Author Archives: laughteragainstthemachine

LA guests! Nato cd taping! Other news!

If you’re in LA on Monday, April 30, come see Laughter Against the Machine do two shows (730 & 930) at the Improv Comedy Lab in Los Angeles. Advance tickets here. There are some half-price tickets with the code “LATMfan.”

For the 730pm show, Kamau, Janine and Nato will be joined by Greg Proops, Maria Bamford, and Jimmy Dore. Woah!

For the 930pm show, we’ll be joined by Maria Bamford, Aparna Nancherla, and Hasan Minhaj. Boom!

Also, on Tuesday, May 8th at the New Parish in Oakland, Nato will record his debut comedy cd with Rooftop Comedy over two live shows at 7 & 9pm. These shows will also feature Kevin Camia and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. Advance tickets here.

We look forward to releasing our tour documentary on June 9 at Netroots Nation in Providence, Rhode Island.

For funsies, this interview with Kamau about his forthcoming Late-Night Show on FX is entertaining and easy on the eyes.

And Janine co-wrote a hilarious list of suggested legislation by women to regulate men’s reproductive health. Dig it.

Big news, various

Are you sitting down?

We’re pleased to announce that we’ll be premiering the Laughter Against the Machine tour documentary at Netroots Nation 2012. The conference runs June 7-10 in Providence, Rhode Island. We’ll also be teaming up with Laughing Liberally for a standup comedy show.

Also, our own W. Kamau Bell will be starring in a new late-night show on FX, slated to premiere in August, which will be executive-produced by Chris Rock.

We’re performing in Portland, Oregon and showing clips from the documentary at the Rebooting Democracy Conference on April 19. The show is open to the public.

The first-ever Laughter Against the Machine shows in Los Angeles will be Monday, April 30 at 730pm & 930pm at the Improv Lab. Advance tickets here.

Nato is recording his first comedy CD at 7 & 9pm on Tuesday, May 8 in Oakland at the New Parish. Advance tickets here.

The last chances for people in the Bay Area to see Kamau before the FX show kicks off will be with Nato on Mondays at the Comedy SuperPAC at the Hemlock Tavern or on Tuesday, April 17 with a new edition of the W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour. Advance tickets here.

You can stand up now.

–Kamau, Janine, Nato

Thank you Baratunde for big upping us at SXSW!

Welcome new visitors who found us from Baratunde’s keynote address at SXSW
Thanks to our friend Baratunde Thurston for showing a rough clip from our forthcoming documentary.
Here it is if you weren’t lucky enough to see it live or streaming — or if you just want to see it again.)
There are a couple of ways you can get involved:
We are still raising funds to help finish the movie.
Make a Donation to Help Us Finish Our Tour Documentary
Like us on Facebook
Watch us on YouTube
Join our E-mail List for special clips, tickets and other exclusive offers!

Bring us to your town! Contact us at

Laughter Against the Machine your Sketchfest!

THIS THURSDAY 2/2, Laughter Against Machine is presenting a special show for SF Sketchfest at the Eureka Theatre. W. Kamau Bell, Janine Brito, & Nato Green will give you a first look at clips from our upcoming tour documentary, a Q&A moderated by writer Hiya Swanhuyser, and ye olde stand-up comedy. Even if you’ve seen us recently, there will be plenty of new LATM material for you to enjoy, and we have no more LATM shows in the Bay Area on the docket in 2012. Info and tickets here.

Huffington Post recently ran a great interview with Kamau about our take on “political” comedy. Read it here.

In other HuffPo news, Nato has a new blog we hope you enjoy: “Fighting Cynicism Without and Within,” about how Occupy Wall Street achieved something historically unprecedented by getting Nato to shut up.

Dig it!

LATM to SF Sketchfest 2/2, and LATM gets into trouble

Happy New Year!

We can’t wait to finish the documentary and get it to you soon.

In the meantime, SF Sketchfest is presenting a special evening with Laughter Against the Machine on Thursday, February 2 at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco. In addition to stand-up, we’ll be showing the first clips from the forthcoming tour documentary that happened because of you, and there will be a Q&A moderated by writer Hiya Swanhuyser. Hope you can come. We released another rough cut video from the tour, of jokes by Nato about our visits to six Occupy Wall Street sites.

Also, we’ve been busy lately, collectively and singly.

Janine had the 3rd installment of her joint venture with Emily Heller: Girl Talk at the SF Punchline. The SF Weekly saluted Janine & Emily for their “commitment to boundary-pushing, brutally funny comedy that’s staunchly populist but could still send a grad student looking for her well-worn copy of Gender Trouble.”

Meanwhile, Kamau wrote a piece in Colorlines with the journalistically objective title, “5 Signs You’re Acting Like a White Guy (Or, How To Not Be Gene Marks)” about the white Forbes columnist who decided to hold forth on what he would do if he were poor and black. According to Marks, black poverty could be solved if only black kids had the good sense to realize they need good grades and to watch TED talks. Kamau’s response, while simultaneously funny and profound in the way we can rely on from Kamau, also offended some white guys who didn’t want to be lumped together with jerks. Or something.

Kamau also wrote about how Louis CK is in the rare position of being both the comedian the mainstream media is most interested in while comedians generally agree that he’s the MAN.

Finally, our 4th Annual New Year’s Eve shows at the Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco were sold out, fun, and raucous as usual. They were also attended by great press coverage by the likes of the SF Examiner, the Bay Citizen, and the East Bay Express. For example, the East Bay Express described “the consistently thought-provoking content and the performers’ keen ability to stay on top of pop culture.”

We do our best.

Dearborn, I do mind dying

Thursday we left Chicago for a quick change of city, state, and time zone for Dearborn, Michigan. We picked Dearborn because this Detroit suburb of give or take 100,000 is home to the largest concentration of Arabs in America.  We had from mid-day Thursday until our show Friday evening to figure out, as comedians are wont to do, “what’s the deal with Arabs?”

After visiting the only Arab-American Museum in the US, the biggest mosque in the US, chatting with an Arab-American comedian/comedy promoter over delicious shawermas at Arabica Bistro and desserts from the Shatila Bakery so good that we wanted to gay marry them, we learned an important lesson. It might come as a shock to a lot of Americans, because you don’t hear this a whole lot in our public discourse, but nevertheless, here it is: Arabs are just like everybody else.

Like a splash of cold water, so I’ll give you a minute to let it sink in, with this muckracking expose:

Welcome back.

Oblivious imperious Americans tend to gloss over the reality that Arabs and Muslims are two overlapping but distinct and highly diverse groups. Arabs only make up 20% of Muslims, while 10% of Arabs are Christians. Also, Arabs have been in America pretty much as long as it’s been America, and done stuff in every part of American life. There are Arabs who are awesome and Arabs who are jerks for reasons that have nothing to do with their Arabness. For example, on the one hand you have corporate scumbag and right-wing Congressman Darrel Issa, and on the other hand you have Helen Thomas, the dean of the White House Press Corps.

Eide Alawan, the Interfaith Outreach Coordinator at the Islamic Center of America patiently explained about all the programs of the mosque, the Muslim community of Dearborn, and the interactions between the congregants and other groups. He said something that blew our minds, and if he had said it in a comedy club, it would be too edgy for Doug Stanhope. He told us that 9/11 was good for Muslims because it got Americans interested in understanding and engaging with Muslims in a way they never had before. He said it like he meant it. Then said it again later, like he really wanted it to sink into our thick heads. Still sinking. We would only have been a little surprised if he had followed it up with, “Did I stutter, motherfucker?” Mainly because he was so sweet.

Then we had our worst show of the week. Not only had we never performed in the Detroit metro area, didn’t know anyone, and had no idea where to do a show or how to promote it, but then we made the colossal mistake of picking the cheapest theater, which was a 400-seater cleverly hidden in the woods on a community college campus where no one would ever find it. We forgot the famous dictum of Mao Tse-Tung (or maybe Sun Tzu), applied equally to guerrilla warfare and comedy: “With small forces, fight in enclosed spaces.”

What would have been an adequate show in a tiny black box theater instead became the “all is lost” plot point of our epic quest. To paraphrase Nietzsche and Mort Sahl, we joked into the abyss and the abyss joked back.

It turns out that Arabs are like people also in that their suburbs are not hip and happening centers of nocturnal entertainment. Our bad. Fortunately, our new Arab friends in Dearborn and Detroit activists like Invincible were gracious enough to offer to help do Laughter Against the Machine justice when we come back. We’re not done with you, Detroit metropolitan area.

Tucson, Day 2: Arizona is making our heads hurt

On our second day with CultureStrike, a delegation of some fifty writers and artists in a host of media who have come to Arizona to learn from the people here on the front lines of the resistance to a right-wing anti-immigrant onslaught.

Today’s presentations have spanned the gamut from sad to hella sad. We learned a lot about the policy context of immigration. Apparently Arizona is a big ill-conceived social experiment in which people fleeing immiseration and desperate poverty in Latin America and grumpy-pants white Midwestern retirees are forced to live together in a chunk of dessert with no actual economy but intolerable heat. What could go wrong?

We went to the federal courthouse in Tucson and got to watch Operation Streamline. Every day, our government rushes about seventy undocumented immigrants through something that vaguely resembles a court proceeding in about two hours. We saw a group consisting entirely of indigenous-looking men in shackled hand-and-feet who had just been picked up trying to cross the border. Their punishment was to go to a for-profit detention facility in the US for up to six months before being deported. To repeat: the punishment for trying to come to the US illegally is to be kept in the US. This is an appropriate occasion to use the word “retarded” in a precise, literal sense. As in, “the US immigration system is fucking retarded.”

Getting to see in person this process was upsetting for all of us. It led immediately to some grief-eating of chocolate, Full Throttle, and fiber bars. We were upset by what we saw, and our heads immediately exploded witnessing firsthand the sheer irrationality of this system.

It probably goes without saying, but we’re the only comedians down here. It’s cool to hang out with a community of artists, and weird to be the only ones whose artistic vehicle to express our experiences is to make strangers laugh. We’re considering quitting comedy to join a guerrilla army. Hopefully the jokes will come soon.

Kamau’s New CD & Boots Riley Kickstarts the tour


We have two weeks to go on this Kickstarter campaign. That means TWO weeks to raise $10,000 or we get NONE OF IT. The Kickstarter deadline is September 9, but our first show is September 10 in Arizona. We’ve paid deposits on theaters, bought plane tickets, and the whole bit. We’re going to visit the border and then do a show. So we need to raise the money in order to make a cool film that will continue our mission to take back America for the cool people, joke by joke.

That’s why anyone who donates to our Kickstarter campaign here and now, in the next 24 hours, before 2:20 Pacific Time on Saturday, will get a free download of the new comedy CD by W. Kamau Bell. He’s hard at work in his subterranean layer laying down the tracks, and you get it first if you contribute now.

Also, to seal the deal on our fundraising, we have an event for our Bay Area friends. On Tuesday, September 6, at Stagewerx Theater in San Francisco, W. Kamau Bell will be in conversation with our friend Boots Riley. Laughter Against the Machine is trying to do some form of comedy what Boots has been doing for hip hop for years. Let’s get to the bottom of it. Advance tickets are here, all proceeds go to help the final days of our kickstarter fundraising.

Don’t miss it.

Boots & Kamau, in San Francisco's Financial District, ready to get some apologies.

Kickstart LATM national tour & documentary!

The question I get asked most often is obviously, “What’s the difference between pancetta and prosciutto?” But a close second is, “What can I do to express my love and support of the unique and awesome art LATM puts out in the world? How does stand-up comedy relate to the major political struggles of our day?” That’s two questions, but now I have one answer.

Laughter Against the Machine plan to bring our comedy tour nationwide and make a unique tour documentary. We want to go to the most polarized and dysfunctional places in America. We’ll meet people on the front lines, try to figure out what’s going on, and bring humor to the people who need it the most. We’re like a comedic peacekeeping mission, like Doctors Without Borders, but with jokes instead of medicine, like a USO Tour of Tolerance.

We’ve booked shows this fall in Madison, Dearborn, Phoenix, Washington, DC, New Orleans, and back to Oakland. We’re also adding Chicago for good measure.

But the catch is that we need to raise $20,000 on Kickstarter to get out the door. Please check us out here, make a donation and get cool stuff, like your name in the credits of the film or Kamau’s autographed CD or swag from a rockstar (seriously). We have less than 60 days to get this done, and if we don’t raise $20,000 by the deadline, we don’t get anything. Without your support NOW, we have to cancel theaters, lose our deposits, and shelve the documentary. Donate here.

Here are some ways you can help:
1. Donate to the Kickstarter campaign. Check out the cool thank-you gifts on the site.
2. Donate soon! The sooner we reach our goal, the more we can focus on the funny.
3. Spread the word about this unique project on your facebook, twitter, google+, blog, email list, or, you know, personal conversations with live humans.
4. If you can’t afford to make a large donation, but want to support the campaign, please consider hosting a house party. You could invite 10 friends to a dinner/brunch and ask them to donate $10 each to the campaign. We’ll send you a preview stand-up DVD you can use as a hook for the event.
5. If you are able to donate $500 or more, please contact me about being a major donor and/or making a challenge grant to encourage other small donations.

Shows, press, viral videos, experiments in comedy

It’s been busy times over here at Laughter Against the Machine.

THIS week, on Thursday June 9, we’ll be at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. Advance tickets here. That show was written-up in the weekly Good Times Santa Cruz.

Next week, on Monday June 13 our National Tour Workshop Show will be back home in San Francisco at Stagewerx Theatre featuring Nato Green, Janine Brito, Emily Heller, Chris Garcia, & Kevin Camia. Advance tix here. The SF Weekly previewed the show thusly. When the big guy kicks the little guy, we kick back, with jokes. That’s right!

And the FOLLOWING week on Thursday, June 23 we’ll be at the historic 142 Throckmorton Theatre, with W. Kamau Bell back in action. Advance tix here.

But that’s not all…

LATM is the recommended comedy show on The Leftivist, a travel guide in blog form for progressive visitors to San Francisco.

And to round it out, Nato Green’s bit from the February LATM shows at the New Parish on San Francisco’s anti-vagrant aka anti-freaky street people sit/lie law has been getting some attention. It was posted on the politics blog of the SF Bay Guardian, provoking a furious debate in the comments about totally unrelated stuff. It was quoted in the SF Chronicle in an unrelated article about pensions. And it was posted on the Reset San Francisco blog, which is the site of the Mayoral campaign of Phil Ting, current city Assessor and tax reform crusader. It’s weird to go viral among a very narrow demographic of people who care about San Francisco’s anti-homeless policies…

Here’s the bit:

Is that enough? No! More big news coming soon…


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