music

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jen Kirkman & Bryce Dessner

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jen Kirkman
Guests: 
Bryce Dessner

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Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Jen Kirkman's Unapologetic, Unafraid Thoughts on Marriage, Divorce, and Comedy

Jen Kirkman is fierce when it comes to pain and fear and figuring stuff out, both in her stand up comedy and her writing. In her new stand up special I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine), a lot of her material is about getting married, getting divorced, and why she thinks we're all just doing our best. While her jokes about being divorced at 40 and physical aging could be sad sack in someone else's hands, Kirkman's take is unapologetic and unafraid. She's OK with those things. Why aren't we?

Kirkman explains how part of her opening sequence is an homage to Joan Rivers, how she found her audience after spending years playing rooms of alternative comedy fans, and why she thinks dying alone doesn't have to be a bad thing.

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Photo credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Bryce Dessner on "The Day I Became an Artist"

Bryce Dessner is a classically educated composer and musician. He grew up playing classical guitar, piano and flute. He also plays guitar for the rock band The National.

As a kid, classical music was something he did by himself. That changed as he grew older, and he collaborated and played with friends and took on small commissions.

For "The Day I Became an Artist", he talked to us about a pivotal moment in his career as a composer -- writing his composition "Aheym" for the Kronos Quartet.

You can hear Dessner's music many ways -- a new recording of his composition Music for Wood and Strings was just released. You can hear him in the rock band The National. And if you want to hear his compositions live, you can find them being performed all over the world. Details of current performances are available on his website, BryceDessner.com.
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"The Red Umbrella", Saul Leiter (1957)

The Outshot: Saul Leiter

Jesse talks about the photographer Saul Leiter, whose great talent lay in not telling you the whole story.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Baron Davis & Paul Dano

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Baron Davis
Guests: 
Paul Dano

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Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

"How Hard Are You Willing to Play for Nothing?" NBA All-Star Turned Documentarian Baron Davis on 'The Drew', LA's Pro-Am League

Baron Davis is a two-time NBA All-Star. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, and went on to play for several other teams before his most recent stint in the New York Knicks. He was barely middle-school age when he started playing in the Drew League, a pro-am league named after Charles R. Drew Junior High School in South Los Angeles. The Drew was a place for amateurs to play competitively, to begin careers, and help build existing ones. A number of NBA players, including Baron Davis, have returned to the Drew in the off-season to hone their skills. The Drew has also fostered a sense of community, and created a safe haven away from gang activity.

Davis joins us to talk about his early days in the Drew, recovering from injury, and why he turned to filmmaking.

The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce has its world premiere at the LA Film Festival this week.

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Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Paul Dano on Capturing Brian Wilson's Essence, Slapping Daniel Day-Lewis and Turning 30

The new biopic Love & Mercy shows Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys during two different periods of his life. Paul Dano plays Wilson during the production of the critically acclaimed album Pet Sounds, as Wilson experiments with drugs and descends a bit into darkness. John Cusack plays Wilson in the late 80s and early 90s, as he suffers under the control of his legal guardian and struggles to wrest himself free.

Dano takes on Wilson's quiet spirit and gives us a glimpse into the mind of a musical innovator. His past work includes a breakout role as a silent teenager in Little Miss Sunshine, a novelist in Ruby Sparks, a power-hungry young preacher in There Will Be Blood and an overseer in 12 Years a Slave.

He joins us to talk about how physically playing music helped him connect to his character, feeling out the dynamics of Wilson's relationship with his father, playing opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood and what's changed since he turned 30.

Love & Mercy is in theaters now.

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The Outshot: Finding the Heart of a Song in Five Notes with "The Plum Blossom"

Jesse explains why he loves "The Plum Blossom", a beautiful song Yusef Lateef wrote for an instrument that only produces five notes.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jon Ronson & Peter Guralnick

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jon Ronson
Guests: 
Peter Guralnick
Guests: 
Guy Branum

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.

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Photo by Jesse Thorn

Jon Ronson on the Aftereffects of Public Shaming and Why He Values People Over Ideologies

If the name Justine Sacco rings a bell with you, we'd guess it's because you remember this poorly-conceived and ill-judged tweet she sent that was heard around the world.

"Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!"

People on Twitter piled on, Justine Sacco publicly shamed and fired, and everyone went about their business. Except for Justine, that is.

Jon Ronson's new book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, explores the effects that public shaming has on the shamed and the shamers.

He joins us to talk about Justine's tweet and whether or not public shaming is always a force for good.

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Photo by Seth Olenick

Comedy: Guy Branum in the Caribbean

Maybe you've heard our new sister podcast about culture, Pop Rocket. It’s hosted by a comic called Guy Branum. His new stand up album Effable was just released, so we thought this’d be a good opportunity to play you some of his set from last year’s Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival, AKA Boat Party dot Biz. So here’s the great Guy Branum, recorded live on a ship in the Caribbean.

Canonball: Peter Guralnick Gets "Knocked Out" by the Blues

It's time for Canonball. We take a leap into the deep end and talk to experts about classic albums -- or albums that should be considered classics -- and find out what makes them great.

This week, we’re joined by music historian and journalist Peter Guralnick. He's written about rock, soul and blues musicians for decades, profiling Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sam Cooke, and Elvis among dozens of others.

But for our segment, he chose a record that captures what he loves about live music. It was recorded by the ethnomusicologist Harry Oster in the late 50s and early 60s, and it was released on as Country Negro Jam Sessions. (Please excuse the anachronistic title).

Several of Peter's books, including his acclaimed biography of Elvis, are now reissued with video and audio in e-book format. You can find more at PeterGuralnick.com.

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The Outshot: Man Seeking Woman

What if a bad date was literally one of the worst things ever? Jesse explores Simon Rich's unique talents in Man Seeking Woman.

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Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 361: Summer Boys with Dr. Frank

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Guests: 
Dr. Frank

Musician and author Dr. Frank (The Mr. T Experience, King Dork) joins Jordan and Jesse for a discussion of nicknames, pirate subculture, and superfoods. Plus, Dr. Frank plays a song!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bob Odenkirk

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bob Odenkirk


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Bob Odenkirk: Cult-Comedy Icon, Reluctant Celebrity

Millions of Breaking Bad fans know Bob Odenkirk as sleazy criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman. He’ll be reprising the role in February in the spin-off show Better Call Saul.

But comedy fans already knew about Odenkirk from another show -- Mr. Show with Bob and David. Odenkirk’s outrageous and profanity-ridden outbursts were a staple of his performances and helped make him a cult-comedy icon.

Before that he wrote for Saturday Night Live. Perhaps his most notable work was co-writing the sketch Down by the River The bit featured a 35-year-old divorcee motivational speaker played by Chris Farley and is considered one of the best sketches in the history of the SNL.

When Mr. Show ended, Odenkirk appeared in a number of one-off roles for TV before working behind the camera. He directed Let’s Go to Prison, Melvin Goes to Dinner and The Brothers Solomon. Even though he loves directing, it’ll be a while before he decides to gives it another shot. He’ll explain.

Odenkirk talks to us about why writing timeless humor is so difficult, transitioning from comedy to drama and why he still doesn’t consider himself a celebrity.

Odenkirk will also read a selection from his new collection of short-fiction humor. It’s called A Load of Hooey and is available now.

Odenkirk also just released his debut stand-up comedy special, Amateur Hour. We'll be showcasing a clip from it in our Best Comedy of 2014 Special at the end of the year.

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Cannonball: Touring Parliament's Mothership Connection with Rickey Vincent

Every so often we like to take a closer look at albums that should be considered classics, to find out what makes them great. It's Cannonball.

This week we're joined by author, historian and self-described funkateer, Rickey Vincent. He's going to talk about Parliament's landmark R&B album, Mothership Connection. The album is at once a celebration of the past and a glimpse into the future. It touches on a lot of traditional soul ideas, but delivered with a new funky edge. Vincent will explain more.

Vincent has a new book out. It's called PARTY MUSIC: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. You can also hear his radio show The History of Funk on KPFA.

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The Outshot: Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas

Jesse tells us about a song that makes him imagine a better world: the simple but powerful Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas.

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

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Paul Reubens
Guests: 
Aasif Mandvi
Guests: 
Kimbra


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Sergio Mendes
Guests: 
James Fearnley
Guests: 
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Mitchell and Bob Edwards

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Elvis Mitchell
Guests: 
Bob Edwards
Guests: 
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

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This segment originally aired 06/26/2012


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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.

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This segment originally aired 08/24/2011


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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

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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.

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This segment originally aired 05/27/2013

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Live in L.A. with Dan Harmon and Rob Corddry

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Steve Agee
Guests: 
Dan Harmon
Guests: 
Rob Corddry
Guests: 
Andy Kindler
Guests: 
Sara Watkins

This week's episode was recorded live on stage in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Our thanks to them for hosting us. Additional thanks to NPR's Generation Listen for sponsoring the event.


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Comedy: Steve Agee Talks About His Year

Steve Agee is a comedian, writer and actor, known mostly for his work on The Sarah Silverman Program. He performed as part of our live show in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

If you want to hear more from Steve Agee he has a podcast where he interviews all sorts of television and music personalities. It’s called Steve Agee: Uhhh and can be downloaded on iTunes.

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Dan Harmon Explains Why He Was Fired from Community (and Why He Was Rehired)

Dan Harmon created the NBC sitcom Community. It’s a show about seven misfits at a community college trying to get their lives together as they deal with their new friendships. The show’s offbeat humor and characters earned it a devoted following and helped Harmon rise to fame.
Harmon was fired from Community after its third season, but it wasn’t long before he was able to find a new job… as the showrunner for Community.

In the year that Community went on without him, he took his podcast on the road. Documentarian Neil Berkley produced a movie about the tour and Harmon’s impact on others. It’s called Harmontown.

Harmon will talk about his mindset going into the sixth season of Community, what he likes and dislikes about traditional sitcoms and why he will never again share a personal voicemail from Chevy Chase with a public audience.

You can catch the documentary Harmontown in select theaters and available on demand now.

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Rob Corddry’s Golden Childhood

Rob Corddry has been a correspondent for The Daily Showand starred in a bunch of different movies, but more recently his face -- covered in clown make-up -- has been a fixture of Los Angeles billboards and bus stops. It’s because he created and stars in adult swim’s Children’s Hospital. It’s probably the silliest show to have ever won an Emmy.

Corddry also plays a doctor in the webseries Wedlock. In it, he attempts to help a couple played by Mark Duplass and Jennifer Lafleur who are desperate to start a romantic relationship, but have none of the chemistry necessary to make it happen.

Corddry will talk about growing up as the oldest sibling, what he worked out in therapy, and what it’s like being on-set with Michael Bay.

Wedlock is available through Vimeo on Demand. Children’s Hospital can be seen on Adult Swim .

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Comedy: Andy Kindler Is Legendary

Andy Kindler was the second comedian that joined us live on stage in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. He’s had two specials on Comedy Central and has an annual State of the Industry Address at Montreal’s Just For Laughs, festival.

You can catch Kindler as the voice of Mort in the animated series Bob’s Burgers and as a fictionalized version of himself in the IFC series Maron.

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Sara Watkins and members of the Watkins Family Hour perform "You and Me"

Singer and fiddler Sara Watkins has been busy in the bluegrass scene since she founded Nickel Creek with her brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile in 1989. She's released five studio albums as part of the band. In 2009, she began her own solo project and has released two albums.

Watkins joined us to perform the single "You and Me" from her 2012 album Sun Midnight Sun. Her band included Sean Watkins on guitar, Don Heffington on drums and Benmont Tench on piano.
Sara and Sean have a monthly podcast called Watkins Family Hour in which they banter and play music with fellow bluegrass musicians. You can download it on iTunes.

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photo courtesy Dana Robinson

Outshot: The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Jesse tells you about The Museum of Jurassic Technology, a place that does very little to explain its exhibits, but is no less beautiful for it.

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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.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tig Notaro, Ed Helms & Nick Frost

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tig Notaro
Guests: 
Ed Helms
Guests: 
Nick Frost

Do you live in Los Angeles? Know someone who does? Come see Bullseye with Jesse Thorn LIVE on Wednesday, October 15th at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Featuring conversation with Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown), music from Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour), comedy from Steve Agee (New Girl, The Sarah Silverman Program) and Andy Kindler (Maron, Letterman) and more! Get your tickets now!


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"I Have Nothing to Lose Now": Tig Notaro on Life and Stand Up Comedy After Cancer

In 2012, the stand up comic Tig Notaro had a famously bad year. She caught pneumonia, which snowballed into C. Diff. She and her girlfriend broke up. Her mother passed away unexpectedly. And then, she learned she had breast cancer.

You're probably familiar with what came next. Notaro headed out to a stand up gig in Los Angeles, at the Largo. But she didn't feel right performing her usual set. She decided to open up like she had never before. Hours after she received the diagnosis, she went on stage and said to the audience, "Hello, I have cancer."

She took the audience through the pain she had experienced over the last few months. It was still in her deadpan style, with jokes and stories that were brave and sometimes uncomfortably funny.

Notaro is in remission now, and she's continued to perform stand up, write and record her podcast Professor Blastoff. She's headed off on a new national stand up tour, called Boyish Girl Interrupted.

She talks with Jesse about how she decided to approach that set at the Largo, why cancer and tragedy made her more open to the world, and telling her "bee joke" after an emotionally intense set.

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The Part: Nick Frost on Humanizing Greed & Excess in 'Money'

Becoming an actor isn’t easy. Getting cast in your first role is a huge challenge. But even then it’s sometimes YEARS before an actor lands the role that changes everything. It's The Part.

The English actor Nick Frost is known for playing the everyman: goofy, kind, good-hearted men who are easy to love, like his characters in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

So why did he take a role as the greedy, hedonistic ad director John Self in the BBC adaptation of 'Money'? Well... he'll explain.

Frost voices the henchman Mr. Trout in the new animated movie The Boxtrolls, which is in theaters now.

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Ed Helms: From The Daily Show, to The Hangover, to... Bluegrass?

Ed Helms is an A-list comedy star these days. He starred in the mega-successful Hangover trilogy, and on NBC's The Office for seven seasons. And before that, he caught a break as a correspondent on The Daily Show, where his cohort included Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert.

But like most folks in show business, he started out low on the totem pole -- working as a barker for comedy clubs, handing out fliers to people walking by, begging them to come inside.

Helms talks to Jesse about his very early career, how Stephen Colbert helped him both professionally and personally, why he thinks The Hangover doesn’t deserve its reputation as a "bro movie", and why of all things, he started a bluegrass festival.

Helms is currently shooting the new National Lampoon's Vacation movie, in which he stars as Rusty Griswold. If you live in Los Angeles, you can find him hosting the 2014 LA Bluegrass Situation on October 10th and 11th.

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The Outshot: Nina Simone's "Four Women"

Jesse talks about one of his very favorite singers, Nina Simone, and "Four Women".

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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.

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