Bullseye with Jesse Thorn (general)
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.)

Buckle up, y'all, we've got a dynamite lineup!  First off: Rian Johnson, writer and director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which is discussed in extensive detail (don't say we didn't warn you). Besides directing a film in one of the biggest franchises in history, Rian's created the acclaimed movie Brick - kind of a Coen Bros inspired film noir starring teenagers in Orange County. He also wrote and directed the sci-fi thriller Looper, and a few of the most memorable Breaking Bad episodes, too.

 

Then, the Go! Team. Formed in the year 2000 in Brighton, England, the band's basically the brainchild of Ian Parton. He recorded a lot of the band's first album in his parent's kitchen and released it as Thunder, Lightning, Strike - a solid record. On that album you'll find the track "Huddle Formation" - AKA the Bullseye theme song. Their newest album just dropped - it's called Semicircle.

 

Finally: can you be super glamorous and deeply real at the same time? Of course you can, just ask Sylvester.

Direct download: Rian_Johnson__The_Go_Team.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:38pm EST

Fresh New Year, fresh new Bullseye! This week, legendary director Errol Morris. He's the kind of filmmaker that gets shown in film school all the time. He's contributed that much to the field of documentary making. Morris has a way of painting portraits of people in his films that's incredibly vulnerable. A perfect example of this is his first documentary “Gates of Heaven” released in 1978. It’s a film about pet cemeteries, and the connection people feel to their deceased pets. Some of his films, like "The Thin Blue Line" try to find objective truth. That film ultimately helped secure a innocent man's freedom from prison.  

 

His latest project is a six-part miniseries for Netflix called "Wormwood." The series explores the CIA LSD experiments in the late 1950's, and the effects on a man named Frank Olson. The story is mostly told through interviews of Frank’s son, Eric, who's worked for years to uncover the truth. The film is kind of a departure for Errol's signature style -- it blends dramatic reenactments and real life interviews.

 

Plus,  Merrill Garbus of the band Tune-Yards tells us about the song that changed her life. And for this week's Outshot: The 1991 film "The Commitments."

Direct download: Bullseye180109.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EST

Two Bullseye favorites from the archives this week. First: Terry Crews. A linebacker from Flint Michigan, Terry was picked by the LA Rams in the 11th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. In 1996, he played his last season ever for the Eagles.  Then he took up acting - he starred alongside Ice Cube in the Friday After Next, played Chris Rock's Dad on Everybody Hates Chris. Now he plays Sergeant Jeffords on Brooklyn Nine Nine. Lately he's been in the news for taking speaking out against sexual harassment of all kinds - he says he was a victim himself.

Then, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, from 2014. The two co-created and starred in the show Playing House on USA, a favorite of ours here. It just wrapped up its third and final season last year. Male friendship is well represented in comedy, really, really well represented, but female friendship - not so much. And when we do see female friendships, the characters are sort of rote - there's always the same 3 or 4 characters, you know? On Playing House, Parham and St. Clair framed it differently. Their characters are less Carrie and Miranda and more Laverne and Shirley. You can actually imagine them being friends.

Plus, calling all prog rock fans! This week Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell, the editors of the prog rock anthology Yes Is The Answer: (And Other Prog Rock Tales), explain why the King Crimson album In The Court of the Crimson King is a classic, and how it laid the foundation for a whole genre.

Direct download: Bullseye180102.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:04pm EST

Look, you're an NPR listener. So we probably don't need to tell you this, but it's been an intense year.  2017 was a lot of terrible and thrilling and amazing things, but it was also a banner year for stand up comedy.

So this year, the Bullseye team put their heads together. Mined the internet for the best in stand up - big names, small names, guests I've talked with before, guests I want to talk with again. You're gonna hear comedy from people like Dana Gould. And Emily Heller. And Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher. And Roy Wood Jr. Say farewell to 2017 with a hearty laugh!

Direct download: EndofYearComedySpecial.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:48pm EST

Light up the menorah, trim the tree, take a walk out in the cool/cold/wet/whatever weather and take it all in: it's the Bullseye holiday spectacular!

We've got Andy Richter, Conan O'Brien's faithful and hilarious sidekick. He says now that he's a father, he finds joy in celebrating Christmas with his family that wasn't really there before. You'll hear holiday etiquette advice from the one and only McElroy Brothers. We'll also talk with Jane Lynch, the star comedian and actor *and* terrific singer. Plus: need a movie recommendation? The Pop Rocket Crew at Max Fun HQ has got you covered.

Direct download: Bullseye171219.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:26pm EST

Judd Apatow is one of the busiest and most notable behind the scenes guys alive today. Name 10 huge critically acclaimed comedy hits off the top your head - Judd's probably worked on half of them: The Larry Sanders Show, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, Funny People, The Big Sick, Train Wreck, Girls - it just goes on and on. But now, for the first time in over 25 years, he's back on stage. He's been performing live for the last couple years and now he's got his first ever hour long special. It's called Judd Apatow: The Return and it debuts on Netflix this week.

 

Then, Romesh Ranganathan. He's a British stand up and TV host. And while he might not be a household name stateside, he's looking to change that. Romesh just rented a giant amphitheater in Los Angeles for his big debut - it seats nearly 6,000 people. When we first heard about this in November, he'd sold only 74 tickets. Jesse talks with him about why he's doing it, how his family's past informed his comedy, and what it's like going from crying in a corporate bathroom stall to selling out concert halls in London... and hopefully LA.

Direct download: Bullseye171212.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12pm EST

You know JK Simmons, right? He won an Academy Award for his role in the 2015 movie Whiplash. He's that Insurance guy in those ads. He played J Jonah Jameson in the Spiderman movies. Dude puts in work - there are 183 credits on his IMDB page right now and he isn't slowing down. He's starring in the new drama The Bachelors, which is out now. He'll talk with Jesse about all that stuff, plus, the J Jonah Jameson action figure (with Desk Pounding Action™).

 

Then, Solomon Georgio. Solomon's a stand up from Seattle, via Fresno, via St. Louis, Via Sudan and then Ethiopia, where his parents are from. He's appeared on CONAN,The Meltdown with Jonah & Kumail, Comedy Central and more. Solomon's got a really unique presence on stage. Sometimes he's vulnerable and sincere, sure. But then he'll strike a pose and make an outrageous joke about his perfect thigh gap and like magic - you believe him. His debut record - Homonegro Superior, is out now.

Direct download: Bullseye171205.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm EST

We've got a couple of our favorite recent Bullseye interviews this week, first up: Margaret Cho, from last year. She's made a career of searing and revealing comedy. Lately she's been performing on the street to raise money for the homeless, marrying couples on stage,  too. She also just launched a huge international tour of standup, called "Fresh off the Bloat." It kicked off just last week in Scotland.

 

Then, Lisa Hanawalt, the cartoonist and author. When she was a guest in 2016, she'd just released her book Hot Dog Taste Test. Hanawalt's work is full of child like energy. She's obsessed with animals and also animal-human hybrids. Hanawalt also produces and runs the visual elements of the hit Netflix animated show BoJack Horseman, where people and animals live together in a kind of weird, hyper-real Hollywood.

Direct download: Bullseye171128.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:09pm EST

First up this week, the one and only Greta Gerwig! You probably know her as an actor - she starred in Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha and a bunch of other indies. She's also been in Oscar contenders like Jackie and 20th Century Women. Now, she's written and directed a film of her own: Lady Bird. And no exaggeration - it's one of our favorite movies from this year.

 

Then, Lee Unkrich. For over 20 years now, he's been one of the leading creative voices at Pixar. He worked on Toy Story, Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life, a bunch more. He directed Toy Story 3, probably the darkest and most affecting of the movies in that series.  Now, he's directed Coco, the newest Disney / Pixar movie. Set in Mexico, Coco is a story wrapped up in the Mexican day of the dead - dia de muertos. He'll talk with Jesse about the making of Coco and lots more, especially his time working on Silk Stalkings, the classic 1993 erotic police procedural on USA.

Direct download: Bullseye171121v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:19pm EST

Hey Bullseye fans! We have a special bonus treat for y'all today. We're gonna give you a look at Heat Rocks, the brand new music podcast here at Maximum Fun. It's an interview show that dissects classic, canonical urban and soul albums and the people who love them.

This time, join writer Oliver Wang and music director Morgan Supervisor Morgan Rhodes as they interview tech blogger (and avid Prince fan) about the Purple One's all-time classic "1999."

You can find out more about Heat Rocks at heatrockspod.com or just search "heat rocks" in your favorite podcast app. 

Direct download: BullseyeHeatRocks1117.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09pm EST