Wet Hot American Summer

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ethan Hawke & Michaela Watkins

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ethan Hawke
Guests: 
Michaela Watkins

Our WORLD TOUR OF SEVERAL AMERICAN CITIES kicks off this Friday November 13th in Los Angeles with William H. Macy, Matt Walsh, Brian Huskey, Chicano Batman and Baron Vaughn - get your tickets now!

Plus check us out in Boston, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Philly and DC with guests Barney Frank, Mission of Burma, Tavi Gevinson, David Cross, John Hodgman, Joel Hodgson, Ray Suarez, Dan Deacon and more. It's all at BullseyeTour.com. Don't miss it!

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Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

Ethan Hawke Considers Life Lessons in 'Rules For a Knight'

Ethan Hawke is one of the rare actors that viewers have seen grow up in front of their eyes. They watched him as a teenager in the films Explorers and Dead Poets Society, saw him as a young adult in Reality Bites and Before Sunrise, and even saw him change over the course of twelve years of filming his Oscar-nominated turn in the Richard Linklater film, Boyhood.

Along with his work on-screen, he has also enjoyed success as a novelist with his books. His newest is a set of parables, inspired by Hawke's experiences as a parent, called Rules for a Knight. In it, a knight fears that he may not return from battle, and leaves behind a letter with important life lessons for his children. In the book, Hawke explores themes of honesty, courage, solitude and patience.

Ethan Hawke joins Jesse to share how life as a divorced father has influenced his work as an author and an actor, why child stardom was a double-edged sword, and how a favorite line from one of his films helped him to complete a marathon.

Rules for a Knight is now available in hardback and as an e-book.

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Michaela Watkins on Dating In Real Life and On-Screen, SNL, and Going For the Joke

Michaela Watkins is an actress who is in her element when she can go all-out for the joke. Whether she’s practicing sketch comedy as she did in her time with The Groundlings or her one-year stint on Saturday Night Live or performing on a sitcom like the Trophy Wife, Watkins creates characters that are both funny and memorable.

Now, Watkins brings her wit to the lead role of Valerie Myers in the new Hulu series, Casual. In it, she plays a newly divorced woman who finds herself living with her adult brother, while learning to navigate the dating world as a middle-aged woman.

Michaela Watkins joined Jesse to talk about how taking time for herself helped her to improve her relationships, the insane pacing of Saturday Night Live, and her contributions to Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

Casual is now in its first season on Hulu.

You can find a bit of bonus audio from our interview with Michaela Watkins here.

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The Outshot: The Musicality of an MC

From the early days of rap, the role of the MC was an ancillary one. They were there to support the work of the DJ by keeping the energy level up. The rapper Rakim helped to change that by bringing the role of the MC front and center using a unique blend of words, music and an intoxicating beat.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Costello & Elizabeth Banks

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Elvis Costello
Guests: 
Elizabeth Banks

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Elvis Costello on His Reputation, Memories of His Father, and Writing Music for Friends

Elvis Costello grew up surrounded by music. His mother ran the record section of Selfridges, and his father was an accomplished working musician. As Costello describes in his new memoir, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, he didn't intend to make music himself, but felt eventually drawn to it.

The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and record producer has enjoyed a long career, working on his own and collaborating with everyone from Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney and Annie Lennox to Solomon Burke.

Elvis Costello joins Jesse to talk about his father’s career and love of music, why Alzheimer’s in his family inspired him to write the book and what it was like to have Christmas with Johnny Cash.

Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink is available now.

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Photo by Jesse Thorn

Elizabeth Banks on Finding the Heart of 'Love and Mercy'

'Love and Mercy' was a bit of a tough sell for Elizabeth Banks. She'd acted in biopics before, but this one, about the Beach Boys' resident genius Brian Wilson, was on another level. The director Bill Pohlad would have two actors playing Brian at different stages of his life, and the film would tackle both Brian's mental illness and the budding love story between him and his wife Melinda Ledbetter. The film, and the roles of Melinda and Brian, would carry high expectations. But after speaking with the real Melinda about her love for Brian and the complexities of their story, Banks fully committed to doing their story justice.

Banks has had a successful career in TV and film, including roles in 30 Rock, The Hunger Games, and Wet Hot American Summer. She also directed, produced and acted in a small role in this summer's smash hit comedy, Pitch Perfect II.

Elizabeth Banks joins us to talk about the challenges in making a film which explores loving someone with a mental illness, how she's dealt with the frustration of being undervalued and underutilized in Hollywood, and what she did with some of the... questionable advice she received from a prospective agent early in her career.

Love and Mercy is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

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The Outshot: Dad’s Style

Jesse explains why Dad's Style is so attractive.

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Wet Hot American Summer's David Wain & Michael Showalter

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
David Wain
Guests: 
Michael Showalter
Guests: 
Keith Powell

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Photos: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Wet Hot American Summer's David Wain and Michael Showalter Return to Camp Firewood

In Hollywood, there are no shortage of films that have proven to be economic failures. And then there's one that was so polarizing that Roger Ebert was inspired to express his hatred of the film in a parody of Allen Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh". Wet Hot American Summer survived both a lackluster theatrical release and Ebert's overwhelming negative review, and has lived on to earn a cult following. It's now been revived as an 8-part television series on Netflix.

The co-writers of the original film, David Wain and Michael Showalter, have again joined forces to make Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, as has most of the original cast, including Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, and Elizabeth Banks, plus a host of new faces.

Wain and Showalter join us to discuss their new series and how their inspiration for the original film was more 'Do The Right Thing' than 'Meatballs'; how they coped with negative reviews and their treasured memories of camp.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is available to stream on Netflix.

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"I Wish I'd Made That": Keith Powell on 'Network'

What can you take away from a satire of news networks as an eleven-year-old? If you're Keith Powell, the answer is kind of a lot.
For our ongoing series, "I Wish I'd Made That", actor and director Keith Powell joins us to talk about his first and subsequent viewings of the 1976 movie Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet.
Keith's new webseries is called Keith Broke His Leg.
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The Outshot: Andy Daly's "Review"

Andy Daly's Comedy Central show Review explores the essential qualities of the self (through experiences like getting divorced, becoming a racist, and eating fifteen pancakes in a row).

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jim Rash, Bob Saget, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jessica St. Clair
Guests: 
Lennon Parham
Guests: 
Jim Rash
Guests: 
Bob Saget
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.

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Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham of Playing House: Improv in the Writers' Room, Showing Real Friendships on TV, and 'Girl Porn'

Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham play best friends on TV, and if their on-screen chemistry seems real, it is. They met doing improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and have been writing partners ever since. They co-created and star in Playing House, a new comedy about female friendship that's more reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel than it is Carrie Bradshaw's gang.

Playing House follows Emma and Maggie, two women who have been friends forever. Maggie stayed in their hometown, got married, and is expecting a baby. Emma has been professionally ambitious, closing business deals in Shanghai, and hasn't been back to visit for what must be years.

Parham and St. Clair join us to talk about the marathon improv sessions that produce the show's jokes, the designer home "girl porn" that provides contrast to their characters' weirdness, and their real-life friendship.

Playing House airs on the USA network Tuesday nights at 10/9c.

Bonus audio: Parham and St. Clair talk about their beginnings at the UCB.

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Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Zombie Dice and Hitman Go

Whether you're looking to zombie-fy yourself, or get absorbed into the world of a contract killer, Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder's got just the game for you. He's the host of the Gweek podcast, and he drops by to suggest a couple of his favorite new games. He recommends checking out the multi-player Zombie Dice to collect brains and avoid shotgun blasts to the head. If you prefer a game you can play solo, he suggests the strategy-based (and bloodless) game for iOS, Hitman Go.

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The Part: Bob Saget on 'Full House'

When Bob Saget was in his twenties, he had a lot of plates spinning. He tried film school (and dropped out after just a few days). He performed stand up. He warmed up sitcom audiences. He appeared in a Richard Pryor movie. He even worked for a few months as a morning talk show host, before he was told he was "too hot for TV."

But the part that changed everything wasn't controversial, or crazy. It was playing the straight man, on a sitcom aimed at families.

And despite the schmaltzy moments and broad jokes aimed at kids, Saget is proud of his role as widower and family man Danny Tanner on Full House. He'll tell us why.

Saget's new memoir is Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian. It's very personal and sweet and also sometimes vulgar, which is pretty much exactly what you might expect. He's also touring his new stand up show. You can find details on his website.

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Jim Rash on Being "TV Ugly", Awkward Dad Talks, and Writing with Nat Faxon

Jim Rash has a lot of irons in the fire. He's a regular on NBC's Community and hosts the Sundance Channel series The Writers' Room. When Rash isn't on-screen, he's writing and directing. With his writing partner Nat Faxon, he wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Descendants. The pair also wrote and directed last year's coming-of-age comedy The Way, Way Back, which drew on some of Rash's childhood experiences.

Rash joins us this week to talk about the awkward-yet-motivational summer talks he had with his dad and stepdad as a teenager, exploring writing techniques with TV showrunners on The Writers' Room, and writing for Community during Dan Harmon's absence.

Community airs Thursday nights at 8/7c on NBC.
The Writers' Room airs Friday nights at 9/8c on on the Sundance Channel.

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The Outshot: Wet Hot American Summer

Wanna be pals with Jesse? Here's the litmus test.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The AV Club, Director David Wain, Jordan Ranks America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
David Wain
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Jordan Morris


The AV Club Recommendations

Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin of The AV Club recommend their all time favorite classics - Rodney Dangerfield’s 1981 comedy special No Respect and ‘50s Japanese film The Burmese Harp directed by Kon Ichikawa.
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Director David Wain

Writer, director, comedian, and actor David Wain has worked on many projects, from cult classics to commercial successes. From his early days on MTV’s sketch comedy show The State he moved on to write and direct the cultishly popular film Wet Hot American Summer. David returns to our show to trace his career path, discuss what made The State such a special comedy troupe, and of course talk about his new Judd Apatow-produced comedy, Wanderlust. The film opens in theaters nationwide on February 24th. It stars Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston.
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Jordan Ranks America

Jordan Morris gives the good old U.S. of A. a run down of the top 5 most important things happening within its borders this month. Old friends, Blu-ray movies, how will he break it all down?
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The Outshot: DJ Quik, Pitch In OnA Party

If you bring the potato salad, we’ll bring the chili as Jesse pines after potlucks with this week’s Outshot, DJ Quik’s Pitch In OnA Party.
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