Sunday, February 23, 2014

Show for Feb 23, 2014: John Beckman on American Fun.

Noah Webster, channeling the prejudices of his time, defined “fun” in his 1828 dictionary as “sport; vulgar merriment; a low word.” But John Beckman says vulgar (of the common people) and low are exactly the point. Home-grown, salt-of-the-earth American fun, John contends, is democracy at its best, a way the plebes and proles throw off their bonds, declare their humanity and épater the overseers, elites and killjoys (like Noah Webster). John traces the history of rebellious fun in America from the Massachusetts colony of Merry Mount in the 1620s to the Merry Pranksters of the 1960s, and from the Sons of Liberty to flappers and jazzmen, b-boys and punks in his new book American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt. 

Click the Listen arrow at the top of this post to listen to the show, or you can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Show for Dec 2, 2012: Yael Kohen on Women in Comedy

Of the many fields in which gender equality has been a long time coming, comedy might not seem as important as, say, high political office or corporate captaincy or astronaut-hood. But it would be a mistake to underestimate the power and centrality of humor in modern-day America. The fact that comedy – especially stand-up – was until recently considered mostly a guy’s game and the speed with which funny women have closed the gap are matters worth pondering. Why the disparity in the first place? What changed, and why does it matter? I spoke to Yael Kohen, author of the recent oral history We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy.

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You can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

 Show for Apr 1, 2012. The Authoritative John Hodgman.

I thought this might turn into an entirely risible April Fool’s interview with John Hodgman’s mock-pundit character, but after some japery, the conversation got sorta serious. John may lampoon the whole notion of expertise and authority in his TV appearances and  books, but his thoughts on the subject run deep. We talked about his days studying literary theory at Yale, the real-life model for his professorial persona, truth vs. artistic license and his up close and personal view of the Mike Daisey/This American Life debacle. John also made a passionate statement about paying for the things you love—quite timely, since this show aired during KUSP’s Spring Pledge Drive. Last I checked, the station was still short of its fundraising goal, so if you love public radio, or just like it, please consider paying for it.

Click the Play arrow above to listen to the show, or you can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)