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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 LATMComedy@gmail.com


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.


Concrete Jungle Where Dreams and Pizzas Are Maaaade Of….

Unless you’ve been living in an underground tunnel somewhere, a la the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or a recently overthrown dictator, you’ve probably heard of this little thing that’s been sweeping the nation. Oh, you know, OCCUPY. That little old thing. That movement of young, old, employed, unemployed, underemployed, radical, moderate, black, brown, white, queer, and straight. That movement of everyone who’s been paying attention to the widening wealth gap, our economy falling apart, corporations taking over our government, y’know, things getting shittier right before our very eyes. THAT thing.

Well, the Occupy movement started pretty soon after LATM embarked on its nationwide tour and I’m not saying we started the whole thing, but some people are…okay, fine. No one’s saying we started Occupy. But we knew we couldn’t make a tour documentary about the state of our nation without jumping right into it.

The three of us have been visiting our own nearest occupies (what with being human beings who care about things offstage as well) but felt we needed to add an emergency stop given THE ADVENT OF THE REVOLUTION. So Nato and Kamau flew out to New York (where I’d been living for two months) so that the three of us could visit Zuccotti Park, talk to those occupying Wall Street, and put on a show for the people of Liberty Square.

Oh yeah and we pretty much had three days to figure it all out. Three days to figure out: flights, places to stay, time to talk to people on the ground, finding an available theater close to Zuccotti, letting people know said show would be happening, and figuring out what we’d say onstage. No big. Right?

After a couple days of frantic phone calls and theater visits, Kamau, Nato, Keri, and our filmmakers Mike and Evan arrived and we headed out to Zuccotti. We talked to a young artist, a former Wall Street employee, an out of work contractor, and the leaders of Occupy Judaism who called us sacred clowns and implied we were doing God’s work. (Hear that, abuela?! Estoy haciendo la obra de Dios!) We were exhausted but inspired. We hoofed it straight from the park to the theater (which we’d found and booked less that 48hrs before) without the slightest idea if anyone would show up. But New Yorkers stepped up and every seat in our little theater was filled with friends, strangers, and some of the people we’d talked to moments earlier. So thank you, New York. Thank you for coming to our show, for being the first spark in this growing movement, and for having a Halal food cart on every corner.

You had me at, Halal, New York. You had me at Halal. (Janine makes out with a plate of chicken over rice. Kamau and Nato awkwardly leave the room. Fade to black.)


We fought Fighting Bob Fest in Madison – A blog better late than never

He's passed way more laws than you ever will.

Whew! The tour is finally over! Well, it’s at least half over. We were in five cities in nine days. Seven if you count Nogales twice, since it is both in Mexico AND Arizona. We closed with one of the best shows of the trip in Madison, Wisconsin, where we got a crowd who was definitely, LATM friendly. We spent the day at Fighting Bob Fest, watching speeches by a variety of people from the left push their brand of liberal politics in our faces and then rub our noses in it. Flippin’ socialists! Fighting Bob Fest is basically like Liberalpalooza. It was in a basketball arena filled with progressives, angry about the state of America… but in a good way. Thom Hartmann, Greg Palast, Bernie Saunders, and others. AND BECAUSE NATO AND JANINE HAD TO GET COFFEE WE JUST MISSED CORNEL WEST!!! (No hard feelings at all, of course.)

Now because Fighting Bob Fest is in Wisconsin, it was overwhelmingly white, but because it was a day of progressive team building, it felt like a Tea Party rally minus the fear of others.

As usual, we started off the day with a loose plan: Go to Fighting Bob Fest; pass out flyers for our show that night, & shoot interviews with whoever we could get. Well we managed to finish the day with an overstuffed hard drive of interviews and random interactions. According to Mike and Evan, the filmmakers, they are going to have to buy new hard drives because we are taking up (and talking up) so much space. The only interview we had scheduled was with Peter Rickman, a community and labor organizer from Wisconsin’s AFL-CIO. but while we were walking around the arena, I heard someone shout, “Kamau!” I looked and it was John Hershberger, my number one Facebook friend. John had generously donated to our Kickstarter and we got a few minutes on film with him talking about everything that is going on with the unions in Wisconsin. After we finished and he had walked away I heard him call back to us, “You need to interview him.” And he pointed at a man who I soon found out is the longest serving state legislator in the country, Fred Risser. State Senator Risser very kindly talked to us. And he didn’t seem to be phased by the fact that in the middle of the interview, Nato taped me out, so he could take over with his stentorian tones and aggressive intellect. The best part was when Nato told St. Senator Risser that we learned in Arizona that many of it’s problems are the fault of retirees relocating there from the midwest, State Senator Risser exclaimed, “Hey! Don’t blame Arizona on us!” Thank you for entertaining our questions, Mr. Risser.

That night we did our show at The Bartell Theatre in Madison, and we got OUR crowd. A bunch of liberals and progressives with a senses of humor, who didn’t always agree with us, but didn’t mind us pushing them or us steering them down alleged comedic alleys with dead ends. Afterward we took the advice of Eide Alwan from the mosque in Dearborn and we passed the hat for donations to help us get this crazy documentary finished and the audience politely filled our hat… uh… basket.

Later we went out for some Wisconsin sausage and beer, and gorged ourselves. It is amazing how well it feels like this first week went, and we all anxious and excited to do the second leg of the tour in November. But we are also in desperate need for time to recover. See you all again soon.


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.


I heart Chicago

Yet another post going up a day late, please forgive our tardiness but we’ve been running on zero sleep and an amount of Red Bull that should be illegal. But OMG, Chicago, you are incredible!

We left Arizona after 3 hours of sleep (and some insanity getting to the airport), landed in Chicago, then immediately drove downtown to join UNITE HERE hotel workers for their strike against the Hyatt. Nato and Kamau were able to speak with some Hyatt employees during the picket about their cause. You can learn more about the UNITE HERE’s fight at hotelworkersrising.org. Seeing hundreds of workers united to make their voices heard was an exhilarating experience and a wonderful kick-off to our much-too-short time in Chi-Town.

We MUST give a HUGE thanks to Jason, co-owner Chicago-based indie bookstore The Book Table (booktable.net) who drove us all over town in style. Seriously, check out my seat in his sweet ride

Riding in style

We were exhausted after striking with hotel workers, riding in style, check out Jason’s bookstore, meeting his adorable puppy, and eating enormous diner food. And our theater set included the coziest couch and bed. Right where we’d be performing. (Pro: naptime before the show. Con: TORTURE while onstage.)

We were all tempted to give in to our exhaustion but the audience at the Greenhouse Theater was on fire and kept us going. (Plus, Kamau’s mom was in the audience and I don’t think any of us would ever want to let that woman down because she’s a BAMF*.) We ended up having a great show and going out for celebratory drinks afterwards. Yeah. Our audience was so awesome we wanted to hang despite running on fumes.

Thank you, Chicago. You are wonderful.

*BAMF = Bad A$$ Mutha Futha


Tonight Chicago!: This should’ve been up yesterday. Arizona’s wifi is also criminal.

Yesterday we went to Mexico! TWICE! And we didn’t have any tequila or Mexican food. Which sucks because I hear it’s really good down there. But we didn’t have time for that because we had a tight schedule of finding out out exactly how fucked up the immigration policies are of Mexico and the U.S. (HINT: They are veeeeeeeeeery fucked up.) After spending yesterday in an American court room to see the result of crossing the “border” illegally, today we got to see how harrowing it is to make that trip in the first place. As you can see I put “border” in quotes, because after going to the “border” twice yesterday I can definitively say that it is not real. I looked and looked and there was no line anywhere to divide the two countries. There were check points and people with guns, but it is clear that this whole “border” thing was just made up to make some people’s lives unduly difficult and to make other people’s wallets unduly fat. Mission accomplished. The real part is the pain, the sorrow, the death and the injustice.

For more details check out presente.org and puenteaz.org.

We’ve gotten some great footage for the documentary and we’ve rubbed shoulders with some incredible CultureStrike people including Dream Hampton, Roberto Lovato, Elizabeth Mendez Berry, Rinku Sen, Jeff Chang, and even the legendary Maxine Hong Kingston. Special note: she doesn’t seem to enjoy having her shoulders rubbed. At least not by me.

Here’s our first bit of footage, featuring two typically arrogant Americans.

It has been an incredible trip overall and we feel truly honored to have been a part of it. We are even thinking about starting JokeStrike. All the knowledge is bubbling and fomenting in our brian pans and I’m sure the people of Chicago are in for some half baked observations that may only make it to funny by the time we get to Madison.

We are now on a plane to Chicago for our show tonight. We had three less than three hours of sleep and are all a little bit punchy. Before we went to sleep we called a cab to pick us up at 4:30am. And this morning at 4:30am it was no where to be seen. We called them back and the dispatcher told us, just because we make a reservation doesn’t mean a cab will show up. He said, “I can’t force them.” Which has led to a new slogan for Tucson tourism…

Tucson: Come for the oppressive policies towards undocumented workers and general level of racism toward all Latinos, and stay for the fact that you can’t get a fucking cab.

Maybe it’s a little wordy, but I think it gets the message across.

Also the wifi and cellphone service sucks.

Thanks for your support!

Kamau


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