Given Melania Trump’s surprising choice to plagiarize Michelle Obama, we have high hopes that The Donald will lift some language of his own when he accepts the nomination from the Republican party tonight. Below are some works Trump would do well to incorporate into his historic speech.
1. “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” – Hannibal Lecter, Silence of he Lambs.
On this episode of The Katie Halper Show, we are joined by Fusion journalist Nando Vila, the man who asked Bernie Sanders about his position on reparations which reignited the debate started by Ta-Nehisi Coates. While Sanders is being criticized about his position of the issue, what is Clinton’s position? Find out here, where we play the response she gave which nobody is talking about for some reason. Plus Reagan’s reparations support, Killer Mike and Bernie Sanders cop buddy films and more! Next Wednesday, Feb 3, join us on the radio at 6pm AND In person at 8pm for our #OscarsNotAtAllWhite ceremony and show!
Charges against Bill Cosby for aggravated indecent assault, which his legal team tried to have dismissed on Monday, have reignited a debate not just about the comedian’s guilt or innocence but about the role of race and racism. While many former defenders have defected over mounting allegations and revelations from an unsealed deposition, some of the people who continue to champion Cosby are framing it as the latest example of a racist criminal justice system which punishes Black men for doing things that white men get away with. Rapper Waka Flocka tweeted that he think’s the someone is “framing” Cosby, through “an organized lie,” and “propaganda.” He also tweeted that, “Every time a famous minority make it they throw salt in the game.” Rapper The Game took to Instagram, where posted an blank white image with the word Black and commented,
“I think it’s crazy that Bill Cosby has a mugshot for alleged assaults 11 years ago with no physical evidence or proof besides these womens accounts of what he did to them an entire decade later…. But Darren Wilson, who killed Mike Brown on camera… George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin… Timothy Loehman, who killed Tamir Rice seconds after arriving on the scene.. on camera, is FREE… Why did it take these women over 10 years to bring this to the light ?- The Game #BlackLivesSplatter
Comedian Eddie Griffin, for example, said, “There is a systematic effort to destroy every black male entertainer’s image…. They want us all to have an asterisk by our name. Kobe, raped a white woman in Colorado. Dr. Cosby, raped 37 bitches and counting. Nobody leaves this business clean.”
Of course several Black comedians like Larry Wilmore and Franchesca Ramsey have condemned Cosby and spoken about the intsection of rape culture and racism. And it was Hannibal Buress, who used his own standup to point out Cosby’s hypocrisy—telling young Black men to pull their pants up, while being a rapist– that propelled the Cosby story into our national dialogue.
In order to further explore how Black comedians were navigating this issue, I spoke to Rae Sanni and Tarik Daniels on my radio show. Sanni told us, “There’s a lot of people who bring up Woody Allen or Roman Polanski when you talk about Bill Cosby and say this guy got away with rape,” she said. “That is uninteresting to me because the idea that equality is everybody getting away with rape is silly.” For Sanni, “people like Eddie Griffin, who attribute accusations against Cosby to “an attempt at the destruction of the Black man, are the kind of people that think that Black liberation doesn’t necessarily include Black women. Because if you think that the way to Black liberation is to allow the abuse of one half of the population, then you don’t believe in Black liberation at all. You actually just want the access to patriarchy that white males have access to.”
On this week’s episode we talk to artist and journalist Molly Crabapple about her memoirs Drawing Blood which drops TODAY! DECEMBER 1! Molly has reported and created art from Guantanamo Bay military tribunals, to Occupy Wall Street, to Iraq’s Domiz camp for Syrian refugees, to Luzerne County PA courthouses. She talks to the Katie Halper Show about being an Arroz Con Matzoh Ball (a Puerto-Rican Jew), the influence of her artist mother and Marxist Latin American studies professor father, getting food poisoning in Morocco, why talent isn’t enough, what the liberal media is getting wrong about Syrian refugees, and why dash cams and “photos will never defeat white supremacy.”
Here is how it came to be that Larry David kind of sort of called The Donald a racist. When NBC announced that Trump would be hosting Saturday Night Live, several progressive organizations, 50 cultural and intellectual luminaries, and several members of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus condemned the decision. The National Hispanic Media Coalition teamed up with organizations like Moveon.org and the Justice League to organize a protest outside 30 Rock the night of the show. The DeportRacism.com PAC joined in, offering $5,000 to any audience member who would stand up during the show and call Trump a racist. As organizer Santiago Cejudo put it, “We’re hoping the $5,000 will help people on set or in the studio audience find the bravery to speak out loudly and help focus the national conversation on that we need to deport racism, not people.”
Towards the end of Trump’s painfully flat opening monologue, someone yelled out, “You’re a racist!” An obviously unfazed Trump responded to the clearly staged interruption, by asking, “Who the hell is… Oh, I knew this was going to happen.… Who is that?”
At this point a spotlight revealed that it was Larry David, who had appeared as Bernie Sanders in the opening skit. No longer in costume, David said again, “Trump’s a racist.”
“Why would he do that?” Trump asked.
“I heard if I did that, they’d give me $5,000,” said David with his signature combination of disinterest and distaste. Trump had the last word, saying, “As a businessman, I can fully respect that.”
Many in the media have praised David for his yelling, with some even confusing an obviously prepared exchange with a genuine disruption. Variety magazine said, “Larry David provided one of the few real moments of spontaneity in Saturday’s episode.” Complex magazine praised the “legitimate burn by Larry David (a.k.a. The God),” and described it as “fantastic…something of an Easter egg that none of us could have anticipated but were nonetheless praying for.” The Daily Beast described David’s yelling as one of the episode’s “scathing Trump critiques.”
Originally posted on November 16, 2015 on Feministing.com
Margaret Cho, the standup comedian, actor, writer, activist, singer-songwriter, mensch, and wedding officiator, is also an unapologetic feminist. Cho is known for using her comedy as a weapon against racism, sexism, and homophobia. In her latest show, PsyCHO, which she is touring with now, Cho jokes about vibrators but also deals with things like police brutality and homelessness.
Another serious issue Cho uses her voice to address is rape. In November of 2014, Cho tweeted, “I am a rape victim and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I come forward in solidarity with all women who have suffered. #tellyourstory.” She spoke about her experience in more depth during an interview with Billboard Magazine in September of this year. And on November 13, Cho’s new song and video “(I Want to) Kill My Rapist,” debuted on perezhilton.com.
And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five with Margaret Cho!
Katie Halper: who is your favorite fictional heroine, and who are your heroines in real life?
Margaret Cho: My favorite fictional character is Mina Harker and all of her permutations in the vampire genre. My heroines in real life are from that era too, George Sand and Mary Shelley.
KH: What recent news story made you want to scream?
MC: Anything about Bill Cosby. He’s done such horrible things to women for over 40 years and he really was a pioneer in comedy and also the kind of pioneer that I would have liked to have been. He brought about so much change when it came to African Americans in comedy and television and so he was such a hero but the fact that he was a rapist for 40 years and got away with it and women didn’t feel like they could come forward or they were not believed, it’s an outrageous misuse of the power and comedy. It’s a horrifying thing and the fact that the stories have been around for over 40 years and people didn’t believe them is really terrible.
What is amazing about it is that women are finally coming forward and are able to tell their stories and that will create change in the conversation around rape. As a survivor myself, I think it is incredibly healing to hear these women tell their truths. And there’s no statue of limitations on the truth. Even though he can’t be prosecuted in the matter he should be, at least we have some kind of justice. And we can take this as a lesson that you can put your rapist on blast. And that lets you get some of that rage out instead of internalizing it. I think that sexual abuse often recreates itself within the survivor as eating disorders, as depression, as suicide, as self mutilation and that when we can murder the rapist inside of us that thrives on our own suffering, that we can find that healing.
KH: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge facing feminism today?
MC: The possible defunding of Planned Parenthood! We’re basically going back in time. Why are we trying to turn back time? We’re looking at this huge campaign to defund Planned Parenthood that’s based on lies, based on misogyny, based on the idea that somehow we are public space, that our bodies are part of America, that they can legislate our uterus. The fact is that Planned Parenthood is there for so many other reasons besides abortion. The most troubling thing is that they want to take away reproductive health for low-income women. And that is something that we cannot let happen. There are so many lies around Planned Parenthood. And they’re not particularly good ones because they can be fact checked so easily. All we are asking is that people check the source.
KH: Why do you identify as feminist and how is feminism present in your work?
MC: I think I’ve always been a feminist. I don’t know when I actually started implementing the word but I’ve always felt it growing up, mostly through standup. I started standup very early, 14 or 15, and I knew that I had that point of view. I started identifying as a feminist in the 70s, I guess! I feel like a baby bra burner! Now feminism has gone through a lot different incarnations, even to the point where some women were not calling themselves feminist and didn’t want to be associated with feminism. But I think feminism has become much more aggressive and much more progressive, especially in comedy, with people like Amy Schumer, and Tig Notaro, and hopefully myself. I really like the way feminism is on display with people like Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling — there’s so much great stuff happening, so much great comedy.
Feminism isn’t just a white middle class movement. It is a white middle class movement. It’s also a movement for people of color. It’s also a movement for poor people. It’s a movement for people who need to empower themselves, no matter who they are. We need to understand that we still don’t make equal pay, no matter how much you work. Feminism is a lot of things. And the expression of feminism is different for everyone. The patriarchy likes to shame us and belittle us by criticizing feminism. Feminism is a way to heal from patriarchy, from abuse, from inequality. There’s so much more involved in feminism that goes beyond race and class and that goes beyond countries’ borders.
I’m a feminist because I have no other alternative. I’m a feminist through and through.
All my work is feminist. My latest show, PsyCHO, is feminist. I’m saying what I need to say, and everything is on my terms. My song Fat Pussy is feminist. It’s about fat pride, enjoying my body as opposed to feeling bad about it.
KH: You’re going to a desert island, and you’re allowed to take one food, one drink, and one feminist. What do you pick?
MC: I want buttered kettle corn with vodka and Gloria Steinem.
Comedian Katie Halper riffs on Zabar’s and socialist summer camp
Katie Halper refers to herself as a stereotype of the Upper West Side. “My dad’s a psychiatrist. My mom’s an English professor and a novelist,” she explained. She identifies as Jewish, but in the secular sense, and uses that in her comedy. “I’ll do stuff about anything from Zabar’s to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The 34-year-old is making a name for herself in the political comedy world of New York City. Describing herself as “liberal, progressive, left,” she is very much aware of the fact that she’s not alone in her thinking here in the city. “It’s funny, people are always like, ‘You’re preaching to the choir,’ but the choir deserves to be entertained,” she said.
This year, she was given her own weekly radio show on WBAI, “The Katie Halper Show,” where she brings on guests such as historians, journalists, organizers and of course, fellow comedians, and they give their takes on the news, the arts, politics and pop culture.
On November 18th, she will host Laughing Liberally, an offshoot of Living Liberally, the troupe, of which she is a member, that creates social events around progressive politics. Her documentary “Commie Camp” about Jewish activist-founded Camp Kinderland, which she attended as a youngster, will play at Anthology Film Archives on December 14.
How did you get started in comedy?I’ve always been very political. I went to Wesleyan University in Connecticut and when I was in college, I thought that I would go to law school. I remember one day at Wesleyan, people were like, “Katie, you should be in the standup show.” And I said, “I don’t do standup. I’m not funny on command.” Because they thought I was funny. So I did the show. I just basically told stories about my family, and my grandmother, in particular. There was a really nice and funny woman who was the headliner named Susan Prekel and she was really encouraging. But I was reluctant to perform. There was something I always thought was kind of obnoxious about actors and performers. I was also more political, so it took me a while to admit that I liked performing.
What was it like growing up on the Upper West Side?Well, I’m the product of a mixed marriage, my mom is Bronxian and my dad is Queensian. But I’m a walking stereotype of the Upper West Side. It’s very Woody Allen. Actually, there’s a part in the film “Annie Hall” where Allen meets a character named Allison Portchnik, who is played by Carol Kane, and tries to size her up and says, “You’re like New York, Jewish, left-wing, liberal, intellectual, Central Park West, Brandeis University, the socialist summer camps and … father with the Ben Shahn drawings, right, and … strike-oriented kind of, red diaper …” But I grew up on Riverside Drive, not Central Park West, and went to Wesleyan, not Brandeis. I even went to the socialist summer camp, Camp Kinderland, which was founded by secular Jewish workers in the 1920s. My mom, uncle and grandmother worked there and I made a documentary about it called “Commie Camp.” It’s funny because I didn’t use to identify as Jewish because I’m not at all religious. But now I realize that there is a secular Jewish identity and tradition, which I very much have.
New York Magazine called you “Stephen Colbert crossed with Sarah Silverman.” How do you describe your comedic style?Like Colbert. I am ironic or satirical and sometimes pseudo self-congratulating, but I break character all the time. My normal character is just me. Actually someone just gave me a blurb today and she’s like, “You’re quirky and incisive, but never mean.” I like to get people to tell me stories. I really like listening to people and asking them questions. Often I’ll have people talk, not just about the current events, but also about their lives. I like to get them able to relax. And when I do standup, it varies between short, cerebral jokes or storytelling. Sometimes it’s sarcastic. It’s about politics. It’s about dating. More and more it’s about dating, actually. Thank God for small favors, like terrible dates, which make great art. It’s all going in the book that I want to write one day.
It’s hard to watch TV, go online, or even leave the house without encountering the deceptively cherubic face of comedian and filmmaker Amy Schumer. Sketches from her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer, are viral sensations; her HBO standup special, directed by Chris Rock, will air in October. She wrote and stars in the critically-acclaimed film Trainwreck, directed by Judd Apatow, which is raking it in at the box office. On Monday night, she appeared as one of Jon Stewart’s final Daily Show guests; earlier that day, Schumer held a press conference to announce her support for a plan championed by her distant cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, to make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to obtain guns. This comes on the heels of the July shooting at a Louisiana movie theater during a screening of Trainwreck, in which two women were killed and nine people were injured.
Amy Schumer’s stand-up and sketches tackle issues like birth control, abortion, rape, sexism, and warped female beauty standards with humor and fearlessness, positioning her as a feminist icon. And indeed, some critics and fans have hailed Trainwreck as a clever subversion of the typical romantic comedy plot. But others complain that it reinforces the rom-com narrative more than it challenges it. Schumer has also come in for criticism over her handling of race issues, both in Trainwreck and in her sketches and stand-up.
I talked about Amy Schumer’s comedy and its presentation of gender and race with writers and performers who themselves engage with these themes in a funny and thoughtful way. Laura Swisher is a stand-up comedian who worked as a producer for Totally Biasedwith W. KamauBell and now works for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Gabe Pacheco is a stand-up comedian who co-hosts and co-produces Funhouse Comedy, a weekly stand-up comedy show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and is a co-host on The Katie Halper Showon WBAI. Rae Sanni is a comedian and writer who co-hosts theIt’s About Us podcast. Samhita Mukhopadhyay is the author of Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life. Kate Levin is a writer of fiction and creative non-fiction, and faculty member of the University of Southern California, whose most recent piece, for The Boston Globe, reflects on being ateenage prank call addict.
Katie Halper: Let’s start with the argument that some of Amy Schumer’s jokes are racist. What do you think of that criticism—and Schumer’s response?
Laura Swisher: There are comics whose material I loathe and find offensive, and often times it’s because their material is racist and/or sexist and utterly lacking in craft. But if a comic can make me laugh, or surprise me, I give them a lot more leeway, even if individual jokes might be offensive. I’d put Schumer in the “give her more leeway” category.
Kate Levin: The most salient thing for me when I think about Schumer and race is the response she gave after a Guardian writer called her out for having a blind spot around this subject. In response to criticism of the joke, “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual,” she replied, “It is a joke and it is funny. I know that because people laugh at it…. Trust me. I am not racist.” I like Schumer—some of the stuff on her show I like a lot—but her response doesn’t hold up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny. She knows what she said wasn’t racist because… it was funny and people laughed at it? People laugh at racist jokes all the time! She knows that. (People also laugh at stuff that isn’t funny all the time, which she knows, too.) So what could land a smart person in such a swamp of illogic? Continue reading “ Comedians Debate: Is Amy Schumer’s ‘Trainwreck’ Sexist, or the New Feminism?”→
One of the things that makes Jon Stewart so irreplaceable is how much he made himself replaceable. Except for on one issue.
The world is waiting to see how Trevor Noah will do when he replaces Jon Stewart in the news desk chair he occupied for the past 16 years. But the replacement has been a work in progress for Stewart. From the start, Stewart showcased correspondents who would go on to create their own shows that shared the same mission: using humor to inform audience about important stories demonstrating hypocrisy, dishonesty, racism, exploitation, bigotry and ignorance of politicians, the media, corporations, and powerful individuals. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart became, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will be, just one of a constellation of shows that are guided just as much be a sense of justice and empathy as by a sense of humor.
Stewart has always maintained that his politics are secondary to his comedy, “I’m a comedian first… My comedy is informed by an ideological background… But . . . I’m not an activist. I am a comedian,” he once said. But there are a number of times when he has explicitly dropped his comedic intentions and framing. Most recently, following the Charleston shooting in which a white supremacist killed nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Church, Stewart was unable or unwilling to bring the funny to his opening monologue:
Maybe if I wasn’t nearing the end of the run or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could have pulled out of the spiral, but I didn’t… So I honestly have nothing other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend it doesn’t exist… I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack shit. Yeah. That’s us.
Stewart acknowledged his departure from the comedy monologues which usually start the show, finishing up by saying, “Sorry about no jokes.” He had similarly earnest responses to 9/11 and to the Tucson shooting in 2011, which injured 13 people including Gabby Giffords.