Episodes

  • It's a rare honor for a guest to be on Bullseye three times, but Swamp Dogg deserves it. He's a psychedelic soul singer with a career that's now spanned six decades. He's been singing soul and R&B since he was 12. Back then he was Little Jerry Williams and his first single featured his mom on drums. He adopted the name Swamp Dogg in the early 70s and put out a bunch of stone cold classics: Total Destruction To Your Mind, Rat On!, Cuffed, Collared & Tagged. On his latest record, Swamp collaborates with some extremely of-the-moment indie talent to create a wild left turn: it's called Love, Loss & Auto-Tune, and it's out now. Then, Joel Kim Booster. Joel's a writer and comedian. He's written for Billy on the Street, Problematic with Moshe Kasher and Netflix's Big Mouth. And as a standup, he's appeared on Conan, Comedy Central, @Midnight and more. He's also one of the most exciting new comics around. He talks with Jesse about his evangelical, adopted upbringing, his stage persona (which, according to Joel, is "hot idiot"), and why he can't stand to listen to his old material.

  • This week, we're thrilled to welcome Nicole Holofcener back on the show - probably one of the most underrated filmmakers around. Her movies are quiet, sort of understated. The protagonists are complex, flawed people, usually women. She's worked with some great actors, too. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in "Enough Said." Frances McDormand in "Friends with Money." Catherine Keener in just about everything she's made. Her latest film was just released on Netflix. It's called "The Land of Steady Habits." And for the first time, her movie centers on a man. We'll talk about that, plus her childhood growing up among Hollywood filmmaking royalty. Then, have you heard of this show, Lodge 49? It's kind of a comedy / drama set in Long Beach, California. It's kind of hard to say what it's about, but some of the themes include: secret orders (like the Masons), quarter life crises and the stagnating aerospace economy in Long Beach, California. It's funny, weird and disarmingly honest, which is why it's been a hit here at MaxFun HQ. Jesse talks with Jim Gavin, the creator, and Peter Ocko, the showrunner.

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  • We're replaying two recent favorites this week: first up, Amy Sedaris! 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 and grosser the better - take Jerri Blank on Strangers with Candy or Mimi Kanasis on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, too. But on her show, At Home with Amy Sedaris, Amy pretty much plays herself. She talks with Jesse about how that's a transition out of her normal comfort zone. Also discussed: rabbits, monkfish, and girl scout badges! Then, Paul Reiser - the legendary standup and actor. You've seen him on Mad About You, Red Oaks and Whiplash and more. He also created the Hulu show There's Johnny. It takes place in the early 70s, behind the scene of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Reiser knew Carson about as well as anybody could and dishes on what it was like appearing on his show almost a dozen times.

  • This week: Boz Scaggs. The one and only! The hitmaker behind "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown" and so much more talks with Jesse about his more than five decade career in music. Lately, like a lot of rockers his age, his work has steered more towards the basics: some blues, some covers here and there, lots of stripped down instrumentation. But behind all that has been a commitment to atmosphere and production - music with an aesthetic that's dark and unsettling in one moment, then in another tender and loving. You know, the kind of thing that makes Boz Scaggs... Boz Scaggs. It's all on his latest record - "Out of the Blues" - which is out now. Then, Maeve Higgins. She's a comic, a podcast host and a memoirist, very well known back home in Ireland. She moved to the New York City in her early 30s. And, yes, like a lot of comics, she worked her observations about America and New York into her set. But she probed deeper. She thought about what lead her to make the move. What it says about her. What it's like being in this strange, amazing city thousands of miles away from home.

  • A favorite from the Bullseye archives this week. First up: Comedian, writer, and podcast host Guy Branum recently wrote a book called "My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un)Popular Culture." It's a collection of personal essays. Kind of a combination of memoir and manifesto that covers his childhood, college, his early days as comic. It's also got his opinions on football movies, politics, and which city has the hottest guys (It's Los Angeles, btw). We're revisiting our conversation with Guy from last year where he sat down with Jesse to discuss his truTV series Talk Show The Game Show. Then, academic and writer Emily Lordi, author of the 33 ⅓ book Donny Hathaway's Live tells us why she thinks the classic Hathaway live performance deserves to be added to the canon of all time great albums. Then, Jesse tells us about why he loves the Errol Morris ESPN documentaries: It's Not Crazy, It's Sports.

  • This week, we've got another Emmy-nominated guest - W.Kamau Bell! He's known for his stand-up comedy. But he might be even more beloved for the television shows he's hosted. "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell," was kind of a hybrid between a political satire show and a talk show. But unlike, say, "The Daily Show" Kamau wasn't inclined to be the star. Rather, he let his guests do that. Kamau just asked questions - both funny and serious ones. That made the show really special. W. Kamau Bell's, "United Shades of America," airs on CNN and is up for three Emmys. He'll tell us why he's particularly proud about the series. Then, we'll talk to Mike Pesca about his newest book: "Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History". It's a collection of essays from over 30 different writers - people like Robert Siegel, Nate DiMeo, Jesse Eisenberg and more. They all ask hypothetical questions about the most pivotal moments in sports history... and what would have happened if things had gone differently. Pesca also talks about what it was like working for NPR as one of two sports reporters and about the time he was the guest host of "Wait Wait.. Don't Tell Me!" (including the outcry he received for having Kim Kardashian-West on that program). And finally, for this week's Outshot, Jesse breaks down "Aretha Live at the Fillmore West" and why the San Francisco-recorded live album might be the perfect showcase for the late Queen of Soul.

  • It's Emmy season! Bullseye brings you two talented, fascinating Emmy nominees this week. First up: Megan Mullally! One of the best in the game. Like, maybe you're a fan of Parks and Recreation. She played Tammy, the ex-wife of Ron Swanson. She's a kind of menacing, toxic seductress. Or maybe you saw her on Childrens Hospital, or 30 Rock, or heard her on Bob's Burgers (she plays Gayle). But, she's best known for her role as Karen Walker on the groundbreaking sitcom Will & Grace. She was just nominated for what could end up being her *third* Emmy for her role on the show. Then, a special treat: Karen Tongson, professor and panelist on our sister show Pop Rocket, talks with the one and only Tracee Ellis Ross. Tracee is nominated in the best actress category for her role on ABC's Blackish - she plays Rainbow Johnson (aka Bow) on the show. She and Karen go deep into her work acting and directing Blackish. Plus, her relationship with her mom... Diana Ross. Diana Ross! Finally, Jesse tells you about one of the most charming people who ever lived. And she's got a book and documentary to prove it.

  • This week, we'll remember Jonathan Gold by revisiting our conversation with him. Jonathan's work in food criticism was legendary. In 2007, his work earned him a Pulitzer. To this date, he's still the only food critic to ever earn that honor. When he joined us in 2011, he discussed the one food fear he just couldn't overcome, and how he discovered Los Angeles and the world – one meal at a time. Plus, he threw shade at the burritos from the Mission District in San Francisco. We'll also revisit our conversation with Beth Ditto from last year. Beth is singer of the band Gossip. Beth talks about the process of creating her solo album, and about her time fronting Gossip. She'll also open up about her queer identity and what it was like setting up punk shows in her small Arkansan town. You can catch her on the road this summer opening for Sam Smith. And finally, Jesse explains how Sly and the Family Stone made a perfect album, even as they slowly disintegrated as a group.

  • "Who is your dream interview?" you might ask Jesse Thorn, or another public radio host. And for Bullseye, here is your answer: Randy Newman! Randy's career spans over half a century. He's written music for films (duh), but has also revealed himself to be an artist of the highest caliber on his solo records. His music is beautifully written, funny, dark and unmistakably American. Jesse dives deep into Randy's roots - how a family of musicians and jokesters gave him a love for classic American music and comedy. They'll also talk baseball, run-ins with the two Franks (Sinatra & Jr.), and why he has trouble coming to terms with some of his most critically acclaimed music. This is a real deal all-timer, folks. Finally, for the outshot: enough about rock music! Jesse talks about the terrifying, awesome wonder of Levitated Mass, a sculpture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

  • This week, we want to introduce you to a new comic: Johan Miranda. He lives in Los Angeles, was raised in San Francisco. When he was three years old, he and his parents traveled to the US on a tourist visa - and they haven't left since. Johan is one of the approximately 700,000 people covered under the US Government's DACA policy (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). A DREAMer. And as immigration rhetoric has ramped up, Johan's status in this country has grown even more uncertain. He's got a new one man show to talk just about that - it's called "Why Johan Miranda Should Be Deported" and it's debuting in Los Angeles on July 27. Then, after that: a conversation with Debra Granik. In 2010 she wrote and directed "Winter's Bone," the acclaimed drama that launched Jennifer Lawrence's career and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Now, the long awaited follow-up is in theaters. It's called "Leave No Trace" and it's been met with similar acclaim. She and Jesse talk about the new film, about the pitfalls of calling an artist a "genius" and her first ever paid movie gig: shooting weddings! Finally: a tribute to Joe Pera. A comedian who will help you buy a tree. Or go to sleep. Or learn about iron.

  • This week, we've got April Wolfe holding things down in the host chair. April is a film critic and panelist on the Maximum Fun podcast Who Shot Ya. She also hosts her own show here at MaxFun - it's called Switchblade Sisters. Every week on Switchblade Sisters, April talks with a female filmmaker about a different genre film - horror, cult, western, all kinds of stuff. What follows is a fascinating and refreshing discussion on theory and craft in filmmaking. This time on Bullseye, you'll hear April talk with Bo Burnham. Bo's one of the original Youtube celebrities - before Justin Bieber, before Rebecca Black, even before Leave Britney Alone! But he's turned that career from novelty into a diverse and really funny body of work - standup specials, albums, TV shows. Now he's gone behind the camera and created his first movie - it's called Eighth Grade. It's a funny and sincere coming of age story told from the POV of an Extremely Online 13 year old girl. You'll also hear a touching interview between Jesse and Morgan Neville. The Academy Award winning documentary director just made a new film that looks into the life of Fred Rogers — Mister Rogers. And finally: April will tell you about the filmmaker and actress who made a brilliant, extremely real movie... and then stopped.

  • We're doing something a little different this week: you're about to hear three of our favorite interviews from Heat Rocks, one of our sister shows here at company Maximum Fun. Heat Rocks is a music podcast about passion. It's hosted by Oliver Wang, a veteran hip-hop writer, and Morgan Rhodes - she's a music supervisor who's worked closely with Ava DuVernay. Each week, Heat Rocks brings you a conversation with a guest about the album that shaped their lives. Morgan and Oliver have talked with people like Cut Chemist, Ishmael Butler, Ann Powers and more. Expect deep, compelling conversations about R&B, Soul, Jazz, Hip-hop and more. Oliver and Morgan use each record as a jumping off point to talk about its history, its context, and why we care about it. This week you'll hear from Jay Smooth, the radio DJ and commentator, singer/songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello and Vernon Reid, founder of Living Colour.

  • Hey all! Just popping in to give you a special treat this Thursday. You've probably heard about it already, but Maximum Fun - the company that makes Bullseye, Judge John Hodgman and more - just produced its very first scripted series. It's called "Bubble," it's sort of a sci-fi sitcom and we're all *extremely* proud of it. The show follows four twenty-somethings working the same side hustle to make ends meet. They're contract workers for an app called Huntr. The app hires people to kill the monsters that occasionally slip through the town's protective barrier. On this special bonus episode of Bullseye, you'll hear Jesse talk with creator Jordan Morris and writer/producer Nick Adams. It's a discussion not just about the show but about cities, why people live in them, and the insane lengths some of us will go to just to stay. Give it a listen and, if you haven't already, subscribe to Bubble! You'll be glad you did.

  • We're listening to some of our favorite interviews from Bullseyes past this week, and we've got a couple doozies. First up: the living legend, the master of funk music, Dr. Funkenstein himself: George Clinton, from 2014. The impact he's had on modern music is so huge that he's almost more myth than actual person nowadays, but Clinton's life story is a fascinating one: starting in doo-wop, moving on to Motown, and then creating his own genre from scratch: funk. He'll talk about that, his struggle with drug addiction and some of his best wild stories from Parliament Funkadelic's early days. Then, Cristela Alonzo, from last year. She's a veteran standup comedian and actress. You might've seen her on the ABC sitcom Cristela - she was the show's creator, star, she also wrote and produced it. Alonzo was actually the first latina ever to do all that on one TV show. She's been working on her standup act more lately, and it's really great. Cristela mixes political humor with her own life story (including her time spent living in an abandoned diner) to a hilarious and really endearing effect. She's also starring on the new Maximum Fun podcast Bubble, which you should check out if you haven't already. C'mon! And, finally: Jesse tells you about an SNL sketch that he connects with on a profound, deep level. And - since you're a Bullseye listener - we bet you will, too.

  • So much of Bullseye is about what we think is great in culture today. And, for our money, one of the most compelling creative forces around is a guy named Boots Riley. For the first few decades in his career, Boots fronted the Coup. The Coup are a catchy, deeply political rap group from the Bay Area. Then, Boots had a movie idea. One that took 6 years to realize. He called it Sorry To Bother You - maybe you've seen the trailer already. Boots wrote and directed it, and it's set to hit theaters July 6. The movie is almost too wild to describe - it talks about telemarketing, race and monsters and so much more. In a deep, fascinating discussion with Jesse, he talks about the movie, the evolution of the Coup, politics and poverty and so much more. This one's an all-timer! Then, a tribute to the idea of serendipity, as evidenced in a surprising and infectious Max Roach record from the 70s.

  • Alia Shawkat came by the Bullseye studios and holy moly, what a brilliant, funny human being! You know her as Maeby Fünke from TV's Arrested Development, which just dropped its fifth season. She also leads the TBS series Search Party these days. But Alia just starred in a really interesting film - it's called Duck Butter, and it tells the story of two women who fall in love and decide to spend the next 24 hours together, awake and totally present. Then, Mackenzie Crook. You've seen him before - maybe it was as Gareth on the original UK version of The Office. Or maybe you saw him in Pirates of the Caribbean or Game of Thrones. But his passion project is Detectorists - a three season British show he stars in and create. It's finally come to the states in its entirety via Acorn TV. It's a show about metal detecting, relationships, and the English Countryside and it's one of our favorite things on air. Finally - we know nobody can break the laws of physics. But if we had to pick one person who might be able to, it'd be NFL running back Barry Sanders. Jesse tells you why.

  • The talents of Pamela Adlon are many. First, she's an incredible voice actress who's worked on literally dozens of shows. You probably know her best as Bobby from King of the Hill, though, where she was brilliant. Then there's her work on live action TV - she starred on prestige shows like Californication and Louie. And now, she co-created and stars in her own show: Better Things, which wrapped up its second season last year. You'll also hear from up and coming comic James Acaster - he's a regular on British TV and he's just now starting to make a splash over here with his hilarious **four hour long** comedy special on Netflix. The outshot is back next week!

  • This week, we've got a real treat for you: Metta World Peace! Even for a former NBA All Star and Champion, Metta has a big personality. When he played he had a reputation for hard defense and an unmatched intensity on the court. When it worked, it made him passionate, tough and nearly impossible to get past. But when didn't, things went south easily. He'd play dirty, get into dustups on the court. But World Peace - who was born Ron Artest - is up front about his flaws. And, in recent years, he's become a powerful advocate for mental health care. It's made him one of the most fascinating people in basketball. And it's also part of the reason his new book "No Malice: My Life in Basketball" is so compelling. He talks with Jesse about the new book - his highs, his lows, his childhood growing up in an enormous housing project in Queens. Plus, the time he met Kobe Bryant in a shower. We also have the song that changed Cut Chemist's life, and a deep, touching outshot on the life of Ed Roberts, a pioneering leader in the disability rights movement.

  • Fans of Bob's Burgers, Archer, Home Movies and Dr. Katz, rejoice! Jesse's talking with the incomparable H. Jon Benjamin this week. With lead roles in some of the most popular comedies of all time, it's hard to call Jon a failure. But he doesn't really mind the label. In fact, he just wrote a book called "Failure is an Option: An Attempted Memoir." In it, he recounts his shortcomings in excruciating detail and how, wouldn't you know it, a lot of those failures opened the door to success: failures in family, in work, in serving fajitas. It's a very self-deprecating, self-aware memoir. And since it's written by H. Jon Benjamin, it's also really, really funny. Then, a talk about the gritty golden days of the New York City art scene with filmmaker Sara Driver. Driver just made a new documentary - it's called "Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat." It's a story about one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century and the art community he came up in. Driver lived in that same community and talked with dozens of other people from New York's art scene to tell a totally unique, hypnotizing story. Finally: the outshot is a little different this week. But it won't leave you hungry!

  • For over a decade, actress Geena Davis has been spearheading an institute that gathers the numbers on gender balance on-screen. On this week's episode, she shares her fascinating take on what they do with all their findings plus, some heartwarming stories about how her work has shaped the way her children think about TV and film. Then, writer and humorist, Jack Handey of SNL's "Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey" offers an explanation as to why the voice of Deep Thoughts might be a psychopath, but definitely not insane. And finally, for this week's outshot: Jesse thinks about the lasting amusement found in a 20-year old website. Welcome. To Bullseye. Welcome to Bullseye. Anything is possible at Bullseye. Welcome to you, who are at Bullseye. Welcome!