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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jemaine Clement & Jonathan Ames

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jemaine Clement
Guests: 
Jonathan Ames

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.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Jemaine Clement on Fighting, Flight of the Conchords, and Comic Drama in People Places Things

Jemaine Clement’s upbringing in a small community in New Zealand could have led him to career making cookies or cheese. Instead he found a way to transform his sense of humor into a career making other stuff -- things like music and comedy.
Along with his partner, Bret McKenzie, he is a member of musical comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords which aired as a television show for two seasons on HBO. Clement has also written and produced with McKenzie and other longtime collaborators on movies like What We Do in the Shadows.
Clement join us to talk about working in the comic drama People Places Things, his early comedic influences back in New Zealand, the challenges he faced producing a television show, and how the word “grommet” resulted in his last physical altercation.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Jonathan Ames on Valets, Questing and 'Blunt Talk'

Jonathan Ames is a writer who has earned a reputation for ruthless honesty when writing about his own life and those of his fictional characters. Whether the topic is alcoholism, sexuality or depression, Ames’ books and television projects delve deeply into what it means to be human, with wit and care.
Ames created the beloved HBO show Bored to Death. Now, he's the creator and showrunner of the new Starz show Blunt Talk, featuring Patrick Stewart as cable news host Walter Blunt.
Blunt Talk is in its second season and airs Sunday nights at 8:30 est on the Starz network.
Ames sat down with Jesse to talk about how he came to create his new show, why he's obsessed with the "valet", and why his characters are constantly "questing" with greater purpose.

The Outshot: The ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ Incident

Our takeaway? ALWAYS BE PREPARED.

Bullseye: Patton Oswalt & "Fresh Off The Boat"

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Patton Oswalt
Guests: 
Nahnatchka Khan
Guests: 
Randall Park

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.


Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

There was a period of time in the mid to late 1990s when Patton Oswalt spent most of his waking hours indoors. He'd be in a TV writer's room all day, make his way to the movie theater for a film or two, and then hit the stand up stage before going to sleep. Then he'd get up and do it all over again.

His movie obsession was supposed to teach him how to be a filmmaker and create better art, but he found he was missing out on life, and art was no substitute.
Oswalts memoire Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life Through and Addiction to Film is out now.
His Emmy winning stand-up comedy special Talking for Clapping can be seen on Netflix.


Photo: ABC/Bob D'Amico

Fresh Off the Boat is the first network sitcom about Asian-Americans in a long time, and that's a big deal. The creative team behind the show, including memoirist Eddie Huang, showrunner Nahnatchka Khan and star Randall Park have publicly grappled with that blessing and burden. How do you retain the specificity of the Tawainese-American experience and provide that to a group of Americans who are hungry for mass-market representation, and also make a show that's big-tent enough to welcome hundreds of millions of Americans who don't know what bao are?

We're joined by Nahnatchka Khan and Randall Park to talk about trying to achieve those goals, how they see their own American experiences, and how to write a sitcom dad who's not dumb.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on ABC.

Jesse explains how Sly and the Family Stone made a perfect album, even as they slowly disintegrated as a group.

Pop Rocket Episode 88: Fall TV Preview with Sara Benincasa

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Oliver, Sara Benincasa, and Wynter
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell
Guests: 
Oliver Wang
Guests: 
Sara Benincasa

Wynter takes over hosting duties this week and is joined by comedian and writer Sara Benincasa to talk about fall TV shows! Atlanta, Frequency, Designated Survivor, and more! What’s going to make it to season 2 and what will fall flat on its dumb face? Plus, Oliver is finally able to talk about Stranger Things, Sara is surprised by Joe Swanberg’s hotness, and Wynter has a few words to say on Rob Lowe’s roast.

With Wynter Mitchell, Oliver Wang and guest Sara Benincasa.

That’s My Jam:

Sara Benincasa - Basia Bulat - Let Me In
Oliver Wang - Five Starsteps – Don’t Change Your Love
Wynter Mitchell - Slum Village - Players

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to this handy Spotify playlist.

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

Produced by Colin Anderson & Christian Dueñas for MaximumFun.org.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Constance Wu & Ron Nyswaner

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Constance Wu
Guests: 
Ron Nyswaner

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.

This week, we have the delightful Guy Branum hosting our show. Jesse Thorn will return next week!

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Constance Wu on Comedy, Diversity and 'Fresh Off the Boat'

Constance Wu plays Jessica Huang on Fresh Off the Boat, the first network show to star Asian-Americans in decades. Wu reveals the complexities of an immigrant mother who cares deeply about her family's future, and has to grapple with the difficulties of starting over in a new state and with a new business.

Guy talks to Constance Wu about diversity in TV shows, how getting dumped can bolster your career and learning to play comedy.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesday nights at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.

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Ron Nyswaner on 'Freeheld' and Gay Stories On-Screen

The new film Freeheld is based on a true story - that of Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police detective, and her domestic partner Stacie Andree. They were domestic partners because before 2013, New Jersey didn’t recognize gay marriages. Laurel, diagnosed with cancer, wanted to leave her pension to Stacie, but was denied by county legislators. Her and Stacie's story became the subject of a 2007 documentary, and has now been adapted into a new film, called Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page.

This week's guest, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter Ron Nyswaner, adapted Laurel and Stacie's story for the film. Nyswaner also wrote the screenplay for Philadelphia, the 1993 film starring Tom Hanks, which helped along a national conversation about the AIDS crisis and homophobia, and Soldier’s Girl, the made-for-cable film which changed the way many Americans saw Trans people.

Nyswaner embraced everything he would face as an openly gay writer, the good with the bad.

He joins us to talk about how activism has always been a part of his life and his art, the lasting impact of his film Philadelphia, and adapting the story of Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree for Freeheld.

Freeheld is is theaters now.

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The Outshot: Annie Lennox Pays Tribute to Freddie Mercury

Guy explains how, in a concert of well-intentioned but mediocre covers of Queen songs, Annie Lennox found her own way to pay tribute to Freddie Mercury -- with what he calls "the most complete performance I’ve ever seen."

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#30 - Best TV Theme Song (w/ Mike Phirman!)

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Guests: 
Mike Phirman

In the second of their 3 Dragon Con-versations, Mark and Hal talk theme songs with Mike Phirman, the composer of the We Got This theme song and a hilarious and gifted musician/comedian/composer/person!

Topics include:
- Bass licks
- The Real Songs of The Real Housewives
- Lots of beatboxing and mouth music

See We Got This With Mark and Hal live during New York Super Week with special guest John Hodgman! We'll be at (le) poisson rouge Sunday, October 11th at 8pm. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for tickets!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Andy Daly & Jean Grae

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE DIRECTLY

Andy Daly and "Review": Rating Life Experiences, from Addiction to Pancakes to the Prom

Comedian, actor and writer Andy Daly recognized early in his career that his audience was responding to him as a "nice, little boy". Who could blame them? He's a nice-looking guy, with an all-American charm about him. So he used his Howdy Doody look to his advantage, and began creating characters. The kind of characters that start off as unthreatening nice guys, and slowly escalate into extreme sociopaths.

Andy continues to use this element of surprise in his new Comedy Central show, Review. Andy plays Forrest MacNeil, who is a reviewer. But he doesn't review books, or movies, or consumer products. He reviews life experiences, rating them on a scale of one to five stars. In the first few episodes, he answers viewers' questions from "What would it feel like to steal?" to "Will prom really be the best night of my life?" to "What is it like to get a divorce?"

No life experience is too insignificant or too life-altering for Forrest MacNeil, who takes his job very seriously.

Andy joins us to talk about his first acting job (working with a rollerblading mime), developing his own style of comedy, and how he identifies with Forrest, who's devoted so much of his life and energy to his work.

Review is currently in its second season on Comedy Central

This interview originally aired February 25, 2014.

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Jean Grae on an Accidental Hip Hop Career

Rapper Jean Grae, formerly known as What? What?, has been a stalwart member of New York City's underground hip hop community for decades. She was born into a musical family, though she didn't exactly follow in her parents' footsteps. Her father, Abdullah Ibrahim (also known as Dollar Brand), helped to found South African Jazz and her mother, Sathima Bea Benjamin, was a gifted singer and composer. Grae was born in South Africa and her parents made sure she knew her roots -- but she was also a New Yorker, through and through.

She joins us this week to tell us about growing up with talented musicians as parents, her accidental hip hop career, and why she doesn't shy away from outrageous, cartoonish violence in her lyrics.

Jean Grae has had a busy couple of years. At the time we last spoke with her, she had a new LP called Gotham Down, a new EP called Jeannie, an audiobook entitled The State of Eh, and a webseries in which she writes, directs and stars, Life with Jeannie.

She's since released more new music, including the new EPs Saix and iSweaterGawd, all available on her Bandcamp page.

This interview originally aired January 28, 2014.

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The Outshot: Paul Anka on Showmanship

Paul Anka, a consummate entertainer with few peers, has very high standards. This week, Jesse shares what he dubs as one of the greatest after-show recordings of all time and reminds us to live and move with conviction. And to slice like a... well, you know.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jemaine Clement & Jonathan Ames

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jemaine Clement
Guests: 
Jonathan Ames

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.


Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Jemaine Clement on Fighting, Flight of the Conchords, and Comic Drama in People Places Things

Jemaine Clement’s upbringing in a small community in New Zealand could have led him to career making cookies or cheese. Instead he found a way to transform his sense of humor into a career making other stuff -- things like music and comedy.

Along with his partner, Bret McKenzie, he is a member of musical comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords which aired as a television show for two seasons on HBO. Clement has also written and produced with McKenzie and other longtime collaborators on movies like What We Do in the Shadows.

He stars in the new movie People Places Things, about a graphic novelist and professor who's grappling with loneliness and fatherhood in the wake of a breakup. The film is in theaters and available on VOD.

Clement join us to talk about working in the comic drama People Places Things, his early comedic influences back in New Zealand, the challenges he faced producing a television show, and how the word “grommet” resulted in his last physical altercation.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this interview with a friend.


Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Jonathan Ames on Valets, Questing and 'Blunt Talk'

Jonathan Ames is a writer who has earned a reputation for ruthless honesty when writing about his own life and those of his fictional characters. Whether the topic is alcoholism, sexuality or depression, Ames’ books and television projects delve deeply into what it means to be human, with wit and care.

Ames created the beloved HBO show Bored to Death. Now, he's the creator and showrunner of the new Starz show Blunt Talk, featuring Patrick Stewart as cable news host Walter Blunt.

Blunt Talk airs Saturday nights at 9 on the Starz network.

Ames sat down with Jesse to talk about how he came to create his new show, why he's obsessed with the "valet", and why his characters are constantly "questing" with greater purpose.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this interview with a friend.

The Outshot: The 'Who Moved My Cheese' Incident

Our takeaway? ALWAYS BE PREPARED.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this interview with a friend.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Keegan-Michael Key & Tituss Burgess

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Keegan-Michael Key
Guests: 
Tituss Burgess

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.


Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Keegan-Michael Key on Race and Comedy and Why 'Key & Peele' Is Coming to an End

Keegan-Michael Key’s comedy is inexorably tied with his experiences straddling cultural and racial lines as a young man in the Midwest, and he became a keen observer of his surroundings as a child.

His work with his partner Jordan Peele on the Comedy Central show Key & Peele has earned Key Emmy nominations in five categories including Outstanding Variety sketch series, Writing for a Variety Series, Writing for a Variety Special, Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program, and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Key & Peele's final season is airing now.

Key sits down with Jesse to talk about the differences of approaching comedy from stand up or improv backgrounds, why it’s so easy to immerse himself in distinctive characters like the substitute teacher Mr. Garvey, and why Key & Peele's fifth season will be its last.

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Photo credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images


Tituss Burgess on Being 'Titus Andromedon' on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Following Your Instincts

Tituss Burgess is an actor who has pursued the truth within himself and his performances. Whether it's been in a church choir or on the Broadway stage, Burgess is ready to give it his all.

His successful audition for a small recurring role on 30 Rock put him on Tina Fey's radar, and he's since been cast as Titus Andromedon on the Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess's performance on the show has earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is available for streaming on Netflix.

Burgess joins us to discuss his early days growing up in Georgia, inhabiting the character of Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and how he contended with a broken microphone while performing live at the Tony Awards.

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The Outshot: Fletch

Jesse explores the top-notch bluffing going on in this week's recommendation, the 1985 Chevy Chase movie Fletch.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Big Boi & Catherine O'Hara

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Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Hip Hop Icon Big Boi: Getting Familiar with Uncharted Territory

The rapper and producer Big Boi has sold over 50 million records as a solo artist and as half of the platinum-selling hip hop duo OutKast. The innovative Atlanta-based group broke out in the mid-1990s with "Rosa Parks" and "Elevators", then followed up with crossover pop hits like "The Way You Move" and "Bombs Over Baghdad".

OutKast found huge commercial success with an experimental brand of hip hop, eschewing old-school samples in favor of new sounds. Big Boi has been the more musically prolific member of the group. He's gone on to produce several solo albums and collaborate with artists across the music spectrum, from fellow ATL-based rapper Ludacris to funk-master George Clinton to the indie rock band Wavves. His most recent release is called Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors.

Big Boi joins us to talk about the early days recording in an clay-walled basement, coming to terms with fame, and where to go musically when you've hit monumental commercial success.

This interview originally aired in April 2013.

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All-Time Favorites with Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder

Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder joins us this week to share some all-time favorites: a great dungeon crawler for iOS called The Sword of Fargoal and Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession, a fascinating book exploring the science of scent.

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Canonball: A Tour of Led Zeppelin's III with Brad Tolinski

For our segment Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music and find albums that deserve a closer look.

This week, we're joined by Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World and author of the new book Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page.

He'll tell us about Led Zeppelin III. With that album, Led Zeppelin moved away from the 60s obsession with authenticity and deep ideas -- and into a whole new sound.

This segment originally aired in January 2013.

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Photo: Getty Images for Hollywood Pantages/Getty Images

Catherine O'Hara on Being Slightly, Perfectly Odd

Catherine O'Hara's work embodies a particularly special brand of comic absurdity. She helped launch SCTV alongside other burgeoning comedy greats like John Candy and Eugene Levy, quit the show, but still moved on to star in blockbuster comedies. She became spiritually possessed in Beetlejuice, played a memorable, anxiety-ridden mother to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, and became a critical part of Christopher Guest's ensemble mockumentaries, like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.

Most recently, she's starred in the sitcom Schitt's Creek with Chris Elliott and O'Hara's longtime collaborator Eugene Levy.

O'Hara talks to us about the difficulties of being a woman in the SCTV writers' room, creating memorable characters with her longtime friend and collaborator Eugene Levy, and her own secret comedic formula.

Oh, and in this outtake, hear about the best boyfriend ever: Dan Akroyd.

This interview originally aired in April 2013.

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The Outshot: The Throne Of The Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly

In this week's Outshot, Jesse tells the story of a man who secretly spent the last fifteen years of his life building something amazing in a rented garage.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lynda Barry & Tom Arnold

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Lynda Barry
Guests: 
Tom Arnold
Guests: 
Brian Coleman

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Photo: Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY

Lynda Barry Inspires Us to Get Creative with Monsters

Lynda Barry is a self-identified "freak", a cartoonist, a writer, and for the last couple of years, she's also been a college professor teaching interdisciplinary creativity at the University of Wisconsin.

What does that mean? Well, she encourages students to abandon their fears of creating and embrace their work and process.

Her most recent book, Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor collects her lesson plans and writing and drawing exercises.

Lynda talks with us about using monsters as a tool, why we're sometimes afraid to draw, and how elementary school aged kids can teach us a thing or two.

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Canonball: Brian Coleman Talks about Mantronix: The Album

Every so often we interview music journalists and experts, and ask them which records they think should be part of the pop music canon. It's Canonball.

This week, we're talking with the acclaimed rap journalist Brian Coleman, author of the series Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip Hop Junkies. He chose to talk to us about Mantronix.

In the mid-1980s, producer Kurtis Mantronik and MC Tee joined forces and created the hip hop group Mantronix.

Kurtis Mantronik rocked the TR-808 drum machine, and MC Tee moved the party along with his lyrics.

Together, they recorded Mantronix: The Album, and influenced the producers who followed them.

Brian Coleman's newest edition of "liner notes" is Check the Technique Volume 2.

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Tom Arnold Talks About Shaking Off the Bullies and Making His Own Way

Tom Arnold is a real show business survivor. In the mid 1990s he got famous -- both the kind you want to be, and the kind you don't want to be. His first big job in Hollywood was as a writer on Roseanne. He ended up married to her. He became a regular on the show and their relationship was tabloid fodder for five years. By the time they broke up in 1994, you couldn't make it through a late night monologue without a Tom Arnold joke.

But that was just the beginning of Tom Arnold's ride. A star making performance in a huge hit movie, True Lies, made him a star. Then a disastrous series of broad comedies made his career a punchline again.

But Arnold never stopped working, as a character actor, as a sports talk show host, as a stand up comic, and now in his 50s he's a dad for the first time and he's now been a star in Hollywood for thirty years. His new show is Yahoo's Sin City Saints. Arnold also continues to perform stand up across the country.

Tom talks with us about growing up in Iowa and fighting bullies, the difficulties of working in Las Vegas, his enduring respect for Roseanne, and the way he's found satisfaction with his work.

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The Outshot: MacGruber

Jesse heartily disagrees with A.O. Scott's review of the film version of MacGruber. In short: MacGruber exists, and the world is better for it.

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