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P. J. O’Rourke says we’ve worked ourselves into a state of anger and perplexity, and it’s no surprise because perplexed and angry are what Americans have been since the Roanoke Colony got lost.

His new book, "A Cry From the Far Middle," looks at the state of these United States and includes essays on everything from the political effects of social media, (“Whose Bright Idea Was It to Make Sure that Every Idiot in the World Is in Touch with Every Other Idiot?”) to a plan advanced to reform federal poverty programs (“Just Give Them the Money”); and a rant is made against the “Internet of Things” because your juicer is sending fake news to your Fitbit about what’s in your refrigerator.

P. J. O’Rourke has written nineteen books on subjects as diverse as politics and cars and etiquette and economics. He is a regular panelist on NPR's "Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me," a contributing writer for the Washington Post editorial page, and the editor in chief of the free web magazine "American Consequences."

As a native Floridian, author Carl Hiaasen has worked his entire adult life for the Miami Herald, for which he writes an award-winning column. In his latest, very funny, novel "Squeeze Me," Hiaasen takes on The Palm Beach social scene - complete with Presidential shenanigans, a missing woman named Kiki Pew, and enormous pythons. 

The fallout after Michelle Wolf’s roast at the 2018 White House Correspondent’s Dinner, Samantha Bee’s forced apology after calling Ivanka Trump a name I can’t say here, Kathy Griffin’s being “blacklisted” from Hollywood after posting a photo with what looked like the president’s severed head, all represent a dangerous and growing trend—to censor comedians.

In the new book, "Yes I Can Say That," comedy veteran Judy Gold argues that "no one has the right to tell comics what they can or cannot joke about…. Laughter is a unifier. It's the best medicine. It's also the most palatable way to bring up seditious, subversive topics.”

For Gold, nothing is more insidious than enforcing silence and repressing jokes—the job of a comedian is to expose society's demons, and confront them head-on, no prisoners allowed. In ten impassioned polemics, she frames comedy as a tool of empowerment, a way to reclaim hateful rhetoric and battle the democracy-crushing plight of censorship.

Ian Fidance
Phil Provencio

When we interviewed comedian Ian Fidance, he was supposed to be coming to our region to do standup at Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington at the end of March and in May at The Comedy Works in Saratoga Springs. The coronavirus has shut down just about all public gatherings in the Northeast, but we thought some levity was in order even if those gigs aren’t.

Bess Kalb, Emmy-nominated TV writer and New Yorker contributor, saved every voicemail her grandmother Bobby Bell ever left her. Bobby was a force--irrepressible, glamorous, unapologetically opinionated. Bobby doted on Bess; Bess adored Bobby. Then, at ninety, Bobby died. In Kalb's debut memoir, "Nobody Will Tell You This But Me," Bobby is speaking to Bess once more, in a voice as passionate as it ever was in life.

Comedian Brent Terhune
Brent Terhune

With everyone stuck at home over the past several weeks, social media updates and videos have increasingly become a primary way to communicate. And in this odd political moment, Brent Terhune’s videos are getting more attention than ever.

  Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "Seberg"

Upcoming:

  • Nellie McKay - Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., Thursday 3/5, 7 PM; Helsinki Hudson, Hudson, Sunday 3/8, 8 PM
  • "The Irish and How They Got That Way" - Capital Repertory Theatre, Albany, opens Friday 3/6 at 8 PM through April 5
  • Peter Asher & Jeremy Clyde - The Egg, Albany, Friday 3/6, 8 PM
  • Caroline Rose, Good Baby - The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany, Friday 3/6, 9 PM
  • Eddie Griffin - Funny Bone Comedy Club, Guilderland, Friday 3/6 at 7:30 & 10 PM; Saturday 3/7 at 7 & 9:45 PM
  • Bach Cello Suites at 300: Then & Now with Matt Haimovitz - Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Saturday 3/7, 7:30 PM
  • Chris Pureka - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Saturday 3/7, 8 PM
  • Robert Cray - Turning Stone, Showroom, Verona, Sunday 3/8, 7 PM; Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Tuesday 3/10, 7:30 PM
  • "Key Largo" - Palace Theatre, Albany, Monday 3/9, 7 PM

New movies: "Emma," "Portrait of a Lady on Fire," "Onward"

"Schitt's Creek" is a Canadian sitcom created by father-and-son duo Eugene and Dan Levy about a family that loses their fortune and ends up relocating to a middle-of-nowhere, but lovable, town: Schitt’s Creek.

The fictional town actually resembles a real town - Sharon Springs, New York in Schoharie County. Last month, Sharon Spring's Beekman 1802 Mercantile store partnered with "Schitt's Creek" to pull off a transformation.

They made a few changes to the building's outside and rearranged some products inside the store turning the shop into a real-life Rose Apothecary, the boutique store opened by character David Rose in the POP and CBC show's third season.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge founded Beekman 1802 in 2008 after they purchased a farmhouse in Sharon Springs and started creating goat milk soaps from the animals that live on the farm.

Joe Donahue spoke with them and with Store Manager Emily Weise about this special pop-up event.

Lewis Black is a Grammy Award-winning stand-up comedian and his 2020 tour, ‘It Gets Better Every Day’ is coming to UPAC in Kingston, New York on February 22.

Known as the king of the rant, Black returns to UPAC with his trademark style of comedic yelling and animated finger-pointing, skewering anything and anyone that gets under his skin.

Steven Wright
Jorge Rios

In his characteristically deadpan fashion, Steven Wright has been making people laugh for more than four decades.  Over the course of his career, Wright has won an Oscar and been nominated for Grammy and Emmy Awards while working regularly in movies and on TV.

In the pages of his new book, "Medallion Status," John Hodgman explores the strangeness of his career, speaking plainly of fame, especially at the weird, marginal level he enjoyed it. He says he was a “famous minor television personality.” His essays offer a thoughtful examination of status, fame and identity.

  Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen:"Bombshell"

Upcoming:
"The Simon & Garfunkel Story" - Proctors, Mainstage, Schenectady, Friday 1/10, 7:30 PM

Tommy Davidson - Funny Bone Comedy Club, Crossgates Mall, Guilderland, Friday-Saturday 1/10-11, various times

Miro Quartet (music of Mozart, Gliere, Frank, Servais, Schubert) - Friends of Chamber Music, Emma Willard School, Troy, Saturday 1/11, 7:30 PM

Elvis Birthday Bash with Johnny Raab & The Tichy Boys - Hangar On the Hudson, Troy, Saturday 1/11, 8 PM

Albany Symphony’s Clara Schumann Festival:
“Clara, Dear Clara…” Brunch and Song, Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, Saturday 1/11, 11 AM
Clara Schumann Chamber Music Recital, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Saturday 1/11, 3 PM
Albany Symphony with pianist Harmony Zhu, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Saturday 1/11, 7:30 PM
Clara Schumann Chamber Music Recital, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Sunday 1/12, 11 AM
Albany Symphony with pianist Harmony Zhu, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Sunday 1/12, 3 PM

2020: We Hear Freedom Calling (presented by the Four Freedoms Coalition) - Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, Mass., Sunday 1/12, 2 PM (City Hall march at 1:30 PM)
"Flash Gordon" - Palace Theatre, Albany, Monday 1/13, 7 PM
Carla Fisk, soprano - Music at Noon Concerts, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Tuesday 1/14, noon

New movies: "1917," "Just Mercy," "Like a Boss," "Underwater"

Jeff Abraham is a public relations executive who's regarded as one of Hollywood's top comedy historians and go-to pop culture experts. He joins us to talk about his book "The Show Won't Go On: The Most Shocking, Bizarre, and Historic Deaths of Performers Onstage."

The book is co-authored by award-winning television and film producer, director, writer, and journalist Burt Kearns.

    Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen:"Little Women"

Upcoming:

  • T.J. Miller - Funny Bone Comedy Club, Crossgates Mall, Guilderland, Friday & Saturday 1/3-4, various times
  • New York Cat Film Festival - GE Theatre at Proctors, Schenectady, Saturday 1/4, 1 PM
  • Twelfth Night Celebration - Crailo State Historic Site, Rensselaer, Saturday 1/4, 4 PM -- AND -- Salutations of the Season! - Schuyler Mansion Historic Site, Albany, Saturday 1/4, 4-7:30 PM
  • Patty Larkin, w/s/g The Parkington Sisters - Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., Saturday 1/4, 7 PM
  • Livingston Taylor, w/s/g/ Susan Werner - Academy of Music, Northampton, Mass., Saturday 1/4, 8 PM
  • Graham Tichy All Stars: Abbey Road +50 Show - Van Dyck Lounge, Schenectady, Saturday 1/4, 8 PM
  • Scott Sharrard - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Sunday 1/5, 7 PM
  • A Sunday Fire - The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany, Tuesday 1/7, 9 PM

New movies: "The Grudge"

As a writer on "Late Night with David Letterman," Steve Young’s duties included scouring through record bins in search of potential subjects for the show’s “Dave’s Record Collection” segments. Little did he know, his hunt for offbeat vinyl would thrust him into the world of Broadway-style “industrial musicals” put on by such companies as General Electric, McDonald’s, Ford, and Xerox at their annual sales meetings in the ’50s through the ‘80s.

These productions dazzled and motivated their only intended audience, each company’s sales-force, which was regaled with lavish productions such as "Lipton on the Move," "Lucite, You and ’72," and "The Bathrooms Are Coming."

The documentary, "Bathtubs Over Broadway," follows Young’s odyssey as he tracks down these shows’ souvenir albums, finds kindred fanatics, interviews the performers, songwriters and directors, and discovers rare performance footage of songs such as “My Bathroom” and “Everything’s Coming Up Citgo.” Bathtubs over Broadway is now streaming on Netflix. The film is directed by Dava Wisenant.

It’s a surprise to many people, himself included, that Artie Lange is anywhere nowadays, let alone doing standup.  But Lange has proven to be the ultimate survivor. After battling addiction for 30 years, attempting suicide, and endless stints in rehab, Lange says he has been sober for almost a year.

Comedian and actor Colin Quinn will bring his "The Wrong Side of History" stand-up tour to The Egg in Albany, New York on Saturday, December 21.

Quinn's most recent one-man-show "Red State, Blue State" ran at The Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City earlier this year and then premiered on CNN as the network's first comedy special in May. It is now streaming on Netflix.

"Red State Blue State" followed a successful off-Broadway run of "Colin Quinn: The New York Story," directed by Jerry Seinfeld, and "Colin Quinn: Long Story Short," for which he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination. As an actor, Quinn appeared on HBO's "Girls" and "Crashing" and in the film "Trainwreck." He was the host of SNL's Weekend Update for the last few years of the 20th Century.

  Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "Frozen 2," "Ford v Ferrari"

Upcoming:

  • Madison Theater Re-opening Block Party with Skeeter Creek - Madison Theater, Albany, Thursday 12/19, 4 PM (films start running at 6 PM)
  • Michaela Anne - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Thursday 12/19, 7 PM
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Times Union Center, Albany, Thursday 12/19, 7:30 PM
  • The Silos, Coal Palace Kings - Hangar On the Hudson, Troy, Thursday 12/19, 8 PM
  • "It’s a Wonderful Life" - Palace Theatre, Albany, Friday 12/20, 7 PM; Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Mass., Friday 12/20, 7 PM; Capitol Theatre, Rome, Friday 12/20, 7 PM; Saturday 12/21, 2:30 & 7 PM
  • Sing Solstice! Kim & Reggie Harris and Magpie - The Eighth Step at Proctors, The Addy, Schenectady, Saturday 12/21, 7:30 PM
  • Colin Quinn: Wrong Side of History - The Egg, Albany, Saturday 12/21, 8 PM
  • The Sweetback Sisters’ Country Christmas Sing-Along - Academy of Music, Northampton, Mass., Sunday 12/22, 3 and 7 PM

New movies: "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," "Bombshell," "Little Women," "Spies in Disguise"

McQueen
Eric Korenman

Berkshire native McQueen is a producer and musician sometimes referred to as a multi-media comedian, a funny DJ, and electro-comic, or a comedy/music mixmaster. He stacks original beats and melodies and situationally surreal lyrics with pop-culture references galore.

He's toured with Radiohead, performed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, worked for Comedy Central and Funny or Die. His first album “Black Cat” (ASpecialThing Records) was released on October 25.

Book cover for "Nice Try," photo of Josh Gondelman, album cover for "Dancing on a Weeknight"
Center photo by Mindy Tucker

High Mud Comedy Festival Presents Josh Gondelman in a night of stand-up comedy at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts tomorrow night at 8 p.m.

Josh Gondelman is a stand-up and writer who has earned two Peabody Awards, three Emmys, and two WGA Awards for his work on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” He is currently a writer/producer for “Desus & Mero” on Showtime - which was just renewed for a second season. 

He has a reputation for being a true mensch and among the nicest guys in comedy and his new book “Nice Try” is available from Harper Perennial and his most recent stand-up album “Dancing on a Weeknight” was released in April of this year.

 

He joined us to talk about stand-up, working for and with great people, Twitter pep-talks, and #agoodgame.

Craig Ferguson’s "Hobo Fabulous" is six half hour episodes which are an amalgam of stand up special and rock tour documentary filmed during his recent 50-date tour of the USA and Canada.

Craig Ferguson is an actor, writer and comedian, who as the host of CBS' "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" set all-time viewer records during his ten-year run as host, which earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination and the 2009 Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting for his interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Ferguson was also the host of the syndicated game show, "Celebrity Name Game," in which he was awarded the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Game Show Host two years in a row. Ferguson is also an acclaimed standup comedian.

"Hobo Fabulous" is available on Comedy Dynamics.

On October 10, “Linda Vista,” a new play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts, directed by Dexter Bullard, opens at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes Theater in New York City.

In the play, Wheeler is a 50-year-old divorcee in a mid-life spiral. Just out of his ex-wife’s garage and into a place of his own, Wheeler starts on a path toward self-discovery. Full of opinions and short on self-examination, Wheeler navigates blind dates, old friends, and new love while reconciling the man he has become with the man he wants to be.

“Linda Vista” premiered at Steppenwolf in Chicago. It went on to have its Los Angeles premiere at Center Theatre Group in the Mark Taper Forum in February 2019 - and now it’s on Broadway.

For each of the productions, Letts’ fellow Steppenwolf ensemble member Ian Barford has played Wheeler. Barford also originated the role of Little Charles in Letts's “August: Osage County,” Ray in “Mary Page Marlowe,” and Mr. Carp “The Minutes.” Other Broadway credits include “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” and “The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.”

The Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, New York and UPAC in Kingston, New York have a very exciting slate of events this autumn.

This coming Sunday, seven-time Grammy Award winner Gladys Knight and her band will perform at The Bardavon’s 150th Anniversary Gala.

Other events this season include: The Mystical Arts of Tibet: “Sacred Music Sacred Dance;” the stage musical “Once;” stand-up comedy from Jay Leno; David Bromberg Big Band with Los Lobos; Dino Light; a play starring John Malkovich; former White House photographer Pete Souza – and so much more.

Bardavon Presents Executive Director Chris Silva joins us.

Hari Kondabolu
Rob Holysz

Since the last time Hari Kondabolu was on our show, a lot has happened in America — in politics, race relations, and comedy. Those are all topics he likes to discuss on stage, TV and on his comedy albums. On October 10th, Kondabolu will be back in our region at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton.

      Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "Downton Abbey"

Upcoming:

  • "Moby Dick," performed by Conor Lovett - Hudson Hall, Hudson, Friday 10/4 at 7 PM; Saturday 10/5 at 7 PM; Sunday 10/6 at 5 PM
  • Paula Poundstone - Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Friday 10/4, 8 PM
  • Artie Lange - Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes, Friday 10/4, 8 PM
  • James Franco’s "The Pretenders" - Palace Theatre, Albany, Saturday 10/5, 7 PM
  • GWAR "Use Your Collusion" Tour - Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park, Saturday 10/5, 7:30 PM
  • Kurt Elling - Academy of Music, Northampton, Mass., Saturday 10/5, 7:30 PM - The Egg, Albany, Sunday 10/6, 7:30 PM
  • Laura Love - The Eighth Step at Proctors, Schenectady, Saturday 10/5, 7:30 PM - Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., Sunday 10/6, 7 PM
  • Kimbra, Emily Wells - MASS MoCA, Hunter Center, North Adams, Mass., Saturday 10/5, 8 PM
  • Sergei Babayan & Daniil Trifonov, duo piano - Troy Chromatics Concerts, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Sunday 10/6, 3 PM

New movies: "Joker," "Britt-Marie Was Here"

Paula Poundstone
Paula Poundstone

We’re going to catch up now with a frequent voice on WAMC — on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and as a regular guest on this show: Paula Poundstone. Now in her fourth decade of doing standup, the comedian, author and podcast host will be returning to our region for several gigs in the next couple weeks.

Lisa Lampanelli
Lisa Lampanelli

Our region is about to see a different side of longtime comedian Lisa Lampanelli, who said she was stepping away from standup last year and is now working as an advice podcaster, life coach and storyteller. It’s a new era for the woman known as The Queen of Mean over three decades in standup. “Fat Chance: An Evening of Conversation and Story” comes to the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls September 21 and the Cohoes Music Hall September 28.

Steve Martin and Martin Short
courtesy of the artists

Steve Martin and Martin Short bring their new tour "Now You See Them, Soon You Won't" to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York on Friday, September 13. The comedy-variety show also features Grammy Award winning bluegrass band The Steep Canyon Rangers, and Jeff Babko.

As two titans of comedy, Steve Martin and Martin Short have conquered film, television, and the stage in the course of their long, dazzling careers. But the live shows that grew out of both their friendship and their undeniable comedic chemistry create something special enough to stand out even among the many achievements of these two show-biz veterans.

    Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "Maiden"

Upcoming:

  • George A. Romero’s "Season of the Witch" - GE Theatre at Proctors, Schenectady, Thursday 9/5, 7 PM
  • In-faux-structure - Exhibit opening reception & Beer Garden with Joe Barna’s Sketches of Influence, Stacy Dillard - Opalka Gallery, Sage College of Albany, Albany, Friday 9/6, 6-9 PM; show runs through Oct. 19
  • "The Heiress" - Albany Civic Theater, Albany, opens Friday 9/6 at 7:30 PM, runs Fri-Sun through Sept. 22
  • Neil Simon’s "Broadway Bound" - Curtain Call Theatre, Latham, opens Friday 9/6 at 8 PM, runs Thu-Sun through Sept. 28
  • Cardi B - SPAC, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, Friday 9/6, 7:30 PM
  • The National Reserve - The Hangar On the Hudson, Troy, Friday 9/6, 8 PM
  • A Bread Factory Part 1: For the Sake of Gold; A Bread Factory Part 2: Walk With Me a While Time + Space Limited, Hudson, Saturday 9/7, 2 PM, 4:15 PM (repeated Sept. 14)
  • Banda Magda - SPAC, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, Monday 9/9, 8 PM
  • Jazz On the Plaza featuring Fleur Seule - Empire State Plaza, Albany, Wednesday 9/11, 5:30-7:30 PM
  • The Growlers, w/s/g Pinky Pinky - Pearl Street Nightclub, Northampton, Mass., Wednesday 9/11, 8 PM

New movies: "It: Chapter 2"

You may know him as Mango, Mr. Peepers, the gibberish-spouting Suel Forrester, or one half of the head-bopping brothers in "A Night at the Roxbury." Not long after Chris was labeled one of the improv group Groundlings’ “must-see” performers in the company, he was cast on SNL and within the first six weeks, Chris’s film career also took off.

In his memoir "Baby Don't Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live," Kattan opens up about eight seasons on SNL, performing alongside friends and future legends including Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, and Tina Fey, and guest hosts from Charlize Theron to Tom Hanks to David Bowie.

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