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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John Oliver & Arsenio Hall

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
John Oliver
Guests: 
Arsenio Hall
Guests: 
Tim Simons
Guests: 
Rhea Butcher
Guests: 
Ricky Carmona

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John Oliver on 'Last Week Tonight', American Positivity and a Love Story That Began at the RNC

Though John Oliver is English, he's probably best known now for being part of an American cultural institution -- The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He served as the show's "Senior British Correspondent" for seven years before he was tapped to guest host last summer. Stewart went off to shoot a documentary, and Oliver filled in as host for eight weeks, to great critical acclaim.

It was an audition of sorts, and Oliver got the part. He was offered his own weekly show on HBO, which began airing just a few weeks ago. Last Week Tonight provides Oliver his own platform to talk and joke about everything from the death penalty to climate change to the Indian general election.

He joins us to talk about his love for American positivity, his tone and approach for Last Week Tonight, the unique challenges of doing news satire and the signature field pieces of The Daily Show, and the romantic story of how he met his wife at the Republican National Convention.

Oliver's show Last Week Tonight airs on HBO Sunday nights at 11pm. He also co-hosts The Bugle podcast with Andy Zaltzman.

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Wham Bam Pow Recommends: Cloud Atlas and Back to the Future Part II

Ricky Camona and Rhea Butcher of the movie podcast Wham! Bam! Pow! join us to talk about two of their all-time favorite movies, both about how individual people, their actions, and the universe are all tied up together.

Ricky recommends the ambitious 2012 adaptation of Cloud Atlas. Rhea recommends a movie that didn't need to reinvent the wheel to be successful -- the sequel Back to the Future Part II.

For more recommendations from Wham! Bam! Pow!, subscribe to their podcast and never watch a boring movie again!

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The Part: Tim Simons on 'Veep'

If you’re an actor, you know this: Getting cast in your first role is a huge challenge. But even then, it’s sometimes YEARS before an actor lands a role that really gets their career moving in the direction they’d like. That’s The Part.

When Tim Simons moved to LA to pursue acting, he auditioned a lot. He went in for movies, TV shows, commercials. He read his scripts and character descriptions very carefully -- and maybe stuck to the script just a little too much. But around that same time he also had a gig behind the scenes at a commercial casting company. While on the job, he saw a lot of other people audition and realized that the successful people were comfortable being themselves. They didn't always need to shoehorn themselves into the words on the page.

Simons talks to us about making acting choices and the creative freedom he's experienced as a result.

His character Jonah has a new job and story arc on this season of Veep. It airs Sunday nights on HBO.

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Arsenio Hall on Carving Out a Late Night Niche

When it came to late night television, Arsenio Hall changed the game. In 1989, he took over a talk show contract originally given to Joan Rivers, and brought new life and new faces to the late night scene.

The Arsenio Hall Show had a spontaneous, fun-filled, party atmosphere, interview guests from Tupac to Madonna, and a signature audience chant. But in 1994, Hall ended the show, and he was mostly out of the spotlight for almost twenty years.

Hall returned with a new incarnation of the show last fall, and it's just been picked up for a second season.

Hall talks about how he decides to ask "that question" of interview guests, how a dinner party appeal from Diddy helped inspire his comeback, and finding a new place for himself in the late night arena.

You can find out when The Arsenio Hall Show airs in your area on the show's official website.

Looking for that Vine of Jesse attacking Arsenio? Click here!

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The Outshot: PWRFL Power's "Baby Tiger"

This week Jesse shares a beautiful, charming song that you probably haven't heard before. It's tough to find on CD; but, that’s ok because we’re going to play the whole thing for you.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: The Influence of Bob & Ray with David Pollock

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
David Pollock
Guests: 
Tony Hale
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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The Comic Chemistry Of Bob & Ray with Writer David Pollock

Your favorite improvising comedians, whether they realize it or not, are descendants of Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding. Their signature satirical sketches, performed equally for their own entertainment as for that of their audience, continually broke new ground in the world of comedy. What started as a simple dream to be radio announcers culminated in a career spanning five decades, performances at Carnegie Hall, and a legacy as two of the funniest radio and television personalities since those job titles came into existence.

David Pollock has written for some of the most important sitcoms of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, including Full House, Frasier, Growing Pains, Cheers, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. His new book, Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons, is a detailed history of Bob and Ray, and provides some serious new insight about the comedic duo.

Pollock tells us about Bob and Ray's most hilarious on-air moments, how they invented the concept of comedy in advertising, and the magical chemistry that kept Bob and Ray improvising for over 40 years.

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Andrew Noz Recommends Classic Three 6 Mafia and De La Soul

Our go-to rap critic Andrew Noz shares some of his all-time favorite hip-hop tracks.

First he recommends the menacing Memphis track Victim Of A Driveby (Mask And The Glock) by Triple Six Mafia feat. SOG & Lil Glock, off their 1994 "Smoked Out Loced Out" tape from Prophet Entertainment.

Noz also recommends De La Soul's Ego Trippin Pt. 2, the allusion-filled second single off their 1993 album "Buhloone Mindstate" from Tommy Boy.

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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The Frightened Roles of Tony Hale

No character epitomizes Arrested Development's eponymous theme like Buster Bluth. Giving his mom back rubs, dating her best friend, and sucking cigarette smoke from her mouth while she's under house arrest--Buster is an eerie Oedipal manchild to the nth degree.

Similarly in the HBO show Veep, one person in Washington truly enables Vice President Selina Meyer, feeding the ego of an otherwise vestigial political player--her body man, Gary Walsh.

Both characters are played by Emmy-nominee Tony Hale, whose comedic facility with the role of obsequious mama's boy is unmatched.

Tony sat down with Jesse last year to discuss the humor of the behind-the-scenes world of politics, Buster Bluth's comedic inspiration, and the role his faith plays in his acting career. The third season of Veep will air on HBO in the spring of 2014.

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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: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Armando Iannucci, Billy Bragg

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Guests: 
Armando Iannucci
Guests: 
Billy Bragg
Guests: 
Kyle Ryan
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

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The AV Club Recommends: Desperate Ground by The Thermals and It's A Disaster

AV Club Head Writer Nathan Rabin and Managing Editor Kyle Ryan join us this week to give their pop culture picks. Kyle recommends checking out The Thermals' new album, Desperate Ground, a return to the band's loud, punk rock style. From the world of film, Nathan suggests checking out It's A Disaster, a black comedy on VOD and in select theaters about a group of friends dealing with a divorce and the approaching apocalypse.

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Veep Creator Armando Iannucci on Poking Fun at Politics

What does the career trajectory of a lifelong political junkie look like? There are the obvious choices, like a major in Political Science, law school...maybe even a career in politics. But Armando Iannucci took a different path – one that led him to Oxford, an incomplete PhD, and work writing and producing comedy, like his acclaimed political satire The Thick of It and the feature film In the Loop.

Iannucci created a new take on American politics in the HBO comedy Veep. Now in its second season, the show follows a fictional Vice President (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) with lofty ambitions but little actual power. Veep showcases the comedy inherent in the struggle for the political upperhand, the constant panic and exhaustion. Seemingly small gaffes quickly escalate into ridiculous catastrophes. The show's dialogue is marked by careful attention to absurd politi-speak and some especially creative cursing.

Iannucci joins us to talk about the difference between UK and US politics, why he sympathizes with our elected officials, and conducting swearing research in Washington, D.C.

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The Song That Changed My Life, with Billy Bragg: Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Billy Bragg performs politically-minded folk music with a punk rock edge, songs with a tone and attitude somewhere between Woody Guthrie and the Sex Pistols. But what led to him developing his voice as an artist?

As Bragg explains, one of the most pivotal moments in his life happened during his lunch break at a record store. He put on a record that changed his life: Bob Dylan's folk anthem The Times They Are A-Changin'.

Billy Bragg is currently touring the US. You can find dates and tickets through his website.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Tapping Into Frustation for Seinfeld and Veep

Most of us first knew Julia Louis-Dreyfus from her Emmy-winning role as Elaine on Seinfeld. Elaine flailed, fought, and danced her way into our hearts as the friend to "losers" Jerry, George and Kramer. But Louis-Dreyfus first arrived in entertainment fresh off her college comedy sketch group, as a repertory player in the Dick Ebersol-helmed cast of Saturday Night Live.

After Seinfeld, she went on to anchor several sitcoms, including The New Adventures of Old Christine, with delightful guest appearances on shows like Arrested Development and 30 Rock. Her career has now taken her to a different cast of skewed characters on HBO's Veep.

On Veep, Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer, Vice President of the United States. Though the vice-presidency is a prestigious position, Meyer's day-to-day work is less than impressive. Her staff members claw at each other for power and prestige. She suffers awkward encounters with the media and consistent snubs from the President (a running gag on the show is Selina's off-hand question, "Did the President call?" The answer is usually no).

Julia Louis-Dreyfus joins us to talk about the similarities she's discovered between show business and politics, the boys' club that was SNL in the 80s, and a certain terrible dance that still haunts her to this day.

Veep airs on HBO on Sundays at 10/9 PM central.

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The Outshot: Threat by Jay-Z

Rap isn't poetry – it's its own thing. But, like poets, many of the best rappers imbue their lyrics with layers and layers of meaning. Need proof? Jesse suggests a close listen to Jay-Z's "Threat".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tony Hale, Nicholas Stoller, Comic Book Picks, and Kasper Hauser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tony Hale
Guests: 
Nicholas Stoller
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser



Comics with Alex and Brian

Our comic book experts return this week for another round of pop culture picks from the world of graphic novels. Alex Zalben is a writer and a host of the show Comic Book Club. Brian Heater is a journalist and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Cross Hatch, which highlights alternative comics. Alex recommends Brandon Graham's inventively absurd series King City, while Brian's pick, Goliath, by Tom Gauld, tells the tale of David and Goliath from the big guy's point of view.

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Actor Tony Hale

Tony Hale is a comic actor best known to audiences as the precocious man-child Buster Bluth, from the cult hit FOX sitcom Arrested Development, but Hale had been working in commercials and doing theatre in New York long before his big break. His latest role sees him playing "body man" (think: bag-boy) to Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Vice President of the United States on the new HBO comedy series Veep, from the mind of brilliant British satirist Armando Iannucci.

Tony sits down with us to discuss the humor of the behind-the-scenes world of politics, how he famously sold a lot Volkswagons to the tune of Styx's "Mr. Roboto", and returning to the role of Buster when Arrested Development picks up again later this year for a fourth season. Veep airs Sunday nights at 10PM on HBO.

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Kasper Hauser News Update

We here at Bullseye feel a moral obligation as a public radio show to provide you with some news content, so to get you caught up on all the top stories you've never heard of (as they're entirely made up), here's the latest from our fake news team: the San Francisco-based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser.

You can catch Kasper Hauser live later this week, performing alongside the honorable judge John Hodgman at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco on Sunday, April 29th.

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Writer-Director Nicholas Stoller

Nicholas Stoller is a writer and director of both film and television, whose breakout hit was the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Though his other film credits include Get Him To The Greek and 2011's The Muppets, Stoller has established himself as something of a master of the romance movie, as his films strike a delicate balance between uproarious comedy and real heartfelt character moments. His latest film The Five-Year Engagement finds him re-teaming with frequent collaborator Jason Segel and captures much of the same tone that made their first film together such a success.

Nick joins us to discuss the problems plaguing the romantic comedy genre, what goes into making a comedy set piece really work, and what sets Jason Segel apart as a comic actor. The Five-Year Engagement opens in theaters this Friday, April 27th.

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The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

For the Outshot this week, Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the film is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

Seen a documentary yourself that deserves a few more eyes on it? Give it some love by visiting the MaxFun forum and picking your own Outshot.

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