Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

United States

Bullseye from NPR is your curated guide to culture. Jesse Thorn hosts in-depth interviews with brilliant creators, culture picks from our favorite critics and irreverent original comedy. Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney's, which called it "the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world." (Formerly known as The Sound of Young America.)

Episodes

The Pointer Sisters & Bootsy Collins  

Two Bullseye classics this week! First up: Jesse's 2014 conversation with The Pointer Sisters, one of the biggest R&B groups ever, about their rise to stardom and struggles to stay together as a family. Then, his 2011 interview with funk bass legend Bootsy Collins. Bootsy talks to Jesse about his career as one of pop music's greatest bass players. Also discussed: how'd he end up playing with James Brown? How'd he keep George Clinton down to earth? And where'd he get those dope star glasses? Twinkle twinkle, baby bubba!

Tim Gunn & Jonathan Coulton  

Tim Gunn of Project Runway and more talks fashion, surviving trauma and more. Even some hot couture takes on the American political landscape! Then, singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton talks about his latest work - a dystopian concept album and companion graphic novel - both called "Solid State." Finally: Did you know Norm MacDonald gave one of the funniest Comedy Central Roasts ever? And it wasn't even a roast, really?

Wallace Shawn, Nick Lowe & Jay Baruchel  

Joining us this week is actor Wallace Shawn, whose many film credits include roles in The Princess Bride, the Toy Story films, and My Dinner with Andre. An accomplished playwright and author, Wallace talks to Jesse about his recent book, a long essay titled "Night Thoughts." But first: a visit from Canadian comedian and director Jay Baruchel. Jay talks about directing "Goon: Last of the Enforcers" and explains what makes the Canadian comedic sensibility so unique. Plus, English singer-songwriter Nick Lowe recalls the 1950s country and western song that changed his life. Finally, Jesse praises a story-driven video game that captures the loneliness and ambiguity of our lives.

Ellie Kemper & Flying Lotus  

This week, two of our favorite Bullseye guests. First up: Ellie Kemper, star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. If you haven't seen it, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has a pretty unusual premise. A woman emerges from a mid-western bunker. She's been held captive there by a cultish kidnapper. She and her fellow captives are national news. So, she moves to New York, the one place she can think of where no one will care. The mix of characters and dense, super joke filled pace has earned Kimmy love from critics and a bunch of Emmy nominations - Ellie's up for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series this year. Then, Flying Lotus. Jesse talked with the musician back in 2010, he'd just released his third record, Los Angeles. Born Steven Ellison, he was at the head of a burgeoning beatmaking scene here in LA that would eventually leave a huge, lasting impact on pop and hip hop. Over the course of five records, dozens of collaborations, FlyLo has created lush, kind of psychedelic soundscapes. It's a little disorienting sometimes, but it's always gripping. Now, Ellison's directed his first ever film. It's called "Kuso," and it's probably one of the most intense, and frankly gross, movies to come out in the last few decades.

Alfred Molina & Louie Anderson  

This week, two Emmy nominated heavy hitters. First up: Alfred Molina. Talk about auspicious starts: Alfred Molina's first American film role was as the "Throw me the idol, I'll throw you the whip" guy in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Since then, he's had over 150 parts. That includes unforgettable roles in movies like Coffee and Cigarettes, Boogie Nights, and yes - even Spider-Man 2. He just got an Emmy nomination for his role on Feud: Bette and Joan. Then, Louie Anderson, the legendary standup and former TV host. His role as Christine on the FX show Baskets just earned him his second Emmy nomination. When he plays Christine, he's in drag, sort of, but there's no camp to it, no winking at the camera. He takes the part seriously, plays Christine funny when she's funny, plays her sad when she's sad. He says that's due in part because the role is played in tribute to his own mother. Finally: Faye Dunaway. Steve McQueen. Sex chess. These are a few of Jesse's favorite things... in the 1968 film the Thomas Crown Affair.

Ani DiFranco & Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillen  

This week Jesse talks with the great singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco about her new album Binary, and how it's changed her writing process. What you might not know is that she also jammed with Prince. Also, a conversation with actor Aidan Gillen, who you might know as Littlefinger on Game of Thrones and Tommy Carcetti on The Wire. He plays a lot of ambitious, sometimes cagey characters. Finally, Jesse recommends a classic Randy Newman song that reveals the empty promises of fame and adulation.

Lily Tomlin & Rick Moranis  

[r] This week, two of Bullseye's greatest hits. First up: Rick Moranis. At one point, he was a movie star: Strange Brew, Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and then - he quit. We'll talk about why he doesn't regret leaving show business to raise his children. Then Jesse talks with the great Lily Tomlin about her storied career. She's been in comedy since the 60s, a bunch of movies and TV shows. She's starring in Grace and Frankie on Netflix, too, which just earned her *another* Emmy nomination.

Dolly Parton & Steve Coogan  

[r] This week, we've got two of Bullseye's greatest hits: First up, the one and only Dolly Parton! The legend of stage and song talks with Jesse about her impoverished childhood, how she's dealt with fame over the years and the songs that can still make her cry. Then, Steve Coogan. You've seen him in the Night at the Museum movies, maybe Philomena and his The Trip series. But if you're a comedy fan you probably know him best for one character: Alan Partridge. He's done the Alan Partridge character for 20 years now and is gearing up to another TV series around the feckless but charming sports host.

Kumail Nanjiani, Emily Gordon & Terrace Martin  

"The Big Sick" has been out in theaters for a while, and already it's getting a lot of buzz. Critics rated it 97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and Emily Gordon are married and co-wrote the movie, which tells the true story of their courting years. Plus, Terrace Martin! The hip-hop producer and jazz musician who's worked with YG, Herbie Hancock, Snoop and Kendrick goes in depth with Jesse about growing up in South Central LA, California's jazz community and how you make a track that'll rattle car doors all over America.

Bonus: Tavi Gevinson  

We've got a special bonus Bullseye for you this week! Tavi Gevinson, editor of Rookie Magazine, actress, podcast host and much more. Jesse interview Tavi in front of a live audience at this year's MaxFunCon.

Vince Staples & The Trailer Park Boys  

[r] This week, we're bringing you a couple of Jesse's favorite past interviews. First up: Vince Staples! The Long Beach rapper is a legend nowadays, with his two critically acclaimed records Summertime '06 and Big Fish Theory. Vince came into the Bullseye studios back in 2014, when he had just a couple mixtapes to his name. Even then at 20, Vince was brilliant, funny and brutally honest. Then we go way back - back to 2009, when Jesse recorded the show out of his apartment in LA. The guests? The Trailer Park Boys, Canadian comedy legends. John Paul Tremblay, Robb Well and Mike Smith play Julian, Ricky and Bubbles, respectively. In a rare feat of comedic ninjutsu, they talk with Jesse *entirely* in character. Finally: Winter is coming, but who cares? Jesse tells you why Game of Thrones is about the journey, not the destination.

Beth Ditto & Ernest Dickerson  

Hey y'all! This week, we have Beth Ditto joining us. The former lead singer with Gossip, talks about growing up gay and punk rock in Searcy, Arkansas, and paying a dollar for her first kiss with a girl in a lesbian kissing booth called Homo-A-Gogo in Olympia Washington. Plus, Ernest Dickerson, who directed Juice, maybe Tupac's best film, and also was director of photography on all of Spike Lee's movies up through Malcolm X. Finally, we're here to say it because it's true: Car Talk was the best public radio show ever. Don't @ us.

A$AP Ferg & Dr. Katz  

What an episode this week! We have New York's very own A$AP Ferg in the house. He and Jesse talk about his love for Madonna, how going to an arts high school changed his life and how being a part of a collective like A$AP Mob can make calling yourself a solo artist kind of challenging. Then, Jonathan Katz joins Jesse. He's the creator and star of the animated series Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. He's also one of the funniest people we've had on - he's got a joke ready for everything. Like, since about 1996, he's been dealing with Multiple Sclerosis. Does he have a joke about that? Of course he has a joke about that. Finally, what's the best Prince album? The Princiest among Prince records? Jesse makes the case for Sign O' The Times, and gets about 6 songs stuck in your head as a result.

Katie Couric, Marc Maron & Audie Cornish  

This week, we're giving you a sneak peek into The Turnaround, Jesse's new podcast. The Turnaround brings you interviews with some of the best interviewers out there. You'll hear why Marc Maron can't stand letting strangers in house. We've got Audie Cornish, too. she hosts NPR's All Things Considered talking about how she manages to sound as smart as she does during intense, live interviews. Plus: Katie Couric. Name a famous person, especially a politician, odds are Katie Couric's interviewed them: George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, many more. How does she do it? Take a listen to find out!

Big Boi & Catherine O'Hara  

[r] Big Boi's sold more than 50 millions records as a solo artist and as half of Outkast, maybe the greatest hip hop group of all time. With their 1994 debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, Big Boi and Andre 3000 introduced one of rap's most distinctive voices: Street-minded, but just as willing to travel to the stars as to stay on the corner. It's been more than a decade since the last Outkast record, but Big Boi's stayed active pretty much that entire time. He's released three solo albums, collaborated on a couple others. His latest is coming out this month. It's called "Boomiverse" and it's got appearances from Snoop Dogg, Killer Mike, Adam Levine and more. Then, we hear from Catherine O'Hara. The actress and comedian starred in Beetlejuice, Home Alone, hit Christopher Guest movies like Best In Show and Waiting for Guffman. She's brilliant, charming and funny, as always.These interviews originally took place in 2013.

Kathryn Hahn & Jason Zinoman  

This week, Jesse talks with Kathryn Hahn. She's starring in the new Amazon series I Love Dick, which also features Kevin Bacon and Griffin Dunne. The show was created by Jill Soloway, a writer Hahn's been working with a lot lately - she's also in Transparent, Soloway's other Amazon show. Then, Jesse talks about the greatest TV host of all time: David Letterman. New York Times' Comedy Critic Jason Zinoman has a brand new biography on Letterman. In it, Zinoman gives us more than just Letterman's life story - it's critical examination of what made a host like Letterman so brilliant.

Carol Kane  

This week, Jesse sits down with actor Carol Kane. They talk about her career that spans 45 years and her newest project - "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," which is now in its 3rd season on Netflix. We hear some live comedy from Chris Fairbanks and Jesse tells us why the meta-sitcom The Larry Sanders Show is one of the most real things on TV, ever.

Terry Crews & Amber Tamblyn  

As a linebacker from Flint Michigan, Terry Crews was picked by the LA Rams in the 11th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. In 1996, he played his last season ever for the Eagles. Then, he took up acting - he starred alongside Ice Cube in the Friday After Next, played Chris Rock's Dad on Everybody Hates Chris. Now he plays Sergeant Jeffords on FOX's Brooklyn Nine Nine. Now, his latest role is in Sandy Wexler. It's the new Adam Sandler comedy on Netflix. He talks with Jesse about the film, his time in the NFL and how he overcame a devastating addiction to pornography. Then, Jesse talks with the fascinating Amber Tamblyn. She's an actress and a published poet. In her latest film, Paint It Black, she's making her debut as a writer and director. The movie explores the aftermath of death from a really compelling and human perspective. This week's Outshot? Gap Band IV. The Sixth album by the Gap Band. Wall to wall bangers, we swear.

John Waters & Andy Kindler  

We got John Waters in the studio (he wore a beautiful Commes de Garcon shirt, btw). John has a new book out, it's a transcript of a commencement speech he gave to RISD students 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. Then, Andy Kindler stops by. Andy's a terrific stand up and hosts the latest season of the Hulu series Coming to the Stage. Since 1996, Andy's also given a speech at the Just for Laughs Festival - it's called the State of the Industry. For about an hour each year, Andy basically puts comedians and the entire industry on blast - popular targets include Jay Leno, Ricky Gervais, and lazy journalists. It's made him one of the funniest and sincere truth tellers in comedy. His newest album is a never before released recording of his original 1996 address.

Moshe Kasher, Felicia Day & Brother Ali  

This week, Jesse talks with standup and author Moshe Kasher about his new TV show: Problematic. Like a lot of shows nowadays it's got a comedian taking on issues of the day, interviews with newsmakers, plenty of snarky jokes. But instead of John Oliver style polemic takedowns, Kasher takes a cue from legends like Phil Donahue - exploring uncomfortable issues with a genuine inquisitiveness. Then, Felicia Day of the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 tells us about the inspirational power of The Mighty Boosh - the surreal British TV comedy. Finally, Brother Ali. He's a rapper based out of Minnesota. There, he's part of the Rhymesayers collective - a label he shares with Aesop Rock, Dilated Peoples, and Atmosphere. For the first part of his career, he focused a lot on making protest rap - speaking truth to power, that kind of thing. His latest record is called All The Beauty In This Whole Life. On it, he takes a refreshing, positive spin on life.

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