Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Comic and actor J.B. Smoove

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Bullseye
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J.B. Smoove

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

J.B. Smoove on Curb Your Enthusiasm, writing on Saturday Night Live and more

J.B. Smoove is without a doubt one of the funniest people we've ever had on Bullseye.

He got his start in television as one of the stars of Def Comedy Jam in the mid-90's. In the early aughts he became a writer on Saturday Night Live. J.B. wrote sketches like a commercial for "Tylenol Extreme," and a hypothetical remake of Norman Lear's "Good Times." He's probably best known for his role as Leon on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Currently, you can check him out in Spider-Man: Far From Home. In the film, J.B. plays Peter Parker's teacher, Julius Dell. He has some really funny moments as Parker's chaperone.

J.B. joins us to talk about his time on SNL. He'll explain how an audition to be a featured cast member actually landed him a job as a writer instead. We'll hear about a few of his favorite sketches that never made it to air.

He'll also talk about his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and why he always goes to an audition in character. Plus, he'll tell us about the time he told Howard Stern, and we quote: "You can't eat spaghetti on an open patio." Join us to learn exactly what he means!

When he's not working on screen he keeps busy on the road. He tries to test out as much new material as possible. You can see him on tour all over the country this summer and fall. Check out his website for latest dates.

A heads up to listeners, this episode contains many censored expletives throughout the interview.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Sinkane's Ahmed Gallab with Guest Host Shereen Marisol Meraji

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Bullseye
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Ahmed Gallab

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Photo: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Sinkane's Ahmed Gallab

Singer-songwriter Ahmed Gallab is a citizen of the world. Born in London and raised in the United States to Sudanese parents, Gallab creates music that draws inspiration from every corner of the planet. His band, Sinkane, is based in Brooklyn and makes music that fuses Afrobeat, funk and Brooklyn indie-rock vibes. There's even a hint of prog rock and electronica mixed in!

Gallab got his start the way a lot of musicians do, as a session musician. He joined the backing bands for Eleanor Friedberger and Caribou and has worked with of Montreal and Born Ruffians. He also led a tribute band to the late Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor with the likes of David Byrne of Talking Heads and Damon Albarn from Blur.

Sinkane's debut album Sinisterals was released in 2007. Since then Ahmed's made several great albums. The latest, Dépaysé, mixes genres again with a much more personal feel. Seeking a way to find a good time through music while also addressing oppression head-on, Gallab sought out inspiration from music's past and his own. He looked to a few of his musical inspirations from America's post Civil Rights movement: Sly Stone, George Clinton, Bob Marley. The result was an album that sits firmly in the pocket while feeling more "honest" than the artist's previous creations. He draws from his Sudanese roots, conversations with his father about their Arabic background and the political unrest in their homeland to create a sound that is like nothing else.

Bullseye guest host Shereen Marisol Meraji talks with Ahmed about how a dream inspired this record, why his favorite musicians have a clear political message and how an appearance on Letterman twelve years ago finally changed his parent's mind about his career aspirations.

Dépaysé is available now.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tales of the City's Garcia with Guest Host Shereen Marisol Meraji

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Bullseye
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Garcia

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Photo courtesy of Garcia

Garcia on their breakout role in "Tales of the City"

Garcia makes their acting debut on the popular Netflix miniseries Tales of the City. It's an update to the LGBTQIA classic which premiered in the 90's on PBS and starred Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. The two reprise their roles in the 2019 version. The show is based on the novel series of the same name written by Armistead Maupin which grew out of a newspaper column.

Tales of the City takes place in San Francisco and follows the lives of a group of people living at 28 Barbary Lane. The 90th birthday of Dukakis' Anna Madrigal brings characters together and threatens to uproot deeply seeded secrets and emotions. The cast and characters are from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds as well as gender expressions and sexual orientations.

In the show, Garcia plays Jake Rodriguez. Jake is a trans man in a relationship with his lesbian girlfriend Margot. Jake is a few years into his transition and is still adjusting to his new life. Margot is adjusting to being in a straight relationship and, although she loves Jake, she expresses her frustrations with the change. This puts a strain on their relationship.

Garcia talks with guest host Shereen Marisol Meraji about working in Hollywood as a trans non-binary person of color and how their chosen family lead them to acting.

Tales of the City is streaming now on Netflix.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John Waters

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Bullseye
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John Waters

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

John Waters on his legacy in film, Little Richard, his mustache, and more

John Waters is a director who hasn't made a movie in over a decade, and he doesn't really plan to make any more. He's directed some classics like Pink Flamingos, Cry-Baby and probably most notably Hairspray.

Even though he's not making movies anymore, he keeps busy. He's an actor – he played director William Castle in FX's Feud, Pete Peters in Seed of Chucky and he even had a cameo in one of those Alvin and the Chipmunks movies.

He's done a ton of live performances, released a few compilation albums and he's written seven books. When he joined us in studio he talked about his book Make Trouble. The book was based off a commencement speech he gave at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015.

Jesse talks with him about Little Richard, trigger warnings, and how the film industry tried (and failed) to make the King of Trash compromise his work. Plus, he'll tell us about the fabulous Commes de Garcon shirt he wore to the recording.

His latest is his memoir, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder. It's out now. You can also find the recent Criterion Collection re-release of Multiple Maniacs, one of John's first ever movies on DVD.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: David Crosby

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Bullseye
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David Crosby

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Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

David Crosby on The Byrds, CSN and his recovery from drugs.

Bullseye takes a look back at our conversation with folk rock legend David Crosby. His work paved the way for the folk rock movement. He was a founding member of The Byrds and performed at Woodstock as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. With a career that has spawned over 50 years and two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, David is a living legend.

Like many other great rock legends, David had his troubles with drugs. He eventually got sober, but only after an extended stay in a Texas state prison. You might expect a musician to start slowing down in his late 70s, but Crosby’s writing more than ever and working nearly every minute he can. He's the subject of a new documentary about his life called David Crosby: Remember My Name. It premiered at Sundance and is playing at festivals right now all over the country. You can also catch David on tour this year. Click ”here” for tour dates.

This interview originally aired in November of 2016


Photo:ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images

The Outshot: Ray Barretto

Jesse recommends the groundbreaking 1968 salsa album Acid by percussionist Ray Berretto and how its melding of salsa, bugalú and jazz created something unique for the emerging Latin communities.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Wanda Sykes

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Bullseye
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Wanda Sykes

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Wanda Sykes on her career in comedy.

Wanda Sykes is a legend in the comedy world. Her ability to tackle pop culture and the political spectrum with equal parts agility and wit has earned her many accolades. She's also had several scene-stealing roles as an actor in shows like "Black-ish," "Broad City" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." She's been nominated for nine Primetime Emmy awards and she won an Emmy for her writing on "The Chris Rock Show."

Wanda is set to star in a live tribute to Norman Lear's "All in the Family" later this month on ABC where she'll be performing alongside Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Will Ferrell and so many others in a one-night only special. You can watch it live on May 22.

She also continues to perform comedy across the country. Click here for information about tour dates and to purchase tickets.

This interview originally aired in May of 2016.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Open Mike Eagle

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Bullseye
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Open Mike Eagle

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Rapper Open Mike Eagle on taking career advice from his wife.

You could call Open Mike Eagle a rapper on the rise. But it's been a long, steady, unique rise. He was born in Chicago, moved to LA later on. For the first part of his adult life he was a teacher - he actually didn't release his first album until he was almost 30.

In his rhymes there's humor, which you see a lot in rap. But it's weirder, kind of self-deprecating at times, too. His first album, "Unapologetic Art Rap” was a great example of that.

Alongside Baron Vaughn, Mike co-stars in a new Comedy Central show called
”The New Negroes.” It's sort of a variety show - combining live stand up with original music videos Mike made with other artists.

When Bullseye talked to Mike in 2017, he'd just released a record called “Brick Body Kids Still Daydream.” His latest record - ”What Happens When I Try to Relax” - is out now.

Mike talked to Bullseye about why he used to call his music “art rap,” and why it was a lot harder to be weird in hip-hop back in the day.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Laurie Metcalf

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Bullseye
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Laurie Metcalf

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Photo: Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

Laurie Metcalf on her Academy Award nominated role in 'Lady Bird'

Laurie Metcalf is a veteran actor. In the late 1970s, while she was in college, she and a few of her classmates started putting on plays at a Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois. Those classmates included people like Gary Sinise, John Malkovich, and Tracy Letts.

The theater, called Steppenwolf, became one of the most acclaimed theatre companies in the US. Maybe you were lucky enough to see Laurie in the Off-Broadway rendition of Balm in Gilead back in the 80s - she won a bunch of awards for her part in it.

You almost definitely know Laurie from TV's Roseanne. For 9 years she played Jackie, Roseanne's sister on the show. She's now starring in The Conners, the ABC produced spinoff of the show.

In 2017, she was nominated for her first Academy Award for her starring role opposite Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird, the fascinating, beautiful coming of age film directed by Greta Gerwig.

The movie centers around the title character, Lady Bird McPherson, a high school senior living in Sacramento, California. She's played by Ronan. Lady Bird dreams of leaving Sacramento, moving to the east coast, going... wherever writers live, she says.

These days, Laurie's been working a lot on Broadway. She's been nominated for a bunch of Tony's and won 2017's Best Actress award for her role in A Doll's House Part II. In a profile earlier this month the New York Times called her "The First Lady of American Theater."

This interview originally aired in February of 2018

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Was 1999 the Best Movie Year Ever?

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Bullseye
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Brian Raftery

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Brian Raftery on his new book 'Best. Movie. Year. Ever. : How 1999 Blew Up The Big Screen'

Author Brian Raftery talks with us about his new book, which makes the case that 1999 was one of the best years in movie history. Office Space. Three Kings. Rushmore. Being John Malkovich. Eyes Wide Shut. Magnolia. The Matrix. The Blair Witch Project. Yep, '99 wasn't just pagers, portable CD players, and Y2K – there was a lot of groundbreaking, influential movies.


Photo: Simon & Schuster

The book is meticulously researched - featuring interviews from pretty much every person who was making movies back then. Brian joins us to talk about a few of these movies, the careers those movies launched, the way studios marketed them, and the impact they've had on film, 20 years later.

You might not be able to rent these movies at your nearest Blockbuster, but you can buy Brian's new book "Best. Movie. Year. Ever. : How 1999 Blew Up The Big Screen" now.

Check out this interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Avantdale Bowling Club

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Bullseye
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Tom Scott

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Photo: Bandcamp

New Zealand rapper Tom Scott on his latest project: 'Avantdale Bowling Club'

Tom Scott is a rapper from New Zealand's underground hip-hop scene. He's been rapping for over a decade now. He grew up in Auckland – the biggest city in a very small country. Last year, Tom released an amazing, beautiful album under the name Avantdale Bowling Club. He named it after the place where he grew up.

On the record, he reflects on his roots. His childhood. The friendships he's lost. The places he's been. His family. He kicks things off with an autobiography on "Years Gone By." It's an intimate hip hop record with jazz instrumentation. The sound is lush. Maybe less Low End Theory, more to Pimp a Butterfly. It's pretty remarkable.

Tom explains why he left Auckland for Australia, and what brought him back to his hometown after spending many years away. Plus, what it's like to write an album that brings back somber memories, and why Tom felt it was important to use original jazz songs, rather than jazz samples.

Check out the self-titled record by Avantdale Bowling Club here.

Check out this interview on YouTube!

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