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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Pharoahe Monch and Huey Lewis

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Pharoahe Monch
Guests: 
Huey Lewis
Guests: 
Oliver Wang

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Pharoahe Monch: Your Favorite Rapper's Favorite Rapper

Pharoahe Monch has been a voice in the hip hop world for over twenty-five years. In that time, he’s worked on six studio albums -- three as half of Organized Konfusion with his partner Prince Poetry (better known as Prince Po) and three as a solo artist. His seventh album, P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is due out early this year, continuing where the MC left off with 2011’s W.A.R. (We Are Renegades).

Nowadays, it’s understood that Monch is a rapper with intelligent, intricate lyrics that give a unique perspective on issues such as gun violence. Early in his career, however, he and Prince Poetry were rap novices under the name Simply II Positive MCs. They caught the attention of the influential record producer Paul C and became Organized Konfusion. Although Monch and Prince Poetry never achieved big commercial success together, Organized Konfusion became one of the most respected underground rap groups of the ‘90s. The group separated in 1997, but Monch went on to become a fruitful solo artist, scoring a career-defining hit with his biggest single, Simon Says.

This week, we revisit Jesse’s 2009 interview with Monch. They’ll talk about the controversy surrounding the an infamous Godzilla sampling, Monch’s fond memory of Paul C, and the MC’s struggle with asthma in a profession that’s all about controlled breathing.

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Oliver Wang Talks About a Life-Defining Record and a Dip into Northern Soul

This week, music writer Oliver Wang stops by to recommend a hip hop album and a soulful single.

His first recommendation is De La Soul’s debut album, 3 Feet High & Rising. The trio proved that three guys from Long Island with a clever, twisted sense of humor could make an impression on the hip hop scene.

He also suggests a listen to The De Vons’ single “Someone to Treat Me (The Way You Used To)". The song is a classic example of Northern Soul (and has an interesting producer credit to boot).

Oliver Wang is the proprietor of the soul music blog, Soul Sides. He’s also the professor of sociology at Cal State, Long Beach and co-editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies.

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Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters

In the early 1960s, two well-dressed young men roamed the streets of San Francisco with a tape recorder and a sense of whimsy in their stride. James Coyle and Mal Sharpe would conduct man-on-the-street interviews and bamboozle unsuspecting bystanders with their hilarious and bizarre setups and put-ons.

SF Sketchest will hold a "Salute to Coyle & Sharpe", recognizing their influence in comedy, on February 9th. For tickets or more information, visit our event page.

Want more Coyle & Sharpe? Subscribe to the podcast here.

Huey Lewis: From Busking in Morocco to Multi-Platinum Success

It seems strange now, but when Huey Lewis and the News released their first record in 1979, music executives weren't expecting them to become a huge success. With bombastic hair bands on one end of the rock spectrum and sneering punk rockers on the other, there didn't seem to be much of a place for Lewis and company's fun, bluesy pub-rock. But thumbing their noses at industry naysayers turned out to be the right move for Huey Lewis and The News. Case in point: 1983's Sports, their first record to hit number one on the Billboard charts.

Thirty years later, the band's commemorating the thirty-year anniversary of that album with an expanded re-issue of Sports, featuring remastered tracks and live versions of songs like "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "I Want a New Drug". Huey Lewis sat down with Jesse to talk about the album that brought them to stardom, as well as his experiences writing songs for Back to the Future and Pineapple Express, how to stow away on an airplane to Europe (well, it worked in the seventies), and how a trip to Morocco convinced him that a career in music was possible.

Huey Lewis and The News' 30th Anniversary Edition of Sports will be released on May 14. For more information about the band and their US tour, you can check out their website.

This week, we revisit Jesse’s interview with Huey Lewis. They’ll talk about his pub rock beginnings, his multi-platinum success with Sports, and the time he finagled his way onto an airplane bound for London.

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The Outshot: Antiques Roadshow

There's a pretty simple formula to Antiques Roadshow: someone comes in with a knickknack and has it assessed by an expert. Next comes everyone's favorite part: the big reveal, where they find out what their item is really worth. That's part's pretty great, Jesse says – but there's something about Antiques Roadshow that he loves even more.

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

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Lewis Black
Guests: 
Nikki Glaser
Guests: 
Sara Schaefer
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

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.

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: Mel Brooks and Directors of "The Source Family"

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Mel Brooks
Guests: 
Maria Demopoulos
Guests: 
Jodi Wille
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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Hip Hop Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Juice by Chance The Rapper and Picacho by Young Thug (feat. Maceo)

Andrew Noz joins us to provide some recommendations from the world of hip hop. First, he talks to us about Chance the Rapper's self-proclaimed lyrical challenge, as evidenced in Juice, a track off his latest mixtape, Acid Rap. And what if Lil Wayne stayed off the beaten pop music path? It might sound like Young Thug's weirded-out track, Picacho.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game, and also blogs and Tumblr-s regularly at Cocaine Blunts and Tumblin 'Erb.

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Mel Brooks catching up on the present in between takes of History Of The World: Part I. (Photo by Pamela Barkentin Blackburn.)

Mel Brooks Takes Down Hitler (and Makes a Few Wonderfully Bad Jokes Along the Way)

It's hard to imagine what American comedy would look like without Mel Brooks. With a sharp eye for parody, a seemingly infinite supply of gags, and enough destruction of the fourth wall to make a postmodern novelist blush, his work has set the tone for countless comedy TV shows and films. It's hard to imagine SNL's relentless TV parodies without Your Show Of Shows (which Brooks wrote for alongside Sid Caesar back in the 50s), The Simpsons without his filmography full of sly pop-culture references, or the careers of Airplane! creators Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker without Brooks' shameless love of (self-admittedly) awful jokes.

A new PBS American Masters documentary, Mel Brooks: Make A Noise, explores the life and career of the EGOT winner and man behind The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and so much more. Brooks talks to us about fighting in World War II (where he managed to even make a few Germans laugh), the genius of Gene Wilder, and that time Sid Caesar dangled Brooks out the window of a Chicago hotel room.

PBS's American Masters documentary Mel Brooks: Make A Noise premieres Monday, May 20. Check with your public television station for local listings. A box set from Shout! Factory with over ten hours of rare and exclusive footage was also released late last year.

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Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille on The Source Family, LA's Most Famous Hippie Cult

The Source Family fit the conventional image of a typical hippie cult in a lot of ways – assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as a typical hippie cult. You could point to the commune, the long hair, the Jesus-y robes...not to mention occasional hits of what they called "sacred herb". Dig deeper, though, and it becomes clear that there was plenty that separated the Source Family from stereotypes.

The group was just as unique as their leader, a man who called himself Father Yod. He was a former Marine, stuntman, jujitsu expert who founded the Source Family alongside a highly successful vegetarian restaurant. Out of the back of that restaurant, the family sold recordings of their regular jam sessions, which became the stuff of psychedelic rock legend. Perhaps most unlike your average cult leader, Father Yod was not particularly attached to any particular ideology – not even his own. In direct violation of his own commandments, Yod married thirteen wives, a move which both alienated a number of family members and caught the LAPD's attention. This caused the Source Family to flee to Hawaii, which ultimately resulted in the group's demise.

We're delving further into LA's most famous hippie cult with the help of Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille, the directors of a new documentary called The Source Family. They discuss the group's run-ins with celebrities (and law enforcement), why Father Yod once told his followers to cut their hair and get jobs, and whether or not they would have joined the group, if given the chance.

The Source Family is in limited nationwide theatrical release. For information about screenings at a theater near you, check out the film's website.

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The Outshot: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson

This week, find out why Jesse's been spending a lot of time with Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, a home-tome that gracefully runs the housekeeping gamut from sections titled "Administering Insurance Policies" to "Privacy, Sex, and the Constitution".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Andrew Rannells, Jim Lehrer, and Thao Nguyen

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Andrew Rannells
Guests: 
Jim Lehrer
Guests: 
Thao Nguyen
Guests: 
Josh Modell
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

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The AV Club Recommends: 'Beyond the Hills' and Atoms for Peace's 'Amok'

The pop culture luminaries at the AV Club return to recommend some of their favorite new releases. Josh Modell suggests a listen to the new album Amok from Atoms for Peace, a supergroup featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Scott Tobias recommends a new Romanian drama, Beyond the Hills. The movie enters limited US release on March 8th.

Josh Modell is the AV Club's Managing Editor and Scott Tobias is the site's Film Editor.

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Andrew Rannells on Broadway Life and Beyond

When he was a kid growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Andrew Rannells never pictured his face beaming out to millions of television screens. He loved acting, but his future was on the stage. The most realistic way to make it big? Broadway.

Now, he's garnered a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Elder Price in the Broadway run of The Book of Mormon and made his way to TV, co-starring in The New Normal on NBC and popping up as a regular on HBO's Girls.

Andrew talks to us about growing up gay in Nebraska, finding his characters' voices for The Book of Mormon and The New Normal -- and how to avoid uncomfortable moments when
filming nude scenes.

The New Normal airs Tuesdays at 9:30 / 8:30c on NBC. A new episode, "Rocky Bye Baby", airs this evening.

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Thao Nguyen on The Song That Changed My Life: "You've Really Got a Hold On Me"

Thao Nguyen fronts the folk-pop band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. The band's new album, We The Common, has an intense and spirited sound. The songs feature rhythmic guitar, taut drums, and Nguyen's clear and passionate vocals.

Thao remembers when music became important to her and the song that changed her life -- Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got a Hold On Me."

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down head out on a cross-country tour this week. Find their tourdates and more information here.

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Jim Lehrer on His Days Down at the Bus Depot and a Changing Media Landscape

Jim Lehrer anchored the Newshour on PBS for more than three decades and remains its executive editor to this day. He's also moderated twelve presidential debates and in 2011 he wrote a memoir about those experiences called Tension City. Yet another hat that Lehrer wears is that of a novelist. He's written 20 of them, the most recent of which is a charming mystery called Super.

Lehrer talks to us about his early job at a bus depot, the benefits of producing media on a tight budget, and the role public broadcasting ought to play in the future.

[This interview originally aired in May, 2010]

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The Outshot: Mike Judge's 'Extract'

Jesse suggests a look at his favorite Mike Judge creation. It's not Beavis and Butthead, and it's not Office Space. It's a low-key workplace comedy starring Jason Bateman, called Extract.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Simon Amstell, Brian K. Vaughan, and Jordan Morris

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Simon Amstell
Guests: 
Brian K. Vaughan
Guests: 
Jason Kottke
Guests: 
Jordan Morris

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Explaining the Bloop and David Chang's "The Mind of a Chef" with Jason Kottke

Jason Kottke, master collector of the internet's most fascinating links (assembled at his website, kottke.org), shares some current favorites. He recommends diving in to explore the world's unexplained sounds and David Chang's new PBS show, The Mind of a Chef, airing now on PBS and also available online.

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Simon Amstell on provoking Jermaine Jackson, his shamanic quest to find peace, and television fame

Years before he became famous in Britain for skewering celebrities on Popworld and Nevermind the Buzzcocks, Simon's Amstell's childhood ambition was to be on TV. And unlike most kids with dreams of TV stardom, he made it a reality -- but found it less fulfilling than he had hoped. Comedian, writer and TV host Amstell joins us this week to share his experiences in the entertainment industry, including navigating the delicate line between crafting clever comedy and bullying his celebrity guests as a TV host, writing and starring in Grandma's House, a sitcom with parallels to his own life, and seeking enlightenment on a Shamanic quest in South America.

Simon Amstell will be performing his very funny and deeply personal stage show Numb in early 2013. His most recent stand-up special Do Nothing recently aired on BBC America.

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Jordan Morris ranks America's stuff

In this era of constant hustle and bustle, who can keep up with what's HOT and what's NOT in these United States? Fortunately, expert stuff-ranker Jordan Morris joins us this week to fill us in and set us straight.

Jordan Morris co-hosts the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go!. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jordan_Morris.
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Brian K. Vaughan on creation, from babies to universes

Brian K. Vaughan has the kind of strange and epic vision that's made for science fiction and fantasy. He's written award-winning comic book series like Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man, and crafted otherworldly storylines for several seasons of Lost.

His works are notable for their intimacy and beautiful, meticulously crafted characters, despite grandly epic settings. His most recent comic book series Saga is a prime example: Vaughan presents a fundamentally domestic story of parents trying to give their child a good life, backed by a colossal, galactic war. He joins us this week to share why he enjoys storytelling on a grand scale. Vaughan also explains why writing stories about lesser-known comic characters -- like Marvel's weird wildman Ka-Zar -- can be preferable to writing about the big names like Spiderman, and he tracks how fatherhood has affected his writing.

A collection of the first six issues of Brian K. Vaughan's monthly comic book series Saga is available now.
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The Outshot: Brass Eye's Paedogeddon

Please be advised: the content in this week's Outshot may be objectionable to some listeners.

As more details emerge surrounding the BBC's recent horrific pedophilia scandals, Jesse recalls a special episode of the satirical UK television series Brass Eye, called Paedogeddon. The episode was made in response to a similar panic about pedophilia in Britain over a decade ago. Here's a look at Brass Eye's take on media hysteria.

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BULLSEYE: Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens, Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey

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Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens and Joanne Froggatt from the totally unstuffy costume drama Downton Abbey talk about the peerage system, upstairs and downstairs love affairs that make us swoon, and the show's bridge between the old customs and modernity. The second season of the show begins airing January 8th on PBS's Masterpiece.

Interview with the cast of PBS's Downton Abbey by Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

The Commercials of Errol Morris

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I'm interviewing Errol Morris later today, one of my all-time favorite film makers. Shoot, maybe my #1 all-time favorite film maker. I may have time to ask him about his commercial work, but I thought I'd throw in a couple of pieces here just in case I don't.

Above: "Stay Curious," for PBS. Below, "Olive Loaf," for Miller High Life.

Downton Abbey: Unmissable.

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I've just finished watch the first season of Downton Abbey. It's currently running on PBS' Masterpiece in a slightly abridged form, and ran I guess last year on ITV in the UK.

Frankly, it's one of the best TV dramas I've ever seen. I'd put it on par with Mad Men and within spitting distance of The Wire.

It's a period drama, and an upstairs/downstairs drama, but it won't meet your expectations for either of those things. Well, maybe it will in part... if you're into that kind of thing, you'll enjoy it. But I'm not, and I was blown away.

Basically the first season is about an Earl and the danger to his estate. Because he lacks a male heir, the estate, including his American wife's fortune, will pass to a second cousin he's never met, who doesn't even want it. Because of the laws of the nobility, that's how it has to be. This is also a tremendous threat to his three daughters, who are thus forced to marry into the aristocracy or lose their positions in life, and to the entire household.

That hardly begins to describe how elegantly written, acted and directed the series is. It has all the twists and turns of a soapy TV drama (or at least many of them), but I found it absolutely compelling throughout. I never felt forced away from the material, which is usually my reaction to all but the best TV drama.

Do yourself a favor and watch it on PBS. Or buy the DVD, which is only $17 right now on Amazon, and is unabridged.

For those already on board, I've started a thread on the forum for discussion. Let's keep it spoiler free at least until the PBS run ends.

Wait, what?

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Here's a quote from our pals at The Comic's Comic about the guests at Tina Fey's Mark Twain Prize ceremony:

"Others who appeared onstage to testify to Fey's work as a humorist included Fred Armisen, Steve Carell, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Hudson, Jane Krakowski, Steve Martin, Seth Meyers, Tracy Morgan, Amy Poehler and Betty White."

Wait... Jennifer Hudson?

Maybe watching it will explain things:

Watch the full episode. See more Mark Twain Prize.

Justin Wilson vs. the Red Snapper

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Somebody posted this clip of classic PBS cooking host Justin Wilson in response to Jimmy Pardo's "character" Cajun Jimmy. This is so wonderful, I ga-ron-tee.

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