. Then later, revisit Jesse’s conversation with the late master of American pulp ficton: Elmore Leonard. They’ll talk about his distinctive prose and the many film adaptations of his work. Plus comedy from Kurt Braunohler, a couple of new DVD recommendations from film website The Dissolve, and Jesse explains the virtues of watching drunk people explain important historical events.

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[r] First, an interview with the rapper and author Prodigy, one-half of the seminal hardcore hip hop duo Mobb Deep. He'll talk about why his naturally shy demeanor was taken for weakness, selling crack cocaine when he was barely in middle school, and the jail time that turned his life around. Plus, Carolyn Kellogg from the Los Angeles Times shares some of her all-time favorite books and Jesse explains why you've been underappreciating Randy Newman all these years.

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Hear Jesse’s interview with one of comedy’s greatest grumps: Lewis Black. He didn’t become a stand-up until his mid-thirties. Find out why he left the theater for comedy and why he actually considers himself a family comic. The answer will surprise you. Then later, Jesse talks with Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer. They just started their second season hosting a talk show for MTV. They’ve both worked a lot of comedy clubs and comedy theaters for audiences of slightly drunk twenty- and thirty-somethings, so performing for a younger, MTV demographic is a new experience. Plus, Davy Rothbart of Found Magazine shares some of his newest discoveries, and Jesse reveals the TV food show that he actually really likes.

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First up on the show is an interview with Kumail Nanjiani. He has come a long way since we had him do stand up on our show a few years ago. He just put out his first comedy special, Beta Male. He just got a role in Mike Judge’s new HBO show. He’s co-hosting a new show on Comedy Central next year and he soaks up his free time with a hit video game podcast called The Indoor Kids.

 

Then, Jesse Talks to Lake Bell. She’s the writer, director and the star of a funny new movie called In A World. It’s about a woman trying to make it in the voiceover business. We’ll talk about her new movie, and about some her favorite accents and vocal exercises, and how she handled the transition from being an actress to a director.


Plus, Andrew Noz recommends some new rap music for you to check out, Sergio Dias from the Brazilian psych rock group Os Mutantes talks about how Elvis changed his life, and Jesse opens a window into the crazy world of the Confidence Man.

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If a director is looking for the perfect guy to play an oblivious, cocky buffoon then Fred Willard is their man. Jesse talks to Fred about his entire career, and finds out why he turned down the lead in the movie Airplane! Then later Jesse talks to David Gordon Green. He’s directed everything from pensive, dramatic movies like All The Real Girls to huge stoner-action comedies like Pineapple Express. His new movie, Prince Avalanche exists somewhere in between. Plus, Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen recommends a couple of great new heavy rock records, we share an episode from Nate DiMeo’s The Memory Palace, and Jesse talks about his favorite Robin Thicke record. Yes. He has a favorite Robin Thicke record. It’s great, too.

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[r] A conversation with the New York cultural authority Fran Lebowitz. Find out why she was expelled from high school, why she waltzed into a publishing office barefoot to submit her first manuscript, and why she's had writers block for more than thirty years. Plus, hip hop drummer and producer Karriem Riggins on the James Brown song that changed his life. 
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A lawyer, a writer, a psychiatrist, and a theater professor got together to write a humor book about earning your MBA on the toilet. The group is called Kasper Hauser. Rob Baedeker and James Reichmuth talk about how they balance comedy with full-time jobs, how they pick their jokes democratically, and why they haven't left the Bay Area. And then a look back at the life of David Rakoff. His new novel was published posthumously this month. To reflect, hear a couple of David and Jesse's past conversations. Plus, the editors from the new film site The Dissolve recommend Blue Jasmine and The Act of Killing. Then Jesse talks about Elliott Gould's turn as a 50s noir hero adrift in 70s LA, in Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye.

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Rick Moranis was a movie star. Strange Brew, Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Honey I Shrunk the Kids. And then he quit. We'll talk about why he doesn't regret leaving show business to raise his children. And find out why he's returning to the public eye with an album of Jewish songs called My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs. Then, hear Jesse's interview with a true soul music icon --  Booker T Jones. Plus, Carolyn Kellogg offers up a couple of great new books you should read this summer, we play a little bit from Doug Benson’s new comedy album, and Jesse talks about Chance The Rapper’s free mixtape Acid Rap. 

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You'd be hard pressed to find two music groups with more divergent sounds than the jam band Phish and the horrorcore rap duo Insane Clown Posse. But they've got something in common. Each of them has a deeply passionate following, and each of them has deeply, deeply passionate haters. When Nathan Rabin tried to write a critic's look at these bands' worlds, he found himself sucked in. Then later Jesse talks to Benjamin Nugent about another group of American sub-culture. D&D players, historical reenactors, ham radio enthusiasts. You know, nerds. Ben is the author of American Nerd: The Story of My People. His 2007 book looks at what the word actually means.

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Delve into the culture of pickup basketball this week, and find out why each of the hundreds of courts in New York City is a unique experience. Jesse will talk with Bobbito Garcia and his co-director Kevin Couliau about their new documentary ‘Doin’ It In The Park’. Then writer Mary Roach, author of the new book ‘Gulp’, takes us on a rollicking tour of the human digestive system. [The podcast version of this interview is featured UNCUT and UNCENSORED] Plus Sean O’Neal and Alex Dowd from the A.V. Club suggest a couple of new releases worth checking out, Jesse talks about the album where Prince really became Prince, and gospel singer Shirley Caesar shares the song that changed her life.

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[r] Who is Lemmy? Well he’s the singer for Motörhead and he’s revered by metal fans around the globe. Jesse talked to Lemmy in person a couple of years ago at SxSW and you’ll hear that amazing conversation later in the show. But first we revisit Jesse’s conversation with Jackson Publick, the co-creator of The Venture Bros. The show has just returned for a fifth season after a long hiatus. Plus, a couple of Jason Kottke’s all time picks for the best stuff on the web, and the hosts of My Brother My Brother and Me offer up answers to listeners’ pop culture quandaries.

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Director Paul Feig talks about being a child magician, an actor and stand-up, and what finally drove him behind the camera to direct film and television. Plus, he’ll talk about his new movie The Heat, his last movie Bridesmaids, and why he likes watching women be funny. Then Ophira Eisenberg talks about why she used to date so much and so often. She’s the host of NPR’s Ask Me Another, and her memoir is called Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy. Plus, the New Yorker’s TV critic Emily Nussbaum talks about a couple of her favorite new shows, and why you ought to check them out.

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Charlie Wilson made hits in the 80s as the frontman of the Gap Band. In the 90s he was homeless on the streets of LA. Then, he turned it all around. Jesse talks with Charlie Wilson about his astonishing career with The Gap Band and his later collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Tupac and more. Plus hear stand-up comedy from The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal, culture picks from Mark Frauenfelder, and which  Mountain Goats song you should listen to immediately.

 

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[r] “Weird Al” Yankovic is a master of parody music and one of the all-time bestselling accordionists. He and Jesse talk about Yankovic’s multi-decade career. Plus, Bullseye’s rap contributor Andrew Noz talks about some his all-time favorite tracks. Then Geoffrey Nunberg discusses the origins of the word A-hole, and how its cultural significance has changed over time. Lastly, Jesse reveals who, for his money, is the all-time king of late night talk shows.

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Christopher Guest talks about the origins of his signature style of parodic filmmaking. He’ll also talk about why music pops up in his movies so much. Guest explored folk music in A Mighty Wind and community musical theater in Waiting For Guffman. His new TV show on HBO is called Family Tree. After that, Dan Kennedy will talk about his new novel American Spirit. Plus, the AV Club tells us about the new Mikal Cronin and Vampire Weekend records, and Nick Krill from the Spinto Band reveals the song that changed his life.

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Nile Rodgers played guitar on the new Daft Punk single, but decades before that he launched a string of hits with the group Chic, including "Le Freak" and "Good Times", and went on to become a songwriting and producing superstar.  He was behind Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out", David Bowie's "Let's Dance", Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and many more.  Now, he reflects on decades of hit writing, collaborating, and the meaning of music in his life.

 
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Jesse talks to Mel Brooks about his unparalleled career -- from writing for Sid Caesar on television in the 1950s to working with Gene Wilder on The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein in the 60s and 70s. Then later, Jesse talks to the directors of a documentary that follows the transformation of a man from WWII flying ace into Father Yod - the leader of a 1970s commune in the Hollywood Hills. Plus hear some of the psychedelic music that Father Yod made with his followers: the Source Family.

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Jesse talks to Huey Lewis about his pub rock beginnings, his multi-platinum success with the album Sports, and how he wrote songs for movies like Back to the Future and Pineapple Express. He also talks about the time he snuck onto an airplane bound for London. Then, from free flights to free phone calls. Find out how “phreakers” were able to use computerized tones to unlock an entire phone network. Heck, one guy did it just by whistling the right way. Phil Lapsley will talk about his book “Exploding The Phone: The Untold Story of The Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell”.

 
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We revisit Jesse’s interview with the delightful stand-up comic Simon Amstell. On TV, he prods at the powers that be and has even caused a few walk-offs. But despite the escapades, Amstell spends much of his time on stage and off looking inward, at himself. The self-doubt got so deep that he went on a shamanic quest to South America for answers. Then Brian K Vaughn talks about his comic book series SAGA. It's a space fantasy about parenting with a deep, engaging mythology. Plus, AV Club contributors Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey talk about some all-time TV favorites: the serial drama Twin Peaks and the British sitcom Spaced. [Portions of this episode previously aired in December 2012.]

 
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We’re talking Veep this week with the HBO comedy’s showrunner, Armando Iannucci, and its star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Iannucci talks about geeking out on American and British politics and recreating them on-screen. Then, Louis-Dreyfus talks about her days on Seinfeld and her favorite dirty phrase from Veep. Plus, British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg talks about the song that changed his life.

 
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Jesse talks to the director Shane Carruth. His new movie Upstream Color has almost no dialogue, involves a kind of abstract science fiction premise, but keeps you fully engaged. Then Jesse talks to Rodney Ascher, who directed Room 237. It’s a documentary about The Shining. But it doesn’t go behind the scenes. It features interviews with people who have radical theories about the movie. One guy even says that the film contains signs of a faked moon landing. Rodney and Jesse talk about how plausible all this stuff is, and whether the authorial intent even matters. Plus, comedian Kyle Kinane offers tips on keeping down your cab fare.

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Actress Catherine O’Hara talks about her start with the Second City’s SCTV, blockbuster success with Beetlejuice and Home Alone, and her perfect encapsulation of comic absurdity in Christopher Guest films like Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind.

But first, Jesse talks to Big Boi -- one half of OutKast. The hip hop duo swung back and forth across the spectrum of popular music -- zigging with cult favorites like “ATliens”, and zagging with top 40 hits like “The Way You Move”. Plus, pop culture advice from the hosts of My Brother, My Brother and Me.

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There’s no mistaking actress Lily Tomlin. Even when the part is small, she’s never lost in the background. In fact she almost steals the show in the new Tina Fey movie. It’s called Admission. Jesse talks to Tomlin about her storied career.  Then astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson chases the unexplored secrets of the universe and then tells Jesse why he shouldn’t be scared of space. Plus, FOUND Magazine’s Davy Rothbart is constantly discovering the amazing notes and photos that other people have left behind. He returns to the program to share a few of his latest favorites.

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Dive into the empire that Cheers built. Whether it was The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, Frasier, or Friends, Warren Littlefield oversaw all of it. NBC was a Thursday night powerhouse in the 80s and 90s. But now? That's all pretty much crumbled. Hear an extended interview with a real-life television executive. His book is called Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. Plus, Oliver Wang explains how a forgotten Al Green record helped create a new kind of soul music.

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Simon Rich is an absolutely hilarious writer. He sits down with Jesse, and says that he doesn't write about the way love happens, he writes about the way love feels. Rich has a new book out -- Last Girlfriend on Earth. Plus, we revisit an interview with comedian Bill Burr. The first time you hear Burr, you might think he’s just a macho, in-your-face type of comic. But most of the time you’ll find him pointing that aggression at himself.

Plus, Eugene Mirman finds an old notebook in his parents basement and hear how soul singer Solomon Burke absolutely, positively tears the house down.

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Alex Zalben and Brian Heater offer up some of their all-time comics favorites. The comedian Moshe Kasher talks about his amazing memoir, rapper Lateef the Truthspeaker reveals how jazz scat changed his life, and Jesse talks to the directors of Undefeated -- it's a sports documentary, it won an Oscar, and NPR's Mike Pesca says it's better than Hoop Dreams!

(This episode originally aired March 27, 2012.)

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Nathan Rabin and Marah Eakin from the AV Club talk about a couple of their all-time favorite albums from Warren Zevon and Fleetwood Mac, respectively. Aisha Tyler -- who stars as Lana on Archer, the animated spy show on FX -- talks about living a real-life version of Fame in high school and funneling her experiences as an outsider into performance and comedy. Plus, the jazz singer Bilal talks about his school days, too. He was voted the weirdest kid in his class. Bilal's new album is called A Love Surreal. And Jesse reveals the best cold open from a sitcom, ever.


[Segments from this show aired on previous episodes of Bullseye and The Sound of Young America]

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The actor Andrew Rannells talks about growing up gay in Nebraska, his role in The Book of Mormon, and how to avoid uncomfortable moments when filming nude scenes. Public broadcasting legend Jim Lehrer discusses the benefits of working on a tight budget and his early years spent working in a bus depot. Plus, Thao Nguyen (of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down) shares the song that changed her life.

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The Coup's Boots Riley talks about using lyrics to battle capitalism coporatism, police brutality and injustice. Roman Mars, host of 99% Invisible, traces his journey from wunderkind PhD student to public radio producer to crowd-funded podcaster. Comedian Steve Agee reveals why God invented the Internet Movie Database. Jesse recommends a song that never fails to make him think of the Bay Area. This week's show was recorded live on stage at the Punchline in San Francisco. 

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The writer George Saunders talks about his early creative challenges, the slight constant pressure of capitalism, and Tenth of December, his new book of short stories. Maria Bamford explains why she filmed her new comedy special in front of an audience of two (her parents), and why it's important to talk about scary stuff on stage. Plus, Jesse shares one of his favorite poems by William Carlos Williams. 

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W. Kamau Bell, host of Totally Biased, calculates the gentrification sweet spot. Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell's life is changed by a Tom Waits song, even though it wasn't the one she meant  to hear. Plus comedian Mike Birbigilia makes a movie. He says it's the hardest thing he's EVER DONE -- but he's down to do it all again. [This episode originally aired in September of 2012]

Direct download: Bullseye130205b.mp3
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Jesse talks to Billy Eichner, who quizzes bewildered New York pedestrians on the topics that are nearest and dearest to his heart: Britney Spears, Meryl Streep and Madonna. But first, Nick Kroll talks about his new sketch series Kroll Show, and why all of his characters tend to exaggerate how important they actually are. Plus, writer Brad Tolinski explores the album that kicked off a new era of heavy rock n roll: Led Zeppelin III. 

Direct download: bullseye130129.mp3
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It may not be the movie that won Jeff Bridges an Oscar, but The Big Lebowski is still one of the actor's favorites. Bridges joins Zen master Bernie Glassman to talk with Jesse about the Dude in all of us. Then, H. Jon Benjamin talks about voicing the super spy Archer and his days recording Dr. Katz in a kitchen pantry. Plus, Jesse pays tribute to a California great: Huell Howser. 

Direct download: bullseye130122b.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EST

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady talks about the unpredictable and emotional music of the punk band The Replacements, and how one their songs changed his life. Documentarian Errol Morris reveals why he doesn't play "GOTCHA" with his interview subjects. Plus, an interview with the actor Benedict Cumberbatch. He's playing villains in two big upcoming blockbusters. We'll talk about putting his spin on one of pop culture's most ubiquitous heroes, Sherlock Holmes. 

Direct download: bullseye130115.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EST

Aimee Mann explains her transition from an 80s pop star to a solo performer who writes mostly for her own tastes. Then, a conversation with Seth Godin. He's kind of a creative marketing guy, but not in the sleazy way. He's actually kind of brilliant. Plus, Jordan ranks what's best in America and Jesse suggests you check out Orson Welles' final masterwork - F for Fake.

Direct download: bullseye130108.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EST

Bullseye features the best stuff from comedy specials and comedy albums released in 2012. Hear from Demetri Martin, John Mulaney, Maria Bamford, Jim Gaffigan, Aziz Ansari, Hannibal Burress, Kyle Kinane, Paul F Tompkins, James Adomian, Doug Benson, Lewis Black, the ladies of Garfunkel & Oates, and Tig Notaro. 

Direct download: bullseye130101.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EST