Andrew Noz

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lewis Black, Syl Johnson & Annie Hart

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Still Fuming: Lewis Black on Drama School, New York, And Why He's Still Fired Up

No comedian is angrier than Lewis Black. For the past 25 years, America has been infuriating him, and he's been on-stage telling us why.

After graduating from the Yale School of Drama in 1977, Black spent ten years as a playwright at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater in New York. He transitioned to stand-up comedy in the late 1980s and has been regularly featured on The Daily Show's "Back In Black" segment for the past 16 years.

Lewis tells us about nearly getting expelled from Yale, why he loves performing in Bismarck, ND, and how theater is like heroin.

Lewis Black's most recent special, Live at the Borgata, is available now in digital formats. This interview originally aired in August 2013.

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Hip Hop with Andrew Noz: DJ Quik's Pacific Coast Remix and Rammellzee's Beat Bop

Hip hop blogger and Pitchfork columnist Andrew Noz joins us with a couple of his all-time favorite hip hop tracks. His first recommendation is Pacific Coast Remix by DJ Quik (featuring Ludacris), a track devoted to sunny Los Angeles's dark side. He also suggests checking out the 1983 track Beat Bop by Rammellzee and K-Rob. It's a song from an era where the uptown and downtown communities mingled in a way that the rap world would rarely see again. This segment originally aired in June 2013.

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"The Song That Changed My Life" with Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone

Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. As the story goes for a lot of teenagers, she didn't quite fit in. The kids at her school wanted to spend time at the mall. They weren't interested in making stuff, shooting videos and writing zines.

Annie found a whole new world, and a whole new group of friends, through music. The song that changed her life is "Knew Song", by the Long Island hardcore band Silent Majority.

Au Revoir Simone's most recent album is Move In Spectrums. This interview originally aired in January 2014.

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The Enigmatic, Grammy-Nominated Syl Johnson

Inspired by the sounds of Jackie Wilson, Little Walter, and Muddy Waters, Syl Johnson set out to make his own mark in music in the 1950s. His own gritty, bluesy voice and funk rhythms earned him a place in the Chicago soul and blues scene. Over the course of a career on Chicago's Twinight and Memphis' Hi Records, Johnson released several singles that climbed their way up the pop and R&B charts ("Different Strokes", "Come On Sock It To Me", "Is It Because I'm Black?") and but never attained the smash success of contemporaries like Al Green or James Brown.

He found ubiquity later in life, when dozens of hip hop artists from Run-DMC to Kanye West dug into his catalog to sample his sounds (perhaps foremost his signature scream on "Different Strokes"). Johnson found himself in the spotlight again a few years ago when the archival label Numero Group assembled a Grammy-nominated boxset of his early cuts, titled Syl Johnson: The Mythology. This interview originally aired in October 2012.

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The Outshot: "Coney Island"

Jesse recommends a portrait of an American caught in between its past and its future in Ric Burns' documentary Coney Island.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Steve Coogan & Kevin Kerrane

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Steve Coogan
Guests: 
Kevin Kerrane
Guests: 
Hari Kondabolu
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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Steve Coogan: "Dumping My Dysfunction" into Alan Partridge and Seeking Humanity in Comedy

The English actor, comedian and writer Steve Coogan started out as a brilliant impressionist. He was beloved by audiences for his pitch-perfect impressions, and put his voice talent to good use on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image. But Coogan wanted more for himself, and began developing his own characters. While working on the radio current affairs parody On The Hour with Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris, he created his most enduring character to date -- the awkward, know-nothing sports desk reporter, Alan Partridge.

Coogan has now spent two decades off and on with Alan Partridge, as he's been fleshed out and moved from radio to television and back again. Alan has become a very important part of his life, although as Coogan says, Alan is "like a relative that you’re very fond of but you only want to see at Christmas and holidays. You don’t want to live with them." He's now brought the character to the big screen, with Alan as a regional radio deejay who accidentally gets roped into a hostage situation at his station.

Coogan has also acted in a number of movies and television shows in England and abroad, including The Trip, Night at the Museum, Tropic Thunder and 24 Hour Party People. He also recently co-wrote, produced and starred in the drama Philomena, which garnered several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

He joins us this week to talk about his early days as an impressionist, the increasing emotional complexity and dynamism of his character Alan Partridge, and seeking humanity in his comedy.

Alan Partridge is now in theaters and on VOD. Philomena is out on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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Andrew Noz on All-Time Favorite Tracks: Organized Konfusion and Ice-T

Hip hop critic Andrew Noz digs way back in the catalogs of past Bullseye guests Pharoahe Monch and Ice-T to recommend some of his favorite tracks.

He suggests taking a listen to the amazing technical performances in Organized Konfusion's "Bring It On", and revisiting a poetic early track from Ice-T, "High Rollers".

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game and blogs at Cocaine Blunts. You can also find him on Tumblr.

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Photo by Zac Wolf

Hari Kondabolu Asks, What Happened to Weezer?

Weezer’s first album came out TWENTY years ago. The comedian Hari Kondabolu has been a fan since the beginning.

Hari's new stand up comedy album is called Waiting for 2042.

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"Sinister" Dick Kinsella

Who Won? Who Lost? Who Cares? It's All in How You Play the Game: Kevin Kerrane on the World of Baseball Scouting

Over thirty years ago, in 1980, Kevin Kerrane entered a world of unusual characters. "Jocko" Collins, "Sinister" Dick Kinsella, Cy Slapnicka. They were baseball scouts -- men who drove from game to game and town to town looking for fresh and undiscovered talent. They watched the players intently, but they didn't care who won or who lost. They were looking to see how an individual player runs, walks, and throws, and picturing how that talent might parlay to the major leagues. Kerrane renders these men and their stories in vivid detail in his classic history of baseball scouting, Dollar Sign on the Muscle.

The book fell out of print over the years, so Kerrane went back into the field in 2013 to provide a look at scouting in its current iteration.

Kerrane talks to us about some of the legendary scouts, the particular language and vernacular of the baseball scout, and the balance between old-school qualitative and new-school quantitative analysis of players.

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The Outshot: Owney, a Very Special Dog

Jesse shares his love for Owney, the Mascot of the Railway Mail Service.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: P-Funk's George Clinton and Tagging with Christian Acker

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George Clinton
Guests: 
Christian Acker

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P-Funk's George Clinton: From Doo Wop to Funk, and Saving His Musical Career

The musician, producer and 72 year-old mastermind of Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton, has never been shy of the limelight. He started his career singing doo wop, later found himself writing songs for Motown, and finally wound up creating a wholly unique sound and visual experience with Parliament-Funkadelic. They made hits like One Nation Under A Groove and Flashlight and their performances were as funky as their tunes.

In recent years, Clinton has found himself entangled in a series of legal battles over the copyrights of his songs. While fighting in the courts, George found himself fighting for his health as well. The doctor of the Funk gave himself his own prognosis: if he was going to continue a musical career and regain agency in his business affairs, he had to clean up his act, and he has.

The pioneer of funk joins us this week to talk about the evolution of his musical career, getting wild onstage, and putting forward momentum back into his musical career -- and even gives us an update on Sly Stone.

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are still touring and recording. George has a reality show and a memoir in the works as well. You can track him down on his official website.

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Hip Hop with Andrew Noz: Vince Staples (feat. James Fauntleroy) and Nicki Minaj

Andrew Noz joins us to provide some recommendations from the world of hip hop. First, we talk about Vince Staples' intimate, raw track about his father, "Nate" featuring James Fauntleroy. Andrew also suggests a listen to Nicki Minaj's new track, "Lookin Ass", a battle rap that shows Nicki still spits.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game and blogs at Cocaine Blunts. You can also find him on Tumblr.

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Comedy: Chris Fairbanks Wonders About Owls

The comedian Chris Fairbanks joined us a few years ago at our annual convocation in the woods, MaxFunCon. And he wondered -- what's up with all these owls?

He’s going to join us for another big event this year: the second annual Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival July 25-28, 2014. You can find details at boat party dot biz. To learn more about Chris and his upcoming shows at hisofficial site.

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Why Tagging is Beautiful: Christian Acker and "Flip the Script"

You know those tags you see on walls, park benches and trash cans everywhere? You might not think it's something beautiful, but Christian Acker does. His book Flip the Script is a look at graffiti typography, and celebrates the art of tagging -- one of the last strongholds of highly refined penmanship.

Acker collected writing and spoke to graffiti artists all over the country, to chronicle and analyze hand styles from Oakland to Queens. In a world where people too rarely place ink to paper, we'll look at a typographical expression that reflects your individuality, roots, and even how long you've been practicing.

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The Outshot: Baba O'Riley

There's at least a couple of good parts of teenagerdom. This week, Jesse shares some of them with The Who's Baba O'Riley.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ronnie Spector, Fred Schneider, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Ronnie Spector
Guests: 
Fred Schneider
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My Brother, My Brother and Me
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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It’s the time of year when Bullseye focuses on what truly matters during the holiday season: great interviews with fascinating people. Celebrate with the Bullseye Holiday Special.

Girl Group Legend Ronnie Spector on Christmas, John Lennon, and a Perfect Coiffure

Ronnie Spector was the lead singer of the 1960s girl group The Ronettes. Along with her sister and cousin, she sang on five Top 40 hits, most notably Be My Baby, which still gets regular airplay on oldies stations.

But when it comes to her recordings with her ex-husband and producer Phil Spector, it might be the holiday songs off A Christmas Gift for You that remain closest to our hearts.

Spector spoke with Jesse in 2010 and explained that Christmas has always been a part of her life. When she was six years old, she sat on Santa’s lap at Macy’s and fell in love with everything about the holiday. The Ronettes recorded “Frosty the Snowman,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “Sleigh Ride” for the album and, since their release in 1963, all three songs have become holiday classics.

Spector talked to us about puzzling over Santa's journey to her NYC apartment as a kid, going on stage at the famed Apollo Theater as an eleven-year-old, and knocking on doors with The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards.

This segment originally aired in December 2010.

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Andrew Noz on Holiday Rap: Outkast and Gucci Mane

Holiday songs don't have to all be Dean Martin or Michael Bublé. Hip hop critic Andrew Noz stops by the show to suggest a couple of rap songs that will be perfect for your holiday party.

The first is Outkast’s Player's Ball. It was originally recorded as a Christmas song for the LaFace Family Christmas album and with a few tweaks, it was repurposed as the group’s debut single. Then, Andrew says you should check out Gucci Mane’s Weird. It’s a great track that features a whole bunch of weird lyrics that allude to Christmas.

You can find Andrew Noz on Pitchfork, the Fader, or check out his blog at Cocaine Blunts.

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My Brother, My Brother, and Me Give Holiday Advice

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to answer some of your most pressing holiday quandaries. They take on Dickensian fairs, lazy gifting, and the perfect playlist for your holiday party.

If you’ve still got questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts, and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

This segment originally aired in December 2012.

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The B-52s' Fred Schneider on Christmas Music, Wacky Poetry and Creating a Signature Sound

There are few bands that better define outrageousness than The B-52s. And there is no greater symbol of that group's outrageousness than Fred Schneider. As frontman for The B-52s, he’s crossed a Georgia drawl with a unique style of talk-singing in songs like Love Shack and Rock Lobster.

In 2010, Jesse sat down with Schneider to talk about the holidays. The vocalist had just recorded a new Christmas album with his band The Superions. The album is called Destination… Christmas! and features several goofy holiday songs like “Fruitcake” and “Crummy Christmas Tree”.

Schneider tells Jesse how he comes up with his nutty lyrics, why he decided to write poetry in college and, most importantly, how to compose holiday songs on the fly.

This segment originally aired in December 2010.

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The Outshot: This Christmas by Donny Hathaway

On this week’s Outshot, Jesse tells you about his absolute favorite holiday song. He puts it on every year, and explains why you should too. Take a listen to This Christmas by Donny Hathaway.

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Special Credits

Be sure to check out these holiday classics, also in this week's show:
Father Christmas - The Kinks
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
I Hate Christmas - Oscar the Grouch
Down On Christmas - Stompin’ Tom Connors

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: The Influence of Bob & Ray with David Pollock

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Bullseye
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David Pollock
Guests: 
Tony Hale
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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The Comic Chemistry Of Bob & Ray with Writer David Pollock

Your favorite improvising comedians, whether they realize it or not, are descendants of Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding. Their signature satirical sketches, performed equally for their own entertainment as for that of their audience, continually broke new ground in the world of comedy. What started as a simple dream to be radio announcers culminated in a career spanning five decades, performances at Carnegie Hall, and a legacy as two of the funniest radio and television personalities since those job titles came into existence.

David Pollock has written for some of the most important sitcoms of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, including Full House, Frasier, Growing Pains, Cheers, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. His new book, Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons, is a detailed history of Bob and Ray, and provides some serious new insight about the comedic duo.

Pollock tells us about Bob and Ray's most hilarious on-air moments, how they invented the concept of comedy in advertising, and the magical chemistry that kept Bob and Ray improvising for over 40 years.

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Andrew Noz Recommends Classic Three 6 Mafia and De La Soul

Our go-to rap critic Andrew Noz shares some of his all-time favorite hip-hop tracks.

First he recommends the menacing Memphis track Victim Of A Driveby (Mask And The Glock) by Triple Six Mafia feat. SOG & Lil Glock, off their 1994 "Smoked Out Loced Out" tape from Prophet Entertainment.

Noz also recommends De La Soul's Ego Trippin Pt. 2, the allusion-filled second single off their 1993 album "Buhloone Mindstate" from Tommy Boy.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game, and also blogs and Tumblr-s regularly at Cocaine Blunts and Tumblin 'Erb.

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The Frightened Roles of Tony Hale

No character epitomizes Arrested Development's eponymous theme like Buster Bluth. Giving his mom back rubs, dating her best friend, and sucking cigarette smoke from her mouth while she's under house arrest--Buster is an eerie Oedipal manchild to the nth degree.

Similarly in the HBO show Veep, one person in Washington truly enables Vice President Selina Meyer, feeding the ego of an otherwise vestigial political player--her body man, Gary Walsh.

Both characters are played by Emmy-nominee Tony Hale, whose comedic facility with the role of obsequious mama's boy is unmatched.

Tony sat down with Jesse last year to discuss the humor of the behind-the-scenes world of politics, Buster Bluth's comedic inspiration, and the role his faith plays in his acting career. The third season of Veep will air on HBO in the spring of 2014.

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The Outshot: The Throne Of The Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly

In this week's Outshot, Jesse tells the story of a man who secretly spent the last fifteen years of his life building something amazing in a rented garage.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kumail Nanjiani, Lake Bell and Sergio Dias

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Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Lake Bell
Guests: 
Sergio Dias
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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Kumail Nanjiani on Identity, Comedy, and Shaking Hands with Girls

When Kumail Nanjiani was a boy growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, he absorbed a fair amount of American culture. He loved Ghostbusters and Gremlins. He read MAD Magazine. And he knew that someday, he'd move to the U.S. What he never imagined is that he'd become a comedian.

His first exposure to stand up comedy was a Jerry Seinfeld HBO special, and a few short years later, Kumail was on stage himself. He's performed with The Second City, at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, and on numerous late night shows. He also co-hosts a stand up showcase, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, and now often appears on TV, with appearances on Franklin and Bash, Portlandia, Veep and Newsreaders.

Kumail talks to us about growing up Pakistani, choosing a distinctly American way of life, and creating comedy about things you love, rather than things you hate.

Kumail's new Comedy Central stand up special, Beta Male, is available on CD+DVD and by direct download.

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BONUS AUDIO:
Kumail Studies The Cheesecake Factory for "Portlandia"
Kumail on Mike Judge and the Butthead Voice

Rap Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Earl Sweatshirt's "Hive" and Chief Keef's "Go to Jail"

Hip hop contributor Andrew Noz stops by to share some of his favorite new tracks, incidentally both by rappers still in their teens.

He recommends "Hive", the first single off the new album by the youngest member of the Odd Future crew, Earl Sweatshirt. It's dense, well-written, and long-awaited. Earl Sweatshirt's album Doris is out August 20th.

On the other end of the spectrum, slowed way down, is Chicago-based Chief Keef's autotuned, warbly track "Go to Jail", off his upcoming mixtape Almighty So. You can find that song on Chief Keef's Soundcloud.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game, and also blogs and Tumblr-s regularly at Cocaine Blunts and Tumblin 'Erb.

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Photo credit Denise Truscello

Sérgio Dias on The Song That Changed My Life: Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock"

Os Mutantes founder and guitarist Sérgio Dias describes the song that opened his mind to the world of rock 'n' roll when he was just a kid living in Brazil. That song was Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock".

The psych rock band that would become Os Mutantes formed in Brazil in the mid-1960s. They experimented with psychedelic guitars, bossa nova and tropicalia to create a distinct sound. The band broke up in 1978, but their music continued to garner fans, from Kurt Cobain to Beck to David Byrne.

Os Mutantes released an album of eccentric and beautiful new tracks earlier this year, titled Fool Metal Jack. The band will embark on a U.S. tour in November.

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Lake Bell on Voiceover Cliques, Racing Cars, and Making the Transition from Actor to Director

Voiceover is everywhere. On commercials, describing the tight curves in a sports car; in movie theaters, reminding you to turn off your cell phone and end your conversation. Those voices are booming and confident. But they're not often female.

Lake Bell found these disembodied voices intriguing. She wrote, directed and stars in the new comedy In a World... The movie is about an an aspiring female voice over artist, her power struggles in the industry and within her own family, and the pursuit of change.

Lake talks to us about her favorite accents, her work on the ensemble comedy Childrens Hospital, and handling the transition from actor to director.

In a World... is in theaters now. You can also see Lake as part of the ensemble of [adult swim]'s Childrens Hospital, which airs Thursdays at midnight on the Cartoon Network.

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The Outshot: The Big Con by David Maurer

Jesse recommends The Big Con, by David Maurer, for a fascinating look at the profession of the confidence man.

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Plus, this week's credits... movie trailer style.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mel Brooks and Directors of "The Source Family"

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Mel Brooks
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Maria Demopoulos
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Jodi Wille
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Andrew Noz

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Hip Hop Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Juice by Chance The Rapper and Picacho by Young Thug (feat. Maceo)

Andrew Noz joins us to provide some recommendations from the world of hip hop. First, he talks to us about Chance the Rapper's self-proclaimed lyrical challenge, as evidenced in Juice, a track off his latest mixtape, Acid Rap. And what if Lil Wayne stayed off the beaten pop music path? It might sound like Young Thug's weirded-out track, Picacho.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game, and also blogs and Tumblr-s regularly at Cocaine Blunts and Tumblin 'Erb.

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Mel Brooks catching up on the present in between takes of History Of The World: Part I. (Photo by Pamela Barkentin Blackburn.)

Mel Brooks Takes Down Hitler (and Makes a Few Wonderfully Bad Jokes Along the Way)

It's hard to imagine what American comedy would look like without Mel Brooks. With a sharp eye for parody, a seemingly infinite supply of gags, and enough destruction of the fourth wall to make a postmodern novelist blush, his work has set the tone for countless comedy TV shows and films. It's hard to imagine SNL's relentless TV parodies without Your Show Of Shows (which Brooks wrote for alongside Sid Caesar back in the 50s), The Simpsons without his filmography full of sly pop-culture references, or the careers of Airplane! creators Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker without Brooks' shameless love of (self-admittedly) awful jokes.

A new PBS American Masters documentary, Mel Brooks: Make A Noise, explores the life and career of the EGOT winner and man behind The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and so much more. Brooks talks to us about fighting in World War II (where he managed to even make a few Germans laugh), the genius of Gene Wilder, and that time Sid Caesar dangled Brooks out the window of a Chicago hotel room.

PBS's American Masters documentary Mel Brooks: Make A Noise premieres Monday, May 20. Check with your public television station for local listings. A box set from Shout! Factory with over ten hours of rare and exclusive footage was also released late last year.

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Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille on The Source Family, LA's Most Famous Hippie Cult

The Source Family fit the conventional image of a typical hippie cult in a lot of ways – assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as a typical hippie cult. You could point to the commune, the long hair, the Jesus-y robes...not to mention occasional hits of what they called "sacred herb". Dig deeper, though, and it becomes clear that there was plenty that separated the Source Family from stereotypes.

The group was just as unique as their leader, a man who called himself Father Yod. He was a former Marine, stuntman, jujitsu expert who founded the Source Family alongside a highly successful vegetarian restaurant. Out of the back of that restaurant, the family sold recordings of their regular jam sessions, which became the stuff of psychedelic rock legend. Perhaps most unlike your average cult leader, Father Yod was not particularly attached to any particular ideology – not even his own. In direct violation of his own commandments, Yod married thirteen wives, a move which both alienated a number of family members and caught the LAPD's attention. This caused the Source Family to flee to Hawaii, which ultimately resulted in the group's demise.

We're delving further into LA's most famous hippie cult with the help of Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille, the directors of a new documentary called The Source Family. They discuss the group's run-ins with celebrities (and law enforcement), why Father Yod once told his followers to cut their hair and get jobs, and whether or not they would have joined the group, if given the chance.

The Source Family is in limited nationwide theatrical release. For information about screenings at a theater near you, check out the film's website.

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The Outshot: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson

This week, find out why Jesse's been spending a lot of time with Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, a home-tome that gracefully runs the housekeeping gamut from sections titled "Administering Insurance Policies" to "Privacy, Sex, and the Constitution".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: W. Kamau Bell, Mike Birbiglia, Eleni Mandell, Noz

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Rasnebyu - Washington Slizzards from The New Chill


"Washington Slizzards" and "Laughin' to the Bank" with Andrew Noz

Andrew Noz joins us this week to talk about throwback 90s sounds and a rapper gone viral on Youtube. He talks to us about the DC-based Ras Nebyu's "Washington Slizzards" and Chief Keef's "Laughin' to the Bank".

Andrew Noz is the proprietor of the blog Cocaine Blunts, and he writes about hip hop for Pitchfork, the Fader, and Hip Hop Pit Stop.

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Comedian W. Kamau Bell on the Sweet Spot of Gentrification, the TV Talk Show World, and More

W. Kamau Bell wants to talk to you about race. And about urban inequality, and politics, and Spider Man too. He came to his own brand of sociopolitical comedy after working as a comic for years, eventually shaping his work into a one-man show in which he promised to "end racism in about an hour."

A lucky break with an audience member at one of those shows – Chris Rock, to be precise – landed Bell his own TV talk show, called Totally Biased. He joins us to talk about transitioning into the talk show world, the sweet spot of gentrification, and remaining true to his own comedic voice.

Totally Biased airs Thursday nights at 11pm on FX.

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This segment originally aired on September 4th, 2012.


Singer-Songwriter Eleni Mandell on the Song that Changed her Life

Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell had one of those experiences as a kid that was a hallmark of experiencing music before the internet. She heard a song she liked, went out to the record store, and picked an album by the same artist. The problem? It sounded totally uncool, and not at all like the song she'd heard. It did, however, open her up to a whole new way of listening to music.

Eleni talks to us about the song that changed her life, Tom Waits' "Tom Traubert's Blues." Eleni grew up in Los Angeles loving both punk rockers X and folk rocker Bob Dylan, and her own music mixes airy vocals with 60s pop, country, and folk sounds.

Her newest album is I Can See the Future. She's currently touring Europe with Sylvie Lewis. You can see tour dates and more about her at EleniMandell.com

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This segment originally aired on September 4th, 2012.


Mike Birbiglia on the Miracle of Actually Making a Movie

Mike Birbiglia knows his own story pretty well by now. After struggling as a stand up, he started working some personal details from his life into his comedy. Some of it was pretty standard, like wrapping his head around the idea of getting married to his longtime girlfriend. And some of it was less familiar stuff, like running out of a window while sleepwalking.

Birbiglia went on transform these thoughts into a one-man show, a book, and finally, a movie. And although talking about the subject matter was second nature, directing a movie about it was not. He joins us to discuss being a first-time director, the difficulty of delivering stand up in a casual, easy way, and why he considered long-lasting marriage to be a totally foreign concept.

Sleepwalk With Me is now available on Netflix Instant and on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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This segment originally aired on September 4th, 2012.


The Outshot: Winning Time

Jesse recommends the ESPN documentary Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks for a look at a volatile shooting guard, an intense basketball rivalry, and some courtside conversations with Spike Lee.

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This segment originally aired on September 4th, 2012.

Are you a sports fanatic with a favorite doc? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Aimee Mann, Seth Godin, Jordan Morris

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Rap Picks with Noz: Mystikal and Mouse On Tha Track

Andrew Noz joins us this week to share a couple of his current favorite rap tracks. His first pick is Mouse On Tha Track's smooth and mellow "Get High Get Loaded," featuring Fiend. His second recommendation is Mystikal's incredible new song "Hit Me."

Andrew Noz is the proprietor of the blog Cocaine Blunts, and he writes about hip hop for Pitchfork, the Fader, and Hip Hop Pit Stop.

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Photo credit Sheryl Nields

Singer-Songwriter Aimee Mann on Rejecting the Life of a Pop Star

Aimee Mann rose to prominence in the 80s with the success of her new wave band 'Til Tuesday's single, "Voices Carry," but she found the limelight uncomfortable. Tired of contending with record companies' attempts to pigeonhole her and her work, Aimee struck out on her own. She joins us this week to discuss that transition from frontwoman to solo artist, the stresses of fame, and coping with uncertainty at a time in her life when she thought she would have had everything figured out.

Aimee's new album, Charmer, is available now.

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Jordan Ranks America

2013 is a whole new year chock full of things that want ranking -- who has the time to tackle that task? Fortunately, we have Jordan Morris to tell us what's what!

Jordan Morris co-hosts the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go!, stars in the YouTube series Game Shop, and tweets at @Jordan_Morris.

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Seth Godin on Making Art That Markets Itself

Seth Godin is best known as a marketing guru, but he brings far more compassion and genuine insight to his work than the title might lead you to expect. And his observations aren't just valuable for CEOs. He makes his work for content creators operating on every scale. He joins us this week to delve into the "assets that matter" -- the qualities and values critical to creating great, meaningful work.

Seth Godin's new books are V Is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?, and Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck?.

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The Outshot: Orson Welles's F for Fake

Trickery and deception are featured prominently in some of Orson Welles's finest works, so it is fitting that the existence of an objective truth and its relative importance is most thoroughly explored in Welles's final major film, F for Fake. Part documentary, part film essay, F for Fake features tricks and truths layered atop each other, creating a mesmerizing narrative.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Vijay Iyer, Dave Hill, and Demetri Martin

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Andrew Noz's Picks: Rapping About a Haircut and Pencap Beats

Hip hop blogger Andrew Noz joins us again this week to recommend some of his favorite tracks of the moment. What's he listening to now? Aesop Rock's ode to a haircut in Racing Stripes and Alpoko Don's stripped down track All I Know.

Andrew Noz writes about hip hop for Cocaine Blunts and has a regular column, Diamonds and Wood, for Pitchfork.

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Vijay Iyer on the Brain, the Body, and the Experience of Music

The Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer began learning classical violin at age three and started improvising on the piano only a few years later. While he studied math and physics at Yale and UC Berkeley, he couldn't stay away from music. He found himself doing academic work by day, and moonlighting as a jazz pianist in Bay Area clubs.

His music is known for its complex, pulsing rhythms and creating unusual covers of artists like Stevie Wonder, Flying Lotus, and Michael Jackson.

He talks to us about exploring rhythm with math (remember Fibonacci's sequence?), the social experience of creating and listening to music, and the idea that "music is action."

The Vijay Iyer Trio's newest album is Accelerando.

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Demetri Martin on People Watching

Demetri Martin is the kind of person who's obsessed with puzzles and linguistic and cultural ironies, and you've probably seen him explore those on his show Important Things with Demetri Martin. But he's usually got a big sketchpad, slides projected overhead, and a piano to riff on. He's put the theatricality aside in favor of straight ahead one-liners in this clip from his new special, Standup Comedian.

Want to learn more about Demetri Martin? Check out our interview with him about This is a Book.

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Dave Hill Pals Around with Maximum Security Felons

Dave Hill is best known as a New York-based comedian, but he's dabbled in a lot of things. He's interviewed fans of Chick-Fil-A for This American Life, lived the life of a frontman for a semi-successful rock band (they were big in Japan), and even had a job as a pedicab driver for a few days.

One of his trademarks is making himself and others uncomfortable during a performance, whether he's asking inane or (alternately) inappropriately suggestive questions in his man-on-the-street interviews, performing stand up or hosting his talk show The Dave Hill Explosion. He mines a number of uncomfortable situations in his recent book of essays, Tasteful Nudes: ...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation.

He talks to us about how being a rock musician made him realize he loved comedy, and how he ended up performing at Sing Sing for maximum security felons. This interview originally aired July 2, 2012.)

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The Outshot: The Dirtbombs' Ultraglide in Black

Rage, garage punk, and R&B. The Dirtbombs' music has it all, and Jesse suggests you check out their album Ultraglide in Black.

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What's your favorite mashup of genres? Head over to the MaxFun forum and tell us YOUR outshot.

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