We're joined again this week by guest co-host Julie Klausner.
Associate National Editor Tasha Robinson and Film Editor Scott Tobias of the AV Club recommend Imagination Illustrated, which journals the various creative efforts of Jim Henson, and a modern, dark adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
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 last year when the archival label Numero Group assembled a Grammy-nominated boxset of his early cuts, titled Syl Johnson: The Mythology.
Armed with childhood memories of watching Psycho and Alien and an insatiable appetite for true crime stories, Gillian Flynn began writing her first thriller, Sharp Objects. The book's success took Flynn from magazine journalist to full-time author. Her newest book, the bestselling Gone Girl, is a twisted and wry look at a marriage gone horribly wrong.
Flynn offers insights on the twisted and damaged psyches of her characters, cherishing the unease that comes with following an unreliable narrator, and how she combats the trope of the female victim.
This week, Jesse lauds the commitment and direction of Key & Peele's sketch comedy.
For more, check out our interview with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele from earlier this year.
What’s your favorite sketch comedy show? Jump over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.
This week, the AV Club’s Assistant TV Editor, Erik Adams, shares his affection for Police Squad!, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker classic with Leslie Nielsen. His colleague Claire Zulkey recommends Law & Order.
R.A. Dickey is a pitcher for the New York Mets, and the only man in the majors currently throwing a knuckleball. His new memoir, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, is a story of perseverance more than anything. He had a difficult childhood marked by abuse and poverty, but found his gift in baseball. Early on in his career, the Texas Rangers offered Dickey a lucrative contract but retracted it when they discovered a physical abnormality that theoretically should have kept him from playing ball. Dickey then bounced back and forth between the major and minor leagues and says he floundered, personally and professionally. But he stuck with it, and worked on mastering the wildly unpredictable knuckleball pitch (and finally found stability and peace in his relationships with his family and friends). Now, at age 37 Dickey is just hitting the prime of his career while many players of his age have long since retired. If anything, the knuckleball means his best days may still be ahead of him.
R.A. sits down with us to discuss his search for peace from a troubled past, the art of throwing the perfect knuckleball, and exactly why he names his bats after fantasy swords. Wherever I Wind Up is available in bookstores now. This interview originally aired May 22, 2012.
To say Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe were ahead of their time would be putting it mildly. The duo produced hundreds of man-on-the-street interviews in San Francisco during the mid-1960s, always claiming to be something they weren't, all in the name of comedy. Their efforts would go mostly unappreciated for decades, though the dedication of Mal's daughter Jennifer would ensure their work would eventually find an audience.
In this classic clip, the pair try to convince a Navy serviceman to rob a bank for them. You can hear more from Coyle & Sharpe right here on MaximumFun.org, where their archives have been converted to The Coyle & Sharpe Podcast. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.
On the Outshot this week, Jesse makes the rather unconventional move of recommending a radio show that isn't this one -- but you'll want to check it out all the same. It's The Best Show on WFMU, the music show turned character-based comedy call-in program whose cryptic host Tom Scharpling can satirize the role of the radio host while perfecting it in the same breath. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.
Is there a show on the radio that you consider appointment listening? We want to hear it, so let us know on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.
What’s worth watching on TV this summer? Our TV critics Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey of the AV Club have a few suggestions (yes, other than Breaking Bad). Adams suggests Disney Channel’s Gravity Falls, which airs on Fridays. Zulkey recommends The Franchise, which airs on Showtime on Wednesdays at 10pm.
Lisa Kudrow broke out to TV stardom on the hugely popular sitcom Friends, portraying the clueless but street-wise Phoebe Buffay. The cast members of Friends were practically America's Sweethearts, but Kudrow has pursued roles as less easily lovable characters in movies like Easy A and the short-lived but critically acclaimed cable series The Comeback.
Most recently, Kudrow has co-created and stars in the improv-comedy series Web Therapy, about a self-centered therapist who has an unusual "modality" approach -- she insists on cutting the usual 50-minute dreams and feelings session to a three-minute web chat. Web Therapy was adapted for TV by Showtime last year, and just began its second season on the network.
Kudrow talks to us about her early career in science research, how the fickleness of middle-schoolers set her on the path to acting, and being mentored by none other than Jon Lovitz.
Maximum Fun Headquarters recently relocated to a beautiful, but barren, new office -- and it needed a touch of character. There's probably no better place to find it than at the huge Rose Bowl flea market in Los Angeles, but we needed a seasoned antiquer to help us out. Enter Danielle Colby, star of the History Channel's series American Pickers, who helped us pick a doozy.
Eric Andre isn't a comedian with a household name, but that didn't stop him from getting his own talk show. And it didn't stop him from breaking every rule in the book when it comes to doing monologues or interviewing guests, either. The Eric Andre Show is hard to describe, but if you know that Andre isn't averse to pouring ketchup down his own pants or borderline abusing his guests, you might start to get the idea. His extremely low-key straight man Hannibal Burress provides a counterpoint to the madness.
Andre talks to us about literally deconstructing the talk show, setting up unexpected situations for guests, and more.
The Eric Andre Show airs Sundays at 12:30am on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.
This week, Jesse recommends that we all overcome any reluctance to let salsa music into our lives, and to begin with the Fania All-Stars.
Do you have a new music love? Tell us about it in your own outshot.
Our pop culture luminaries from The AV Club return for another round of recommendations. Sitting in the hot seat this week are Genevieve Koski and Josh Modell, as they select their all-time favorite records. Josh can't resist the lure of Fiona Apple's 1999 album When The Pawn.... Genevieve, meanwhile, opts for a relative modern selection: it's Dessa's lyrically resonant 2010 release A Badly Broken Code.
Daniel Handler delved into his memories of young love and high school frustrations to pen the novel Why We Broke Up -- the twist? He writes the girl's side of the story. The story is illustrated by a collection of items collected during the relationship; the paintings are provided by New Yorker illustrator Maira Kalman. Daniel Handler is also known by his alter ego, Lemony Snicket, who authored A Series of Unfortunate Events. (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
Nico Muhly is a classical composer who's worked with a wide range of musicians, from high-profile composer Philip Glass, to Icelandic snger-songwriter Bjork to indie rockers Grizzly Bear. His opera Two Boys is set to debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2013-14 season. He talks to us about the song that changed his life -- Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
Randy and Jason Sklar, known collectively as The Sklar Brothers, are comedians and actors perhaps best known for their ESPN Classic show Cheap Seats. They're currently hosting a new TV series called United Stats of America, Tuesday nights on the History Channel. Their latest stand up album is Hendersons and Daughters and you can hear them each week as the hosts of the comedy podcast Sklarbro Country.
They sat down with us earlier this year to reflect on forming identities as stand up comedians (and twins), broadening sports comedy for the average Joe, envisioning the writing process for Grimm's Fairy Tales, and more. (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
Americans enjoyed a wave of cringe-inducing awkward comedy in Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office. This week Jesse recommends one of their precedents, the Canadian series The Newsroom. (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
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 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.
Hi gang, it's our annual MAX FUN DRIVE, happening now. If you love this show, please take a moment to support it. There's a level of support for everyone, and it makes this show possible. Thank you.
Genevieve Koski and Josh Modell of The AV Club weigh in with their pop culture picks this week. Josh thinks you should check out John C. Reilly's very funny [adult swim] series Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, which just began its second season. The show airs Sundays at 12:30am. Genevieve recommends the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, the story of Kevin Clash following his dream to work with Jim Henson, and how he gave voice to one of the Henson Company's most iconic characters.
Moshe Kasher is a comedian based in Los Angeles. He's performed at Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Chelsea Lately, and was named "Best New Comic" by iTunes for his debut comedy album. His new book is a memoir, but it's not what you might expect from a comedian memoir. Moshe's story is far from typical. It's called Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16 and that title should give a good idea of the wild stories it contains.
At the start, it's a story of growing up the child of two divorced deaf parents, split between living with his Hasidic father in New York, and his hippie mother in Oakland. Moshe joins Jesse to share stories from his upbringing, and shed some light on how he eventually got right and saved himself from addiction, anger, and violence.
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Lateef the Truthspeaker is an Oakland MC and one of the founding members of the hip-hop collective / record label Quannum Projects, whose members include DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Blackalicious. He talks to us about the song that changed his life -- Cloudburst by the jazz group Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross.
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Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin are the Oscar-winning directors behind the emotionally-charged sports documentary Undefeated. The film follows a challenging season for the Manassas Tigers, an underdog football team in North Memphis, Tennessee. The Tigers had traditionally been a team with troubles both on and off the field. Its fortunes changed under volunteer coach Bill Courtney, dedicated not only to excellence on the field, but in fostering resilient players off of it. As Coach Courtney says, "There's a story under every helmet," and Undefeated tells a few of them.
Daniel and T.J. sit down with Jesse to talk about developing the story of the film, the challenges of shaping a narrative when the events unfolding are out of your control, and the experience of following a handful of teens throughout their senior year of high school. Undefeated continues to open theatrically in more and more cities across the country. Find out when it's coming to your city by visiting UndefeatedMovie.com.
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For The Outshot this week, Jesse shines a light on one of the lesser-known members of Atlanta's Dungeon Family hip-hop collective. Witchdoctor (born Erin Johnson) might not be as famous as Family members OutKast, Cee-Lo Green or Goodie Mob, but his 1998 album A S.W.A.T. Healin' Ritual just might be the best record of its time and place.
Is there an unsung record you think is worthy of recognition? Let us know by heading over to the MaxFun forum and naming your own Outshot.
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Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey of The AV Club recommend some of their favorite television – the new drama about a blurred line between life and dream life called Awake and the gleefully self-promotional reality show RuPaul's Drag Race.
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Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are actors, comedians, and the creators and co-stars of the new Comedy Central sketch show Key & Peele. They met during their years as cast members on MADtv; you might also recognize Jordan from adult swim's Childrens Hospital or perhaps you caught them both as commune-dwelling hippies in the new film Wanderlust. In their new show, Keegan and Jordan go from stand-up, to sketches about Scrabble, to a top-notch presidential impersonation.
Their new series gives them full creative control over their comedy, but that hasn't always been the case. They join us to discuss the behind-the-scenes creative process of MADtv (and the difficulties therein), the keys to developing strong impressions, and exploring the humor of their bi-racial identities. Plus, Jordan divulges the details of an original card game he invented for movie buffs!
Key & Peele airs Tuesdays at 10:30pm on Comedy Central. The show was just picked up for a second season.
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Our resident pop culture advice columnists, the McElroy brothers of My Brother, My Brother and Me take on questions about movie posters as art, what happens when you judge a child's abominable TV watching choices, and more.
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Are you ready to sacrifice hours, days, weeks of your life and your relationship to the outside world in favor of improving your archery skills and gathering herbs? If so, join Jesse in this week's Outshot, the role-playing game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
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Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin of The AV Club recommend their all time favorite classics - Rodney Dangerfield’s 1981 comedy special No Respect and ‘50s Japanese film The Burmese Harp directed by Kon Ichikawa.
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Writer, director, comedian, and actor David Wain has worked on many projects, from cult classics to commercial successes. From his early days on MTV’s sketch comedy show The State he moved on to write and direct the cultishly popular film Wet Hot American Summer. David returns to our show to trace his career path, discuss what made The State such a special comedy troupe, and of course talk about his new Judd Apatow-produced comedy, Wanderlust. The film opens in theaters nationwide on February 24th. It stars Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston.
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Jordan Morris gives the good old U.S. of A. a run down of the top 5 most important things happening within its borders this month. Old friends, Blu-ray movies, how will he break it all down?
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If you bring the potato salad, we’ll bring the chili as Jesse pines after potlucks with this week’s Outshot, DJ Quik’s Pitch In OnA Party.
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Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin of The AV Club bring us their recommendations - John Mulaney’s stand up special New In Town, and the movie reboot of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes. (Embed or Share the AV Club's Picks)
The hugely innovative and influential hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest began as many groups do -- as a band of friends, passing out demo tapes, dreaming of hearing their songs on the radio. But after releasing five gold and platinum selling albums in the late 1980s and early 90s, the group combusted and left fans like Michael Rapaport in the lurch.
Rapaport was an actor known for his roles in several Woody Allen films, Boston Public, Friends and Prison Break. He set out on his directorial debut to capture the past, present and future of A Tribe Called Quest, hoping to better understand what made them tick. The resulting documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life creates a compelling oral history of the group from interviews with members Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Mohammed and Jarobi White, along with hip-hop producers, radio personalities and other rappers. We spoke to Rapaport last year, and the film is now out on DVD. (Embed or Share Michael Rapaport on Bullseye)
The latest scientific findings, human interest stories, and much more, all brought to you by the top fake news anchors -- San Francisco based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser. (Embed or Share Kasper Hauser on Bullseye)
Werner Herzog is an acclaimed (and prolific) film writer and director, known for narrative films like Aguirre, the Wrath of God as well as documentaries like Grizzly Man. His filmmaking distinctively pushes boundaries and explores humanity's extremes. His documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 3D look into the Chauvet Cave, home of the earliest known cave paintings in the world. With a tiny crew and jury-rigged 3D cameras, Herzog looked at some of the first images ever created. Herzog takes the opportunity not just to present to us the beauty of the caves, but to consider what it means to create and how we define our own humanity. We spoke to him about the film last year. It’s now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Netflix Instant. (Embed or Share Werner Herzog on Bullseye)
Jesse suggests that one of the best ways to experience Sly Stone is through his beautiful, heartbreaking hit "If You Want Me to Stay." (Embed or Share The Outshot)