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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Hari Kondabolu & Jake Kasdan

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Hari Kondabolu
Guests: 
Jake Kasdan
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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Hari Kondabolu: 'Waiting for 2042' and Stand Up Comedy with Required Reading

Hari Kondabolu is a stand up comedian. You might have seen him on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. He's also performed stand up on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Late Show with David Letterman.

Hari didn't think he would be a comedian. He thought that he was going to law school. Then somewhere between taking an Americorps Job organizing immigrants in Seattle and taking the LSAT, things changed direction. He transitioned into stand-up comedy.

Hari talks to us about the unique profile of his fans, how he fits into the "alternative" comedy scene, and how he actually got into a discussion about the racism of Apu from The Simpsons with Hank Azaria -- the real voice of Apu.

His debut album, Waiting for 2042, is available now through BandCamp and iTunes.

Carolyn Kellogg Talks Westerns

Every week we like to check in with one of our favorite culture critics to get some recommendations of things that are worth your time. This week, Los Angeles Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg stops by to talk about some of her all-time favorite westerns, starting with one that broke the mold.

Her first recommendation is Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses.

Kellogg also recommends Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers.

Jason Kempin / Getty Images / Getty Images Entertainment

Jake Kasdan on Directing Jason Segel, Strategic Nudity, and His Unintentional Return to Television

Jake Kasdan grew up in the movie business. His father is Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote two Star Wars films, an Indiana Jones movie, and both wrote and directed The Big Chill. And Jake's been no slouch, either. He directed his first film, Zero Effect, when he was only 24. He's gone on to work on a slew of other projects, from critically acclaimed cult shows like Freaks and Geeks, to the beloved sitcom New Girl, to the hugely commercially successful film Bad Teacher.

His new movie is Sex Tape, which sees Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz re-teamed as a married couple who accidentally release an intimate home video to the internet.

Kasdan talks about his years working with Jason Segel, the strategy involved in shooting a movie that has both feelings and (comedic) nudity, and how he unintentionally returned to working in television on New Girl.

Sex Tape is in theaters now.

The Outshot: The Everyday Wonder of 'American Splendor'

Jesse explains why Harvey Pekar makes putting one foot in front of the other feel like something special.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Thune & Vince Staples

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Thune
Guests: 
Vince Staples
Guests: 
Marc Weingarten
Guests: 
Tyson Cornell

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We listen to your input and want to make the show even better for you.

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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Nick Thune on Being the Teenage "All-American Rehab Boy", Starting in Stand Up, and 'Folk Hero'

Nick Thune strums the guitar during his stand up, but he's not a guitar comic who plays funny songs. He uses it to underscore his set, which has included everything from non-sequiturs, to audience games, to stories about a talking dalmation and his idea for a "You're Welcome" card.

And while some comics heavily mine their personal lives and demons for comedy, Thune hasn't been one of them. He says that's changing some now, and he's opening up on-stage.

Thune talks to us about his unusual origin story -- from giving testimony at church camp to becoming a stand up comic. He'll explain how a schoolyard fight and teenage drinking helped land him in rehab, when he had his own coming-to-God moment, and how he discovered he loved performing.

Thune's newest special, Folk Hero, is available on Netflix Instant and digital retailers.

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Canonball with Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell: King Crimson’s 'In The Court of the Crimson King'

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 Canonball.

No one says The Rolling Stones don’t belong in the pop music canon. But what about Genesis? Or Yes? What about the prog rockers? The music wasn’t down and dirty, and the songs weren’t pop-radio short. Sometimes they were downright long. But prog has always had its loyalists.

This week Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell, the editors of the prog rock anthology Yes Is The Answer: (And Other Prog Rock Tales), explain why the King Crimson album In The Court of the Crimson King is a classic, and how it laid the foundation for a whole genre. They’ll explain how these classically trained musicians mixed flutes, horns, blues riffs, and synthesizers to create this face melting album.

Yes Is The Answer: (And Other Prog Rock Tales) is now available in paperback.

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Vince Staples on Growing Up in Long Beach, Gang Culture, and 'Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2'

The rapper Vince Staples is 20 years old. As a teenager, he got jumped into a gang in Long Beach, where he’s from. He didn’t expect to become a rapper. And unlike some rappers, he doesn’t think street life is anything to brag about.

He's been fighting against his own upbringing and the gang culture that surrounded him since childhood, and his verses reflect that. He's released several well-received mixtapes, and he's continually outshone other rappers in guest verses on their own tracks.

Staples talks to us about growing up, the inside joke of 'Shyne Coldchain', and why a life of gang banging seemed like fate.

His newest mixtape is Shyne Coldchain, Vol. 2. You can also hear him on the new Common single, Kingdom.

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The Outshot: Game of Thrones

Like the 18 million people who watch it each week, Jesse loves Game of Thrones. But though he finds himself jumping up and down and shouting at the TV, he doesn't care how it all will end. Why? He'll explain.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Jon Mooallem & Elmore Leonard

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Jon Mooallem
Guests: 
Elmore Leonard
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Tasha Robinson

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How To Save A Species: Jon Mooallem At The Corner of Imagination and Extinction

Whether it's The Lion King, Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man", or the last kitten video you saw on Youtube, we are constantly inundated with stories about animals. Wilderness has taken a deep hold on our collective imaginations. And at a time when conservation science is making gigantic leaps, while dozens of species are disappearing every single day, the narratives that humans weave about animals have never had such drastic consequences.

It's this phenomenon that inspired Jon Mooallem to write his new book, Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America. Mooallem is interested in how people see, and have seen, wild animals. Focusing on three specific endangered species--the Polar bear, the metalmark butterfly, and the whooping crane--the book explores the intricacies and the repercussions of America's relationship with the wild. Mooallem has contributed to New York Times Magazine, This American Life, Harper's, Wired, The New Yorker, and Radiolab.

Jon tells us about North American dire wolves (yes, dire wolves), America's strange relationship with Humphrey the humpback whale, and the philosophical questions that conservation scientists must ask themselves while donning giant bird costumes.

Black Prairie, a Portland-based band featuring members of The Decemberists, recorded a soundtrack for the book called Wild Ones: A Musical Score for the Things That You Might See in Your Head When You Reflect on Certain Characters and Incidents That You Read About in The Book. They will begin touring with Jon Mooallem next week.

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Kurt Braunohler: "How Do I Land?"

Comedian Kurt Braunohler thinks he can make the world a better place through stupidity, absurdity, and fake Hallmark cards.

His new stand-up album, How Do I Land is available now.

The Dissolve Recommends Documentaries: A Band Called Death and Stories We Tell

Staff Writer Nathan Rabin and Senior Editor Tasha Robinson, from The Dissolve, join us to share two documentaries out now on DVD.

Nathan recommends A Band Called Death, a look at the rise, fall, and eventual resurrection of a band of three black brothers from Detroit who played punk music in the early 1970s.

Tasha recommends Stories We Tell, directed by Oscar-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley. Stories We Tell explores the nature of truth, memory, and family secrets, as Polley tries to uncover her own family's history through personal interviews that start seeming more and more like myth than fact.

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Remembering Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)

Author Elmore Leonard died last month. To honor the great pulp fiction writer, we are airing an excerpt from our interview with him from 2007.

Leonard had a style, a story schema, and a voice of which he was truly a master. His characters got into trouble, the problems grew larger, and they spoke to each other with honed dialogue that influenced readers, writers, and filmmakers for decades. His novels inspired such films as Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, Jackie Brown, and 3:10 To Yuma.

He talks about his love for Hemingway's style, why his dozens of Western novels were more true to life than the stuff he saw on TV, and how nothing gave him more pleasure than sitting down and getting characters to talk.

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The Outshot: Drunk History

Drunk History on Comedy Central has a pretty simple, crude concept: get comedians roaringly hammered and have them talk about their favorite moment in American history. Jesse explains why this is more beautiful than you'd think.

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

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

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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: Kumail Nanjiani, Lake Bell and Sergio Dias

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Lake Bell
Guests: 
Sergio Dias
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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Kumail Nanjiani on Identity, Comedy, and Shaking Hands with Girls

When Kumail Nanjiani was a boy growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, he absorbed a fair amount of American culture. He loved Ghostbusters and Gremlins. He read MAD Magazine. And he knew that someday, he'd move to the U.S. What he never imagined is that he'd become a comedian.

His first exposure to stand up comedy was a Jerry Seinfeld HBO special, and a few short years later, Kumail was on stage himself. He's performed with The Second City, at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, and on numerous late night shows. He also co-hosts a stand up showcase, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, and now often appears on TV, with appearances on Franklin and Bash, Portlandia, Veep and Newsreaders.

Kumail talks to us about growing up Pakistani, choosing a distinctly American way of life, and creating comedy about things you love, rather than things you hate.

Kumail's new Comedy Central stand up special, Beta Male, is available on CD+DVD and by direct download.

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BONUS AUDIO:
Kumail Studies The Cheesecake Factory for "Portlandia"
Kumail on Mike Judge and the Butthead Voice

Rap Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Earl Sweatshirt's "Hive" and Chief Keef's "Go to Jail"

Hip hop contributor Andrew Noz stops by to share some of his favorite new tracks, incidentally both by rappers still in their teens.

He recommends "Hive", the first single off the new album by the youngest member of the Odd Future crew, Earl Sweatshirt. It's dense, well-written, and long-awaited. Earl Sweatshirt's album Doris is out August 20th.

On the other end of the spectrum, slowed way down, is Chicago-based Chief Keef's autotuned, warbly track "Go to Jail", off his upcoming mixtape Almighty So. You can find that song on Chief Keef's Soundcloud.

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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Photo credit Denise Truscello

Sérgio Dias on The Song That Changed My Life: Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock"

Os Mutantes founder and guitarist Sérgio Dias describes the song that opened his mind to the world of rock 'n' roll when he was just a kid living in Brazil. That song was Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock".

The psych rock band that would become Os Mutantes formed in Brazil in the mid-1960s. They experimented with psychedelic guitars, bossa nova and tropicalia to create a distinct sound. The band broke up in 1978, but their music continued to garner fans, from Kurt Cobain to Beck to David Byrne.

Os Mutantes released an album of eccentric and beautiful new tracks earlier this year, titled Fool Metal Jack. The band will embark on a U.S. tour in November.

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Lake Bell on Voiceover Cliques, Racing Cars, and Making the Transition from Actor to Director

Voiceover is everywhere. On commercials, describing the tight curves in a sports car; in movie theaters, reminding you to turn off your cell phone and end your conversation. Those voices are booming and confident. But they're not often female.

Lake Bell found these disembodied voices intriguing. She wrote, directed and stars in the new comedy In a World... The movie is about an an aspiring female voice over artist, her power struggles in the industry and within her own family, and the pursuit of change.

Lake talks to us about her favorite accents, her work on the ensemble comedy Childrens Hospital, and handling the transition from actor to director.

In a World... is in theaters now. You can also see Lake as part of the ensemble of [adult swim]'s Childrens Hospital, which airs Thursdays at midnight on the Cartoon Network.

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The Outshot: The Big Con by David Maurer

Jesse recommends The Big Con, by David Maurer, for a fascinating look at the profession of the confidence man.

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Plus, this week's credits... movie trailer style.

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

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Charlie Wilson
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Mark Frauenfelder


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.

Click here to share these recommendations with your friends.


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: Simon Rich and Bill Burr

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Simon Rich
Guests: 
Bill Burr
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

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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: Simon Amstell, Brian K. Vaughan, and Jordan Morris

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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 with Jesse Thorn: Vijay Iyer, Dave Hill, and Demetri Martin

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Dave Hill
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Andrew Noz


Andrew Noz's Picks: Rapping About a Haircut and Pencap Beats

Hip hop blogger Andrew Noz joins us again this week to recommend some of his favorite tracks of the moment. What's he listening to now? Aesop Rock's ode to a haircut in Racing Stripes and Alpoko Don's stripped down track All I Know.

Andrew Noz writes about hip hop for Cocaine Blunts and has a regular column, Diamonds and Wood, for Pitchfork.

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Vijay Iyer on the Brain, the Body, and the Experience of Music

The Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer began learning classical violin at age three and started improvising on the piano only a few years later. While he studied math and physics at Yale and UC Berkeley, he couldn't stay away from music. He found himself doing academic work by day, and moonlighting as a jazz pianist in Bay Area clubs.

His music is known for its complex, pulsing rhythms and creating unusual covers of artists like Stevie Wonder, Flying Lotus, and Michael Jackson.

He talks to us about exploring rhythm with math (remember Fibonacci's sequence?), the social experience of creating and listening to music, and the idea that "music is action."

The Vijay Iyer Trio's newest album is Accelerando.

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Demetri Martin on People Watching

Demetri Martin is the kind of person who's obsessed with puzzles and linguistic and cultural ironies, and you've probably seen him explore those on his show Important Things with Demetri Martin. But he's usually got a big sketchpad, slides projected overhead, and a piano to riff on. He's put the theatricality aside in favor of straight ahead one-liners in this clip from his new special, Standup Comedian.

Want to learn more about Demetri Martin? Check out our interview with him about This is a Book.

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Dave Hill Pals Around with Maximum Security Felons

Dave Hill is best known as a New York-based comedian, but he's dabbled in a lot of things. He's interviewed fans of Chick-Fil-A for This American Life, lived the life of a frontman for a semi-successful rock band (they were big in Japan), and even had a job as a pedicab driver for a few days.

One of his trademarks is making himself and others uncomfortable during a performance, whether he's asking inane or (alternately) inappropriately suggestive questions in his man-on-the-street interviews, performing stand up or hosting his talk show The Dave Hill Explosion. He mines a number of uncomfortable situations in his recent book of essays, Tasteful Nudes: ...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation.

He talks to us about how being a rock musician made him realize he loved comedy, and how he ended up performing at Sing Sing for maximum security felons. This interview originally aired July 2, 2012.)

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The Outshot: The Dirtbombs' Ultraglide in Black

Rage, garage punk, and R&B. The Dirtbombs' music has it all, and Jesse suggests you check out their album Ultraglide in Black.

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What's your favorite mashup of genres? Head over to the MaxFun forum and tell us YOUR outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kurt Braunohler, Walter Mosley, and Kasper Hauser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kurt Braunohler
Guests: 
Walter Mosley
Guests: 
Scott Tobias
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser


AV Club Culture Recommendations

This week’s culture critics are Nathan Rabin and Scott Tobias of The AV Club, here to offer up a pair of humor-fueled recommendations. Nathan suggests checking out comedian Hannibal Buress’s debut one-hour special, Animal Furnace, noting a marked evolution in Hannibal’s stand-up style. Meanwhile Scott is enamored with Wes Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, hailing it as the filmmaker’s best work.

Moonrise Kingdom is currently in limited release, opening nationwide on June 15th, while Hannibal Buress’s Animal Furnace is now available on both CD and DVD.

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Comedian Kurt Braunohler

Kurt Braunohler is a stand-up comedian and improviser, as well as one half of the sketch duo Kurt & Kristen, performing alongside writing partner Kristen Schaal. While stand-up consumes much of his time these days, he may soon be best known for IFC's Bunk, putting his disarming charms to work as host of an improv game show where comedians compete in insane challenges on behalf of less than charitable causes.

Kurt sits down with us to discuss the myriad ways in which the conventions of the game show format are begging to be satirized, the serendipitous origin of Kurt & Kristen, and how they took one of our all-time favorite sketches, "Kristen Schaal is a Horse", to Australia's biggest stage. Bunk premieres Friday, June 8th at 10:30 PM on IFC.

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Kasper Hauser News Update

Thought you could escape the world of news within the hour of our pop culture program? Think again! Getting you caught up on all the latest stories that may or may not have happened, here's an update from the minds of our fake news team: the San Francisco-based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser.

For more Kasper Hauser, check out The Kasper Hauser Podcast right here on MaximumFun.org.

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Crime Novelist Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is an author of nearly forty books, but perhaps he's best known for his work in detective fiction. His Easy Rawlins detective series began with 1989's Devil in a Blue Dress. Lately Mosley's penning the stories of a new detective: Leonid McGill. His latest serial novel is All I Did Was Shoot My Man, the most recent entry in the McGill series, and it's loaded with the kind of snappy, hard-boiled noir writing Mosley is famous for.

Walter joined us back in 2010 to talk about the existential crises at the heart of the detective genre, and how he made the move from computer programming to detective fiction so many years ago.

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The Outshot: Jay-Z’s Flow

For The Outshot this week, Jesse makes the case for Jay-Z as hip hop's greatest of all time -- if only for the effortlessly perfect rhythm of his lyrical flow, best represented on the track "Hovi Baby".

Got your own pick for rap's best flow? Stake your claim on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.

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