Comedy

Tig Notaro: Comedy Meets Tragedy

May 18, 2015

When comedian Tig Notaro was diagnosed with cancer she did what most of us would never dream of doing, she went on stage and told the packed house at the Los Angeles comedy club Largo the news. her cancer diagnosis was the culmination of a long line of tragic events that happened over a very short period of time in 2012, and even though she initially thought of backing out of the gig, unsure of what her routine would be, she realized she needed to acknowledge what she was going through.

5.10.15: Happy Mother's Day

May 8, 2015
Logan Shannon / NHPR

It’s Mother’s Day weekend, time to shower mom with flowers, candy, and homemade cards.  On today’s show we’ll hear the story of Anna Jarvis, the woman who spent ten years trying to establish Mother’s Day as a holiday, and the rest of her life trying to end it.

Then, the late night TV monologue is one of few times American audiences can still share a good laugh. We’ll talk to seasoned comedy writer Jon Macks, about the one time of day when power, rather than partisanship, is the punch line.

Karen Dalziel via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4EZvKX

Ever heard of Philip Glass the plumber?  Kurt Vonnegut the car salesman?  On today’s show we pay homage to artists who didn’t quit their day jobs, even after hitting the big time, like poet/banker T.S. Eliot.

We'll also talk with pioneering jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, he’s won seven Grammy awards and played alongside music legends from Stan Getz to B.B. King. Despite these accomplishments, he knows he won’t be remembered for a great solo, instead he’ll always be the guy that played with four sticks.

Courtesy of the Carson Entertainment Group / JohnnyCarson.com

The late night talk show monologue is one of few times TV audiences can still share a good laugh. On today’s show, we’ll talk to a seasoned comedy writer about the one time of day when power, rather than partisanship, is the punch line.

Then we’ll speak with an English professor who ditched his tweed jacket and elbow patches and joined a mixed martial arts gym to find out why men love to fight.

Plus, sabermetrics spawned a revolution in how baseball teams were built and inspired a blockbuster movie starring Brad Pitt, but does empirical analysis of baseball statistics still work today?

Eugene Mirman Majored In Comedy

Apr 2, 2015
Photo by Brian Tamborello via eugenemirman.com

Eugene Mirman is a writer, stand-up comedian, the voice of Gene on Fox’s animated series Bob’s Burgers, Neil Degrasse Tyson’s partner in crime on the show Star Talk Radio, creator of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival and proprietor of the post-stru

Aslak Raanes via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4LD1Y

Today, hell can mean a bad day, other people, or a threat to sinners, but it wasn’t always so. On today’s show: how hell has evolved, from a place of flaming torture, to tangible horrors here in the real world. Then, when Comedy Central announced Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show earlier this week, there was an immediate outpouring of support. But the love-fest quickly soured when screen grabs of a few of his past, offensive, tweets were circulated online. Jon Ronson, author of the new book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed weighs in on the scandal. 

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Before Maz Jobrani was a panelist on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, he was an actor trying to get a break. On today’s show, we’ll talk to the Iranian-born comedian about being typecast as a terrorist.

Then, we investigate a problem facing many American workers: food theft. What motivates some people to steal another person’s lunch from the office fridge? We’ll talk about the ethics of office food theft, and answer the age old question: is it ok to use someone else’s salad dressing?

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

You may know Maz Jobrani as a panelist on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! but his early acting career included roles in television and film, often playing parts fashioned from Middle Eastern stereotypes. 

Listen to Virginia's full interview with Maz below.

MazJobrani.com

Before Maz Jobrani was a panelist on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, he was an actor trying to get a break. On today’s show we’ll talk to the Iranian-born comedian about being typecast as a terrorist.

And like Maz, many Hollywood hopefuls get their start as extras, making less than minimum wage, hoping to be noticed. We’ll hear about an elite group who have made blending into the background an incredibly lucrative career.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

From Mr. Show To Better Call Saul: Bob Odenkirk

Feb 9, 2015
Sharon Alagna

  Before Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk was a cult favorite on Mr. Show, a show he co-created with comedian David Cross. And before that he wrote for Saturday Night LiveDennis Miller, and Ben Stiller. His comedic style definitely veers towards the absurd which is evident in one of the shows he produced for Comedy Central: Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! 

The Onion's Former Editor: Satire Is A Careful Craft

Jan 9, 2015
Steve Rhodes via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/epYJk

In the wake of Wednesday's attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the former editor of America's Fake News Source The Onion, Joe Randazzo wrote an op-ed piece for MSNBC in which he states, "Satire must always accompany any free society. It is an absolute necessity." Virginia spoke to Joe about his experiences while at The Onion and why satire, in its many forms should always have a place at the table.

The Bad Impressions Show

Dec 31, 2014

We’ve all fumbled a first impression at some point or another. Look no further than Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Before it was published in 1814, its working title was First Impressions which probably referred to protagonist Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s very first encounter – which as initial impressions go, was pretty abysmal.

But who knew getting off on the wrong foot was so easy?

This show is all about bad impressions. From bungling a business meeting, to what not to wear on a first date.

Plus, a comic tells us what happens when his go-to impression loses its appeal.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

The University of Colorado's Humor Lab even has a catchy nickname: HuRL. The director of the lab, Peter McGraw, spoke with us about his work studying the reasons we laugh and why we think certain things are funny, while others are decidedely not. Staffed by the Humor Research Team which is also known as HuRT--we're noticing a trend here--the lab's theoretical foundation is the "Benign Violation Theory."

myri_bonni via flickr Creative Commons

At her funeral on Sunday, fellow comedians applauded Joan Rivers for her sharp wit, biting humor, and irreverent routines. What really made Joan Rivers so funny? On today’s show, the director of the Humor Research Lab offers some theories into what makes us laugh. Plus, from walk sign buttons that don’t reflect reality to digital signs over-estimating wait times at amusement parks; we’ll consider why technology is sometimes designed to give us the illusion of control.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments. 


6.14.14: To Twee Or Not To Twee

Jun 13, 2014
Zachary Nugent

First there was rock & roll, then punk, then hip-hop. Today, we’re living in the age of “twee”.  And boy is it precious. We'll explore the gentle revolution that is “twee” from artisanal pickles to Wes Anderson films and why this nostalgia for home-spun innocence is thriving.  And, New Hampshire guitarist Michael Blum talks about making a name for himself in the world of Jazz, and plays some music live in Studio D. Plus, a conversation with comedian Todd glass. He’s been performing stand-up for decades, but made his boldest move a year and a half ago when he came out as gay on the WTF podcast.


Photo by David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with B.J. Novak, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Best known for his role as “Ryan the Temp” on The Office, Novak talks with us about his debut collection of short stories One More Thing which he thinks is even more revealing than a memoir.

We’ll also get his take on his rising fame, and the not-so-heavy burden of being a celebrity author.

Harold Ramis, Of Comedy Fame, Has Died

Feb 24, 2014
Justin Hoch via flickr Creative Commons

It's a sad day in the Word of Mouth cube as we remember an actor and filmmaker who brought so much joy and so many laughs through his decades-long work. Beloved comedy actor and filmmaker Harold Ramis has died, but his comedy is timeless. Ramis' influence endures both on and off screen. His comedic repertoire is classic, having co-written Animal House, directed Groundhog Day, and starred in Ghost Busters.        

Thank you, Harold Ramis, for giving us all of the laughs and leaving us with all of the feels. You will be missed.

Mike Lavoie, copyright 2013

Here’s a topic guaranteed to get a big laugh…the Constitution.

The national tour of comedian Colin Quinn Unconstitutional, is stopping at The Colonial Theater in Keene this Friday. Quinn, after all, made the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal funny as anchor of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, and has now condensed the Constitution’s history into a witty 75-minute one-man play. His new show finds the humor in how the right and the left argue over the meanings and interpretations of the Constitution.

via indiebound.org

Richard Pryor changed stand-up. He created comedy with no jokes. Instead, he unleashed a parade of street characters rarely glimpsed by white people and mortifying to middle class African Americans. Pryor wrote that the neighbors, whores and winos he saw growing up around his family’s bars and brothels inspired a lifetime of comedic material.

Pryor’s stand-up was outrageously blunt, fearlessly black and openly angry. His talent ran in tandem with episodes of self-destructive, violent, behavior -- often triggered by drug use – which jeopardized his career and endangered his life. Yet, in movies, Grammy-winning albums, and even a short-lived TV special, Richard Pryor’s unapologetically irreverent comedy crossed over to capture a huge American audience; Brothers Dave and Joe Henry among them. Dave is a screenwriter, Joe is a singer and songwriter and together they’ve written Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him.

Brandon Burris via flickr Creative Commons

We like to think of the Word of Mouth Saturday show as a convenient, one-hour public radio field trip. So pack a special picnic lunch and grab a buddy, here's what's on the itinerary this week:

  • Bill Maher Love him or hate him, it really doesn't matter, Bill Maher is a great interview.
  • Field Trips Jay Phillip Greene explains his recent study on the power of the school field trip. Turns out they have real and powerful educational value.

via Capital Center for the Arts

Long before he was pushing the boundaries on television’s Politically Incorrect or hosting Real Time on HBO, Bill Maher was a stand-up comedian. He still does about 50 shows a year, in venues all over the country, and he’s coming to the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord next Saturday, October 5th. Some love him, some hate him, but his biting wit has made him one of the leading satirists in America today.

(Photo courtesy Paula Poundstone)

For many public radio listeners, the weekend begins with NPR’s oddly informative, extremely funny program Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Comedian Paula Poundstone is a frequent panelist on Wait Wait, and she’ll be performing  at the Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem, New Hampshire this Thursday.  Paula spoke with Virginia Prescott last year about what it’s like to be in the business of comedy.

Sam Kinison, the comedian known for screaming politically incorrect rants with the passion of a preacher, became on of the biggest comedy acts of the 1980's. He died in 1992, just shy of his 40th birthday.

Chris Canibano has helped turn the life of Kinison, whom many regard as a comedic genius, into a comic book called, simply, "Sam Kinison."

Hopkins Center TEST

We spoke with beatboxer, comedian, musician, and kinda TV talk show host Reggie Watts about his music and other ongoing projects. Reggie takes suggestions submitted via Youtube and turns them into original songs which have never before been performed, and may never be performed again. It’s all part of his online comedy collective called Jash with comedians Sarah Silverman, Tim and Eric, and actor Michael Cera. In addition to his online performances, Reggie has also been playing shows and festivals around the country. He’ll be at the Portsmouth Music Hall in the fall.

drinksmachine via Flickr Creative Commons

Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO hit series Girls, recently signed 3.5 million dollar book contact for a memoir. When published, Dunham’s book will share shelf space with bestsellers like Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  A Mostly True Memoir and Heather McDonald’s My Inapropriate Life: Some Material Not Suitable For Small Children, Nuns Or Mature Adults.  Part humor, part memoir, books in this category are almost always written by women and openly explore sex, drinking and even mental illness in a brazen and unrepentant manner.  And readers, especially those that are not offended easily, are snapping them up. 

Jean Railla, a writer and cultural observer is here to tell us more.  

Related: Gawker's viral blog about Lena Dunham's book deal.

The Best Used Mini Cooper Ad In History

Jan 29, 2013

Back in November, “The Best Used Car Ad in Craigslist History” was brought to my attention through a Facebook post. I hit the "contact" button and got in touch with its author, New Hampshire’s own Tim McLaughlin. It's kind hard to describe…so I'll bring it to life for you. First, you'll hear Tim tell you what he's trying to sell. (A note to listeners: the Craigslist ad was a tad saucy…so I’ve added plenty of bleeps.)

Sonia Blanco via Flickr Creative Commons

2012 has been a fantastic year for funny ladies on television. Comedians Chelsea Handler, Whitney Cummings, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler and Joan Rivers all star in their own shows. A number of lesser known laugh-out-loud women are reaching new audiences with self-produced podcasts, and networks are paying attention. 

Jean Railla, a writer and cultural observer based in New York City tells us more.

Pickersgill Reef via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire is better known for a tradition of community theater than for comedy.  Still, there is something of a comedy scene here…if you’re willing to look for it. Producer Adam McCune happens to be a regular at one of Manchester’s regular open-mic events, and brings us along in search of a laugh.

And check out Jay Chanoine's website here.

According to New York Times Comedy Reviewer Jason Zinoman, comedian James Adomian could very well be the first openly gay male comedy star. One question comes to mind...why hasn't there been one before?

Chris Jensen for NHPR

This story began 70 years ago with an Austrian musician fleeing the Nazis.

A Polish woman fleeing the Russian soldiers towards the close of World War II.

And their love affair.

Now it has ended with a surprise, $1 million donation to bring more music to the North Country.

For decades Fritz Kramer was a professional piano player in Europe.

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