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MF GALAXY

MF GALAXY is a weekly podcast powered by four mighty engines: * Writers on writing: the craft and the business * Pop culture including TV, movies, graphic novels, and more * Progressive politics, activism, and social enterprise * Africentric change-makers, histories, cultures, art, and more! Mixing brand-new interviews with classic conversations (from my archive of 23 years in broadcasting) with famous and dynamic figures in the arts, Hollywood, and politics, MF GALAXY will take you to places you've never been before, and deliver fresh insights on the places you've been.
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Now displaying: Category: writer - stand-up comedy
Apr 11, 2018

I am a pernsnicketty cat—some would say difficult—and I have been known to argue at length that no one should ever use the expression “laughed out loud” because all laughter is out loud, by definition. So that means if I can overcome my boundless rage enough to invite the host of a national radio programme called Laugh Out Loud, I must really be impressed. And I am.

But Ali Hassan actually grabbed my attention not by MCing that showcase for Canadian comedians, but rather for his excellent work as an interviewer and guest host on CBC Radio’s q. I liked his voice, I liked his rapport with guests, and I liked his questions—but what totally floored me was that he easily and accurately dropped a reference to KRS-One during an interview without explaining it. I thought, I have got to contact this dude. So I did, and that’s what led to today’s conversation about the art, craft, and business of stand-up comedy and interviewing.

Hassan is a Pakistani-Canadian comedian, actor, and chef from Montreal. He’s toured Canada and performed at Just for Laughs and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival; he’s performed across the US and the Middle East, and took his one-man show Muslim, Interrupted to Scotland for the planet’s biggest comedy festival, the Edinburgh Fringe. He’s been in the movies Breakaway, French Immersion, and Goon!, and on TV he’s on Odd Squad, Man Seeking Woman, Game On, Cardinal, Designated Survivor, and FUBAR: Age of Computer.

Hassan spoke with me by Skype on February 2, 2018. We discussed:

  • How the ethics and personalities of stand-up are so different from those of improv comedy
  • The bizarre array of careers he attempted and what he learned from them that prepared him for comedy
  • How hosting Canada Reads was the ideal training ground to host CBC q
  • When a comedy MC should purposefully tank his own performance
  • How to teach inexperienced journalists the most important quality for their job, and
  • When you should leave interviewing permanently

 

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Mar 11, 2015

Palestinian-American comedian, speaker, commentator, writer, and attorney Amer Zahr is the author of collection Being Palestinian Makes Me Smile and the blogger behind The Civil Arab. Zahr has produced and headlined the 1001 Laughs Comedy Tour, the We're Not White! tour, and the In 1948 tour, and he produces the annual 1001 Laughs Dearborn Comedy Festival in Michigan at the Arab American National Museum.

He’s recently wrapped production on his first documentary, We’re Not White, about the Arab-American struggle to get a box on the United States Census Form. He’s a regular commentator in American media, having appeared on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and written for Time magazine. He’s performed across the United States and the Middle East.

Amer Zahr spoke with me via Skype on March 4, 2015, about the craft of stand-up comedy that has its own cultural and political gravity in an era of the oppression of his own people. We began by talking about how writing is the basis of his comedy creation.

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Dec 17, 2014

For 15 years African-American comedian Darryl Lenox has been touring across North America and headlining at comedy clubs, becoming one of the best stand-ups in the game.

In addition to appearing on the Conan O’Brien Show, A&E's Evening at the Improv, BET's Comic View, The Best of Just For Laughs Comedy Festival New Year's Eve Special, and Comedy Central Jamie Foxx's Laffa Polooza, Lenox has performed at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival and the comedy festivals of Boston, Chicago, and Vancouver, and won the Seattle Comedy Competition and Best New Play at Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Lenox has even had his own hour-long special on Starz Network called Blind Ambition, whose title referred to his own serious eye problems, which motivated him to work with the Third World Eye Care Society that provides eye exams and donated eye glasses to people in developing countries. The following is the promo for Blind Ambition.

In part 2, Lenox explains how he used European orchestral music to transform his suicidal terror of going totally blind into a comedy routine that has become the most important performance of his career. He also explains his own perspective on comedy career development.

Dec 16, 2014

Darryl Lenox is one of my favourite comedians, and while his routines are hilarious, I respect the intellectual weight he brings to his work that arises from his education, his socio-political perspective, and his international experience.

For twelve years we got to claim him as an African-Canadian, but he’s originally from the US and to the US he has returned. He’s spent 15 years touring and headlining comedy clubs, researching human behaviour and calibrating his comedic lasers.

But no matter where Darryl Lenox goes, he’s hilarious. He’s had his own hour-long special on Starz Network called Blind Ambition, a reference to his own serious eye problems that led him to work with the Third World Eye Care Society that provides eye exams and donated eye glasses to people in developing countries.

In addition to appearing on the Conan O’Brien Show, A&E's Evening at the Improv, BET's Comic View, The Best of Just For Laughs Comedy Festival New Year's Eve Special, and Comedy Central Jamie Foxx's Laffa Polooza, Lenox has performed at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival and the comedy festivals of Boston, Chicago, and Vancouver, and won the Seattle Comedy Competition and Best New Play at Vancouver Fringe Festival.

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