3 Things: Kate Willett, Birthday Pranks, and Zahra Hirji by Chris Duffy

Happy Saturday! Every week, I send out an email with my show dates and recommendations of things I think you might enjoy. 

Personally, I spent almost all this week trying to buy a car for the first time in my life. The things that I had to haggle over were wild. At one point, a used car salesman earnestly told me, "Floor mats are supposed to smell bad," and I had to be like "I don't think that's true." I did end up getting him to agree to give me both keys to the car for no added charge though. After visiting about a dozen places, I ended up with a solid Camry (fingers crossed that it doesn't explode as you're reading this). And the color? You better believe it's officially listed as... "Creme Brulee." As soon as I heard that, I immediately starting saying "Grab a spoon, crack the top" (That's a catchphrase for the car that I'm trying to make happen. So far, unsuccessfully.)

Upcoming Shows

EVERYWHERE:
Both full seasons of Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas are streaming online and on HBO Go. Link

You can listen to all the episodes of my podcast You're the Expert on any podcast app. Three comedians interview a scientist about her work and why it matters. Link

ON TOUR:
I'm on a national tour with Pop-Up Magazine this fall for their Escape Issue. "A night of live storytelling, music, art, and performance devoted to escapes big and small, daring and mundane, physical and mental."

TOUR DATES
San Francisco: Friday, September 20th at the Sydney Goldstein Theater
Oakland: Saturday, September 21st at the Paramount Theatre
San Diego: Monday, September 23rd at Observatory North Park
Los Angeles: Thursday, September 26th at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel
Vancouver: Saturday, September 28th at the Vogue Theatre
Washington, DC: Monday, October 7th at the Lincoln Theatre
New York: Thursday, October 10th at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall
Chicago: Saturday, October 12th at the Athenaeum Theatre

Tickets go on sale this Tuesday (8/20) at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET and will sell out very quickly, so mark your calendars!

This week’s list

GREAT:
I loved this interview with Kate Willett. She's able to combine insightful political commentary with very funny personal jokes. She talks about getting her start in experimental theater, the difference between audiences in San Francisco and New York, and finding her place as a standup comedian. Kate Willett Feels at Home With Intense New Yorkers


FUNNY:
Whenever people ask about my favorite jokes, I have answers I can give them about the standups I most admire and the bits they've perfectly crafted. But if I'm honest, most of the jokes that have made me laugh the hardest are just regular people messing with their friends. This is a perfect example. It's an idea so brilliant and so perfectly executed, that I can only bow down in awe. Cleveland Man Donates T-Shirts With Friend's Face to Area Thrift Stores in Surprise Birthday Prank (h/t The Ann Friedman Weekly


INTERESTING:
Zahra Hirji continues to put together incredibly well-written and moving investigative reports for Buzzfeed News. Her latest is about Ciara Newton, who took on Shell Oil in court. "The oil and gas industry is one of the last bastions of male-dominated work, with nearly four times as many men as women. Several of the biggest companies, including Shell, Chevron, and ExxonMobil, have launched splashy campaigns over the past decade to recruit more women and close the gender gap. But these efforts haven't accomplished much. There is little doubt, lawyers and women in the industry say, that sexual and gender-based harassment remains rampant. And yet Big Oil has received surprisingly little scrutiny." After Being Harassed and Pushed Out of a Shell Oil Refinery, Ciara Newton Pushed Back


Thanks for reading! If you like these emails, please forward to a friend or spread the word. If someone forwarded you this email but you're not yet on the list, you can subscribe here.

Have a great weekend,
Chris

3 Things: Toni Morrison, The Onion, and Latino USA by Chris Duffy

This has been a tough week in the U.S., full of violence and tragedy. I'm finding it increasingly hard to not become numb to mass shootings and despicable immigration policies. They just feel so unrelenting. But the most important writing, comedy, and art remind me that it doesn't have to be like this. That this is not normal and there's a better way. It's been a week when I really needed a reminder of that. 

Upcoming Shows

NOTE: I'll be doing a national tour with Pop Up Magazine in September and October. Details and tickets should be announced in the next week or so. I'll let you know as soon as they're live.

EVERYWHERE:
Both full seasons of Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas are streaming online and on HBO Go. Link

You can listen to all the episodes of my podcast You're the Expert on any podcast app. Three comedians interview a scientist about her work and why it matters. Link

You'll be able to find ticket links for all upcoming shows as soon as they are announced online at my website here.

This week’s list

GREAT:
Toni Morrison's characters and stories were rich and vivid. But her true specialty was sentences that cut to the quick. Her Nobel Lecture is a perfect example. It's hard to imagine anything more chilling than her description of oppressive language (a danger that is more and more present every day in 2019). "Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek—it must be rejected, altered, and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind."The Magnitude of Toni Morrison by Hannah Giorgis


FUNNY:
I'm not sure it's funny in a laugh out loud way, but I think no comedic institution handles tragedy and hypocrisy better than The Onion. They have an amazing ability to satirize America's response to violence and racism. Here are a few recent examples: Koch Foods CEO Applauds Immigrant Arrests As Consequence of Illegally Accepting Job at Koch Foods or this "American Voices" piece about the FBI opening domestic terrorism investigations or Mitch McConnell Wonders If He Could've Done More to Harm People in Private Sector


INTERESTING:
Graciela Mochkofsky wrote about "the vital importance of learning to see Latinos in Trump's America." The essay got me thinking about how much I enjoy the stories and reporting of NPR's Latino USA. I first started listening to the show (and podcast) a few years ago when I was working with Antonia Cereijido, who produces and often hosts. They cover serious issues like the El Paso Shooting but they also have fascinating, lighthearted episodes like Antonia's deep-dive investigation into whether the Minions are Latino.


Thanks for reading! If you like these emails, please forward to a friend or spread the word. If someone forwarded you this email but you're not yet on the list, you cansubscribe here.

Stay safe out there,
Chris

3 Things: Joan Didion, Los Espookys, and Happier in Hollywood by Chris Duffy

Happy Saturday! Every week, I send out an email with my show dates and recommendations of things I think you might enjoy. This week's edition is all about dreams: the dreams we have when we're young, the surreal comedic visions of Ana Fabrega and Julio Torres, and the promise/reality of life in Hollywood. Personally, I'm dreaming of being done with all the logistics of moving and being able to get back to performing and writing again. I can feel how close it is, there's just a mountain of cardboard boxes I have to scale first. I hope wherever you're reading this email, it's a fully unpacked, extremely stable location. If not, I feel your pain and I'd raise a glass to you, but I don't know which box the glasses are in.

Upcoming Shows

NOTE: I'll be doing a big West Coast tour at the end of September and an East Coast tour in early October. Details are still being finalized but that should be announced soon. 

EVERYWHERE:
Both full seasons of Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas are streaming online and on HBO Go. Link

You can listen to all the episodes of my podcast You're the Expert on any podcast app. Three comedians interview a scientist about her work and why it matters. Link

SAN FRANCISCO:
Thursday, August 8th at 7:45 p.m. at Beer Basement. I'll be doing a short standup set atThe Setup, a great comedy show. Last time I was in town and did the show, there was a documentary crew filming three famous Norwegians visiting the US for the first time. I spent my entire time onstage asking them about Scandinavian canned fish and it was a joy. Maybe that will happen again! Link

You'll be able to find ticket links for all upcoming shows as soon as they are announced online at my website here.

This week’s list

GREAT:
So much of my nostalgia for places I've lived has to do with that particular time in my life more than any city or state. Before New York, I loved living in Massachusetts. I would ride my bike everywhere, have spontaneous potluck dinners with friends, get drinks with teachers on Friday and laugh about the wild things our students had said. But those weren't ever really Boston specific, they were about a place in time. I don't think any writer has captured that feeling better than Joan Didion. I finally read her famous essay about her twenties in New York City. First there was the magic, the buildings, the parties, the feeling of endless possibility, and then the realization that she's no longer the same person she used to be. Goodbye to All That (h/t Eliza Cossio) 


FUNNY:
A few months ago, I wrote how excited I was for the HBO show Los Espookys to premiere. I just finished the season and it was even better than I'd hoped. Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega are two of the most inventive and unique comedians and they made a show that no one else could have. It's a bi-lingual comedy about a group of friends who form "a business that conjures thrills and chills for a variety of clients." The episodes take surreal twists, including everything from the American ambassador getting trapped inside a cursed mirror to an energy drink pyramid scheme where the CEO personally comes to collect his debts. The show is amazing and it just got renewed for a second season! If you don't have HBO, the full first episode is up on YouTube. El Exorcismo 

If you're looking for more Julio and Ana, I strongly recommend their videos from when they wrote for The Chris Gethard ShowJulio and Ana


INTERESTING:
Even though I've been making a podcast for over a decade, I don't listen to them all that much. But Mollie introduced me to the Happier in Hollywood podcast, which has great advice for television writers (or really everyone) and I've listened to every episode. It's hosted by Liz Craft and Sarah Fain, two extremely successful showrunners who have been best friends since high school. They're smart, funny, and charmingly Midwestern. But they also know a ton about living in Hollywood. I am a loyal fan of the show even though I'm pretty clearly not the target demographic (a fair amount of their advice is solidly directed at middle aged women). I love it anyway. Happier in Hollywood


Thanks for reading! If you like these emails, please forward to a friend or spread the word. If someone forwarded you this email but you're not yet on the list, you cansubscribe here.

Have a great weekend,
Chris