Tenacious D

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jack Black and Bun B

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Our guest host this week is the author and The New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean. You can find more from Susan at her website or follow her on Twitter. Thanks, Susan!


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Jack Black on Musical Snobbery, Childlike Innocence, and the Roles He's Yet to Play

Jack Black always seems to be on the verge of breaking into song. Whether he’s a slacker substitute teacher in School of Rock, an earnest funeral director in Bernie, or a snobby record store clerk in High Fidelity, music has a way of seeping into his performances. Maybe that’s because Black’s portrayals often possess an unbridled joy that’s difficult to capture with spoken dialogue.

Although he's known for his comedic strengths and has often played the "shlubby loser", Black has showed that he's capable of much more. For Peter Jackson’s King Kong, he played a 1930s filmmaker intent on creating an epic narrative, no matter how far into the heart of darkness he has to travel. In Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding, he was a disappointing groom prone to occasional bursts of anger. Most recently, he played the titular character in Richard Linklater’s Bernie, a film based on the true story of a kind, gentle mortician accused of murder in a small Texas town. It’s the subtlety of performances like these mixed with the intensity of a man who also headlines the rock band Tenacious D that truly make Black a unique performer.

Guest host Susan Orlean gets to the bottom of Black’s career, from his early days performing one-man shows in his living room to working with some of the biggest names in show business. They’ll talk about some of his early childhood performances, dissecting musical tastes, a new HBO pilot, and why seeing him on Broadway wouldn’t be entirely out of the question.

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Ian Cohen on New Heavy Music Releases: Death Grips and Iron Chic

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some new heavy music releases.

He suggests a listen to two new records: Government Plates by experimental hip hop and noise group Death Grips, and Iron Chic's The Constant One.

You find Ian's writing at Pitchfork and Grantland, or follow him on Twitter.

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Bun B of UGK on Rhyming, Big Breaks and Mourning Pimp C, "The Yin to My Yang"

Bun B was half of UGK and still is one of the South’s greatest hip-hop lyricists. Alongside partner Pimp C, he spent two decades rhyming and recording classic hip-hop and helped establish Texas as a force to be reckoned with in the national hip-hop scene. Pimp C died six years ago this month, but Bun has continued to record and release music as a solo artist. His newest album, Trill Og the Epilogue, was released in November.

Jesse sat down with Bun B in 2009 to talk about underwriting a music career with street crime, rhyming with Jay-Z, and his reaction to Pimp C's frequent arrests, setbacks, and untimely passing.

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The Outshot: The Sorcerer of the Guitar

Guest host Susan Orlean goes under the spell of "Franco" Luambo Makiadi, The Sorcerer of the Guitar.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Liam Lynch, Geoff Nunberg and Kasper Hauser

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Show: 
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Guests: 
Liam Lynch
Guests: 
Geoff Nunberg
Guests: 
Maggie Serota
Guests: 
Daniel Ralston
Guests: 
Tom Scharpling


Music Picks with the Low Times

We're joined this week by the entire cast of the Low Times podcast for their music recommendations. Daniel Ralston goes with Rock Bottom by King Krule, Maggie Serota suggests Your Side by Fear of Men, and Tom Scharpling recommends The Diaz Brothers by The Mountain Goats.

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Musician and Director Liam Lynch on the Return of Sifl and Olly

Liam Lynch is a writer, director and musician who's made a career out of a certain kind of alternative musical and skit comedy -- the kind that is "funny the way your friends are funny with each other." That sensibility lent itself well to Lynch's directorial work in Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic and Tenacious D's The Pick of Destiny.

His sock puppet duo, Sifl & Olly, found a niche on late-night television on MTV. Joined by the occasional sidekick or home shopping network representative, Sifl and Olly ribbed each other, took calls from the public, and broke out into songs like Lynch's strange and catchy "United States of Whatever."

He's now revived the puppets, more than ten years after the last Sifl & Olly Show broadcast, to conduct fake video game reviews for the YouTube channel Machinima.

(Click here to listen and share more of our conversation with Liam Lynch that didn't make the radio cut!)


The News with Kasper Hauser

The Kasper Hauser news team is back with another update. If you’re tired of telling fact from fiction in your news, we'll make it simple for you: this news is completely fake.

The members of Kasper Hauser are based in San Francisco and are the authors of Obama's Blackberry, Weddings of the Times, and the forthcoming Earn Your MBA On the Toilet.

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Linguist Geoff Nunberg on The First Sixty Years of Assholism

Geoff Nunberg is a professor at UC Berkeley, the resident linguist of Fresh Air, and the author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years. He talks to us about his studies into the word "asshole," which began life as a bit of slang used by WWII servicemen and has come to envelop the concept of modern incivility.

(More of our conversation with Geoff Nunberg that didn't make the radio edit! Click to listen and share.)


The Outshot: Comedian Bill Burr

Jesse shares his enjoyment of the analytical comedy of Bill Burr.

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Who’s your favorite standup? Jump over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye: Jeff and Steve McDonald of Redd Kross, Matt Braunger, and Todd Barry

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Matt Braunger
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Scott Tobias
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Nathan Rabin

Our show is guest hosted this week by Jordan Morris! Jesse Thorn will return next week. Check out more from Jordan on the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! or on his blog.


Jackie Siegel in The Queen of Versailles

Movie Recommendations from The AV Club

Our culture gurus over at The AV Club delve into film this week: head writer Nathan Rabin suggests the documentary The Queen of Versailles, which follows a billionaire’s family (and their undoing) in the wake of the economic crisis. Film editor Scott Tobias thinks you should look into two classic films, Body and Soul and Force of Evil, both written by screenwriter Abraham Polonsky.

The Queen of Versailles is now in theaters nationwide. Force of Evil and Body and Soul are both available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

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Jeff and Steve McDonald of Redd Kross: Music as Pornography, A Lost Decade, and Punk Rock

What do The Partridge Family, Black Sabbath, and David Bowie all have in common? They all nurtured the music- and pop culture-obsessed minds behind the punk band Redd Kross. Brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald started the band as kids in the late 1970s, growing up in Hawthorne, California near a burgeoning LA punk rock scene.

The band flew mostly under the radar of mainstream culture, but found a devoted fan base and was hugely influential to the punk, grunge, and indie rock scenes. Kurt Cobain regularly included their songs on his mix tapes, and they've been name-checked by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, and even Joe Elliott of Def Leppard.

They've just released their first album in fifteen years, called Researching the Blues.

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Comedian Todd Barry on Germaphobia

You think you’ve got issues? Todd Barry might give you a run for your money.

Todd Barry is a NYC-based veteran comedian. You can see him regularly at venues across the country. He collects mundane quotes, misprinted receipts, and subversive Tweets. His new stand up album, Super Crazy, is out now.

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Comedian Matt Braunger on Hangover Foods and Growing Up in Portland

Matt Braunger began his career as an actor and stumbled into comedy, but now is known for both -- he’s been a feature performer on MADtv and toured the country with his standup, and he’s scored a recurring role as the genial, dorky neighbor on NBC’s Up All Night.

He talks to us about growing up in Portland and creating his own blend of stand-up comedy -- observational stories, mixed in with fanciful musings. His new stand up album and DVD special, both entitled Shovel Fighter, are out now.

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The Outshot: Tenacious D and Rize of the Fenix

Our guest host Jordan Morris recommends the duo Tenacious D, for both their comedy and musical prowess, and their new album Rize Of The Fenix .

Got a favorite musical comedy album? Share it on the the MaxFun forum by picking your own Outshot.

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