The Late Show with David Letterman

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jena Friedman

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Bullseye
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Jena Friedman

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Jena Friedman On Writing For The The Daily Show And Breaking Into The Stand-Up Comedy World

WARNING: This interview contains discussions about difficult subjects including sexual assault and miscarriage. If you're sensitive to these kinds of topics, we figured we'd give you a heads up.

Jena Friedman's a comic, a filmmaker, and a writer. She created and hosts a show on Adult Swim. It's called Soft Focus. It's really funny, just like her all of her comedy, but it also talks about some very difficult, sometimes painful topics.

She got her start writing for Late Show with David Letterman. Then moved on to the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart where she was a field producer, producing some of the shows best pieces with folks like Samantha Bee and Al Madrigal. Her segments covered the news of the day with a satirical edge.

Now on her new show, Jena's in front of the camera and the segments can get very, very uncomfortable. She interviews an eccentric billionaire, surrounded by his armed guards. She talks with an ex-cop who was caught plotting to kidnap and eat his wife. She submits male gamers to a VR simulation of unwanted sexual contact.

Jena constantly pushes boundaries in her work. It's political, it's deadpan, kind of abrasive, too. She has a talent in finding the darkest flaws in our world and talking about them in a way that cuts very deep.

In this conversation, she also gets candid about why women still have a hard time breaking into the stand-up comedy world.

You can watch both of Jena Friedman's Soft Focus specials on Adult Swim.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Mitchell, Kevin Barnes, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Elvis Mitchell
Guests: 
Kevin Barnes
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy
Guests: 
Justin McElroy


Comic Books with Alex Zalben and Brian Heater

Our comic book experts return with new graphic bounty! Alex Zalben recommends the new series Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt, who spins a tale of a plane crash, memory loss and psychic spies. The second issue in the series is out now. Brian Heater suggests you check out Angelman by Nicholas Mahler, which is a story of a man who has superpowers that might be milder or meeker than those of most heroes -- fighting figurative fire with qualities like being a "good listener".

You can find Alex Zalben writing for MTV Geek or co-hosting NYC's Comic Book Club Live. Brian Heater is a journalist and the Editor-In-Chief of The Daily Crosshatch, which highlights alternative comics.

(Embed or share this week's Comic Book Recommendations!)

Elvis Mitchell, Film Critic

Elvis Mitchell is a critic who's brought his insights on film to the pages of the New York Times and the L.A. Weekly; he's also interviewed scores of film industry writers, actors and directors over fifteen years of hosting the LA-based public radio show The Treatment. He's even ventured into filmmaking himself, producing a series of documentaries about race and success called The Black List.

But while he's been in the business of film criticism a long time, his manner or tastes can't be called conventional. Mitchell talks about his wide-ranging cultural appetite (which has room for well-executed films like Pootie Tang), the interplay between television and film, and how he got into the business of analyzing pop culture.

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Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

The brothers McElroy -- Travis, Griffin and Justin -- are in the business of giving advice, though they don't suggest you take it. This week, they answer listeners' queries about the collision of pop culture and personal relationships. The McElroy brothers host a weekly podcast called My Brother, My Brother, and Me.

(Embed or share MBMBAM's Pop Culture Questions, Answered)

of Montreal Frontman Kevin Barnes

Kevin Barnes founded the experimental pop group of Montreal over fifteen years ago, and the band's sound has morphed as often as (and alongside) Barnes' various stage personae and personal ups and downs. Of Montreal's original twee pop sensibility gave way to new sounds and increasingly complicated arrangements over the years, as the band experimented with electronic, R&B, funk, disco and psychedelic music within a pop framework.

Barnes discusses why he writes so much of the band's music on his own, the theatricality of the band's live performances (from elaborate costumes and skits, to a live horse), and more.

The band's latest release, Paralytic Stalks, is out now.

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The Outshot: The Late Show with David Letterman

Jesse explains what makes David Letterman such an especially gifted late night host in a world of very good late night hosts.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Pick your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.>

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