Tag Archives: latmtour

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!


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


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.


1st show of #LATMTour is in the books… umm… camera.

It is almost midnight here in Phoenix and #LATMTour (That’s our hashtag if you roll Twitter style.) has had a great 1st show and day of filming. After some airport hijinks — We will get into that on another post. — we went straight from the Phoenix airport to interview Carlos Garcia of Puente AZ. He was super knowledgeable, committed, and patient with our tardiness. — Again we will get into that later.

Then the three of us sat down with the S and M Podcast which is the local comedy scene’s version of WTF with Marc Maron. And despite the fact that Nato and Kamau needed naps after that, we went straight to the show at Space 55, and it was great. It really felt very similar to the Bay Area shows. Kevin Gassman who interviewed Kamau on KWSS radio earlier this week was in the audience. Also Jeff Chang from CultureStrike was there, as was Steve MArek and Jaime Sanderson from the S and M podcast. We will be doing lots of stuff with CultureStrike in the next couple days, including taking a trip across the border to Mexico. That will be Kamau’s first trip.

We ended the evening eating a taco truck with Carlos, his wife, Janine’s girlfriend, her girlfriend’s friends and family, Jeff, Keri (our manager), Evan (our lone camera person). The truck had a sticker on it that basically certified it a safe place for all people to eat, documented and otherwise. Pretty intense stuff. And very delicious food. More soon. I’m about to pass out. Long day.

Oh yeah… Happy September 11th Day. Seriously, have a happy one. It won’t be easy.

 

Follow these people on Twitter

@puenteAZ
@zentronix (Jeff Chang)
@CaptPiggles (Steve Marek of The S and M Podcast)
@Kevingassman
@space55


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