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A Supreme Night of Comedy Recap

Last Wednesday, The Tank was filled with lawyers, court enthusiasts, and political comedy fans for Laughing Liberally’s "Supreme Night of Comedy." The show featured comedians Katie Halper, Lee Camp, Scott Blakeman, Negin Farsad, and Elon James White as they took on the Sotomayor confirmation hearings.

The event was co-sponsored by our friends at the American Constitution Society, New York Democratic Lawyers Council, Alliance for Justice, and People for the American Way. With their help, we reached out to new audiences and even gave away free copies of Alliance for Justice’s documentary, “A Quiet Revolution.”

Check out this video of the event:

Think this looks easy? Come show us your stand-up tomorrow night at the Tank for Laughing Liberally’s Open Mic night, starting at 7:30pm.

For more Living Liberally upcoming events, check out www.livingliberally.org/nyc.

Laughing Thursdays: Political Cartoons

With the bad economy, messy health care debate, and ridiculous questioning of Judge Sotomayor, there’s plenty to laugh about this week. Check out these three political cartoons from this week.

First, from Bob Englehart in The Hartford Courant:

I feel like the person in the back seat could be all of America, not just the GOP. I hate how much people talk about how things aren’t getting better and unemployment fell even lower in June. It took us eight years to get into this mess, but people expect to solve it in a few months. Englehart makes a nice point that the stimulus has just started, and there is a long road ahead.

Katie Halper's Top 10 Reasons the US Isn't Getting its Panties in a Bunch Over Honduras

Let's face it. The news media isn't covering it. The US Government has barely mumbled a coherent word about it. But why is the US so unsure of how to react to the ousting of democratically-elected Honduran President Zelaya, his unplanned pajama trip to Costa Rica and the Honduran military's subsequent, violent clashes with protestors?

Laughing Liberally comedian Katie Halper posted a Top 10 to explain why the US has kept the Honduran coup and our shameful history of instigation in the region in the political freezer, as American concern for Latin American politics wrongfully continues to teeter on the edge of oblivion.

A Liberal Toke on The History of America's Drug Industry

Last November America elected its first president to openly admit smoking pot (saying: “I inhaled—that was the point”), Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana for those carrying under one ounce, and Weeds, the Showtime series centered around a Suburban mom dealing drugs, remained popular show. Delaware and New Hampshire recently passed medical marijuana laws, and Rhode Island just became the first state to expand medical marijuana laws to license marijuana distribution at compassionate care centers. In a March online town hall with President Obama, more than 100,000 questions centered on drug legalization.

Clearly, it is an important time for drug policy in America.

Yet Obama disappointed many in the town hall by joking about the drug issue instead of seriously addressing it. “I don’t know what this says about the online audience,” Obama chided with a chuckle. “The answer is no, I don’t think that’s a good strategy to grow our economy.” With little explanation, Obama simply dismissed any hope of this presidency taking a different stance on drugs.

Despite a lack of change from the white house, the tides still seem to be turning as more people are considering legalization. While the legalization of marijuana is incredibly risky for politicians, societal thought seems to be shifting. Yes, many admit, drugs would be safer if legal. Sure, our foreign policy might be simpler if we weren’t supporting the drug trade in unstable countries. And of course the number of people in jail for drugs is completely ridiculous.

There couldn’t be a better time to reflect on the history of drugs in America. Ryan Grim’s new book, This is Your Country on Drugs, examines the trends in drug use over time, what drives drug use, and the background of the war on drugs. The Philadelphia City Paper describes Grim’s book as "a wide-ranging, fascinating romp through the history of America's insatiable appetite for all manner of drugs, from opium to crystal meth, all the way up to the possibly soon-to-be-illegal hallucinogen Salvia divinorum."

You can read an excerpt from the book here.

To discuss this pressing issue more, join us tomorrow night (July 8) at 6pm for a Joint Event on Drugs in America, featuring a talk with author Ryan Grim and performances from two Laughing Liberally regulars, Harry Terjanian and Costaki Economopoulos. Not in New York? Comment with your questions for Grim and we'll ask him tomorrow night.

This Week in Blackness

Elon James White just posted the second episode of season two of "This Week in Blackness."

I loved this video. He hits on the very issues that I always find with television channels aimed at specific minority groups. They pretend to represent that group in its entirety, yet fall prey to many harmful stereotypes. And beyond its potent and important political message, the video is just downright funny.

Laughing Liberally Recap

Last week, we had a Laughing Liberally intern show. We invited interns from progressive organizations around the city, and had seven laughing liberally comedians perform. It was great to spread the liberal comedy love!

Check out this video from the show:

Join us for our upcoming shows:

July 8: A Joint Event on Drugs in America
Author Ryan Grim discusses his book This is Your Country on Drugs. Grim will be joined by two comedians, Harry Terjanian and Costaki Economopoulos.

July 15: A Supreme Night of Comedy
In honor of the Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings, Laughing Liberally goes to the mat to take on the courts in a night that does justice to political comedy.

DON'T Vote for Pedro (Espada Jr.)

Does anyone actually understand what's been going on in Albany over the past few weeks?

We sure as heck don't, but the Manhattan Young Dems seem to think it has something to do with that Napoleon Dynamite movie or whatever. Kids these days.

A Message From the Average Black Person

By Elon James White

To Whom It May Concern:

Greetings. My name is Elon James White. I'm Black.

I write this letter on behalf of a lot of people that fall into the category of Average Black People. (Yes, I capitalize it, as if it were a title.) I do not claim to represent them because that would be absurd. I really, truly don't. I don't even represent my circle of friends. At any point in time one of my Black buddies will, in fact, tell me to go to hell when speaking on concepts of race, politics, or religion.

I do, however, qualify as an Average Black Person. I am neither a part of the Black intelligentsia, nor do I fall into the category of your garden-variety street Negro. A lot of folks see Black people in one of these two categories. Normally, let's be honest, it's the latter.

I don't qualify.

I do come from "the Hood." That's right. I am a born and bred Brooklynite raised in the middle of Bed-Stuy. If you aren't familiar with Bed-Stuy, perhaps you have never listened to gangster rap. You're probably also unfamiliar with Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, or the thousands of songs that yell out "Brooklyn!" and then give a shout-out to Bed-Stuy. It's fine. Just understand that Bed-Stuy has a primarily negative connotation and for many years was used in boasts to gain respect or fear because it's an incredibly violent environment.

In other words, you could get shot, son.

Speaking of which, I am the son of a single mother. My father is in prison. My grandfather was a pastor and I grew up in the church. I, without shame, also enjoy fried chicken, watermelon, ribs, and orange soda. I can have an incredibly in-depth debate on the best five MCs ever. My credit isn't great and I've been shot.

With facts like this I qualify as a stereotypical Black person right?

But I am also a computer programmer. I've been known to quote Nietzsche. I, on occasion, host dinner parties where I serve five-course meals, including a specialty of mine, White Truffle Tilapia (it's delightful). I have the entire John Williams discography and wear a backpack that is emblazoned with the Thundercats insignia.

Those with one half of that story shake their head at the sheer mass of stereotypes I carry. Then those with the other half question if I even understand the Black experience at all. Some refer to me as someone who "made it out." I currently live in Crown Heights. Some say "You're not like the others." Most people I interact with are very similar to me.

I am an Average Black Person.

So, as an ABP, I have a few requests:

Media.
Please stop referring to blacks as a monolith. I can't possibly express to you the different types of Black people that exist. We neither move as an entity, nor do we move as three or four entities. For every Sharpton, there's a Steele. And for every Sharpton and Steele there are a hundred folks in the middle. What we share is a past, which on occasion helps shape our view on things. Also? Obama is not a unicorn. Please stop acting like Obama and his family are magical in the Black community. Just because some of you may not have seen a Negro like this doesn't mean they don't exist. Lots of smart black folk living with their smart mates and their cute smart kids. So please remember. Obama? Not a unicorn. Black people? Not one voice: I don't care what the supposed Black leaders try to claim.

Supposed Black Leaders.
Please stop speaking for us as if we were a monolith. This is not the 1960s. We don't need a Martin Luther King, Jr. or a Malcom X. You speak for yourselves and your view on what's happening. You also can't police black people. There isn't an us. Are there issues within the Black community? Absolutely, but it's not everybody as much as it is certain groups, most time classes that are in need of help and focus. Hence you can't speak for "Blacks." There are people who need your help and don't want you speaking for them. Oh, and for the love of all that is holy, could you please stop critiquing Obama simply to show you aren't drinking the kool-aid? I get it. You're sugar-free. Got it.

Critics Of Obama.
Hey, um...guess what Black people are not? A monolith. We are not holding Obama on a pedestal. Some critique him harshly (and personally I feel unjustly) and others love him. This is the case with every president. Obama is not the spokesperson for Black people. He is a symbol of hope. He is a symbol of opportunity in a land where opportunity for us seemed nonexistent. He's a symbol of a fight where people cried and died and sacrificed in order for the opportunity for him to exist. But his actions are his actions and have to be judged. Just not four months after he walked in the door with one of the worst clean up jobs in the countries history. You may critique him without critiquing Blacks' ability to critique him.

The hypocrisy of saying we are not One, and yet speaking for the exact group for which I just emphatically denied exists, is not lost on me. Perhaps there are Black people who absolutely want to be spoken for and referred to as if we were one big team. I acknowledge the possibility, but if this was the majority people like Dyson and Smiley would be way more important, and let's be honest: they aren't. I hope that my message is clear. After reading this, the next time you talk to a Black person you can feel comfortable in now knowing with every fiber of your being that you have no clue what they think or feel based on their skin color.

But if they're wearing a Soulja Boy shirt you may disregard this essay and judge them immediately.

Follow Elon James White on Twitter: www.twitter.com/elonjames

Laughing Liberally TONIGHT

While the current health care is bringing most of us to tears, our Laughing Liberally comedians are helping us laugh about it. Check out Harry Terjanian and Lee Camp as they make light of the often depressing health care debate.

For more comedy, come to Laughing Liberally tonight.

The Laughing Liberally Intern Show
Wed, June 24 - 9 pm
www.laughingliberally.org

Laughing Liberally invites you to come out for an evening of laughs about copy machines, underpaid work, and the politics of intern life.

Join Laughing Liberally and interns from dozens of progressive organizations and campaigns for an evening of internship humor, political punchlines, and a lineup of comedians from Comedy Central, The Onion, CNN, and MTV.

Featuring:
Lee Camp
Harry Terjanian
Katie Halper
Elon James White
Costaki Economopoulos
Hari Kondabolu
Juliet Jeske

Admission: $10 or $5 for progressive interns and staff who RSVP in advance to [email protected]

The Tank - 354 West 45th St btw 8th & 9th
www.thetanknyc.org