We return to the world of video games for this week's culture picks, and our gaming experts, comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell, as well as comedian and host of the video game podcast Indoor Kids Kumail Nanjiani, have selected a pair of downloadable games for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Kumail recommends the sadly haunting experience of the post-apocalyptic thriller I Am Alive, while Heather suggests you check out the almost fully female fighter Skullgirls.
Michael Ian Black is an actor, comedian and author perhaps best known from his work with the sketch comedy troupe The State, or from his subsequent collaborations with State-mates both on television (Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues) and film (Wet Hot American Summer). His disarmingly charming smarm made him a perfect fit for the talking-head format of VH1, but it also makes him a terrific author, as evidenced in his latest book You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations. In Black's second memoir, he goes in-depth on the issues of his marriage and parenthood, and the result is a book that is shockingly honest, informative, and incredibly funny.
Michael sits down with us to discuss recommitting himself to marriage in six week intervals, getting into stand-up late in life, and his obsession with Googling "Fat Kevin Federline". You can hear his podcast, Mike & Tom Eat Snacks, with Ed co-star Tom Cavanagh on iTunes or at Nerdist.com. You're Not Doing It Right is now available wherever books are sold.
If you watch the Super Bowl, or even just television, you probably know comedian Pete Holmes best from commercials, where he adorably doles out financial advice as the voice of the E-Trade baby. Last year he was named one of Variety's Ten Comics to Watch, and with good reason. As a stand-up, Holmes has a mostly goofy and positive energy. But as he reveals on his new album Impregnated With Wonder, there is one thing that can really set him off: a bad sandwich.
Tom Bissell is a journalist, video game critic and author whose latest book, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, is a series of pieces attempting to capture all angles of the creative process, in all sorts of artistic forms: from Herman Melville, writer of Moby Dick, to Chuck Lorre, creator of Two and a Half Men; from the mind of filmmaker Werner Herzog to the madness of The Room's Tommy Wiseau. Magic Hours collects the very best of Bissell's ten-year career, with essays featured in The New Yorker and Harper's, as well as several original pieces written solely for the book.
Tom joins us to discuss the dumb luck that makes some books resounding classics of literature while others fade from the collective conscious, and the value (or lack thereof) of a journalism degree. You can find his video game writing online at Grantland.com. Magic Hours is now available in bookstores everywhere.
On this week's Outshot, Jesse recommends one of his absolute favorite shows, the brilliantly profane political satire The Thick of It -- particularly its foul-mouthed protagonist Malcolm Tucker. As creator Armando Iannucci's new show, Veep, is underway on HBO, BBC America is finally bringing The Thick of It to US audiences, Saturday's at midnight. Don't miss it.
Got a hilariously profane favorite of your own? Don't just keep it to yourself, f***ing tell someone by heading to the MaxFun forum and picking your own Outshot.
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This week's pop culture recommendations come from the realm of video games, and sharing their expert opinions are comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell, as well as comedian and host of gaming podcast The Indoor Kids Kumail Nanjiani. Heather urges you to check out the inconceivably gorgeous hand-held adventure Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PlayStation Vita, while Kumail endorses the side-scrolling platform throwback Rayman Origins.
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Bob Newhart is an actor, stand-up and legend of American comedy. A pioneer comedian in every sense, Bob began his comedy career when he and a friend improvised over-the-phone comedy routines to kill boredom at work, and subsequently sold the bits to radio stations. The "phone sketch" would be a schtick that would last throughout Newhart's career, and featured quite prominently in the release of his 1960 comedy album debut Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart. The album was an unprecedented hit as a comedy recording, outselling Elvis Presley and winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. Its success eventually led Newhart to television, first with a variety sketch show in the early '60s, and then a pair of sitcoms: The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s, and Newhart in the early '80s.
Bob joins us to reflect on his comedy career, from how he honed his craft as a solo straightman -- leaving the wild responses on the other end of his phone conversations entirely in the minds of the audience -- to what keeps him going today when he's accomplished so much as a performer. Newhart still performs dozens of nights a year as a stand-up, while acting in both film and television. You can find him at BobNewhart.com.
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A January poll found that 43% of people believe God was willing Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos to improbable victories, while many more were flabbergasted by the implication that God might be deciding sports games. Has the Almighty ever swayed athletic outcomes? Does He even care for sports at all? Get the straight truth from The Man Himself. The answer may surprise you.
This excerpt is from The Last Testament: A Memoir By God, with David Javerbaum.
David Javerbaum is an Emmy-winning comedy writer and former executive producer of The Daily Show. You can see more of his work with God on Twitter @TheTweetofGod.
Christofer and Benjamin Wagner are brothers and the co-directors of the documentary Mister Rogers & Me, about children's television personality Fred Rogers, and the effect he had on the lives of generations of kids. For Ben -- who moonlights as a documentarian between his day-job as an executive with MTV News -- it was a project that began more than ten years ago, when he discovered Mister Rogers really was his neighbor, living next door to him at a vacation home in Nantucket, MA. Rogers' heartfelt sincerity, and his ability to truly live in the moment, compelled Ben to learn more about the man and about the countless lives he'd forever changed.
The Wagner Brothers sit down with Jesse to discuss the film, the overwhelming experience of meeting Mr. Rogers in person, and the way he helped so many grow up in ways they might not even have noticed. Mister Rogers & Me is currently available on DVD, and is airing on PBS stations across the country.
(For an EXTENDED version of this interview with Benjamin and Christofer Wagner or to share with friends, click here!)
On The Outshot this week, Jesse looks back on the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and finds his favorite film of the fest is only now getting the theatrical release it so richly deserves. The film is Boy, from Māori writer/director/star Taika Waititi. It tells the story of a young Māori boy named, well... Boy. Boy is given the chance to reconnect with his deadbeat father (Waititi) after years apart, as Dad's been away in jail. You can see and hear our interview with Taika Waititi and James Rolleston here.
It's a story bursting with youthful optimism, while the darkness of adulthood creeps in around the edges. It's in theaters now.
Got a little-known film of your own you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.
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Video Game Picks: Comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell tells us about some of the games she's most excited about right now: a game in the canon of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Resident Evil Revelations. (Embed or share this segment)
Actress Jenna Fischer: Emmy-nominated actress Jenna Fischer, best known for her role as Pam on The Office, talks to us about her early days in Hollywood – her totally-made-up-sounding first acting gig in LA, auditioning for The Office, and what all the actors are doing on their computers when they're in the background of a shot. The Office is now in its eighth season. (Embed or share this segment)
Kasper Hauser: San Francisco-based comedy sketch group Kasper Hauser takes us to the set of Mundos de Perros. You can find more from them on their podcast, or catch them live this week at SF Sketchfest. Click here for the Kasper Hauser podcast.
Humorist Jack Handey: Yes, he's totally real. Writer Jack Handey, whose one-liners are an enduring part of Saturday Night Live history, will talk about his days as Steve Martin's neighbor, and which of the many, many Deep Thoughts are his favorites. Plus, Jesse will reveal his favorite SNL sketch of all time. (Embed or share this segment)
The Outshot: 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? (Embed or share this segment)