Totally Biased writer Aparna Nancherla is hilarious. Having recently been named the first Indian-American female comic to perform on late-night television, Nancherla graciously chatted with me in the midst of prepping for her multiple sets for Portland’s all-female All Jane No Dick comedy festival and sampling as many culinary treats she could squeeze in during her latest 48-hour stint in Portland, Oregon.
Lizz Winstead is a prolific comedian. First off, she's the co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show. She left months before Jon Stewart became the host (but not before discovering Stephen Colbert) and went on to co-found Air America Radio and hosted the show Unfiltered with Chuck D and Rachel Maddow. In May 2012, she published a book of biographical essays, Lizz Free or Die, that chronicle her life growing up in a Catholic family in Minnesota, getting an abortion at age 17, becoming a stand-up comedian, and moving to New York to revolutionize the way Americans see the news.
Winstead is coming to Portland, Oregon this Saturday to speak at NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon’s Annual Choice Gala. She took time to talk with me over the phone on Monday about her history, Twitter fights, and how comedians have become the watchdogs of media.
The Dis/orient/ed Comedy tour has been selling out venues up and down the West Coast and lands in Portland this weekend! There's a lot to be excited about at Dis/orient/Ed: the show features national-touring and local Asian-American female comedians, while also providing space on the roster for other great comics from diverse backgrounds. In the world of mainstream comedy, shows like Dis/orient/ed are a necessary gust of fresh air.
I chatted with co-producer Jenny Yang about how Dis/orient/ed got started and what's so crucial about diversity in comedy.
Recently I told some jokes a stand-up show and as I was getting off stage, the host said, "Go give her a hug after the show!" I shuddered back into my seat and pulled my beer in front of my chest like a protective shield.
"For those of you who don't know me, I'm not wasted, but the doctor who delivered me was." So begins the standup comedy set from Maysoon Zayid: disabled comic, actor, humanitarian, and "Arab Gone Wild."
Defying nondisabled persons outdated notions of what disability is like is difficult enough; making people laugh while doing so is a feat of its own. Thankfully, there are some badasses taking that immense challenge head on and succeeding.
Tig Notaro has been getting a heaping dose of publicity lately. It's well-deserved. You may already recognize the charming comedian from her standup, or watched her play the feather-haired policewoman who briefly (and understandably) lesbianizes Sarah Silverman on the latter's eponymous "Program," or listened to her discuss her frequent run-ins with 80s pop star Taylor "Tell it to my heart" Dayne on This American Life. Maybe you've also read that earlier this month Tig released a half-hour standup comedy set (care of friend/comic superstar Louis C.K.), recorded after a diagnosis of breast cancer (in both breasts) only a few days prior. The performance was instantly touted as legendary, with audience member Louis C.K. calling it "one of the greatest standup performances I ever saw. I can't really describe it but I was crying and laughing and listening like never in my life."
Last year in Canada, there were two nation-wide campaigns to fight mental health stigma.
The first focused on the financial cost of mental health. It was launched by one of our major banks, and had a slick advertising campaign full of dark colors and statistics. There were multi-page discussions in the national newspapers, as well as multiple bus shelter advertisements driving home the point: Mental illness is a cost to the Canadian economy.
The other, Stand Up For Mental Health, was launched by actual people with mental health conditions. The program is open to people with a variety of diagnoses, and trains them to become stand-up comics, making jokes and wise-cracks about the experience of being mentally ill, as well as other aspects of the lives of the comics. Last year, Stand Up for Mental Health did a cross-country tour to university campuses in the hopes of raising enough awareness to get a Pepsi Refresh Grant so they could get more funding for their work.
I encountered both of these programs at university.
Today I'm sharing the second part of my interview with the delightful Christine Smith, the very talented artist behind webcomics Eve's Apple and The Princess. Check out the first part here, and then read our conversation about The Princess, flipping the script, and feminism after the jump!
Christine Smith is the author of two webcomics, Eve's Apple and The Princess. Today I'm interviewing her about Eve's Apple (EA), a three-year-old webcomic about the titular Eve and her friends, love interests, enemies, and everything in between. Read our conversation about newspaper comics, fat bodies, and Betty and Veronica below!