Mark Frauenfelder

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nat Faxon, Mimi Pond & Werner Herzog

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Mark Frauenfelder
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Werner Herzog
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"It read like an independent movie": Nat Faxon on the Dark Comedy of 'Married'

Nat Faxon is an actor. You maybe saw him on Ben and Kate. He co-wrote the Oscar-winning script for The Descendants, which starred George Clooney, and also co-directed and co-wrote The Way Way Back. Faxon's been working as an actor since the early 2000s. Mostly in bit parts, the sidekick, the comic relief. Now he's got a leading role on Married, a new comedy on FX.

Married is a dark comedy about a married couple, played by Faxon and Judy Greer. The couple has been together for ten years and is growing apart, tugged in separate directions by their children, a lack of steady unemployment, and uncertain finances.

Faxon talks about how the show relates to his real-life married life, why he enjoys just being an actor instead of running the show, and the uncomfortable situation in which he first met George Clooney.

Married premieres this Thursday on FX.

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: 'Forbidden Island' and 'Citizen Keane'

This week's recommendations come from BoingBoing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder.

He suggests checking out Forbidden Island, a co-operative game. It's a simple premise: collect four treasures from a sinking island.

He also recommends Citizen Keane: The Big Lies Behind the Big Eyes, a biography about the sketchy past of Walter and Margaret Keane, the couple who painted the kitschy pop-art paintings of teary, big-eyed children.

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Werner Herzog on "The Day I Became an Artist". Spoiler: There Isn't One!

It’s fair to say that Werner Herzog is a one-of-a-kind filmmaker. He’s made critically-acclaimed documentaries, like Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. And some art-house staples like Fitzcarraldo. But he also made Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans -- where a crack-smoking Nicholas Cage has hallucinations of iguanas and a breakdancing Mafioso. And don’t forget that Herzog was the SUBJECT of a film called Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.

So, it should come as no surprise that there wasn't one day when he became an artist. He sort of always knew. He tells us about growing up in Bavaria, how walking the Albanian border taught him more than film school ever could, and why he just wasn't impressed by the first moving images he saw.

Werner Herzog has a new Blu-Ray boxset coming out later this month from Shout! Factory. It collects sixteen of his earliest films -- most of them on Blu-Ray for the first time. It's called Herzog: The Collection.

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Diners, Drugs, and Punk Rock: Mimi Pond on 'Over Easy'

Mimi Pond was an art school dropout in 1970s Oakland, and she was trying to figure out what to be. She walked into a diner and asked for a job application. Instead of a resume, the manager asked her to tell him a joke. She got the job. Her new graphic novel and fictionalized memoir, Over Easy, is based on her time waiting tables at said diner.

Pond found herself surrounded by storage room sex, assorted sniffables, and a cast of characters so big she couldn't fit them all in her memoir.

She discusses why she always knew she'd be a cartoonist (even as a kid), the mastermind and hiring manager behind the "anarchic punk opera" that was her workplace, and the very specific, improvisational nature of waiting tables.

Her book is out now.

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The Outshot: Vegetables, Swimming Pools, and Good Vibrations

The Beach Boys had a lot on the line in 1967. How do you follow up huge commercial hits like "Surfin' USA" and "Barbara Ann", and the experimental, influential Pet Sounds? Jesse explains why 1967's Smiley Smile is great all on its own.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jim Rash, Bob Saget, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham

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Bob Saget
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Mark Frauenfelder

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Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham of Playing House: Improv in the Writers' Room, Showing Real Friendships on TV, and 'Girl Porn'

Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham play best friends on TV, and if their on-screen chemistry seems real, it is. They met doing improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and have been writing partners ever since. They co-created and star in Playing House, a new comedy about female friendship that's more reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel than it is Carrie Bradshaw's gang.

Playing House follows Emma and Maggie, two women who have been friends forever. Maggie stayed in their hometown, got married, and is expecting a baby. Emma has been professionally ambitious, closing business deals in Shanghai, and hasn't been back to visit for what must be years.

Parham and St. Clair join us to talk about the marathon improv sessions that produce the show's jokes, the designer home "girl porn" that provides contrast to their characters' weirdness, and their real-life friendship.

Playing House airs on the USA network Tuesday nights at 10/9c.

Bonus audio: Parham and St. Clair talk about their beginnings at the UCB.

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Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Zombie Dice and Hitman Go

Whether you're looking to zombie-fy yourself, or get absorbed into the world of a contract killer, Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder's got just the game for you. He's the host of the Gweek podcast, and he drops by to suggest a couple of his favorite new games. He recommends checking out the multi-player Zombie Dice to collect brains and avoid shotgun blasts to the head. If you prefer a game you can play solo, he suggests the strategy-based (and bloodless) game for iOS, Hitman Go.

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The Part: Bob Saget on 'Full House'

When Bob Saget was in his twenties, he had a lot of plates spinning. He tried film school (and dropped out after just a few days). He performed stand up. He warmed up sitcom audiences. He appeared in a Richard Pryor movie. He even worked for a few months as a morning talk show host, before he was told he was "too hot for TV."

But the part that changed everything wasn't controversial, or crazy. It was playing the straight man, on a sitcom aimed at families.

And despite the schmaltzy moments and broad jokes aimed at kids, Saget is proud of his role as widower and family man Danny Tanner on Full House. He'll tell us why.

Saget's new memoir is Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian. It's very personal and sweet and also sometimes vulgar, which is pretty much exactly what you might expect. He's also touring his new stand up show. You can find details on his website.

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Jim Rash on Being "TV Ugly", Awkward Dad Talks, and Writing with Nat Faxon

Jim Rash has a lot of irons in the fire. He's a regular on NBC's Community and hosts the Sundance Channel series The Writers' Room. When Rash isn't on-screen, he's writing and directing. With his writing partner Nat Faxon, he wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Descendants. The pair also wrote and directed last year's coming-of-age comedy The Way, Way Back, which drew on some of Rash's childhood experiences.

Rash joins us this week to talk about the awkward-yet-motivational summer talks he had with his dad and stepdad as a teenager, exploring writing techniques with TV showrunners on The Writers' Room, and writing for Community during Dan Harmon's absence.

Community airs Thursday nights at 8/7c on NBC.
The Writers' Room airs Friday nights at 9/8c on on the Sundance Channel.

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The Outshot: Wet Hot American Summer

Wanna be pals with Jesse? Here's the litmus test.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Brett Gurewitz, Jimmy Pardo, Maya Rudolph, Gretchen Lieberum

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Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz on Songwriting, the Rise of Punk, and Making Christmas Music

When Brett Gurewitz and his high school friends Greg Graffin, Jay Bentley and Jay Ziskrout joined up in 1979 to form the punk band Bad Religion, their biggest dream was to maybe play a backyard party.

Over thirty years later, Brett continues to play guitar and write for Bad Religion and has owned the thriving Epitaph Records label for almost as long. Still busy producing music, Bad Religion released their album True North in January and just put out their first holiday-themed album, Christmas Songs. However, it was a long journey between time spent playing in a garage and their days routinely selling out stadiums.

The band’s first shot at mainstream success came in 1994 with Stranger Than Fiction, which featured the singles Infected and 21st Century (Digital Boy).

This week, Brett talks to guest host Jordan Morris about musical influences (from The Adolescents to Elton John), what money often means for punk music, and creating the sound of a Christmas album.

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Cookie Making and Geek Dating with Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of BoingBoing, which bills itself as a "directory of wonderful things" and the host of the Gweek podcast. He joins us to share some of his recent finds.

This week, it’s the deceptively simple-looking web game Cookie Clicker and the surprisingly practical tome The Geek's Guide to Dating by Eric Smith.

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"I Wish I’d Made That": Talking about Prince's Purple Rain with Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum

Have you ever felt creative envy? Maybe you've listened to a song or watched a movie or and thought "I wish I'd made that!"? We've been there too. In this segment, we talk to creative people about the works that have inspired them, and maybe made them feel a little envious, too.

This week, we talked to Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids) and singer-songwriter Gretchen Lieberum to discuss the thing they wish they’d made: the 1984 rock drama Purple Rain.

We caught up with Maya and Gretchen at Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme where they performed in their Prince cover band, Princess.

And if you missed our first installment of "I Wish I'd Made That" with Fred Armisen, check it out here.

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Jimmy Pardo on Showbiz Dreams, "The Toast Theory", and Perfecting Rapid-Fire Improvisation

Maybe there's a reason comedian Jimmy Pardo can go from pleasing date-night crowds in Cleveland to alternative comedy aficionados in Los Angeles. He's not a straight-up joke teller, with one-liners he's finessed over years and years of re-telling. Instead, he specializes in seemingly effortless crowdwork. Pardo’s material is fresh and spontaneous, with every show a unique blend of practiced bits and riffed interaction.

This week, Pardo talks with Jesse about his career in full, from a third-grade illustration of his dream career (a picture of a spotlight on a microphone) to adjusting his routine for the digital age. He delves into working as the opening comedian for Conan, his struggles with alcohol abuse, and the complete conviction he shows to a joke.

You can hear Jimmy Pardo on his new comedy album Sprezzatura or catch him on his podcast Never Not Funny, now in its thirteenth season.

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The Outshot: Superman for All Seasons

Okay, so Superman can seem a little square and maybe holier-than-thou. Although he's from another planet, he embodies what it means to be a virtuous, hard-working American. He’s unconditionally virtuous and, regardless of the consequences, always makes the moral decision.

This week, Jordan Morris recommends Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s 1998 comic book Superman for All Seasons for its attempt to represent the Man of Steel as less superhero, more human.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Lewis Black & Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer

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Still Fuming: Lewis Black on Drama School, New York, And Why He's Still Fired Up

No comedian is angrier than Lewis Black. For the past 25 years, America has been infuriating him, and he's been on-stage telling us why.

After graduating from the Yale School of Drama in 1977, Black spent ten years as a playwright at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater in New York. He transitioned to stand-up comedy in the late 1980s and has been regularly featured on The Daily Show's "Back In Black" segment for the past 16 years.

Lewis tells us about nearly getting expelled from Yale, why he loves performing in Bismarck, and how theater is like heroin.

Lewis Black's new special, Old Yeller: Live At The Borgata, airs live on Pay-Per-View and becomes available on VOD on August 24.

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends The Adventure Time Encyclopedia and Blocksworld

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of BoingBoing, which bills itself as a "directory of wonderful things". He joins us to share some of his recent finds. This time, it's The Adventure Time Encyclopedia and the iPad game Blocksworld, for iOs.

The Cartoon Network's show Adventure Time is ostensibly for children, but eagerly devoured by people of all ages. It follows the psychedelic adventures of a boy named Finn and his dog Jake. The new Adventure Time Encyclopedia, "translated" by comedy writer Martin Olson, features new original artwork and everything you ever wanted to know about the post-apocalyptic land of Oooo. Mark also suggests downloading the Blocksworld app for iPad, a virtual Lego-like world with huge creative possibilities.

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Found Things With Davy Rothbart

Found Magazine co-creator and editor Davy Rothbart is back to share more pieces of lost and found ephemera: discarded exams, neighborhood flyers, and personal letters that leave half the story to your imagination.

Davy's new documentary Medora (co-director/producer), is in select theaters this fall. FOUND Magazine is on its eighth issue and posts new finds all the time on their website. If you've got a cool find, be sure to share it with them.

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Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer: From Podcasting To Kardashian Bashing

Late night television has long been dominated by slightly greying men, alone behind a desk, cracking jokes about politics and the news. Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer have taken that popular format -- monologues, sketches, celebrity interviews -- and repackaged it for the Taylor Swift demographic. The two young comedians co-host Nikki and Sara Live on MTV, a show filled with gossip, banter, and all the Justin Timberlake adoration you could ask for.

Nikki and Sara's career trajectories are very 2013 -- before landing their show on MTV, they worked their way through Comedy Central sets, coveted late night appearances, an award-winning blog, and a podcast they co-host together called You Had To Be There.

Nikki and Sara talk about relating to their teenage "demo", the 90s pop-star who made Nikki swoon, and how to craft the perfect Justin Bieber joke.

Nikki and Sara Live airs Tuesdays at 11pm on MTV.

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The Outshot: The Mind Of A Chef

Jesse goes on the record to say that while he mostly hates food shows, he loves The Mind Of A Chef, a PBS show narrated by Anthony Bourdain that focuses on Momofuku-founder David Cheng.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band, Mark Frauenfelder

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: "Good Dog" and Super Durak

Mark Frauenfelder, founder of BoingBoing and host of the Gweek podcast joins us to weigh on his latest obsessions in the form of geeky pop culture. This time, it's Graham Chaffee's Good Dog and the virtual version of Russian card game Super Durak, for iOs.

Chaffee's book, out this week, is a tour through a stray dog's life as he weighs a life of independence against the security of being a house pet, exploring the psychology of dogs in a vein similar to White Fang. Frauenfelder also suggests downloading the Super Durak app for a card game with a unique twist -- there are no winners.

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Charlie Wilson: Creating Funk Jams with the Gap Band, Overcoming Addiction, and Recovering a Career

From his years as the frontman of the funk-R&B group the Gap Band, to singing hooks for rappers like Snoop Dogg and Kanye West, to his solo career recording R&B hits in his airy tenor, Charlie Wilson has been all about music. He grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of a Pentecostal preacher and a music minister mother. Wilson spent his early years singing for his father's congregation and formed the Gap Band with his brothers, Ronnie and Robert, as a teenager.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, the Gap Band took their signature funk and R&B sound and made chart-topping hits like "Burn Rubber on Me", "Outstanding", "You Dropped a Bomb on Me", and "Party Train". The band's management was rocky in the mid 1980s, and Wilson's life took a downturn. A few years later, he was addicted to drugs and living on the streets. But a love for music and sense of pride helped right the course, and he retooled his career into Grammy-nominated solo work.
Wilson talks to us about crafting the now-classic sounds of the Gap Band, encounters with Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone, and why he returned to music after years of isolation and addiction.

Charlie Wilson's newest record is Love, Charlie. He'll receive BET's Lifetime Achievement Award on June 30th.

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Comedy: Al Madrigal Meets the "Cholo Soccer Dad"

There's a very specific kind of subculture you might encounter in East Los Angeles. Al Madrigal explains his encounter with it in this clip from his new stand up special, Why Is the Rabbit Crying?.

Al Madrigal is a stand up comic. You can catch him on the road in selected cities this summer and fall, and on TV as The Daily Show's Latino Correspondent.

The Outshot: "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton" by The Mountain Goats

Jesse explores a song about two high school friends, a death metal band, and dreams. It's "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton".

The Mountain Goats are on tour this summer. You can find those dates on their website.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Share your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forums.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nile Rodgers, Mark Frauenfelder

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: The Hunter by Richard Stark and Every Noise At Once

BoingBoing founder and editor Mark Frauenfelder joins us to share a few of his all-time favorite pop culture picks. His first recommendation is The Hunter, a dark 1962 novel reminiscent of antihero-driven television shows like Breaking Bad. Next, you'll need something to soothe your senses – how about some new music? Check out Every Noise At Once, a website that introduces listeners to obscure genres from Arab soul to zouk.

Disco Pioneer Nile Rodgers on Producing Hits, The Legacy of Disco, and the "Deep Hidden Meaning"

You might not recognize Nile Rodgers, who began his music career as part of the purposely faceless band Chic -- but you'd definitely know his music if you heard it. He founded Chic with bassist Bernard Edwards, launched a string of hits including "Le Freak" and "Good Times", and went on to become a songwriting and producing superstar with a tried-and-true formula.

The anthem "We are Family"? That's one of his, too. He was behind Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out", David Bowie's "Let's Dance", and Madonna's "Like a Virgin". He continues to make and perform music, both with Chic and as a producer. This month, you can hear him on Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories, contributing a signature guitar sound to the single "Get Lucky".

Back in 2011, Rodgers spoke with us about a beatnik childhood, decades of writing hits (including the gay anthem "I'm Coming Out" for Diana Ross), and the legacy of disco.

His memoir is Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny.

(This interview originally aired in November 2011.)

Nichols and May Examine Doctors

Who are Mike Nichols and Elaine May? You might know them both for their film and theater work (among many other things, Nichols directed The Graduate and May helmed The Heartbreak Kid). But first, they performed as a improvisational comedy duo in the early 1960s on TV and on bestselling comedy albums, often fixed on skewering relationships. Case in point: a classic comedy sketch from 1962's Nichols and May Examine Doctors, in which a workplace fling becomes a matter of life or death.

Nichols and May Examine Doctors was recently reissued as a CD and digital download.

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 in April 2012.)

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Big Boi, Catherine O'Hara, and Pop Culture Advice

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It's the final week of MaxFunDrive! Visit maximumfun.org/donate to find out more and support this show.

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Recommendations with Mark Frauenfelder: Bunk and Marijuanamerica

This week's recommendations come from BoingBoing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder. His first suggestion is Bunk, a game for iOS that makes good use of your vocabulary, your friends, and your ability to convincingly make stuff up. Looking for something to read? He also suggests Marijuanamerica, a new book about a man who tours the US to understand America's love/hate relationship with pot.

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Hip Hop Icon Big Boi: Getting Familiar with Uncharted Territory

The rapper and producer Big Boi has sold over 50 million records as a solo artist and as half of the platinum-selling hip hop duo OutKast. The innovative Atlanta-based group broke out in the mid-1990s with "Rosa Parks" and "Elevators", then followed up with crossover pop hits like "The Way You Move" and "Bombs Over Baghdad".

OutKast found huge commercial success with an experimental brand of hip hop, eschewing old-school samples in favor of new sounds. Big Boi has been the more musically prolific member of the group. He's gone on to produce several solo albums and collaborate with artists across the music spectrum, from fellow ATL-based rapper Ludacris to funk-master George Clinton to the indie rock band Wavves. He's headed out on the nearly 50-city "Shoes for Running" tour to support his newest release, Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors.

Big Boi joins us to talk about the early days recording in an clay-walled basement, coming to terms with fame, and where to go musically when you've hit monumental commercial success.

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Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

MaximumFun's own McElroy Brothers provide advice to wayward individuals – some more wayward than others – on their weekly podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Me. This week, they're helping out Bullseye listeners with their pop-culture quandaries. For instance: are you allowed to like dubstep and be from the suburbs?

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Catherine O'Hara on Being Slightly, Perfectly Odd

Catherine O'Hara's work embodies a particularly special brand of comic absurdity. She helped launch SCTV alongside other burgeoning comedy greats like John Candy and Eugene Levy, quit the show, but still moved on to star in blockbuster comedies. She became spiritually possessed in Beetlejuice, played a memorable, anxiety-ridden mother to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, and became a critical part of Christopher Guest's ensemble mockumentaries, like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.

More recently, she's been in HBO's critically-acclaimed biopic Temple Grandin and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, and she'll star in a Fox comedy pilot later this year.

O'Hara talks to us about the difficulties of being a woman in the SCTV writers' room, creating memorable characters with her longtime friend and collaborator Eugene Levy, and her own secret comedic formula.

Oh, and in this outtake, hear about the best boyfriend ever: Dan Akroyd.

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The Outshot: Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

At first, Errol Morris's documentary Fast, Cheap & Out of Control looks like it's about four men and their professional occupations: a lion tamer, a topiarist, a roboticist, a scientist who studies naked mole rats. But the movie is about much more than just weird jobs.

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Special thanks this week to FreeSound.org user juskiddink for the sound effects used during our BoatParty.biz promo.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Simon Rich and Bill Burr

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Spaceteam and The Magazine

Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing and the Gweek podcast joins us again this week to talk about some of his current favorite things. Mark suggests a turn at the multiplayer iPhone game Spaceteam, which is all about yelling techno-gibberish at friends. In the mood for something a little more quiet? Mark also recommends The Magazine, a minimalist, ad-free digital publication "for geeks and curious people."

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Comedy Writer Simon Rich: Why Writing Like a Child Can Be a Good Thing

Simon Rich got his first book deal in 2007. Since then, he’s published five books, received a nomination for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, contributed regular essays to the New Yorker, and worked on Saturday Night Live as a staff writer (which he recently left for a top-secret writing job at Pixar). How old is he? 29. Basically, Simon Rich has his act together.

The characters he writes about? Not so much. His latest book, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is a collection of vignettes about lost characters coming to terms with love. And these aren’t your typical stories of romance and heartbreak; in true Simon Rich fashion, his stories make the mundane profound and vice-versa. (No one else can write a story about God’s girlfriend and follow it up with a touching monologue from a prophylactic’s POV.)

Simon sits down with Jesse to discuss the autobiographical elements of his stories, the appeal of writing from a child’s point of view, and how love is a lot like heroin.

Simon Rich’s new book of essays, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is available in bookstores everywhere.

Want to hear about Simon's obsession with The Simpsons? It's here, in a longer cut of our interview. Click to embed and share it with your friends.


Comedy: Eugene Mirman Discovers a Notebook From His Past

Digging through old stuff from your childhood can be a lot of different things – insightful, hilarious, wistful, nostalgic. But in comedian Eugene Mirman’s case, it was just embarrassing. In this clip from his latest special, Eugene describes a childhood relic, found in his parents’ basement.

Eugene Mirman’s new special, An Evening of Comedy in a Fake Underground Laboratory, is now available as a combination CD/DVD.

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Bill Burr On Confrontation and Comedy

Conventional wisdom amongst standup comics dictates that a crowd has to be on your side before you can make them laugh. It’s good general advice, but it’s not advice that Bill Burr follows – and he’s all the better for it.

Bill Burr’s comedy is, in a word, aggressive. It’s not just that he looks and sounds tough, qualities that have landed him voice acting work in Grand Theft Auto IV and guest appearances on Breaking Bad. Aggression and confrontation are at the core of Bill’s act; he’s not afraid to curse out unruly audience members or start a set with a joke that, in a lesser comic’s hands, might totally alienate a crowd. But his comedy isn’t all tough-guy machismo. He’s just as likely to direct a rant at himself as he is others, a quality that makes his work all the more hilarious and human.

Bill spoke with Jesse a few years ago to talk about Bill’s style of comedy, challenging himself and audiences in his act, and every performer’s most dreaded nightmare: having to follow a dog or child onstage.

His latest special, You People Are All The Same (which was the subject of a recent Outshot), is streaming on Netflix.

This interview originally aired in October 2010.

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The Outshot: Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive"

On this week’s Outshot, Jesse tears the house down with a timeless live album. It’s Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive."

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Kroll, Billy Eichner, Brad Tolinski

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Bullseye
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Nick Kroll
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Billy Eichner
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Brad Tolinski
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Mark Frauenfelder

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: The Struggle for Catan and Anomia

Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and the podcast Gweek zeroes in on his favorite card games. His first pick is The Struggle for Catan, a spin-off of the colony-building board game Settlers of Catan. He also plugs Anomia, a crazy-fast word game that "makes your brain confuse being first with being the loudest."

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Nick Kroll in character as "Aspen Bruckenheimer"

Nick Kroll on Finding Comedy in Humanity's Worst

Nick Kroll has a knack for taking humanity's very worst and turning it into comedy. You can see it in his portrayal of Ruxin, the overly-aggressive lawyer and fantasy football player of FX's The League, but it's even more apparent in his new Comedy Central series, Kroll Show.

Kroll Show features amazingly specific characters that have become familiar as artifacts of our reality-show, fame-gripped culture: self-indulgent trust fund party boys, vapid PR professionals, and a wannabe record producer who lives with his mom.

Kroll returns to Bullseye to discuss how he finds inspiration in people lacking self-awareness – and, on the other hand, the perils of being too self-aware.

Kroll Show airs Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central.

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Canonball: A Tour of Led Zeppelin's III with Brad Tolinski

This episode marks the debut of our new segment: Canonball. We'll take a flying leap into the canon of popular music and find albums that deserve a closer look.

This week, we're joined by Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World and author of the new book Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page.

He'll tell us about Led Zeppelin III. With that album, Led Zeppelin moved away from the 60s obsession with authenticity and deep ideas -- and into a whole new sound.

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Billy Eichner and the Pop Culture Maniac That is Billy on the Street

Comedian Billy Eichner roams the streets of New York with a camera crew, roping unsuspecting pedestrians into playing his game show, Billy on the Street. While Cash Cab paved the way for street-ambush game shows, Eichner's approach has a unique twist.

The correct answers are often subjective (as in the game "Dead or Boring") and his game show persona is hyper-energetic and over-the-top. He's ready to swoon with a contestant who shares his love of Meryl Streep, or yell and stalk angrily away from a contestant who doesn't.

Eichner tells us about his screaming encounters with Madonna, the influence of Pee-wee Herman on his on-screen persona, and the role that game show laws played in the development of his show. (It turns out that "game show compliance lawyer" is a real job.)

Episodes of Funny or Die's Billy on the Street are available online and air Fridays at 10/9c on FUSEtv.

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The Outshot: João Gilberto

On the Outshot, Jesse features João Gilberto, a musician who stripped away the heat and intensity of samba to create a cool, minimalist genre: bossa nova.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: RJ Smith on James Brown, Comedy from Cameron Esposito, Mark Frauenfelder

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All-Time Favorites with Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder

Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder joins us this week to share some all-time favorites: a great dungeon crawler for iOS called The Sword of Fargoal and Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession, a fascinating book exploring the science of scent.

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R.J. Smith profiles the Godfather of Soul, James Brown

R.J. Smith is a former senior editor at Los Angeles Magazine and a music journalist who's written for the Village Voice and Spin. For his latest project, he took on the task of profiling the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Smith's extensive biography, The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, follows the musician from his childhood, raised in a whorehouse, wearing burlap sack underwear, to stardom, and then to reinvention.

James Brown was a hugely influential musician and performer, known for hits like "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Get Up (I Feel Like a Sex Machine)," and he was one of the driving forces behind the creation and popularity of funk music. But he was also much more than that -- a tenacious businessman who ran his finances into the ground, a man of messy and confusing political alliances, and a hardliner on drug abuse (who eventually fell to his own drug addictions).

Why didn’t Brown’s politics fit neatly into a particular mindset? And why, unlike nearly all of his black contemporaries, did he endorse Nixon? What drew crowds of screaming fans to his performances? And how did he survive the rise of disco? Smith's book delves into Brown's storied and complicated life and music career of six decades, as well as his effects on pop music, politics, and race relations in 20th century America. This interview previously aired July 24, 2012.

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Comedy from Cameron Esposito

Cameron Esposito is a standup comic who's been featured on this show and performed at TBS' Just for Laughs Chicago, South by Southwest, and the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festivals. She recently moved to Los Angeles right in time for the 4th Annual MaxFunCon, and joined us to perform a set musing on her childhood appearance. This segment previously aired July 24, 2012.

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The Outshot: Cheers

Why not go where everybody goes your name? This week, Jesse recommends that you revisit Cheers. This segment previously aired July 24, 2012.

Do you have a piece of pop culture that keeps you coming back? Share your own Outshot on our forums.

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