Tag Archives: LATM

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


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


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