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.)

Wrap up 2016 with a much needed laugh - it’s Bullseye’s proudest annual tradition - the End of Year Best Comedy Special. You’ll hear some of the year’s best standup: Maria Bamford, W. Kamau Bell, Cameron Esposito, and much more.

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On a brand new Bullseye Holiday special, Jesse talks with Andy Richter about how to love Christmas after getting burned by it. Plus, actress Jane Lynch stops by to share her new album of swingin’ Christmas music.

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Jesse talks to Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish filmmaker about Julieta, his newest film. Plus, Alexis Krauss from the band Sleigh Bells on the song that changed her life and the hypnotic, enchanting power of old paintings of cows.

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Jesse talks with John Cale, the musician and producer, about his time in the Velvet Underground, producing artists like the Stooges and Patti Smith, and his latest record. Plus, comic improv legends TJ and Dave and new music from the band Split Single.

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Jesse talks with Sarah Jessica Parker about her long, dynamic career, including her star roles in Sex and the City and the new HBO series Divorce. Plus, comedy from the legendary Dwayne Kennedy and music from the one singer we should all turn to when we’re feeling down.

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Jesse talks to Colin Quinn about his time on Saturday Night Live and his new Netflix special, New York Story. Padma Lakshmi, host of Top Chef, model and author takes us deep into the world of spices and herbs. Plus, standup comedy from Sara Schaefer and more.

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  [r] Comedian Jemaine Clement tells Jesse about growing up in New Zealand, being mixed race, and his time as a member of Flight of the Conchords, the hit HBO comedy duo. Then, TV writer and novelist Jonathan Ames joins the show. Ames is the mind behind the new Starz’ series Blunt Talk and HBO’s Bored to Death.  
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Actor Willem Dafoe and writer / director Paul Schrader tell Jesse about their new movie, the gritty and wild Dog Eat Dog. Then, Jesse talks with the legendary singer songwriter David Crosby, of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash. He’ll talk about dating Joni Mitchell and turning his life around after prison.

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[r] Comedian Patton Oswalt tells Jesse about the years he spent almost completely indoors - pitching failed sketches in writers rooms, going to the movies, and standing on stage every night. Later, Randall Park and Nahnatchka Khan, from ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat talk about how the hit sitcom about a first generation Taiwanese American family came to be. Plus, Jesse talks about the Sly and the Family Stone record you absolutely need to hear.

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Norman Lear, the Godfather of American sitcom, tells Jesse why he decided to make All In The Family and how he drew stories from his own life and those of his writers to bring real issues to TV comedy shows. Later, the star of HBO’s The Night Of and the upcoming Star Wars: Rogue One, Riz Ahmed explains why the British Asian experience made hip-hop so important to him as a kid and we hear some of his new Swet Shop Boys album, Cashmere. Plus Jesse explains why Blunt Talk his his favorite weird show on TV right now.

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Interviews with Veep creator Armando Iannucci and the writer behind Sarah Jessica Parker's new HBO show, Sharon Horgan. Plus stand-up comedy from Josie Long and live music from Romare. Recorded live at the London Podcast Festival.

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Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butler met at a comedy night in Chicago five years ago.  Rhea was new to comedy and still had a day job.  Cameron had been a working comedian for almost a decade.  They hit it off, fell in love, moved to LA, got married and started a stand up night called "Put Your Hands Together".  Last year they were asked by the Seeso network to make a stand up series based on "Put Your Hands together". It ended up morphing into the show they made, a sitcom called "Take My Wife".  The show mirrors their lives in almost every way.  Cameron and Rhea sit down with Jesse to talk about the good and bad of making a show based on your lives and marriage.

Although he is probably best known for his role on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jeff Garlin has a very prolific career.  He came in to tell us about the craziest night of his career for our new segment "The craziest @#$% day of your career".

Jesse tells us about a movie with a beautiful lack of ambition.  The taking of Pelham 123.

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Kaitlin Olson plays Sweet Dee on the long-running sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dee is the only female member of "The Gang", a bunch of depraved, self-centered pals who run a bar. The Gang is constantly looking for ways to get rich quick, humiliate their enemies, get out of work, and prove once and for all the talent, charisma and brilliance they hold to be self-evident. In an unusual move for a solo female character, Dee doesn't serve to counterbalance the guys' bad behavior -- she absolutely matches their pace.
Olson talks to us about creating a more fully-fleshed character for Dee, how she came to comedy, and how she ended up dating (and marrying) her showrunner.

Jeff Chang talks to us about what diversity means to us today, the struggle for artists to defy racial categorization, and how and why corporations embraced multiculturalism.

Chang’s newest book- We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation- is an exploration of the current unrest abound in the United States through a series of essays.

Jesse also tells us about the life and legend of Andre the Giant.

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Danny Fields is a music manager and publicist who was instrumental in signing and promoting some of the biggest names in Punk Rock history.
This week, he and Jesse discuss his decision to leave the ivy league tract, his time in Andy Warhol’s Factory, and what it was like managing The Ramones.

Judith Light has had an almost 40 year acting career in which she’s played strong female characters on shows like One LIfe To Live and Who’s The Boss?. She is now continuing in this motif with her tenure on Broadway, winning two Tony Awards for her performances in the last 5 years, starring in a one woman show, and of course her groundbreaking performance in Transparent.
Judith sits down with guest correspondent Keith Powell to discuss her work on Transparent, the cast’s relationship with Jill Soloway, and the famous courtroom scene on One Life to LIve that launched her career.

Jesse talks about Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some as a reflection of the necessity for people to fall into spells of nostalgia, even if just for 90 minutes.

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This week, Jesse sits down with Hasan Minhaj, comedian and Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.  They discuss stand up comedy in other countries, the current political climate in the United States, and his one man show Homecoming King.

He also talks to Margaret Wappler, a journalist, columnist, pop culture critic, short story writer, podcast host , teacher, and now novelist.
Margaret and Jesse talk about her new novel Neon Green, how she took care of her ill father as a teenager, the writing process, and the 1990’s.

And Jesse talks about the look on former NFL star and current analyst Randy Moss' face while his colleague Trent Dilfer gave his thoughts on the player protests going on  in the NFL right now.

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Jesse sits down with acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee. He tells us about how addiction is made explicit in his movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, how he really feels about Larry Bird and about his own very serious addiction.... to Air Jordans.

Jesse also talks to Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair. Katja is a casting director who previously won an Emmy for her work on 30 Rock; Ben Sinclair is an actor. The two are a married couple, and created the webseries High Maintenance. The show follows a New York City marijuana delivery guy as he visits his various clients.

MTV2's Wonder Showzen looked like a kids' show. But it wasn't. It really, really, wasn't. Jesse tells us why Wonder Showzen is his favorite TV satire of the past decade.

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While actor Felicity Huffman is probably best known for her tenure as Lynette Scavo in Desperate Housewives, she has played many beloved characters throughout her career as an actor. From Dana Whitaker in Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night to Bree in Transamerica, Huffman now is starring inAmerican Crime, ABC’s Emmy nominated series.
Jesse sits down with Huffman to discuss her preparation for her varied roles in American Crime, her relationship with William H. Macey, and how motherhood has affected her acting career.
Huffman is nominated for an Emmy for her work on American Crime.

Anthony Michael Hall is most known for the films that he made with John Hughes in the 80’s such as The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. Since then, he has worked on many projects, ranging from science fiction series The Dead Zone to indies like his newest film Natural Selection.
Here, Hall and Jesse talk about his time working as a teen actor and the celebrity he acquired at a young age, his relationship with John Hughes, and his later in life career.
He can be seen in his new movie Natural Selection.

In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about the function on "the game" in a comedy sketch, and how it works in one of his favorite sketches.

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John Mulaney and Nick Kroll are well seasoned comedians who have made a name for themselves in many different forms of media. 

Jesse sits down with Mulaney and Kroll to discuss their new broadway play, Oh, Hello, the downfall of Mulaney, and how they created their favorite alter ego’s, Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland.
Mulaney and Kroll star as George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon respectively in their new show on Broadway called, Oh, Hello.

Airto Moreira is a Brazilian born Jazz percussionist and drummer. He has worked as a professional musician since the age of 13, moving to New York in the late 1960’s where he helped develop the “Jazz Fusion” genre of music.
He sits down with Jesse to talk about Brazilian percussion methods, his move to America, and his experience playing with Miles Davis and other great Jazz legends.

Jesse talks about Brooklyn based rapper Desiigner’s newest single “Tiimmy Turner.” The track combines melody, rapping, and auto-tune to create a very unique Southern Trap record.

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Actress Sarah Paulson is best known for playing numerous characters on American Horror Story and Marcia Clark on The People v. O.J Simpson.

Sarah sits down with Jesse to talk about working on The People v. O.J., her first big acting job, and dealing with the ups and downs that come with being a working actor. 

Although it was not popular at the time of its release, Shuggie Otis’ album Inspiration Information influenced countless musicians and has been sampled by artists like Digable Planets and J Dilla. Shuggie tells us what went behind making this rock/soul classic.

And Jesse explains why Paul and Gary O’Donovan’s craic interview is one of the best things to come out of Rio Olympics

 

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Lynda Barry is a self-identified "freak", a cartoonist, a writer, and for the last couple of years, she's also been a college professor teaching interdisciplinary creativity at the University of Wisconsin.

What does that mean? Well, she encourages students to abandon their fears of creating and embrace their work and process.

Lynda Barry’s book The Greatest of Marlys is now available in hardback

Our friends Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson from Pop Culture Happy Hour give us some pop culture recommendations during a live show in Washington, DC.

Jesse heartily disagrees with A.O. Scott's review of the film version of MacGruber. In short: MacGruber exists, and the world is better for it.

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Nikki Glaser is a comedian and host of the Comedy Central series Not Safe with Nikki Glaser.

Nikki sits down with Jesse to talk about developing her Comedy Central show with her boyfriend, even when they were in the middle of a breakup. 

Dave Holmes is a comedian, writer at large for Esquire Magazine, and host of Maximum Fun’s very own podcast International Waters.

Jesse is joined by Dave to talk about growing up gay in the 80s with no real role models to look up to. They also discuss working for MTV, self-acceptance and his new book, Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs. 

Jesse tells us why the Olympics is such a beautiful sports event, even for people that don’t like sports.

 

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Chuck Klosterman has written countless articles for GQ, ESPN, The Washington Post, Esquire, The Guardian and more. His new book, But What if We’re Wrong, examines how the present will be perceived it as the past. What exactly will be thought of as important events to people that are hundreds of years removed from it all? Is it even possible to get every fact correct when writing about the past?

Klosterman sits down with Jesse to talk about how we consume culture, how historians frequently reinterpret historical events, and how writing online and writing for print are fundamentally different undertakings.

Socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell shares with us the best piece of advice he’s ever received.

Jesse talks about Tony! Toni! Toné! and how they successfully merged soul music and hip-hop to create a new type of R&B.

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[r] Keegan-Michael Key talks to Jesse Thorn about creating characters for his sketch show Key and Peele. Plus, Tituss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, tells about the time he performed live at the Tony Awards with a malfunctioning microphone.

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Danny McBride is comedic writer and actor who started his career starring in the cult classic comedy, The Foot Fist Way. Although the film went to Sundance and was a modest success, McBride went back to North Virginia to work as a substitute teacher. Danny and frequent collaborator Jody Hill began creating the series Eastbound & Down, which would jumpstart McBride’s career and make him a film and television star.

He has appeared in numerous comedy films, such as Tropic Thunder, 30 Minutes or Less, and Observe and Report. McBride is perhaps best known for writing and starring in the HBO series Eastbound & Down, where he plays disgraced MLB player, Kenny Powers.

McBride sat down with Jesse to talk about about working with Jody Hill, writing for Eastbound and Down, and dealing with people who idolize Kenny Powers just a little too much.

Danny McBride’s new show is called Vice Principals.

Jazz bassist Miroslav Vitouš explains how working with Weather Report on the composition Morning Lake is an experience he will never forget.

Miroslav Vitouš’s new album is called Music of Weather Report.

Jesse talks about the film Hunt for the Wilderpeople and why calling it “twee” is actually a compliment.

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Though most people find it difficult to find anything funny about depression and anxiety, comedian Aparna Nancherla. has used her own struggles with mood disorders to inspire her comedy. A rising star in the comedy world, Nancherla bravely reveals her struggles with depression in a way that makes the experience both relatable and hilarious.

Clams Casino joined Jesse to talk about the influences that lead to his unique sound, and some of the ways he paid his dues coming up in the world of hip-hop production. They also discuss his new album, 32 Levels, and how he developed his relationship with rapper Lil’ B. The two of them have long been collaborators, including on the new album, but didn’t really get to know each other until making of the new record. Clams Casino’s new album is called 32 Levels.

Jesse checks in on the classic movie you should see before going swimming this summer.

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Though she didn’t earn a degree in the sciences, author Mary Roach has a knack for writing about them with insight and wit. Whether she’s describing what happens to the body after death or the many aspects of human sexuality, Roach makes her topics accessible and fun.

Roach has authored half a dozen books including: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, as well as articles for magazines including Vogue, GQ, and National Geographic.

Mary Roach sat down with Jesse about whether shark repellant actually exists, life on submarines and how leaches inspired her to write a book on military science, Grunt.

William Bell is a soul singer and songwriter whose distinctive sound is forever associated with the legendary Stax Records. Along with with performers like Otis Redding, Sam and Duke, Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers, Bell helped create music that continues to entertain and inspire.

He is famous for his hit songs including  You Don’t Miss Your Water, Private Number, A Tribute to the King and Everybody Loves a Winner. He also co-wrote the classic song, Born Under a Bad Sign which was originally performed by Albert King and later covered by Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, Cream and even Homer Simpson.

William Bell joined Jesse to talk about what it was like beginning his musical career while still a teenager, how he returned to his career after being drafted and his new album out on Stax Records, This is Where I Live.

Jesse shares why Tanya Tucker’s voice and classic song, What's Your Mama's Name manages to move him every time he hears it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jesse Thorn sits down with comic book author and the designer of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, Lisa Hanawalt.  He also talks to comic Wyatt Cenac about his upcoming stand up series, Night Train.

 

 

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This week Jesse interviews Rachel Bloom,the star and co-creator the CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  Also, Esperanza Spalding tells us about the song that changed her life.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks with John C. Reilly about Reilly's open-hearted and blustery comic creation, Dr. Steve Brule. Reilly shares stories from the summer of fun he had working on the movie Boogie Nights, and outlines the duties of an actor.

Check it Out with Dr Steve Brule is currently airing on Adult Swim. Reilly's new movie The Lobster is in theatres now.

Later, Las Vegas born singer-songwriter Shamir joins us to explain how he constructed a remarkable creative identity in a city known for producing more entertainers than artist; how his love for country music inspired him, and how his mother's proclivity for earth magic isn't quite his thing.

Shamir's latest album is called Ratchet.

Plus Jesse recommends Steven Soderbergh's The Limey, a revenge movie that's really about the way we all fight with our own past.

 

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Jesse Thorn talks to Rashida Jones, from Parks and Recreation, The Office and Angie Tribeca - which just returned for its second season.

Later Lawrence Weschler and Ramiro Gomez stop by the Bullseye studio to discuss their new art book, Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez.

Plus Jesse explores the fun, artistry and dark irony of the of the classic noir film, The Third Man starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton.

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Jesse Thorn talks to comedian and Fresh Off the Boat writer Ali Wong, who recorded her new comedy special Baby Cobra, while seven and a half months pregnant. He also sits down with Boogaloo legend Joe Bataan to talk about breaking into the music industry, why he dropped out of it for a while and how he came back with a performance on one of the very first rap songs, back in 1979. Joe Bataan is one of the subjects of a new documentary, We Like it Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo. Plus Jesse highlights an artist with one of the sweetest voices and some of the most beautiful melodies in music right now - Chance the Rapper.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to DJ Quik - one of the most prolific figures in West Coast hip hop. They’ll talk about why a leaked record and a couple of guns made Quik realize he needed a new circle of friends, why he never wants to stop making pretty beats for his records and his inspiration for his awesome, awesome hairstyles over the years. Plus comedy from Michael Ian Black and Jesse explains his love for the airplane gadget catalogue parody, SkyMaul.

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Maria Bamford sits down with Jesse to talk about her own experiences as a patient of various Los Angeles mental health facilities, finding love and marriage and how wanting to work less proved to be a good career move.

Her new show, Lady Dynamite will be available for streaming on Netflix from May 20th. You can find out more about her upcoming tour dates by visiting her website at mariabamford.com.

Later, Wanda Sykes joined Jesse to talk about transitioning from a career with the NSA to stand-up comedy, coming out “accidentally” during a rally against California’s Proposition 8 and why she believes that Bob Hope could have been the perfect super spy.

Wanda Sykes is beginning her tour this month, which includes recording dates for her next comedy special. Find out more by visiting her website at wandasykes.com.

In his Outshot Jesse talks about his affinity for the music of Black Moth Super Rainbow - an experimental band that declined a request to appear on Bullseye to promote their 2009 album, Eating Us.

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Margaret Cho sits down with Jesse to talk about beginning her career during the 90s comedy boom in San Francisco, growing up in a Korean immigrant family, and how the community around her family’s gay bookstore continues to touch and inspire her life.

Margaret Cho’s new album American Myth is now available on iTunes and on her website, MargaretCho.com. She's also out on tour this May and June.

Later, Whit Stillman joins Jesse to talk about his love for Jane Austen, the importance of language in his films and how the comedy of Will Ferrell infiltrated his new period piece.

Whit Stillman’s new film Love and Friendship is in theaters this week. A Criterion collection of his first three films (Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco) are now available in special box set edition.

For his Outshot, Jesse sings the praises of a basketball scrapper who may not get all the fame, but is no less deserving of the glory – Draymond Green.

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Jesse Thorn talks with GeenaDavis about her acting career, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and how taking up archery changed her life. Plus multiple Emmy Award-winning comedian, Louis CK discusses self-funding anddistributing his new show, Horace and Pete.

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Jesse Thorn talks to Mike Judge, the comedy writer behind shows like Beavis and Butt-Head, Office Space, King of the Hill and Silicon Valley. Later he speaks with Sharon Horgan, whose show Catastrophe just returned for its second season.

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Author and screenwriter Nick Hornby made his name with books like High Fidelity and About A Boy. His latest 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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Jesse Thorn talks to Ellie Kemper, star of Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and discusses Batman with Pop Culture Happy Hour's Glen Weldon. Plus, Jesse on how A Tribe Called Quest's Phife Dawg has reverberated through his life.

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Jesse Thorn talks to musician Thao Nguyen from the band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down and to the filmmaker Lance Bangs. Plus Jesse thinks it’s time you gave the band Black Sabbath another listen.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to the comedian, writer, director and actor, Bob Odenkirk, plus the historian, author and DJ Rickey Vincent tells us why Parliament’s Mothership Connection ended an era - and then started a new one.

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Jesse Thorn talks to Dick Van Dyke, legendary star of stage and screen, memoirist and now bodybuilder. Plus pop culture critic and writer Margaret Wappler argues that Bjork's album Post deserves a place in the popular canon.

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Jesse Thorn talks to comedian and actor Zach Galifianakis about his new TV show Baskets, and to Michael K. Williams from Boardwalk Empire and The Wire and who can currently be seen in the new show, Hap and Leonard. Plus Jesse remembers the poignancy of rapper Poetic’s examination of his own mortality.

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Jesse Thorn talks to the magician, sleight-of-hand artist and historian Ricky Jay, about his new book Matthias Buchinger: The Greatest German Living. Later he sits down with the menswear writer G. Bruce Boyer. Boyer's new book is True Style: The History and Principles of Classic Menswear. Plus comedy from Brandie Posey's new album, Opinion Cave and Jesse shares what he loved about the movie Attack the Block.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to Gillian Jacobs about her time starring in Community and to the restaurant critic, Jonathan Gold.

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Jesse Thorn talks to actor Jason Sudeikis and comedian Paul F Tompkins. Plus Sarah Vowell shares the piece of work she wishes she’d made and Jesse talks about a twenty year old SNL sketch that changed his life.

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Jesse Thorn talks to comedians’ comedian, Dwayne Kennedy and our producer Julia Smith sits down with acclaimed British comic Noel Fielding. Plus Jesse considers the unwarranted backlash to Beyonce’s new song and video, Formation.

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[r] Jesse Thorn talks to comedian Todd Glass, about his memoir The Todd Glass Situation and with the beloved children’s performer, Raffi. Plus author Ariel Schrag talks about the novel, September Girls and Jesse remembers the album of songs that Van Morrison made out of spite.

 

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Jesse Thorn talks to journalist, Ray Suarez and musician Dan Deacon, plus stand-up comedy from Phoebe Robinson. This episode was recorded in front of a live audience in NPR’s Studio One in Washington DC.

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Jesse talks to Aya Cash from the TV comedy show You’re the Worst and to New Yorker writer and editor, Roger Angell.

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Jesse sits down with creator of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Joel Hodgson and is experimented upon by director of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, Dr Robert Hicks. Plus stand-up from Hari Kondabolu and music from Spraynard. This show was recorded in front of a live audience at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia.

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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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Jesse talks with singer-songwriter, Neko Case and to bandleader and record label founder, Herb Alpert.

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