Did you catch the Colbert Report last night? There was a steamy appearance by our lady, Terry Gross. (It starts around 3 min into the episode)
Stephen and Terry have talked many times, but here’s the latest one.
Sarah Silverman says that most comics’ sense of humor comes from self-loathing. For her, that wasn’t really the case:
"I think my comedy came more from humiliation… I was a chronic bed-wetter. I had this deep, dark secret. If I had to go to sleepover parties I would just pinch myself awake all night.
The…thing that made me feel the most Jewish, because we weren’t religious in any way, was that I was so friggin’ hairy compared to these Carol Reed, L.L. Bean blonde Aryans that I lived with. So there was that. You want to be funny before anyone is funny on your behalf.”
Silverman just won an Emmy for best writing for a variety special, her HBO special, We Are Miracles.
Check out Rebecca Makkai’s great post on the fine balance between promoting work on social media and being obnoxious.
"This is the story of Todd Manly-Krauss, the world’s most irritating writer. He’s a good enough guy in real life (holds his liquor, fun at parties, writes a hell of a short story)—but give the guy a social media account, and the most mild-mannered of his writer friends will turn to blood lust."
Fresh Air even gets a shout out:
Terry Gross: Can I make a confession?
Robin Williams: Yes. You’re not wearing anything, but that’s OK. You’re in the radio studio, and if you’re wearing—if you’re in a thong, that’s wonderful. A thong in your heart, that’s OK. No, no, please, confess.
Gross: Well, before we did the interview, I had no idea what to expect. And I wasn’t sure you’d give me a straight answer to anything. And I just want to say thank you for actually having a talk.
Williams: You’re welcome. Well, it’s good to talk like that, you know?
Gross: And for being really funny at the same time.
Williams: Well, that’s probably what life is. You know, you can do both. You can talk and be funny. And you see it wasn’t that zany. It was just conversation.
Williams, speaking to Fresh Air in 2006.
Today we’re playing a 2005 interview with The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, a 1990 interview with Bruce Tucker who collaborated with Brown on his autobiography, a 1989 interview with Maceo Parker, James Brown’s sax player, and bassist Bootsy Collins. You can listen to the interview here.
Photo : James Brown in 1984 - by Lucian Perkins/ Washington Post
One of the fun parts of the interview is when he does impressions of Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk.
Terry asked him why he impersonates certain singers:
"The idea that I had in my 16-year-old mind is that I’d hear these songs and no one else knew what these songs were so I’d try my best to replicate them so that people would get a sense of the song as it was performed by the original performer. At that time I didn’t feel like I had any interesting stories. After being in the business for about 15 years, just about now, I have some stories of my own. But at first, I didn’t really have stories so I would tell other people’s stories."
Photo of Flemons by Tim Duffy
George Takei became famous for his role in Star Trek as Mr. Sulu, but in the last decade, he’s drawn followers who admire him because of who he is—not just who he has played. The new documentary about his life is called To Be Takei.
He joins Fresh Air to talk about growing up in a Japanese internment camp, avoiding stereotypical roles, and coming out as gay at 68.
Here he explains why he was closeted for most of his life:
The thing that affected me in the early part of my career was … there was a very popular box office movie star — blonde, good-looking, good actor — named Tab Hunter. He was in almost every other movie that came out. He was stunningly good-looking and all-American in looks. And then one of the scandals sheets of that time — sort of like The Inquirertoday — exposed him as gay. And suddenly and abruptly, his career came to a stop.
That was, to me, chilling and stunning. I was a young no-name actor, aspiring to build this career — and I knew that [if] it were known that I was gay, then there would be no point to my pursuing that career. I desperately and passionately wanted a career as an actor, so I chose to be in the closet. I lived a double life. And that means you always have your guard up. And it’s a very, very difficult and challenging way to live a life.
Photo by Kevin Scanlon via LA Weekly
Arthur Allen's book, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl, tells the story of two scientists—one Christian and one Jewish—who battled typhus and sabotaged the Nazis during WWII.
Transmitted by body lice, typhus killed untold numbers of soldiers and civilians during the war. Today’s interview explores the labor-intensive process of making the vaccine and the way the lab sabotaged the Nazis by weakening their vaccines and sneaking doses into Jewish ghettos.
Allen explains how the Nazis used lice imagery after they invaded Poland:
"The Nazis … always described the Jews as "vermin" and sometimes used the word "lice." …And this was an ideology that was belittling and obviously also associating Jews with sort of filth and contamination, parasitism — all of these things that you metaphorically can link lice to.
[The Nazis] made it very concrete after they took over the first Polish cities, that there were signs that went up all over Warsaw, for example … that would have a picture of a bearded Jew with a louse that said, “Lice, Jews, typhus,” to make that association in the minds [of] Poles — the idea of keeping them from protecting Jews, [of] seeing Jews as part of this invasive, parasitic, dangerous force that they had to avoid and exterminate.”
German anti-Jewish propaganda: “Jews, lice, typhus.” Poster printed in Warsaw in 1941 and distributed throughout the GG. Courtesy of ŻIH.
-Charlie Haden, jazz bass player 1937 - 2014
In remembrance of Haden we put together some of his best interview moments. He spoke to Terry five times, beginning in 1983. You can listen to the show and read more quotes here.
Photo: Charlie Haden, bass, performs at the BIM Huis on May 18, 1989 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. by Frans Schellekens/Redferns
Our youngest fan is keepin’ it Fresh, listening to Terry’s book, All I Did Was Ask.
Photo: Lisa O’brien and baby Ruby May Berger, from Christine Dempsey, WHYY’s Vice-President, Chief Content Officer
The Art of Dog-Earing: Yes, Terry Reads The Books
Tomorrow we’re recording with Jenny Slate (right) and director Gillian Robespierre to talk about their new film Obvious Child. The film is about a aspiring stand-up comic Donna (Slate) who, after a drunken one-night-stand, gets pregnant and has an abortion. To read more about the movie, here’s our film critic David Edelstein’s take.
You might also know Jenny Slate from Parks and Recreation (Mona-Lisa Saperstein, sister of Jean Ralphio), Kroll Show (PubLIZity) or her internet sensation, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.
"As a comedian you should not be in rooms where the people you’re making fun of also are because you’ll realize, at the end of the day, they’re just people. You can’t risk having that kind of compassion infect your mission to attack. My solution to that is not to curve my jokes — it’s to not put myself in the same room as the consequences of those jokes. …
A comedian is supposed to be an outsider. He’s supposed to be outside looking in. I don’t want to be at parties in D.C. with politicians. Comedians shouldn’t be there. If you feel comfortable in a room like that, there’s a big problem. That’s what is so concerning when you see journalists so comfortable around politicians — that’s a red flag. There should be a kind of awkward tension whenever a journalist walks into a room that politicians are in, because you should’ve done things that annoyed them in the past. It’s the same as a comedian. You’re no one’s friend.”
- John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight and former correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The full interview with John Oliver is here, so check it out!
Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times
Poet and memoirist Maya Angelou died today at the age of 86.
"Mrs. Flowers, a lady in my town, a black lady, had started me to reading, when I was about 8…I was already reading, but she started me reading in the black school and I read all the books in the black school library. She had some contact with the white school, and she would bring books to me, and I would just eat them up. When I was about 11 and a half, she said to me one day — I used to carry a tablet around on which I wrote answers — and she asked me, "Do you love poetry?" I wrote yes. It was a silly question from Mrs. Flowers. She knew. She told me, “You do not love poetry. You will never love it until you speak it, until it comes across your tongue, through your teeth, over your lips, you will never love poetry.” And I ran out of her house. I thought I’ll never go back there again. She was trying to take my friend.
She would catch me and say, “You do not love poetry, not until you speak it.” I’d run away and every time she’d see me she would just threaten to take my friend. Finally, I did take a book of poetry and I went under the house and tried to speak, and could.”
Photo via PR Newswire
I believe we’re shaped by our failures, by our weaknesses and setbacks, at least as much as we are by our successes. In many cases, those failures make ultimate success possible.
— Terry Gross, Bryn Mawr College Commencement Address 2014