30 Rock

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Paula Pell

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Paula Pell

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Paula Pell on 'Wine Country' and working at 'SNL' for almost two decades

So many of the sketches Paula Pell has written for Saturday Night Live are stone-cold classics. There's the Culps, Ana Gasteyer and Will Ferrell's bizarre pop music duo. The Spartan Cheerleaders. The Tony Bennett Show. Remember when Justin Timberlake brought us on down to Omeletteville? We have Paula Pell to thank for a lot of wonderful and hilarious work on SNL.

Pell spent 18 years behind the scenes as a writer on the show. She's truly an SNL MVP. After her time on SNL she wrote for 30 Rock, the Oscars, and the Golden Globes. She's had roles on Parks and Recreation, Big Mouth, and, most recently, the NBC show AP Bio. She plays Helen, the goofy high school administrator who eats tomato sauce and hair.

Pell joins us to talk about her latest project: Wine Country. She co-stars alongside SNL alums Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Rachel Dratch. It’s a story about a group of women reconnecting over a birthday weekend in Napa. The group became life-long friends during their stint working at a Chicago pizzeria. People moved. Got married. Grew apart. This movie deals with preserving those friendships despite life getting in the way. It's based in part from a real wine trip the stars took for Dratch's 50th birthday.

Pell also pulls back the curtain and discusses some of her more controversial work on SNL. Plus: why, when she was a writer on SNL, she was so much more comfortable as a writer than a performer.

Sincerely, one of the funniest people we've ever had on the show. Don't sleep on this one!

A quick warning about this interview you're about to hear: there's some talk about sex in it. Nothing super graphic or descriptive, but we wanted to give you a heads up.

Ep. 32: Go Fact Yourself with Guy Branum & Emily Heller

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Margaret Cho, J. Keith van Straaten, Guy Branum, Helen Hong, Emily Heller
Guests: 
Guy Branum & Emily Heller
Guests: 
Margaret Cho, Emily Saliers

In honor of the #MaxFunDrive, Go Fact Yourself presents a special network crossover!

Guy Branum is a comedian and host of the podcast "Pop Rocket". He's also a pop culture savant, as detailed in his book My Life as a Goddess. If you want to know more about the pop culture he loves, you'll have to read the book… but he's happy to provide a glimpse through some of his answers today.

His opponent is a fellow comedian for whom he has a lot of respect (and fear): Emily Heller! You can hear her as the host of the podcast "Baby Geniuses". Her show is all about explaining things. Today she’ll key in on a very important topic: Martha Stewart's barnyard animals.

From personal heroes to classic television to the subtleties of regional coffee pot designs, this episode has it all.

This show is directly funded by our Maximum Fun Members. As part of our annual #MaxFunDrive, you can sign up for as little as $5 a month at maximumfun.org/donate to help support this and other Max Fun shows you listen to AND earn great gifts in the process!

What’s the difference: Coffee/Coughy

What’s the difference between a teapot and a coffee pot?

What’s the difference between phlegm and mucus?


Guy Branum and Emily Heller

Areas of Expertise

Emily Heller: The TV show "Frasier," the musical group Indigo Girls and how to have a good time at Disneyland.

Guy Branum: Academy Award nominees for best actress, the TV show "30 Rock" and grains.

Appearing in this episode:

J. Keith van Straaten
Helen Hong
Guy Branum
Emily Heller

With guest experts:

Emily Saliers, Grammy Award winning musician and one-half of Indigo Girls.

Margaret Cho, comedian and actress.

Go Fact Yourself was devised by Jim Newman and J. Keith van Straaten, and produced in collaboration with Maximum Fun. The show was recorded at The Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles.

Theme Song by Jonathan Green.
Maximum Fun's Senior Producer is Laura Swisher.
The show is edited by Julian Burrell.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tituss Burgess

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Tituss Burgess

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

Tituss Burgess is one of those actors who, no matter if it's a small church choir in Georgia or a starring role on Broadway, always brings magic to the role.

His successful audition for a small recurring part on 30 Rock put him on Tina Fey's radar and led to a role as Titus Andromedon on the Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess's performance on the show has earned him four consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

In this interview, Tituss talks about his upbringing in Georgia, embodying the character of Titus Andromedon and coping with a broken microphone while performing live at the Tony Awards.

The second half of the final season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was recently released and is available on Netflix.

This interview originally aired in 2016.

Click here to listen to Tituss Burgess's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tracee Ellis Ross and Megan Mullally

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tracee Ellis Ross
Guests: 
Megan Mullally

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: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Megan Mullally: On her Childhood, The Return of Will & Grace, and Performing with Donald Trump

Megan Mullally is one of those actors who just kind of radiates confidence and poise. In the nearly 100 roles she's had on film & TV, that's made her stand out. She's kind of a character actress - a lot of the time she plays people with huge personalities.

If you're a fan of Parks and Recreation, you'll remember she played Tammy, the ex-wife of Ron Swanson- a kind of menacing, toxic seductress. Ron is played by Nick Offerman, by the way - Megan's real-life husband.

She also has some unforgettable credits on shows like Bob's Burgers, Childrens Hospital, even a few episodes on 30 Rock.

But she's probably best known for her role in the groundbreaking sitcom "Will & Grace" where she plays Karen Walker- a kind of deranged, sociopathic, judgmental socialite who works for Grace on the show.

During its original run, between 1998 and 2006, the show earned 16 Emmy awards and over 80 nominations. Last year, the show returned for a 9th season. Megan, who's already won two Emmys for her role as Karen, is now up for her third award in the supporting actress category.

Megan tells Jess about why she feels she was born - yes, literally born - to be in showbiz. Plus, she talks about the time she sang the theme song from "Green Acres" on stage at the Emmys with Donald Trump.

If you haven't seen the new season of Will and Grace, you gotta! It's free to stream on NBC's website right now.

Click here to listen to Megan Mullally's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Tracee Ellis Ross: On Directing and Growing Up with Diana Ross

Director and actress Tracee Ellis Ross was born in Los Angeles to music executive Bob Ellis and singer Diana Ross. Yes, THE Diana Ross!

For a while she worked in indie films and made for TV movies, then in 2000 she broke through on the sitcom "Girlfriends" - she starred as Joan Clayton. The show ran for eight smash hit seasons on UPN and the CW.

In 2014, she took on a role in a new series: ABC's "Black-ish." Starring alongside Anthony Anderson, Tracee plays Dr. Rainbow Johnson, an anesthesiologist who's married to Andre, Anderson's character. The show focuses on Dre and Bow, as they're called. They've settled down in the suburbs and started a family. As the kids grow up and the family settles in, Dre and Bow realize the life their kids are leading is very different from their own. The show touches on race, class, and politics.

The role has earned Tracee a Golden Globe award for Best Actress, and now she's up for the same honor at this year's Emmys.

Tracee talked with Karen Tongson, professor of English and Gender studies at USC, and co-host of Pop Rocket, Bullseye's sister show over here at Maximum Fun.

In their conversation, Tracee and Karen go deep into her acting and work directing Black-ish, and she talks about what it was like to grow up in a New York apartment when your mom is Diana Ross.

You can stream or buy all four seasons of Black-ish on a bunch of different platforms right now. Like we said before, she's up for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards this year. Wanna see if she'll win it? Tune in September 17.

Click here to listen to Tracee Ellis Ross's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Courtesy of Entertainment One

The Outshot: "The Eye Has to Travel"

In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about Diana Vreeland, the subject of the 2011 documentary "The Eye Has to Travel." It's about the life of Diana Vreeland. You could say she was a fashion editor, but that certainly undersells her. She is the fashion editor's fashion editor - a transformational figure who carried women's style from the Edwardian to the modern. She convinced the world to wear blue jeans and bikinis. She ran Harper's Bazaar, then Vogue, and changed them both forever. Above all else, she spoke with the perfect combination of audacity and charm.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Edie Falco and Hunter Pence

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Edie Falco
Guests: 
Hunter Pence

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: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Edie Falco on her new movie "Outside In"

Edie Falco was over a decade into her acting career before she got her breakout role as Carmela Soprano in the classic HBO mob drama "The Sopranos." She then went on to play the title role in the Showtime dark comedy "Nurse Jackie" for which she won an Emmy in 2010 for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series.

Edie's newest film is called "Outside In." She plays Carol, a married high school English teacher who became pen pals with a former student named Chris while he was in jail serving a 20- year sentence. After Chris gets out of prison, things get complicated between them.

Edie talks to Jesse about landing her first acting gig, which she started the day after she graduated from SUNY Purchase's acting school, why she thinks comedy isn't for her, and James Gandolfini, the late actor who she worked with for nearly a decade on "The Sopranos."

Click here to listen to Edie Falco's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Hunter Pence on his unique approach to playing baseball

Baseball player Hunter Pence was drafted in 2004 by the Houston Astros. He debuted in the majors in 2007 and by 2009 was named an All-Star. Now he plays right field for the San Francisco Giants and was instrumental in bringing the team to victory in two world series.

Hunter has also been subject to some of the weirdest heckles in baseball - handheld signs that say stuff like "Hunter Pence Can't Parallel Park," "Hunter Pence eats Pizza with a Fork," and "Hunter Pence Thinks Game of Thrones is Just Ok." He talks with Jesse about what he thinks about these strange and inaccurate callouts, why he wears such high socks, and his Houston coffee shop and gaming cafe called Coral Sword.

Click here to listen to Hunter Pence's interview on YouTube.


Photo: www.netflix.com

The Outshot: Netflix's "Toast of London"

In the British TV comedy "Toast of London," Matt Berry plays honey-voiced British actor Steven Toast. Toast lives in modern London but acts more like a British stage actor from 1976. After a terrible career decision, he's forced to take on horrible job after horrible job while trying to navigate life as a newly divorced man.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on "Toast of London" on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Alexander Payne, Kay Cannon, and Eugene Levy

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Alexander Payne
Guests: 
Kay Cannon
Guests: 
Eugene Levy

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: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for BF

Filmmaker Alexander Payne on his film 'Downsizing'

Alexander Payne is an accomplished writer and director. He's won two Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay for the films "Sideways" and "The Descendants." His other films have been nominated for tons of awards, too -- "About Schmidt," "Nebraska," and "Election." His films are known for their satirical nature, dark humor and usually include some sort of existential crisis. His latest film "Downsizing" is no exception.

The movie centers on Paul and Audrey, an average couple from Omaha, played by Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig. In an effort to combat overpopulation and global warming, people can be shrunk down to about five inches. But things don't go exactly as planned for the couple.

Jesse sat down with Alexander Payne to talk about his love of silent films, what it was like to achieve success for his thesis film shortly after graduating college, and how he bonds with his six-month-old through film. Plus, he'll tell us about his favorite sequence in "Downsizing," and why he loved directing the challenging eight minute scene.


Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

The Craziest Day Of My Entire Career: Kay Cannon

Kay Cannon is a brilliant and hilarious writer. You know her work -- she wrote all three of the Pitch Perfect movies. Before that, she spent five years on "30 Rock," first as a writer and then as a supervising producer. Kay then went on to work on Fox's "New Girl" and she also created the Netflix original series "Girlboss."

Her directorial debut, "Blockers" is in theaters now. In the film, three teen girls make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Their parents, played by Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena, will do everything they can to stop them.

Kay Cannon tells us about the craziest day of her entire career, which starts on the Golden Gate Bridge, takes a scary private plane flight in a private jet and ends in an awkward meeting with John Cena.


Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Eugene Levy on working with his son on 'Schitt's Creek'

Eugene Levy is probably best known for his role as Noah Levenstein in the "American Pie" franchise. Noah is the nerdy, oftentimes clueless dad of Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs). Noah's efforts to help Jim navigate puberty often result in embarrassing and awkward situations for Jim. The film series spans eight films, and Eugene is the only actor to appear in all of them.

He first got his start in improv comedy. He was a founding member of SCTV - the pioneering sketch comedy show that helped launch the careers of Rick Moranis, John Candy, Catherine O'Hara, and many, many more.

Recently, he's been reunited with Catherine O'Hara in the sitcom "Schitt's Creek." The show was created by Eugene and his son, Dan Levy. Eugene plays Johnny Rose, the patriarch of a socialite family that lost their fortune. Johnny and his wife Moira, played by Catherine, head to the last place they can call their own: the backwoods Canadian town Johnny bought as a gag gift the year before. Together the family pieces their life back together.

Eugene sits down with Jesse and talks about what it was like to work with his son on "Schitt's Creek," and why he almost turned down his iconic role from "American Pie."


Photo: SFMOMA

The Outshot: Rigo 23’s “found lost bird” posters

And finally, Jesse tells us about a recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. He describes the lost bird posters collected by Rigo 23 in the 1990's from the Mission District in San Francisco. The posters reflect the lives of the people who posted them, but also serves as a reminder of a community that no longer exists.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Judd Apatow & Romesh Ranganathan

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Judd Apatow
Guests: 
Romesh Ranganathan

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Judd Apatow on returning to stand-up comedy after more than 20 years

Judd Apatow is responsible for some of the funniest films and television shows of the past two decades. He got his start in Hollywood mostly by working behind the scenes - he was a writer on “The Larry Sanders Show,” a showrunner on “The Ben Stiller Show” and served as an executive producer on the short-lived NBC cult classic “Freaks and Geeks.”

Apatow has also produced movies like “Bridesmaids” and “Superbad,” and has written and directed plenty of features too, including, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Funny People,” “This Is 40,” and “Knocked Up.”

One of Judd’s true passions is stand-up comedy. When he was a teenager he worked at the East Side Comedy Club in Long Island. Back then he brushed shoulders with comics like Eddie Murphy and Rosie O’Donnell. In 1992, he was featured on HBO’s “Young Comedians Special.” In it, he shares the stage with Ray Romano and Andy Kindler.

Judd Apatow’s new Netflix stand-up special is appropriately called “Judd Apatow: The Return,” it marks his return to stand-up after more than 20 years. His material is sincere and relatable just like many of his films. In the special, he reads terrible poetry he wrote as a teenage to get the crowd going, he jokes about the disastrous time he threw the first pitch for the New York Mets, and he imagines what would happened if he ever decided to smoke pot with his kids. Need we say more!

Jesse talks with Judd about the new comedy special, and why it’s important to him to consciously choose to make his projects more inclusive and diverse.

Click here to listen to Judd Apatow's interview on YouTube!

Photo: Rory James/Flickr

Romesh Ranganathan on how his family's immigrant history informed his comedy

You might not know Romesh Ranganathan yet, but in the UK he’s a big celebrity best known for his stand-up comedy. He’s been a regular on spin offs of “The Great British Bake Off” and “The Apprentice.”

Romesh also hosts a travel show on the BBC called “Asian Provocateur.” In it, he travels around the world reconnecting with his parents’ home country of Sri Lanka. In the second season, Romesh travels to various locations in North America to meet more of his relatives, and his mother, Shanthi, tags along for his adventure.

The highlights of the show often feature Shanthi. She will stop at nothing to chide Romesh whenever she gets a chance. It’s really funny -- dare we say his mom is funnier than him. And Romesh knows this -- his relationship with his hilarious mother often drives much of his stand-up routine.

With hopes of making it big in the states; Romesh just moved to America with his wife, kids, and of course, his mother. He has an upcoming performance at the Greek Theater on Thursday December, 21, and tickets are still available. Romesh’s new comedy special, “Irrational,” was recorded at London's Hammersmith Apollo, and is available now. He hosts a podcast called "Hip Hop Saved My Life."

Jesse talks with Romesh about his love of hip-hop, and what it's like going from crying once a month in a corporate bathroom stall to selling out concert halls in London.

Click here to listen to Romesh Ranganathan's interview on YouTube!

The Outshot: 30 Rock’s Dr. Spaceman

Finally, for this week's Outshot: Dr. Spaceman. 30 Rock was a show with a thousand nearly perfect jokes. But there was only one most perfect joke among all those nearly perfect jokes. Jesse talks about what makes Chris Parnell’s portrayal Dr. Spaceman a very good bad doctor.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on YouTube!

International Waters: Episode 55 Duck Butter and Snozzberries

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Ingrid, Dave, Amanda, James and Keith
Guests: 
Ingrid Oliver
Guests: 
Amanda Meadows
Guests: 
James Bachman
Guests: 
Keith Powell

Amanda Meadows, Keith Powell, Ingrid Oliver and James Bachman join host, Dave Holmes for tea drinking, hipster food trends and weird beauty treatments.

Plugs and recommendations:

Amanda Meadows wants to plug her latest Devastator Press publication The Presidential Dickerbook recommends Danger 5 which is available on Netflix.

Keith Powell wants to plug his upcoming web series Keith Broke His Leg and is currently binge-watching BoJack Horseman on Netflix.

Ingrid Oliver wants to plug her own Twitter @IngridOliver100 and recommends Friday Night Lights.

James Bachman wants to plug his UCB 401 Class Show on Saturday 15th August at around 4.30pm. James recommends Scandal and Babybird’s album Fatherhood 2.

And finally, Dave Holmes is on Twitter @DaveHolmes and hosts his live quiz show, The Friday Forty at LA’s Meltdown Theatre on the second Friday of every month. Dave would like to recommend Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.

Written by Sarah Morgan and Asterios Kokkinos, recorded at MaxFunHQ in LA and produced by Colin Anderson.

Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 199: Good In Everything with Keith Powell

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30 Rock's Keith Powell joins Jordan and Jesse to serenade a birthday girl, give good advice to America's troubled teens and if there's enough time, sprinkle some gay dust.

Judah Friedlander: World Champion, 30 Rock Star, Author of How To Beat Up Anybody: Interview on The Sound of Young America Live at WNYC

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Judah Friedlander


Photo credit WNYC and Casey De Pont.

Judah Friedlander is a regular on NBC's 30 Rock and the author of How To Beat Up Anybody. He is the World Champion.

Judah joined us on our live show at WNYC to discuss the differences between a Yeti, a Sasquatch and a Bigfoot (and how to beat up all three). He also delineated his strategies for fighting groups of people and even groups of strippers.

When Friedlander's not beating people up, he plays writer Frank Rossitano on 30 Rock. He's had a long and successful career on stage as a standup comic, and his film roles include an acclaimed turn as the Original Nerd, Toby in "American Splendor."

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