Comedy and politics have gone together for a long time, and in this age, political comedy is everywhere. We have reached a point where instead of just mocking the news, the comedian Jon Stewart was ranked as America's most trusted news source by participants in a Time magazine online poll. How does comedy influence politics? Do jokes about politicians create their image, or just reflect what people already believe? Does political comedy lead people to be more critical of politicians or just more cynical? Join us for this conversation about the influence of comedy on politics.
This event will feature The Gregory Brothers, from YouTube and Barely Political fame for their Auto-Tune the News videos; Baratunde, the web editor of The Onion and co-founder of the blog Jack & Jill Politics; Dan Powell from Comedy Central's show "Ugly Americans"; and Steve Almond, author of My Life in Heavy Metal and Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life. Sponsored by the Graduate Program in International Affairs.
Steve Almond is the author the story collections My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, the novel Which Brings Me to You (with Julianna Baggott), and the non-fiction books Candyfreak and (Not That You Asked). His new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, came out in Spring 2010. He is also, crazily, self-publishing a book called This Won't Take But a Minute, Honey, which is composed of 30 very brief stories, and 30 very brief essays on the psychology and practice of writing.
Andrew Rose Gregory is a member of the musical group The Gregory Brothers who produce the internet series Auto-Tune the News.
Evan Gregory is a member of the musical group The Gregory Brothers who produce the internet series Auto-Tune the News.
Dan Powell is the co-executive producer of Comedy Central's show "Ugly Americans."
Baratunde Thurston is a technology-loving comedian from the future who cares enough about the world to engage with it politically. Yes, he votes. Regularly. With an ancestry that includes a great-grandfather who taught himself to read, a grandmother who was the first black employee at the U.S. Supreme Court building and a mother who took over radio stations in the name of the black liberation struggle, Baratunde has long been taught to question authority. It helps that he was raised in Washington, D.C. under crackhead Mayor Marion Barry.
His creative and inquisitive mind, forged by his mother’s lessons and polished by a philosophy degree from Harvard, have found expression in his monthly Fast Company column, on the sound waves of NPR, and on the screens of news networks such as CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Al Jazeera English and This Week In Tech. He even hosted his own show on Discovery Science called Popular Science's Future Of.
Far from simply appearing in media, Baratunde is also helping defining its future. In 2006 he co-founded Jack & Jill Politics, a black political blog whose coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention has been archived by the Library Of Congress. From 2007 to 2012, he helped bring one of America’s finest journalistic institutions into the future, serving as Director of Digital for The Onion. In 2011 he was a judge for the Knight News Challenge, a media innovation contest which funds experiments in the future of news. His book, How To Be Black, was published by Harper Collins in February 2012 and is a New York Times best-seller.
Leadership may count for something, says Comedy Central producer Dan Powell, but if a candidate wants to be President in this day and age, he also has to be able to tell a joke. "I think if Kerry had a decent sense of humor he would have won the election," Powell argues.
Onion editor Baratunde Thurston lists examples from the satirical news website that have resonated with audiences outside the U.S. While some of the gags sparked meaningful discussion on issues overlooked by traditional media, occasionally the humor has been lost in translation.