Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Offerman, Billy Bragg and Dolly Parton

| 1 comment

This week's episode includes content from previous broadcasts. Check out the links below to listen and share each segment.

Nick Offerman Talks Moustaches, Woodworking and Luck

Nick Offerman is a man accustomed to being recognized. As city administrator Ron Swanson on NBC's Parks and Recreation, he sports one of the most revered moustaches in recent television history. He'll explain why his moustache is may actually be more famous than he is.

Swanson has a lot in common with Offerman. They both pride themselves on masculinity and have a penchant for carpentry. But Offerman says there are some major differences between himself and the character he portrays; like the fact that Offerman took two semesters of ballet classes.

Offerman also talks about the joys and perils of growing up in a small town in Illinois, how he discovered his theatrical side, and why woodworking continues to be central to his life.

Offerman's book, Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living is now available in paperback. You can also catch his new comedy special on Netflix. It's called American Ham, and see him in the final season of Parks and Recreation, which begins January 13th.

This segment originally aired October, 15 2013.

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

Billy Bragg on "The Song That Changed My Life": Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Billy Bragg performs politically-minded folk music with a punk rock edge, songs with a tone and attitude somewhere between Woody Guthrie and The Sex Pistols. But what led him to develop his voice as an artist?

As Bragg explains, one of the most pivotal moments in his life happened during his lunch break at a record store. He put on a record that changed his life: Bob Dylan's folk anthem The Times They Are A-Changin'.

Billy Bragg's latest album is called Tooth & Nail.

This segment originally aired April 23, 2012.

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

Dolly Parton on Show-Business and Sacrifice

Dolly Parton's beautiful voice and musical talent could have carried her to some measure of success. But it was Parton's unwavering drive and embrace of hard work that made her a superstar.

Parton will talk about the personal sacrifices she made for professional success, the events that shaped her life and how she feels about them now.

She'll also share stories about childhood. Parton grew up in the mountains of Tennessee with a large family and a not-so-large home. You'll find out how her upbringing relates to one of her most-loved songs, "I Will Always Love You".

Parton's newest album, Blue Smoke is available now.

This segment originally aired December 11, 2012.

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

The Outshot: Michael Mann's Thief

Jesse recommends the 1981 noir film Thief, starring James Caan. It's a crime thriller about one last big score, but it's just as much about running from loneliness and is about running from the cops. Director Michael Mann infuses it with a cool, dark beauty unlike any robbery film you've ever seen.

This segment originally aired July 8, 2013.

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

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.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Holiday Special 2014

Mitchell Kezin
Bill Corbett
Elliott Kalan
Dan McCoy
Stuart Wellington

Christmas Music Fanatics and Mitchell Kezin's "Jingle Bell Rocks"

Mitchell Kezin is the director of the new documentary Jingle Bell Rocks! Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree at 33 ⅓ RPM. In it he unravels the backstories of twelve alternative Christmas songs that you won't hear on the radio or in department stores. You'll hear a few of those tracks today.

The film includes other famous Christmas-music lovers including Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips and John Waters.

Kezin will tell us why a grumpy Christmas song helped ignite his love of holiday music and how the US Air Force produced a Christmas album in the late 1960s (complete with fighter jets). He'll also recommend some of his favorite records for people who want to branch out from Bing Crosby.

Jingle Bell Rocks! is available now on VOD and DVD.

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

Bill Corbett on Riffing and Rebooting Christmas

If you've ever listened to Mystery Science Theater 3000 or RiffTrax, you know who Bill Corbett is. He's been mocking bad movies for decades, alongside his collaborators Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy.

He's also kept busy as a writer, a screenwriter and a playwright. He writes for the public radio show Wits, was a contributor to A Prairie Home Companion and even wrote the Eddie Murphy movie Meet Dave.

This year, he's getting into the holiday spirit. What if Santa Claus and Rudolph were actually super heroes that went by the names Red Avenger and Caribou? What if they spent their time fighting the villainous Ebenezer Scrooge? That's the premise of Corbett's new graphic novel Super-Powered Revenge Christmas.

Corbett will tell us why he chose to tackle a Christmas reboot, and explain why his most important holiday tradition involves melted cheese. And we couldn't let him go without divulging one of his favorite bad Christmas movies -- he'll tell us about Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.

Super Powered Revenge Christmas is now available.

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

The Flop House Tackles the Holiday with Flash Gordon

The Daily Show writers Dan McCoy and Elliott Kalan host The Flop House podcast along with their pal, Stuart Wellington. The films the show covers aren't complete amateurish duds like The Room or Birdemic. Rather, they deal with Hollywood gone wrong. Think films like Pompeii or Dracula 3D.

Now the show's hosts have written a new holiday comic: The Flash Gordon Holiday Special: 2014. The adventures Flash and his crew go on show the hero in unusual situations that you may not expect; especially if the only thing you know about Flash is the 80's Queen song.

They'll talk about the Flash Gordon mythos and some of their favorite bad Christmas films. Plus, they'll explain how they celebrate Cagemas; a special holiday tradition that's all about Nicolas Cage.

The Flash Gordon Holiday Special: 2014 is out this month from Dynamite Comics.

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

The Outshot: The Peewee's Playhouse Christmas Special

Jesse doesn't have many holiday traditions. But he'll tell you about the one thing that he makes time for every year: The Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special.

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

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples

Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Mavis Staples talks about Singing Gospel, Civil Rights, and Working with Prince

Mavis Staples is one of the greatest singers of our time-- a gospel, soul and R&B vocalist known for her rich, throaty voice. She began as the lead member of The Staple Singers in the 1950's, a family gospel group formed by Pops Staples and several of his children.

The Staple Singers achieved hits with "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do it Again". They also became a musical voice of the American Civil Rights Movement with their protest music.

Staples has reinvented her sound over the decades. She's worked with Curtis Mayfield, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan and Prince (Yes, THAT Prince).

Her most recent album One True Vine was released in 2013 and produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. You can find a partial transcript of this interview here.

This segment originally aired January 30th, 2011.

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

My Brother, My Brother and Me Offer Pop Culture Advice

Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy from My Brother, My Brother and Me join the show to answer pop culture quandaries from listeners.

Are you ever too old to hang up posters on your walls? Should you ever tell your children that the shows they like actually suck? Is it ever a good idea to talk to a stranger about the book they're reading? The brothers proffer their advice with a healthy amount of goofs mixed in.

If you liked what you heard, over 200 episodes of My Brother, My Brother and Me are available on
iTunes and right here on

This segment originally aired February 28, 2012.

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

The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the portrait is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

This segment originally aired March 24, 2012.

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

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Paul Reubens, Aasif Mandvi and Kimbra

Paul Reubens
Aasif Mandvi

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Pee-wee Lives! Paul Reubens on his Past and Pee-wee Herman's Future

Paul Reubens is famous for being the creator and embodiment of Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee has appeared in stage shows, on TV, and in movies for almost 30 years -- from cameos in movies like Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, to his first special on HBO, two feature films in the 1980s, and a successful run on Broadway just a few years ago.

So why has the character of Pee-wee Herman endured? Maybe it's because Reubens worked so hard to make Pee-wee seem real.

Reubens has been busy the last few years with a new stage show, putting together the next Pee-wee Herman movie and now with the release of Pee-wee's Playhouse on Blu-ray.

Reubens will talk about growing up in a circus town, how Pee-wee almost appeared on the Surreal Life, and the latest details on a brand new Pee-wee Herman movie.

The remastered Blu-ray edition of Pee-wee’s Playhouse is available now from Shout Factory.

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

Phil Walter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Kimbra on “The Song That Changed My Life”: The Mars Volta's "Cicatriz E.S.P."

If you've heard the Grammy-winning mega-hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye last year -- and who didn't? -- then you already know Kimbra, who performed the female vocals on the record.

But the avant-pop musician had already been performing and recording for a decade. As a teenager growing up in New Zealand, she was writing music, playing guitar, and exploring the musical landscape.

Kimbra says that "Cicatriz E.S.P." by The Mars Volta showed her production tricks and psychedelic sounds she had never experienced before.

You can hear some of that psychedelic influence on her new album, The Golden Echo.

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

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Aasif Mandvi is "No Land's Man"

You probably know Aasif Mandvi as the Senior Muslim Correspondent on The Daily Show. He says he's probably not the best person to represent Muslim culture. But then again, that’s kind of the point. (He’ll explain.)

Mandvi had already been acting on the stage and screen for many years when he was called to audition for The Daily Show in 2006. And though he's been a mainstay of the show for seven years, he's continued to write and act in other projects, like the 2011 indie comedy Today's Special and the upcoming HBO series The Brink.

Mandvi talks to us about how he found himself making a 9/11 joke on his very first day at The Daily Show, what it was like being an Indian kid growing up in Northern England and Florida, and that time he almost got punched by a member of Congress.

Aasif Mandvi's new book of personal essays is available now. It’s called No Land’s Man.

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

Steve Reich's Different Trains, Kronos Quartet

The Outshot: Steve Reich's "Different Trains"

Jesse will talk about how Steve Reich’s 1988 orchestra piece “Different Trains” transports him.

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

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Sergio Mendes and The Pogues’ James Fearnley

Sergio Mendes
James Fearnley
Brent Weinbach

Courtesy of Sergio Mendes

Sergio Mendes on the, "very sensual, very romantic," Sounds of Bossa Nova

For a time, Sergio Mendes was the most famous Brazilian musician in the world. He grew up learning classical piano, heard Dave Brubeck's "Take 5" and took a turn towards a jazzier sound. His band Brasil '66 was at the forefront of a bossa nova explosion that introduced the genre to listeners across the world.

Throughout his career, Mendes has collaborated with many artists, including saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and Janelle Monae. But he also once collaborated with Harrison Ford… in an unexpected way. He'll explain.

Mendes will talk about how his music has evolved over the years, why his encounters with other musicians have been so important, and why the sensual, romantic sound of bossa nova has such universal appeal.

Sergio Mendes' new album is called Magic. To find out where he's going next on his tour, check out his website.

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

Karl Walter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Comedy: Brent Weinbach at MaxFunCon 2014

Abstract. Experimental. Weird. Funny. Those are all good words to describe Brent Weinbach. But none of them come close to summing up how special he is. Or the faces he made during this set. You'll just to have to imagine those.

He performed for us at the most recent MaxFunCon -- as part of a comedy showcase in the woods. We present part of his set here to you.

Tickets for MaxFunCon 2015 go on sale November 28th. You can find more of Brent Weinbach's upcoming shows on his website.

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

Mike Cappola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

James Fearnley: Heavy Drinking in a Minivan and Navigating Irish-English Relations

James Fearnley plays accordion for the English folk/punk band The Pogues. The band formed in the early 1980s, and made a name for themselves with a Celtic-inspired sound.

Fearnley will talk about his time with the Pogues, how they finally decided that frontman Shane MacGowan had gone off the rails, and whether as an Englishman, Fearnley feels secure in the band's Irish heritage.

Fearnley's memoir is called Here Comes Everybody: The Story of The Pogues.

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

Outshot: Black Jesus

Courtesy of Facebook: Adult Swim

What Jesus lived in America, in 2014? Jesse will tell you why Black Jesus, a new show from Adult Swim, is so affecting.

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

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Mitchell and Bob Edwards

Elvis Mitchell
Bob Edwards
Damian Kulash

Elvis Mitchell, Film Critic

Elvis Mitchell is film critic, best known as the host of KCRW’s "The Treatment". Since 1996 he’s interviewed scores of film industry writers, actors and directors on the show. He’s even gone into filmmaking for himself, producing a series of documentaries about race and success called The Black List.

But don’t mistake Mitchell’s tastes for being conventional. He may very well be the only critic in America quoted as enjoying the film Pootie Tang.

He’ll talk about the interplay between television and film, how he got his start in pop culture and why he was arrested on the Canadian border with Cuban cigars and $15 thousand in cash.

You can listen to The Treatment every week on KCRW and on iTunes

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

This segment originally aired 06/26/2012

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Damian Kulash with "The Song That Changed My Life"

OK Go is band who broke out in 2006 with a hugely popular homemade video for their single "A Million Ways".

Lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash talks to us about one of the moments that led him to his place in music- hearing "Rockit" by jazz legend Herbie Hancock of the 1983 album Future Shock.

OK Go just released a new album. It’s called Hungry Ghosts.

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

This segment originally aired 08/24/2011

Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Bob Edwards: Broadcasting Icon

Bob Edwards was around at the very, very beginning of NPR. He was the original host of Morning Edition back in 1979 and stuck with public radio for decades. His interviews and insight earned him the Peabody award in 1999 and cemented him as a broadcasting icon.

In 2004 Edwards was controversially removed from his hosting job. Listeners didn’t take kindly to it, but Edwards was quick to move on- to satellite radio. For almost a decade The Bob Edwards Show aired daily on Sirius XM. And a weekend version of the award-winning program was aired on public radio stations via Public Radio International.

Production of The Bob Edwards Show ended in September. To celebrate Edwards’ 40-year career, Jesse will play his 2005 conversation with him. Edwards will talk about his early days at NPR and why he stuck with non-commercial radio for so long.

Reruns of The Bob Edwards Show can still be heard on Sirius XM and on iTunes.

This segment originally aired 08/27/2005

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

Outshot: Ric Burns' Coney Island

Ever feel nostalgia for a time or place that you never even experienced firsthand? That’s what Jesse felt after watching Ric Burns’ documentary Coney Island, a beautiful portrait of America caught somewhere between its past and its future.

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

This segment originally aired 05/27/2013

Ross and Carrie Meet Jon Ronson: Butt Edition


BONUS MAXFUNWEEK EPISODE! In this special interview episode, Carrie has a chat with Jon Ronson, bestselling author of The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Psychopath Test, and Frank. And by a chat, we mean they devise horribly accusatory questions and make each other take lie detector tests. It's all fun and games until Jon's butt gets brought up. Plus, hear Ross' reactions as he listens along with you!

Donate to support this investigation at

And don't forget to "like" us on facebook to see the pictures!

You can subscribe on iTunes!

You can add our RSS feed!

Ross and Carrie Meet Paul and Oscar


Ross and Carrie sit down with Paul and Oscar, two members of the Aetherius Society, for a long and insightful conversation about George King, rocks of attainment, and this podcast's investigation methods. Find out what happens when four people all want to talk at once!

Donate to support this investigation at

And don't forget to "like" us on facebook to see the pictures!

You can subscribe on iTunes!

You can add our RSS feed!

Interview with Nat Luurtsema - Member of Team UK for International Waters Episode 15


Interview by Chris Bowman, edited by Chris Berube.

Nat Luurtsema is a busy stand up comedian with a penchant for extra curricular activities. Well, activity. Writing. She’s written a book Cuckoo In The Nest in which she recounts a time not that long ago when, at the age of 28 she had to move back in with her parents. There area lot of deep breaths involved with your parents hanging over your shoulder while you make tea, or banning microwave use because you set a bowl of Weetabix alight. She loves her parents but as you can imagine, there was a period of adjustment.

She’s just written a feature length screenplay called Lex Has Body Issues and an award winning short called Island Queen (in which she also starred). The film, directed by Ben Mallaby, is about a woman named Mim who has never left the island she calls home. She decides to do something drastic. She gets pregnant. What follows is funny, horrifying and sweet. Luurtsema claims she’s unaware of the workload until she stops to think about it. Which is understandable because she doesn’t seem to have enough time to stop.

International Waters: Your book Cuckoo In The Nest is about having to move back home. When did you realize that was the only option?

Nat Luurtsema: It was about 11 days before we had to vacate our flat, and I had spent 6 weeks saying “in a film everything happens at the last minute, so it'll be fine”. It was a flawed plan and when we hit 7 days before homelessness my boyfriend and I both agreed we'd have to go back home to our parents and try to find a flat from there. Given we'd struggled to find anywhere while we were in London I couldn’t see how relocating to Watford and Bath was going to improve our chances.

IW: Being a funny person did you see the potential for humour in the situation right away?

NL: It did seem ridiculous and I found the whole situation funny at first. Then after a month reality started to bite, I was a nocturnal person living with two people who got up at 7am and I was lonely and bored and couldn't see the situation improving any time soon. So I started blogging to smear my misery all over the internet.

IW: The sweet, affordable therapy that is blogging! Often our parents will treat us like the children we once were (and admittedly sometimes can still be). How did you get past that?

NL: I didn't! I just struggled against it for 6 months in an ultimately futile protest. That's why I took to blogging, because it's the only place I could ever get the last word. That's why I write. It's the only aspect of my life over which I can exercise any sliver of control.

IW: You wrote the screenplay for Island Queen. The story does really well to strike a balance between funny and touching. How did you come up with the idea?

NL: Thank you! That's so kind of you - Island Queen was the first short I've ever written and it taught me so much. I've just completed my first feature-length screenplay - it's a comedy thriller called "Lex Has Body Issues" and I can't wait to get it filmed. The story of Island Queen is really grotty and based on a story I read that said some very under-populated places in Iceland were having to temporarily shut their sperm banks… and I will say so more as I realize anything I say next is a big fat spoiler.

IW: You've written for the stage, a book, and now both short and feature length films. How difficult is it to switch from one style of writing to the other?

NL: I love it, it’s like a holiday from stand-up, where you have to present your whole self to an audience and hope they like you. That’s my biggest problem, I’m not an easily-likeable comic, so I love film and books because it’s just my writing I’m presenting to people and I feel safe to be bolder and nastier with my comedy.

IW: "Not an easily-likeable"? Why do you say that? Any stand-up stories?

NL: I was a very awkward, shy act when I started, and I think this was me at my funniest. Then I did 3 years of gigging around the country and trying to be one of those charming friendly acts (the bastards) and now I've realized I'm funnier just being uncharming me ;> As I say in my act, other comics can hop on stage and remark on how they look like a particular celebrity, I don't. I look like your ex's mate from work that you never warmed to. The laugh this gets makes me happy and sad.

IW: How would you describe your style of comedy?

NL: Argh. Gah. The hardest of all questions! I don’t know, I’ve never pinned it down - Really, I’ve written about 10 words here and deleted them - it just changes depending on what mood I’m in - the jokes are the same but I can be sweet or scathing or filthy or prim. Now that reads like a 'business card' in a Soho phone box! I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be difficult but I lack any objectivity and no one has ever kindly summed me up. That’s what I want for Christmas.

IW: Is stand-up something you still enjoy then?

NL: I love stand-up, it's the 'Thing' I always dreamed of doing and it's my main job. But it's funny how I get opportunities to do other things thanks to people liking my stand-up - things like writing, acting, voiceovers, and they are so much easier than stand-up. They're not easy, they're different challenges but stand-up is insane, it's like a constant fight with a prickly hedge. You're endlessly pulling your own personality apart to find and dissect your funniest bits, always working on new bits, and even the bits that always work can stop working without any warning and then you have to try to discover why. So "enjoy" is probably not quite the right word! But I'd be lost without it. Though if a boyfriend ever treated me this badly my mum would stage an intervention and an assassination.

IW: Loving something that doesn't love you back and pulling your personality apart sounds terrifying. It also sounds like something more people should do from time to time.

NL: Yes, it's like an emotional workout - it breaks your muscles to have them grow back stronger. Or leave you emotionally broken. I find I can enjoy it more when I have other things on which to prop my flimsy shriveled self-esteem. That’s where Jigsaw and my book and my films come in handy and make my stand-up much better. It’s like having a career harem.

IW: Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) has something he calls his confidence theory. Basically, he says that confidence comes from having options. In a strange way having a few projects on the go takes the pressure off.

NL: I agree completely! I get all my confidence from knowing when I step on stage that this gig cannot make or break me. I suppose I do a lot of things, it never seems so until I summarise it - but I write in a very focused, rapid way, my feature film reached a third draft within a fortnight, and I wrote a 70,000 word book in 5 months. If I enjoy writing something it comes together very quickly, which makes me want to abandon anything that happens more slowly, but I have to be disciplined as stand-up is so much slower to create, much more trial and error and fiddling with every single word. I also don't sleep very much, that might be the key to it. 1-4am are the most productive hours for me, then I sleep until 8am and that's enough for me.

IW: Those are some magical hours, the epiphany hours. What piece of advice have you been given that’s stuck?

NL: I think the most useful philosophy I've ever heard came from Sarah Millican, who said (and I'm sorry Sarah, I couldn't find the exact quote!) that you have 12 hours after a bad gig to brood about it, and then stop. And the same goes for gloating over a good gig. This is very useful if you often have to travel miles back from your gigs, you can do all your sulking/gloating in the privacy of your own car and emerge into decent society as a non-self-obsessed dickweed.

Go here for all things Nat Luurtsema and follow her on twitter @natluurtsema.

Interview with Matthew Crosby - Member of Team UK from International Waters Episode 14


Interview conducted by Chris Bowman

Matthew Crosby is an all-around lovely guy. He’s one-third of the award-winning sketch group Pappy's. Their Edinburgh Fringe shows have achieved critical success over the years in the UK. They’ve got two podcasts: Pappy’s Bangers & Mash, which is based on conversation and riffing; and Pappy’s Flat Share Slamdown, which is a panel show. The group is currently wrapping up production on a new BBC 3 show called Badults coming out sometime in July. Crosby also performs as a solo stand-up act.

International Waters: Pappy's is a well-established comedy act here in the UK, but you also work as a solo comedian. Which came first: the desire to perform as part of a group or as a stand-up?

Matthew Crosby: I think the desire to be a comedian came first and performing alongside other people seemed like a good step towards making that happen. Most of my biggest comedic influences when I was growing up weren't straight stand up or straight sketch: Vic & Bob, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, Monty Python, Spike Milligan. So, when I started performing comedy, it was always as part of a gang show with other people. Partly because that was the sort of comedy I enjoyed the most; partly because I was too scared to do it on my own.

IW: Two things I'm glad you mentioned, fear and Vic & Bob. I guess that's three. Let's talk about fear for a minute. It's a great motivator as they say, but it also prevents people from taking the first step or the next step.

MC: And I certainly experienced that when I first started. Although, if you'd asked me at the time, I wouldn't have put it down to fear. I'd probably have said that the open mic circuit just wasn't ready for my type of comedy. Which wouldn't have been true: the open mic circuit is always ready for people who aren't that good at comedy but think they're spearheading a comedy revolution.

IW: I’m not naive enough to think that I am going to revolutionize anything, and certainly not comedy. I'm just generally afraid. Vic & Bob, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, and Monty Python. What was it about that off-kilter comedy that drew you in?

MC: I think when I was younger I was quite into "stuff my friends don't know about". Now I'm a lot more evangelical when I find things I like. But old TV shows, stuff that was on late-night channel 4, obscure indie bands; that was exactly the sort of stuff that fueled my feeling of superiority over my peers.

IW: It's nice to get past the "it's mine" feeling to the "have you seen this?" phase of your life, isn't it? I want to go back to fear for a minute. Pappy's has become an Edinburgh Fringe favourite and well received around the UK in general. There has to be a certain confidence that comes with critical acclaim. How much attention do you pay to that sort of thing?

MC: Well, we did our own PR this year (which is becoming increasingly and depressingly rare in Edinburgh) so we had to read our reviews. But as for how much attention we pay to them? They're undoubtedly useful for selling a show; but they are no indicator of how good a show is. If an audience is laughing and clearly enjoying themselves, you don't have to wait for tomorrow's papers to see if the show was good or not.

IW: What was the last thing that frightened you professionally?

MC: I suppose the scary thing with success is that you feel compelled to better yourself next time around. That's scary. But what we've been lucky enough to be able to do is constantly change medium. In 2010, we felt like we'd done all we could with Pappy's live shows, so we took a break and started podcasting. That introduced us to a whole new audience, gave us a new enthusiasm for working together, and helped us clearly define our dynamic. It also gave us a chance to miss doing live stuff so when we came to write the 2012 show, we were really excited about getting back to it. Then we had our television show commissioned, which was a whole new challenge; but at least it didn't feel like, "well, we've done a good live show; we have to immediately do another one..."

IW: The new BBC TV show is tentatively called Secret Dude Society. What are some of the challenges you faced in making the show?

MC: The first challenge was coming up with a new name for it. The pilot script has been around for a few years but when we came to write the next five episodes, we decided that the title didn't quite fit. So now it's called Badults

I guess the biggest challenge comes from handing over responsibility to other people. In our live shows we write and perform everything ourselves; we make all our own props and costumes. In TV, you have to trust other people to help you realize your vision. Luckily, we had a superb team who all seemed to understand what we were aiming for. 

Actually, the thing we had on our side, that perhaps a conventional stand-up might not have, was that, because there's three of us, we are already used to collaboration and compromise. If you're used to the total autonomy of stand-up, I imagine the step towards authoring your own TV show could be much harder.

IW: On the subject of compromise, how do you decide on when to fight for (or insist on) an idea and when to give in? 

MC: If you completely believe in something, there's usually a rational way of explaining why you think it's a good idea. We're all pointing in the same direction- we want to make a brilliant show. Obviously, if it's for a live show, there's the "let's put it onstage and see who's right" test. If it's for the television show, we just have to go on instinct. If any of us really dislike an idea, then what we try and do is present an alternative. It's easier to deal with someone saying, "Instead of that, how about this?" rather than "I hate your idea but I have nothing of my own to bring to the table."

IW: Of course. That makes perfect sense. Basically just be a rational, decent person when dealing with people you respect. If you had to give a "best of” Pappy's sketches or bits to the uninitiated what would they be?

MC: And people you don't respect. Why not just be a rational, decent person? That's my revolutionary philosophy and the central tenet of my newly formed cult. Donations welcome via my PayPal page. 

As for "best of" sketches for Pappy's, there's something a bit "bleurgh" about hearing sketches described; but, here goes: we do a version of the Wizard of Oz where we... No I can't do it. It'll sound embarrassing. Come and see us live. Or watch Badults when it comes on TV (probably July on BBC 3 in the UK).

IW: Say something funny.

MC: I thought of this joke today so I've got no idea of whether or not it's funny but here goes: my family are so middle class that when I was sick they gave me tiramiSudafed. 

Matthew Crosby can be found on twitter at @matthewcrosby

Syndicate content