Apr 4 • 1HR 29M

TGS Live at the Comedy Cellar

The role of comedy in our time

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Appears in this episode

Glenn Loury
Weekly conversations on race, inequality, and more, with Glenn Loury. Bi-weekly appearances by John McWhorter.
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Over the last couple years, I’ve been in communication with Noam Dworman, the owner of the Comedy Cellar in New York, which is one of the most influential comedy clubs in the country. He suggested that we collaborate and put together a show that would explore the relationship between truth, free speech, and comedy. After a lot of back and forth, we came up with the idea of putting non-comedian intellectuals into conversation with professional stand-up comics. We weren’t quite sure what would happen, but we both sensed the idea had great potential.

And so, last month, The Glenn Show held its first live event. Roland Fryer, Coleman Hughes, and I served as the “serious” participants, and Noam invited the comics Andrew Schulz, Judy Gold, Shane Gillis, T.J., and Rick Crom to come up and offer their thoughts. The event also included special appearances from Nikki Jax and the stellar Sam Jay. Noam and I wanted to know, are there certain truths that only comics can get away with telling? Can delivering a potentially unsettling idea in comedic form make people more receptive to it?

The place was packed—tickets sold out in just a few days. The atmosphere was electric. After I introduced the event and kicked things off with an opening provocation, the show took on a life of its own. As you’ll see, the comics took the idea and ran with it. There are moments of chaos, moments of profundity, and a lot of laughs. I couldn’t have asked for a better live debut for TGS, and I am excited to be able to share with all of you who made it possible through your support.

We’re planning on doing more of these events in the future, so let us know what you think!

Many, many thanks to Noam Dworman for his hard work, generosity, and for providing video and audio of the event. The title sequence was created by our own Nikita Petrov.


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0:00 Some unspeakable truths

8:07 Are comics now afraid to speak their minds onstage?

19:38 The difference between telling the truth and getting a laugh

28:42 Can jokes actually do harm?

36:50 Nikki Jax on comedy and trans issues

43:34 Who actually “cancels” comics, audiences or corporations?

50:26 Sam Jay on artistic freedom and mob mentality

55:55 Q&A: I’m worried people won’t understand that my one-woman show is satire. What should I do?

58:42 Q&A: Does comedy have real power or is it ‘just jokes’?

1:06:35 Q&A: Do comics sometimes inadvertently reinforce wrongheaded points of view?

1:10:23 Q&A: Why are Ivy Leaguers so unfunny?

1:13:13 Q&A: Are college campuses inhospitable environments for comedy?

1:16:45 Q&A: What got Roland suspended at Harvard?

1:20:20 Q&A: Does the general public need social media training?

1:22:31 Q&A: Is there a way to stop corporations from folding to social media pressure campaigns?


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