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.)

Our selection of the greatest comedy albums from the last year with stand-up from veterans, newcomers and even a set recorded live in the woods at MaxFunCon. 

Featuring: Kyle Kinane, Emily Heller, Ron Funches, Sara Schaefer, Hampton Yount, Karen Kilgariff and Drennon Davis, Mike O'Brien (with Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader), Eddie Pepitone, Sheng Wang, Guy Branum, Aziz Ansari, Eugene Mirman, Eliza Skinner, Matt Braunger, Wayne Federman and Beth Stelling.

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Former congressman Barney Frank and punk band, Mission of Burma, plus comedy from Lamont Price. Recorded in front of a live audience at Oberon in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Bullseye Holiday Special with Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Ronnie Spector from the Ronnettes.

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Interviews with David Cross of Mr. Show and W/Bob & David and Tavi Gevinson of Rookie Magazine, plus comedy from Aparna Nancherla and music from Pharoahe Monch and DJ Boogie Blind. This show was recorded at The Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks with John Cleese of Monty Python and Dum Dum Girls founder Dee Dee Penny.

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Jesse Thorn talks to William H Macy, Brian Huskey and Matt Walsh, plus comedy from Baron Vaughn and music from Chicano Batman. Recorded live at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. 

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[r] Actor Allison Janney and musician Ishmael Butler of Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces join Jesse Thorn to talk about their work. Plus director Michel Gondry on the song that changed his life.

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Jesse sits down with the actor and novelist Ethan Hawke to talk about playing a divorced dad on-screen, and being one in real life. Hawke's experiences with parenting inspired his new book Rules For a Knight. Then Jesse talks with actress Michaela Watkins about relationships and her new show, Casual. Plus, Jesse describes how Rakim came in and changed the MC game for good.

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Comedian Matt Braunger sits down with Jesse Thorn to talk about class clowning as a kid, why it's important to try and fail and... his teenage rap career. Plus, Guy Branum interviews Canadian author Margaret Atwood about sex in novels, her childhood growing up in the woods of Quebec, and her favorite Shakespeare. Lastly, Jesse talks about when "Two Sevens Clash" - an apocalyptic album out of Jamaica.

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Singer/songwriter Elvis Costello shares his musical influences, which include his father, an accomplished singer and performer. Plus Elizabeth Banks talks about deciding to work on the biopic Love and Mercy, about Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys.

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Jesse Thorn talks to director of The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Brad Bird, and to Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to comedian, Tig Notaro about the worst few months of her life and how stand up helped her get through them. Later he sits down with musician and author John Darnielle, to talk about his band the Mountain Goats and new novel, Wolf in White Van.

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Guest host Guy Branum talks to Constance Wu from Fresh Off the Boat and to the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter behind Philadelphia and the new movie Freeheld, Ron Nyswaner.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to co-founder of Def Jam Records, Russell Simmons about the early days of hip-hop and discovering meditation. He also sits down with music journalist Carl Wilson to talk about why Celine Dion is one of the most loved and also most disparaged musicians of our time.

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Jesse Thorn talks to the singer/songwriter Bill Withers, of Lean on Me and Just the Two of Us fame, about making it in the music business and then retiring from performance. Plus comedy writer Joe Randazzo shares his secrets to an "unpredictable career in comedy" as outlined in his new book Funny On Purpose, and Jesse explains why his great American hero is one of the kid spellers from the 2002 documentary, Spellbound.

See Bullseye Live this fall! LA, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, DC - check out BullseyeTour.com for more details!

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Jesse talks to Academy Award-nominated actor and now also short fiction writer, Jesse Eisenberg about acting and writing. Eisenberg also reveals his insecurities as an artist. Plus, stand up comedian Brian Regan talks about the process of honing jokes and musician Sara Watkins shares a song that will make you feel ferocious.

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[r] Jesse talks to comedian Andy Daly about his Comedy Central show Review and to rapper Jean Grae. Plus the greatest bootleg tape of all time - and it’s not music.

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Star of 12 Years a Slave and the new movie Z for Zachiarah, Chiwetel Ejiofor talks to Jesse about dealing with creative ambition and getting into a Jiu Jitsu ring with David Mamet. Later, casting director Allison Jones talks about finding talented new actors and pushing to get them on screen. Plus Jesse considers what jump blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon can add to the discussion around race in America.

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Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords joins Jesse Thorn to talk about his new movie People Places Things and why he’s still trying to make it on TV in his home country, New Zealand. Plus writer Jonathan Ames stops by to discuss his new TV show, Blunt Talk, starring Sir Patrick Stewart.

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[r] Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, creators of the TV show Playing House, talk about  their real-life friendship and the marathon improv sessions that produce the show's jokes. Plus comedian Hari Kondablou on how he fits into the "alternative" comedy scene and on graciously accepting his audience's suggestions for jokes.

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Keegan-Michael Key pulls the curtain back on writing and performing for Key & Peele. Then, Tituss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt tells about growing up in Georgia and why Titus Andromedon is such a special character on TV (he'll also talk about the show's breakout hit, Peeno Noir). 

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Comedians David Wain and Michael Showalter join Jesse to talk about their new series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp. Plus 30 Rock’s Toofer, Keith Powell on the 1976 satire Network and Jesse recommends the new season of Andy Daly’s comedy show, Review.

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Director Liz Garbus joins Jesse to talk about her new Nina Simone documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? Later Oliver Wang talks to Jesse about his new book: Legions Of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Jesse talks to singer-songwriter Shamir about high school, musical genres and his new album Ratchet, plus hip-hop producer Pete Rock discusses his best loved collaborations and how he breathes new life into classic records by sampling.

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[r] Actress Judy Greer joins Jesse Thorn to talk about her roles in Archer and Arrested Development. Her book I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star charts life as a talented and prolific performer who’s figured out you get to be funnier playing the best friend than the lead. Greer co-stars in the FX series Married, which returns for its second season this week. Later Jesse sits down with musician Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets, plus he’ll explain the genius of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil.

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Jesse talks to movie director, Penelope Spheeris. She directed Wayne's World, but before that was best known for her music documentary series, The Decline of Western Civilization. Jesse also sits down with singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman.

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Alan Rickman joins Jesse to talk about his new movie A Little Chaos… and also about Die Hard, Galaxy Quest and Harry Potter. Jesse also talks with Sacha Jenkins about his new documentary all about hip hop fashion, Fresh Dressed. MaximumFun.org.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to comedian Chris Gethard about transferring his anarchic stage show to television and to the writer Lawrence Weschler about non-fiction and “the narrative”. Plus Karriem Riggins on the song that changed his life and Jesse’s take on the Bill Murray movie, Quick Change.

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Comedian Jen Kirkman talks to Jesse Thorn about the evolution of her act (and on-stage wardrobe) and about her new stand-up special, I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine). Plus The National's guitarist Bryce Dessner talks about the day he became an artist and Jesse explains the brilliance of the 20th Century photographer whose talent was not telling you the whole story.

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Jesse Thorn talks to superstar basketball player-turned-filmmaker Baron Davis about his documentary The Drew: No Excuse Just Produce. He also sits down with the star of the new Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, actor Paul Dano.

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Jesse Thorn talks to Corin Tucker, lead singer and guitarist for Sleater-Kinney, and comedian Kyle Kinane.

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[r] Jesse Thorn meets the subject and director of the new documentary I Am Big Bird, Carol Spinney and Dave LaMattina. Later he sits down with rapper Vince Staples to discuss the Southern California communities Staples grew up in and why, unlike some rappers, he doesn’t think street life is anything to brag about.

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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, Jesse talks about the magical thing that a man built inside his rented garage.

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Guest host Erin Gibson sits down with veteran character actor Sam Elliott to hear about his new movie I'll See You In My Dreams. Plus Jesse Thorn talks with former 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon about her film Pitch Perfect 2.

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Jesse sits down with Emmy-winning sitcom guru James Burrows, who co-created Cheers and has directed a whole heap of pilots for hugely successful sitcoms including Taxi, Friends, Will & Grace and The Big Bang Theory. He'll talk about working with Andy Kaufman (and Andy's alter-ego Tony Clifton) and the distinct challenges of directing sitcoms. Later, Samuel Herring of synth-pop band Future Islands shares the song that changed his life and Jesse pays tribute to the revolutionary afrobeat of Fela Kuti.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to stand-up comedian, Kumail Nanjiani about moving to the US from Pakistan and working on HBO’s Silicon Valley. Later he explores salsa with the influential Nuyorican bandleader Willie Colón and argues that Michael Palin’s travel shows are a rare, positive hangover of British colonialism.

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Jesse Thorn sits down with writer and director Paul Feig. Feig discusses his new TV show Other Space and explains why he was drawn to reboot Ghostbusters with an all-female squad. Jesse also talks to Reggie Osse, AKA Combat Jack. For years, Osse worked as a music industry lawyer, he now hosts the Combat Jack Show - one of the biggest podcasts in the Hip Hop world. Plus Jesse describes the menace and irresistible abandon of Rick James in his OutShot.

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Jesse Thorn sits down with Jon Ronson to talk about social media shaming and whether it can be a force for good. Plus Peter Guralnick shares the blues album that electrified him as a teenager and Jesse talks about a show where an awful date is literally the worst thing in the world.

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Jesse Thorn talks with Tom Scharpling about taking his cult comedy radio show, The Best Show, from its home on the airwaves, to a new home on the internet. Then later we speak to the guitarist from The Police, Andy Summers. Plus, new comedy from Sara Schaefer, and the inside scoop on one of the folks who helped make Conan O'Brien's show the weird and wonderful thing it is today.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to George Clinton, the 73-year-old mastermind of P-Funk. Clinton paid his dues in the mainstream - singing doo wop and writing for Motown. Then, with Parliament Funkadelic he developed a look and a sound that was like nothing else before it. Later Jesse hears from Christian Acker about the tags you see on walls, park benches and trash cans everywhere. Acker says tagging is one of the last forms of highly practiced penmanship. So that’s what he focuses on in his book, Flip the Script. Plus we’ll go into the woods with comedian Chris Fairbanks. And Jesse will play a song that’ll remind you what it feels like to be a teenager.

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Jesse Thorn sits down with writer and cartoonist, Lynda Barry. She’s currently working as Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’ll also talk to to the veteran comic and actor Tom Arnold. Arnold will tell Thorn about working with Roseanne Barr, and how he's coped with the ups and downs of his career.

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Jesse Thorn talks to Patton Oswalt about the years he spent basically completely indoors. Later, he sits down with Randall Park and Nahnatchka Khan, the star and showrunner, respectively, of the new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat. Plus, Jemaine Clement reveals the song that changed his life and Jesse tells about the disintegration of Sly and the Family stone and the perfect album they made along the way.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to the most famous drag queen in the world, RuPaul. They’ll talk about the time before RuPaul was RUPAUL and how growing up an outcast in San Diego, television was his main companion - and main inspiration.

Later Terry Crews tells how he went from a stint in the NFL to a part on Brooklyn 99.

Plus, MBMBaM's McElroy Brothers advise on arcade etiquette andLA Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg shares the memoir of a TV repairman who explored the notion of immortality.

Oh, and Jesse names the greatest hip-hop album ever recorded. A bold claim? Yes. A true claim? Yes.

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Author and screenwriter Nick Hornby made his name with books like High Fidelity and About A Boy. His new novel, Funny Girl is about a British actress starring in a 1960s sitcom. Hornby talks with Jesse about old TV comedy, personal ambition and sitting on a couch next to Adam Sandler. Later, character actor Luis Guzmán tells about the role that changed his life, Pachanga in Carlito’s Way. Plus Jesse enthuses about the 1995 film noir, Devil in a Blue Dress, explaining why it’s so important that Easy Rawlins is “buying in”.

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Here's the latest episode of our new sister podcast, Pop Rocket. A pop culture discussion show hosted by comedian Guy Branum with digital strategist Wynter Mitchell, academic and DJ Oliver Wang and journalist Margaret Wappler.

This week, the spectacle, the magnificence, the sh*t show that was the 2015 Academy Awards. Why did Neil Patrick Harris miss the mark as host? What was with all those political speeches? And John Travolta… Plus everyone’s first gigs and music recommendations.

Pop Rocket comes out every Wednesday, subscribe now in your favorite podcast catcher.

Produced by Colin Anderson for MaximumFun.org

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[r] R&B stars Ruth and Anita Pointer will talk about the records that inspired them and the country song that earned them a Grammy, but mostly, they’ll have a lot of fun remembering all the great hits they had. We're so excited! 'Frozen' composer Bobby Lopez will talk about why Willy Wonka's ‘Pure Imagination’ changed his life. Carolyn Kellogg of the the LA Times recommends some of her favorite literary westerns. Lastly Jesse will talk about why 'The Muppet Movie' proves that you don't have to be cynical about showbiz.

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Jesse talks to acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee. Spike tells us about his new movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, how he really feels about Larry Bird and about his own very serious addiction.... to Air Jordans. Later Jesse sits down with Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair. The couple created the series High Maintenance, a “not on television” show that follows a New York City marijuana delivery guy as he visits his various clients. Plus, Jesse tells us about the best satire of the last ten years, MTV 2’s Wonder Showzen.

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Writer/director Dan Gilroy and star Rene Russo of 'Nightcrawler' talk about exploring the seedy business of TV news, collaborating as a married couple, and working with Jake Gyllenhaal. Nightcrawler is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

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[r] Two late night hosts and Daily Show alums! Jesse talks to John Oliver about why it’s sometimes weird to make jokes about American politics when you’re a Brit and then with the new Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore about how being a Daily Show correspondent is the perfect prep for hosting one's own show. Plus, the brothers from My Brother, My Brother and Me proffer advice on solo concert-going and playing video games with your boss, and Jesse tells us about the greatest pop song ever (sorry, there's no question about it).

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Kaitlin Olson plays Sweet Dee on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. She’ll talk about morally broken comedy characters and whether it’s a good idea to fall in love with the creator of your TV show. Later Jesse talks to Jeff Chang. About 10 years ago he wrote Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. It won the American Book Award in 2005. His new book is called Who We Be: The Colorization of America. In some ways, it's a follow up to the last one. It's about how art in America shapes, and is shaped by, race. Plus, Jesse tells you about one real-life superhero who he finds astonishing: Andre the Giant

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This week’s guest is the sleight-of-hand master Ricky Jay. He was one of the first guys performing magic at comedy and rock clubs in the 60s and is now one of the most renowned illusionists in the world. Jay is the subject of a new documentary. It’s called Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice. Later on in the show the jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer will reveal the song that changed his life and Jesse will tell you about the record cover he found on eBay that opened up a whole new world.

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Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane talk to Jesse about the unique process of filming Boyhood over the course of 12 years. The movie just won Best Director and Best Motion Picture - Drama at the 2015 Golden Globes. Then, Joe and David Henry will talk about the career of Richard Pryor. They were working on a screenplay about the late comedy legend. The movie hasn’t happened but they used their research to pen an impressionistic biography called Furious Cool. Plus, the folks from Pop Culture Happy Hour share some all-time favorite movie picks and Jesse tried to find what (if any) redeeming qualities belong to the main characters on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

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[r] Archer is back! To celebrate, we share Jesse’s interviews with voice actors Jessica Walter and H. Jon Benjamin. Walter shares a cold hard truth about Flipper.  H. Jon Benjamin talks about his days recording Dr. Katz in a kitchen pantry. Plus, find out how L.A. glam-punks The Runaways found their sound on the other side of the Pacific Ocean and hear a bit of the album where Prince became Prince.

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