Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Karyn Kusama on directing genre films and her new film 'Destroyer'

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Karyn Kusama

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Karyn Kusama on directing genre films and her new film 'Destroyer'

Karyn Kusama is a director. Her debut was the critically acclaimed drama "Girlfight," a movie about a female boxer that Kusama based on her own time in the ring. Since then, she's established herself as autere of genre films: in 2005 she directed the science fiction film "Aeon Flux," and has worked on horror movies like "Jennifer's Body" and "The Invitation."

She just directed the new film "Destroyer." It's a dark and complex crime drama, told in mostly flashbacks. It stars Nicole Kidman, who plays Erin Bell, an LAPD detective. As a young cop, Bell was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert. Things didn't end well, and the case she was on was never put to rest. When the leader of that gang re-emerges over a decade later, Bell goes rogue reopens the case on her own terms. Kidman's character is haunted by her memory of the past. And it's put a strain on her relationship with her daughter, Shelby.

Karyn discusses why it's important to portray complex female characters in film and media. She'll tell us about the look book she drew inspiration from when she directed 2009's "Jennifer's Body," and why she thinks the film struggled to find an audience when it was first released. Plus, how she finds pleasure in horror movies. And , sure, a lot of people find pleasure in horror films, but Karyn's response will truly surprise you.

If you'd like to hear even more from Karyn Kusama, she did a great interview on the Max Fun podcast Switchblade Sisters with the film critic April Wolfe. You can listen to that interview here.

Listen to this Bullseye interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Chris and Bridey Elliott on the new horror comedy 'Clara's Ghost'

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Chris Elliott
Guests: 
Bridey Elliott

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

Chris and Bridey Elliott on 'Clara's Ghost'

Chris Elliott got his start in showbiz as a production assistant on "Late Night with David Letterman," before becoming an iconic writer and performer on that show. One of our favorite bits from him on Letterman included a parody of Marlon Brando – in the skit he'd dump bananas out of a sack and slowly dance around them to the tune "The Alley Cat."

After his stint with Letterman, he went on to star in the cult sitcom "Get A Life" and the equally bizarre film "Cabin Boy." Both works have cemented him as an absurdist comedy legend. While those projects are not for everyone; they're a real treat if you can sit though some really cringe worthy moments.

You've definitely seen him in "There's Something About Mary," "Groundhog Day," and "Scary Movie" and in many TV shows, including "The King of Queens," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Everybody Loves Raymond." Most recently, he can be seen as Roland Schitt, the mayor of the small town on Pop Tv's "Schitt's Creek."

Bridey Elliott, his daughter, wrote and directed a new movie called "Clara's Ghost." It's a family collaboration: Bridey also stars in the movie, along with Chris, her sister Abby, and her mother Paula.

The movie takes place over one night. It tells the story of the Reynolds family, who live in a secluded mansion in New England. Chris' character Ted is the patriarch, a comedian past his prime. His daughters work in showbiz, too, but like their dad, haven't gotten a callback in a long time. Then there's Clara, played by Paula Elliott. Clara's discovered a ghost that only she can see.

We'll chat with Chris Elliott about his time on Letterman, and what it was like to work on the strange film "Cabin Boy." Plus, he'll tell us why he doesn't use social media. Bridey will explain how she tried to make horror film that had significant elements of comedy, and how "Cabin Boy" was kind of a horror film when she saw it as a kid. Plus, what it's like when people find out who her dad is, which often garners one of two very different reactions.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: End of Year 2018 Comedy Special

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Bullseye

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.

It's that time of year again! The Bullseye team listened to hours of comedy from the past year and picked the absolute best for you to enjoy in one convenient episode. There was a lot of great stuff this year. This was no easy task -- please let us know who else should have made the cut @Bullseye or on Facebook!

Like what you hear? Click through to learn more information on these comedians. For your convenience links to buy their albums have also been provided below:

Gina Yashere - Ticking Boxes
Laura House - Mouth Punch
Adam Cayton-Holland - Adam Cayton-Holland Performs His Signature Bits
Sara Hennessey - They Know Too Much
Louie Anderson - Big Underwear
Kimberly Clark - Live at Max Fun Con 2018
Emily Heller - Pasta
Nore Davis - Too Woke
Jo Firestone - The Hits
Dino Archie - Live at Max Fun Con 2018
Jen Kirkman - Just Keep Livin'?
Nato Green - The Whiteness Album

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jason Mitchell and Karina Longworth

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jason Mitchell
Guests: 
Karina Longworth

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: Paras Griffin / Getty Images

Jason Mitchell on his new film 'Tyrel' and portraying Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton

First up: Jason Mitchell! We can't wait to share this conversation with you – he's an up and coming actor with a lot of great stories to tell. He's magnetic, and as you'll hear in our interview he's extremely charming.

Recently, he's been in a lot of acclaimed movies and television shows. In Netflix's "Mudbound" he played a World War II veteran who returns to rural Mississippi. Or perhaps you've seen him on Lena Waithe's Showtime series "The Chi," he starred as Brandon. He's probably best known for his breakthrough role: 2015's "Straight Outta Compton." He sort of stole every scene he was in as Eazy-E.

His latest film "Tyrel," is out now. In it, Jason stars as Tyler: a young guy who lives with his girlfriend in New York. Deciding he wants to get out of the city for the while, he takes a trip with a handful of guys his age. He rides out to Catskills for a long weekend in a cabin.

The plot really thickens when you learn that the guys in the cabin are all friends of friends. He doesn't really know any of them. And the other thing: Tyler's black, while everyone else on the trip is white. It's an awkward and weirdly plausible look at race and masculinity and how people react when they have to deal with those topics head on.

Jason will talk about how this film helped create a friendship with co-star Michael Cera. He'll also discuss his road to stardom: he didn't get his first role until he was 24. And it wasn't an easy road – he was raised in a tough part of New Orleans, his home was devastated by Katrina, and he had run-ins with the law when he was younger. Plus, as a former professional oyster shucker he'll give us some tips for preparing the culinary delicacy.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Karina Longworth on her new book: 'Seduction
Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood'

The Golden Age of Hollywood was a fascinating time – this was the era of James Dean, Orson Welles and "Gone With The Wind." Look up the topic and you'll find hundreds of books, movies, TV shows, and even bus tours. Sometimes those depictions will get swept up in the glitz and glamor. Other times it's quite the opposite: dark, morose, and gritty.

Karina Longworth is writer and host of the hit podcast "You Must Remember This," which looks at some of the secrets of Old Hollywood. She's an expert on the history of Hollywood's Golden Age and she's written five books on the topic to prove it. Her latest book: "Seduction
Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood
," explores Hughes' time as a producer and director.

It's as sordid and cutthroat as you might imagine. The book talks about Hughes' role in Hollywood back then. The dozens of movies he financed, the few he wrote and directed. The weird, abusive system he created to recruit and develop young actresses – and the way he manipulated them. Longworth's book is beautifully written, and meticulously researched. She talks about the impact and damage done by Hughes and the people whose lives he affected forever.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!


Photo: Namco

The Outshot: Katamari Damacy

Finally for The Outshot, Jesse describes the whimsical world of Katamari Damacy – a video game that will fill you with wonder. A remastered version of the game has just been released. It's the perfect time to reflect on the simple joys of this funky little game.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Billy Eichner and Ali Wong

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Billy Eichner
Guests: 
Ali Wong

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.

Billy Eichner and the Pop Culture Maniac That is Billy on the Street

[R] This week, we'll revisit our conversation with comedian Billy Eichner. He's probably best known for roaming the streets of New York with a camera crew, roping unsuspecting pedestrians into playing his game show, "Billy on the Street." While Cash Cab paved the way for street-ambush game shows, Eichner's approach has a unique twist.

The correct answers are often subjective (as in the game "Dead or Boring") and his game show persona is hyper-energetic and over-the-top. He's ready to swoon with a contestant who shares his love of Meryl Streep, or yell and stalk angrily away from a contestant who doesn't.

Eichner tells us about his screaming encounters with Madonna, the influence of Pee-wee Herman on his on-screen persona, and the role that game show laws played in the development of his show. (It turns out that "game show compliance lawyer" is a real job.)

New episodes of "Billy on the Street" are available online on Funny or Die. You can also see him on "American Horror Story," "Difficult People," and so much more.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Ali Wong talks marriage and money and what it’s like performing through her pregnancy

There are many comedians who use their family life as inspiration for their comedy, but Ali Wong took it a step further when she recorded the 2016 comedy special "Baby Cobra" while seven and a half months pregnant.

Wong’s comedy is rooted in her willingness to be incredibly frank and honest about her personal life including her relationships, her Asian heritage and the challenges of pregnancy while working as a writer on the hit television show, "Fresh Off the Boat."

When Ali Wong joined Jesse a couple years ago she talked about being a breadwinner, performing while pregnant and how it feels to talk about painful and personal things like miscarriage in front of a comedy audience.

Ali Wong has another new comedy special: "Hard Knock Wife." She did the entire special pregnant, again. It's available to stream now on Netflix.

The Outshot: João Gilberto

On the Outshot, Jesse features João Gilberto, a musician who stripped away the heat and intensity of samba to create a cool, minimalist genre: bossa nova.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Steven Yeun and Sawbones' Justin and Dr. Sydnee McElroy

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Steven Yeun
Guests: 
Justin McElroy
Guests: 
Dr. Sydnee McElroy

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

Steven Yeun on his new film 'Burning'

First up: Actor Steven Yeun joins us to talk about what he's been up to since his breakthrough performance in the "The Walking Dead" the series.

For seven seasons, Steven played Glenn Rhee on "The Walking Dead." In this post-apocalyptic world where zombies roam the world Glenn's character was always quick to think strategically on his feet. Despite being kind of a loner in the series Glenn was an excellent leader in times of stress. He became one of the series' most beloved characters, and if we're being frank – he was quite a badass. He'll discuss what it was like when he first got that gig and what it was like to deal with people immersed in "Walking Dead" fandom.

Steven's work can also be seen in critically acclaimed films like "Sorry To Bother You" and "Okja." His new movie, "Burning," is the first Korean language film he's performed in. It's South Korea's submission for the Academy Awards. He'll explain why it was so intimidating performing in Korean.

As a kid Steven was pretty active at his local Korean American church. He was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He says he wasn't the coolest kid on the block but that didn't stop him from trying to assimilate. Something he says he's kind of embarrassed about now. He reflects on his childhood, and explains why trying to fit in was one of the most difficult acting gigs of his life.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Weldon Owen

The couple behind the podcast Sawbones on their new book about misguided medicine

There's something kind of fascinating and morbid about medical history, something unique to that genre. If you look into the history of medicine, one thing will become very clear, very quickly: for the longest time, we had no idea how our own bodies work. Sawbones is a podcast that airs on right here Maximum Fun. It's a show about all the gruesome, gross and sometimes very funny stuff we did to our bodies in the name of health and medicine.

It's hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy, a physician and medical history buff, and her husband Justin McElroy. And now: Sawbones is a book, too! It's called "The Sawbones Book: The Hilarious, Horrifying Road to Modern Medicine." It's beautifully illustrated by Teylor Smirl. It's available for purchase now.

Heads up: this is a conversation about medical history, so we'll be talking about blood, guts, injuries and other potentially squeamish stuff. If you're sensitive to that, we thought we'd let you know.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Photo: Syracuse University

The Outshot: Remembering Hank Greenwald

Jesse explains why Hank Greenwald, a play-by-play radio announcer for the San Francisco Giants, is his broadcasting hero.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Susan Orlean and Jazz singer Gregory Porter

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Susan Orlean
Guests: 
Gregory Porter

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

Author Susan Orlean on her new book 'The Library Book'

Susan Orlean is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her work has also appeared in Vogue, Esquire and on This American Life. She's the author of eight books, covering topics like New England and Rin Tin Tin. Her first book, "Saturday Night," used narrative journalism to paint a portrait of how Saturday night in America is lived. She's probably best known for "The Orchid Thief." That book ended up being the basis of the Academy Award nominated film "Adaptation," starring Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep.

She now lives here in Los Angeles. Being an author and a reader, she's visited the beautiful, historic central library in downtown Los Angeles dozens of times. Her latest book "The Library Book" is about that library and its history.

It wasn't until she took a tour of the library that she was inspired to write this book. The tour guide opened a book and said some of them still smelled like smoke. A bit perplexed she probed and asked more about the smell. This is how she learned of devastating fire that almost demolished the building in 1986. She always hoped someone would tell this story, and unknowingly years later she would be the one to tell it. The book is also also kind of a paean to libraries everywhere – what they mean to her, and why every library is a vital institution.

We're big fans of Susan Orlean at Maximum Fun. A few years ago she gave a talk at Max Fun Con called: "Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary." You can check out that talk here.

Photo: Valery Hache / AFP / Getty Images

Jazz vocalist Gregory Porter on his new album 'Nat King Cole and Me'

Gregory Porter is a Grammy Award winning jazz vocalist. The route he took to get there is really unique. He was a offensive lineman at San Diego State. Then, during his junior year, an injury ended his football career. During that time he could sing, but he wasn't a singer. That changed when his mom, literally from her deathbed, told him to start singing.

In 2010, he moved to New York with his brother and recorded his debut record "Water." Whereas most young jazz singers start their careers recording standards, Porter recorded an album of mostly originals.

Now, almost a decade later, he's laid down an new album with jazz standards. "Nat King Cole and Me" pays tribute to one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. It's music he grew up on. Porter spent a lot of time researching the music of Nat King Cole - his records, books, and documentaries. He'll tell us what made Cole one of the most unique singers of the civil rights era of the 1950's. He'll also tell us what it was like to grow up in Bakersfield, California and how that's influenced his lyrics.

The covers are great, but if you want to hear some more of his original work, check out his 2016 album: "Take Me to the Alley" – the album was inspired by his mother's teachings as a street minister and it's one of our favorites.

The Outshot: Hot Dog Timmy

Jesse explains why great things can come of simple premises and simple situations. Like in this sketch from "The Whitest Kids You Know."

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tenacious D and José James

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jack Black
Guests: 
Kyle Gass
Guests: 
José James

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

Tenacious D on their new album and animated series: 'Post-Apocalypto'

Kyle Gass and Jack Black have been together making music for over two decades now as Tenacious D. Jack's become incredibly famous as an actor, and he keeps busy – he's got two movies out this month alone.

Despite this, Tenacious D is a project Jack and Kyle love to revisit. They're releasing their first album in six years, and putting together an animated series pretty much all on their own. They voiced all the characters in the series, and Jack was also responsible for the illustrations of the series. Safe to say their going back to their DIY roots! They've gone from playing tiny clubs in Hollywood to selling out 85,000 seat stadiums – granted they were opening for Metallica – but still!

The first episode for the new animated series, "Post- Apocalypto" just dropped on Youtube – with new episodes every Friday until November 2nd. In the series, Jack and Kyle survived the apocalypse, and the world is very weird now. There are monsters everywhere and Tenacious D is on the mission to change planet earth back to the way it was before. It's silly, it's dumb, and it's really, really funny.

This week, we'll talk with The D about this exciting new chapter in their music careers. We'll dive deep into their long lasting friendship, get the scoop on how the group formed, and they'll perform a snippet from an unreleased song. Plus, find out what was Jack Black's first paid gig. The answer might surprise you.

To mark the release of the "Post-Apocalypto" album they're also kicking off a huge tour all over North America – check out the tour dates here.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Getty Images / Eva Hambach

The Song That Changed My Life, with José James: "Love and Happiness" by Al Green

José James is a singer from Minneapolis. He works a lot in jazz - collaborating with folks like Chico Hamilton and Kris Bowers. But his collaborators go beyond jazz – into hip-hop, electronic, and soul music, too.

He'll tell us about "Love and Happiness" by Al Green. José's introduction to Al Green was through the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack. Soon after listening to "Let's Stay Together," he fell in love with Al Green's music. But it wasn't until he heard "Love and Happiness" that something really clicked. He'll tell us how the song changed how he listened to soul music, and how it influenced how he makes music.

José James' new album, "Lean on Me," features 12 renditions from another one of his favorite soul singers – Bill Withers. The record is out now, and he'll be
hitting the road this fall
.

Check out this segment on YouTube!

Instead of The Outshot this week we're doing something a little different. It's a standup routine from the comedian Ted Alexandro. It was recorded a few weeks ago at the Comedy Cellar, in front of the same brick wall that Louis CK stood in front of when he returned to the standup stage. He talks about CK and Bill Cosby, who was recently sentenced to prison for sexual assault.

A quick warning: Ted talks frankly here about sexual assault and abuse – there isn't anything too graphic, but if those subjects are sensitive to you or inappropriate for anyone you're listening with please keep that in mind.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Director Nicole Holofcener and the creators of 'Lodge 49'

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nicole Holofcener
Guests: 
Jim Gavin
Guests: 
Peter Ocko

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: Charley Gallay / Getty Images

Writer and director Nicole Holofcener on her new film: 'The Land of Steady Habits'

Nicole Holofcener is a writer and director probably best known for her films "Friends with Money" and "Enough Said." She's also worked on TV shows like "Parks and Recreation," "Orange is the New Black" and "Sex and the City." Her latest project is a film called "The Land of Steady Habits" – it's out now on Netflix.

Nicole's projects are intimate and always feature strong female leads. For the first time, her movie centers on a man. "The Land of Steady Habits" is about a middle-aged, retired finance guy, named Andres played by Ben Mendelsohn. Anders is going through kind of a late midlife crisis. He just left his wife, Helene, played by Edie Falco. And his relationship with his adult son is drifting away – Anders is losing him to drug use. It's safe to say that Anders has trouble figuring out where he fits in these days.

Nicole will tell us how she adapted the novel by Ted Thompson into this very poignant film, and why she felt this was an important story to tell. Plus, she'll reflect on her childhood – when she moved to Los Angeles as a early teenager she couldn't believe that the guys on the Metro bus would be exactly like the jerks on the New York subway.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Jim Gavin & Peter Ocko on the new Television show 'Lodge 49'

AMC has produced some of the most stunning dramatic television programs in recent memory. "Mad Men," "Better Call Saul," and "Breaking Bad" come to mind – but they're television shows that are grounded in gritty realities. "Lodge 49" is one of the newest shows on AMC, and it's a drama like you'd expect from the network. But it's on a different wavelength, and it's very funny.

The show's about Sean "Dud" Dudley. He's a 30 something burnout who lives in Long Beach, California. One day he's metal detecting on a beach and he finds a ring. He asks around, and it turns out it belongs to a lodge for this secret society - the Order of the Lynx. Sort of like the Freemasons or the Elks. The ring brings him into the lodge, and before long, he becomes a member. He's fascinated by the robes and rituals, charmed and befriended by the members. He gets swept up by the mythology and mystery.

We spoke to Jim Gavin, the show's creator; and Peter Ocko, a TV veteran, showrunner and Executive Producer for "Lodge 49." They'll give us the scoop on all the quirks of the show, and their fascination with fraternal organizations. Jim Gavin grew up in Long Beach, naturally, we asked him some extremely specific Long Beach questions.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The Outshot: The genius of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson sang some of the greatest pop hits of all time, but who was the real genius behind those tracks? Michael Jackson, of course!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Amy Sedaris and Paul Reiser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Amy Sedaris
Guests: 
Paul Reiser

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: TruTV

Amy Sedaris On Her New Show: At Home with Amy Sedaris

Amy Sedaris's TruTv show "At Home with Amy Sedaris" is up for an Emmy this year for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, so we're bringing back our interview with her from 2017.

Amy's made a career playing characters - and we say this with absolutely *zero* shade intended - people who are kind of grotesque and weird- the weirder the better! There's Jerri Blank from "Strangers with Candy" - a middle-aged high school student with an overbite, weird highlights, and a penchant for mom jeans. There's also Mimi Kanasis- the crazed, kinda plastic-y, socialite on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." On "At Home with Amy Sedaris," she pretty much plays herself. She talks with Jesse about how that's a transition out of her normal comfort zone.

Also discussed: rabbits (she has one), monkfish (they smell bad when they're dead), and Girl Scout badges (she has them all!)

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Paul Reiser on Dramatizing The Tonight Show's Golden Days.

Paul Reiser is, of course, a long time stand up. Alongside Helen Hunt, he starred in the hit sitcom "Mad About You." He's great in Amazon's "Red Oaks," Netflix's "Stranger Things," he was in "Whiplash," too. He's also the creator of the Hulu TV series "There's...Johnny!."

It's set in the early 70s, behind the scene of the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." Reiser knew Carson about as well as anybody could. He dishes on what it was like appearing on his show almost a dozen times, how the show came together, and what it was like following up a hit show like "Mad About You."

The interview originally aired in 2017.

The Outshot: Who Needs Donuts?

Finally, for this week's Outshot: Who needs "Who Needs Donuts?" You need "Who Needs Donuts?"

This segment originally aired in 2017.

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