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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

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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 Creators of Trophy Wife and Chris Onstad

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Emily Halpern
Guests: 
Sarah Haskins
Guests: 
Chris Onstad
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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

The Co-Creators of "Trophy Wife" Explain: It's Not What You Expect

It would be reasonable to assume that the ABC sitcom Trophy Wife is about a rich older man and his ditzy, beautiful young wife. It might be kind of insulting, or it might be drawn in shades of reality TV. But though the show does feature Bradley Whitford as an older man (twice divorced, with three kids) and a younger wife played by Malin Akerman, the title is pretty tongue in cheek. Trophy Wife isn't about jealous ex-wives, a vacuous new wife, and a slimy older dude. It's about a complex family situation and the people within it.

The show's creators, Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, envisioned the show from the trophy wife's point of view. What is it like to join to a family that existed well before you came along? If you're one of several authority figures and parents, what's your role?

Halpen and Haskins had special insight into that situation. As Haskins says, "I started dating and eventually married my next door neighbor...who is a gentleman 20 years my senior who has been married actually 3 times, but we didn’t think America could handle that."

The show features a great ensemble cast. The spouses are played by Whitford, Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins, and the family's children are played by Albert Tsai, Warren Lee and Bailee Madison.

We'll talk to creators and showrunners Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern about the blended family that inspired the show, writing real characters for children and their ensemble comedy predecessors.

Trophy Wife airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 on ABC.

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Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Fun with Circuits

BoingBoing’s Mark Frauenfelder stops by to give a glimpse of the future.

He suggests checking out a new novel out this month called The Martian by Andy Weir. It's a tale about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars, and his struggle to stay alive with few supplies, his wits, and ingenuity.

And if you've ever thought about circuit building at the grocery store, he suggests learning a new skill with a game for iOS called Mho's Resistance.

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Comedy: Morgan Murphy Explains What to Do Before a Facelift

Even if you're scared to death of plastic surgery, maybe you've considered, even for a split second, getting a little work done. It could just be your little secret! No one would have to know!

But you really should tell someone if you're going to go under the knife. Morgan Murphy will explain. She joined us last year at MaxFunCon 2013 for our comedy showcase in the woods of Lake Arrowhead.

Morgan Murphy's new special is Irish Goodbye. You can find it on Netflix, iTunes or Amazon. She'll be joining us at this year's Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival. Stay tuned for more details.

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Chris Onstad and "Achewood", a World of Anthropomorphic Stuffed Animals

Chris Onstad is behind one of the most popular and critically acclaimed online comic strips. It's called Achewood, and it's set in a fictional town populated by anthropomorphic stuffed animals and pets. The strip is surreal and funny, and it involves many different characters with detailed backstories but the two most prominent are "Ray Smuckles", a very successful and fortunate cat, and his childhood best friend "Roast Beef". Chris Onstad stopped making the strip for awhile in 2011. But the hiatus is over now and he’s back making new comics. We're revisiting our conversation with Onstad from 2009.

Onstad tells us about how he collected the many moments that would become Achewood strips, struggling to write something funny every day, and discovering the joys of self-publishing online.

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The Outshot: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Jesse tells us about a TV show in its first season that's already running at full-speed: Fox's ensemble comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Big Boi, Catherine O'Hara, and Pop Culture Advice

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Big Boi
Guests: 
Catherine O'Hara
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder
Guests: 
Justin McElroy
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy

It's the final week of MaxFunDrive! Visit maximumfun.org/donate to find out more and support this show.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.


Recommendations with Mark Frauenfelder: Bunk and Marijuanamerica

This week's recommendations come from BoingBoing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder. His first suggestion is Bunk, a game for iOS that makes good use of your vocabulary, your friends, and your ability to convincingly make stuff up. Looking for something to read? He also suggests Marijuanamerica, a new book about a man who tours the US to understand America's love/hate relationship with pot.

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Hip Hop Icon Big Boi: Getting Familiar with Uncharted Territory

The rapper and producer Big Boi has sold over 50 million records as a solo artist and as half of the platinum-selling hip hop duo OutKast. The innovative Atlanta-based group broke out in the mid-1990s with "Rosa Parks" and "Elevators", then followed up with crossover pop hits like "The Way You Move" and "Bombs Over Baghdad".

OutKast found huge commercial success with an experimental brand of hip hop, eschewing old-school samples in favor of new sounds. Big Boi has been the more musically prolific member of the group. He's gone on to produce several solo albums and collaborate with artists across the music spectrum, from fellow ATL-based rapper Ludacris to funk-master George Clinton to the indie rock band Wavves. He's headed out on the nearly 50-city "Shoes for Running" tour to support his newest release, Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors.

Big Boi joins us to talk about the early days recording in an clay-walled basement, coming to terms with fame, and where to go musically when you've hit monumental commercial success.

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Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

MaximumFun's own McElroy Brothers provide advice to wayward individuals – some more wayward than others – on their weekly podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Me. This week, they're helping out Bullseye listeners with their pop-culture quandaries. For instance: are you allowed to like dubstep and be from the suburbs?

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Catherine O'Hara on Being Slightly, Perfectly Odd

Catherine O'Hara's work embodies a particularly special brand of comic absurdity. She helped launch SCTV alongside other burgeoning comedy greats like John Candy and Eugene Levy, quit the show, but still moved on to star in blockbuster comedies. She became spiritually possessed in Beetlejuice, played a memorable, anxiety-ridden mother to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, and became a critical part of Christopher Guest's ensemble mockumentaries, like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.

More recently, she's been in HBO's critically-acclaimed biopic Temple Grandin and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, and she'll star in a Fox comedy pilot later this year.

O'Hara talks to us about the difficulties of being a woman in the SCTV writers' room, creating memorable characters with her longtime friend and collaborator Eugene Levy, and her own secret comedic formula.

Oh, and in this outtake, hear about the best boyfriend ever: Dan Akroyd.

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The Outshot: Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

At first, Errol Morris's documentary Fast, Cheap & Out of Control looks like it's about four men and their professional occupations: a lion tamer, a topiarist, a roboticist, a scientist who studies naked mole rats. But the movie is about much more than just weird jobs.

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Special thanks this week to FreeSound.org user juskiddink for the sound effects used during our BoatParty.biz promo.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Simon Rich and Bill Burr

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Simon Rich
Guests: 
Bill Burr
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.


Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Spaceteam and The Magazine

Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing and the Gweek podcast joins us again this week to talk about some of his current favorite things. Mark suggests a turn at the multiplayer iPhone game Spaceteam, which is all about yelling techno-gibberish at friends. In the mood for something a little more quiet? Mark also recommends The Magazine, a minimalist, ad-free digital publication "for geeks and curious people."

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Comedy Writer Simon Rich: Why Writing Like a Child Can Be a Good Thing

Simon Rich got his first book deal in 2007. Since then, he’s published five books, received a nomination for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, contributed regular essays to the New Yorker, and worked on Saturday Night Live as a staff writer (which he recently left for a top-secret writing job at Pixar). How old is he? 29. Basically, Simon Rich has his act together.

The characters he writes about? Not so much. His latest book, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is a collection of vignettes about lost characters coming to terms with love. And these aren’t your typical stories of romance and heartbreak; in true Simon Rich fashion, his stories make the mundane profound and vice-versa. (No one else can write a story about God’s girlfriend and follow it up with a touching monologue from a prophylactic’s POV.)

Simon sits down with Jesse to discuss the autobiographical elements of his stories, the appeal of writing from a child’s point of view, and how love is a lot like heroin.

Simon Rich’s new book of essays, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is available in bookstores everywhere.

Want to hear about Simon's obsession with The Simpsons? It's here, in a longer cut of our interview. Click to embed and share it with your friends.


Comedy: Eugene Mirman Discovers a Notebook From His Past

Digging through old stuff from your childhood can be a lot of different things – insightful, hilarious, wistful, nostalgic. But in comedian Eugene Mirman’s case, it was just embarrassing. In this clip from his latest special, Eugene describes a childhood relic, found in his parents’ basement.

Eugene Mirman’s new special, An Evening of Comedy in a Fake Underground Laboratory, is now available as a combination CD/DVD.

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Bill Burr On Confrontation and Comedy

Conventional wisdom amongst standup comics dictates that a crowd has to be on your side before you can make them laugh. It’s good general advice, but it’s not advice that Bill Burr follows – and he’s all the better for it.

Bill Burr’s comedy is, in a word, aggressive. It’s not just that he looks and sounds tough, qualities that have landed him voice acting work in Grand Theft Auto IV and guest appearances on Breaking Bad. Aggression and confrontation are at the core of Bill’s act; he’s not afraid to curse out unruly audience members or start a set with a joke that, in a lesser comic’s hands, might totally alienate a crowd. But his comedy isn’t all tough-guy machismo. He’s just as likely to direct a rant at himself as he is others, a quality that makes his work all the more hilarious and human.

Bill spoke with Jesse a few years ago to talk about Bill’s style of comedy, challenging himself and audiences in his act, and every performer’s most dreaded nightmare: having to follow a dog or child onstage.

His latest special, You People Are All The Same (which was the subject of a recent Outshot), is streaming on Netflix.

This interview originally aired in October 2010.

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The Outshot: Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive"

On this week’s Outshot, Jesse tears the house down with a timeless live album. It’s Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive."

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