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.)
Joe Pera of "Joe Pera Talks With You"
Joe Pera Talks with You is one of the quirkiest shows on television right now. Comedian Joe Pera portrays a fictionalized version of himself. He's a soft-spoken, unassuming, kind person. Each episode involves Joe, a middle school choir teacher, guiding viewers through his life in the city of Marquette, Michigan. He talks about the simple things in life. It's quickly becoming one of our favorites here at Bullseye. Joe Pera Talks With You is back for season three. We're revisiting our conversation with Joe from last year, from when he had just wrapped season two. Joe Pera talked about doing comedy at his own pace, sleeping in a twin bed well into his twenties and why he enjoys casting non-actors in real locations. Plus, why he considers falling asleep to be a totally acceptable response to his performances. This interview originally aired in January of 2020.
A special treat from the Bullseye archives: Paul Reubens! The man behind Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee is, of course, a beloved character among kids who grew up in the 1980s and 90s. He's the star of Pee-wee's Playhouse, Pee-wee's Big Adventure and so many others. Pee-wee's Playhouse remains a singular achievement in kid's TV. It's a kitschy pastiche of a thousand TV shows that went before it, but it's also much more than that: it's a kaleidoscope of difference, a tribute to the big dreams and big feelings of being a kid. And it's so, so funny. In this interview, Paul tells us about growing up in a circus town, working hard to make Pee-wee Herman seem real, and why Pee-wee is a little bit of a jerk — and why that makes him work as a character.
The Song That Changed My Life: Aimee Mann
The Song That Changed My Life is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite artists about the music that made them who they are today. This time around, we're joined by Aimee Mann. Aimee is a singer-songwriter whose career dates back to the 80s when she sang in the new wave band Til Tuesday. But odds are you know Aimee for her solo career. She recently released a record called Queens of the Summer Hotel. The songs on the record started when Aimee was working on a stage version of the book Girl, Interrupted. The stage show hasn't happened, but the record is out now. It's somber, delicate and beautiful. When we asked Aimee about the song that changed her life, she took us back to 1972, to the first time she ever listened – really listened – to lyrics in a pop song. The song was Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again (Naturally).
Drew Magary, author of 'The Night The Lights Went Out'
Drew Magary is a writer and novelist. He was a longtime columnist at Deadspin. He's written features for GQ, The Atlantic and more. His latest work is a memoir. In December of 2018, Drew collapsed after an award show in New York. In the days and weeks that followed, his life changed profoundly. In The Night The Lights Went Out, Drew recounts his accident and his road to recovery. He chronicles his experience with brain damage and hearing loss, interviews the people who cared for him while he recuperated. The book is harrowing, like you'd expect in a book about traumatic brain injury. Drew talks about his renewed appreciation for life. The book is unexpectedly grounded and funny, too. Jesse Thorn talks with Drew about why after recovering from a catastrophic brain injury, he decided to quit his stable writing job. Plus, what it was like to relearn things he used to do on a regular basis. They get more into the particulars in the interview – as a heads up, things get a little graphic.
They Might Be Giants
At the heart of They Might Be Giants, there are two Johns: John Flansburgh and John Linnell. The two singer/songwriters have been writing and recording together since 1982 — nearly 40 years. In that time, the band's released 22 albums, won two Grammys, and have cultivated a fanbase that is passionate, fun-loving... maybe a little nerdy. Their newest project, BOOK, is a record, but it's also... a book. It's a hardcover collection of photos of the band's longtime home of New York City, by street photographer Brian Karlsson. The photos are set alongside lyrics from the band. The Johns sat down with our correspondent Jordan Morris to talk about their early years, their songwriting process, and their "lost album" — plus, have they heard the crust punk version of Ana Ng? We'll play it for them!
Sébastien Lifshitz, director of 'Little Girl'
The documentary Little Girl is a profile of an 8 year old transgender girl named Sasha living in France. The film talks about the resistance Sasha meets from her school, the help she gets from medical caregivers, and the support she receives from her family. Throughout the film, you see how everywhere Sasha goes, she must explain who she is, answer questions, and fight to clarify something so simple and concise. Little Girl shows in very real and plain terms what it's like to be a trans child, to be a part of that child's family, and to raise and love that child. We talk with director Sébastien Lifshitz about the film and what it was like documenting Sasha's everyday life and the unique challenges she's faced with. He tells us what inspired him to make the film and how he got connected with Sasha and her family. He also shares how Little Girl has impacted the people who see it, and what they tell him.