comedian

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Zach Galifianakis and Michael K. Williams

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Zach Galifianakis
Guests: 
Michael K. Williams

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Zach Galifianakis on Unlikeable Characters, Sudden Fame and Facing “Heartbreaking” Criticism on Public Radio

[r] Zach Galifianakis is an actor, writer and stand-up comedian whose humor isn’t for everyone. His comedic observations and characterizations in television and film have made him a unique voice that some people love and others love to hate.

Galifianakis is probably best known for his roles in The Hangover films and in the Between Two Ferns web series. But he's also been in a lot more, from Up in the Air, to Birdman to Bored to Death. He's now the star and co-creator of the FX series, Baskets, currently in its second season. In the show, he plays a clown who can't keep up with the tuition or his classmates at his French clowning school, and returns to his hometown of Bakersfield, California to work in a rodeo.

Galifianakis sat down with Jesse to talk about creating a show that revolves around a mean and unlikeable character, how he contended with the sudden fame that came with The Hangover and what it’s like be dissed on public radio.

Baskets airs on Thursday nights at 10 pm on FX.


Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Michael K. Williams on His Club Kid Days, Breaking Ground with The Wire and Why a Pop Song Touches Him So Deeply

Michael K. Williams is an actor and dancer who broke out in the role of Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire. His characterization of a criminal “with a code” made the show a favorite among critics and viewers, one of whom was President Obama.

He was a club kid turned professional dancer, and later turned to acting. His resume includes everything from Boardwalk Empire to Twelve Years a Slave to Inherent Vice. He currently co-stars in the new Sundance TV series, Hap and Leonard, which begins its second season in March.

Williams sat down with us to talk about his memories of being a New York club kid, the difference that playing Omar made in his life and others and the opportunity that led him to realize that being a performer could be a career, rather than just a job.

The second season of Hap and Leonard begins airing on March 15.

The Outshot: Gravediggaz’s Poetic

Jesse remembers the poignancy of the late rapper Poetic, who detailed his harrowing fight with cancer in one of his final songs.

Episode 1 - Formosa written by Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant

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Guests: 
Paul F. Tompkins
Guests: 
Ben Schwartz
Guests: 
Craig Cackowski
Guests: 
Alessandra Torresani
Guests: 
Ana Ortiz
Guests: 
Cedric Yarbrough
Guests: 
Carlos Alazraqui
Guests: 
Janet Varney
Guests: 
Kyle Bornheimer

In this pilot episode of Dead Pilots Society, Ben Blacker interviews Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant (Reno 911, The State, The Night At The Museum Films) regarding their dead pilot, Formosa. You'll also listen to a never-before-heard live table read of Formosa performed by some of today's funniest comedic actors like:

Paul F. Tompkins as Frank
Ben Schwartz as Frenchy
Craig Cackowski as Lou, Bellhop
Alessandra Torresani as Margaret O'Sullivan
Ana Ortiz as Carlita
Cedric Yarbrough as Machete Man, Hotel Detective
Carlos Alazraqui as El Coyote, Mickey, Chance
Janet Varney as Middle Aged Woman
Kyle Bornheimer as Archer

For more Dead Pilot Society episodes, please subscribe to the podcast! Make sure to like us on www.facebook.com/deadpilotssociety, follow us on Instagram @DeadPilotsSociety, on twitter at www.twitter.com/deadpilotspod, and visit our website at www.deadpilotssociety.com. Thanks for listening!

Episode Zero "Pilot Episode" - Laurel and Holly written by Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen

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Guests: 
Molly Shannon
Guests: 
Sarah Chalke
Guests: 
Hayes MacArthur
Guests: 
Tony Cavalero
Guests: 
Kyle Bornheimer
Guests: 
Anna Camp
Guests: 
Valerie Azlynn
Guests: 
Jamie Denbo

In this pilot episode of Dead Pilots Society, Ben Blacker interviews Andrew Reich (Friends, Rules of Engagement, creator of Dead Pilots Society) regarding his dead pilot, Laurel and Holly. You'll also listen to a never-before-heard live table read of Laurel and Holly, performed by some of today's funniest comedic actors like:

Molly Shannon as Holly
Sarah Chalke as Laurel
Hayes MacArthur as Steve
Tony Cavalero as Tony, Xander
Kyle Bornheimer as Shane
Anna Camp as Rita
Valerie Azlynn as Tanya, Danny
Jamie Denbo as Steph

For more Dead Pilot Society episodes, please subscribe to the podcast! Make sure to like us at www.facebook.com/deadpilotssociety, follow us on Instagram @DeadPilotsSociety, on twitter www.twitter.com/deadpilotspod, and visit our website at www.deadpilotssociety.com. Thanks for listening!

Tights and Fights Episode 1: Should we really add MORE belts to the WWE?

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Guests: 
Mike Eagle
Guests: 
Hal Lublin
Guests: 
Danielle Radford

Welcome to the inaugural episode of Tights and Fights, the podcast from The Maximum Fun Network that discusses wrestling with the sincerity and hilarity that it deserves.

This week, hosts Hal Lublin, Danielle Radford and Mike Eagle discuss who they hope is the next superstar to make a big return to RAW or Smackdown and their thoughts on the latest angles on WWE TV this week.

Plus, they’ll break down the benefits of downfalls of adding MORE championships to Smackdown and share some recommendations from the world of wrestling that you should check out.

Hosts: Hal Lublin, Danielle Radford and Mike Eagle

Producer: Julian Burrell

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Maria Bamford & Wanda Sykes

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Maria Bamford
Guests: 
Wanda Sykes

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Maria Bamford on Finding the Comedy in Mental Illness

Maria Bamford is a stand-up whose comedy is equal parts confessional and surreal. Using events from her own life, including her struggles with mental illness, she finds comedy in the painful and absurd, infusing both with an infectious joy that has endeared her to fans around the world.

You might know Maria from her roles on shows like Arrested Development, Comedy Bang Bang, Maron and Louie. She found wider national fame during the 2009-2010 holiday shopping season when she appeared as a super-enthusiastic shopper in a series of Target commercials.

Maria sat down with Jesse to talk about her own experiences as a patient of various Los Angeles mental health facilities, finding love and how wanting to work less proved to be a good career move.

Her new show, Lady Dynamite will be available for streaming on Netflix from May 20th. You can find out more about her upcoming tour dates at MariaBamford.com.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Wanda Sykes on Life After the NSA and The Freedom to Be Herself on Stage

Wanda Sykes is a comedian and an actor with an incredible force of personality. Her distinctive voice both as a writer and a performer has earned her success on stage, television and film. She’s been nominated for seven Prime-Time Emmy Award including a win for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special for her work on The Chris Rock Show.

The Curb Your Enthusiasm star joined Jesse to talk about transitioning from a career with the NSA to stand-up comedy, coming out “accidentally” during a rally against California’s Proposition 8 and why she believes that Bob Hope may have been a super spy.

Jesse was especially excited to talk with Wanda about one of his favorite characters in film, Biggie Shorty from the Louis C.K. directed, Chris Rock produced blaxploitation parody, Pootie Tang (or as we had to refer to it on NPR, “shmooty shmang”).

Wanda Sykes is beginning her tour this month which includes recording dates for her next comedy special.

Sykes is performing two shows at the Theater at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles this Saturday, May 21st. The shows will be filmed for her Epix special out later this year. It's called What Happened…Ms. Sykes? Find out more at WandaSykes.com.

The Outshot: Black Moth Super Rainbow

Jesse talks about his affinity for the music of Black Moth Super Rainbow - an experimental band that declined a request to appear on Bullseye to promote their 2009 album, Eating Us.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Margaret Cho & Whit Stillman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Margaret Cho
Guests: 
Whit Stillman

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Margaret Cho on Growing Up Korean American, Breaking Through in Comedy and Gay Men She Loved and Lost

Margaret Cho has always found a way to make her life inform her art. With her work as a stand-up comedian, an actor and a singer-songwriter, she has used the events of her life, both good and bad, to inspire her. Whether it’s growing up as a Korean-American girl in San Francisco or breaking through the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy in the early nineties, Cho has always found a way use all of life’s experiences to create entertainment.

Cho famously co-created and starred in the first sitcom that focused on an Asian American family. All-American Girl was cancelled in its first season, but it became a part of American television history and helped lay the groundwork for sitcoms like Fresh Off the Boat. Since then, Cho has continued her standup career, and appeared in numerous film and television shows including Dr. Ken, Family Guy, Sex in the City and on 30 Rock, where in separate episodes, she played North Korean dictators: Kim Jong Il and later his son Kim Jong-un.

Margaret Cho sat down with Jesse to talk about beginning her career during the 90s comedy boom in San Francisco, growing up in a Korean immigrant family, and how the community around her family’s gay bookstore continues to touch and inspire her life.

Margaret Cho’s new album American Myth is now available on iTunes and on her website, MargaretCho.com. She's also out on tour this May and June.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Whit Stillman on Jane Austen, the Importance of Language and Being Inspired by 'Elf'

Whit Stillman is a writer-director who makes comedies of manners. With his films Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, the director often explores the world of young upper-class adults who are struggling to find their way in the world both at home and abroad. The films were each made on modest budgets and received praise from critics; his very first film, Metropolitan, garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.

His latest film Love and Friendship is adapted from Lady Susan, an unfinished novella by Jane Austen. The movie explores the familiar comedic tropes of Austen’s work including class, sexuality, deceit and manipulation.

Whit Stillman joined Jesse to talk about his love for Jane Austen, the importance of language in his films and how the comedy of Will Ferrell infiltrated his new period piece.

Whit Stillman’s new film Love and Friendship is in theaters this week.

A Criterion collection of his first three films (Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco) are now available in special box set edition.


Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Outshot: Draymond Green

Jesse sings the praises of a basketball scrapper who may not get all the fame, but is no less deserving of the glory.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Geena Davis & Louis C.K.

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Geena Davis
Guests: 
Louis C.K.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Geena Davis on Gender Diversity, Archery and Quieting the Inner Critic

Geena Davis has made a lasting impression as an actress both on film and television in her roles in Beetlejuice, Thelma and Louise, A League of Their Own, The Accidental Tourist and Commander in Chief. Her performances have resulted in acclaim and a lengthy career both in front and behind the camera. It’s also garnered her a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

Davis is just as committed to her work for gender awareness and diversity in film and television. To turn a light on gender disparity in Hollywood, she created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a research-based organization that was created to educate and influence change in the entertainment industry. Davis also founded the Bentonville Film Festival, which showcases films featuring minorities and women in both cast and crew and which guarantees distribution to the festival’s winners.

Geena Davis joined Jesse on Bullseye to talk about gaining confidence in voicing her opinions on set, how she feels about being recognized in public and how quieting her inner-critic helped her to almost qualify as an archer for the Summer Olympic games.

The Bentonville Film Festival takes place in Bentonville, Arkansas this week. Tickets are available to the public.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Louis C.K. on Producing a Show in Secret and Paying for It Out of His Own Pocket

Louis C.K. may be known to most as a stand-up comedian, but he's also a writer, an actor, an editor and a producer who thrives when he is creating on his own terms. And that’s what he has been doing with his comedy specials and television shows, including his Emmy-award-winning FX series, Louie.

Louis C.K. has succeeded not only by becoming one the world’s funniest comedians, but by reinventing how an artist succeeds creatively and financially. His direct-to-fan sales of his concerts and videos via his website have proven incredibly successful and have inspired other comedians and artists to offer their content directly to consumers.

He used this model of distribution to release his latest television show, Horace and Pete which features an ensemble cast including Steve Buscemi, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange and Edie Falco. The show, set in a run-down Brooklyn bar, borrows elements from both film and stage plays, to create a unique experience for both the audience and the actors. CK produced the show in complete secrecy, and didn’t leverage pre-press marketing and press junkets to promote the show.

Louis C.K. sat down with Jesse to talk about why he chose to pay for Horace and Pete using his own money, challenging himself as an actor and what inspired him to come up with the family name for the title characters.

All ten episodes of Horace and Pete are available now from Louis C.K.’s website.

The Outshot: Zombo.com

Jesse on the lingering amusement provided by the absurd and simple website, Zombo.com.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Zach Galifianakis & Michael K. Williams

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Zach Galifianakis
Guests: 
Michael K. Williams

If you liked this episode of Bullseye, you can help support our production by becoming a monthly member! It's our annual MaxFunDrive, the time of year we ask for your help. Visit www.maximumfun.org/donate today and help us reach our network goal of 5000 new and upgrading members, and you'll not only get the satisfaction of sustaining the show -- we'll send you some nice swag, too!

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Zach Galifianakis on Unlikeable Characters, Sudden Fame and Facing “Heartbreaking” Criticism on Public Radio

Zach Galifianakis is an actor, writer and stand-up comedian whose humor isn’t for everyone. His comedic observations and characterizations in television and film have made him a unique voice that some people love and others love to hate.

Galifianakis is probably most widely known for his role as Alan in The Hangover films, but he's also been in everything from Up in the Air, Birdman and Bored to Death. He's now the star and co-creator of the new FX series, Baskets. He plays a clown who can't keep up with the tuition or his classmates at his French clowning school, and returns to his hometown of Bakersfield, California to work in a rodeo.

Galifianakis sat down with Jesse to talk about creating a show that revolves around a mean and unlikeable character, how he contended with the sudden fame that came with The Hangover and what it’s like be dissed on public radio.

Baskets airs on Thursday nights at 10 pm on FX.


Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Michael K. Williams on His Club Kid Days, Breaking Ground with The Wire and Why a Pop Song Touches Him So Deeply

Michael K. Williams is an actor and dancer who broke out in the role of Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire. His characterization of a criminal “with a code” made the show a favorite among critics and viewers, one of whom was President Obama.

He was a club kid turned professional dancer, and later turned to acting. His resume includes everything from Boardwalk Empire to Twelve Years a Slave to Inherent Vice. He currently co-stars in the new Sundance TV series, Hap and Leonard.

Williams sat down with us to talk about his memories of being a New York club kid, the difference that playing Omar made in his life and others and the opportunity that led him to realize that being a performer could be a career, rather than just a job.

Hap and Leonard can be seen Wednesday nights at 10 pm on Sundance TV.

The Outshot: Gravediggaz’s Poetic

Jesse remembers the poignancy of rapper Poetic’s examination of his own mortality in the music he produced with Gravediggaz.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Todd Glass & Raffi

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Todd Glass
Guests: 
Raffi
Guests: 
Ariel Schrag

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Todd Glass Talks about "Busting Out of the Shed", Learning Disabilities, and Crafting Stand Up

Todd Glass is a veteran stand up comic. He's been performing comedy for thirty years. Four years ago, he made a big change. He had created a life for himself. He was a well-respected and well-liked comedian. But he was living in large part as a closeted gay man. He worried about who knew, and who didn't. At forty seven years old, he made the decision to come out, and finally live on his own terms.

His recent memoir is called The Todd Glass Situation: A Bunch of Lies about My Personal Life and a Bunch of True Stories about My 30-Year Career in Stand-Up Comedy.

Glass tells us why he waited so long to "bust out of the shed", the elaborate coping mechanisms and fake outs he constructed to hide his learning disabilities growing up, and why he thinks so much comedy doesn't stand the test of time.

For a schedule of appearances visit Todd Glass’ website.

The interview originally aired in September 2014.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.

Ariel Schrag on 'September Girls' and Flipping the Mermaid Script: "I Wish I'd Made That"

Artists -- the people that make stuff -- are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something an artist sees is so good, so perfect that they wish they had made it themselves.

This happens so often to the people we talk to, that we made a segment about it. It’s called I Wish I’d Made That. This week, we talk to cartoonist and author Ariel Schrag.

Ariel Schrag was already writing and drawing comics as a freshman in high school. Each summer, she'd create and self-publish a comic about the previous school year. The subject matter was, well, high school stuff. She wrote about her high school crushes, family issues, her struggles in AP Chemistry. Then she caught the attention of an indie comics publisher who decided to release her work as a series of graphic novels. She was only in the eleventh grade.

She recently wrote a coming of age novel, Adam. The title character is an awkward teenager who spends a summer visiting his older sister in New York City. He develops a crush on a girl. The problem is, this girl likes girls. To get around that problem, Adam convinces her that he's a trans man. The book is sweet, funny and frank.

For our segment, Schrag tells us about a very different kind of coming of age novel, Bennett Madison's September Girls, and how it's inspired her to infuse some magic and otherworldliness into her own work.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this segment.

Raffi on Performing for Kids, Growing Up in Egypt, and His Forty Year Career

If you were a parent or a child after about 1975, you probably know Raffi. He's one of the best known children's performers in the world, and his original works like "Baby Beluga" and "Bananaphone" and renditions of folk songs like "Down By the Bay" have helped him sustain a career for almost forty years.

Raffi Cavoukian talks to us about his early childhood in Egypt, his social activism, and why he's dedicated his life to entertaining children.

His most recent album is called Owl Singalong.

The interview originally aired in September 2014

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this segment.

The Outshot: Van Morrison's Revenge Album

What happens when a musician records thirty one songs in one session, all out of spite? Jesse tells us about Van Morrison's "revenge album".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elizabeth Gilbert and Daryl Hall

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New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks curiosity, life after "Eat, Pray, Love" and writing her most recent novel

If you know of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert, it's probably from her 2006 memoir, Eat Pray Love. Gilbert's book, which was about travel and love and re-gaining a sense of self, spent years atop the bestseller list and inspired a movie starring Julia Roberts. It also saddled Gilbert with a certain kind of fame.

Gilbert was already an accomplished novelist, biographer, and journalist when fame happened. But the massive success of Eat, Pray, Love necessarily transformed Gilbert's creative life.

Gilbert returned to fiction with her first novel in thirteen years, entitled The Signature of All Things: A Novel. She spent several years doing research for the book, which follows the adventures of Alma Whittaker, a 19th century botanist who studies moss. The book shines with Alma's curiosity for life and science, and her struggle of self-discovery.

She'll talk about why she chose to write a "great moss novel", how she chose to write her heroine Alma (homely, brilliant, and moneyed), and how she dealt with a certain kind of fame.
(This segment originally aired in October 2013)

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The Dissolve Talks about All-Time Favorite Movies: "Real Life" and "To Be or Not to Be"

This week, a look back at some favorite films. Staff writer Nathan Rabin and Editorial Director Keith Phipps of film site The Dissolve join us to talk about some of their all-time favorite films.

Nathan recommends Albert Brooks' 1979 satire Real Life, a prescient look at documenting "real life" in pre-reality television times.

Keith recommends the 1942 Ernst Lubitch classic To Be or Not to Be (Criterion Collection), starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

(This segment originally aired in October 2013)

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Comedy: Patton Oswalt explains why sometimes shopping can be embarrassing

When you lose a few pounds it's natural to buy new clothes. You might try on those skin tight jeans that look so great on the model. But, trying on new clothes isn't always fun. Sometimes it's downright embarrassing. Patton Oswalt will explain why he didn't end up with new pants.

His most recent stand up special, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, is out now. He's actually gone silent for the summer. Taking a break from the internet. But you can catch him live in LA starting September 13.

Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates on forming a band, creating a signature sound, and hip hop sampling

Daryl Hall, best known as the lead vocalist and co-founder of Hall & Oates, is a singer, songwriter and producer with a collection of #1 songs to his name. He spent his formative years in Philadelphia around soul singers like Smokey Robinson.

Daryl Hall and John Oates met as students at Temple University, and went on to form a best-selling musical duo with chart-toppers like "Rich Girl", "Sara Smile", and "Private Eyes". Hall talks about his first meeting with Oates, and how he used disco and punk rock to help create Hall & Oates' signature sound.

His newest project is a web series called Live from Daryl's House of performances and collaborations with a diverse set of musicians that's included Minus the Bear, Cee-lo Green, Toots and the Maytals, Chromeo and the Neon Trees.
(This segment originally aired on The Sound of Young America in February 2011)

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The Outshot: Bo Jackson

And finally, the outshot for this week – Bo Jackson. How is a guy that fast, that strong? And how is a guy that strong, that fast? Jesse explains.

(This segment originally aired in January 2012)

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