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.)

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Syndication

Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey will be forever linked together – thanks to one show: The Office. Angela and Jenna were strangers when the show started, but soon formed a friendship that has lasted long after the show wrapped. Together they recently released a book. The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There is both a celebration of the show and a memoir of a friendship. It dives deep into behind the scenes stories from the show. Angela and Jenna join Bullseye to talk about seeing the show through a new lens and becoming geeks for The Office while researching their rewatch podcast: Office Ladies. They’ll reflect on how the show changed their lives, the first time they ever worked together on set and so much more.


In a time where there is a lot going on in the world, it is nice to have a break every once in a while. To find something silly, something weird and something that can transport you somewhere else completely. Perhaps to a place where iguanas are mail carriers, one where ATMs sprout from the ground in the city park and lawn hedges are trimmed with shaving cream and razors. Lemoncurd, Connecticut, is one such place. It is the fictional setting for the Adult Swim show Three Busy Debras, which is sublime, bizarre and a little disturbing. The show is well into its second season and it is just as weird and funny as ever. In 2020, the stars of the show joined Bullseye to talk about the new Adult Swim series and its truly eccentric and hilarious antics. They also explained what it means to be a Debra, and where they initially got the idea of the Debras. Plus, what it was like to perform at Carnegie Hall and why they still think about the venue’s seating chart.


TGilbert Gottfried died last month. The standup comedian and actor was 67. To millennials of a certain age, he was an iconic voice actor: Iago in Aladdin, Kraang Subprime in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the voice of Aflac Duck commercials. We’re taking a moment to remember Gilbert’s life by revisiting our conversation from 2017. At the time, he joined us to talk about the documentary Gilbert, which profiled the life and work of the comic. In this conversation, Gilbert talked about what it was like to star in a documentary about his life, and why he struggled watching parts of the film. Plus, we dive into some of the Twitter jokes that got him into trouble over the years. This conversation also features segments that were previously unaired including Gilbert’s thoughts on his early career, and he expands on finding jokes from the worst possible situations.

 


Alan Alda has been acting for over six decades. He played the iconic role of Hawkeye in M*A*S*H , was Arnold Vinnick on The West Wing and starred in several other memorable roles over the years. He has also had parts in a number of films and performed on Broadway. Alda is also an almost-journalist, a communicator and an interviewer. For almost thirty years now it has been his second career. First on television in the PBS series Scientific American Encounters and now on his podcast, Clear+Vivid . One listen to Clear+Vivid and you can tell that Alda has found his passion as a podcast host. Alan Alda joins Bullseye to talk about Clear+Vivid and dives into some of the different guests he has had on the show. He also shares what it was like when M*A*S*H, the television show that gave him his big break, came to an end. Plus, he talks about his years performing improv.


Paul Feig created TV shows like Freaks and Geeks, movies like Bridesmaids, Unaccompanied Minors and Spy. He’s directed episodes of 30 Rock, The Office, Mad Men and more. He’s basically a legend, and he keeps plenty busy. He helped produce the new HBO show Minx – it’s a period comedy about the first women’s erotic magazine. He also helped make the newest Fox sitcom Welcome to Flatch, a mockumentary-style show based on the British sitcom This Country. It’s set in the town of Flatch, Ohio, and explores the lives of its residents. We’ll talk with Paul about his new work and his career making all your favorite shows – plus, Paul Feig makes gin! He’ll tell us all the secrets of gin making.


We welcome a true “Superstar” on the latest episode, the one and only Molly Shannon! She’s one of the greatest comic actors ever. Shannon just wrote a book. It’s called Hello, Molly: A Memoir. In the book, Molly Shannon shares her life story. She writes about her time on Saturday Night Live, but also her childhood. Shannon’s mother, younger sister and cousin died in a car accident when Molly was four years old. Her father, who survived the crash and raised Molly, was driving under the influence. The book is harrowing and hilarious, heartbreaking and heartwarming. Shannon talks with Jesse Thorn about the new book. Plus, what it took to bring Mary Katherine Gallagher to SNL – she explains why it was anything but easy.

Category:general -- posted at: 6:25pm EDT

Courtney B. Vance started acting in college. He went to Yale drama school, where he met his future wife Angela Bassett. He starred in the debut performance of August Wilson’s Fences, first at the Yale repertory theater in 1985, then later on Broadway in 1987. Since then, he has gone on to work on the big and small screen, too. He has had parts on shows like Law and Order: Criminal IntentThe People v. O.J. Simpson, and Lovecraft Country. He has also starred in the films Red October and Hamburger Hill. His latest project is the AMC series 61st Street, which Vance executive produced and stars in. He joins the show to talk about his acting career on both the stage and screen. He also talks about what it was like taking on the role of a lawyer again in thenew series 61st Street. Plus, he talks with us about what it was like working alongside the legendary James Earl Jones in the iconic play Fences.


Chloë Sevigny is known for a lot of things in showbiz – but she is perhaps best known for being cool. She has an impeccable fashion sense and makes waves in that world. She’s an Oscar nominated actor for her role in Boys Don’t Cry. An indie darling in films like The Last Days of Disco and Broken Flowers. She’s had regular roles on shows like Big Love and American Horror Story, too. We were big fans of her recurring appearances as Alexandra on Portlandia. These days, she’s starring in The Girl from Plainville and Russian Doll. Chloë talks with Jesse about her latest projects and how she keeps it cool after all these years. We’ll also geek out with Chloë about her making own clothes.


Parks and Recreation‘s Jean-Ralphio! Star Wars‘ BB-8! The voice of Sonic the Hedgehog! We’re joined by Ben Schwartz. Ben’s big break came in 2010 with a small recurring role on Parks and Recreation. Jean-Ralphio was a character who only showed up a few times a year – but he was one of the most memorable characters on the show. We’ll chat at length about his role on the show. You can hear his voice work alongside Jim Carrey and James Marsden in the Sonic The Hedgehog movies. We’ll chat about his long time fandom of the video game series. Plus, we’ll have him describe some truly cursed Sonic the Hedgehog online fan art. This interview originally aired in February of 2020.


John Leguizamo has been in well over 100 movies and TV shows, including the recent Academy Award-winning animated smash Encanto. That is impressive enough but John’s also a writer who has created and starred in a handful of powerful, hilarious one-man shows over his career. This includes his 2019 show, Latin History for Morons. During the show’s run, he joined Bullseye to talk about it. He also chatted with us about creating works of art from a sometimes painful past, fighting for Latinx representation in Hollywood, and some of the comedians who have inspired his craft. He also got very personal about a certain incident that changed his life, and we are honored that he chose to share it with us.


Chuck Klosterman writes about culture. Pop culture, more specifically. Rock bands, basketball teams, adult entertainment, Saved by the Bell… you get the idea. He was a writer who wrote volumes of hot pop culture takes before being a writer with hot pop culture takes was just, y’know, being a writer. He’s positioned himself as a writer who doesn’t just think about pop culture, but has a knack for unearthing common threads in disparate things – like The Chicks and Van Halen, for example. And in doing that, you, the reader, get a deeper understanding of both. In his newest book, The Nineties, Klosterman chronicles the last decade of the 20th century. He does so not as a cultural critic, but more as a historian, or a philosopher. He takes a decade that many of its readers experienced, and thinks not about the nostalgia of the events back then, but their consequences, what mattered, and what didn’t.


Mary Roach returns to Bullseye to talk about her latest book. She’s the author of nine books, all of them nonfiction. Take Grunt, it’s the science of war, and how soldiers on the battlefield are kept alive. Or Stiff, it’s an examination of how we as a society have interacted with cadavers: past, present and future. Mary’s newest book is called Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law. It’s a book about how humans have tried – and failed to manage nature. Bears that break into dumpsters. Moose stepping into traffic. Gulls that eat papal flower arrangements. We’ll talk with her about how the book impacted how she interacts with animals in her day-to-day life. Plus, why killer beans and danger trees are included in a book that is mostly about stories from the animal kingdom.


This weekend on the show: Steven Van Zandt! Of course, you might know him better as Little Steven, a guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, or as Silvio Dante, Tony Soprano’s right-hand man. He’s a singer, an actor, a guitar player, a famous wearer of head scarves. A man of many talents! He recounts all that in Unrequited Infatuations: A Memoir, and he tells us all about it. The months-long tours, recording sessions, international fame, the ups, the downs… and, of course, the many, many head scarves.


Amy Schumer is, of course, the creator and star of the hit sketch show Inside Amy Schumer. She also wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed romcom Trainwreck and has taped several comedy specials. She has been nominated for Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, a Tony, and even won a Peabody award for Inside Amy Schumer. Amy’s newest project is a semi-autobiographical television comedy called Life & Beth. She wrote, directed, created, and stars in the show. Life & Beth is intense, probing, and a little unpredictable. Amy talks with us about the new show and what inspired her to create it. She also shares why she said yes to maybe one of the most stressful jobs in showbiz, hosting the Oscars. Plus, she talks about her work in stand-up and how her comedy has evolved over the years.


J. Kenji López-Alt is a chaf and food writer who has written for the New York Times, Cook’s Illustrated, Serious Eats, and more. A lot of his recipes perfect the staples including steak, potatoes, beans, eggs, mayo, and mushroom soup. If you are a home cook, odds are you have a recipe from Kenji you swear by. In 2015, he compiled a lot of his signature recipes in his award winning book The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science . This year, López-Alt has followed up The Food Lab with a very different kind of cookbook. It is called The Wok: Recipes and Techniques. It is nearly 700 pages and includes not only recipes but a guide to acquainting, understanding, and eventually mastering one of the most versatile pans in the kitchen. J. Kenji López-Alt talks with Jesse about the new book and some of his favorite meals to make with a wok. He also shares how he used science to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Plus, he talks about how he balances inclusivity and appropriation when making recipes from other countries.


For the first chapter of his career, Nick Kroll’s comedy centered around big, outsized characters – the more preposterous the better. He created the sketch comedy series Kroll Show, and he starred on the FX show The League. These days he’s behind the camera a lot more. In 2017, he co-created the animated show Big Mouth on Netflix. Now he’s got a new show in the same universe: Human Resources. It centers around a group of personified emotion monsters and their workplace, and the feelings they represent. Nick Kroll joins us to talk about developing Big Mouth and Human Resources. Plus, why he’s taken fewer on-screen roles lately for voice acting gigs and a seat behind the scenes instead. He’ll also talk about the lessons he’s learned since he became a father.


On December 18, 2021, the rapper Drakeo the Ruler was murdered backstage at a festival in Los Angeles, his hometown. A group of 40 or so people ambushed him; one of them stabbed him to death. Drakeo was a young, rising rapper. Critics respected him and rap fans streamed his music millions of times. He was an LA gangsta rapper whose music didn’t sound like what you’d think when you hear “LA gangsta rap” – it’s subdued and anxious, less about the barbecue with your pals and more about looking over your shoulder. Jeff Weiss, the music writer, first covered Drakeo the Ruler in 2017, and they forged a friendship. Weiss also witnessed Drakeo’s murder. We invited Weiss to our studio in Los Angeles to talk about Drakeo’s music, what it meant to the broader hip-hop community, and his life and death. As a warning: there’s going to be some discussion about violence, along with crime. If you or someone you’re listening with is sensitive to that, we wanted to give you a heads up.


Greg Daniels is a screenwriter, television producer and director. Over the span of more than three decades he’s worked on some of the most beloved comedy television shows. Seriously, he’s worked on some of your favorite tv series: SeinfeldThe SimpsonsSaturday Night LiveThe OfficeKing of The Hill, and so many more. These days, he still keeps busy. Greg has two sitcoms in production. On Amazon, you can watch the second season of his show Upload – a dramedy set in a cloud-backup afterlife. Netflix’s Space Force, reunites Greg with Steve Carrell for the first time since The Office. The premise for the show is pretty simple: Carrell plays General Mark Naird, and he heads up the newest branch of the American armed forces. He’s got a bunch of money and a sort of vague sense of purpose – what could possibly go wrong? Space Force and Upload are streaming now.


The Song That Changed My Life gives us a chance to talk with different artists about the music that has inspired them. On the latest installment, we are joined by Eric Nam. Eric is an Atlanta-born singer, songwriter, and entertainer. He has worked with Timbaland, Gallant, Craig David, and a bunch of others and has headlined festivals like KCON and the Seoul Jazz Festival. He recently released an album called There and Back Again and just wrapped up a solo tour of the US where he sold out literally every venue, including in his hometown of Atlanta. When we asked him about the song that changed his life, he took the name pretty literally. He picked John Legend’s “Ordinary People.” The song that propelled him to stardom.


You probably know Brian Cox from Succession. He plays patriarch Logan Roy on the show. But Brian has hundreds of credits acting with a career spanning decades: movies, TV shows, even a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company! Cox recounts his career in a new memoir. Putting the Rabbit in the Hat covers his childhood, growing up in postwar Dundee, Scotland, his time studying and performing Shakespeare in the U.K., and his big break into TV and film.


Syl Johnson, the Chicago soul and blues singer, died last month at 85. He was probably best known for his work on Hi Records, the home of Ann Peebles and, of course, Al Green. In fact, he turned down a record deal that ended up going to Green. The songs Johnson cut for Hi in Memphis were some of the best soul records of their time. Hip-hop producers have feasted on Johnson’s records, making him one of the most frequently sampled recording artists in the history of the genre. But more than that, Johnson was a career artist. He lived in Chicago, where he raised his daughter Syleena, a great soul singer in her own right. He made soul and blues records throughout his life. We spoke to Syl back in 2012. He was in his 70s then and gigging relentlessly, and his albums had just been re-released by Numero Group. Johnson was whip-smart, funny… and maybe a little cantankerous. He’ll be sorely missed.


Alana Haim has been leading two very distinct careers. First, there’s her music – Alana is one third of the Grammy nominated, critically acclaimed rock group Haim. And then there’s her acting. Alana made her big screen Debut in the new Paul Thomas Anderson film Licorice Pizza. The role has earned her a Golden Globe nomination along with a bunch of other awards. It’s also up for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director at this year’s Academy Awards. Alana joins the show to talk about Licorice Pizza and how she found out she got the lead part in the film. She also chats with us about what it was like growing up in the San Fernando Valley, playing in a band with her family and more.


Betty Davis died earlier this month. She was 77. She was the very definition of a cult hero – she never cut a hit record, but her influence is still strong today. Her music was absolutely unforgettable, and her style was outrageous, like a funky Barbarella with a two-foot-wide Afro. Her band was the best of the best. Even her husband was influential. (That’s Betty Davis as in Miles Davis – they say she convinced him to listen to Sly Stone and make Bitches Brew.) Davis put out three classic records in three years, and then in 1980… she stopped. She retired from music altogether and moved back to Pittsburgh, where she grew up. Stopped doing interviews, stopped playing concerts. She disappeared from public life completely. When we talked to her in 2007, she was quiet and reserved, a sharp contrast with her persona as a performer. It was her first radio interview since her retirement.

Our latest guest doesn’t need much introduction – we’re thrilled to be joined by Chrsitopher Walken. Walken might be one of the greatest character actors ever. So many iconic parts: King of New YorkPulp FictionThe Deer HunterCatch Me If You Can, and Hairspray. These days, you can see him on the dystopian workplace dramedy Severance. Christopher Walken talks about Severance and working alongside John Turturro. He’ll also get into his days as a child actor and gives us a history lesson about the early days of television. After all, he’s been working in showbiz for over 60 years! Plus, we get into one of his most memorable moments on Saturday Night Live.


On the latest episode of Bullseye we talk with two legendary recording artists: Big Boi and Sleepy Brown. Big Boi is one half of the legendary rap duo Outkast – he co-wrote mega hits like Hey Ya!Ms. Jackson and So Fresh, So Clean. Sleepy Brown is a veteran singer-songwriter and producer. Along with his team production team Organized Noize, he helped produce well over half of Outkast’s discography. He’s also worked with Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, and Ludacris. Their latest joint effort is an album: “Big Sleepover.” Despite collaborating and representing the ATL for decades it’s their first record together. We talk about the Big Sleepover with Sleepy Brown and Big Boi, and about the pleasure they get from working together after all these years. They also get into the history of Atlanta hip-hop, parenting, and so much more.


Charlie Day is the star and co-creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. You probably knew that already, because Always Sunny is the longest running live-action comedy in the history of television. And it’s still good! But Charlie Day, the actor, is more than Charlie from Always Sunny. He helped co-create the very funny TV show Mythic Quest. He’s acted in movies like Pacific Rim, Horrible Bosses, The Lego Movie – and now, the romantic comedy I Want You Back, where he co-stars with the phenomenal Jenny Slate. We’ll talk with Charlie about the movie and playing zany characters – plus, he’s started rewatching Always Sunny episodes he hasn’t seen in over a decade! He tells us what that’s like.

Kristen Bell joins the show this week to talk about her new series The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window. It is a parody of domestic thriller movies like The Woman in The Window and The Girl on the Train. Kristen plays the character of Anna in the show, a woman who lives in an upscale suburb and is having a rough go of it lately. Anna does not do much other than drink lots of red wine and stare out her window from a comfy looking chair. That is until one day when she witnesses a horrific crime across the street, or at least she thinks she does. Interviewing Kristen this week is our friend Helen Zaltzman. Helen hosts the language and linguistics podcast The Allusionist and Veronica Mars Investigations, which recapped Kristen Bell’s breakthrough show of the same name. Helen talks with Kristen Bell about the new show and what it was like not only starring in it, but also to produce it. Kristen also talks about some of the extreme things Veronica Mars fans have done in the past to get the show renewed. Plus, she shares the name she preferred to go by when she was growing up. 


John Bradley was around 22 when he got the part that changed his life. On Game of Thrones he played Samwell Tarly, John Snow’s close friend for nearly a decade. In the beginning, it’s clear that Sam isn’t cut out for the world of Game of Thrones. He isn’t a natural warrior. He’s a bigger guy. Kind of soft. He’s smart, but not especially cunning. He’s nice, maybe a little goofy. And on any other show, you can pretty much guess his character’s trajectory: maybe he stays a bumbling comic sidekick or maybe he gets killed off tragically. But instead the things he was bullied for: his kindness, his empathy, his bookishness… they turn out to be assets, not liabilities. These days, John Bradley keeps busy. He has two movies out this month – sci-fi disaster movie Moonfall and the romantic comedy Marry Me. We revisit our conversation with John from 2019. He talks with us about the surreal experience of watching the finale of Game of Thrones after it consumed most of his 20’s. Plus, he shared the things that make him geek out, and answered some very fun questions from twitter.


Louie Anderson passed away last month at the age of 68. He was a veteran stand-up and comic actor who performed in movies and shows like Family FeudComing to America, and Life with Louie. When we talked with Louie Anderson in 2017, he had been starring in the FX series Baskets. We remember the life of Louie Anderson by revisiting this conversation with him on the latest episode. He talked with us about his role as Christine Baskets, who was loosely based on his mother, Ora Anderson. Louie shared his perceptions of his own career, including his comedy style and on-screen appearance. This extended interview also features material we never played when it originally aired – including one of his darkest jokes, and what it was like being the opening act for folks like Ray Charles and Dolly Parton in Las Vegas. Plus, he talked about how being able to laugh at some of the difficult moments in his life helped him heal from past struggles.


I Wish I Made That is a segment where we invite some of our favorite voices in pop culture to dive deep into a work of art they did not make but they really wish they did. This time around we are joined by John Darnielle. John is a writer and frontman of the folk rock band the Mountain Goats. He recently released his third novel which is called Devil House. It is an epic story that touches on the true crime fad of today, the Satanic panic of the 1980s and a spooky home in Milpitas, California. When we asked John to pick something he wished he had made, he sent us a list of a few different things. After narrowing down the list, he eventually settled on Speak & Spell, the debut album by new wave legends Depeche Mode.


On the latest episode we talk with comedian and director W. Kamau Bell. He directed a new documentary series. It’s called We Need To Talk About Cosby. It’s about Bill Cosby – who he is, what he’s done, and how we deal with that. It’s a complicated, difficult topic. One that intersects with the fabric of the American entertainment system, with race, the justice system, the MeToo movement and so much more. In this conversation we talk with Kamau about the documentary at length. He talks about what Cosby meant to him as a kid and as a comic. He talks about Cosby’s pioneering work in civil rights and in television, and about how we struggle to square all that with the person we now know Cosby to be. We Need To Talk About Cosby will be available to watch via Showtime on January 30.

The Righteous Gemstones just kicked off its second season on HBO, and that’s good news. It’s a comedy about the Gemstones, a family of pastors and owners of a massive megachurch with hundreds of thousands of followers. The show centers around Dr. Eli Gemstone (John Goodman), the patriarch, who’s been preaching on TV for decades; he’s played by John Goodman. But the show itself centers around Eli’s kids: their power struggles, their scheming, their scandals, their hamfisted attempts to curry favor with their father. Among a stacked cast, Edi Patterson stands out as the daughter, Judy Gemstone, bringing a manic energy to the part. We’ll talk with Edi about her own church experience, improvising – and “Misbehavin,'” the Christian country tune from season 1 she sang on and co-wrote.


Alfred Molina started his acting career almost 40 years ago. First on British TV and a couple of movies later on. Since then he’s gotten over 150 roles. He’s responsible for a bunch of other unforgettable scenes, in films like Boogie NightsChocolat and Magnolia. He played Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man 2 and has now reprised the role for Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is out now. When we talked with him in 2017, he’d just starred in the first season of Feud, the FX series. It’s set in 1962, and it tells the story of the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford when they filmed the movie “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” Jesse sits down with Alfred Molina to talk about his portrayal of director Robert Aldrich in the FX series, plus his memorable turns in films like Boogie NightsSpider-Man 2 and more.


Just before Christmas this past year, the writer Joan Didion died. She was 87. Didion rose to fame for her journalism – she immersed herself in stories. In the late 60s, she broke through with Slouching Towards Bethlehem. In her career she covered a bunch of different topics – counter culture, war, immigration. She also wrote a handful of novels, a couple memoirs. We never got to interview Didion – she became a pretty private person in her last years. But in 2017, a documentary about her came out. The documentary was directed by Griffin Dunne, her nephew. Griffin Dunne is also an actor – he was in My Girl, the Martin Scorsese film After Hours, and the TV show This is Us. We remember the life of Joan Didion by revisiting this conversation with Griffin on the latest episode. We talked with him about the documentary, and the legacy of his aunt.


Glynn Turman is a brilliant actor who’s lived an extraordinary life. His first big role was at 12, in the original Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun alongside Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Louis Gossett Jr. He’s played mayor Clarence Royce on The Wire and Doctor Senator on the most recent season of Fargo. Just the other week he portrayed Mose Wright, the great-uncle of Emmett Till, in the ABC miniseries Women of the Movement. Those are just some of his 150-plus credits. Oh, and did we mention he was married to Aretha Franklin? When we talked with Turman last year, he’d just finished performing in the Academy Award-nominated film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.


Winston Duke was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to Brooklyn when he was nine. He studied acting at Yale and went on to work mainly in TV during his early twenties. He did not break into movies until he was thirty. That first movie role was M’Baku in 2018’s Black Panther. He followed that up with an appearance in Avengers Infinity War, then with a starring role in Jordan Peele’s Us. Last year, he starred in a very different movie. It was the Edson Oda film Nine Days. It is a sci-fi drama where Duke stars as an otherworldly entity who interviews souls for the chance to inhabit a body on earth. We are thrilled to have Winston Duke on the show, and just as excited to have our friend and correspondent Jarrett Hill interviewing him.


Living legend John Cameron Mitchell joins us on the latest episode. He’s directed the movies Shortbus and Rabbit Hole, acted on shows like Shrill and Girls. But he’s probably best known for his iconic work is the cult hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It’s a story about queerness, about identity, about the threads rock and punk music shares with other live performances, like drag and cabaret and Broadway. These days, John Cameron Mitchell has gotten back to writing and recording new music. He’s put out an ongoing benefit called New American Dream, in which he collaborates with Ezra Furman, Xiu Xiu and Stephen Trask – co-creator of Hedwig. Jesse Thorn talks with John Cameron Mitchell about his childhood, punk rock, his songwriting process, creating Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and how his relationship with the piece has changed over the years. Plus, he takes a deep dive into the making of his film Shortbus – a conversation that was too spicy for radio.


Odds are, you know Sarah Snook for her role on Succession, the latest Zeitgeisty TV drama on HBO. Sarah plays Siobhan Roy. But to her friends and family, it’s just “Shiv.” Succession follows the Roy family. They own a giant conservative media conglomerate called Waystar Royco; the family’s patriarch, Shiv’s father Logan Roy, is aging and can’t run the company forever. Who will he name to take over? And what will the players do to get what they want? Shiv’s part in the drama earned Snook a bunch of critical praise and awards nominations, including an Emmy and, more recently, a Golden Globe. Linda Holmes, the terrific host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, talked with Sarah in 2020 about what it’s like to play one of the most fascinating, complex and confounding characters on television today.


Benedict Cumberbatch is pretty much one of the biggest actors around. In 2010, he got the title part on the BBC’s modern day Sherlock Holmes reboot, just called Sherlock. He plays Dr. Strange in the Marvel movies, including the brand new Spider Man: No Way Home. He is also in the brand new western called The Power of the Dog, which is playing in theaters and streaming on Netflix. When we talked with Benedict in 2012, it was on the heels of Sherlock’s 2nd series. He talked with us about bringing a new take to an iconic character, and what has kept Holmes relevant to both writers and audiences all these years later. He also talked about the challenge he faced when taking on the role. Plus, he spoke with us about his harrowing experience being kidnapped and robbed while on set abroad.


It is that time of year again! Our annual end of year stand-up comedy showcase is here! The whole team here at Maximum Fun combed through dozens and dozens of albums to bring you some of the best. In a year that was extraordinarily difficult for stand-up comedy, that meant that some comedians got creative. We have albums recorded before the pandemic, albums recorded in front of only a handful of people and even one that was recorded at a drive-in! So sit back, relax, and get ready to laugh. It has been a long year and you have earned it.


The Bullseye Holiday Spectacular is here! We are revisiting some of our favorite Holiday interviews with different guests from over the years. First, we kick things off with Ronnie Spector. She talks with us about her work with The Ronnets and her fond love for Christmas music. We are then joined by singer/songwriter Sy Smith, who shares which classic holiday tune changed her life. We close things out by revisiting our interview with the one and only Jane Lynch. In 2016, she talked with us about her holiday album A Swingin’ Little Christmas and some of her holiday traditions growing up. Happy Holidays!

 

 

The Craziest Day of My Entire Career is a regular segment where we talk with some of our favorite people in pop culture and ask them about some truly unbelievable stories. This time around, we’re joined by actor Yeardley Smith. For over 30 years now, Yeardley has voiced Lisa Simpson, one of the most iconic characters of all time. She is also an on-screen actor and a co-host on the true crime podcast Small Town Dicks. When we asked Yeardley about the craziest day of her career, she took us back to 1986, before podcasts and before the Simpsons. It was a big part in a Stephen King film that she couldn’t turn down, even if it meant a giant crazy truck might run her over.


On the latest episode of Bullseye we’re joined by Houston rapper Maxo Kream. Maxo’s had a tough life, and he’s not afraid to put that on wax. He’s been in and out of jail, along with many other members of his family. When hurricane Harvey hit Houston a few years ago, many of them lost their homes. He’s also lost friends and relatives to gun violence, including his brother last year. He lost his grandmother to Covid-19 in 2020, too. On his latest record Weight of the World Maxo raps about losing his brother, his grandmother and becoming a parent. Jesse Thorn talks with Maxo about his critically acclaimed album Weight of the World. They discuss what his family members think about his records and how he writes about tough times.


Hiam Abbass has nearly 100 acting credits to her name: artsy indie movies, French TV dramas, Moroccan horror flicks; she’s appeared on Hulu’s Ramy and in the movies Munich and Blade Runner 2049. But if you know her from one thing, it’s probably Succession, the massive hit TV show on HBO. Hiam plays Marcia, Logan Roy’s wife. On a show famous for its craven, manipulative, sometimes frightening characters, Marcia dominates the lineup in all three categories. Most recently, though, Hiam’s performed in a new movie – it’s called Gaza, Mon Amour. It’s Palestine’s submission to this year’s Academy Awards, and it’s pretty much everything Succession isn’t: it’s a romcom. It’s slow-paced. It’s sweet in parts, sad and scary in others. It’s a really unique film. Hiam joins us to talk about the movie, growing up in Nazareth, how she got the role to play Marcia on Succession, and whether or not she thinks Marcia loves her husband, Logan Roy. Succession intrigue! Don’t miss it!


Mike Mills is a writer and director who's worked in film, TV, and on music videos. He's made the films Beginners and 20th Century Women and his newest movie is called C'mon C'mon. It's a film about the extraordinary burdens of parenthood and the ways it changes parents. It's also about kids and how amazing and resilient they can be, even in the face of serious trauma. Mike talks with us about C'mon C'mon and how the film connects to his personal experiences with parenthood. He also shares that the film features real interviews with kids conducted by Joaquin Phoenix. Plus, he'll talk about the role music plays in his creative process and how he always leaves room in the budget for live musicians on set.


Joe Pera Talks with You is one of the quirkiest shows on television right now. Comedian Joe Pera portrays a fictionalized version of himself. He’s a soft-spoken, unassuming, kind person. Each episode involves Joe, a middle school choir teacher, guiding viewers through his life in the city of Marquette, Michigan. He talks about the simple things in life. It’s quickly becoming one of our favorites here at Bullseye. Joe Pera Talks With You is back for season three. We’re revisiting our conversation with Joe from last year, from when he had just wrapped season two. Joe Pera talked about doing comedy at his own pace, sleeping in a twin bed well into his twenties and why he enjoys casting non-actors in real locations. Plus, why he considers falling asleep to be a totally acceptable response to his performances. This interview originally aired in January of 2020.


This week, we’re replaying our 2014 conversation with Paul Reubens, the man behind Pee-Wee Herman. Pee-Wee is, of course, a beloved character among kids who grew up in the 1980s and 90s. He’s the star of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and so many others. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse remains a singular achievement in kid’s TV. It’s a kitschy pastiche of a thousand TV shows that went before it, but it’s also much more than that: it’s a kaleidoscope of difference, a tribute to the big dreams and big feelings of being a kid. And it’s so, so funny. In this interview, Paul tells us about growing up in a circus town, working hard to make Pee-Wee Herman seem real, and why Pee-Wee is a little bit of a jerk — and why that makes him work as a character.


The Song That Changed My Life is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite artists about the music that made them who they are today. This time around, we’re joined by Aimee Mann. Aimee is a singer-songwriter whose career dates back to the 80s when she sang in the new wave band Til Tuesday. However, odds are you know Aimee for her solo career. She recently released a record called Queens of the Summer Hotel. The songs on the record started when Aimee was working on a stage version of the book Girl, Interrupted. The stage show hasn’t happened, but the record is out now. It’s somber, delicate and beautiful. When we asked Aimee about the song that changed her life, she took us back to 1972, to the first time she ever listened – really listened – to lyrics in a pop song. The song was Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again (Naturally).

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Drew Magary is a writer and novelist. He was a longtime columnist at Deadspin. He’s written features for GQThe Atlantic and more. His latest work is a memoir. In December of 2018, Drew collapsed after an award show in New York. In the days and weeks that followed, his life changed profoundly. In The Night The Lights Went Out, Drew recounts his accident and his road to recovery. He chronicles his experience with brain damage and hearing loss, interviews the people who cared for him while he recuperated. The book is harrowing, like you’d expect in a book about traumatic brain injury. Drew talks about his renewed appreciation for life. The book is unexpectedly grounded and funny, too. Jesse Thorn talks with Drew about why after recovering from a catastrophic brain injury, he decided to quit his stable writing job. Plus, what it was like to relearn things he used to do on a regular basis. They get more into the particulars in the interview – as a heads up, things get a little graphic.


At the heart of They Might Be Giants, there are two Johns: John Flansburgh and John Linnell. The two singer/songwriters have been writing and recording together since 1982 — nearly 40 years. In that time, the band’s released 22 albums, won two Grammys, and have cultivated a fanbase that is passionate, fun-loving… maybe a little nerdy. Their newest project, BOOK, is a record, but it’s also… a book. It’s a hardcover collection of photos of the band’s longtime home of New York City, by street photographer Brian Karlsson. The photos are set alongside lyrics from the band. The Johns sat down with our correspondent Jordan Morris to talk about their early years, their songwriting process, and their “lost album” — plus, have they heard the crust punk version of Ana Ng? We’ll play it for them!


The documentary Little Girl is a profile of an 8 year old transgender girl named Sasha living in France. The film talks about the resistance Sasha meets from her school, the help she gets from medical caregivers, and the support she receives from her family. Throughout the film, you see how everywhere Sasha goes, she must explain who she is, answer questions, and fight to clarify something so simple and concise. Little Girl shows in very real and plain terms what it’s like to be a trans child, to be a part of that child’s family, and to raise and love that child. We talk with director Sébastien Lifshitz about the film and what it was like documenting Sasha’s everyday life and the unique challenges she’s faced with. He tells us what inspired him to make the film and how he got connected with Sasha and her family. He also shares how Little Girl has impacted the people who see it, and what they tell him.


The Song That Changed My Life is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite artists about the music that made them who they are today. This time around we’re joined by Dam-Funk. He’s a modern day champion of funk music. Dam-Funk’s recorded dozens of albums. His army of analog synths captures the funk sound of the late ’70s and early ’80s. He’s perhaps the world’s biggest obsessive of the dazzling late-period funk called Boogie. Dam Funk joins us to talk about Chase by Giorgio Moroder. He explains why he felt the song transcended genres, and how it helped him approach his music craft when started making his own tunes. Dam-Funk’s latest record is out now, it’s called Above the Fray. He’s also the host of the Apple Music show Glydezone Radio, where he spins a mix of hits and obscure finds from his collection.


Susan Orlean has been writing for decades. She’s the author of the Orchid ThiefThe Library Book and is also a staff writer for the New Yorker. This week we welcome her back to the show to talk about her latest book, On Animals. It’s a collection of essays about animals and how we live with them. The animals we eat, the animals we call companions, pets, movie stars, and co-workers. She writes about donkeys, dogs, tigers, whales, and so many others. Susan joins us to talk about her new book and humanity’s complicated, fascinating history with animals. She also talks about animal actors, and why they are almost always more likeable than human actors. Plus she shares the one animal she wants to pet that she has not had a chance to yet.


Tamron Hall has worked in television for years. She recently kicked off the third season of her Emmy Award-winning talk show, which is called Tamron Hall. Before that, Tamron worked in news. She had her own show on MSNBC and, for a time, was a host on the Today show. Tamron also hosts the Discovery series Deadline: Crime – a true crime news magazine. As if she wasn’t busy enough, Tamron has taken on an entirely new endeavor: fiction writing. She just published her debut novel called As the Wicked Watch. Tamron Hall joins guest host Jarrett Hill for a conversation not just about the new novel, but on hosting for TV and the unique challenges Black journalists face, even super famous hosts like Tamron Hall.


Jo Firestone is a working standup comic, writer and actor. Last year, she found herself with some free time on her hands. So she started teaching a class on how to do standup comedy. Her students were senior citizens. Then, the pandemic happened. But rather than shut down the class, they moved to video chat. Every Monday morning they explored what it meant to be funny. Like many comedy classes, it all ended in a recital. Jo Firestone’s new comedy special Good Timing, shows the comedy Jo’s students came up with. It also features interviews between Jo and the students and behind the scenes footage from the classes. Jo Firestone joins us on the latest episode of Bullseye to talk about the new special, and what she learned when teaching stand-up comedy to senior citizens. She also talks about researching her role as a doomsday prepper on one of our favorite TV shows: Joe Pera Talks With YouGood Timing with Jo Firestone is streaming now on Peacock. The latest season of Joe Pera Talks with You is out Sunday, November 7. You can also check out Jo as the co-host of the Maximum Fun podcast Dr. Gameshow.


This week: a very spooky Bullseye Halloween spectacular! We’ve got Jamie Lee Curtis, Harvey Guillén and the one and only Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! Jamie Lee Curtis has had unforgettable roles in a bunch of the Halloween movies, as well as memorable roles in True LiesA Fish Called WandaFreaky Friday and Knives Out. Lately, Curtis has been reprising her first ever acting role: that of Laurie Strode, from the Halloween films. She played Laurie in the 2018 movie Halloween, and she’s returning in this year’s Halloween Kills. She reflects on her legacy in the Halloween franchise. Then, the iconic horror hostess Elvira, real name Cassandra Peterson, is nearly synonymous with Halloween. She joins us for the latest installment of The Craziest Day of my Entire Career. Finally, Harvey Guillén! He stars in one of our favorite TV shows right now: What We Do in the Shadows. Happy Halloween!


John Carpenter has made an impact on film in two different disciplines. As a director , there’s so many memorable movies in his filmography: HalloweenEscape from New YorkBig Trouble in Little ChinaThe Thing, and They Live – to name a few. His work as a composer is just as iconic. Carpenter scored many of his early films – including Halloween. And the music he wrote has influenced an entire generation of horror soundtracks. His latest work can be heard in Halloween Kills, the latest installment in the Halloween franchise. It’s out now in theaters and the streaming platform Peacock. When Bullseye got the opportunity to talk with Carpenter, we knew just the person for the job: April Wolfe. She was previously a film critic, and former host of the Maximum Fun genre film podcast Switchblade Sisters. These days she’s a screenwriter. April takes a deep dive with John Carpenter on various number of his movie projects and film scores including his Apocalypse Trilogy and Assault on Precinct 13. He also breaks down how he first composed the original Halloween theme – you might be surprised to learn bongos played an important role.


For nearly 5 decades, Sonia Manzano played the part of Maria on Sesame Street. The role came to be during her college years while she was studying acting. She had just gone back home to New York for her first gig, which was a role in an off-Broadway musical called Godspell. While she was there, she auditioned for a part on Sesame Street, and her life changed forever. Now, Sonia has a show of her own called Alma’s Way. It is an animated kids series that centers around the show’s title character, Alma Rivera. She’s a 6 year old Puerto Rican girl living in the Bronx alongside her family, friends and community members. Sonia joins the show to talk about her new PBS Kids series Alma’s Way and her many years on Sesame Street. She’ll also share what it’s like when she meets fans in real life. Plus, she talks about her time performing in Godspell.


In 1989, Mac McCaughan co-founded the band Superchunk. The band was abrasive and vulnerable; Guitars dominated their sound, with Mac’s voice sitting low in the mix. The band caught on and became huge. So big, they helped coin the Gen X term “Slacker” with their 1990 hit “Slack Motherf–ker.” To release Superchunk’s albums, Mac and his bandmates started their own label: Merge Records. Mac is also a solo artist. He’s released a handful of albums and EPs under his own name, in a broad range of genres. He’s made everything from folk rock to ambient music. His latest record is called The Sound of Yourself. It’s a fun pop record that caught the ear of our friend Jordan Morris. They talk about recording an album during lockdown, using samples in songwriting, and what makes a good sax solo on a pop record.


The photography book Street Writers: A Guided Tour Of Chicano Graffiti was first published in 1975. To the extent that a photography book can be a cult classic, Street Writers is one. The book featured black and white photographs, mostly portraits, all shot in and around Los Angeles’ East side. In Street Writers, you see a lot of young people – teenagers, children, young adults. They’re sitting on bleachers, playing in the storm drain, jogging past a liquor store. It was all shot by this young Italian photographer – Gusmano Cesaretti. And pretty much all of Gusmano’s photos have one thing in common: graffiti. Street Writers was re-published earlier this year for the first time in decades. Jesse Thorn talked with Gusmano, and Chaz Bojórquez , a veteran street artist and one of the book’s original subjects. They’ll talk about how the Los Angeles neighborhoods Gusmano photographed have changed. Plus, Chaz on his decades long career as a graffiti artist, and the thrill he gets knowing he’s never been caught doing graffiti.


Mark Mothersbaugh doesn’t need much of an introduction. He’s a composer who’s worked in TV and film for almost 40 years now. And, of course, he’s also the co-founder and frontman of Devo, the beloved new wave/post-punk band. The band got its start in Ohio in the early 1970s, and had hits like 1980’s Whip It. And they’re touring again! So we figured we’d reach out to Mothersbaugh for a segment we call The Craziest Day of my Entire Career, and boy oh boy, did he deliver! This story has it all: celebrities, disco, wild miscommunication, Andy Warhol. You should also know that there’s some drug use and descriptions of violence in this segment. Mark is still scoring movies and TV shows — you can hear his music in the upcoming movie Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, which also stars former Bullseye guests Kathryn Hahn and Steve Buscemi.


G Perico is a gangster rapper from Los Angeles. That puts him firmly in a tradition stretching from Ice T and the DOC in the 80s through Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg in the 90s and on to hitmakers like The Game and YG in the 21st century. Listen to one of his tracks, and it’s hard not to hear the echoes of thirty-some years of records about cruising, barbecuing and throwing gang signs in the streets of LA. He talks about his lived experiences in his music. He raps about the LA he grew up in from cookouts and car shows. And where there is always danger around the corner. G Perico broke through in 2016 with his project S**t Don’t Stop. That record established him at the vanguard of LA street rap. In the five years since, he has recorded nine albums. This includes four he has released this year, with the latest being called Play 2 Win. He joins Bullseye and reflects on his upbringing, the music he listens to, and embracing his imperfections. He also talks about his creative process and his love for writing. Plus, he talks with Jesse about the people in his life that influenced his signature hair style.


The Song That Changed My Life is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite artists about the music that made them who they are today. This time around, we’re joined by guitarist Buddy Guy. Buddy is one of the greatest blues guitarists alive today. From his home studio in Chicago, Buddy took us back to his childhood in Louisiana. He explains how John Lee Hooker’s song Boogie Chillen’ encouraged him to learn the guitar in his early teens. Plus, he shares a story about getting to meet his hero, John Lee Hooker; and becoming friends with him, too. Check out Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase The Blues Away on your local PBS station or on PBS.org.


Jessica St. Clair is a comedy writer and actor. Alongside Lennon Parham, she created and starred in the comedy series Playing House, which aired for three seasons on USA. Dan O’Brien is her husband of 15 years and works as a poet and playwright. He is also a former Guggenheim fellow whose work has shown off-Broadway and in London. Jessica and Dan have experienced and survived cancer together. They both had separate diagnoses and different treatments. A few years back, Jessica was diagnosed with breast cancer, and shortly after Dan was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. It was an intense and freighting time for both of them and as they have recovered, it has inspired their work. They join Bullseye to talk about Dan’s new book Our Cancers and the year and half of being treated for cancer that inspired it. Jessica and Dan also talk about how their battles with cancer affected their child, their relationship, and their careers.


Artists, musicians, and filmmakers are often inspired by what they see or hear. Sometimes that thing is so great, they tell us they wish they made it themselves. It happens so often we made a segment about it called I Wish I’d Made That. The one and only Nick Offerman joins us this time around. Nick is probably best known as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation. When we asked him if there was any TV show, movie or album he wishes he made, Nick said he leaves that to the professionals. Usually, our guests pick a movie or a TV show they love. But, Nick decided to channel his love of woodworking and tell us about the greatest guitar he ever held in his hands: The Gibson J-200.


We’re remembering the life of actor Michael K. Williams, who died earlier this month. He was 54 years old. He was best known for playing Omar Little on The Wire. Michael began his career in entertainment first as a dancer in New York, then an actor with a handful of walk-on credits. By the time he auditioned for The Wire he was in his mid-30s. When Jesse Thorn talked with him in 2016, he was starring in a show called Hap and Leonard. When we heard the news about Williams’ passing, we went into the archives to listen back to our conversation. This remixed podcast episode interview is some bits we’ve played in the past, and a lot of stuff we haven’t. At some points in the interview, you’ll notice he sounds like he’s coming through a telephone. We weren’t able to recover all of Michael’s original studio recording, but we had his phone audio as a backup. In this conversation, Michael talked about his memories of being a New York club kid, the difference that playing Omar made in his life, and the gig that made him realize that being a performer could be a career.


David Byrne! The one and only. The founder of the Talking Heads talks with Jesse about his latest project American Utopia, and his return to playing live music. He also shares some of the music he’s been listening to lately and tells us about where he learned his iconic dance moves. Plus, he’ll tell us why his very different brain powers his art.


Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have been working together for 40 years, producing some of the biggest R&B records of all time. In their four decades of working together, the fedora-wearing giants of R&B music have written and produced over 40 top-ten hits. They’ve worked with Prince, Babyface, Usher, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and more — the list goes on and on. All that producing hadn’t left them a lot of time to write songs of their own, but lucky for us, that’s changed. This past July they released their first ever album as recording artists. It’s called “Jam & Lewis, Volume 1,” and it sure was worth the wait. It features vocals from a bunch of their collaborators: Mary J. Blige, Boys II Men, Morris Day and more. The music legends join Bullseye to talk about the new album, the hits they contributed vocals to, and the jaw-dropping synthesizer work they do on the Janet Jackson single “Love Will Never Do.”


The Song That Changed My Life is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite artists about the music that made them who they are today. This time around we’re joined by singer songwriter Rostam. He got his start as a member of Vampire Weekend. He produced the band’s first three records, including some of their biggest hits. He’s since left the band but keeps busy producing. He collaborated on a record with Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen in 2016, followed that up with his solo debut, and produced the acclaimed Haim record Women in Music Pt. III. Rostam joins us to talk about The Coast by Paul Simon. Rostam explains how the song helped him visualize and produce the first Vampire Weekend album. Plus, he’ll shares a story about the time he met Paul Simon when the band performed on SNL. Rostam’s second solo album Changephobia is out now.


It’s a unique challenge for an actor to play a villain in a movie or TV show that isn’t just compelling to watch, but also a person you can sympathize with and maybe even relate to. Hannah Waddingham successfully does this in her role on the hit sitcom Ted Lasso. She plays the character of Rebecca in the series, the new owner of a professional soccer team in England. In the role of Rebecca, she commands authority, but almost always with vulnerability peeking through. She balances pain, anger, and compassion in a way that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing the role. She’s up for an Emmy for her part in the show, and if you’ve seen it, it’s not hard to imagine why. Hannah Waddingham joins guest host Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour to chat about her role in Ted Lasso. Plus, she talks about her years of performing in theater and even shares what it’s like to perform in an award-winning musical when a mouse is stuck in your dress.


Uzo Aduba first rose to fame playing a character known as Crazy Eyes. It was on Orange Is the New Black, a part of the first class of original TV shows on Netflix. Crazy Eyes, whose real name is Suzanne, was one of the many prisoners in the women’s correctional facility the show focused on. Aduba won two Emmys for her portrayal of Suzanne, one for comedy and the other for drama. Since Orange is the New Black, Aduba has gone on to even bigger and better things. She played Shirley Chisolm in the Hulu miniseries Mrs. America. She’s performed on Broadway. And, recently, she’s starred in the HBO series In Treatment. So we’re thrilled to have Uzo Aduba on the show, and just as excited to have our good friend Tre’vell Anderson interviewing her.


Zumbi, born Steve Gaines, made up half of the Oakland duo Zion I, who were stalwarts of the Bay Area hip-hop scene for decades. Zumbi died at 49 and what follows is an appreciation of his art and music. Jesse shares some words about Zumbi and we play a clip from Zion I’s 2009 live performance at SF Sketchfest.


On the latest episode we welcome back Sam Richardson! His breakthrough role came in HBO’s Veep. The political satire starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus where everyone is terrible, mean, incompetent, and they all hate each other. Everyone, except Sam’s character, the cheerful, incorruptible Richard Splett. Sam is also a writer. With the help of SNL alum Tim Robinson, together they co-created and starred in Detroiters, a show about two buddies working for an advertising firm in Detroit. Sam Richardson has a brand. He typically plays cheerful, friendly characters who are usually so nice they end up getting in their own way. Recently, he’s been trying different kinds of roles. He has the lead role in horror comedy Werewolves Within, and he starred alongside Chris Pratt in the sci-fi action film The Tomorrow War. He joins Jesse Thorn to talk about branching out, Detroiters, and what it was like growing up between the United States and Ghana. Plus, they’ll discuss some of his funniest bits from Tim Robinson’s sketch comedy show I Think You Should Leave.


Odds are, you probably know Aidy Bryant from Saturday Night Live. She’s been on the cast now for almost a decade. She’s been on the cast now for almost a decade. On the show she’s done killer impressions, sang on a handful of memorable SNL songs, and starred in numerous skits. For the last few years, Bryant has also starred in and written for her own show: Shrill. The show follows her character Annie, a struggling young journalist who is determined to change her life without changing her body. It just wrapped up its third and final season on Hulu, and it has earned Bryant an Emmy nomination for best lead actress in a comedy series. She’s also up for best supporting actress in a comedy series for her work on Saturday Night Live. Guest host Tre’vell Anderson chats with the Emmy-nominated actor about Shrill and her personal connection to her character in the show. She also shares the fun way she found out about her Emmy nominations. Plus, she looks back on some of her favorite moments from both Shrill and Saturday Night Live.


Jonathan Majors has been acting professionally for just under five years now. He’s done theater, TV, and starred in movies. In that short amount of time, he’s become one of the most captivating performers in Hollywood. He was in two of our recent favorites: Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man In San Francisco. On screen, he’s charismatic and charming when the role calls for it, and he can turn to vulnerable and broken almost instantly. He’s the kind of actor that just helps take the story to the next level – he has a sort of magnetic quality. Watching him, you can easily lose yourself and forget about other performers. Recently, Majors earned an Emmy nomination for his work on HBO’s Lovecraft Country. Jonathan Majors joins us to talk about Lovecraft Country, and reflects on being the child of a veteran. Plus, he’ll dive into acting theory and craft – and he gets into it, really into it.


50 years ago, in Berkeley, Calif., a restaurant called Chez Panisse opened its doors. It wasn’t super buzzy at the time. The chef, Alice Waters, hadn’t opened a restaurant before. The night they opened, they had a lot of friends helping out, but were short on silverware. They served a four-course menu that cost just under $4. Chez Panisse eventually became known as one of the finest restaurants in the country, if not the world. But what made the place important is that Chez Panisse was one of the first restaurants to champion local, seasonal, sustainable food. If you read up on the history of today’s sustainable food movement, Alice Waters’ name is all over it. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Chez Panisse’s opening, we’re replaying our interview with Waters from 2019.


We’re revisiting our conversation with Kamasi Washington, one of the greatest living saxophone players. In the studio, he’s played saxophone and arranged for hitmakers like Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Run The Jewels, Snoop Dogg – and that’s just naming a handful. On his own, he’s a visionary bandleader with over half a dozen solo records to his name. He broke through in 2015, with his three hour long instant classic The Epic – a record that found its way to a bunch of top ten lists. These days, he’s getting back to playing live music. With a handful of shows on the horizon all over North America this fall. Kamasi Washington talks about his time playing sax in bands, as a composer and bandleader. Plus, he’ll reflect on one of his first major gigs with Snoop Dogg and collaborating with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp A Butterfly. Of course, we also dive into his nearly unbeatable Street Fighter II skills. This interview originally aired in November of 2018.


Busy Phillipps has well amassed over 60 credits on the big and small screen. Her first big break came when she was just 20 years old on the acclaimed and influential TV show Freaks & Geeks. She followed that up with an appearance on Dawson’s Creek and went on to star in several more TV shows and films. Her latest project is Girls5Eva, which was created by Meredith Scardino and is executively produced by Tina Fey. It’s a comedy series about a fictional girl group that had a handful of smash hits right at the turn of the millennium. Think equal parts Spice Girls and N’Sync. Busy Philipps joins guest host Jordan Morris to talk about Girls5Eva, the resurgence of Freaks and Geeks in the age of streaming, and the moment she realized she wanted to make a career out of acting. Plus, she takes a Spice Girls quiz to see what group member she is.


For over 20 years, Tom Scharpling has hosted The Best Show. It aired on the New York public radio station WFMU until around 2013, and now it’s a podcast. Tom’s also a comedy writer who’s worked on shows like MonkWhat We Do in the Shadows and HBO’s Divorce. As a voice actor, he’s appeared on the Cartoon Network shows Steven Universe and Adventure Time. On the latest episode, we talk with Tom about his new book It Never Ends: A Memoir with Nice Memories, and hosting The Best Show for more than two decades. Plus, Tom tells us why C3PO, the fussy golden Star Wars robot, is one of the worst fictional characters of all time. Heads up: There is going to be some very serious talk about mental illness, including Tom’s experience with electroconvulsive therapy. We thought we’d let you know.


The Brat Pack, as you might know, is a term for a group of 8 or so actors who starred in about a dozen movies in the 1980s. There’s Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, a bunch of others — and Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy always kind of pushed back on the label of being a Brat Pack actor — he wasn’t really into the whole “nostalgia” thing. But eventually, something changed, and he even wrote a book about it: Brat: An 80s Story is a memoir that looks back on an era that changed his life forever. Andrew stopped by the show for an interview with guest host Julie Klausner, the writer and actor. He talks about coming to terms with the Brat Pack label, what his kids think of Weekend at Bernie’s — and how he feels about being labeled a dreamboat.

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Look at just about any “greatest albums of all time” list and you’ll usually see Liz Phair’s 1993 record Exile in Guyville. The album put her on the map as a singer-songwriter. The production was no thrills and the songwriting was personal at times and tongue-in-cheek at others. It inspired a bunch of bands and artists such as Courtney Barnett, Foo Fighters, and even Olivia Rodrigo. She followed that up with a number of great records including her self-titled album in 2003, which was her first ever major label record. On the album she collaborated with writers and producers that had previously worked with Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne. The album polarized writers at the time. While some thought it was a fun Summer pop album, others dismissed it as trivial. With her fans, though, it confirmed something they’d known for a long time. That Liz Phair won’t be boxed in. She just released her first new album in over a decade. It’s called Soberish. It’s great and she continues to push boundaries on the project. She joins guest host Louis Virtel to talk about the new record, her friendship with Alanis Morissette and getting ghosted by Laurie Anderson. Plus, she looks back on the time she almost met Joni Mitchell.


We’re remembering the life of rapper Gift of Gab, who died last month at just 50 years old. Gab was the co-founder and MC for the legendary Northern California hip-hop group Blackalicious. If you’re a serious hip-hop head, you know them; If you’re not, you might recognize him for the tongue-twisting track Alphabet Aerobics. He could go toe-to-toe with anyone, and he knew it. Sometimes you wonder how he managed to breathe, never mind think. He was a battle rapper and a philosopher — a virtuoso. In this episode, we’ll revisit a 2005 interview with Gab and DJ Chief Xcel, from back when this show was called The Sound of Young America. Then, the Outshot: Jesse talks about what Gift of Gab meant to him, and losing one of his heroes.


Melissa McCarthy has portrayed unforgettable parts in comedy films like BridesmaidsThe Heat and Spy.  She met her husband; Ben Falcone, when they were members of the Groundlings theater in Los Angeles and have been performing together on stage and screen for almost 20 years now. Together the two have made five movies now. Their latest collaboration is the Netflix film Thunder Force, a superhero comedy which was released earlier this year. We’re taking a moment to revisit Melissa and Ben’s conversation from 2014.  They’ll talk about their high school days, including Melissa’s goth phase, their fateful meeting in the Groundlings, and what it was like getting Kathy Bates to play a role that was literally written for her.


Artists, musicians, and filmmakers are often inspired by what they see or hear. Sometimes that thing is so great, they tell us they wish they made it themselves. It happens so often we made a segment about it called I Wish I’d Made That. In this episode, you will hear from the one and only John Waters. The man behind HairsprayCrybaby, and Pink Flamingos. He stops by the show to talk about the 1975 film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, which is directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The release of Salò was controversial and some might say it is one of the most upsetting movies ever made. John Waters, aka “The Pope of Trash,” has been a longtime fan of Pasolini’s work. So, it is no surprise that he chose to talk about this film.


Patton Oswalt and Meredith Salenger keep busy with various projects in show business. They’re also parents. The celebrity couple don’t get much one-on-one time together. In their podcast Did You Get My Text with Meredith and Patton they take a break from their busy lives as actors to talk about all the text messages, memes and random stuff they sent each other each day. Along the way, they get into serious stuff: relationship issues, friendships and loss. On the latest episode of Bullseye – Patton and Meredith discuss parenting, the joys of being nerdy and their new podcast. Plus, we get into their virtual meet cute – they texted for months before they heard each other’s voices. Heads up: This interview has plenty of jokes, but we also get into some more serious topics like dealing with grief. In 2016, Patton lost his first wife, true crime writer and journalist Michelle McNamara suddenly. We thought we’d give you a heads up.


We’re dedicating this week’s show to music duo Wendy and Lisa. Together they recorded some stone cold classics with Prince’s band The Revolution: Purple RainRaspberry BeretKissWhen Doves Cry and more. These days, they’re known for their work composing scores for TV and movies: HeroesDangerous MindsCrossing Jordan, and Nurse Jackie. Their latest composing credits can be heard on Cruel Summer, the new teen thriller from Freeform. Wendy and Lisa talk with us about their 40-plus year partnership, and their Emmy award-winning work as composers. They’ll reflect on their childhood friendship and the work their fathers contributed as members of The Wrecking Crew. And of course, what it was like to collaborate with Prince, and work on some of his most iconic records.


Canonball is a segment on Bullseye that gives us a chance to take a closer look at albums that should be considered classics, to find out what makes them great. This time, the writer Aaron Carnes tells us why Crab Rangoon by MU330 deserves to join the canon of great pop records. Aaron is a music journalist who just wrote In Defense of Ska, which, well, does what it says on the tin: It champions not just the critically acclaimed, punk-adjacent two-tone bands of the late 70s and 80s, or the pioneering Jamaican bands from the ’60s, but ska’s third wave as well. That means Reel Big Fish, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and more. Aaron tells Bullseye about Crab Rangoon by MU330, putting the album in the context of the entire third-wave movement, and explains why the album shows that ska music can be more complex and serious than you might think.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. A NBA Hall of Famer, six-time MVP, nineteen-time All-Star, and of course, the master of the skyhook shot. He excelled at basketball in high school, went on to play college ball at UCLA, and was drafted first overall in the NBA where he played for twenty-one seasons. Since retiring from basketball he’s written books, columns, and even worked as a writer for Veronica Mars. He’s also an outspoken advocate for social justice and his most recent project is the documentary film Fight the Power: The Movements That Changed America. We talk with the NBA legend about this new documentary, playing alongside Magic Johnson, and his roller disco days. Plus, he’ll also share why he was never able to play a game of Double Dutch as a kid.


Award-winning actor Antonio Banderas is probably one of the most versatile, charming and handsome actors out there today. You’ve probably seen him in “Zorro,” “Philadelphia,” “Desperado,” or maybe heard him in “Shrek” – he played the voice of Puss in Boots. His latest project is “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” which comes out in theaters this week. When we last spoke with him, he had just starred in the Pedro Almodóvar directed film “Pain and Glory.” We revisit our 2019 conversation with the extraordinary actor to discuss “Pain and Glory.” Plus Banderas talks to Bullseye about his childhood in Spain, connecting with people through pain, and reuniting with director Pedro Almodóvar. He’ll also talk about how he learned the lines to “Mambo Kings,” before he became fluent in English.


Ryan O’Connell is the creator and star of the Netflix show Special. It’s a semi-autobiographical sitcom about Ryan’s own life – his experience as a gay man, and coming to terms with his identity as a disabled person. Ryan has cerebral palsy. It’s a congenital disorder that can affect someone’s movement, muscle tone, or posture. For Ryan, that means it manifests mainly as a limp. Season one of the show tackles Ryan coming to terms with his disability. In the latest season Ryan learns to become more accepting of himself. The show’s depiction of disability on screen is groundbreaking. It shows the intersection of disability and sexuality in a way that is rarely ever seen on screen. And it does it in a way that is funny, lighthearted and relatable. Public radio veteran Ray Suarez interviews Ryan on the latest episode of Bullseye. During this delightful conversation they talk about the making of Special and the dialogue the show has about sex and disability. Plus, Ryan chides Ray for just about everything – including Ray’s close reading of the show. This podcast interview contains frank conversations about sex that were not included in the radio version.


Writer and animator Elizabeth Ito on her new show “City of Ghosts” City of Ghosts, the Netflix show, is a bit hard to explain. For starters, it’s a children’s show. It’s animated in 3-D, and the characters — mostly children — look kind of like Wii avatars. It’s set in Los Angeles, and the backgrounds […]


“The Craziest Day of my Entire Career” is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite people about some truly unbelievable stories. Stepping up to the plate this time around is longtime standup comedian Chris Gethard. When we asked Chris about the craziest day of his entire career, he shared with us the jaw-dropping, completely true story of the time he got Diddy to come play at the UCB theater.


Rick Steves is probably best known as a public media travel expert. He’s mastered the art of travel in his public television programs: Rick Steves’ Europe and Travels in Europe with Rick Steves. Rick always finds ways to travel around Europe that are fun and practical. He’s got a cheerful, and charming presence on TV. Since around March last year… Rick hasn’t been able to travel like he used to. He’s instead taken to finding ways to bring Europe home to the US on his new show Rick Steves’ Monday Night Travel. In it, Rick hosts a weekly virtual happy hour on Zoom from his living room. Sometimes he cooks – other times he’ll read up on history or reflect back on fond memories of travels past. On the latest episode of Bullseye – a public media bonanza! Public radio’s Ray Suarez talks with public television’s Rick Steves. They’ll dive into Rick’s new show and his long time work on public TV. Rick Steves’ new special Europe Awaits premieres on public television stations across the country on June 7.


Desus Nice and the Kid Mero are longtime collaborators and friends, having met at summer school in their native Bronx. They started first as podcast hosts, and now they also make a TV show on Showtime (called, appropriately, Desus & Mero). When we had Desus and Mero on the show in 2017, we found the perfect person to interview them: Brooklyn native and public media legend Ray Suarez. They talk about the show they had just started on Viceland, the difference between being funny on Twitter versus being funny on TV, gentrification in their native New York City and more.


Lisa Hanawalt is a writer, cartoonist, and author of four brilliant books, including “Hot Dog Taste Test” and “My Dirty Dumb Eyes.” You may be familiar with her work on the popular animated Netflix series “BoJack Horseman” where she was a producer. Hanawalt is also the creator of the animated series “Tuca & Bertie” which stars Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, and Steven Yuen. The show will be starting its second season in June on Adult Swim. In 2019, we talked with Lisa about how intuitive creating “Tuca & Bertie” was at times, on deciding what to ground in reality and where to take flight, and why she should be allowed to ride Martha Stewart’s pony.


The Craziest Day of my Entire Career is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite people about some truly unbelievable stories. This time around, we’re joined by novelist and creator of the hit HBO show “Bored to Death” Jonathan Ames.



For the better part of a decade, the video game industry has made more in revenue than Hollywood. Year after year, it’s not even close. Some of the biggest blockbuster games can pull down a billion dollars within a week of being released, and they can continue making money for years afterwards. But video games can take enormous amounts of work to produce, and because the industry is notoriously opaque, studios can sometimes become toxic workplaces. That’s where Jason Schreier has made his career: Instead of writing reviews or reporting on player communities, he investigates the studios that make games. He’s uncovered labor abuses, creative and legal disputes behind the scenes, and all sorts of workplace misconduct. And he does it by going directly to the workers involved. His new book, Press Reset, is his latest work in that field. Based on dozens of interviews with people who make games, it tells the origin stories of some of the most renowned video game studios in the world — and how those same studios eventually collapsed.


Ann Dowd is a veteran actor. Her career began on the stage, first in Chicago, where she went to school, then in New York. She started appearing on screen in the ’90s in shows like “The Baby-Sitter’s Club” and “Law & Order.” As she has continued her acting journey, she has starred in many memorable parts including her roles in the HBO series “The Leftovers” and the 2012 film “Compliance.” She may be best known for her role as the sadistic Aunt Lydia in the hit series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She joins guest host Linda Holmes to chat about the new season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” similarities between some of the different roles she’s played, and when she made the switch from studying medicine in school to studying acting. Plus, she’ll talk a little bit about her new film “Mass” which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.


The Song That Changed My Life is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite artists about the music that made them who they are today. This time around, we’re joined by American jazz trumpeter Carl Hilding “Doc” Severinsen. Doc is an amazing trumpet player who led the band over at “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” for thirty years and almost the entirety of Carson’s run. He’s known for his impeccable-styled costumes and eclectic musical styles. He’s recorded with Eddie Fisher, Dinah Shore and still tours at 93 years old. He’s had an enchanted career that extends all the way back to the second world war where a chance encounter gave him the opportunity to play for his childhood idol—trombonist Tommy Dorsey. Catch “Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story” on your local PBS station.