George Saunders

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George Saunders, Chris Gethard, and DJ Jazzy Jeff

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Saunders
Guests: 
Chris Gethard
Guests: 
DJ Jazzy Jeff

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Chris Gethard on mental health and the importance of failure

Chris Gethard hosted the The Chris Gethard Show for 6 years. It aired first on New York City public access, then later on the Fusion network. You might've also seen him on Broad City or Don't Think Twice, the Mike Birbiglia movie that came out last year.

Chris is also a standup. His latest special, which was produced with Judd Apatow, is called Career Suicide and is kind of a one man show. Career Suicide, specifically talks about alcoholism, depression, and death.

Chris and Jesse talk about his HBO special, and why he's looking forward to taking a break from talking about mental health issues.

Career Suicide premiere's May 6th on HBO.

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The Song That Changed My Life, with DJ Jazzy Jeff: Funkadelic's Knee Deep

Jeffrey Townes is a DJ, record producer and actor from Philadelphia. But you probably know him better as DJ Jazzy Jeff, the producer and collaborator to Will Smith's Fresh Prince. Growing up in Philly in the late 70s, Jazzy Jeff remembers the song that changed his life. It's Funkadelic's Knee Deep.

You can stream his new album Chasing Goosebumps now, and see him on tour this year.

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George Saunders on humor, death, and choosing positivity

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan / ZUMA Press

George Saunders is a writer. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, GQ, McSweeney's and more. His 2013 book, a short story collection called Tenth of December, was a finalist for a National Book Award. His latest is called Lincoln in the Bardo - it's his first novel, ever. A lot of his work is funny, but where his other stories focused on absurdity and consumerism, Lincoln in the Bardo goes back to the 19th century, it's almost historical fiction.

In his conversation with Jesse, George talks about his process for writing his first novel, and combating the urge to insert jokes into scenes that are too emotional. They talk about whether he's afraid of death, and about that time he was almost died in a plane crash.

You can find Saunders' new book Lincoln in the Bardo in stores and online now.

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The Outshot: Paul Simon's Graceland

Paul Simon's 1986 Graceland is the perfect record for middle age.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Maria Bamford and George Saunders [R]

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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 these interviews or recommendations!

Maria Bamford: Comedy's Orchid

Maria Bamford's comedy is weird and wonderfully distinctive. For example: she recorded her last stand up special at home, in her living room. The seating? Her couch. The audience? Her parents. She performed her set with breaks "off-stage" to take cookies out of the oven and administer medicine to her pet pug. Her comedy takes on a number of difficult issues, ones that are personal to her -- mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or tough family dynamics (she describes her family's favorite pastime as "Joy Whack-a-Mole"). But she doesn't use humor as a shield. She uses it to confront an issue, point-blank.

Bamford talks to us about why she chose to perform a special in front of her parents, processing awful experiences or feelings into jokes, and why she describes herself as "the orchid of comedy".

The Special Special Special is available now and streaming on Netflix. Her new Comedy Central CD / DVD special, Ask Me About My New God is now available.

This interview originally aired on 2/12/13.

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Dan Deacon on "The Song That Changed My Life"

Dan Deacon is a Baltimore-based composer and electronics musician who has released over a dozen albums since 2003. He talks about why a player piano composition by Conlon Nancarrow changed his life and the way he made music.

This interview originally aired on 1/03/12.

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George Saunders on Creative Challenge and Financial Pressure

George Saunders could have been a geophysicist. In fact, he was one. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines and worked in the oil fields of Sumatra. He came to fiction writing a little later in life, attending Syracuse University's creative writing program (where he now teaches).

Saunders is now well-recognized as one of the greatest short story writers and satirists of our time. He's been awarded a MacArthur "Genius" grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship, along with piles of literary accolades for his collections, which include Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. His stories often explore a world much like our own, just slightly more grotesque -- societies that are terrifying and recognizable. His writing is incisive, sad, and also really funny. His collection, Tenth of December, is available now in paperback.

Saunders talks to us about how people interpret luck and what they do with it, drawing inspiration from a disturbing dream, and unyielding financial pressure (the kind that doesn't even lift when you win a major award).

This interview originally aired on 2/12/13.

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The Outshot: William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe"

Jesse ruminates on alone time and... William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe".

This segment originally aired on 2/12/13.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George Saunders and Maria Bamford

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Saunders
Guests: 
Maria Bamford

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 these interviews or recommendations!

Comics Recommendations: Hawkeye and Don't Go Where I Can't Follow

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben join us this week to share some comics picks. Alex suggests you check out Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, a superhero comic about everyday stuff -- like attending a BBQ. Brian recommends Anders Nilsen's Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, a very moving pastiche of a couple's relationship.

Brian Heater curates Boing Boing’s comics column, and Alex Zalben writes about comics for MTV Geek.

Share Alex and Brian's Comics Picks

George Saunders on Creative Challenge and Financial Pressure

George Saunders could have been a geophysicist. In fact, he was one. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines and worked in the oil fields of Sumatra. He came to fiction writing a little later in life, attending Syracuse University's creative writing program (where he now teaches).

Saunders is now well-recognized as one of the greatest short story writers and satirists of our time. He's been awarded a MacArthur "Genius" grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship, along with piles of literary accolades for his collections, which include Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. His stories often explore a world much like our own, just slightly more grotesque -- societies that are terrifying and recognizable. His writing is incisive, sad, and also really funny. His new collection, Tenth of December, is out now.

Saunders talks to us about how people interpret luck and what they do with it, drawing inspiration from a disturbing dream, and unyielding financial pressure (the kind that doesn't even lift when you win a major award).

Embed or Share this interview with George Saunders

Maria Bamford: Comedy's Orchid

Maria Bamford's comedy is weird and wonderfully distinctive. She's just released a new special, recorded at her home, where she performs a stand up set with breaks "off-stage" to take cookies out of the oven and administer medicine to her pet pug. Her comedy takes on a number of difficult issues, ones that are personal to her -- mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or tough family dynamics (she describes her family's favorite pastime as "Joy Whack-a-Mole"). But she doesn't use humor as a shield. She uses it to confront an issue, point-blank.

Bamford talks to us about why she chose to perform a special in front of her parents, processing awful experiences or feelings into jokes, and why she describes herself as "the orchid of comedy".

The Special Special Special is available now. Her new Comedy Central CD / DVD special, Ask Me About My New God, is due out later this year.

Embed or Share this interview with Maria Bamford

The Outshot: William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe"

Jesse ruminates on alone time and... William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe".

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The Alumni Newsletter: November 17, 2010

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  • Reggie Watts, who performed at The Sound of Young America Live! at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in 2009, performed on Conan last night (11/16).

  • We can look forward to Aziz Ansari and new addition to the cast Adam Scott on "Parks and Recreation" on its newly announced return to NBC's schedule on January 20th at 9:30pm, following The Office.

  • Bestselling author George Saunders gives some words of advice to creative writers and those considering MFA programs.

  • And finally, a fun video from St. Vincent for her song Laughing with a Mouth Full of Blood featuring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen.
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