This week's pop culture picks come care of Jason Kottke, of Kottke.org -- a site that's been called the New Yorker of internet links. Jason tracks down the best the internet has to offer, and he shares two of his favorites with us this week: Jerry Beck's list of the 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected By 1,000 Animation Professionals, a Warner Bros.-heavy list topped by some Looney Tunes classics, and What the Space Shuttle booster saw, an HD video journey out of Earth's atmosphere.
Michael Koman, Andrew Weinberg and Jason Woliner are the creative team behind [adult swim]'s hilariously funny and blood-soaked action-comedy Eagleheart, starring Chris Elliott. Koman and Weinberg had worked together as writers on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, where they were responsible for culling the clips played whenever Conan pulled the Walker Texas Ranger Lever. It was a job that required them to wade through hundreds of hours of Walker, Texas Ranger, and the inspiration for Eagleheart was born out of a desire to parody the show. But to call Eagleheart a parody of WTR sells it way short, as the show is much crazier and more comically-inspired than that.
Koman, Weinberg and Woliner join us to discuss the show's ability to cram an absurd amount of story into an eleven-minute run-time, making magic happen fast on Eagleheart's wild production schedule, and what inspires them about the show's star, Chris Elliott. Eagleheart has just begun its second season on Cartoon Network's [adult swim], airing Thursdays at midnight.
It's an upside-down world out there, and some days you just don't know what to make of it. Luckily for us, there's one man who can keep this country in order! Comedian Jordan Morris puts America in its place for the month of April 2012. You can find Jordan on Twitter @Jordan_Morris.
Rachel Dratch is a comic actress best known to audiences as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006, and from recurring roles on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Her new book is the very funny memoir Girl Walks Into A Bar...: Comedies Calamities, Dating Disasters & A Midlife Miracle. While there are a number of behind-the-scenes stories from her days at SNL in the book, it's mainly the story of life after the show, as Dratch dove head-first into the dating pool after years of using being busy with SNL as an excuse not to date. The titular miracle was an unexpected pregnancy at age 44, having been in a long distance relationship with the father for just six months prior.
Dratch joins Jesse to discuss her comedy background in Chicago, the development process of getting some of her most famous SNL characters to air, and the inherent humor of balancing midlife motherhood with a romance still in its infant stages. Girl Walks Into A Bar... is available now in bookstores everywhere.
For this week's Outshot, Jesse digs into the record collection and pulls out a vibrant classic: Swiss Movement, by Eddie Harris and Les McCann. The live album, recorded in 1969 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, was the first time the band had ever played together, and the record captures the feeling-out process as the group pioneered the soul-jazz genre. It crackles with life.
Is there a classic record that never fails to get your toe tapping? Let us know! Head on over to the MaxFun Forum and pick your own Outshot.
Alex Zalben is a writer and a host of the show Comic Book Club. Brian Heater is a journalist and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Cross Hatch, which highlights alternative comics.
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Swamp Dogg, born Jerry Williams Jr., is a legendary psychedelic soul musician. He put out his first record in 1954, under the name Little Jerry. Over the next 15 years, his stage name would change to Little Jerry Williams before dropping the "Little" and performing as simply Jerry Williams. Finally, in 1970, he re-christened himself as Swamp Dogg for the release of his first LP, Total Destruction of Your Mind. The album combined humor and social commentary with the acid-soaked psychedelic sound of the late '60s / early '70s, and the Swamp Dogg name stuck.
Swamp sat down with Jesse in 2008 for a laugh-filled conversation discussing his long career in music, from the mindset behind all those name changes, to finding his best successes as a songwriter for country music, including a Grammy nomination for writing the Johnny Paycheck #1 hit "(Don't Take Her) She's All I Got".
We here at Bullseye feel a moral obligation as a public radio show to provide you with some news content, so to get you caught up on all the top stories you've never heard of (as they're entirely made up), here's the latest from our fake news team: the San Francisco-based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser.
You can catch Kasper Hauser live next month, performing alongside the honorable judge John Hodgman at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco on Sunday, April 29th.
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John Mulaney is a stand-up comedian and comedy writer based in New York City. He served as a writer on the Comedy Central series Important Things with Demetri Martin, but you probably know him best from his current job, writing for Saturday Night Live. One of John's responsibilities on SNL is writing ridiculous recommendation lists for the Bill Hader character Stefon, a regular contributor for Weekend Update. Mulaney has also performed on Update himself, showcasing his upbeat brand of humor on a segment called "I Love It".
John joined Jesse back in 2009 to talk about somehow earning money while getting black-out drunk, and subtle differences between writing for sketch and writing for stand-up. His hilarious new comedy special New in Town is available now on CD and DVD. You can follow him on Twitter @Mulaney.
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On this week's Outshot, Jesse hails the wild-child rock & roll of Jerry Lee Lewis's Live at the Star Club, Hamburg as perhaps the best live album ever recorded. In 1963, at the deepest depths of his career, Lewis went to Germany a man disgraced, and played for a crowd willing to embrace him regardless of his troubles. The result is an historic scorcher of a performance from the man they call "The Killer".
Is there a live album you feel should be considered the best of all time? You can make your pick by heading over to the MaxFun forum and naming your own Outshot.
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Video Game Picks: Comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell tells us about some of the games she's most excited about right now: a game in the canon of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Resident Evil Revelations. (Embed or share this segment)
Actress Jenna Fischer: Emmy-nominated actress Jenna Fischer, best known for her role as Pam on The Office, talks to us about her early days in Hollywood – her totally-made-up-sounding first acting gig in LA, auditioning for The Office, and what all the actors are doing on their computers when they're in the background of a shot. The Office is now in its eighth season. (Embed or share this segment)
Kasper Hauser: San Francisco-based comedy sketch group Kasper Hauser takes us to the set of Mundos de Perros. You can find more from them on their podcast, or catch them live this week at SF Sketchfest. Click here for the Kasper Hauser podcast.
Humorist Jack Handey: Yes, he's totally real. Writer Jack Handey, whose one-liners are an enduring part of Saturday Night Live history, will talk about his days as Steve Martin's neighbor, and which of the many, many Deep Thoughts are his favorites. Plus, Jesse will reveal his favorite SNL sketch of all time. (Embed or share this segment)
The Outshot: And finally, the outshot for this week – Bo Jackson. How is a guy that fast, that strong? And how is a guy that strong, that fast? (Embed or share this segment)
Hulu recently posted this clip of Steven Wright performing on SNL in 1985 - which is also the year when Wright released his first album, the classic I Have a Pony. It's rather fun to watch the early broadcasts of a style that would become so influential over the following decade. Also: I love staying in to sip coffee and watch stand-up with you. Going outside is too risky. I don't want to get poison ivy on my brain.
This week, actor, writer and comedian Janet Varney is guest hosting for Jesse! Janet is one of the hosts of the long-running segment Dinner and a Movie on TBS, a writer for the DVD commentary series Rifftrax, and is one of the co-founders and producers of SF Sketchfest (an amazing celebratory festival of comedy in San Francisco).
She'll talk to Bruce McCulloch, best known as one of the members of the comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall. Since his KITH days, Bruce has written and directed for film and television. Among his projects are movies like Superstar, Dog Park and Stealing Harvard, the ABC series Carpoolers, the KITH miniseries Death Comes to Town, and even a stint on SNL. In this interview, Bruce talks about tracing his musical comedy roots, the dynamics of The Kids in the Hall, producing comedy, and more.
JANET VARNEY: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Janet Varney in for Jesse Thorn.
My guest is none other than Bruce McCulloch. For years he's been a member of the amazing Canadian comedy troupe Kids in the Hall. They had a television show in the 90s; the movie Brain Candy that was released in 96; and the awesome recent miniseries, Death Comes to Town.
On his own, Bruce has released two comedy albums. He's directed films like Superstar and Stealing Harvard, and he's collaborated with Bill Burr, Norm McDonald, and many others. We'll talk about all that, but first let's hear this clip from Kids in the Hall with Bruce appearing as Gavin; a grade school boy who's eager to have interactions with nonplussed adults.
Bruce McCulloch you guys know, of course, as a member of Kids in the Hall, but he's also released two comedy music CDs, Shame-Based Man and Drunk Baby Project; he created the ABC series Carpoolers, and has written and directed several films including Dogpark and Comeback Season. He also has a young impetuous Standard Poodle named Meatball.
Bill Hader has been a cast member of Saturday Night Live for several years, and has become known for his impressions, from Vincent Price and Alan Alda to Al Pacino.
His last appearance on The Sound was in 2007, shortly before his appearances in a spate of movies including Superbad, Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder, Hot Rod, and Adventureland.
His newest role is in the film Paul, a sci-fi comedy about two English comic book nerds touring alien sites in the American Southwest. Hader plays an FBI agent who becomes involved in tracking the nerds after they pick up a stray alien. The film comes out March 18th.
JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program, Bill Hader, has been a cast member of Saturday Night Live for quite a number of years now; he’s also managed to worm his way into some of the best comedy films of the past ten years, including movies like Tropic Thunder and Superbad, among many others. He’s now featured in the new film, Paul, which is just about to hit theaters, and of course, he’s in the current season of Saturday Night Live. Bill, welcome back to The Sound of Young America.
BILL HADER: Thanks for having me, man.
Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein write and star in the new sketch comedy series Portlandia, an affectionate skewering of the young people's bohemian paradise that is Portland, Oregon. Fred and Carrie began making web videos together as the group ThunderAnt.
Fred Armisen is a longtime cast member (playing many beloved characters) on Saturday Night Live. He started his entertainment career in the late 80s, playing in the punk band Trenchmouth. Carrie Brownstein also comes from a musical background, as a guitarist and vocalist in the highly acclaimed (and Portland-based) indie rock group Sleater-Kinney.
Portlandia airs Fridays at 10:30pm on IFC.
JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guests on the program are Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. They’re the co-creators and stars of the new IFC sketch comedy series Portlandia. Fred Armisen is, of course, well known for his sketch comedy work; he’s been a cast member of Saturday Night Live for many years now; Carrie Brownstein, not so much. She was one of the founding members of Sleater-Kinney, the indie rock group of the 1990s and 2000s. It turns out Fred Armisen has his roots in music as well. He had a ten year music career before he even tried his hand at comedy. Their new show is an affectionate look at Portland, Oregon; that refuge of the creative and place where people go to not have jobs. Here’s a clip from a sketch on the show that’s almost a thesis statement for it. It’s a song called “The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Portland.” In this scene Fred and Carrie are discussing Portland while standing on the streets of Los Angeles.
JESSE THORN: Fred, welcome back to The Sound of Young America; Carrie, welcome to The Sound of Young America.
CARRIE BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
FRED ARMISEN: Thank you for having me and us.
I know... you missed it in the theater.
But you can rent it.
And you should.