music

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Armando Iannucci and Billy Bragg

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Guests: 
Armando Iannucci
Guests: 
Billy Bragg

[r] 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.


Photo: Linda Nylind

Veep Creator Armando Iannucci on Poking Fun at Politics

What does the career trajectory of a lifelong political junkie look like? There are the obvious choices, like a major in Political Science, law school...maybe even a career in politics. But Armando Iannucci took a different path – one that led him to Oxford, an incomplete PhD, and work writing and producing comedy, like his acclaimed political satire The Thick of It and the feature film In the Loop.

Iannucci created a new take on American politics in the HBO comedy Veep. Now in its second season, the show follows a fictional Vice President (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) with lofty ambitions but little actual power. Veep showcases the comedy inherent in the struggle for the political upper hand, the constant panic and exhaustion. Seemingly small gaffes quickly escalate into ridiculous catastrophes. The show's dialogue is marked by careful attention to absurd politi-speak and some especially creative cursing.

Iannucci joins us to talk about the difference between UK and US politics, why he sympathizes with our elected officials, and conducting swearing research in Washington, D.C.

Ianucci's new film The Death of Stalin comes out later this year.


Photo:

The Song That Changed My Life, with Billy Bragg: 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 to him developing 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'".

Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Tapping Into Frustration for Seinfeld and Veep

Most of us first knew Julia Louis-Dreyfus from her Emmy-winning role as Elaine on Seinfeld. Elaine flailed, fought, and danced her way into our hearts as the friend to "losers" Jerry, George and Kramer. But Louis-Dreyfus first arrived in entertainment fresh off her college comedy sketch group, as a repertory player in the Dick Ebersol-helmed cast of Saturday Night Live.

After Seinfeld, she went on to anchor several sitcoms, including The New Adventures of Old Christine, with delightful guest appearances on shows like Arrested Development and 30 Rock. Her career has now taken her to a different cast of skewed characters on HBO's Veep.

On Veep, Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer, Vice President of the United States. Though the vice-presidency is a prestigious position, Meyer's day-to-day work is less than impressive. Her staff members claw at each other for power and prestige. She suffers awkward encounters with the media and consistent snubs from the President (a running gag on the show is Selina's off-hand question, "Did the President call?" The answer is usually no).

Julia Louis-Dreyfus joins us to talk about the similarities she's discovered between show business and politics, the boys' club that was SNL in the 80s, and a certain terrible dance that still haunts her to this day.

Veep airs on HBO on Sundays at 10:30/9:30 PM central.

The Outshot: Jay-Z's "Threat"

Rap isn't poetry – it's its own thing. But, like poets, many of the best rappers imbue their lyrics with layers and layers of meaning. Need proof? Jesse suggests a close listen to Jay-Z's "Threat."

Pop Rocket Episode 117: 1997 in Music

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell

This week the gang is here to talk about the year 1997 in music and culture. There are a surprising number of 20 year old infallible pop hits that were influenced by a number of factors; the internet, CD-R's, Princess Diana passing, the death of Gianni Versace, the 24-hour news cycle, and of course Tupac and Biggies deaths. Wynter and Karen make it clear that they had the best 1997 as they were living in the city of possibilities (San Francisco), Margaret tells us why she doesn't know any Spice Girls songs, and we find out which panelist played sax in a ska band. Plus, in lieu of jams, we hear from each of the panelists what podcasts they are listening to lately.

And remember, if you haven't yet become a member or upgraded your membership, please do it before the end of #MaxFunDrive. Margaret Wappler has vowed to send every new person that joins a denim jacket w/ a celebrity inside, Karen Tongson will eat weird vending machine food for you and Guy Branum will share his family's fruit cobbler recipe. And his family is from Arkansas!

Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell, and Margaret Wappler

Podcast Recommendations:

Margaret Wappler - Baby Geniuses
Karen Tongson - Minority Korner
Guy Branum - Las Culturistasr

We made a special playlist with all of the songs we talked about in this week's episode (plus some other gems).

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

Produced by Christian Dueñas and Kara Hart for MaximumFun.org

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Sam Richardson and Syd of The Internet

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Sam Richardson
Guests: 
Syd

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.

This week, Wyatt Cenac sits in for Jesse Thorn.


Photo: Kevin Ferguson

Sam Richardson on growing up in and returning to Detroit

Sam Richardson is an actor, writer, and comic. He was born in Detroit, but he has a Ghanaian mother. His childhood was split between the two places. After college, Sam moved to Chicago to pursue comedy through The Second City improv theater. He then moved to LA where he landed a couple of small roles in TV comedies like The Office and Arrested Development, eventually getting his breakout SAG nominated role as Richard Splett on HBO's Veep. Now, Sam's co-created and starred in the new Comedy Central show Detroiters produced by Lorne Michaels and Jason Sudeikis. It's about two young men (Sam and co-creator Tim Robinson) who acquire an advertising company in Detroit.

Sam talks to Wyatt about creating his new show, what it was like growing up between the United States and Ghana, and what people get wrong about Detroit.

You can watch Sam on Detroiters Tuesday's at 10:30/9:30 c on Comedy Central and on the sixth season of Veep which premieres on April 16th.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Syd on her new album Fin

Syd was born and raised in Los Angeles, and has been making music for most of her life. She began her career producing and singing on tracks in the music collective Odd Future when she was still in high school. In 2011, she and producer Matt Martians started an R&B band called The Internet. Six years later, they are signed to Columbia Records, have three albums under their belt, and one Grammy nomination. This year, Syd decided to venture out on her own and released her first solo album Fin to great reviews

Syd sits down with Wyatt to talk about about how she wrote and produced her new album, the influence of her parents on her music, and why she is not in a rush to meet her idols.

She is currently on tour and her debut solo album Fin is out now.

The Outshot: The Thing With Two Heads

This week, Wyatt tells us about the 1972 Blaxploitation film The Thing with Two Heads.

Pop Rocket Episode 87: Searching for the Song of the Summer with Chris Molanphy

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Guy, Margaret, Oliver and Wynter
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell
Guests: 
Oliver Wang
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

It’s finally going to happen, people. Many songs enter, but only one jam can be crowned the Song of the Summer. Guy, Oliver, Margaret, and Wynter bring their picks and some suggestions from the Facebook group and discuss what really makes a summer jam. Writer and analyst Chris Molanphy comes in with hard data to see what is objectively the Song of the Summer. Sia, Calvin Harris, DNCE, Lizzo, and so many more are brought into the fight. Who wins? The answer may shock you.

With Guy Branum, Wynter Mitchell, Oliver Wang and Margaret Wappler.

That’s My [Podcast] Jam:

Wynter Mitchell - Mother May I Sleep with Podcast?
Oliver Wang - Dear Prudence
Guy Branum - The Rex Factor
Margaret Wappler - 2 Dope Queens

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

Produced by Colin Anderson & Christian Dueñas for MaximumFun.org.

Bullseye: Aparna Nancherla & Clams Casino

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Aparna Nancherla
Guests: 
Clams Casino

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.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Aparna Nancherla on Mining Comedy From Anxiety and Depression

Though most people find it difficult to find anything funny about depression and anxiety, comedian Aparna Nancherla. has used her own struggles with mood disorders to inspire her comedy. A rising star in the comedy world, Nancherla bravely reveals her struggles with depression in a way that makes the experience both relatable and hilarious.

Named by Variety as one of the Top 10 Comics to Watch in 2016, Nancherla has appeared as a performer on Conan and Inside Amy Schumer. She's also written for Late Night with Seth Meyers and Totally Biased with Kamau Bell.

Nancherla sat down with Jesse to talk about about her experiences living with anxiety and depression, the ups and downs of writing comedy for television and how she deals with hecklers on Twitter.

Aparna Nancherla new album is called Just Putting It Out There. She is currently on tour and you can find out more by visiting aparnacomedy.com.

Clams Casino

As with any established musical genre, there is a quality of sameness that can pervade artists. It’s no less so in the world of hip-hop. But Clams Casino (born Michael Volpe) provides a unique and surprising voice in that world. As an electronic musician and music producer, he has created a distinctive body of work of his own as well through his collaborations with artists including ScHoolboy Q, FKA Twigs and Vince Staples.

Clams Casino joined Jesse to talk about the influences that lead to his unique sound, and some of the ways he paid his dues coming up in the world of hip-hop production. They also discuss his new album, 32 Levels, and how he developed his relationship with rapper Lil’ B. The two of them have long been collaborators, including on the new album, but didn’t really get to know each other until making of the new record.

Clams Casino’s new album is called 32 Levels.

The Outshot: Jaws

Jesse checks in on the classic movie you should see before going swimming this summer.

Adam Ruins Everything: Episode 003 Mass Extinction and Video Game Music with Emily Axford

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Adam & Emily
Guests: 
Adam Conover
Guests: 
Emily Axford

Emily Axford plays Adam's foil on Adam Ruins Everything, but on this week's podcast, Emily's front and center. She also happens to be just as hilarious and charming in person as she is on the show.

Adam and Emily go way back - they began working together at College Humor - and the laughs never stopped.

On the episode, the two go from deep discussions on aliens and dreams to Emily's yet-to-be-created video game called Space Bears.

You can find more of Emily's comedy over on her YouTube channel.

Adam is on Twitter @AdamConover and you can find past episodes and bonus content from the TruTV show at AdamRuinsEverything.com.

Produced by Shara Morris for MaximumFun.org.

Bullseye: Rachel Bloom & Esperanza Spaulding

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rachel Bloom
Guests: 
Esperanza Spalding

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.


Mark Davis/Getty Images

Rachel Bloom on her love of musical theater and gaining confidence in Hollywood.

Rachel Bloom is a comedian whose humor often involves her bursting into song. She embraces the classic tropes of the Hollywood musical comedy adding her own contemporary twist on her CW show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The show has already earned her a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award.

A veteran of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, Bloom has also worked on television shows Allen Gregory and Robot Chicken. But it was her absurdist and hilarious musical videos that first brought her to the industry's attention. The video for her song, Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury went viral and earned Bloom a Hugo Award nomination. She has released two albums including Please Love Me and Suck It, Christmas!!! (A Chanukah Album).

Rachel Bloom sat down with Jesse to talk about her love for musical theater, gaining self-confidence in Hollywood and the logistics involved in being lifted in the air in a giant pretzel.

Episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend can seen on Hulu and at CWTV.com.


Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Esperanza Spalding on The Song That Changed My Life: “Petrouchka” by Igor Stravinsky

Singer, songwriter, bassist and cellist Esperanza Spalding explains how Petrouchka by Igor Stravinsky introduced her to a world of sound that she hadn’t known existed.

The Grammy Award winning artist’s latest album is Emily’s D+Evolution.

Find Esperanza Spalding online at EsperanzaSpalding.com.

The Outshot: Popstar

Jesse explains why he loves a movie that aspires to be nothing more than silly, goofy and funny.

Popstar is in theaters now.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mike Judge & Sharon Horgan

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Mike Judge
Guests: 
Sharon Horgan

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.


Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Mike Judge on Silicon Valley, Beavis & Butt-Head and Office Space & the Challenges of Being a Showrunner

Mike Judge entered the world of animation with little more than a 16mm Bolex film camera, an audio recorder and a stopwatch. In the early nineties, his animated shorts were extremely popular as part of touring animation shows including Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation Festival. These shorts served as the birthplace for some of his most memorable characters, including the iconic Beavis and Butt-Head.

Beavis and Butt-Head were awkward and naive teenage boys, whose vocabulary seemed limited to a series of snickers and grunts. However, the show became a cultural touchstone as well as a lightning rod of criticism for conservative social critics.

The show led to more opportunities for Judge both in film and television. They included the hit animated series, King of the Hill and forays into films with the cult classics Office Space and Idiocracy. His latest show, Silicon Valley is in its third season on HBO.

Mike Judge joined Jesse to talk about the parallels between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, his early years in animation and how the character of Homer Simpson helped him maintain the integrity of his own animated patriarch, Hank Hill.

Silicon Valley airs Sunday nights at 10pm on HBO.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan on Creating Flawed Characters and Writing Your Own Sex Scenes

Sharon Horgan has a knack for the creating shows that reveal her characters as determined, funny, sexy, complex and at times, very flustered. Her comedy is more than a series of jokes (though there are plenty of them), and includes insightful observations into what it means to be a professional woman trying to negotiate her other roles of lover, wife and mother. In other words, a real person. You can see that in full display on her latest show, Catastrophe which streams on Amazon Prime.

Though she may be relatively new to American audiences, she has proven herself a talented actress, writer and producer and enjoyed success with her previous show, Pulling which she co-wrote and starred in. Though it ran only for two seasons on British television, it was nominated for several television and comedy awards and established her as a modern comedic voice.

Sharon Horgan sat down with Jesse to talk about getting past the awkwardness of writing (and then having to film) sex scenes with her co-star, the challenge of showing the evolution of a relationship before and after having kids and why she likes playing a character who can sometimes come off as a jerk.

Catastrophe is in its second season and can be streamed on Amazon Prime.


Photo: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

The Outshot: Prince

Jesse remembers how the musician Prince inspired people to dare to be themselves.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Thao Nguyen & Lance Bangs

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Thao Nguyen
Guests: 
Lance Bangs

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.


Photo: Mike Windle / Getty Images

Thao Nguyen on 80s Pop Music, Collaboration and Familial Estrangement

Thao Nguyen began her career as a singer-songwriter in her teens, while making change for customers at her mother’s laundromat. Her musical influences include country, folk and hip-hop, but her music is uniquely her own.

Her latest album as the frontwoman of the band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down is called A Man Alive, and takes its inspiration from Thao's complicated relationship with her father. Their estrangement began when Thao was a teenager and has continued into her adulthood. Her feelings of affection and resentment results in a musical experience that is both raw and intimate.

Thao Nguyen sat down with Jesse to talk about the importance of her collaboration with producer Merrill Garbus in the making of the album, the diversity of her early musical influences and the struggle to fit in while growing up as a Vietnamese-American.

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down's new album, A Man Alive is available now. The band is currently on a cross country tour; you can find those tourdates here.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Lance Bangs on His Intimate Approach to Filmmaking, Working on 'Jackass' and Exploring the Messy Living Habits of Stand-Up Comics in 'Flophouse'

Lance Bangs is the kind of filmmaker who would prefer jumping into the backseat of a car with a camera than being responsible for a huge budget and massive crew. His intimate approach to filmmaking has been appreciated and sought after not only for films and television, but also numerous music videos for performers including Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Green Day, Arcade Fire, REM and Kanye West.

He was even brought on to help film the intimate relationships within the MTV reality show Jackass, which focused on its talent performing incredibly dangerous and crude pranks and stunts.

Lance Bangs’ latest television show is the new Viceland series Flophouse. The show profiles the lives of up-and-coming stand-up comics and the sometimes questionable living conditions they live under while trying to make career for themselves in comedy.

Lance Bangs joined Jesse to talk about his why he prefers his intimate approach to filmmaking, his memories of working on Jackass and why he is attracted to the world of comedy.

The first season of Flophouse is airing now on Viceland Thursdays at 10:30pm.

The Outshot: Black Sabbath’s Paranoid

Jesse talks about the emotional depth to be found in Black Sabbath’s 1970 album, Paranoid.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Todd Glass & Raffi

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Todd Glass
Guests: 
Raffi
Guests: 
Ariel Schrag

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.

Todd Glass Talks about "Busting Out of the Shed", Learning Disabilities, and Crafting Stand Up

Todd Glass is a veteran stand up comic. He's been performing comedy for thirty years. Four years ago, he made a big change. He had created a life for himself. He was a well-respected and well-liked comedian. But he was living in large part as a closeted gay man. He worried about who knew, and who didn't. At forty seven years old, he made the decision to come out, and finally live on his own terms.

His recent memoir is called The Todd Glass Situation: A Bunch of Lies about My Personal Life and a Bunch of True Stories about My 30-Year Career in Stand-Up Comedy.

Glass tells us why he waited so long to "bust out of the shed", the elaborate coping mechanisms and fake outs he constructed to hide his learning disabilities growing up, and why he thinks so much comedy doesn't stand the test of time.

For a schedule of appearances visit Todd Glass’ website.

The interview originally aired in September 2014.

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

Ariel Schrag on 'September Girls' and Flipping the Mermaid Script: "I Wish I'd Made That"

Artists -- the people that make stuff -- are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something an artist sees is so good, so perfect that they wish they had made it themselves.

This happens so often to the people we talk to, that we made a segment about it. It’s called I Wish I’d Made That. This week, we talk to cartoonist and author Ariel Schrag.

Ariel Schrag was already writing and drawing comics as a freshman in high school. Each summer, she'd create and self-publish a comic about the previous school year. The subject matter was, well, high school stuff. She wrote about her high school crushes, family issues, her struggles in AP Chemistry. Then she caught the attention of an indie comics publisher who decided to release her work as a series of graphic novels. She was only in the eleventh grade.

She recently wrote a coming of age novel, Adam. The title character is an awkward teenager who spends a summer visiting his older sister in New York City. He develops a crush on a girl. The problem is, this girl likes girls. To get around that problem, Adam convinces her that he's a trans man. The book is sweet, funny and frank.

For our segment, Schrag tells us about a very different kind of coming of age novel, Bennett Madison's September Girls, and how it's inspired her to infuse some magic and otherworldliness into her own work.

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

Raffi on Performing for Kids, Growing Up in Egypt, and His Forty Year Career

If you were a parent or a child after about 1975, you probably know Raffi. He's one of the best known children's performers in the world, and his original works like "Baby Beluga" and "Bananaphone" and renditions of folk songs like "Down By the Bay" have helped him sustain a career for almost forty years.

Raffi Cavoukian talks to us about his early childhood in Egypt, his social activism, and why he's dedicated his life to entertaining children.

His most recent album is called Owl Singalong.

The interview originally aired in September 2014

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

The Outshot: Van Morrison's Revenge Album

What happens when a musician records thirty one songs in one session, all out of spite? Jesse tells us about Van Morrison's "revenge album".

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