Doug Benson

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rick Moranis and Booker T. Jones

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rick Moranis
Guests: 
Booker T. Jones
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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Rick Moranis on Growing Up Jewish, Canadian Comedy, and Quitting Show Business

Rick Moranis's big glasses and nerdy goofball humor appeared in some of the biggest Hollywood comedies of the 80s and 90s. In just a few years, he starred in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Those movies filled theaters, sold tons of merchandise, and made Moranis a star. And then, at the peak of this fame, Moranis decided to retire. His wife passed away in 1991, and Moranis decided to become a full-time stay-at-home dad.

Nearly a decade after pretty much signing out of show business, Moranis returned in 2005 with a Grammy-winning album of original music, "Agoraphobic Cowboy." And now Moranis has released his second album, My Mother's Brisket and Other Love Songs, a collection of comedic music inspired by Moranis's Jewish upbringing in Toronto.

Moranis talks to Jesse about his first job selling hockey programs in the nosebleed section, SCTV and the ironic outcome of his famous nose-thumbing at Canadian content laws, and his decision to be a stay-at-home father.

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Related interviews:
Mel Brooks
Catherine O'Hara
Joe Flaherty

Carolyn Kellogg Recommends "The Unknowns" and "Hothouse"

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two new books to put on the top of your summer reading list.

First, she recommends The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth. This debut novel set in 2002 follows a Silicon Valley millionaire whose brain betrays him whenever he tries to do the right thing. Parties, ecstasy, sex -- and that's just the first few pages.

Kellogg's next pick is Boris Kachka's Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Kachka, a veteran New York Magazine journalist, delves into the juicy history of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, the publishing house of Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen. The book focuses on the personal lives of founder Roger Straus and editor Robert Giroux and provides an insider's look at the secret, ferocious world of publishing.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing at the LA Times' blog Jacket Copy.

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Comedy: Doug Benson on Taken 2 and a Missed Opportunity

What if the folks behind the second "Taken" movie had just given a little more thought to tying the series together? Comedian Doug Benson considers the Taken series, with Liam Neeson, in this clip from his new album, Gateway Doug.

Doug Benson hosts a weekly podcast, Doug Loves Movies, and hosts the ongoing live series, Doug Benson's Movie Interruptions.

Booker T. Jones: Master Of Memphis Soul

Whether he was touring with Otis Redding, backing countless soul stars in the Stax studio, or composing his own instrumental hits like "Green Onions," Booker T. Jones, along with his band The MG's, defined the sound of southern sixties' soul.

Born in Memphis in 1944, Jones was gigging around town before he had entered high school. By college, he was a seasoned session musician and multi-instrumentalist with a hit single to his name. And by 1968, when Stax Records came under new ownership, he had played on over 600 Stax records, including "Try A Little Tenderness" and "These Arms Of Mine".

Perhaps even more impressively, Jones hasn't stopped. He continues to team up with some of the biggest names in jazz, soul, rock, and classical music and, at nearly 70 years old, he has no plans of letting up anytime soon.

Jones tells us stories about the first time Otis Redding sat down next to him at a piano, producing "Ain't No Sunshine" with the (as-yet-unknown) singer-songwriter Bill Withers, and Jones' plans to continue making all kinds of music.

Jones' new album, Sound The Alarm, is out now.

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Related interview:
Bill Withers

The Outshot: "Paranoia" by Chance the Rapper

The Outshot: Paranoia by Chance The Rapper

Jesse recommends "Paranoia," a track off Chance The Rapper's free mixtape Acid Rap. This is not hip-hop about money or cars or sexual conquests. This is hip-hop about the fear that exists in America's cities. It's a song about an entire part of our country that feels ignored. It's Chance's appeal for human connection.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Best Comedy of 2012 Special

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Show: 
Bullseye

It was a great year in comedy, so selecting the best of the best and compiling it into an hour-long special was a tall order. We have done just that, however, and we're kicking a new year off with a bang and The Best Comedy of 2012, as curated by the Bullseye staff.

You'll hear selections from the following, all of which are available for purchase now:

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to the show in iTunes or via the RSS feed, or check out our SoundCloud page to share any or all of our interviews or recommendations!

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The 1st Annual Wayne Federman International Film Festival: A Celebration of Stand-up and Film - Together

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This week, the Cinefamily in Los Angeles is hosting a unique film festival that features top comedians presenting movies that were personally inspiring or influential for them. The festival runs from the 12th to the 14th and features Garry Shandling (screening The King of Comedy); Margaret Cho (showing Darling); Paul F. Tompkins (presenting Topsy-Turvy); Doug Benson (discussing Cocktail!); Kevin Pollak (screening The In-Laws); and Andy Kindler (presenting Modern Romance). Each comedian will introduce the film, perform, and conduct a Q and A afterwards. It's sure to be a very fun and interesting series. I'm planning to attend and, if you are in the Los Angeles area, you should definitely join me. You can get tickets - which are only $10 - here.

The festival is being produced and hosted by actor and comedian Wayne Federman. Mr. Federman took a few minutes yesterday to tell me a bit about the aptly-named 1st Annual Wayne Federman International Film Festival and how it came to be.

Rebecca O'Malley (RO): What inspired you to create this festival?

Wayne Federman (WF): It wasn’t any one particular epiphany. It was a number of events that happened over several years. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine, Rob Cohen, who is a writer for The Simpsons, rented out a movie theater and showed the old Batman movie from the 1960s. It was very fun because it was communal and because he loved this film. And that really stuck with me as a fun, happy memory. Then, a few years later, I saw Patton Oswalt present a movie I'd never heard of called The Foot Fist Way. And it was so great to watch Patton introduce it because – one, he’s funny. Two, he was passionate about the movie. And three – what I liked most about it – was that he had no connection to the film. He wasn’t in it and trying to promote it for that reason. He wasn’t reminiscing about what it was like on the set – none of the usual type of presentation that you might encounter during a screening at a film festival. This was just someone I greatly admire being a fan of something he loved – and that was intriguing for me.

That’s when I had the idea to bring in comedians and have them pick a film - with the only criterion being that they cannot have been involved with the movie's production. Then we’ll show that film – do some stand up at the top - do a Q and A at the end – and just talk about this movie. Just nerd out over it. I thought that would be tremendously fun.
And every comedian that I asked to do it said "yes". They all liked the idea.

RO: That’s wonderful. How long did it take you to put the event together?

WF: It came together rather quickly. In a couple of weeks, actually. I knew all of the comedians. And I knew someone at Cinefamily. The key, really, was Garry Shandling. He was the first one to say “yes” – and he was so enthusiastic, so encouraging. He was very excited to see his movie selection in the theater again.

RO: Did he immediately know which film he wanted to present?

WF: He had a couple of ideas, but he kept coming back to The King of Comedy. He felt that it had a connection to Larry Sanders because of its backstage perspective and the way it was shot. And even beyond that he believes that this movie - and I'm sure he'll expand on this idea at the festival - it was so ahead of its time in terms of how it discusses the desire to be famous and what people will do to achieve fame. This was many years before reality television. It’s about comedy, in a weird way, and about talk shows. And about America.

RO: Did any of the other comedians immediately know which film they wanted to present?

WF: Some did. But most of them had never been asked to do something like this before – and they were very excited. Especially Margaret Cho. She truly loves the movie she is presenting, Darling. It's her favorite movie.

RO: If someone asked you to select a film to present, which one would you choose?

WF: That’s tough. One option that would be near the top of my list would be a movie called Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. I’m sure you’ve never seen it, but it was written by Roger Ebert. So that’s already fascinating – to see a film written by someone who critiques movies made by others. But it is also simply a terrific movie to watch with a crowd. I would consider it for those reasons alone. It’s not influential to me in any way. It hasn’t informed my comedy or my acting; but it is very entertaining to share with a crowd. But, beyond that, I’m pretty boring. I enjoy the classics. I would probably choose a Woody Allen film or Casablanca.

RO: Casablanca could never be boring! So is this festival - as the name suggests - an event that you are hoping to host annually?

WF: Oh yes! Definitely! Next year I want to expand it and make it a special thing for comedians. It’s exciting because I live in Los Angeles - and this is one of the few places in the world where you could put together this festival and invite people to attend and join the fun for only $10. Because we don’t have to fly in anyone or put them up. There are no expenses; only great comedians who want to participate. And who can get here easily. It’s just a celebration of stand-up and film – together.

This Week Live

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Here's where you can find some of our favorite people this week:

Asheville, NC - They Might Be Giants at The Orange Peel on Sept. 28th;

Atlanta, GA - Adam Corolla at the Tabernacle on Sept. 30th;

Baton Rouge, LA - Brian Posehn at the Manship Theater on Sept. 26th and 27th;

Bloomington, IL - The Comedy Attic will feature Jackie Kashian and Maria Bamford on Sept. 22nd, 23rd and 24th and Doug Benson (taping an episode of Doug Loves Movies) on Sept. 26th;

Boston, MA - The Wilbur Theater will host Bill Burr on Sept. 23rd and 24th and Louis CK on Oct. 1st; Das Racist will be at the Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub on the 28th;

Canton, MA - The Hold Steady will appear at the Life Is Good Festival on Sept. 24th;

Chicago, IL - They Might Be Giants with Jonathan Coulton at The Vic Theater on Sept. 23rd;

Colorado Springs, CO - Doug Benson at The Black Sheep on Sept. 21st;

Des Moines, IA - Demitri Martin will appear at Hoyt Sherman Place on Sept. 23rd;

Detroit, MI - Chris Tucker will perform at the Fox Theater Detroit on October 1st;

Indianapolis, IN - They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton at The Vogue on the 22nd; Doug Benson at Crackers on Sept. 25th; Chris Tucker at the Murat Theater at Old National Center on Sept. 30th;

Louisville, KY - The Improv will host Marc Maron on Sept. 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th and Doug Benson on October 1st; Bob Edwards will be appearing to promote his new book, "A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio", at the Filson Historical Society on the 22nd;

Madison, WI - Dave Atell will at the Comedy Club on State on Sept. 23rd and 24th;

Miami Beach, FL - Chris Tucker will be at the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater on Sept. 24th;

Nashville, TN - They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton at the Cannery Ballroom on Sept. 27th;

New Haven, CT - Das Racist will play at Toad's Place on Sept. 29th;

New Orleans, LA - Chris Tucker at the UNO Lakefront Arena on Sept. 23rd;

New York, NY: Colson Whitehead will be doing a book signing at McNally Jackson Books as part of the New Yorker Festival on October 2nd; He'll also be participating in a panel discussion about Alternative Realities at SVA Theatre on Sept. 30th;

Omaha, NE - Demitri Marin will be at the Omaha Music Hall on Sept. 24th;

Ottawa, ON - Greg Proops will be performing "Whose Live Anyway?" at the Centrepointe Theater in Ottawa, ON on Sept. 23rd;

Philadelphia, PA - The Hold Steady at the Popped Music Festival on Sept. 23rd; They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton at the Theater of the Living Arts on Sept. 30th.

Portland, OR - Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald perform "Two Kids, One Hall" at Helium on Sept. 22nd, 23rd and 24th; Tig Notaro at Mississippi Studios on Sept. 28th;

Providence, RI - Das Racist at The Met on Sept. 30th;

Raleigh, NC - Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson performing "Two Kids, One Hall" at Goodnights on Sept. 29th, 30th, Oct. 1st and 2nd;

Richmond, VA - They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton at the The National on Sept. 29th;

Salt Lake City, UT - Jimmy Pardo at Wiseguys Comedy Club on Sept. 30th and Oct. 1st;

Sayreville, NJ - Brian Posehn at the Starland Ballroom on Sept. 30th;

Seattle, WA - Demitri Martin at The Neptune Theater on Sept. 30th and Oct. 1st;

St. Louis, MO - They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton at The Pagaent on Sept. 24th

Tulsa, OK - They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton at Cains Ballroom on Sept. 25th;

Ventura, CA - Doug Benson at the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club on Sept. 28th;

Washington, DC - Das Racist at the 9:30 Club on October 1st.

This Week Live

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They Might Be Giants launch their tour this week with Jonathan Coulton opening. They have by far the most appearances of any performer on this week's list including: And here's what all of our other MaxFun favorites will be up to this week:
  • Andy Kindler will be in San Francisco at the Punch Line on Sept. 13th and 14th;
  • Ben Folds will be in Minneapolis, MN at the Orchestra Hall on Sept. 17th and in Milwaukee, WI at Veterans Park on Sept. 18th;
  • Bill Burr will be at the Funny Bone in Columbus, OH on Sept. 10th and 11th;
  • Blitzen Trapper will be playing the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR on Sept. 9th; Music Millenium in Portland, OR on Sept. 12th; and Easy Street Records in Seattle on Sept. 13th;
  • Brian Posehn will be at Ottos Nightclub in Dekalb, IL on Sept. 9th and at the Cubby Bear in Chicago, IL on Sept. 10th;
  • Chris Tucker at Sheas Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, NY on Sept. 9th, at Citi Performing Arts Theater in Boston, MA on Sept. 10th, and Chicago Theater in Chicago, IL on Sept. 16th;
  • Das Racist will perform at Bowery Ballroom in Brooklyn on Sept. 12th;
  • Dave Atell will be performing at Helium in Portland, OR on Sept. 15th through the 17th;
  • Demitri Martin will be performing Sept. 16th at the Orpheum in Phoenix, AZ and Sept. 17th in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts;
  • Devo will be at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR on Sept. 16th and Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, WA on Sept. 17th;
  • Doug Benson will be at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux Falls, SD on Sept. 9th and at the Rialto Theater in Tucson, AZ on Sept. 10th;
  • Gary Hustwit will be premiering his latest film, Urbanized, at the Tortonto International Film Festival on Sept. 9th, 11th and 16th;
  • Hannibel Burress will perform September 8th-10th at the Arlington Drafthouse,in Arlington, VA and September 14th - 17th at Comedy Off Broadway in Lexington, KY;
  • The Hold Steady will perform Sept. 23rd in Philadelphia, PA at the Popped! Music Festival;
  • Jackie Kashian will be at Kirkland Laughs in Kirkland, WA Sept. 15th - 17th;
  • John Oliver will be at the Pantages Theater in Minneapolis, MN on Sept. 24th;
  • Kyle Kinane will perform at the Comedy Club on State in Madison, WI on Sept. 8th, 9th and 10th;
  • Marc Maron will spend Sept. 8th - 10th at Zanies in Nashville, TN;
  • Ray Romano will be at the Mirage in Las Vegas Sept. 16th and 17th;
  • Steven Wright will perform on Sept. 10th at Fox Theatre at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, CT and September 17th at the Meadowbrook Music Festival in Rochester Hills, MI;
  • Ted Leo will spend Sept. 10th in Portland, OR at the Backspace Cafe;
  • Todd Barry will make a rare west coast appearance on Sept. 16 and 17 at the Improv in Los Angeles, CA, and he will be joined by Tig Notaro on the 16th;
  • Two Kids One Hall (Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson) will perform at Cobbs in San Francisco Sept. 15th - 18th.
  • This Week Live: August 29th to September 5th, 2011

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    Here's where you can catch some of your favorite MaxFun performers this week:

    This Week Live

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    Here is a quick list of cities and venues where you can catch some face time with your favorite MaxFun performers during the coming week. Click on the name of the venue for ticket info.

    From time to time, of course, there are shows which are likely to be so popular that I wouldn't recommend waiting until the week of the performance to buy tickets. I'll list one or two of those separately each week. Buy now:

    Doug Benson: Potty Mouth

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    Comedian and podcaster Doug Benson is releasing his third album for Comedy Central, called "Potty Mouth", on August 30th. Usually, I favor digital downloads for my music and comedy, but I've pre-ordered the CD of this performance because it will ship with a bonus DVD that includes all six episodes of "The Benson Interruption". The "Interruption", for those who missed it when it aired, featured Doug sitting in a chair onstage and making digs or observations while another comedian performs. The resulting banter and one-upmanship kept the show lively and fun. Below is a clip featuring one of the show's recurring bits, "Tweet Off", with Michael Ian Black.

    And here is Eugene Mirman discussing an awkward search for food while on the road in Pennsylvania.

    Jokes.com
    Eugene Mirman - Grub and Babes
    comedians.comedycentral.com
    Jokes Joke of the Day Funny Jokes

    While you are waiting for your CD to arrive, you should check out Doug's cinephile podcast, Doug Loves Movies.

    The Alumni Newsletter: December 17th, 2010

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    Podcast: The College Years: Hollow Men

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    Guests: 
    Doug Benson
    Guests: 
    The Hollow Men

    The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program from our salad days.

    Today's theme: Hollow Men

    Before going on to talk to Doug Benson about the Academy Awards, Jesse talks about a little of his own work as an actor when he gave an Oscar-worthy performance in a commercial for a digital arts college. And if you've been wanting to see Jesse almost completely nude, this commercial makes that dream come true. Jesse and Doug discuss Tommy Chong and then Doug picks the 2005 Oscar winners. He pretty much gets them all correct too! Doug loves movies.

    Then Jesse interviews the British comedy troupe and sketch group the Hallow Men who had a Comedy Central show with the same name. Lots of shenanigans and fun times are had.

    Enjoy the show!

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