Wednesday watch: How do you know it was racism?

W. Kamau Bell is one of my favorite comedians because he combines smart takes on political issues and a passion for social justice with also just being very funny. In this video from his new album, he talks about frustrations with white people not believing people of color when they say something was racist.

Wednesday watch: Riot

Refinery 29 has created a female-driven YouTube channel called Riot that is worth your time. As creative director Julie Miller told Indiewire, “RIOT is an uprising. It’s a space for women to make comedy for everyone and not feel like they have to skew male.” It features series such as “Woke Bae” with Phoebe Robinson and “How to Weep in Public” with Jacqueline Novak. This video is from a series called “Womanhood,” featuring fantastic comedians Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone. Say goodbye to a few hours of your day.

Weekend reading

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Why you should stop saying “all lives matter,” explained in 9 different ways

Trump’s VP pick Mike Pence signed a law requiring burial or cremation for aborted fetuses

Filmers of Alton Sterling, Eric Garner killings say police have harassed and detained them

Mother shot during Dallas ambush thanks police, vows to protest again as example for her sons

The first comedy school for teenage girls aims to improve comedy farm teams

5 everyday ways to teach your children about consent

Wednesday watch: Comedians in Cars Getting Abortions

Last month, the Supreme Court struck down two provisions of Texas’ draconian anti-abortion law HB 2 and affirmed the constitutional right to abortion in stronger terms than many of us had dared to hope. It was an amazing victory that gives energy and momentum to the reproductive freedom movement.

And the sad fact is, we’re going to need it. New anti-choice laws went into effect in about one-fifth of states on July 1st. There are laws in this country that mandate waiting periods, that force women to look at ultrasounds, even ones that appoint a lawyer for a fetus or require burial or cremation of aborted fetuses. Then there are anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers that trick women and try to block their access to reproductive health care.

We have a fight ahead of us, and a little humor always helps along the way. This new video from NARAL Pro-Choice America features comedians Alice Wetterlund and Nato Green in a parody of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” that shows them navigating the barriers that make it difficult to access abortion (full disclosure: I was involved in the production of this video).

Wednesday watch: Lady Dynamite

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There’s nobody quite like Maria Bamford. She brings a facility with voices and an endearing, off-kilter personality to stand-up comedy that tackles heavy subjects like her own struggles with mental illness. I was thrilled to hear she was teaming up with Mitch Hurwitz of Arrested Development on her own show for Netflix. It’s out, and it has exceeded my expectations. If you like the surreal, multi-layered humor of Arrested Development, the tone of this show will be resonate with you. In addition to being hilarious, it weaves in issues like mental illness, misogyny and racism seamlessly. Watch the trailer below, and stream the whole first season immediately.

 

Weekend reading

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Why does Hollywood keep deleting women’s faces from posters?

A “staggering number” of vets end up homeless after experiencing sexual violence in the military.

Airlines in the US are still kicking Muslim passengers off their planes for no reason.

You have to  drive an hour for a rape kit in rural America.

From Occupy to Black Lives Matter: how nonviolent resistance is shaping the 2016 elections.

Bitch Media talks to Phoebe Robinson about hilarious new podcast 2 Dope Queens.

Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter pays tribute to Prince.

Wednesday watch: it’s harder for Samantha Bee to get a costume than a gun

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Last week, I had the immense pleasure of attending a live taping of Samantha Bee’s fantastic new show Full Frontal. Not only is Bee hilarious, but she’s a pro; she managed to deliver every bit smoothly in one take. During the taping, I also realized that there were so many women doing jobs that probably are held by men on most other shows–the stage manager, the warm-up comic, the camera operator. I’m so thrilled that her show has been picked up for more episodes and her much-needed voice will continue to be on late night.

One of the segments from that episode is a prime example of just how smart and cutting her comedy can be. It chronicles how she came up against onerous regulations the NRA has for buying or renting their mascots costume, far more onerous than anything they would ever allow for gun purchases. Her approach perfectly captures the absurdity and is a must-watch.

Wednesday watch: Trump vs. Bernie

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Every day we have the unfortunate experience of waking up and remembering that Donald Trump is the leading Republican presidential candidate. On the positive side, we’re seeing enthusiasm and energy behind Bernie Sanders and his message that is changing the debate and resonating with voters. It’s perfect time for comedians to seize on what makes these candidates frightening and endearing respectively, and Tony Atamanuik and James Adomian are doing an amazing job with Trump vs. Bernie.

The debates between the two comedians have grown from an event at the UCB Theater to a nationwide tour and multiple TV appearances.  I had the pleasure of seeing this brilliant performance in San Francisco. Their impressions are spot on, but they aren’t just imitating–they’re raising important issues of our day and exposing the depth of these candidates. Atamanuik in particular has an interesting technique as Trump, both satirizing him and stepping slightly outside the character to indict the culture that let Trump happen.

Watch the trailer below. If you’re in one of the cities left on the tour, I cannot recommend it highly enough. You can also watch their special on April 27th, and get the pointed satire and nonstop laughs that you need this election season.

Wednesday watch: Grandma

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It can be hard to find a straightforward abortion story in film and TV. The delightful dramedy “Grandma” provides that, and so much more. Lily Tomlin plays a recently widowed lesbian grandmother who spends the day trying to help her teenage granddaughter scrounge up $630 to pay for an abortion. Tomlin is hilarious and touching, and the cast is rounded out with fantastic performances by Julia Garner, Sam Elliott, Judy Greer and Marcia Gay Harden. It’s a sweet movie that “passes the Bechdel test with flying colors” and treats abortion, grief and relationships with both sensitivity and humor. Watch the trailer.

Wednesday watch: Sara Schaefer dismantles a rape myth

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Every time the public or the media don’t want to believe that a well-known man committed rape, they’re quick to blame women for trying to cash in on false accusations.

In this video, comedian Sara Schaefer explores the absurdity of using rape accusations as a way to get rich quick and the lack of consequences famous men face for their crimes.