NPR: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Chris Rock and John Cleese
December 10, 2014 7:59 AM - Subscribe

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.
posted by ocherdraco (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That "TV show that lets people just be people" is Transparent on Amazon. I've been hesitant to investigate that, but Jesse's description of it in the Outshot has got me thinking it might be right up my alley.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:02 AM on December 10, 2014

I liked Chris Rock's interview here.
posted by garlic at 11:26 AM on December 10, 2014

He's exactly what you want in both a stand-up and an interviewee: incisive and insightful.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2014

This was the first Bullseye episode I can remember where an interviewee challenged Jesse on a question. It was kind of a weird moment, and I'm glad they left it in, but was Jesse trying to say that black comedians-turn-actors (I'm thinking that means Dave Chappelle & Martin Lawrence?) have problems dealing with the stress of being famous while white comedians don't? I like Chris' answer that plenty of white comedians-turned-stars have had troubles too, but that part of the segment left me wondering what point Jesse was trying to make. I wish the interview was longer, since Chris Rock is such an amazing person with lots to say, but I imagine he is on a tight movie junket schedule and I bet Jesse only had him for 20min of radio studio time somewhere. Chris Rock's new movie sounds amazing and I can't wait to see it.

I loved the bit Cleese told about Americans being direct.

And yeah, I've also been avoiding Transparent, thinking it might not be good (even though I love Jeffrey Tambor to death) but I've heard lots of good things about it and this cemented it for me that I need to check it out asap.
posted by mathowie at 3:54 PM on December 10, 2014

This was the first Bullseye episode I can remember where an interviewee challenged Jesse on a question.

It's not common, but it has definitely happened before. (And there are lots of times when there's an exchange like Jesse: "Did it happen like that?" Interviewee: "No, it didn't happen like that at all.") And yeah, I love that they leave stuff like that in. Like in the interview in the last episode with Bob Odenkirk, Jesse said something like "You were last on our show after [Movie Blah], your third movie," and then Odenkirk is like, "No, that was my second movie," and then it takes them a minute to sort it out. It was nice to hear that whole exchange. I enjoy listening to interviews where it's clear that interviewing is not always smooth sailing. (And I presume that it's often not smooth sailing.)
posted by ocherdraco at 4:38 PM on December 10, 2014

I loved the Bob Odenkirk bit in the last episode, because I distinctly remember asking Jesse over twitter or email after I heard it -- I asked Jesse how such a funny guy like Bob could do such a depressing interview. He was really down on himself and his work in the previous interview, I still remember thinking Odenkirk must have been having an off day.
posted by mathowie at 5:19 PM on December 10, 2014

The upper echelon of black standups has had an unusual rate of meltdown or opt-out. Katt Williams, Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Richard Pryor, Dick Gregory, Franklin Ajaye, Dave Chappelle off the top of my head. It's something that I've talked about (on the show maybe even) with W. Kamau Bell. IIRC Kamau's theory was that it was the combination of feeling like you have to speak for your race, and fearing you are being misinterpreted.

I think Chris took the question a little differently from how it was intended - his answer was very interesting, so I was glad to hear it.

The whole interview was a little weird, in part because he'd just done an hour with Fresh Air that he didn't feel good about, and we only had about 25 minutes total. He was in a studio in New York. Still a very excited opportunity.

And I really stand behind what I said about Transparent. Really like that show, despite my aversion to stories about white, upper-middle-class Angelenos who are sort of bratty.
posted by YoungAmerican at 7:38 PM on December 21, 2014

PS: Thanks so much for sharing and discussing here. If you ever have a question about the show feel free to ask here - you might have to lmk on twitter or something that you've asked but I will certainly answer.
posted by YoungAmerican at 7:39 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

feedback loop complete.
posted by garlic at 10:37 AM on December 22, 2014

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