Bullseye is a public radio show about what's good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.
Bullseye is equal parts funny and fascinating. Whether you're already plugged in to the culture map, or looking for a signpost, Bullseye will keep you on target. More About Bullseye
This week’s culture critics are Nathan Rabin and Scott Tobias of The AV Club, here to offer up a pair of humor-fueled recommendations. Nathan suggests checking out comedian Hannibal Buress’s debut one-hour special, Animal Furnace, noting a marked evolution in Hannibal’s stand-up style. Meanwhile Scott is enamored with Wes Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, hailing it as the filmmaker’s best work.
Moonrise Kingdom is currently in limited release, opening nationwide on June 15th, while Hannibal Buress’s Animal Furnace is now available on both CD and DVD.
Kurt Braunohler is a stand-up comedian and improviser, as well as one half of the sketch duo Kurt & Kristen, performing alongside writing partner Kristen Schaal. While stand-up consumes much of his time these days, he may soon be best known for IFC's Bunk, putting his disarming charms to work as host of an improv game show where comedians compete in insane challenges on behalf of less than charitable causes.
Kurt sits down with us to discuss the myriad ways in which the conventions of the game show format are begging to be satirized, the serendipitous origin of Kurt & Kristen, and how they took one of our all-time favorite sketches, "Kristen Schaal is a Horse", to Australia's biggest stage. Bunk premieres Friday, June 8th at 10:30 PM on IFC.
Thought you could escape the world of news within the hour of our pop culture program? Think again! Getting you caught up on all the latest stories that may or may not have happened, here's an update from the minds of our fake news team: the San Francisco-based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser.
For more Kasper Hauser, check out The Kasper Hauser Podcast right here on MaximumFun.org.
Walter Mosley is an author of nearly forty books, but perhaps he's best known for his work in detective fiction. His Easy Rawlins detective series began with 1989's Devil in a Blue Dress. Lately Mosley's penning the stories of a new detective: Leonid McGill. His latest serial novel is All I Did Was Shoot My Man, the most recent entry in the McGill series, and it's loaded with the kind of snappy, hard-boiled noir writing Mosley is famous for.
Walter joined us back in 2010 to talk about the existential crises at the heart of the detective genre, and how he made the move from computer programming to detective fiction so many years ago.
For The Outshot this week, Jesse makes the case for Jay-Z as hip hop's greatest of all time -- if only for the effortlessly perfect rhythm of his lyrical flow, best represented on the track "Hovi Baby".
Got your own pick for rap's best flow? Stake your claim on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.
This week's pop culture picks come care of Jason Kottke, of Kottke.org. Jason tracks down the best the internet has to offer, but this week he's all about documentaries. First up, it's a pair of short documentaries about Allan Benton and his ham. Allan is the owner of Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, and we travel inside both his office and curing house in the films.
Next, it's the feature-length documentary Senna, profiling the thrilling and ultimately tragic tale of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. Senna is not just for Formula One fans -- it's a gripping profile, and the racing footage is thrilling no matter who you are. It's currently available on Netflix Instant.
Benedict Cumberbatch is a British actor currently bringing Sherlock Holmes to life in PBS's Masterpiece series Sherlock, alongside Martin Freeman of The Office as John Watson. While Cumberbatch and Freeman are the latest in a long line of actors to play these characters, there is something fresh about their adaptation: Sherlock takes place in the present day, updating the classic detective to our modern era. In the past year, Cumberbatch has memorably stolen scenes in period dramas like War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Benedict tells us about bringing a new take to an iconic character, and what keeps Holmes relevant to both writers and audiences all these years later. He also opens up about how a life-threatening altercation while filming in South Africa in 2004 left him changed as a person. The Series Two finale of Sherlock airs this Sunday, May 20th, on PBS's Masterpiece. Series Two will be available on DVD just two days later, on Tuesday the 22nd.
Craig Finn is the lead singer and guitarist for the Brooklyn rock outfit The Hold Steady. Earlier this year, Finn released his debut solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes. This week he tells us about the song that changed his life: The Replacements' "I Will Dare", off their 1984 album Let It Be.
Morgan Webb is a video game journalist and the co-host of X-Play on the G4 TV network. Webb fell into work in front of the camera entirely by accident via a research position on Tech TV's The Screen Savers, and it wasn't long before she wound up in front of the camera. Tech TV would eventually merge with G4, and X-Play is now the longest-running program on the network.
Morgan talks about what it means to be a gamer, what she loves about the gaming experience, and her struggle for journalistic legitimacy.
Thanks to Dave Ciaccio for editing this segment.
For The Outshot this week, Jesse basks in the warm, loving glow of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready", and explains exactly why the singer's smiling face hangs on the wall above his son's crib.
If you've got a song that lifts you up like this one does, share the warmth on the MaxFun forum by picking your own Outshot.
This week's culture picks come care of the The AV Club's Claire Zulkey and Erik Adams, who dig deep to select some of their all-time favorite TV series. Claire recommends the pop culture infused British sitcom Spaced, which launched the careers of its stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as well as director Edgar Wright. Erik meanwhile suggests you go back and revisit David Lynch's eerily atmospheric foray into television mystery, Twin Peaks, assuming you've already seen it. If not, both Spaced and Twin Peaks are now available to own on DVD, as well as for online streaming via Netflix Instant.
This week on the show we revisit some of our favorite interviews of 2012. Comedian Chris Gethard talks about booking megastar P. Diddy at a tiny theater in New York, using both mania and depression to shape his comedy, and confronting Internet trolls in person. His most recent book is called A Bad Idea I'm About to Do. (Originally aired the week of January 10th, 2012)
Brothers by all accounts, and experts by some – Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy of My Brother, My Brother and Me offer offer solutions to listeners' pressing pop culture problems. This week the brothers wonder whether parents should introduce Justin Bieber, Star Wars, and Ke$ha to their children. (Originally aired the week of January 10th, 2012)
Jesse talks with a master of creative nonfiction, Lawrence Weschler, about the dangers of humans' bias toward narrative, and why the CGI faces in movies never look quite right. Weschler's newest book is Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative. (Originally aired the week of January 10th, 2012)
And The Outshot: The Civil War, reimagined in 140-character bursts. Jesse talks about one of his favorite Twitter accounts, @FakeCivilWar. (Originally aired the week of January 10th, 2012)
BONUS AUDIO from this week! Lawrence Weschler talks to Jesse about the incredible and unusual Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA.
We return to the world of video games for this week's culture picks, and our gaming experts, comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell, as well as comedian and host of the video game podcast Indoor Kids Kumail Nanjiani, have selected a pair of downloadable games for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Kumail recommends the sadly haunting experience of the post-apocalyptic thriller I Am Alive, while Heather suggests you check out the almost fully female fighter Skullgirls.
Michael Ian Black is an actor, comedian and author perhaps best known from his work with the sketch comedy troupe The State, or from his subsequent collaborations with State-mates both on television (Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues) and film (Wet Hot American Summer). His disarmingly charming smarm made him a perfect fit for the talking-head format of VH1, but it also makes him a terrific author, as evidenced in his latest book You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations. In Black's second memoir, he goes in-depth on the issues of his marriage and parenthood, and the result is a book that is shockingly honest, informative, and incredibly funny.
Michael sits down with us to discuss recommitting himself to marriage in six week intervals, getting into stand-up late in life, and his obsession with Googling "Fat Kevin Federline". You can hear his podcast, Mike & Tom Eat Snacks, with Ed co-star Tom Cavanagh on iTunes or at Nerdist.com. You're Not Doing It Right is now available wherever books are sold.
If you watch the Super Bowl, or even just television, you probably know comedian Pete Holmes best from commercials, where he adorably doles out financial advice as the voice of the E-Trade baby. Last year he was named one of Variety's Ten Comics to Watch, and with good reason. As a stand-up, Holmes has a mostly goofy and positive energy. But as he reveals on his new album Impregnated With Wonder, there is one thing that can really set him off: a bad sandwich.
Tom Bissell is a journalist, video game critic and author whose latest book, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, is a series of pieces attempting to capture all angles of the creative process, in all sorts of artistic forms: from Herman Melville, writer of Moby Dick, to Chuck Lorre, creator of Two and a Half Men; from the mind of filmmaker Werner Herzog to the madness of The Room's Tommy Wiseau. Magic Hours collects the very best of Bissell's ten-year career, with essays featured in The New Yorker and Harper's, as well as several original pieces written solely for the book.
Tom joins us to discuss the dumb luck that makes some books resounding classics of literature while others fade from the collective conscious, and the value (or lack thereof) of a journalism degree. You can find his video game writing online at Grantland.com. Magic Hours is now available in bookstores everywhere.
On this week's Outshot, Jesse recommends one of his absolute favorite shows, the brilliantly profane political satire The Thick of It -- particularly its foul-mouthed protagonist Malcolm Tucker. As creator Armando Iannucci's new show, Veep, is underway on HBO, BBC America is finally bringing The Thick of It to US audiences, Saturday's at midnight. Don't miss it.
Got a hilariously profane favorite of your own? Don't just keep it to yourself, f***ing tell someone by heading to the MaxFun forum and picking your own Outshot.
Our comic book experts return this week for another round of pop culture picks from the world of graphic novels. Alex Zalben is a writer and a host of the show Comic Book Club. Brian Heater is a journalist and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Cross Hatch, which highlights alternative comics. Alex recommends Brandon Graham's inventively absurd series King City, while Brian's pick, Goliath, by Tom Gauld, tells the tale of David and Goliath from the big guy's point of view.
Tony Hale is a comic actor best known to audiences as the precocious man-child Buster Bluth, from the cult hit FOX sitcom Arrested Development, but Hale had been working in commercials and doing theatre in New York long before his big break. His latest role sees him playing "body man" (think: bag-boy) to Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Vice President of the United States on the new HBO comedy series Veep, from the mind of brilliant British satirist Armando Iannucci.
Tony sits down with us to discuss the humor of the behind-the-scenes world of politics, how he famously sold a lot Volkswagons to the tune of Styx's "Mr. Roboto", and returning to the role of Buster when Arrested Development picks up again later this year for a fourth season. Veep airs Sunday nights at 10PM on HBO.
We here at Bullseye feel a moral obligation as a public radio show to provide you with some news content, so to get you caught up on all the top stories you've never heard of (as they're entirely made up), here's the latest from our fake news team: the San Francisco-based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser.
You can catch Kasper Hauser live later this week, performing alongside the honorable judge John Hodgman at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco on Sunday, April 29th.
Nicholas Stoller is a writer and director of both film and television, whose breakout hit was the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Though his other film credits include Get Him To The Greek and 2011's The Muppets, Stoller has established himself as something of a master of the romance movie, as his films strike a delicate balance between uproarious comedy and real heartfelt character moments. His latest film The Five-Year Engagement finds him re-teaming with frequent collaborator Jason Segel and captures much of the same tone that made their first film together such a success.
Nick joins us to discuss the problems plaguing the romantic comedy genre, what goes into making a comedy set piece really work, and what sets Jason Segel apart as a comic actor. The Five-Year Engagement opens in theaters this Friday, April 27th.
For the Outshot this week, Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the film is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.
Seen a documentary yourself that deserves a few more eyes on it? Give it some love by visiting the MaxFun forum and picking your own Outshot.
This week's pop culture picks come care of Jason Kottke, of Kottke.org -- a site that's been called the New Yorker of internet links. Jason tracks down the best the internet has to offer, and he shares two of his favorites with us this week: Jerry Beck's list of the 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected By 1,000 Animation Professionals, a Warner Bros.-heavy list topped by some Looney Tunes classics, and What the Space Shuttle booster saw, an HD video journey out of Earth's atmosphere.
Michael Koman, Andrew Weinberg and Jason Woliner are the creative team behind [adult swim]'s hilariously funny and blood-soaked action-comedy Eagleheart, starring Chris Elliott. Koman and Weinberg had worked together as writers on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, where they were responsible for culling the clips played whenever Conan pulled the Walker Texas Ranger Lever. It was a job that required them to wade through hundreds of hours of Walker, Texas Ranger, and the inspiration for Eagleheart was born out of a desire to parody the show. But to call Eagleheart a parody of WTR sells it way short, as the show is much crazier and more comically-inspired than that.
Koman, Weinberg and Woliner join us to discuss the show's ability to cram an absurd amount of story into an eleven-minute run-time, making magic happen fast on Eagleheart's wild production schedule, and what inspires them about the show's star, Chris Elliott. Eagleheart has just begun its second season on Cartoon Network's [adult swim], airing Thursdays at midnight.
It's an upside-down world out there, and some days you just don't know what to make of it. Luckily for us, there's one man who can keep this country in order! Comedian Jordan Morris puts America in its place for the month of April 2012. You can find Jordan on Twitter @Jordan_Morris.
Rachel Dratch is a comic actress best known to audiences as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006, and from recurring roles on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Her new book is the very funny memoir Girl Walks Into A Bar...: Comedies Calamities, Dating Disasters & A Midlife Miracle. While there are a number of behind-the-scenes stories from her days at SNL in the book, it's mainly the story of life after the show, as Dratch dove head-first into the dating pool after years of using being busy with SNL as an excuse not to date. The titular miracle was an unexpected pregnancy at age 44, having been in a long distance relationship with the father for just six months prior.
Dratch joins Jesse to discuss her comedy background in Chicago, the development process of getting some of her most famous SNL characters to air, and the inherent humor of balancing midlife motherhood with a romance still in its infant stages. Girl Walks Into A Bar... is available now in bookstores everywhere.
For this week's Outshot, Jesse digs into the record collection and pulls out a vibrant classic: Swiss Movement, by Eddie Harris and Les McCann. The live album, recorded in 1969 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, was the first time the band had ever played together, and the record captures the feeling-out process as the group pioneered the soul-jazz genre. It crackles with life.
Is there a classic record that never fails to get your toe tapping? Let us know! Head on over to the MaxFun Forum and pick your own Outshot.
To celebrate the one-night-only occasion of our friend Ira Glass and This American Life's live show, being shown in select theatres across the country, Maximum Fun is holding the meet-up to end all meet-ups.
MaxFunsters in the L.A. area can purchase tickets to the screening at the AMC Burbank 16, and are encouraged to act fast, as the show will sell out. MaxFun personalities will be on-hand for the festivities, and we hope to have a few prizes to give away as well.
After the show we will be moving to Buffalo Wild Wings Burbank, a short walk (or drive) from the cinema, where Jordan Morris plans to feast on chicken drenched in blue cheese sauce, and you're all invited to join him.
Now I know what you're thinking, "What about those of us who don't live near L.A.?" And fear not friends, we've got you covered! Anywhere in the country that there's a screening of This American Life is a potential site for a MaxFun meet-up -- all you have to do is organize yourselves. You can do that with relative ease by heading over to the MaximumFun Forums. If you want to see the show, chances are there's another MaxFun listener out there in your area who wants to see it with you. Let us know what your plans are, and we'll try and ship you some prizes as well!
Make friends! Mingle with show-biz types (maybe)! Go hog wild! And have fun.
Blogger Andrew Noz from Cocaine Blunts kicks off this week's show by recommending some recent favorites from the world of rap -- Kendrick Lamar's 'Cartoon & Cereal' featuring Gun Play, and 'Big Beast' by Killer Mike, featuring T.I. & Bun B. For more from Noz, check out CocaineBlunts.com, or read his cover story on Kendrick Lamar for The Fader.
Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist and the band leader of the Robert Glasper Experiment. Glasper's life in music began early, as his mother, a jazz and blues vocalist, would often bring her young son along to clubs with her, where he would watch from backstage. His music today blends classic jazz influences with soul music and modern hip-hop, forging something fresh and new out of a genre he says is in dire need of a shake-up. His new album, Black Radio, includes collaborations with hip-hop artists like Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, as well as old friend and frequent collaborator Bilal.
Glasper sits down with us to reveal some of his more embarrassing musical influences, reflect on working alongside the late J. Dilla, and dish on what he feels is wrong with today's jazz culture.
Davy Rothbart is the editor of Found Magazine, an annual publication collecting lost letters, tests, essays and notes, all found and submitted by readers. Found put out its first issue nearly ten years ago, and Davy has been a regular guest on The Sound of Young America ever since. In his first appearance on Bullseye, Rothbart recounts the cryptic tales found within the pages of some of his favorite lost treasures, brought to him by readers on Found's national tours.
If you've found something special you'd like to send in, either digitally or by mail, visit www.FoundMagazine.com/submit.
Pendleton Ward is a writer and animator, and the creator of the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. The show follows the adventures of Finn the boy and Jake the shape-shifting dog, through a magical post-apocalyptic Earth. It's very witty and full of humor, and is one of those rare programs that works just as well for kids as it does for adults. Pen is a born artist, who even during this interview can't help but capture his host on paper. He joins Jesse to discuss drawing as a comedic outlet, the delicate art of writing a quality fart joke, and the influence of Dungeons & Dragons on the fantastical quests of Adventure Time. The show just began its fourth season; you can catch new episodes Monday nights on Cartoon Network.
For this week's Outshot, Jesse delves into the often contrived world of quirky viral videos and finds something genuinely hilarious: the web series BESTIE x BESTIE, starring Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman. You might know Slate as a former featured player on SNL or as the writer and voice of another internet smash, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. In BESTIE x BESTIE she and best friend Liedman take turns trying desperately to remain serious while the other does their best to make them crack. The results are often as funny as anything on the internet.
Is there a web series that tickles your funny-bone like none other? Help it go viral by sharing it on the MaxFun Forum and picking your own Outshot.
The episode will drop sometime in the not-too-distant future, but if you're in the Los Angeles area and would like to attend the taping in person, tickets are just $5.
Dierkes is best known as a member of Derrick Comedy, having starred in their feature film Mystery Team, and too many smash hit YouTube videos to mention. Astute viewers may have also spotted him in the opening scene of the premiere episode of Mad Men Season 5. You can follow him on Twitter @DominicDierkes.
You can read MaximumFun contributor Colin Marshall's review of The Anytime Show as part of his Podthoughts series by clicking here.