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An Evening of Firsts: An Intern's Look at Laughing Liberally's "Stand Up For Freedom!"

by Ben Lust

This past Wednesday, I went to my first event as an intern for Living Liberally. "Stand Up for Freedom!" presented by the PEN American Center and featuring Laughing Liberally, was a huge hit. In a quick summation before I begin, the night was highlighted by many wonderful first-time experiences.

I was not sure what to expect when I walked in those doors of the Galapagos Arts Center at 6pm, two hours before the show started. To be honest, I did not even know right away. It took a good thirty seconds of staring into what I thought was an oddly placed black mirror on the ground before I realized it was in fact water...there was water all around the stage and the tables! Expecting to walk into a customary theater, this urban setting was a breath of fresh air to me.

Following this water-revelation, I began to chat with Beth, one of the event planners from PEN. After telling her that this was the first time I was in Dumbo (amazing name), she encouraged me to wander around a little. I walked down the boardwalk and got some great photos of some afternoon views and the giant merry-go-round.

When I returned to Galapagos, I took my position of selling tickets at the front door. Happy to help out, we collected a fat stack of money as people began to roll on in. The chatter as they opened the first door was pretty great, some people immediately saying things such as "this place smells like a pool." Little did they know how right they really were. As showtime inched closer, it suddenly hit me that, although I love comedy routines and watch them all the time, I have never seen one in person. This revelation served to even further my excitement for the show.

Katie Halper, the MC, started the show off right with a great set, warming us up to see her several times through the night as she performed before introducing each comedian.

Next was Negin Farsad. Negin was the only one of the comedians I was familiar with, due to her role in the Campaignful video series, which makes politics more approachable by way of a hilarious behind-the-scenes satire of a Republican "War Room." Negin did not disappoint, blending hilarious stories from her escapades on the dance floor, to casually breaking a toilet in Iran, with observations on politics and culture.

Next up was Baratunde Thurston. It brought a tear to my eye when Baratunde built up the courage to confess his biggest fear to us: being killed by a drone strike ordered by a white lady scared he is going to take her purse. Baratunde continued to explain awkward racial encounters he has experienced as well as his opinion on Mitt Romney and his team (far from enthusiastic about the possibility that he is the next president).

Once Baratunde exited, Katie took the stage once more. This time, she vented about a quirky past boyfriend of hers, whom seemed far from ideal after hearing several stories about him. Just when I began to wrap my head around her ex-boyfriend's relationship with his mother, Katie said goodbye one last time. Throughout the night, Katie did a great job combining true humor with current events. Katie touched over topics ranging from human rights to freedom of speech.

Next up, John Fugelsang. John proceeded to display his extreme political knowledge whilst humorously expounding the different types of liberals and conservatives in the world. All in all, each comedian had an intelligent set that had the audience laughing all the way through.

As I was saying before, this night was filled with firsts for me. My first time in Dumbo, my first time working for Laughing Liberally, and my first time at a comedy show. It turned out to be an amazing night with lots of laughs and great memories. One of the most rewarding parts of the night was learning about the PEN organization. PEN works to promote free expression across the entire world. By utilizing mediums such as comedy shows, PEN makes itself a very approachable organization that serves of such importance in the scheme of things.

Thanks to the whole Laughing Liberally and PEN team for allowing me to help out!

The Living Liberally Annual Celebration - May 10th in NYC

Support the work of Living Liberally, honor our great progressive allies The New Organizing Institute and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and join a great party at the Living Liberally Annual Celebration on Thursday, May 10th in New York.

Learn more and get your tickets now.

State of the Union 2012 - Parties and Games

Tonight, as the President takes to the podium in the Capitol, members of Drinking Liberally take to bars across America. This is the 9th year running that Drinking Liberally is hosting State of the Union Watch Parties, and you're invited to join.

Find your local chapter on our DL map and see if they've promoted a special watch party for tonight.

And whether you're a host or a guest, bring some games to your local event.

Here's a link to SOTU Bingo Cards created by Kathleen Thompson, our host in Mid-Cities Texas. These cards are pre-designed for you to print-and-play.

Check them out and print them out here.

And our Baltimore host, Robyn Henry, took it a different route: she supplied the words and you can fill in your own Bingo cards.

Her instructions: "Before the speech, fill in each space on a 5x5 grid from the choices below. During the speech, mark off each thing as it is heard or seen. The first person to BINGO and the person closest to blackout will win a prize."

Reward responsibility, Hard work, Bush Tax Cuts, Middle class, Fair share, Fair shake, Fair play, Progress, Blueprint, Buffett Rule, Manufacturing, Alternative Energy, Energy Independence, China, Iran, Insourcing, Equal Opportunity, "The state of our union is strong!", Unemployment, "special guest," Bipartisan Standing Ovation, Partisan Standing Ovation, Vice President Biden Yawns, Mic Check, Speaker Boehner is orange, Speaker Boehner cries, Michelle Obama's "guns," Nancy Pelosi looking unhappy, Arab Spring, Security, Budget, Diplomacy, Deficit, Energy, Pakistan, Private Sector, Elections, Food Security, Keystone XL, Partnership, Transparency, Environment, Results, HIV / AIDS, Hecklers, Someone wears a red suit

Laughing Liberally Kicks Off Off-Broadway Run

For ten weeks Off-Broadway, join your favorite political comedians for -- LAUGHING LIBERALLY: THIS AIN'T NO TEA PARTY.

March 14 - May 22 at The Midtown Theater.

More details, ticketing, lineup here.

Help Keep Our Lights On

Last year, Living Liberally needed your help to keep operating. You came through for us, and we have kept going strong, collaborating with organizations like the SEIU, spreading our chapters to over 350 cities and keeping the dream of progressive communities in all 50 states alive.

This year, we need your help to keep that dream alive. Donate today to keep aggressive activists meeting nationwide.

We are joining in this fundraising effort with a vital partner in the progressive netroots, Open Left. Open Left has been a progressive media powerhouse for the last three critical years in our movement. Just as we have changed the landscape of modern politics by building a network of aggressive activists, they have done so through efforts like getting every 2008 Senate Democratic challenger to come out in support of net neutrality. With both organizations facing a budget shortfall in the upcoming year, we've partnered to ask that you support the effort to build a progressive counterpoint to the tea parties and Fox News.

Contribute now to support progressive infrastructure like Living Liberally and Open Left.

Congressman Alan Grayson Believes In Living Liberally

Fresh off a debate in LA with George W. Bush (played by Laughing Liberally vet James Adomian), Congressman Alan Grayson offered a message to the good people of Living Liberally.

Thank you, Congressman -- and keep on fighting!

Though he won't make it person, we know Congressman Grayson is with us in spirit at this year's Living Liberally Annual Celebration -- this Saturday, MAY DAY, in New York City.

Come partake in this proud tradition of living -- and drinking -- liberally.

Katie Halper (VIDEO): Make it Rain: Michael Steele Voyeur Club Remix!

Check out this hilarious video sent in by Laughing Liberally comedienne Katie Halper.

From Katie's website:

Michael Steele, Republican National Convention of Drill Baby Drill fame, makes it rain! The RNC dropped nearly $2,000 at a bondage-themed night club and $17,000 on private jets in the month of February. Trickle Down Economics. Trickle Baby Trickle!

State Of The Union: Deep Twitter Thoughts on SOTU

BY KATIE HALPER, cross-posted from AlterNet.

Before the State Of The Union

  • kthalps: guys, the only way obama can repeal dont ask dont tell is if we dont ask dont tell. so shut up abt it. duh!

State Of The Union Starts

kthalps: I guess we’ll have accept third-place “I do not accept second-place for the United States of America.” -Barack Obama.#SOTU #Union address

  • kthalps: joe biden blinks a lot. Nancy Pelosi barely blinks. Between the two of them, they blink at an average rate. #SOTU
  • kthalps: did Joe Biden & Nancy Pelosi coordinate wearing purple (tie and suit, respectively)? And was that a reference 2 shades of blue/red = purple
  • kthalps: looks like America is united by collective desire to punish banks!
  • kthalps: u know Sandra Sotomayor had 2 use all self control 2 not slap Alito for saying “not true” #SOTU
  • kthalps: I wrote Sandra Sotomayor intentionally. I was honoring O’Conner 4 opening door for female judges like Sonia. DUH!

After SOTU

  • kthalps: Chris Matthews’ comments about forgetting Obama was black was so Matthewsian. #sotu

McDonnell Response

  • kthalps: Where did the Republicans find the three black people to stand behind Bob McConnell? #SOTU
  • kthalps: why does the asian guy in glasses behind mcconnell keep nodding? It’s like he’s a bobble head #SOTU
  • kthalps: sorry, make that mcdonnel. all white names look the same to me
  • kthalps:i think “we welcome ur ideas on facebook and twitter” was not a joke. But audience laughed. Awks
  • kthalps: oh snap! McConnel’s daughter was in the army. Can’t say that about Sasha or Malia, can you Barack Obama! Boooyakashah! #SOTU response
  • kthalps: oh nice! McDonnel is advocating torture! “foreign terror suspect given same rights as U.S. citizen” I love it when Republicans get rt to the point #SOTU response
  • kthalps: did they build this set especially for McDonnel’s speech? #SOTU response

Commentary after SOTU & response

  • kthalps: my mom on Anthony Weiner: “He was never married b4? Katie, find me a picture of his girlfriend online” #SOTU #thingsmymomsays
  • kthalps: david Axelrod needs to brush his eyebrows. They got all hot & bothered during #SOTU

How to Date a Corporation: Dating Rules for a Post-Citizens United World

BY KATIE HALPER, http://www.katiehalper.com

The Supreme Court recently determined that corporations are entitled to freedom of speech because they are legally persons. The ramifications of this decision, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, cannot be overstated: it introduces an entirely new and untapped population into the dating pool.

Chances are you’ve never dated a corporation before. But don’t be intimidated. This can be a fun and exciting opportunity… as long as you follow the corporation-dating rules.

  1. Consider your options. There are a lot of corporations out there. Is this really the best corporation out there? Is this corporation “the one?” Or should you keep looking?
  2. Don’t seem too eager to get involved. Remember, corporations are predatory by nature and enjoy a chase.
  3. Do a background check. What kind of relationships has this corporation had in the past? What is the corporation’s history
  4. Investigate the company the corporation keeps. Who is on its board of directors? Have any been indicted?
  5. Check out the corporation’s assets and figures. How do they look? Are they appealing to you?
  6. Say that you’re fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Corporations find this very sexy.
  7. Make sure you wait before you give up any of your assets. Corporations lose interest when you give it up right away.
  8. Don’t over invest. Nothing hurts more than giving without getting.
  9. Resist the “urge to merge.” Mergers often look appealing but they tend to be messy and almost always hurt party.
  10. Assume the worst. Corporations have a one track mind and they can’t wait to get their hands on your goods.
  11. And last but not least…Protect yourself. Corporations can be very reckless and you never really know how many people this corporation has screwed.

Still Looking for the Right Halloween Costume?

From the Huffington Post

Halloween is on Saturday and many (including myself) are scrambling to get the right costume put together at the last minute. Something simple. Edgy. Topical. Something people will really get.

Well Katie Halper has come to the rescue with some easy costume ideas that will not only make a statement, but earn you lots of candy as well. Click through to check out the list!