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Bullseye : About

Airs Saturdays at 1PM on AM 820 and Sundays at 9PM on 93.9FM and NJPR

Jesse Thorn cuts through the weeds of pop culture, with irreverent comedy, in-depth interviews and a keen eye for what’s worth knowing about.

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http://www.maximumfun.org/shows/bullseye
Show Archive

Latest Stories from Bullseye

Last updated: Sunday, May 24 2015 08:52 PM

[r] Big Boi & Catherine O'Hara

Tuesday, May 19 2015 10:30 AM

[r] Actress Catherine O’Hara talks about her start with the Second City’s SCTV, blockbuster success with Beetlejuice and Home Alone, and her perfect encapsulation of comic absurdity in Christopher Guest films like Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind. But first, Jesse talks to Big Boi -- one half of OutKast. The hip hop duo swung back and forth across the spectrum of popular music -- zigging with cult favorites like “ATliens” and zagging with top 40 hits like “The Way You Move”. Plus, Jesse talks about the magical thing that a man built inside his rented garage.

Sam Elliott & Kay Cannon

Tuesday, May 12 2015 10:30 AM

Guest host Erin Gibson sits down with veteran character actor Sam Elliott to hear about his new movie I'll See You In My Dreams. Plus Jesse Thorn talks with former 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon about her film Pitch Perfect 2.

James Burrows & Future Islands

Tuesday, May 05 2015 10:30 AM

Jesse sits down with Emmy-winning sitcom guru James Burrows, who co-created Cheers and has directed a whole heap of pilots for hugely successful sitcoms including Taxi, Friends, Will & Grace and The Big Bang Theory. He'll talk about working with Andy Kaufman (and Andy's alter-ego Tony Clifton) and the distinct challenges of directing sitcoms. Later, Samuel Herring of synth-pop band Future Islands shares the song that changed his life and Jesse pays tribute to the revolutionary afrobeat of Fela Kuti.

Kumail Nanjiani & Willie Colón

Tuesday, April 28 2015 10:30 AM

[r] Jesse Thorn talks to stand-up comedian, Kumail Nanjiani about moving to the US from Pakistan and working on HBO’s Silicon Valley. Later he explores salsa with the influential Nuyorican bandleader Willie Colón and argues that Michael Palin’s travel shows are a rare, positive hangover of British colonialism.

Paul Feig & Combat Jack

Tuesday, April 21 2015 10:30 AM

Jesse Thorn sits down with writer and director Paul Feig. Feig discusses his new TV show Other Space and explains why he was drawn to reboot Ghostbusters with an all-female squad. Jesse also talks to Reggie Osse, AKA Combat Jack. For years, Osse worked as a music industry lawyer, he now hosts the Combat Jack Show - one of the biggest podcasts in the Hip Hop world. Plus Jesse describes the menace and irresistible abandon of Rick James in his OutShot.

Jon Ronson

Tuesday, April 14 2015 10:30 AM

Jesse Thorn sits down with Jon Ronson to talk about social media shaming and whether it can be a force for good. Plus Peter Guralnick shares the blues album that electrified him as a teenager and Jesse talks about a show where an awful date is literally the worst thing in the world.

Tom Scharpling & Andy Summers

Tuesday, April 07 2015 10:30 AM

Jesse Thorn talks with Tom Scharpling about taking his cult comedy radio show, The Best Show, from its home on the airwaves, to a new home on the internet. Then later we speak to the guitarist from The Police, Andy Summers. Plus, new comedy from Sara Schaefer, and the inside scoop on one of the folks who helped make Conan O'Brien's show the weird and wonderful thing it is today.

George Clinton & Christian Acker

Tuesday, March 31 2015 10:30 AM

[r] Jesse Thorn talks to George Clinton, the 73-year-old mastermind of P-Funk. Clinton paid his dues in the mainstream - singing doo wop and writing for Motown. Then, with Parliament Funkadelic he developed a look and a sound that was like nothing else before it. Later Jesse hears from Christian Acker about the tags you see on walls, park benches and trash cans everywhere. Acker says tagging is one of the last forms of highly practiced penmanship. So that’s what he focuses on in his book, Flip the Script. Plus we’ll go into the woods with comedian Chris Fairbanks. And Jesse will play a song that’ll remind you what it feels like to be a teenager.

Lynda Barry & Tom Arnold

Tuesday, March 24 2015 10:30 AM

Jesse Thorn sits down with writer and cartoonist, Lynda Barry. She’s currently working as Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’ll also talk to to the veteran comic and actor Tom Arnold. Arnold will tell Thorn about working with Roseanne Barr, and how he's coped with the ups and downs of his career.

Patton Oswalt, 'Fresh Off the Boat' & Jemaine Clement

Tuesday, March 17 2015 10:30 AM

Jesse Thorn talks to Patton Oswalt about the years he spent basically completely indoors. Later, he sits down with Randall Park and Nahnatchka Khan, the star and showrunner, respectively, of the new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat. Plus, Jemaine Clement reveals the song that changed his life and Jesse tells about the disintegration of Sly and the Family stone and the perfect album they made along the way.

RuPaul & Terry Crews

Tuesday, March 10 2015 10:30 AM

[r] Jesse Thorn talks to the most famous drag queen in the world, RuPaul. They’ll talk about the time before RuPaul was RUPAUL and how growing up an outcast in San Diego, television was his main companion - and main inspiration. Later Terry Crews tells how he went from a stint in the NFL to a part on Brooklyn 99. Plus, MBMBaM's McElroy Brothers advise on arcade etiquette andLA Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg shares the memoir of a TV repairman who explored the notion of immortality. Oh, and Jesse names the greatest hip-hop album ever recorded. A bold claim? Yes. A true claim? Yes.

Nick Hornby & Luis Guzmán

Tuesday, March 03 2015 10:30 AM

Author and screenwriter Nick Hornby made his name with books like High Fidelity and About A Boy. His new novel, Funny Girl is about a British actress starring in a 1960s sitcom. Hornby talks with Jesse about old TV comedy, personal ambition and sitting on a couch next to Adam Sandler. Later, character actor Luis Guzmán tells about the role that changed his life, Pachanga in Carlito’s Way. Plus Jesse enthuses about the 1995 film noir, Devil in a Blue Dress, explaining why it’s so important that Easy Rawlins is “buying in”.

BONUS EPISODE: Pop Rocket

Friday, February 27 2015 03:22 AM

Here's the latest episode of our new sister podcast, Pop Rocket. A pop culture discussion show hosted by comedian Guy Branum with digital strategist Wynter Mitchell, academic and DJ Oliver Wang and journalist Margaret Wappler. This week, the spectacle, the magnificence, the sh*t show that was the 2015 Academy Awards. Why did Neil Patrick Harris miss the mark as host? What was with all those political speeches? And John Travolta… Plus everyone’s first gigs and music recommendations. Pop Rocket comes out every Wednesday, subscribe now in your favorite podcast catcher. Produced by Colin Anderson for MaximumFun.org

The Pointer Sisters

Tuesday, February 24 2015 10:30 AM

[r] R&B stars Ruth and Anita Pointer will talk about the records that inspired them and the country song that earned them a Grammy, but mostly, they’ll have a lot of fun remembering all the great hits they had. We're so excited! 'Frozen' composer Bobby Lopez will talk about why Willy Wonka's ‘Pure Imagination’ changed his life. Carolyn Kellogg of the the LA Times recommends some of her favorite literary westerns. Lastly Jesse will talk about why 'The Muppet Movie' proves that you don't have to be cynical about showbiz.

Spike Lee & the Creators of 'High Maintenance'

Tuesday, February 17 2015 10:30 AM

Jesse talks to acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee. Spike tells us about his new movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, how he really feels about Larry Bird and about his own very serious addiction.... to Air Jordans. Later Jesse sits down with Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair. The couple created the series High Maintenance, a “not on television” show that follows a New York City marijuana delivery guy as he visits his various clients. Plus, Jesse tells us about the best satire of the last ten years, MTV 2’s Wonder Showzen.

Rene Russo & Dan Gilroy of 'Nightcrawler'

Tuesday, February 10 2015 10:30 AM

Writer/director Dan Gilroy and star Rene Russo of 'Nightcrawler' talk about exploring the seedy business of TV news, collaborating as a married couple, and working with Jake Gyllenhaal. Nightcrawler is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

John Oliver & Larry Wilmore

Tuesday, February 03 2015 10:30 AM

[r] Two late night hosts and Daily Show alums! Jesse talks to John Oliver about why it’s sometimes weird to make jokes about American politics when you’re a Brit and then with the new Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore about how being a Daily Show correspondent is the perfect prep for hosting one's own show. Plus, the brothers from My Brother, My Brother and Me proffer advice on solo concert-going and playing video games with your boss, and Jesse tells us about the greatest pop song ever (sorry, there's no question about it).

Kaitlin Olson & Jeff Chang

Tuesday, January 27 2015 10:30 AM

Kaitlin Olson plays Sweet Dee on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. She’ll talk about morally broken comedy characters and whether it’s a good idea to fall in love with the creator of your TV show. Later Jesse talks to Jeff Chang. About 10 years ago he wrote Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. It won the American Book Award in 2005. His new book is called Who We Be: The Colorization of America. In some ways, it's a follow up to the last one. It's about how art in America shapes, and is shaped by, race. Plus, Jesse tells you about one real-life superhero who he finds astonishing: Andre the Giant

Ricky Jay

Tuesday, January 20 2015 10:30 AM

This week’s guest is the sleight-of-hand master Ricky Jay. He was one of the first guys performing magic at comedy and rock clubs in the 60s and is now one of the most renowned illusionists in the world. Jay is the subject of a new documentary. It’s called Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice. Later on in the show the jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer will reveal the song that changed his life and Jesse will tell you about the record cover he found on eBay that opened up a whole new world.

‘Boyhood’ & the career of Richard Pryor

Tuesday, January 13 2015 10:30 AM

Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane talk to Jesse about the unique process of filming Boyhood over the course of 12 years. The movie just won Best Director and Best Motion Picture - Drama at the 2015 Golden Globes. Then, Joe and David Henry will talk about the career of Richard Pryor. They were working on a screenplay about the late comedy legend. The movie hasn’t happened but they used their research to pen an impressionistic biography called Furious Cool. Plus, the folks from Pop Culture Happy Hour share some all-time favorite movie picks and Jesse tried to find what (if any) redeeming qualities belong to the main characters on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

H. Jon Benjamin and Jessica Walter

Tuesday, January 06 2015 10:30 AM

[r] Archer is back! To celebrate, we share Jesse’s interviews with voice actors Jessica Walter and H. Jon Benjamin. Walter shares a cold hard truth about Flipper.  H. Jon Benjamin talks about his days recording Dr. Katz in a kitchen pantry. Plus, find out how L.A. glam-punks The Runaways found their sound on the other side of the Pacific Ocean and hear a bit of the album where Prince became Prince.

Best Comedy of 2014 Special

Tuesday, December 30 2014 10:30 AM

Get ready for the funniest episode of Bullseye this year. We present selections from the best comedy albums of 2014. This special episode of the program includes chunks from Bob Odenkirk, Cameron Esposito, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan, Hannibal Buress, Sarah Silverman, Hari Kondabolu and many, many, many more.

Nick Offerman and Dolly Parton

Tuesday, December 23 2014 10:30 AM

[r] Nick Offerman plays Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation. Swanson is one of the most beloved characters on TV… known for his love of meat, his hatred of big government, and his healthy mustache. Then, Jesse interviews Dolly Parton about the sacrifices she made for her astounding career and how she feels about them now.  Plus, Billy Bragg shares the song that changed his life and Jesse explains why you should watch Thief starring James Caan.

Holiday Special 2014

Tuesday, December 16 2014 10:30 AM

The Bullseye Holiday Special returns for 2014! Music expert Mitchell Kezin talks about his new documentary called Jingle Bell Rocks! It dives into the world of alternative and underground Christmas music. Bill Corbett (the veteran writer and performer from RiffTrax and Mystery Science Theater 3000) talks about his new graphic novel called Super-Powered Revenge Christmas. And there’s another exciting Christmas comic out this year:  TheFlash Gordon Holiday Special: 2014. Jesse will talk to its authors, The Daily Show writers Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy and their pal Stuart Wellington. Lastly, Jesse reveals his one true holiday tradition.

Chris Rock and John Cleese

Tuesday, December 09 2014 10:30 AM

Two comedy giants this week. First, Jesse talks to Chris Rock about what it was like to become one of the world’s best stand-up comics in the 1990s. Rock’s got a new movie out. It’s called Top Five. Then, Jesse sits down with Monty Python member John Cleese. They’ll talk about his early life and about what Cleese really thought about the recent Python reunion. Cleese’s new memoir is called So, Anyway. Plus, we ask Scott Aukerman what piece of culture he wishes he had made. His answer? Twin Peaks. Lastly, Jesse tells you about a TV show that lets people just be people.

Bob Odenkirk

Tuesday, December 02 2014 10:30 AM

Jesse sits down with a cult comedy icon to talk about why Mr. Show influenced an entire generation of new comedians. Bob Odenkirk’s new book of humor fiction is called A Load of Hooey. He’s also got a new stand-up comedy album out. It’s called Amateur Hour. We’ll feature some of it on our year-end Best Comedy of 2014 Special. Plus, the historian, author and DJ Rickey Vincent will tell you about why Parliament’s Mothership Connection ended an era and then started a new one. Lastly Jesse tells you about a song that makes him feel like a better world is possible.

Mavis Staples

Tuesday, November 25 2014 10:30 AM

[r] Mavis Staples is one of the greatest singers of our time -- a gospel, soul, and R&B vocalist known for her deep, rich voice. She began as the lead singer of The Staple Singers, a family gospel group formed by Pops Staples and several of his children. The Staple Singers achieved several hits with "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again". They also became a musical voice of the American civil rights movement with their protest music. Jesse will ask about how Staples balanced her gospel roots with a career in popular music and about what is was like working with Curtis Mayfield and - yes - Prince. Plus, the McElroy brothers from My Brother, My Brother and Me join us to answer listeners’ pop culture questions.

Paul Reubens, Aasif Mandvi and Kimbra

Tuesday, November 18 2014 10:30 AM

Paul Reubens created Pee-wee Herman. Jesse sits down with Reubens to talk about growing up in a circus town, Reubens’ early appearances on The Gong Show, and the plans for a new Pee-wee Herman movie. Jesse also talks with Aasif Mandvi. A longtime correspondent for The Daily Show, Mandvi has a new memoir out. It’s called No Land’s Man. Plus, avant-pop artist Kimbra talks about the song that changed her life, and Jesse tells you about why Steve Reich helps him hear things differently.

Judge John Hodgman Special

Tuesday, November 11 2014 10:30 AM

We break format this week to bring you the Judge John Hodgman Special. Maybe you know John Hodgman from his appearances on The Daily Show, or as the PC from the Mac vs. PC ads. But did you know he's also a fake judge on the internet? On his podcast Judge John Hodgman, he hears disputes from real people all over the world via Skype and tells them who's right and who's wrong. And Jesse Thorn is the bailiff. We'll hear two court cases: in the first, a shy teenager files suit against her pushy dad. In the second, two friends spar over ill-mannered ponies. Then, Judge Hodgman will issue a few snap judgments.

Sergio Mendes and The Pogues’ James Fearnley

Tuesday, November 04 2014 10:30 AM

For a time, Mendes was probably the most famous Brazilian musician in the world. Mendes will talk to Jesse about why bossa nova has such a universal appeal. Jesse will also talk to James Fearnley. He plays accordion for The Pogues. Fearnley will talk about mixing traditional Irish folk with punk music. He’ll also talk about when he knew that lead singer Shane MacGowan’s hard-drinking ways had gone too far. Then later you’ll hear comedian Brent Weinbach’s set from MaxFunCon. Lastly Jesse will talk about tell you about a great new thing on adult swim: What if Jesus lived in America, in 2014? In Compton? Well on this show, he does.

Elvis Mitchell and Bob Edwards

Tuesday, October 28 2014 10:30 AM

[r] Hear interviews with two of the best interviewers in the world. First up is Elvis Mitchell. He hosts KCRW’s The Treatment. He and Jesse will talk about their mutual love for the movie Pootie Tang.  He’ll also explain why he was arrested on the Canadian border with Cuban cigars and 15 thousand in cash. Then, hear Jesse’s conversation with broadcasting icon Bob Edwards. He was the host of Morning Edition when it started in 1979. He’ll explain why he stuck with public radio for decades. He’ll also talk about what NPR was like at the very, very beginning,  Plus, Damian Kulash from the band OK GO talks about the song that changed his life. And Jesse tells you about the time when no place on Earth boomed like Coney Island.

Live with Dan Harmon and Rob Corddry

Tuesday, October 21 2014 10:30 AM

This episode was taped live in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Dan Harmon joins talks about why he was fired and then re-hired from his sitcom Community, and reveals what might be in store for the future of the show. Actor Rob Corddry talks about growing up as the ‘golden child’ what it’s like being on-set with Michael Bay. Plus, you’ll hear stand-up comedy from Andy Kindler and Steve Agee and music from Sara Watkins and members of the Watkins Family Hour.

DJ Quik

Tuesday, October 14 2014 10:30 AM

DJ Quik was a house producer for Death Row Records and helped develop the G-funk sound. A lot of times those records were dramatic narratives about gangbanging. He’ll talk about how that drama spilled into real-life and about how he had to remove himself from that lifestyle. He’ll also talk about how he samples, his studio equipment and his awesome, awesome hairstyles over the years. It’ll be fun. Then, you’ll hear stand-up comedy from Cameron Esposito’s brand new album. It’s called Same Sex Symbol. Lastly Jesse will talk about why you should go and get SkyMaul 2: Where America Buys His Stuff.

tUnE-yArDs’ Merrill Garbus and John Darnielle

Tuesday, October 07 2014 10:30 AM

Merrill Garbus layers vocals with drum loops and ukulele as the creator of tUnE yArDs. She’ll talk about why she turned away from classical music as a kid, and you’ll hear some songs from her new album. It’s called Nikki Nack. Then Jesse talks to John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats. Darnielle has actually just put out his first novel. It’s called Wolf in White Van. Plus, fine artist Josh Dorman talks about the painting he wishes he had made, and why that got him in trouble creatively. Lastly Jesse tells you about the real hero of The Onion: The Area Man.

Ed Helms, Tig Notaro and Nick Frost

Tuesday, September 30 2014 10:30 AM

Ed Helms talks about the advice he received from Stephen Colbert when he first started on The Daily Show. He also talks about why he’s behind a new bluegrass festival in Los Angeles. Now, he’s behind a Los Angeles bluegrass festival. But first, Tig Notaro will talk about how her career has changed since she revealed her cancer diagnosis on stage in 2012. Plus, Nick Frost talks about a role that helped people view him as more than Simon Pegg’s best friend. Lastly Jesse tells you about one of the most meaningful songs ever recorded about being black and female.

Anna Faris and Otis Brown III

Tuesday, September 23 2014 10:30 AM

Anna Faris’ break may have come with Scary Movie, but she’s had a long career since then. She’ll talk to Jesse about her roles on The House Bunny and her current starring role on the CBS sitcom Mom. Later, Jesse talks to the jazz drummer Otis Brown III. His new album is called The Thought of You. Plus, FOUND Magazine’s Davy Rothbart brings in some of his latest discoveries and Jesse explains why you don’t know how to flip a coin until David Rees has taught you to flip a coin.

Maria Bamford and George Saunders

Tuesday, September 16 2014 10:30 AM

[r] The writer George Saunders talks about his early creative challenges, the slight constant pressure of capitalism, and Tenth of December, his new book of short stories. Maria Bamford explains why she filmed her new comedy special in front of an audience of two (her parents), and why it's important to talk about scary stuff on stage. Plus, Dan Deacon talks about the song that changed his life and Jesse shares one of his favorite poems by William Carlos Williams. The interviews in this episode originally aired February 2013.

Todd Glass and Raffi

Tuesday, September 09 2014 12:30 PM

Todd Glass has been a comic for 30 years but he’s only been out of the closet for about two. He’ll talk to Jesse about why he waited until his late 40s to come out. Todd Glass has a new book out -- it’s called The Todd Glass Situation. Then later, Jesse talks to Raffi. He wanted to be the next James Taylor, but he was about to give up. Then, he made a kids album with his wife, and the rest is history. Plus, the writer Ariel Schrag tells you about why she wants to start working a little bit of magic into her writing about everyday stuff. Lastly, Jesse tells you about the Van Morrison album that was recorded out of pure spite.

Chuck Klosterman

Tuesday, September 02 2014 12:30 PM

Chuck Klosterman’s newest collection of essays is called I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains. What does it mean to be a modern villain? Why is society so hung up on anti-heroes? For that matter, how would we react if Batman were a real thing? Then another installment of Canonball. Phillip Crandall explains why Andrew WK’s first album of party anthems should be considered a classic. Plus, Karina Longworth shares a couple of her favorite movies about being a punk rocker, and Jesse tells you a secret because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and people like you. (The number to call to let us know why you love Bullseye is: 206-333-9919)

George Takei and Damian Abraham

Tuesday, August 26 2014 10:30 AM

George Takei will talk about how he went from a prisoner at a Japanese-American internment camp, to the guy playing Sulu on Star Trek, to a leading marriage equality activist. Then Jesse will talk to Damian Abraham. He’s in the band F***ed Up.  He’ll talk about how he found punk music and what it’s like to still be doing it now that he has a wife and kids. Plus, book picks from the LA Times’ Carolyn Kellogg, and Jesse will tell you about another book, one that makes a pig who spells and does math seem totally ordinary. The number to call to let us know why you love Bullseye is: 206-333-9919

Dum Dum Girls’ Dee Dee Penny, Jodorowsky's Dune & Matt Fraction

Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:30 AM

In the mid-70s Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to bring Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel to the screen. The ambitious space opera would have pre-dated Star Wars, but Jodorowsky's version of Dune was never filmed. The documentary’s director Frank Pavich tells Jesse why. Then Jesse talks to Dee Dee Penny, the frontwoman of Dum Dum Girls about turning a small recording project into a full on garage rock girl group. Plus, Matt Fraction will tell you about how Bruce Lee taught him to write comics, hear some picks from the folks at NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, and Jesse will tell you about one of the least braggy rap songs ever made.

Ishmael Butler, Allison Janney, Michel Gondry

Tuesday, August 12 2014 12:30 PM

Ishmael Butler talks to Jesse about the birth and death of Digable Planets and the new record from Shabazz Palaces. Then Allison Janney talks about her Emmy-nominated work on Masters of Sex and Mom. Plus, Michel Gondry talks about the song that changed his life, we hear a couple new rock n roll songs you should listen to immediately and Jesse will tell you about the last Hollywood picture Orson Welles ever directed.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Daryl Hall

Tuesday, August 05 2014 10:30 AM

[r] Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest novel is called The Signature of All Things. It traces the life of a woman living in the 19th century as a botanist. But it’s actually a really fun adventure story. She’ll talk about it, and about the unexpected reaction to her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Then Jesse will talk to the music industry veteran Daryl Hall. We'll discuss how he used Disco and Punk rock to help create Hall & Oates signature sound. And about their lasting influence. Plus, comedy from Patton Oswalt, our film critic friends at The Dissolve share a couple of all-time greats, and Jesse tells you why any sports video of Bo Jackson -- at his peak -- will make your jaw drop with amazement. [The segments on this episode have all previously aired at various times]

Lewis Black, Syl Johnson & Annie Hart

Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:30 PM

[r] Hear Jesse’s interview with one of comedy’s greatest grumps: Lewis Black. He didn’t become a stand-up until his mid-thirties. Find out why he left the theater for comedy and why he actually considers himself a family comic. The answer will surprise you.  Then Jesse talks to Syl Johnson – the soul singer who has been sampled on countless hip-hop records -- about turning down the record deal that ended up going to Al Green. Andrew Noz shares some of his favorite hip hop tracks, and Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone reveals the hardcore song that changed her life.

Hari Kondabolu & Jake Kasdan

Tuesday, July 22 2014 12:30 PM

Hari Kondabolu talks about the distinct advantages and disadvantages of being a stand up comedian who's also a former social activist and organizer. Director Jake Kasdan talks about the strategy involved in making a movie called Sex Tape. Carolyn Kellogg recommends some of her favorite westerns. Jesse tells you about Harvey Pekar, a man who made the mundane and everyday feel special.

Nat Faxon, Mimi Pond & Werner Herzog

Tuesday, July 15 2014 12:30 PM

Nat Faxon talks about going from bit parts to starring roles, and what it was like to meet George Clooney. Mimi Pond talks about the sex, drugs and profanity she encountered while working at a diner in the 1970s. She put together a graphic novel about all of it. Werner Herzog reveals his origin story. Mark Frauenfelder shares some new culture recommendations. Jesse tells you about The Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile.

Fred Willard & Vocoders with Dave Tompkins

Tuesday, July 08 2014 12:30 PM

[r] Fred Willard talks to Jesse about why he plays a cocky buffoon all the time, and why he turned down the lead in Airplane! Dave Tompkins talks about how the vocoder went from a military encryption tool to a musical instrument. Eleni Mandell reveals the Tom Waits song that changed her life -- but it’s not the one she meant to hear. Todd Martens recommends a couple of all-time favorites from Wilco and Material Issue. Lastly, Jesse will tell you about Elliott Gould as a noir hero in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye.

Melissa McCarthy & Ben Falcone and The Sklar Brothers

Tuesday, July 01 2014 12:30 PM

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone are both creative and romantic partners. They’ll talk about their most recent collaboration, the new movie Tammy. Then Jesse will talk to another family that’s working together: The Sklar Brothers.Randy and Jason Sklars' stand-up comedy special is called What Are We Talking About?  Plus, culture picks from the folks at NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, Davy Rothbart from FOUND Magazine, and Jesse talks about his favorite, crazy-eyed player on the San Francisco Giants.

Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, filmmaker Dave LaMattina and comedian Ian Edwards

Tuesday, June 24 2014 10:30 AM

Jesse talks to the man inside the Big Bird suit. Caroll Spinney has been Big Bird since the beginning in 1969. He’s actually Oscar the Grouch, too. Spinney will talk about why he’s stayed connected to the world of Sesame Street for so long. Then later, comedian Ian Edwards talks about going from fast-food employee to professional comedian. Plus, some recommendations for great old movies and the reason why Randy Newman’s ‘I Love L.A.’ is ironic but also kind of not ironic.

Carl Wilson, Max Greenfield and Moby

Tuesday, June 17 2014 12:30 PM

Max Greenfield plays Schmidt on the FOX sitcom New Girl. He'll talk about why it’s the role he was really meant to play. But first, Jesse talks to the music critic Carl Wilson. He wrote a book about a Celine Dion album, but more than that the book is about why we like what we like and hate what we hate. Then later, Moby will talk about the punk song that changed his life, the L.A. Times’ book critic Carolyn Kellogg will share a some new fiction and non-fiction you should check out, and Jesse will tell you about the perfect music for riding low and slow.

Nick Thune & Vince Staples

Tuesday, June 10 2014 12:30 PM

Jesse talks with the comedian Nick Thune. For a long time he didn’t talk much about his personal life on stage. That's been changing recently. They’ll talk about that and his new special Folk Hero. Then Jesse talks to the rapper Vince Staples. As a teenager, he got jumped into a gang in Long Beach, where he’s from. He didn’t expect to become a rapper, and he doesn’t think street life is anything to brag about. We’ll talk about his life and newest mixtape. Then, Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell explain why In The Court of the Crimson King was a blueprint for prog rock.  And lastly, Game of Thrones just overtook The Sopranos as HBO’s biggest show of all time. Jesse loves it, but doesn’t care how it ends. He’ll explain.

Luis Guzman

Tuesday, June 03 2014 12:30 PM

[r] Maybe you’ve seen Luis Guzman in more movies than anyone else, or maybe it just seems that way. On this episode, Guzman talks about his journey from New York social worker to prolific Hollywood character actor who lives in Vermont. Then later, David Rees talks about why he dedicated himself to the craft of artisanal pencil sharpening. Plus, Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen talks about a heavy record from last year that has already made his best-of-all-time list. And Jesse says that rap isn’t poetry, but that it can be just as densely packed with meaning and allusion. He’ll play a Jay-Z verse that proves it.

Jenny Slate, star of 'Obvious Child'

Tuesday, May 27 2014 12:30 PM

Jenny Slate had a rough first night on Saturday Night Live, but she hasn’t been sweating it since. Things have worked out pretty well. Marcel the Shell has millions of views on YouTube, and she’s even got the lead in a new upcoming movie about a stand up comic dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. It’s called Obvious Child. Later, Loren Bouchard, the creator of Bob’s Burgers, will explain how he pieced together the animated show’s theme music. Plus, the folks at NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour will tell you about a movie-to-TV adaptation that's actually worth watching, and a great new graphic novel. Lastly, Jesse will tell you about the one time he actually believed that live theater was better than just going to the movies.

John Oliver & Arsenio Hall

Tuesday, May 20 2014 12:00 PM

Two late night hosts! Jesse talks to John Oliver about why it's sometimes weird to make jokes about American politics when you're a Brit, and how he got used to living in New York. Then Jesse sits down with one of the most iconic late night hosts ever: Arsenio Hall. He'll explain why he's back after almost 20 years. Plus, the folks from Wham Bam Pow will talk about why you should go back and watch 'Cloud Atlas' and 'Back to the Future 2'. Tim Simons, the actor you might know as Jonah on HBOs 'Veep', will explain how he got The Part. Lastly, Jesse will tell you about a charming song that's tough to find on CD. But that's OK because we're going to play the whole thing for you.

Judy Greer & Richard Ayoade

Tuesday, May 13 2014 12:30 PM

The reason you might not be able to place Judy Greer is because she never really plays the lead. She's come to terms with that, and she's had supporting roles in a slew of great stuff. Jesse will ask her about 'Arrested Development', 'Archer', and her new book of essays. Then later Jesse talks to the director Richard Ayoade about his new movie 'The Double' and his role on 'IT Crowd'. Plus, Todd Martens from the L.A. Times will talk about a couple of records that are destined to be your new favorites. Nick Stoller, the director of the new Seth Rogen comedy 'Neighbors', will talk about the science fiction movie that he wishes he'd made. Lastly, Jesse will tell you about a oft-forgotten Bill Murray movie from 1990 that you've got to watch.

George R.R. Martin & E from Eels

Tuesday, May 06 2014 10:30 AM

[r] The author of A Song of Ice and Fire series sits down with John Hodgman for a conversation about Martin's comic book inspirations, his relationship with his fans, and why he likes to kill off so many of his characters. Then later Jesse talks to Mark Oliver Everett (a.k.a. E). He's the frontman of the band Eels. Plus, Jason Kottke will share an infographic making the claim that hundreds of TV shows, from Lost to I Love Lucy, exist only in a young boy's imagination. Lastly, Jesse tells you why you should overcome any reluctance to letting salsa music into your life; and why you should begin with Fania All-Stars.

Jim Rash, Bob Saget & the creators of 'Playing House'

Tuesday, April 29 2014 12:30 PM

Jesse will talk to Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham about how their USA show 'Playing House' came together. We'll also hear from Bob Saget. You know him. 'Full House'. But he'll tell you himself: Danny Tanner is actually the role that changed everything for him. He's proud of it. Then later Jesse talks to Jim Rash. If you've seen him, it was probably on NBC's Community. They'll talk about the awkward-yet-inspiring summer talks he had with his dad and stepfather as a teenager, and the "bad carpet party" that his writing partner Nat Faxon once threw. Plus, Mark Frauenfelder from BoingBoing.net will share a couple of new games you should try out. And there's one very special movie out there. It's a movie Jesse loves. And if you like it too, it means you can be friends.

Bootsy Collins

Tuesday, April 22 2014 12:30 PM

[r] As a member of James Brown's band, The J.B.'s, Bootsy helped create the revolution that was funk.  Later, Bootsy joined forces with a very different kind of funk legend: George Clinton. In an extended interview, Jesse will talk to Bootsy about his unique career. Then later the folks at the film site The Dissolve will look back at two classic satires that you should check out immediately. The music critic Oliver Wang will join us to explain how a forgotten Al Green record helped create a new kind of soul music.Then Jesse will tell you about Orson Welles' final masterwork, ‘F For Fake’.

Steve Coogan & Kevin Kerrane

Tuesday, April 15 2014 12:00 PM

Steve Coogan’s resume is long and varied, but Alan Partridge has been a constant. Coogan talks about how the character has taken on a life of its own over the past twenty years. Kevin Kerrane talks with Jesse about his classic baseball scouting book called ‘Dollar Sign on the Muscle’. Andrew Noz suggests a couple of favorite all-time rap songs. Hari Kondabolu tries to figure out what happened to Weezer. Lastly, Jesse talks about a very surprising thing he found inside the National Postal Museum.

Jason Schwartzman & Russell Simmons

Tuesday, April 08 2014 03:00 PM

It's been awhile since 'Rushmore', but Jason Schwartzman will always remember the advice that Bill Murray gave him on-set. Jesse and Jason will talk about the first time he met Wes Anderson, what it was like to help write 'The Darjeeling Limited' and the experience of working with Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis on 'Bored to Death'. Then later Jesse talks to Russell Simmons. He co-founded Def Jam Recordings and helped build hip-hop. Now, he's written a book about the importance of meditation. Plus, actor Michael Peña will talk about the part that changed everything for him. The AV CLub's Todd VanDerWerff will tell you to check out HBO's 'Silicon Valley'. And everyone knows that rock music came from the blues, right? Well yeah. But there's actually a lot more to it than that. Jesse will explain.

Rick Moranis & Mary Roach

Tuesday, April 01 2014 08:00 PM

[r] Rick Moranis was a movie star. Strange Brew; Ghostbusters; Spaceballs; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids... and then, he quit. Find out why he doesn't regret leaving show business to raise his children. Then later, Jesse talks to Mary Roach. Her book 'Gulp' takes readers on a tour of the human digestive system. Glenn Weldon and Linda Holmes from NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour will talk about a couple of surprising takes on classic character archetypes. Then, the Bay Area singer-songwriter Thao Nguyen will talk about the Smokey Robinson song that made her want to crawl into the stereo speaker and stay there forever. And Spring is in the air. Warmer weather is nice and all, but Jesse's more excited about Opening Day.

RuPaul & Terry Crews

Tuesday, March 25 2014 10:30 AM

Check out Jesse's conversation with the most famous drag queen in the world. RuPaul will talk about being inspired by Bugs Bunny and Monty Python, and about his time in Atlanta's underground music scene. Then Terry Crews of Brooklyn Nine-Nine will join us. Find out how he went from a stint in the NFL to a career in the arts and entertainment. Plus, LA Times' book critic Carolyn Kellogg will share the memoir of a former TV repairman who wants to live forever. And what do you do when your parents keep telling you to check out a TV show that you definitely DON'T want to check out? The brothers of My Brother My Brother and Me will offer their EXPERT OPINION. Lastly, Jesse will share what he calls the best hip-hop album ever recorded.

John C. Reilly & Kristen Bell

Tuesday, March 18 2014 10:30 AM

John C. Reilly is a guy with tremendous range. More than almost anyone. Reilly stars in a bizarre show called Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule. Why does a movie star have a faux cable-access show that runs in the middle of the night on adult swim? He'll explain. But first, Jesse will talk to Kristen Bell. Her career-making role in Veronica Mars is so indelible that Jesse honestly came THIS CLOSE to CALLING her Veronica. But that doesn't bother her in the slightest. Plus, writer Evelyn McDonnell will talk about how 5 teenage girls took Japan by storn in 1977. Wham Bam Pow's Carmeraon Esposito and Rhea Butcher will marvel at Antonio Banderas' hair in the movie Desperado. And Jesse suggests a revenge movie that's really about how we all fight with our own past. 

George Clinton & Christian Acker

Tuesday, March 11 2014 10:30 AM

George Clinton is the 72-year-old master of funk. He paid his dues in the mainstream -- singing doo wop and writing for Motown. Then, with Parliament-Funkadelic he developed a look and a sound that was like nothing else before it. Later Christian Acker talks about the history of the tags you see on walls, park benches and trash cans everywhere. Plus, we'll go into the woods with comedian Chris Fairbanks. Andrew Noz will tell you about great new tracks from Nicki Minaj and Vince Staples. Lastly Jesse will play a song that reminds you of what it feels like to be a teenager. The good parts.

Neil deGrasse Tyson & Lily Tomlin

Tuesday, March 04 2014 10:30 AM

[r] Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson chases the unexplored secrets of the universe and then tells Jesse why he shouldn't be scared of space. He's the host of the new version of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Then, Jesse talks with actor and comedian Lily Tomlin about her storied career. Plus, FOUND Magazine's Davy Rothbart is constantly discovering amazing notes and photos that other people have left behind. He returns to the program to share a few of his lastest favorites. (This episode originally aired in April of 2013.)

Andy Daly and Willie Colon

Tuesday, February 25 2014 10:30 AM

Andy Daly is a very pleasant looking guy, in a sort of all-American, unthreatening way. He’ll talk to Jesse about how he used that image to surprise people on his new TV show. Later, Jesse talks to the influential bandleader Willie Colon about salsa: a blend of sounds from the Caribbean, Africa, South America and his native New York City. Comedian Karen Kilgariff will share a sweet, funny and melancholy song. The AV Club’s Erik Adams will tell you about two TV crime shows that you’ll love  -- HBO’s True Detective and NBC’s Hannibal. Lastly, Jesse will reveal the secret ingredient that makes a great country song.

The Pointer Sisters

Tuesday, February 18 2014 10:30 AM

R&B stars Ruth and Anita Pointer will talk about the records that inspired them and the country song that earned them a Grammy, but mostly, they’ll have a lot of fun remembering all the great hits they had. The composer Bobby Lopez will talk about why Gene Wilder’s performance of ‘Pure Imagination’ changed his life. Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour talk about the new things you should check out this week. Lastly Jesse will talk about why The Muppet Movie, the original from 1979, is one that you should watch again.

Charlie Wilson from The Gap Band

Tuesday, February 11 2014 10:30 AM

[r] Charlie Wilson made hits in the 80s as the frontman of The Gap Band. In the 90s, he was homeless on the streets of LA. Then he turned it all around. In this extended interview, Jesse talks with Charlie Wilson about his astonishing career with The Gap Band and his later collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Tupac and more. Plus Claire Zulkey and Erik Adams talk about their favorite cop shows, and Jesse tells you which Mountain Goats song you should listen to immediately.

The Creators of ‘Trophy Wife’ and ‘Achewood’

Tuesday, February 04 2014 10:30 AM

Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern’s sitcom Trophy Wife is wrapping up its first season on ABC. They’ll talk about the real life events that inspired the show. Chris Onstad, creator of the online comic Achewood, will talk about why he didn’t want to make just another gag-a-day strip. Comedian Morgan Murphy will talk about why you should tell a family member before going under the knife. Mark Frauenfelder from BoingBoing.net will explain how you can build a circuit while waiting in line at the grocery store. And Jesse will talk about one of TV’s newest sitcoms that has already found its stride.

Jean Grae & Mike Royce and Kevin Biegel of ‘Enlisted’

Tuesday, January 28 2014 10:30 AM

The rapper Jean Grae is Jesse’s first guest this week. She’s been working her tail off this past year. She’s got a new LP, a new EP, a new audiobook and a new web series. Later in the show Jesse will talk to Mike Royce and Kevin Biegel. They’re the executive producers of a new TV show called 'Enlisted'. It’s about three brothers in the US Army and it’s FULL of jokes. Carolyn Kellogg will tell you about two new books you should check out. And what’s the etiquette when you’re playing a video game with your boss? Do you let them win? Well, the Brothers McElroy host their very own advice podcast and they’ll share the answer to that question and others. Lastly, Jesse will deliver some very important, very aggressive life advice, courtesy of Paul Anka.

Jessica Walter & Nicholas Dawidoff

Tuesday, January 21 2014 10:30 AM

Lately, Jessica Walter is known for playing the icy mother figure. After all, she was Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development and is the voice of Mallory Archer on the animated series Archer. But her career stretches back more than 50 years with roles in Play Misty For Me and even on the 90s sitcom Dinosaurs. Jesse and Jessica will talk about all of it. And then later, with the Super Bowl almost here, Nicholas Dawidoff will talk about why FOOTBALL -- more than baseball -- is the thinking-man’s sport. And he’ll tell us what the game might look like in 10 years. Cameron Esposito and Ricky Carmona from the podcast Wham! Bam! Pow! will also join us. They’re going to share a couple of all-time great action and sci-fi movies that you need to see. Then Annie Hart -- from the indie-pop keyboard trio Au Revoire Simone -- will talk about the song that helped her find community as a teenager in suburbia. Lastly, Jesse will say goodbye to an old friend: Candlestick Park.

Pharoahe Monch & Huey Lewis

Tuesday, January 14 2014 10:30 AM

[r] Take a listen to Jesse’s interview with the terrific Pharoahe Monch. He was one half of Organized Konfusion. Even though they didn’t sell a ton of records, they were one of the most impactful hip hop duos of the 90s. Jesse asks how Monch maintained a solo career after the group broke up, even after Monch’s passion for monster movies kinda-sorta contributed to the collapse of his record label. In the second half of the show Jesse talks to the 80s rock n’ roll star Huey Lewis. Find out about his pub rock beginnings, his multi-platinum success with Sports, and the time he snuck onto an airplane bound for London. Plus, Coyle & Sharpe will approach an unsuspecting San Franciscan on the street. Music writer Oliver Wang will tell you about two great records: one got him into hip-hop, and the other is a fantastic slice of Northern soul. And Jesse will talk about his favorite part of Antiques Roadshow.

Bubba Sparxxx and Ian MacKaye

Tuesday, January 07 2014 10:30 AM

First up, Jesse’s conversation with the rapper Bubba Sparxxx. He grew up in rural Georgia and describes himself as a ‘country white boy’. His dad thought a rap career was preposterous. Bubba did it though. Jesse and Bubba talk about the rapper’s career and why it took him seven years to put out his fourth album. Later, Jesse talks to Ian MacKaye. As a member of Minor Threat and Fugazi, he made history in the punk rock world. They’ll talk about the first punk show he ever went to. Plus, Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt will each tell you about a piece of culture SO amazing that they wish they’d made it themselves. A couple of our pals at NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour share two VERY different movies on DVD that you should check out as soon as possible. And speaking of movies -- there’s something really special in theaters right now. We should celebrate it. Jesse will tell you why.

Best Comedy of 2013 Special

Tuesday, December 31 2013 10:30 AM

Take pity on our poor intern Brian. We sat him down in front of a computer with a stack of comedy CDs as high as an elephant’s eye. He sifted through hours of hilarious stand-up specials and narrowed them down to the very best. Now we’re ready to share the results with you. It’s here. The Best Comedy of 2013 Special.

Mel Brooks & Aimee Mann

Tuesday, December 24 2013 10:30 AM

[r] It’s hard to imagine what American comedy would look like without Mel Brooks. Jesse talks to Brooks about about fighting in World War II (where he managed to even make a few Germans laugh), working with Gene Wilder, and that time Sid Caesar dangled Brooks out the window of a Chicago hotel room. Then later, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann talks to Jesse about why she didn’t choose the path of a typical pop star. Gospel singer Shirley Caesar talks about the song that changed her life. Carolyn Kellogg from the LA Times shares a couple of her all time favorite reads. Lastly, Jesse talks about arecord written by a brilliant man, isolated from the word.

2013 Holiday Special

Tuesday, December 17 2013 10:30 AM

[r] This holiday season, listen back to Jesse’s interview with Ronnie Spector. As the lead singer of the Ronettes, she recorded some of the most iconic Christmas music ever made. Then later, hear Jesse’s interview with Fred Schneider. You know his voice. He sang for the B-52s. In 2010 Schneider recorded a Christmas album with his other band, the Superions.  Bullseye’s resident hip hop expert Andrew Noz will tell us about a couple rap songs that will fit in at your holiday party. The hosts of the advice podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me will guide you through some Christmas gift etiquette. Lastly Jesse will talk about the song that he puts on pretty much every holiday season -- and that you should, too.

Jack Black and Bun B

Tuesday, December 10 2013 10:30 AM

Jack Black will talk to guest host Susan Orlean about which came first, the acting or the music. He'll also talk about why he'd like to work with David Lynch and why he almost didn't take the part in High Fidelity. Then, we’ll revisit Jesse’s conversation with the rapper Bun B. He was one half of UGK, and remains one of the South's greatest hip-hop lyricists. Plus, Pitchfork and Grantland's Ian Cohen will tell you about some new heavy music worth hearing and Susan will tell you about a guy from the Congo who people called 'The Sorcerer of the Guitar'.

Henry Bushkin Talks Johnny Carson

Tuesday, December 03 2013 10:30 AM

Who WAS Johnny Carson? Guest host Mike Pesca will talk to Henry Bushkin about just that. He was Carson’s longtime lawyer and fixer. Carson even once called Bushkin his best friend. And Johnny didn’t make friends easily. Then later, we revisit Jesse Thorn’s conversation with a woman who was part of an entirely different television phenomenon - Friends. Lisa Kudrow will talk about playing the “dumb” one on Friends, but also her real life career in brain science. Plus, Jim DeRogatis talks about how the arty punk band Wire proved that you don’t need mega-talent, just some really good ideas. And our friends at the film site The Dissolve will tell you which of the dozens of movies out now are actually worth watching. Lastly, Mike talks about why he’s cheering Keith Olbermann’s return to sports.

Big Boi and Catherine O'Hara

Tuesday, November 26 2013 10:30 AM

[r] Actress Catherine O’Hara talks about her start with the Second City’s SCTV, blockbuster success with Beetlejuice and Home Alone, and her perfect encapsulation of comic absurdity in Christopher Guest films like Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind. But first, Jesse talks to Big Boi -- one half of OutKast. The hip hop duo swung back and forth across the spectrum of popular music -- zigging with cult favorites like “ATliens” and zagging with top 40 hits like “The Way You Move”. Plus, the hosts of My Brother , My Brother and Me offer some advice for your pressing pop culture problems, and Jesse talks about the magical thing that a man built inside his rented garage. [The segments in this episode aired earlier this year.]

Brett Gurewitz and Jimmy Pardo

Tuesday, November 19 2013 10:30 AM

Guest host Jordan Morris is back to talk with Brett Gurewitz. Not only is he a founding member of Bad Religion,  he also owns the juggernaut independent punk label Epitaph Records. Jordan asks Brett about his career with Bad Religion and the effect fame and money can have on punk music. Then later, Jesse Thorn talks to stand-up comedian Jimmy Pardo about how he’s been able to craft a perfect sense of artful carelessness in his act. Plus, Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum talk about the roots of their Prince cover band and Jordan talks about the comic book that finally turned him on to Superman.

Tom Bissell and Greg Sestero Talk About "The Room"

Tuesday, November 12 2013 10:30 AM

Guest host Jordan Morris sits down with actor Greg Sestero and journalist Tom Bissell. In 2003, Greg co-starred in a movie called “The Room”. Its stilted dialogue, weird plot points and bizarre aesthetics turned the movie into a cult hit. There were a lot of questions about how and why it was made, so Greg worked with Tom Bissell to write a book about the film and its eccentric director Tommy Wiseau. Then later we revisit Jesse’s conversation with fashion blogging star Tavi Gevinson. She'll talk about how weird it is to be a teenager in the world of fashion and why her website Rookie is alternative, but not in the way you'd expect. Plus, Jordan asks the LA Times’ Carolyn Kellogg about what two books you should be reading right now and we play exclusive material from Kyle Kinane’s stand-up comedy set at this year’s MaxFunCon.

Bill Hader, June Diane Raphael and The Internet

Tuesday, November 05 2013 10:30 AM

Take a listen to our show taped live at KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum! Bill Hader reveals some of his favorite characters that never made it onto SNL, talks about what it felt like to say goodbye to Stefon, and then storms out of the room shouting expletives at Jesse. Also, June Diane Raphael talks about how she met her longtime collaborator Casey Wilson. Their new movie is called Ass Backwards. Plus, we hear a song from the band The Internet. And be sure not to miss one of Jesse’s most important Outshots ever.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Gillian Jacobs and Fred Armisen

Tuesday, October 29 2013 10:30 AM

Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel traces the life of a woman living in the 19th century as a botanist. Jesse will ask Elizabeth about what the reaction to ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ has meant to her -- both the good and the not-so-good. Then Jesse sits down with Gillian Jacobs. She plays Britta on the NBC sitcom Community. Plus, Portlandia’s Fred Armisen talks about the album he wishes HE had made; our film critic buddies at The Dissolve pick out a couple of films you’ll want to watch ASAP, and Jesse tells you why a perfect balance between the real and unreal makes one particular video game so enticing.

Bill Withers

Tuesday, October 22 2013 10:30 AM

[r] Tune in for a rare interview with the soul legend Bill Withers. He retired from the music industry in the mid 1980s and, with a few exceptions, has stayed out of the public eye for more than 20 years. He and Jesse will talk about why he enlisted in the Navy, the challenge of making his first record in his thirties, and why he ultimately retired from the music industry. Plus, Pitchfork and Grantland writer Ian Cohen will bring in a couple of his all-time favorite heavy records; Brad Tolinski will share the album that kicked off a new era of rock in the 70s, then Davy Rothbart from FOUND magazine offers up a couple of his best finds. And lastly, Jesse will tell you about the NewsRadio scene that makes him laugh every single time he watches it. Spoiler alert: it's all Phil Hartman's fault.

Nick Offerman and The Birthday Boys

Tuesday, October 15 2013 10:30 AM

Nick Offerman plays Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation. Swanson is one of the most beloved characters on TV… known for his love of meat, his hatred of big government, and his healthy mustache. Jesse also talks to a few of the members from the sketch comedy group The Birthday Boys. They talk about what it’s like to make a TV show with their comedy hero, Bob Odenkirk. Plus, painter Brandon Bird talks about the day he became an artist; the folks from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour tell you about a couple of their favorite new things,  and Jesse talks about why it’s worth following Michael Palin around the world.

Nicole Holofcener, Jane Espenson, Brad Bell

Tuesday, October 08 2013 10:30 AM

Nicole Holofcener has written and directed five films. The fifth, her newest is called ‘Enough Said’. It's a sweet and sharp movie starring Julia Louis Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini. The movie looks at a bunch of life-stuff -- the aftermath of divorce, how tough it is to make new friends as an adult, and the weird ways we deal with people who might be richer or poorer than we are. And then later, we go from the end of marriage, to the beginning. ‘Husbands’ is a sitcom that lives on the web. It was created by Brad Bell and the longtime TV writer Jane Espenson. Jesse sits down to talk with both of them. Plus, Erik Adams from The AV Club shares a couple of off-the-radar TV picks for the Fall.

Junot Diaz and Carrie Fisher

Tuesday, October 01 2013 10:30 AM

Junot Diaz has a book of short stories out now in paperback. It’s called ‘This Is How You Lose Her.’ Junot’s book is new, but the protagonist Yunior isn’t. This is the third time the Pulitzer Prize-winning author has written about him. Is Yunior just an alter-ego for Diaz? Jesse will ask. Then, we revisit Jesse’s interview with the actress Carrie Fisher. She’ll talk about what it's like to play one of the most recognizable characters in movie history. Later in life, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then treated it with electroshock therapy. She’ll talk about what that was like, too. Plus, the hosts of My Brother My Brother and Me answer listeners’ pressing pop culture problems; Ian Cohen introduces us to a couple of great new heavy records; and in the wake of The Accidental Racist, Jesse will tell you about a record that mixed country and hip-hop to the benefit of both.

Stephen Merchant, Co-creator of The Office

Tuesday, September 24 2013 10:30 AM

Stephen Merchant says he didn’t get into comedy to become popular. He did it mostly to please himself. But then, with his buddy Ricky Gervais, he made a  TV show called ‘The Office’ and it changed both of their lives. Jesse and Stephen talk  about how the original version of the immensely popular sitcom was created, and why it was tough for the pair to decide on what to make next. They’ll also talk about Stephen Merchant’s new series for HBO called ‘Hello Ladies.’ Plus, comedy from Myq Kaplan, and Jesse plays the one song that is absolutely, 100% guaranteed to get any dance floor MOVING.

Actor Stephen Tobolowsky

Tuesday, September 17 2013 10:30 AM

[r] Stephen Tobolowsky is a veteran character actor. Now he's an author, too, but his book isn't about Hollywood stuff. It's about normal stuff from his life like getting held up at the grocery store, or spending Christmas tripping on acid. Plus, comedian Demetri Martin shares one of his favorite hobbies, we hear some all-time rock picks from music critics at The Low Times, and Jesse talks about how soul-singer Solomon Burke can seriously tear the house down. This episode originally aired in 2012. 

The Influence Of Bob And Ray With David Pollock

Tuesday, September 10 2013 07:30 AM

From Bob Newhart to George Carlin, the comedy duo Bob & Ray influenced some of the 20th century’s finest entertainers. Jesse will talk with comedy writer David Pollock about how Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding created that bond with their audience. Pollock’s new book is called Bob & Ray, Keener Than Most Persons. And then, we revisit Jesse’s interview with the Emmy-nominated actor Tony Hale. He's having a pretty good year. He's been in a couple of big television series in recent months -- Arrested Development and Veep. Plus, our go-to rap critic recommends some all-time great tracks, and Jesse tells the true story of a man who spent the last decade and a half of his life secretly building something amazing in a rented garage.

Jon Mooallem & Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, September 03 2013 10:30 AM

When it comes to sharing the planet with other animals, you might think that we humans are just screwing it all up. Ruining everything. Hogging all the resources. But what if it’s a little more complicated than that? What do the stories we tell ourselves about wild animals actually mean? Jon Mooallem’s new book Wild Ones attempts to explain. Then later, revisit Jesse’s conversation with the late master of American pulp ficton: Elmore Leonard. They’ll talk about his distinctive prose and the many film adaptations of his work. Plus comedy from Kurt Braunohler, a couple of new DVD recommendations from film website The Dissolve, and Jesse explains the virtues of watching drunk people explain important historical events.

Prodigy of Mobb Deep

Tuesday, August 27 2013 12:30 PM

[r] First, an interview with the rapper and author Prodigy, one-half of the seminal hardcore hip hop duo Mobb Deep. He'll talk about why his naturally shy demeanor was taken for weakness, selling crack cocaine when he was barely in middle school, and the jail time that turned his life around. Plus, Carolyn Kellogg from the Los Angeles Times shares some of her all-time favorite books and Jesse explains why you've been underappreciating Randy Newman all these years.

Lewis Black & Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer

Tuesday, August 20 2013 10:30 AM

Hear Jesse’s interview with one of comedy’s greatest grumps: Lewis Black. He didn’t become a stand-up until his mid-thirties. Find out why he left the theater for comedy and why he actually considers himself a family comic. The answer will surprise you. Then later, Jesse talks with Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer. They just started their second season hosting a talk show for MTV. They’ve both worked a lot of comedy clubs and comedy theaters for audiences of slightly drunk twenty- and thirty-somethings, so performing for a younger, MTV demographic is a new experience. Plus, Davy Rothbart of Found Magazine shares some of his newest discoveries, and Jesse reveals the TV food show that he actually really likes.

Kumail Nanjiani & Lake Bell

Tuesday, August 13 2013 10:30 AM

First up on the show is an interview with Kumail Nanjiani. He has come a long way since we had him do stand up on our show a few years ago. He just put out his first comedy special, Beta Male. He just got a role in Mike Judge’s new HBO show. He’s co-hosting a new show on Comedy Central next year and he soaks up his free time with a hit video game podcast called The Indoor Kids. Then, Jesse Talks to Lake Bell. She’s the writer, director and the star of a funny new movie called In A World. It’s about a woman trying to make it in the voiceover business. We’ll talk about her new movie, and about some her favorite accents and vocal exercises, and how she handled the transition from being an actress to a director. Plus, Andrew Noz recommends some new rap music for you to check out, Sergio Dias from the Brazilian psych rock group Os Mutantes talks about how Elvis changed his life, and Jesse opens a window into the crazy world of the Confidence Man.

Fred Willard & David Gordon Green

Tuesday, August 06 2013 10:30 AM

If a director is looking for the perfect guy to play an oblivious, cocky buffoon then Fred Willard is their man. Jesse talks to Fred about his entire career, and finds out why he turned down the lead in the movie Airplane! Then later Jesse talks to David Gordon Green. He’s directed everything from pensive, dramatic movies like All The Real Girls to huge stoner-action comedies like Pineapple Express. His new movie, Prince Avalanche exists somewhere in between. Plus, Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen recommends a couple of great new heavy rock records, we share an episode from Nate DiMeo’s The Memory Palace, and Jesse talks about his favorite Robin Thicke record. Yes. He has a favorite Robin Thicke record. It’s great, too.

Writer Fran Lebowitz

Tuesday, July 30 2013 10:30 AM

[r] A conversation with the New York cultural authority Fran Lebowitz. Find out why she was expelled from high school, why she waltzed into a publishing office barefoot to submit her first manuscript, and why she's had writers block for more than thirty years. Plus, hip hop drummer and producer Karriem Riggins on the James Brown song that changed his life. 

Comedy group Kasper Hauser & David Rakoff

Tuesday, July 23 2013 10:30 AM

A lawyer, a writer, a psychiatrist, and a theater professor got together to write a humor book about earning your MBA on the toilet. The group is called Kasper Hauser. Rob Baedeker and James Reichmuth talk about how they balance comedy with full-time jobs, how they pick their jokes democratically, and why they haven't left the Bay Area. And then a look back at the life of David Rakoff. His new novel was published posthumously this month. To reflect, hear a couple of David and Jesse's past conversations. Plus, the editors from the new film site The Dissolve recommend Blue Jasmine and The Act of Killing. Then Jesse talks about Elliott Gould's turn as a 50s noir hero adrift in 70s LA, in Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye.

Rick Moranis and Booker T. Jones

Tuesday, July 16 2013 10:30 AM

Rick Moranis 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. And find out why he's returning to the public eye with an album of Jewish songs called My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs. Then, hear Jesse's interview with a true soul music icon --  Booker T Jones. Plus, Carolyn Kellogg offers up a couple of great new books you should read this summer, we play a little bit from Doug Benson’s new comedy album, and Jesse talks about Chance The Rapper’s free mixtape Acid Rap. 

Nathan Rabin and Benjamin Nugent, author of American Nerd

Tuesday, July 09 2013 10:30 AM

You'd be hard pressed to find two music groups with more divergent sounds than the jam band Phish and the horrorcore rap duo Insane Clown Posse. But they've got something in common. Each of them has a deeply passionate following, and each of them has deeply, deeply passionate haters. When Nathan Rabin tried to write a critic's look at these bands' worlds, he found himself sucked in. Then later Jesse talks to Benjamin Nugent about another group of American sub-culture. D&D players, historical reenactors, ham radio enthusiasts. You know, nerds. Ben is the author of American Nerd: The Story of My People. His 2007 book looks at what the word actually means.

The Directors of "Doin' It In The Park" and Mary Roach

Tuesday, July 02 2013 10:30 AM

Delve into the culture of pickup basketball this week, and find out why each of the hundreds of courts in New York City is a unique experience. Jesse will talk with Bobbito Garcia and his co-director Kevin Couliau about their new documentary ‘Doin’ It In The Park’. Then writer Mary Roach, author of the new book ‘Gulp’, takes us on a rollicking tour of the human digestive system. [The podcast version of this interview is featured UNCUT and UNCENSORED] Plus Sean O’Neal and Alex Dowd from the A.V. Club suggest a couple of new releases worth checking out, Jesse talks about the album where Prince really became Prince, and gospel singer Shirley Caesar shares the song that changed her life.