WBEZ | comedy http://www.wbez.org/tags/comedy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Drivers weigh in on rideshare in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/morning-shift-drivers-weigh-rideshare-chicago-110298 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ride share Flickr Tribute Homenaje.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, we hear from both sides of the ride share issue, we get a preview of Sunday&#39;s Greater Chicago Jewish Festival. And later, comedian Al Madrigal joins us.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-53/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-53.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-53" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Drivers weigh in on rideshare in Chicago" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 07:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/morning-shift-drivers-weigh-rideshare-chicago-110298 Morning Shift: The state of diversity on stage and screen http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-30/morning-shift-state-diversity-stage-and-screen-110104 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/White people on stage Flickr Lieven SOETE.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We look at new efforts aimed at bringing diversity into comedy. Plus, Governor Quinn selects new director for DCFS. And, a little reclaimed soul.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-state-of-diversity-on-stage-and/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-state-of-diversity-on-stage-and.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-state-of-diversity-on-stage-and" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The state of diversity on stage and screen" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-30/morning-shift-state-diversity-stage-and-screen-110104 15 female TV writers you should know http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" jordin="" of="" showtime="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jordin%20Althaus%3AShowtime.jpg" states="" the="" title="Diablo Cody on the set of her Showtime series &quot;The United States of Tara.&quot; (Jordin Althaus/Showtime)" united="" /></div><p>Headlines about women in television can be confusing and contradictory. Some say progress for female TV writers is moving at <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/wga-releases-annual-writing-report-and-women-make-small-progress" target="_blank">a snail&#39;s pace</a>, while others&nbsp;say 2013 is a great year to be a woman breaking into Hollywood&#39;s &quot;cigar-chomping&quot; <a href="http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/2013/08/meet-the-women-who-run-your-favorite-movies-and-tv-shows#slide=1" target="_blank">boy&#39;s club</a>.</p><p>My take? We&#39;ve come a long way since Irma Kalish of &quot;All in the Family&quot; and Susan Harris of &quot;The Golden Girls&quot; first paved the road for women to be taken seriously as TV writers and showrunners, but we still have a long way to go.</p><p>The Hollywood Reporter&nbsp;just announced their&nbsp;annual list of Top 50 Showrunners, and only <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/the-hollywood-reporter-announced-the-top-50-showrunners" target="_blank">10 women</a> (many of them working in teams with men) made the cut.</p><p>Still, just a brief glance at the progress that&#39;s been made &ndash; from Chicago native Agnes Nixon creating the TV <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_Nixon" target="_blank">soap opera</a>&nbsp;in 1968, to Tina Fey becoming the first female head writer at &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot; in 1999, to Lena Dunham inspiring a million <a href="http://splitsider.com/2012/04/24-thinkpieces-about-girls/" target="_blank">Internet think pieces</a> with each zeitgeist-y episode of &quot;Girls&quot; &ndash; is enough to see that times are slowly but surely changing for the better.</p><p>And despite numerous sexist roadblocks that still need to be torn down (shows like &quot;Californication,&quot; and &quot;Veep&quot; <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/03/28/1787671/from-californication-to-veep-the-tv-shows-that-hired-no-women-or-writers-of-color-in-2011-2012/" target="_blank">did not employ a single female writer </a>during their 2011-2012 seasons), plenty of women in television are making waves by taking charge.&nbsp;</p><p>In no particular order, here are 15 groundbreaking female TV writers you should know:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Jenji Kohan</strong></p><p>Kohan started out writing for shows like &quot;Will and Grace,&quot; &quot;Gilmore Girls,&quot; and &quot;Sex and the City;&quot; and in 1997, won an Emmy Award as supervising producer of the HBO sketch comedy series &quot;Tracey Takes On...&quot; In 2005, Kohan become the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the dark comedy &quot;Weeds,&quot; starring Mary Louise Parker, which ran for eight seasons on Showtime. Today, Kohan is the co-creator and executive producer of the Netflix prison dramedy &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenji_Kohan" target="_blank">Orange is the New Black</a>,&quot; which is gearing up for a highly-anticipated Season 2.</p><p><strong>2. Elizabeth Meriwether</strong></p><p>Meriwether is a Yale University graduate who got her start as a playwright before transitioning to film and TV. She got her big break writing the screenplay for the 2011 film &quot;No Strings Attached,&quot;landing her a spot in &quot;<a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/liz-meriwether" target="_blank">The Fempire</a>&quot;&nbsp;next to fellow female screenwriters Dana Fox and Lorene Scafaria. Meriwether went on to write for the Adult Swim series &quot;Children&#39;s Hospital&quot; and is now the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of &quot;New Girl&quot; on Fox.</p><p><strong>3. Michelle Ashford</strong></p><p>Ashford has a long list of writing credits to her name, including two Emmy-winning television miniseries: 2008&#39;s &quot;John Adams&quot; and 2010&#39;s &quot;The Pacific.&quot; However, Ashford&#39;s most prominent role to date is as creator and showrunner of the new Showtime drama &quot;Masters of Sex,&quot; which premiered in September to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Sex" target="_blank">widespread critical acclaim</a> and has already been renewed for a second season in 2014.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Amy Sherman-Palladino</strong></p><p>Sherman-Palladino is best known for creating the whip-smart and heartwarming series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilmore_Girls" target="_blank">Gilmore Girls</a>,&quot; which debuted on The WB in 2000 and became a tentpole for the network. The show that would make huge stars of Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, and Melissa McCarthy later moved to WB&#39;s successor network The CW, where it ended after seven seasons in 2007. Sherman-Palladino went on to create the ballet dramedy &quot;Bunheads&quot; for ABC Family in 2012; but much to fans&#39; disappointment, the series was not renewed for a second season.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Nahnatcha Khan</strong></p><p>Khan has written and produced a slew of creative shows, from the Saturday morning cartoon series &quot;Pepper Ann&quot; to the Seth MacFarlane vehicle &quot;American Dad!&quot; In 2012, Khan created her own ABC sitcom called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Trust_the_B----_in_Apartment_23" target="_blank">Don&#39;t Trust the B---- in Apartment 3</a>,&quot; which, despite its questionable title, turned out to be a shining example of truly great yet underrated comedic television. Unfortunately, not enough viewers tuned in to watch James Van Der Beek play a hilarious washed-up version of himsef, and the show was cancelled after two seasons in January.</p><p><strong>6. Shonda Rhimes</strong></p><p>Rhimes is a Chicago native and graduate of Dartmouth College. She also is the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the long-running ABC medical drama &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; and its shorter-lived spinoff &quot;Private Practice,&quot; as well as creator and showrunner of the current ABC smash hit &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandal_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Scandal</a>.&quot; To date, Rhimes is the first African-American &ndash; man or woman &ndash; to create and produce a top-rated, one-hour series that has run for more than one season. &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; is now in Season 10.</p><p><strong>7. Julie Plec</strong></p><p>Plec graduated from Northwestern University in 1994, and went on to write scripts for Wes Craven&#39;s (&quot;Scream&quot; and &quot;Cursed&quot;) and the ABC Family sci-fi series &quot;Kyle XY.&quot; Plec hit the television big leagues in 2009, when she co-created <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vampire_Diaries" target="_blank">&quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot;</a> with Kevin Williamson for The CW. The supernatural teen drama has become a domestic and international juggernaut, prompting Plec to create a spinoff called &quot;The Originals&quot; in 2013. Plec also co-created a third series for the CW this year: &quot;The Tomorrow People,&quot;&nbsp;based on the popular British science fiction TV series of the same name.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. Liz Sarnoff</strong></p><p>Sarnoff got her start writing episodes of &quot;NYPD Blue&quot; and &quot;Crossing Jordan&quot; before joining the crew of &quot;Deadwood&quot; in 2004 as an executive story editor and writer for Season 1. The following year, Sarnoff joined the writing team of &quot;Lost&quot; in the series&#39; second season, and won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Dramatic Series for her work. She was promoted to co-executive producer of &quot;Lost&quot; for Season 5, and executive producer in the show&#39;s sixth and final season. In 2011, Sarnoff co-created the Fox series &quot;Alcatraz,&quot; an ambitious <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcatraz_(TV_series)" target="_blank">J.J. Abrams-produced prison series</a> that lasted 13 episodes.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. Jane Espenson</strong></p><p>Espenson had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on &quot;Buffy the Vampire Slayer,&quot; followed by work on the sci-fi cult classic &quot;Battlestar Galactica&quot; and its prequel spinoff &quot;Caprica.&quot; In 2010, she wrote an episode of HBO&#39;s &quot;Game of Thrones&quot; and joined the writing staff for Season 4 of the British television program &quot;Torchwood.&quot; Espenson also has written episodes for Joss Whedon&#39;s &quot;Firefly,&quot; &quot;Angel,&quot; &quot;Tru Calling,&quot; and the ABC fairy tale series &quot;Once Upon a Time.&quot; Currently, Espenson is the co-creator, writer, and producer of a sitcom web series called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Husbands_(sitcom)" target="_blank">Husbands</a>,&quot; now in Season 3 on The CW Seed.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Mindy Kaling</strong></p><p>Kaling first joined NBC&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(U.S._TV_series)" target="_blank">The Office</a>&quot; as a writer at the age of 24, and as the only woman on a team of eight. She later took on the role of Kelly Kapoor, while still writing and directing episodes. In 2010, she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series with Greg Daniels for the episode &quot;Niagara.&quot; After &quot;The Office&quot; came to end earlier this year, Kaling became the first South Asian-American woman to create, write, and star in her own network television show: &quot;The Mindy Project,&quot; now in Season 2. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. Ann Biderman</strong></p><p>Biderman won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Drama Series for an episode of the police procedural &quot;NYPD Blue,&quot; and went on to become the creator and executive producer of the &nbsp;NBC/TNT series &quot;Southland.&quot; Now, Biderman is the creator and showrunner of &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Donovan_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Ray Donovan</a>,&quot; a powerful crime drama on Showtime starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. A second season of &quot;Ray Donovan&quot; will air in 2014.</p><p><strong>12. Emily Kapneck</strong></p><p>Kapneck created the popular animated program &quot;As Told by Ginger,&quot; which ran on Nickelodeon from 2000-2009. She also has served as a consulting producer on NBC&#39;s &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot; and is currently the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the ABC sitcom &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburgatory" target="_blank">Suburgatory</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>13. Kay Cannon</strong></p><p>Cannon received her B.A. in Theatre from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill. and trained in improvisation at both The Second City and The I.O. Theater ( formerly ImprovOlympic) in Chicago. She went on to write for the NBC series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kay_Cannon" target="_blank">30 Rock</a>,&quot; winning three Writer&#39;s Guild of America Awards and later a Peabody Award in 2008 for her work on the show. Cannon also wrote the screenplay for the 2012 sleeper hit film &quot;Pitch Perfect.&quot;</p><p><strong>14. Issa Rae</strong></p><p>Rae is the creator of the YouTube comedy series &quot;<a href="http://www.issarae.com" target="_blank">The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl</a>,&quot; in addition to the vlog series &quot;Ratchetplace Theatre&quot; and a collaboration with Black&amp;Sexy TV called &quot;RoomieLoverFriends.&quot; A new comedy series for HBO, co-written with Larry Wilmore and starring Rae, is currently in development.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>15. Diablo Cody</strong></p><p>Cody may be best known for writing the 2007 indie film &quot;Juno,&quot; but the Chicago native also has found a great deal of success in television. She created &quot;The United States of Tara&quot; in 2009, an Emmy-Award winning drama starring Toni Collette that ran for three seasons on Showtime. Cody also has recently been tapped to create a new &quot;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/diablo-cody-and-josh-schwartz-are-developing-a-new,103923/" target="_blank">smart, sassy teen girl drama</a>&quot; for Fox, alongside &quot;The O.C.&quot; producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz.</p><p>To end this list: an adorable video of Amy Poehler interviewing her TV idol, pioneering comedy writer Irma Kalish:</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5seuoKvXvSc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 David Misch: A History of Comedy http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/david-misch-history-comedy-107270 <p><p><strong>David Misch</strong>&nbsp;discusses his new book <em>Funny: The Book &mdash; Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Comedy</em>. Ripped from the pages of his award-eligible book <em>Misch presents</em> <em>The History of Ha!</em>&nbsp;a some-holds-barred survey of absolutely everything funny that&#39;s ever happened. From ancient Tricksters to&nbsp;<em>Modern Family</em>, Mr. Misch looks at what comedy is, where it comes from and where it&#39;s going (oddly enough, Philadelphia).</p><p>Among David Misch&#39;s TV and movie credits are the Emmy-nominated <em>Mork and Mindy</em>, the Emmy-losing <em>Duckman</em>, the Emmy-besotted <em>Saturday Night Live</em>, and the Emmy-ineligible <em>The Muppets Take Manhattan</em>. &nbsp;He&#39;s also a playwright, songwriter, blogger, teacher and recovered stand-up comic.</p><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CPL-webstory_38.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Recorded live Monday, May 13, 2013 at the Harold Washington Library Center.</p></p> Mon, 13 May 2013 10:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/david-misch-history-comedy-107270 Q&A with Julie Klausner, author of 'Art Girls Are Easy' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/qa-julie-klausner-author-art-girls-are-easy-107004 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Julie-Klausner-1844.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Julie Klausner (Photo by Mindy Tucker)" />You <em>probably </em>know Julie Klausner from <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2010/08/the_julie_klausner_interview.php">my 2010 interview with her</a>. If not for that, maybe her memoir <em>I Don&#39;t Care About Her Band</em> or her personable podcast <a href="http://howwasyourweek.libsyn.com/">How Was Your Week</a>. Starting Tuesday, you will also know her for her role as Young Adult author, as her new book <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Art-Girls-Easy-Julie-Klausner/dp/0316243620">Art Girls Are Easy</a>, </em>a funny and romantic summer camp romp with an artsy twist, will be released May 7. I asked Julie what it&#39;s like wearing a new YA hat, and below that, check out an excerpt from the book.</p><p><strong>How hard or easy was it to switch gears into YA writing? What challenges did it pose?</strong><br />It&#39;s completely tough to write a book, period. But switching gears into fiction was absolutely challenging, if only because I had to make sure I wasn&#39;t using my own voice the whole time when I was writing&mdash;whether it was in the description or in the dialogue. I don&#39;t have a lot of experience writing fiction. Part of that is because I have such a loud nonfiction voice. I am who I am. Another element of the challenge of having to sit down and make sh*t up is imagination. As I grow older, I become more and more fearful that I have little to no imagination. The kind of abilities I had as a little kid to just play and make things up as you went along. So, I had to get past that fear to crack the story, and then to write in the voices of the kids I invented. But as far as it being a challenge from a YA perspective, I honestly have to say that I just tried to be true to the material, and I didn&#39;t think of the audience as being below or necessarily less sophisticated than somebody I would usually write for. I didn&#39;t dumb down my prose&mdash;or, I tried not to.</p><p><strong>You don&#39;t have to give us details (but feel free to), but how much of the book was inspired by your own young adulthood?</strong><br />I absolutely relate to the main character in the book. I was a very emotionally intense adolescent, very interior. I was eaten alive by my own passions, which were equal parts artistic drive and sexual madness. That&#39;s where I drew the inspiration for Indigo&#39;s tumult. Her conflict is more internal than it is a concrete struggle with her best friend. She does have some love affair gone sour stuff with her best friend Lucy, but the main plot exists within Indigo, I think. As far as the setting, I did go to a Fine and Performing Arts sleepaway camp, but it wasn&#39;t like Silver Springs at all, insomuch as the counselors were NOT sleazy and I will go on record as saying nobody ever tried to make out with me at the time. Which is still disappointing.</p><p><strong>What YA books have inspired you, either when you were a young adult or now in your general adulthood?</strong><br />The first Gossip Girl novel, by Cecily Von Ziegesar, was a huge inspiration, in terms of when I was first researching the genre and my agent suggested I see what was out there. I was so impressed by its satire and humor and its references, as well as by its structure. It read like a television show in how it was laid out; each scene introduced a couple of characters and they all converged in the middle and at the end. I mean this as a huge compliment. So, that absolutely encouraged me to write one of my own. AS far as growing up, like everybody else I was shaped by Judy Blume&#39;s opus, but I also want to give a shout-out to <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Paula-Danziger/e/B000APCI5K">Paula Danziger</a>. She wrote some steamy&mdash;for me, at the time&mdash;novels about teenage girls making out with dudes and coming of age, and I plowed through every one of her novels. Also, if you Google her, you&#39;ll find some pretty incredible photos of her <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=Paula+Danziger&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=FiCEUZG-CM20qQGYzoDwCA&amp;biw=1920&amp;bih=952&amp;sei=GSCEUd60Eo2yrgGmpIDADA">wearing a jaunty headband</a>, which I guess, along with her purple glasses, was a trademark. She&#39;s dead now, which is very sad. A fellow redhead, too! Redhead Hall of Fame for her, no doubt.</p><p><strong>What are your plans for celebrating your first YA book&#39;s release?</strong><br />None as of yet! But I will probably overeat that night.</p><p><strong>Who is currently your favorite animal? (Neither your nor my pets qualify.) </strong><br />Well, that is unfair to disqualify <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=zulkey+briscoe&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=UyCEUcTVOYjMqQG03IDQDw&amp;biw=1920&amp;bih=952&amp;sei=YyCEUYrUJJHNqAHN4IGYBA">Briscoe</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=klausner+jimmy+jazz&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=mCCEUY6UG4qhrgGjq4CADw&amp;biw=1920&amp;bih=952&amp;sei=miCEUej0GsfXrAGxt4HoBg">Jimmy Jazz</a>, but I&#39;ll play along. I&#39;ll go with most recently adored instead of utmost overall pet. Yesterday I met Marc Spitz&#39;s two basset hounds, <a href="http://nypress.com/downtown-then-and-now-with-marc-spitz/">Jerry and Joni</a>. Jerry dazzled me, with his vocal displays of neediness and alpha-tude, but Joni ultimately won me over with her nuzzles and her plaintive, God-like eyes. I love them both. They are good hounds.</p><p>[Editor&#39;s note: Both Marc Spitz&#39;s and my dogs are named after Jerry Orbach.]</p><p>Now please enjoy an excerpt from <em>Art Girls are Easy:</em></p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Wake up!&rdquo; Eleanor hissed. Sure enough, the bus was pulling up to campus, and the sign welcoming motorists to Silver Springs elicited cheers and general rabble from the peanut gallery of young campers at the front.</p><p>Indigo felt disoriented and groggy. She rubbed her eyes carefully so as not to smudge her mascara and looked out the window.They were just pulling up to the front of the camp.Indy could make out the lush lawn and blue buildings with sloping gray roofs in the near distance. Massive shady trees were spaced evenly throughout the campus, and the Silver Springs camp flag, which bore a feminized coat of arms that represented each discipline taught at camp above the Latin phrase<em> ArsGratiaArtis</em> (&ldquo;Art is the reward of art&rdquo;), danced lightly in the breeze. The overall effect was quite ethereal. Indigo began to imagine which colors she would mix to achieve the specific shades of the scene if she were to paint a landscape right now. Chartreuse and goldenrod. Maybe some cerulean.</p><p>&ldquo;You were snoring.&rdquo;Eleanor smirked, her thin lips a line graph of contempt under her LancĂ´me burgundy matte stick. &ldquo;It was&nbsp;pretty annoying.&rdquo;That was rich, coming from her. Indy gathered her things: she couldn&rsquo;t wait to get off this bus and avoid Eleanor for the rest of&nbsp;the summer.</p><p>As the girls lined up like elegant, talented cattle down the bus&nbsp; aisle, the camp director, Lillian Meehan, greeted each camper as she exited with a lei made from organic peonies tied together&nbsp;with red kabbalah string. Lillian was tall and amiable, and thin enough to look great in clothes, though not necessarily pretty. Basically, she was Glenn Close with dark hair and a whistle around her neck.</p><p>Lucy looked back at a still-sleepy, rumpled Indigo before getting off the bus. As the two girls made eye contact for the first time since their light dish session about Tyler or Taylor or whoever, Lucy smiled and winked at her friend, and Indy felt the&nbsp;warm rush of camaraderie wash over her. She smiled back and soon enough emerged from the bus into the warm kiss of sunlight on the grassy patch, where Lillian greeted her with a lei. And&nbsp;when she lifted her face to take in the familiar postcard of the sprawling green campus before her, Indigo found something&nbsp;small and sublime in its composition.</p><p>There, on the lawn of the main sprawl of Silver Springs, right near the office, stood Nick Estep, holding a blowtorch to a life-size rectangular metal sculpture. Goggles rested over his longish hair, which trickled onto the collar of his Nirvana T-shirt in the Berkshires sunlight.Indigo&rsquo;s heart rocketed to every point on the surface of her skin. He was here after all.</p></blockquote><p><em>Follow Claire Zulkey <a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 06 May 2013 08:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/qa-julie-klausner-author-art-girls-are-easy-107004 The Kate Lambert Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/kate-lambert-interview-106836 <p><div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KateLambertHeadshot.JPG" style="float: right; height: 453px; width: 300px;" title="Chicago comedian Kate Lambert. (Photo courtesy of Brian McConkey)" />Let&#39;s talk about what it&#39;s like to make a living as a comic performer in Chicago. Kate Lamber is an actress, improviser and writer. She is a cast member of The Second City Touring Company and has performed as an understudy on The Second City&#39;s e.t.c. Stage and at UP Comedy Club.</p><p>Kate has also toured with The Second City aboard Norwegian Cruise Line. She wrote and acted in viral shorts such as <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC-jafOj_Y4" target="_blank">&quot;Adults &amp; Tiaras&quot;</a>, <a href="http://vimeo.com/39320247" target="_blank">&quot;How to Live Like Beyonce&quot;</a>, and &quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3smaIc7UHEg" target="_blank">How to Sponsor a Uterus</a>&quot; that have been featured places like The Huffington Post, MTV and Cosmopolitan.</p><p>In addition, she is an actor, writer, and executive producer for the web series,<em> Teachers</em>. Kate is a member of the sketch group Cell Camp and performs at iO with the improv groups like Virgin Daiquiri (which featured <em>SNL</em>&#39;s Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong) and guest improvises with Whirled News Tonight and The Deltones.</p><p><strong>What do you get from each of the&nbsp;</strong><strong>sketch and improv groups</strong><strong>&nbsp;you&rsquo;re in?</strong></p><p>Currently, I am performing with The Second City Touring Company, <a href="http://ioimprov.com/chicago/io/shows/the-armando-diaz-experience" target="_blank">The Armando Diaz Experience,</a> <a href="http://ioimprov.com/chicago/io/teams/virgin-daiquiri" target="_blank">Virgin Daiquiri</a>, and <a href="http://www.thekatydids.com/index.html" target="_blank">The Katydids</a>.</p><p>Working for The Second City has been a dream of mine since I first started improvising. The Touring Company lets me improvise, act, write, and travel, which are four of my favorite things to do. It is an honor to have this job and perform for people all across the country. In addition to creating our own material, we also perform some of the best scenes from Second City&rsquo;s fifty-plus year history. It&rsquo;s pretty incredible to be in scenes that people like Steve Carell, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert originally wrote and acted in.</p><p>Armando Diaz and Virgin Daiquiri are the two improv groups that I watched most when coming up in classes at iO. The players in these shows were some of the performers I admired most. When I was asked to join both groups, it was a &ldquo;pinch me&rdquo; moment. To play with these improvisers is a real privilege as they are at the top of the game, and being onstage with them only makes you better.&nbsp;</p><p>With The Katydids, we started as an improv group and then we expanded to doing sketch and online shorts. This is a group (made up of women with all varying forms of the name Kate) who are friends and co-workers.&nbsp; It is an independent group, so we began focusing on creating material. We have really had to pound the pavement to get our work out there and to have it pay off has been really rewarding. Most recently, we wrote, produced, and acted in a web series called &quot;<em><a href="http://www.teacherswebseries.com/" target="_blank">Teachers</a></em>&quot; (with Matt Miller and Cap Gun Collective) that was really successful and with which we are hoping to do more.</p><p><strong>When you&rsquo;re writing, are there any comedy topics you tend to avoid either because you find them too sensitive, overdone or just not that funny?</strong><br />I don&rsquo;t have a hard and fast rule about what topics I can write about and what I can&rsquo;t. Last year, I wrote about women&rsquo;s rights and gay marriage in two shorts. Both are pretty sensitive subjects where emotions run high on both sides. In the shorts <em>How to Sponsor a Uterus</em> and <em>Get Cash 4 Rights</em>, I wanted to weigh in on these subjects, so I did it by satirizing the opposition. I think that in order to write in a comedic way about any sensitive subject, you have to first understand why it&rsquo;s not funny before you put your spin on it.</p><p><strong>Who is Michael Billington and why is he worthy of mention <a href="http://www.katelambert.com/About" target="_blank">in your bio</a>?</strong><br />Michael Billington is the longest serving theatre critic in Britain and the theatre critic for The Guardian. He was also Harold Pinter&rsquo;s authorized biographer. When I was in college, I was lucky enough to study abroad in London and take a class from him. As a class, we attended multiple shows&mdash;several of them written by Pinter, and one that was written and directed by Pinter. It was an incredible experience to see these shows, but also discuss them with someone like Mr. Billington afterwards. We were able to critically analyze the performances and think about them in a way we hadn&rsquo;t before. We were also able to tell him that one of the actors we saw did a terrible American accent.</p><p><strong>As a Second City cruise employee, what secrets can you tell us from behind the scenes of cruise ships?</strong><br />When you&rsquo;re performing on a moving vessel, you have to deal with factors you would never encounter on land. I remember the water could be a little rocky as we were leaving Belize, and that was during our sketch show. Performing in heels is tough enough as is, but when the ship is moving every which way, even sitting in a chair requires concentration so you won&rsquo;t slide off.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>With the ship, you are essentially living and working on a floating city for four months. It gives you a lot of time to work on material or just stare at the ocean which, surprisingly, doesn&rsquo;t get old. You also learn terms like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vessel_emergency_codes" target="_blank">&ldquo;Code Oscar&rdquo;</a> that come in handy for any future improv scenes that takes place on a boat and make you sound legit.</p><p><strong>What have been some of your favorite parts of the cruises?</strong><br />I was so excited to go on the cruise because it was my first job with Second City and because I got to travel which was something I wanted to do since I graduated from college. To make it even better, the people in the cast were incredible and seasoned performers so I learned a lot from them. We were able to go to so many amazing places together. Some of which I knew I would never have the chance to visit again, so I made the most of it.&nbsp; I got to swim with dolphins in Mexico, zip line through the rainforest in Belize and Costa Rica, swim in a mud volcano in Colombia, and go dog sledding in Alaska. It was pretty surreal to experience all of those things within four months.</p><p><strong>What are you happiest to come home to after a cruise?</strong><br />I was happiest to come home to my family and friends. And it was nice to be in a house that always stayed in one place.</p><p><strong>What have been some of your favorite voiceover gigs?</strong><br />Voiceover is something that is relatively new for me. I did a radio spot last year that was a lot of fun, but I have also had a great time auditioning for things. I recently auditioned for an animated film and it was so cool to see the part I was reading for and check out the script.</p><p><strong>How is writing for web series different from writing for the stage?</strong><br />Writing for shorts and web series is different from writing on the stage because there are things that you can show onstage that you can&rsquo;t on film and vice versa. The great thing about online shorts is that you can go to town with costumes and makeup when you wouldn&rsquo;t have time for something like that in a sketch show. For one short we did, I had to use latex, scar wax, and layers upon layers of foundation to cover up my eyebrows. It took forever to do, but the end result was ridiculous and looked real. Sketch shows are so fast paced that you don&rsquo;t have that kind of time.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s harder: being a girl in comedy or being in comedy and living in Chicago?</strong><br />I hear more about how difficult it is being a woman in comedy than I think about it myself. It&rsquo;s a question that is posed to a lot of female comedians since there have been several high profile people in the news this past year claiming that women aren&rsquo;t funny. That concept is ludicrous to me because having a particular body part isn&rsquo;t what makes you funny; it&rsquo;s about being smart and observant and that&rsquo;s not relegated to either sex. If someone believes that women aren&rsquo;t funny, then their opinion is already insignificant to me because I can&rsquo;t respect anyone who thinks that way. Personally, I&rsquo;m glad to be a woman in comedy, and right now is a really exciting time to be doing this. Women&nbsp;like&nbsp;Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Lena Dunham have made an incredible impact not only as actors, but writers and producers and I think that trend is going to continue.&nbsp;</p><p>Chicago&nbsp;was the absolute right place for me to come to pursue comedy&mdash;even if I didn&rsquo;t have that intention when I first moved here. While it is very competitive, it is also a nurturing community. You can always find a place to perform, and on any given night onstage, I know I can look out into the crowd and see other performers in the audience watching and supporting.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What is the best skill to have with musical improv?</strong>&nbsp;<br />The best skill to have is to not worry about looking like an idiot. Musical improv flexes a completely different muscle than improv. It is easy to get into your head about the rhythm of the music, singing on key, or whether or not you will be able to rhyme. But if you get out there and just have the most fun you can possibly have with it, it&rsquo;s impossible for the audience not to enjoy it too.</p><p><strong>Tell me about your<em> Check Please</em> appearance. </strong><strong>Where did you go and what&rsquo;s the best thing you ate?</strong><br />My <em>Check Please</em> episode aired earlier this year.&nbsp; It was a lot of fun to do because I had to visit two other restaurants to which I had never gone, so it was great to get out and try some new things. &nbsp;If you see it, you can look forward to watching me try not to be awkward.</p><p>I went to three restaurants&mdash;<a href="http://taximchicago.com/" target="_blank">Taxim</a>, <a href="http://czechplaza.com/" target="_blank">Czech Plaza</a>, and my pick&mdash;Marion Street Grille in Oak Park. I am not someone who typically orders fish, but I had the fish and chips at Marion Street Grille and they were fabulous. &nbsp;he fish was tempura fried, light and fluffy.&nbsp; It was great.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What are you hoping to achieve in the near and in the distant future?</strong><br />I would love to continue working for The Second City. Ultimately, I want to work in TV and film. I would love to write and act for movies or a TV series. My first love was always performing, but working in Chicago has made me love being involved in all aspects of the process. It is awesome to have a hand in creating what you are performing.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 346th person interviewed for Zulkey.com? </strong><br />Pretty good.&nbsp; I just hope I get a jacket.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 26 Apr 2013 08:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/kate-lambert-interview-106836 My Job My Self http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-02/my-job-my-self-105686 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jerry seinfeld 2_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 308px; width: 300px;" title="(wikigazett/flickr)" />Jerry Seinfeld is a comic giant. His TV show, <em>Seinfeld</em>, ruled the air waves for nine years, and achieved cult like status in the American pantheon of popular culture. Seinfeld lives in a posh Manhattan penthouse with a view of Central Park. He has three kids, a wife who is a best-selling cook book author, a fleet of cars, and more money in the bank than he could spend in ten lifetimes.</p><p>And yet, at 58, an age when many comics loose their edge and begin to think about retiring, Seinfeld goes to his office early everyday and works at writing jokes. Moreover, in a recent interview in the <em>New York Times Magazine</em>, Seinfeld revealed that since 2000 he has done, on average, two stand-up shows a week. Some of these shows are in front of 14 to 20 people at a local Manhattan or Long Island club, some to 3000 people at a Midwest casino, and recently he performed for 20,000 in London.</p><p>So, the obvious question is&mdash; why is he still working? Why this need to perform? Well, the answer can be found in the words of another performer and comic from my youth, Jimmy Durante (1893-1980). During an engagement in Las Vegas, at the age of 85, Durante was asked why he continued to do his act at his advanced age. His rationale and answer was the same one, I think, that applies to Seinfeld: &nbsp;&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t need the money, I need the work!&rdquo;</p><p>By his own admission, Seinfeld has been doing comedy since he was in third grade. And, he&rsquo;s very quick to point out that he &quot;plans to do stand-up into my 80s and beyond.&rdquo; He considers himself a stand-up comic above all else. Yes, he says he loves his family and friends, but when he can&rsquo;t perform - for even a week - he says &ldquo;I completely lose who I am and what I do for a living.&rdquo;</p><p>For Seinfeld creating jokes, telling jokes is an antidote to the trials and tribulations of life. Jokes, says Seinfeld, are a gift and a necessary medicine.</p><p>&ldquo;People&hellip;tell jokes by the score because what else are you going to do to maintain [your] sanity?&rdquo; Being a &ldquo;stand-up is part of Seinfeld&rsquo;s hard wiring.&rdquo; In fact, it is not just part of who he is, it&rsquo;s his very identity! Being a stand-up comic, says Seinfeld, is &ldquo;my best way of functioning&rdquo; and my &ldquo;favorite type of intimate relationship.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-02/my-job-my-self-105686 The Tess Rafferty Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/tess-rafferty-interview-103938 <p><p>Thanksgiving is just hours away, so I thought today would be an excellent day for a cooking-related interview. Fans of <em>The Soup </em>may recognize Tess Rafferty from her occasional appearances on the show, most famously as the <a href="http://www.thesouptv.com/latest/diddy-dirty-money-meets-dirty-dancing-maxi-pad/216911">dancing maxi pad</a>. But recently the comedian and writer published her first book, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Recipes-Disaster-Memoir-Tess-Rafferty/dp/1250011434/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1347999216&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=tess+rafferty">Recipes for Disaster</a></em>, a memoir described as &quot;what&rsquo;d you&rsquo;d read if Bridget Jones wrote a culinary memoir.&quot; You can learn much more about her <a href="http://tessrafferty.com/">here</a>. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TR%20-%20Cover%20-%2010.12.12.jpg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Tess Rafferty. (Photo by Justine Ungaro)" /><strong>Working at <em>The Soup</em> seems like the ultimate dream job to some. But what were some of the less-fun aspects of watching lots of TV and writing jokes about it for a living?</strong><br />Have you ever heard the parenting tip that if you catch your kid smoking a cigarette you make them smoke a whole pack so they never want to smoke again? That&rsquo;s what watching reality TV for a living is like. When I started on the show I offered to cover a lot of shows because I was already watching them anyway. By the end of it, I was yelling at my husband to turn off the TV if I caught him watching <em>The Real World</em> on one of my weeks off.</p><p>Also, reality TV has changed a lot in the time I was on the show. It started out as something that resembled reality and then became, &ldquo;Oh no. Kim Kardashian wants help picking out the color of her Bentley and her sisters don&rsquo;t care. What&rsquo;s going to happen?&rdquo; Also, too much of it became <em>The Real Bad Girl Wives Club of the Who Cares?</em> &mdash; just a bunch of women yelling at each other with a bad soundtrack and constant bleeps. It&rsquo;s seizure inducing. I had to put a wallet in my mouth just to watch it.</p><p><strong>Who were some of your favorite guest stars to appear on <em>The Soup</em>?</strong><br />Wendi McLendon-Covey and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erwdAmIlfjU">Rob Corddry</a> blew me away. They both so talented, and they hung out with the writers afterwards and told us how great the show was, which was such a huge compliment. <a href="http://www.hulu.com/watch/165286">Seth Green</a>&nbsp;was a frequent guest and always up for anything. And <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnejQuR9Qok">Yvette Nicole Brown</a> always knocked whatever we gave her out of the park, always asked who wrote it and sent us Lollicakes afterwards. So basically anyone talented who kissed our asses and fed us. Writers are insecure people and we like sweets.</p><p><strong>What kinds of memorable responses did the show receive from the people it made fun of?</strong><br />We featured a clip of someone who had that adult baby fetish and they later wrote someone on the show and told them to check out their blog, which detailed their experiences trying to potty train themselves.</p><p><strong>How did writing for TV and standup help you write the book?</strong><br /><em>The Soup</em> was like boot camp: One of the best joke writers I know described it as throwing a hundred pitches in a row. Writing jokes every day, 49 weeks a year, then thinking of jokes on the fly, really helps you be quick about what you&rsquo;re writing and not overthink things or second guess yourself. I don&rsquo;t get scared about sitting down and starting something anymore. And when I wrote&nbsp;<em>Recipes</em> <em>for Disaster</em>, I couldn&rsquo;t afford to. I was still at <em>The Soup</em> full time and had to write the book at night and on the weekend. Also, being stand up gave me what I think is a very conversational tone when I write.</p><p><strong><em>Recipes for Disaster&nbsp;</em>is a culinary memoir.</strong><em>&nbsp;</em><strong>What&rsquo;s the biggest dinner party challenge you&#39;ve ever set up for yourself?</strong><br />I served a three-course dinner, of which two courses were fresh, homemade pasta. I wanted to make ravioli and serve it in <a href="http://lacucinaitalianamagazine.com/ingredients/recipes-for-basic-brodo">a <em>brodo </em></a>but decided we needed a protein course, too. So I made <em>boeuf bourguignon </em>and&nbsp;thought, &ldquo;Wouldn&rsquo;t it be fun to serve it over homemade fettuccine?&rdquo; I have different definitions of fun from everyone else, I guess. I spent much of the day before covered in flour, rolling out pasta and making frantic calls to a chef friend, trying to figure out the best way to store the pasta without having it dry out or get too gooey.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s your go-to dish when you want to impress your guests without trying very hard?</strong><br />Lately I&rsquo;ve been making a <em>Coq au Vin</em>, which always tastes great, but is also easy enough that I make it on week nights for just me and my husband. But when guests come over I cook it with pancetta.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s the key to a good roast joke?&nbsp;</strong><br />Writing about the same targets day after day, I always looked for a detail about someone&rsquo;s life that hadn&rsquo;t been talked about yet and tried to find the funny or unexpected in that. Roasts are fun&nbsp;because you can be inappropriate and hard hitting, but you have to back that up with something just as funny and shocking &mdash;&nbsp;otherwise you&rsquo;re just writing mean, stupid things about people.&nbsp;</p><p>Here are three of my faves that aren&rsquo;t also too filthy to print, from my first&nbsp;<a href="http://www.comedycentral.com/episodes/1l6bj2/roast-of-roseanne-roast-of-roseanne-season-1-ep-101">roast of Roseanne</a>.&nbsp;I was really honored to be part of it, having been such a fan of roasts for years:</p><p>&ldquo;Roseanne, of course you were attracted to Tom Arnold. You thought with all of that powder on his upper lip, there must be a donut somewhere.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Roseanne you&rsquo;ve butted heads with writers, producers and executives. You&rsquo;ve given more Jews upset stomachs than lactose.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Roseanne, you old hippie broad, I can&rsquo;t believe you&rsquo;re still on Twitter now that you know hashtags don&rsquo;t tell you how much the hash costs.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 331st person interviewed for </strong><a href="http://Zulkey.com/WBEZ?"><strong>Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong></a><br />I feel like that&rsquo;s a very lucky number because it&rsquo;s one less than the amount of electoral college votes Obama got in the election. So it&rsquo;s like an Obama landslide minus Delaware or Rhode Island.<em> [Editor&#39;s Note: Due to the timing of publication, Rafferty was actually Interview no. 332&nbsp;</em><em>&mdash;</em><em>&nbsp;or, the Obama landslide </em>with<em> Delaware or Rhode Island.]</em></p><p><em>Read an extended version of my interview with Rafferty <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2012/11/the_tess_rafferty_interview.php">here</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/tess-rafferty-interview-103938 Comedians pay tribute to 'Free to be... you and me' with 'It's OK to Do Stuff' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/comedians-pay-tribute-free-be-you-and-me-its-ok-do-stuff-103924 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cover.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>Rob Kutner, a&nbsp;<em>Conan </em>writer and friend of Zulkey, is the co-creator of a new comedy project, <em>It&rsquo;s OK To Do Stuff</em>, an album that pays tribute to Marlo Thomas&rsquo; <em>Free To Be&hellip; You And Me.&nbsp;</em>That classic album&nbsp;celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, and like the original, <a href="http://shop.rooftopcomedy.com/album/its-ok-to-do-stuff-2"><em>It&rsquo;s Okay To Do Stuff </em></a>features appearances by comics, actors and musicians like Lizzy Caplan, Eddie Pepitone, Andy Richter, Fred Willard, Megan Amram, Eugene Mirman, Colin Hanks, The Go-Go&rsquo;s Jane Wiedlin, former Barenaked Ladies&rsquo; front man Steven Page and others. original. Proceeds from the album will be donated to St. Jude&rsquo;s Children&rsquo;s Research Hospital. I asked Rob to tell me about one of his favorite tracks, &quot;Friends of Friends,&quot;&nbsp;which you can listen to here.&nbsp;</p><p>Rob says:&nbsp;</p><blockquote><div>Going into this project with my collaborators, Joel and Stephen Levinson, I had a couple of hazy notions of what songs I wanted off the bat.&nbsp;But once that was quickly exhausted, we reached that first creative plateau. So Joel freestyled a list of just near-random one-liners that could be titles, lyrics, whatever &mdash; two honorable mentions were &quot;I Can Be You Can Be Too!&quot; and &quot;Why Didn&#39;t You Tell Me, I Wouldn&#39;t Have Minded!&quot; But the one that leapt off the page was &quot;Friends of Friends.&quot; One of those almost-never moments where a song about awkward third-party acquaintanceships but joyful like the original album&#39;s &quot;Glad To Have a Friend Like You&quot; just formed itself spontaneously in my brain.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At some point during the writing, we started working in little snippets of awkward cocktail party conversation between FOFs, and then that took over the song, making it as Joel put it, &quot;one endless groovy &#39;70s party.&quot;&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</div><div>To voice these partygoers, I recruited some of my favorite comedy cohorts. Andy Richter was, of course, easiest to corral, since his office is 20 feet from mine. But I also got former <em>Daily Show</em> colleagues Sam Bee and Wyatt Cenac to participate. But. . . &nbsp;we were recording all of this the week Hurricane Sandy hit New York! So I&#39;m sending them text messages like, &quot;Are you OK? Is your family safe?&quot; but my subtext is, &quot;Are you going into the office today to record my comedy bit?&quot; A recurring motif in my life: My humanitarian concerns exist in complete contrast to my showbiz ones.</div></blockquote><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s OK To Do Stuff <em>is available via retailers including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and <a href="http://shop.rooftopcomedy.com/album/its-ok-to-do-stuff-2">Rooftop Comedy</a>, and will also be available to stream on Pandora, Spotify, and Last.fm,&nbsp;among others.</em></div></p> Tue, 20 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/comedians-pay-tribute-free-be-you-and-me-its-ok-do-stuff-103924 Is cancer funny? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/cancer-funny-103636 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Scott%20Beale.jpg" title="Tig Notaro (Flickr/ Scott Beale)" /></p><p>Tig Notaro is in great demand in the comedy world. After doing stand up for more than 15 years, she&rsquo;s finally made it to the big time. She&rsquo;s got a new job with Comedy Central and a book deal; her debut album is high on the charts on iTunes, and lots of magazine editors want her in their pages. So, you may ask: &ldquo;What is the secret to Notaro&#39;s sudden success?&rdquo; Well, her answer is an unusual one &mdash; she&rsquo;s got cancer!</p><p>Nataro was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and underwent a double mastectomy, chemo-therapy and radiation treatment. This was not long after she contracted a serious bacterial infection, lived through the sudden, unexpected death of her mother, and suffered a bitter break up with her girlfriend. What did she do with this bad luck and medical agony? She made fun of it, by turning it into a stand-up routine:&nbsp;&quot;Good evening. Hello. I have cancer. How are you? Is everybody having a good time?&quot;</p><p>Macabre? Indeed! Shocking? You bet! Cynical? Absolutely! Angry? A little? Funny? Well, yes! After you let it all sink in. Notaro is really not being irreverent. She&rsquo;s not talking about other people&rsquo;s cancer, she&rsquo;s talking about her cancer and trying, through laughter, to take away the fear, dread and stigma of having cancer. Her routine is a bit of &ldquo;gallows humor.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s an attempt to detox her own fears, and perhaps help others to deal with their fears of illness and death.</p><p>Notaro is clearly a student of Joan Rivers, that great American philosopher who once said, &ldquo;If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.&rdquo; Humor prevents us from perceiving reality as a personal attack or a personal affront. Humor is about the ability to transcend self. It&rsquo;s the ability to celebrate our collective experiences and essential sameness. Humor allows us to laugh at our personal and collective vulnerability.</p><p>Humor has to do with transcending the absurdity and fragility of life. Nietzsche suggested that to gaze too long into the &ldquo;gapping abyss&rdquo; leads to despair and futility. Notaro&#39;s work suggests that humor, laughter and joke-telling are a way to gaze into the abyss, confront the unknowable and unanswerable, and perhaps find comfort and perspective: Humor allows us to gaze into the abyss and not be defeated.</p><p>Now Notaro has both gazed into the abyss and descended into it. But she is not defeated. She has survived and is in remission. She is laughing herself well!</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 15 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/cancer-funny-103636