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By Doug Wright

2020/21 Season

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Available for free on Youtube and the NYTW Digital Archive

In these politically tumultuous times, Artistic Instigator, NYTW Usual Suspect & Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Doug Wright believes that comedians ​have become ​the most potent truth tellers in an era of misinformation, often exceeding news sources in bringing crucial stories to the country's attention and outpacing ​pundits and elected officials.

In a series of provocative and mirthful ​interviews with some of our sharpest contemporary satirists, Doug interrogates the idea that comedians are both the culture's true patriots and fit​ the classic model of "clown" or ​"court jester" in Shakespearean drama, using humor to articulate the ​day's most pressing, urgent truths.

EPISODE LIST:

What Are You Doing with Your Sanity? In Conversation with Andy Borowitz
From his early days working with Norman Lear to his take on President-Elect Joe Biden (he'd love to paint his walls "Joe Biden white"), New Yorker writer Andy Borowitz delves into what it means to be preaching to the converted.

We Wish We Could Say That: In Conversation with Aasif Mandvi
Actor, playwright and political commentator Aasif Mandvi shares anecdotes ​from his time on The Daily Show and how his life as ​a theater artist intersected ​and informed his role as a political commentator.

A Million Tiny Revolutions: In Conversation with Nancy Giles
Actor and CBS Sunday Morning Special Correspondent Nancy Giles (China Beach, Working Girl) discusses her comedic idols, cancel culture, and the way that she relies on humor to provoke change time and time again.

Inviting Outrage: In Conversation with Paul Rudnick
Playwright and Screenwriter Paul Rudnick reflects on ​his use of humor to challenge conventions throughout his illustrious career​, including plays like Jeffrey, films like In & Out, and television events like the recent Coastal Elites.

Late Night Comedy: In Conversation with Jenny Hagel
Jenny talks the politics of comedy as writer on a daily late night show (Late Night with Seth Meyers) as she gears up to become head writer and executive producer of The Amber Ruffin Show, slated to debut this fall on streaming service Peacock.


NEWS

  • DOUG WRIGHT’s play Quills premiered off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop in 1995 and launched his career.   Other plays include I Am My Own Wife (Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize), Posterity, and books for the musicals Grey Gardens (Tony Nomination), The Little MermaidHands on A Hardbody (Drama Desk Nomination) and War Paint, which premiered at the Goodman.  He adapted and directed August Strindberg’s Creditors for the La Jolla Playhouse in 2009.  Films include the screen adaptation of Quills (Paul Selvin Award, WGA) and production rewrites for director Rob Marshall, Steven Spielberg and others. He is president of The Dramatists Guild and on the Board of The New York Theater Workshop. He has taught or guest lectured at the Yale Drama School, Princeton University, Julliard and NYU.  He lives in New York with his husband, singer-songwriter David Clement.

  • ANDY BOROWITZ is a writer and comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He became the first-ever winner of the National Press Club’s humor award for his satirical column, The Borowitz Report, which has millions of readers around the world. As a stand-up comedian he has performed to sold-out theaters across the country and has made countless television and radio appearances. His two most recent books were both bestsellers: The 50 Funniest American Writers and An Unexpected Twist. He created The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which launched the acting career of Will Smith.

  • NANCY GILES is an actress, comedian, and writer, with 4 Emmy Awards as an on-air contributor to the acclaimed “CBS News Sunday Morning”. She toured with Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe; was in the ensemble cast of ABC’s “China Beach” for three seasons and recently appeared Off-Broadway in “Good For Otto” by David Rabe. Giles created 4 solo shows with director Ellie Covan at NYC’s Dixon Place and is working on a collection of essays and true stories (working title: “Notes of a Negro Neurotic.”) She’s also a popular speaker at colleges and events across the country, and a longtime volunteer with NYC’s 52nd Street Project, working with kids from the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in visual and performing arts. Her podcast “The Giles Files” is on the Apple Podcast app, Google Play and Stitcher.

  • JENNY HAGEL is a TV writer and comedy performer in New York City. She is the Executive Producer and Head Writer of The Amber Ruffin Show (Peacock). She also writes for, and appears on, Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC), where she created the recurring segments Jokes Seth Can’t Tell and The Kind of Story We Need Right Now. Other writing credits include the Golden Globe Awards (NBC), Impractical Jokers (TruTV), Big Gay Sketch Show (Logo), Ladylike (MTV) and Head Writer of White Guy Talk Show (Fuse). Jenny lives in Brooklyn with her son and approximately 3 million loose Legos.

  • AASIF MANDVI is a Peabody award winning actor, writer, creator, comedian, author and producer. Widely known for his work on THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART, Mandvi currently stars in CBS series EVIL, created by Robert and Michelle King and last fall, launched the podcast, LOST AT THE SMITHSONIAN, where he gets up close and personal with ten of the most culturally significant artifacts of Americana at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Mandvi made his roots in New York theater under the tutelage of pre-eminent acting teacher Wynn Handman with whom he developed his critically acclaimed one-man show SAKINA’S RESTAURANT. Mandvi also received rave reviews and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for his role in Ayad Aktahr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, DISGRACED at Lincoln Center.

     

    Aside from his art, Mandvi works closely with the ACLU defending individual rights and liberties including the Deportation Jamboree that he hosted and produced.

  • PAUL RUDNICK is a playwright, novelist, screenwriter and essayist, whose plays have been produced on and off Broadway and around the world, and include Jeffrey, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, I Hate Hamlet, Valhalla, Regrets Only and The New Century. His novels include I’ll Take It and Social Disease; Playing The Palace will be published this spring by Berkley. He’s a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, and his articles and essays have appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire, Vogue and The New York Times. He’s rumored to be quite close to film critic Libby Gelman-Waxner, whose reviews have appeared in Premiere, Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker, and been collected under the title If You Ask Me. His essay collection, titled I Shudder, and his collected plays have been published by HarperCollins. His screenplays include Addams Family Values, In&Out, the screen version of Jeffrey, Sister Act and the recent HBO show Coastal Elitess.