stand up comedy

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Hari Kondabolu & Jake Kasdan

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

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.

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: Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone & The Sklar Brothers

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Melissa McCarthy
Guests: 
Ben Falcone
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Randy Sklar
Guests: 
Jason Sklar

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.

Michael Buckner / Getty Images / Getty Images Entertainment

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone on Wigs, Their High School Selves, and Making 'Tammy'

Melissa McCarthy knows how to throw herself into her comedy. Physically, emotionally, she goes all out. People who saw her onstage at the Groundlings knew it. But you didn't really see it on-screen yet. She was mostly known for playing the lovable cook and best friend, Sookie St. James, on Gilmore Girls. Then she had landed a titular role on the CBS show Mike & Molly, which won her an Emmy. In 2011 she got a part in Bridesmaids. And her horizons have only expanded from there.

McCarthy's become a film star, mostly in roles similar to her character in Bridesmaids. Maybe a little crass, maybe a bit of a hot mess. She starred in, her husband Ben Falcone directed, and they both wrote the new comedy Tammy.

Tammy follows a midwestern woman whose life is a mess. So she goes on a road trip with her alcoholic grandmother, to get out of her home town for good.

McCarthy and Falcone met in comedy improv classes, bonded, and eventually became partners both in business and in life.

They'll talk about their high school days, including Melissa's goth phase, their fateful meeting in the Groundlings, and what it was like getting Kathy Bates to play a role that was literally written for her.

Tammy hits theaters this week.

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NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour Recommends: 'The Devil's Candy' and 'Oishinbo'

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend some of their all-time favorite reads.

Glen recommends the manga series called Oishinbo, translated as 'The Gourmet'. It's about two rival newspapers competing to create the perfect Japanese meal. He suggests starting with the volume about sushi.

Linda recommends The Devil's Candy by Julie Salamon, a book about the film production of Bonfire of the Vanities. Salamon was granted unlimited access to the film set. The takeaway? Sometimes folks don't set out to make a bad movie, it just kind of happens.

You can hear Glen and Linda each week on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR.org's Monkey See blog.

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Found "To Do's" with Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart, Point Guard of FOUND Magazine, shares some of his favorite "finds." He'll share some of his favorite ephemera: to do lists that include items like "hook up with Jen" and "create a circuit of pirate radio stations in the Traverse City area."

FOUND Magazine issue 9 is available now. And stay tuned this fall for FOUND: The Musical, presented by the Atlantic Theater Company.

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"The Sum is Greater Than the Parts": Jason and Randy Sklar on Comedy and Evading the Twin Shtick

Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar are stand up comedians. They're also twins. Their work isn't about their twinness, though. In fact, outside of the two of them looking the same, they barely mention it. But it's integral to what they do. Most double acts are about contrast, the Sklars are the opposite.

They diverge, they come back, and all in the service of releasing a firehose of jokes. The pair have been doing comedy together their entire adult lives. They have their own podcast, Skarlbro Country, they hosted their own TV show on the History Channel, and have racked up lots of movie and TV appearances.

They'll talk about why they didn't want to do bits about being twins, why they wanted to combine comedy and sports on Cheap Seats, and how if they were part of the same person, well, Randy's the head and Jason's the heart.

Their stand up special What Are We Talking About? is available now on Netflix Instant.

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The Outshot: Bug-Eyed, Cartoon-y Wildness (Or Why We Love Hunter Pence)

Jesse will tell you about why he loves the craziest-looking baseball player in the majors, and why you should, too.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Caroll Spinney and Dave LaMattina & Ian Edwards

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Dave LaMattina
Guests: 
Caroll Spinney
Guests: 
Ian Edwards
Guests: 
Karina Longworth

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.


L to R: Caroll Spinney on location with Kermit Love who built the original Big Bird puppet from a design created by Jim Henson.
Photo credit: Copper Pot Pictures

'I am Big Bird': Caroll Spinney and Dave LaMattina on Big Bird's Big Heart

Spend a few minutes watching Sesame Street, and you'll recognize some part of yourself in Big Bird. His kindness, curiosity and vulnerability resonate with everyone, young and old. But who brought Big Bird to life?

Caroll Spinney is the man inside the Big Bird suit, and he has been since 1969. (He's also Oscar the Grouch). Dave LaMattina is the co-director, along with Chad Walker, of a documentary about Spinney. It's called I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story.

Spinney made his television debut in 1955, working on the local Las Vegas show Rascal Rabbit, then moved on to the East Coast and performed on Bozo the Clown. But he was looking for greater purpose in his work, and he found it. He met Jim Henson and began work on the pioneering children's TV show, Sesame Street.

Spinney and LaMattina sit down to talk with us about Big Bird's physical and spiritual evolution, how the 80-year-old Spinney manages to maneuver in a full-body puppet suit, and how Big Bird has helped so many children and adults deal with loss, love and their own feelings.

I Am Big Bird has been touring the festival circuit this spring, and we caught it as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival. You can find more information about the film on their website.

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Karina Longworth on Old Hollywood Favorites: 'The Bad and the Beautiful' and 'Picnic'

Karina Longworth hosts the podcast You Must Remember This, which looks at some of the secrets of Old Hollywood. She joins us to talk about some of her favorite cinematic moments of the 1950s.

She suggests checking out 1955's Picnic. It's a movie about a handsome drifter who blows into a small town and wreaks havoc on the citizens' love lives.

Longworth also recommends The Bad and the Beautiful from 1952, a self-reflexive movie about a manipulative Hollywood producer and the studio system.

You can find Longworth's podcast on her website or in iTunes.

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Ian Edwards on his Jamaican heritage, Finding His Comedic Voice, and '100% Half-Assed'

Would you take career advice from a complete stranger? Ian Edwards did, and he's never looked back. He was working a fast food drive-through when a customer liked his banter and suggested he become a comic.

Edwards has written for Saturday Night Live and the reboot of In Living Color. He's also performed on Conan and on Def Comedy Jam on HBO.

He talks to us about moving (from England to Jamaica to New York City), finding his comedic voice, and the lessons he learned from the late Patrice O'Neal.

His new album 100% Half-Assed is the first record on the new Team Coco label.

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The Outshot: I Love LA

We return to the Newm: Jesse delves into why the Randy Newman song "I Love LA" is ironic, but also sort of... not ironic? You'll see.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Steve Coogan & Kevin Kerrane

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Steve Coogan
Guests: 
Kevin Kerrane
Guests: 
Hari Kondabolu
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.


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Steve Coogan: "Dumping My Dysfunction" into Alan Partridge and Seeking Humanity in Comedy

The English actor, comedian and writer Steve Coogan started out as a brilliant impressionist. He was beloved by audiences for his pitch-perfect impressions, and put his voice talent to good use on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image. But Coogan wanted more for himself, and began developing his own characters. While working on the radio current affairs parody On The Hour with Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris, he created his most enduring character to date -- the awkward, know-nothing sports desk reporter, Alan Partridge.

Coogan has now spent two decades off and on with Alan Partridge, as he's been fleshed out and moved from radio to television and back again. Alan has become a very important part of his life, although as Coogan says, Alan is "like a relative that you’re very fond of but you only want to see at Christmas and holidays. You don’t want to live with them." He's now brought the character to the big screen, with Alan as a regional radio deejay who accidentally gets roped into a hostage situation at his station.

Coogan has also acted in a number of movies and television shows in England and abroad, including The Trip, Night at the Museum, Tropic Thunder and 24 Hour Party People. He also recently co-wrote, produced and starred in the drama Philomena, which garnered several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

He joins us this week to talk about his early days as an impressionist, the increasing emotional complexity and dynamism of his character Alan Partridge, and seeking humanity in his comedy.

Alan Partridge is now in theaters and on VOD. Philomena is out on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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Andrew Noz on All-Time Favorite Tracks: Organized Konfusion and Ice-T

Hip hop critic Andrew Noz digs way back in the catalogs of past Bullseye guests Pharoahe Monch and Ice-T to recommend some of his favorite tracks.

He suggests taking a listen to the amazing technical performances in Organized Konfusion's "Bring It On", and revisiting a poetic early track from Ice-T, "High Rollers".

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game and blogs at Cocaine Blunts. You can also find him on Tumblr.

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Photo by Zac Wolf

Hari Kondabolu Asks, What Happened to Weezer?

Weezer’s first album came out TWENTY years ago. The comedian Hari Kondabolu has been a fan since the beginning.

Hari's new stand up comedy album is called Waiting for 2042.

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"Sinister" Dick Kinsella

Who Won? Who Lost? Who Cares? It's All in How You Play the Game: Kevin Kerrane on the World of Baseball Scouting

Over thirty years ago, in 1980, Kevin Kerrane entered a world of unusual characters. "Jocko" Collins, "Sinister" Dick Kinsella, Cy Slapnicka. They were baseball scouts -- men who drove from game to game and town to town looking for fresh and undiscovered talent. They watched the players intently, but they didn't care who won or who lost. They were looking to see how an individual player runs, walks, and throws, and picturing how that talent might parlay to the major leagues. Kerrane renders these men and their stories in vivid detail in his classic history of baseball scouting, Dollar Sign on the Muscle.

The book fell out of print over the years, so Kerrane went back into the field in 2013 to provide a look at scouting in its current iteration.

Kerrane talks to us about some of the legendary scouts, the particular language and vernacular of the baseball scout, and the balance between old-school qualitative and new-school quantitative analysis of players.

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The Outshot: Owney, a Very Special Dog

Jesse shares his love for Owney, the Mascot of the Railway Mail Service.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: P-Funk's George Clinton and Tagging with Christian Acker

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Clinton
Guests: 
Christian Acker

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.

P-Funk's George Clinton: From Doo Wop to Funk, and Saving His Musical Career

The musician, producer and 72 year-old mastermind of Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton, has never been shy of the limelight. He started his career singing doo wop, later found himself writing songs for Motown, and finally wound up creating a wholly unique sound and visual experience with Parliament-Funkadelic. They made hits like One Nation Under A Groove and Flashlight and their performances were as funky as their tunes.

In recent years, Clinton has found himself entangled in a series of legal battles over the copyrights of his songs. While fighting in the courts, George found himself fighting for his health as well. The doctor of the Funk gave himself his own prognosis: if he was going to continue a musical career and regain agency in his business affairs, he had to clean up his act, and he has.

The pioneer of funk joins us this week to talk about the evolution of his musical career, getting wild onstage, and putting forward momentum back into his musical career -- and even gives us an update on Sly Stone.

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are still touring and recording. George has a reality show and a memoir in the works as well. You can track him down on his official website.

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Hip Hop with Andrew Noz: Vince Staples (feat. James Fauntleroy) and Nicki Minaj

Andrew Noz joins us to provide some recommendations from the world of hip hop. First, we talk about Vince Staples' intimate, raw track about his father, "Nate" featuring James Fauntleroy. Andrew also suggests a listen to Nicki Minaj's new track, "Lookin Ass", a battle rap that shows Nicki still spits.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game and blogs at Cocaine Blunts. You can also find him on Tumblr.

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Comedy: Chris Fairbanks Wonders About Owls

The comedian Chris Fairbanks joined us a few years ago at our annual convocation in the woods, MaxFunCon. And he wondered -- what's up with all these owls?

He’s going to join us for another big event this year: the second annual Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival July 25-28, 2014. You can find details at boat party dot biz. To learn more about Chris and his upcoming shows at hisofficial site.

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Why Tagging is Beautiful: Christian Acker and "Flip the Script"

You know those tags you see on walls, park benches and trash cans everywhere? You might not think it's something beautiful, but Christian Acker does. His book Flip the Script is a look at graffiti typography, and celebrates the art of tagging -- one of the last strongholds of highly refined penmanship.

Acker collected writing and spoke to graffiti artists all over the country, to chronicle and analyze hand styles from Oakland to Queens. In a world where people too rarely place ink to paper, we'll look at a typographical expression that reflects your individuality, roots, and even how long you've been practicing.

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The Outshot: Baba O'Riley

There's at least a couple of good parts of teenagerdom. This week, Jesse shares some of them with The Who's Baba O'Riley.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Creators of Trophy Wife and Chris Onstad

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Emily Halpern
Guests: 
Sarah Haskins
Guests: 
Chris Onstad
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.

The Co-Creators of "Trophy Wife" Explain: It's Not What You Expect

It would be reasonable to assume that the ABC sitcom Trophy Wife is about a rich older man and his ditzy, beautiful young wife. It might be kind of insulting, or it might be drawn in shades of reality TV. But though the show does feature Bradley Whitford as an older man (twice divorced, with three kids) and a younger wife played by Malin Akerman, the title is pretty tongue in cheek. Trophy Wife isn't about jealous ex-wives, a vacuous new wife, and a slimy older dude. It's about a complex family situation and the people within it.

The show's creators, Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, envisioned the show from the trophy wife's point of view. What is it like to join to a family that existed well before you came along? If you're one of several authority figures and parents, what's your role?

Halpen and Haskins had special insight into that situation. As Haskins says, "I started dating and eventually married my next door neighbor...who is a gentleman 20 years my senior who has been married actually 3 times, but we didn’t think America could handle that."

The show features a great ensemble cast. The spouses are played by Whitford, Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins, and the family's children are played by Albert Tsai, Warren Lee and Bailee Madison.

We'll talk to creators and showrunners Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern about the blended family that inspired the show, writing real characters for children and their ensemble comedy predecessors.

Trophy Wife airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 on ABC.

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Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Fun with Circuits

BoingBoing’s Mark Frauenfelder stops by to give a glimpse of the future.

He suggests checking out a new novel out this month called The Martian by Andy Weir. It's a tale about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars, and his struggle to stay alive with few supplies, his wits, and ingenuity.

And if you've ever thought about circuit building at the grocery store, he suggests learning a new skill with a game for iOS called Mho's Resistance.

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Comedy: Morgan Murphy Explains What to Do Before a Facelift

Even if you're scared to death of plastic surgery, maybe you've considered, even for a split second, getting a little work done. It could just be your little secret! No one would have to know!

But you really should tell someone if you're going to go under the knife. Morgan Murphy will explain. She joined us last year at MaxFunCon 2013 for our comedy showcase in the woods of Lake Arrowhead.

Morgan Murphy's new special is Irish Goodbye. You can find it on Netflix, iTunes or Amazon. She'll be joining us at this year's Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival. Stay tuned for more details.

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Chris Onstad and "Achewood", a World of Anthropomorphic Stuffed Animals

Chris Onstad is behind one of the most popular and critically acclaimed online comic strips. It's called Achewood, and it's set in a fictional town populated by anthropomorphic stuffed animals and pets. The strip is surreal and funny, and it involves many different characters with detailed backstories but the two most prominent are "Ray Smuckles", a very successful and fortunate cat, and his childhood best friend "Roast Beef". Chris Onstad stopped making the strip for awhile in 2011. But the hiatus is over now and he’s back making new comics. We're revisiting our conversation with Onstad from 2009.

Onstad tells us about how he collected the many moments that would become Achewood strips, struggling to write something funny every day, and discovering the joys of self-publishing online.

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The Outshot: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Jesse tells us about a TV show in its first season that's already running at full-speed: Fox's ensemble comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: "The Room" Star Greg Sestero with Tom Bissell and Rookie's Tavi Gevinson

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Greg Sestero
Guests: 
Tom Bissell
Guests: 
Tavi Gevinson
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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.

Our show is guest hosted this week by Jordan Morris.


The Room co-stars Juliette Danielle, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero


"The Room" Star Greg Sestero with Tom Bissell: Behind the Scenes of a Spectacularly Bad Movie

Ten years ago, an indie film called The Room entered theaters in Los Angeles. It showed in two theaters, and it grossed only $1800 before it was pulled. The few critics who saw it, panned it. The dialogue was stilted and the plot didn't make sense. It was billed as a drama, but the effect was comedy. The movie was written and directed by its star, Tommy Wiseau.

Though he may not have intended to, Wiseau created a film that's been hailed as "the best bad movie ever made".

Greg Sestero co-starred in the movie and acted as Wiseau's right hand man throughout the production. His new memoir, written with the journalist Tom Bissell, explores his relationship with the mysterious Tommy Wiseau and the hows and whys of the making of The Room. The book is called The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made. It's in bookstores now.

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Photo by Kenneth Lecky at MaxFunCon 2013

Comedy: How to Talk to Humans and Cats with Kyle Kinane

Comedian Kyle Kinane details a couple of his latest interactions with other beings -- both human and feline.
This set was recorded at MaxFunCon 2013, held in Lake Arrowhead, California. Tickets for MaxFunCon 2014 go on sale the day after Thanksgiving. More information can be found here.

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Fake Fables and Emily Dickinson's Tiny Handwriting: New Book Recommendations with Carolyn Kellogg

The Los Angeles Times book critic and blogger Carolyn Kellogg stops by to share some of her favorite new books. She suggests The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, a graphic novel of fake fables (have you heard the one about the old lady and the poisoned sausages?).

And whether you're a poetry freak or just someone who enjoys beautiful things, Carolyn recommends getting a copy of The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems to try and decipher Dickinson's tiny handwritten poems, as seen on her original correspondence.

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Rookie's Tavi Gevinson on Her Teenage Experience

Tavi Gevinson's interest in the artistry of fashion inspired her to start her blog, Style Rookie, when she was in middle school. Drawn to unusual color combinations, proportions, and textures, Gevinson sought to create narratives with her outfits -- which caught flack at school, even as fashion magazines praised her sense of style.

Most recently, Gevinson founded and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine Rookie, a beautifully curated website for teen girls featuring content spanning myriad topics, including feminism, fashion, and how to build the very best forts. Gevinson has curated some of Rookie's first two years of content into Rookie Yearbook One and Rookie Yearbook Two.

Gevinson joins us to discuss what sparked her foray into the fashion world, people's tendency to fixate on her age, and the qualities that make people worth writing about.

This interview originally aired November 20, 2012.

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The Outshot: The Station Agent

For some of the best hanging out ever committed to film, Jordan Morris suggests a viewing of The Station Agent, starring Peter Dinklage and Bobby Canavale. Then, grab a friend and prepare to get to know them better.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Stephen Merchant, Co-Creator Of Hello Ladies and The Office

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Stephen Merchant
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg
Guests: 
Myq Kaplan

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.

Why Stephen Merchant Can't (And Won't) Please Everyone

With the debut of the original U.K. version of "The Office", the show's co-creators Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais helped usher in a new era of awkward realism in comedy television.

Merchant began his career with a plan: a day job in radio, with plenty of time in the evening to do stand up comedy and other projects. But once he met Ricky Gervais, a series of events led to creation of the pilot episode of The Office, and you might know what happened from there.

Merchant is a connoisseur of honest, uncomfortable, this-is-what-real-life-unfortunately-sometimes-feels-like moments. He's translated this talent into a stream of hilarious television series. Working with friend and regular collaborator Ricky Gervais, Merchant has created and written for Extras, Life's Too Short, and The Ricky Gervais Show. His new comedy, Hello Ladies, was inspired by Merchant's dating misadventures and his own stand up comedy.

Merchant tells us about creating the cultural colossus that is The Office, the comfort he finds in being a "historian of comedy", and the real life worst date he's ever had.

Hello Ladies premieres Sunday September 29 on HBO.

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Carolyn Kellogg Bets On Adonis for Nobel Prize and Recommends Jonathan Lethem's "Dissident Gardens"

Carloyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend some best bets from the world of literature.

Next month, the tight-lipped Nobel Committee will be announcing their annual prize for literature. Kellogg has her money on the Syrian poet Adonis, a major figure in Arabic poetry for the past fifty years. A collection of his poetry, Adonis: Selected Poems, was translated by Khaled Mattawa.

Carolyn also recommends Jonathan Lethem's new novel about multiple generations of political revolutionaries in New York, Dissident Gardens.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing at the LA Times' blog .

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Myq Kaplan: Meat Robot

Comedian Myq Kaplan wants your advice on a problem that his "friend" is having.

His recent stand-up album Meat Robot is available now.

The Outshot: Why "I Want You Back" Is The Greatest Pop Song Ever

There's really only one way to prove "I Want You Back" is the greatest pop song ever: listen.

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