[PODCAST] Subject Matter X, Episode 1

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of kicking off Content Pair‘s Subject Matter X podcast. Designed to highlight the journeys to expertise of magicians, sleep experts, pitching analysts…and yes, apparently me 🙂 Content Pair is a company designed to pair marketing professionals in need of expertise, with the highly qualified folks that can make their work sing – in that way, Subject Matter X is an outstanding complement to their daily work.

Bob, Todd, and I are talking about creativity in the debut episode- how I learned to love it, how you can learn to harness and use yours, and why any of this matters out in the world.

Click the image below or head to Subject Matter X to hear my episode- and several others from entertaining and brilliant experts!

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[PODCAST] Boundless Podcast, Episode 8

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of getting to talk to Paul Millerd of Boundless for The Boundless Podcast. Paul is doing some really smart and interesting work on the future of work, how we can prepare people for it, and what traits it will take to embrace and thrive in this new space.

Paul says I hold the present record for making him crack up the most over the course of an interview; if you’re into that, you’re going to enjoy this one. Thanks so much for having me, Paul- looking forward to teaming up again soon!

Click the image below or head to Boundless to hear my episode- and several others on the future of work!

[PODCAST] Higher Ed Geek, Episode 12

It was a pleasure to get to appear on my friend and fellow Defector Dustin Ramsdell’s podcast, Higher Ed Geek. If you include his stint as cohost of the Student Affairs Spectacular podcast, it’ll mark the third time we’ve shared the airwaves! In this third edition, we get a little more personal and talk about humor, book nerditude, and the empowering origin of #speakersneakers. Check out the episode– and thanks Dustin for having me on again! Remember, at five I get a zip-up hoodie. Them’s the rules.

Higher Ed Geek logo- blue text with a microphone icon in the bottom left.

Click the image above to hear the episode at Dustin’s site!

My Best Laughs of 2017

For the second year, I’m sharing a list of some of my favorite laughs of 2017. Comedy specials, live performance, movies, and TV all made the cut this year. Please note, these were far from the only things that I laughed at…not even close. But they were the ones that, when I look back on the year, stood out most clearly.

American Vandal (Netflix)

Between not having been a “Serial” person, and having missed the flurry of excitement over Making a Murderer, I wasn’t sure if I was going to “get” this spoof of investigative true-crime documentaries. Oh, but I got it. It’s pitch perfect: from the style of the interviews, to the systematic disqualification of suspects, to the deliberately vague ending…it’s all the trappings of the form, but you get to giggle about dicks. What more could you want?

Rhea Butcher, Back to Back Tour (live/iTunes)

Sadly, this year marked the end of Butcher and Cameron Esposito’s Seeso show Take My Wife, but I am pleased they took the show on the road. After riffing together for a shared set, each comic got their own set. Butcher’s, in particular, impressively addressed our current political climate without being preachy, and detailed their struggles with gender dynamics in society in a way that felt emotional and hilarious at once. The special is now available on iTunes, so go get it if you missed their tour stops!

Cristela Alonzo, Lower Classy (Netflix)

I’ve had a special place in my heart for Cristela since her explosive appearance on the NACA National stage in 2014. So anytime she’s winning, I’m smiling. Her first hour was a delight, as she spoke about her love of football (albeit for a shitty team), her upbringing in a poor family, and even the passing of her mother. Between Lower Classy and her turn as Cruz Ramirez in Cars 3 (I bet it was a left turn- HA), it’s been a great year for Alonzo- here’s to much more of her in 2018!

Detroiters (Comedy Central)

I’ve described this show as “Broad City, but with boys,” and yet I think that diminishes what longtime friends Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson have built. As local ad men Sam and Tim, they managed to hit several things I love: advertising on TV, the silliest moments of friendships, and the earworm of a jingle that is “Devereaux Wigs” (sing/screech along if you know it!). If you haven’t watched it yet, catch up before we get season 2 in April 2018 (pro tip: “Happy Birthday Mr. Duvet” is the closest to a perfect episode of television I’ve seen in a long time). And don’t ask me if I can do anything that month- I’m busy.

Hamlet (Public Theater)

Stay with me on this one. Despite being a drama, and one of Shakespeare’s sadder ones, there’s a consistent lightness to Shakespeare’s writing that often gets overlooked in dramatic stagings of the play. While you might expect the levity in this production to come from Keegan-Michael Key, it was actually Isaac who managed to find and put on display the humor inherent in Hamlet’s character. Isaac’s comedic timing is stronger than we generally give him credit for- can we please get him in a comedy next year?

Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza, The Good Place (NBC)

I have said multiple times, and will continue to harp on this for as long as it applies. While The Good Place is a great show in its own right – one of the smartest on TV right now – Manny Jacinto is doing something VERY special as Jianyu/Jason. The Buddhist monk “turned” Jacksonville party boy provides the oddest and most welcome comic relief to this band of misplaced misfits; in this second season, he’s managed to elevate the humor as a partner and foil to the occasionally stuffy Tahani (Jameela Jamil). Still holding out for a flashback to a performance by Dance Dance Resolution: We Resolve to Dance; Manny, in the highly unlikely event you’re reading…let me know who to ask about that.

Michelle Wolf, Nice Lady (HBO)

Michelle Wolf, Nice Lady (HBO): near the end of Wolf’s debut hour, she relates a story about dating a trainer from her gym and the resulting text thread. She has an audience member check her phone to confirm the texts are real; I played that role at a Providence show. Like the texts, Wolf’s show is refreshingly real about the uncomfortable parts of womanhood. Shrill voices, the grossness of balls, and needing to be “nice” are all fair game with Wolf’s trademark perspective. When I talked with her for the IBang ahead of the special’s release, she mentioned her goal was to share things that men normally talk about from a female perspective. That viewpoint was welcome, and resulted in one of my favorite specials of the year.

Roy Wood, Jr., Father Figure (Comedy Central)

We have no shortage of comedic content in this world right now, which I love BUT also means that a rewatch is a rare occurrence. This special got one. Wood’s Comedy Central hour, centered around the advice he wants to give his infant son, provides an insightful and hilarious look at Blackness in our present society. From how he imagines Oprah got smacked in Selma, to the best time to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the special carries a welcome amount of Wood’s wit that has been so welcome on The Daily Show. Well, apparently, not quite enough because I needed a second round of it.

The Standups (Netflix)

Netflix gave us at least an hour of comedy every Tuesday in 2017. On July 4th, they gave us three, built by six comics on the rise. This series gave us tastes from club comics like Nate Bargatze and Nikki Glaser, adept writers like Beth Stelling and Dan Soder, and from TV actors and standups like Fortune Feimster and Deon Cole. I like this format as a means to introduce viewers to “new to them” comics, and am excited it’s coming back for more in 2018. This sextet turns in hilarious sets; I’d seen five of the six comics live before, and yet still found new things to double over at. Keep an eye out for the second installation, and give these a few watches while you wait!

Thor: Ragnarok (Disney/Marvel)

Marvel, let Taika Waititi touch ALL your stuff. In a genre that takes itself very seriously, the director’s comedic take on Thor’s latest chapter drew me in from the first trailer. Previous installments touched a bit on Chris Hemsworth’s comedic talents; Ragnarok harnessed them beautifully. If the end of the world is coming, I hope we’re able to find humor in it the way that this movie did.

Wayne’s World 25th Anniversary Live Reading (Clusterfest, San Francisco)

My “what I did on my summer vacation” essay would prominently feature this three day comedy festival, the inaugural effort from Comedy Central. If I’m honest, this full reading, gender-bent and complete with live performances from Tia Carrere and Crucial Taunt, was truly worth the full cost of admission to the festival. Ilana Glazer as Wayne. Abbi Jacobson as Garth. RON FUNCHES AS STACY. I would have been supremely disappointed if I missed this, as Wayne’s World is one of about eight movies I know every word to. Didn’t diminish this experience in the slightest.

And, because I can’t ignore my own entry into the genre this summer, my grand debut from this past August:

What’d you laugh at this year? Anything you’d add to the list? Anything I should be looking out for in 2018?

Help Me Bring My Weird to Austin!

In recent years, the tail end of summer has brought another milestone for me: South by Southwest registration and panel season. I’m participating in the latter for the first time since 2013, and would love your help in upvoting a pair of proposals I’m a part of. Check out the details, and cast your votes (with accompanying notes!) at SXSW Panel Picker! You don’t have to be going to the festival to vote, but your voice as someone interested in these issues will make a difference to those tallying and deciding!

[Looking for other proposals? I did a roundup of ten other proposed sessions and panels that deserve “a vote and a note”!]

Read on or click on the session images for more about how I’m hoping to bring my particular brand of weird to Austin!

NSFW? Your “Professional” netWORKed Community

NSFW? Your Professional netWORKed Community

f/ Josie Ahlquist, Liz Gross, and Laura Pasquini
In 15 years, we’ve gone from “Bowling Alone” to being hyper-connected online both personally and professionally. Online communities form for personal enrichment, professional networking, and social learning. How do they help or hurt individuals, organizations, and industry? What challenges and barriers arise for community organizers? When it comes to the workplace, what happens when our online and offline life converge? Implications for both individuals and employers will be discussed.

This session will aim to answer the questions:

  1. Why do networked communities matter for professional practice and industry?
  2. What are the benefits and challenges in these professional networked communities?
  3. How do we (employers, employees, or industry) deal with these digital communities or networked professionals in the workplace?

Memes + Monologues: Lessons in Laughter for News

f/ Alonzo Bodden (Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…), Keli Dailey (News Hangover), + Jason Meier (Emerson College)

Can news outlets and journalists apply the strategies of comedians to their work, even if they’re “not funny”? With standup, late night, memes and hashtags, comedians are navigating a tense reality with skill, tackling issues head on. And we think they can teach a thing or two about how to hit “publish” on that controversial piece or have that talk with a cranky uncle. Join us for frank talk on their strategies for speaking truth to power, challenging ideas, and navigating inevitable backlash.

This session will aim to answer the questions:

  1. What about that nature of comedy makes it such an effective tool for discourse on tough topics?
  2. How can news outlets and journalists apply the strategies of comedians to their writing and discourse, even if they’re “not funny”?
  3. How can knowledge of how comedians think, write, or comment on culture help news outlets and journalists address cries of “too far” or “how dare you”?

PanelPicker voting starts on Monday, August 7th and runs through Friday, August 25th. You can vote for each panel once by creating an account with SXSW.  And be sure to leave a note detailing what you like about the proposals!

Will you also be in Austin? Know of other panels I should hear about? Let me know!

Unconventional Leadership and Student Development Reads

Having a book list front and center may have given you the indication that I’m a reader. I have 1-2 on me at all times, even in inopportune places. This has been a trait of mine for as long as I can remember- I remember a particularly heated family Disney trip, turned so after I lost a book somewhere in the park (if anyone sees Baby-Sitters Club #91, let me know so we can make arrangements)- and I’m genuinely pleased it persists.

As an educator in the college and university space who focuses so intently on creativity, the need to approach reading with students creatively is not lost on me. And I frequent circles where book recommendations circulate often, and the same names and topics appear. These recommendations are rightfully earned, as these books are thoughtfully researched and yield important conclusions and lessons. This week, however, I want to pose my offbeat answers to that question. They’re insightful, borne of life experience, and truly entertaining. Whether these recommendations are passed to individual students, or used in classes, I hope they’ll change the way you think about imparting lessons of leadership and development.

What additions would you make to my reading list for the second half of 2017?

My Best Laughs of 2016

The summer of 2016 brought me a silly but welcome challenge: writing a joke a day for 100 days as part of Elle Luna’s 100 Day Project. Despite being a prolific (if nothing else) writer, writing with the aim of humor has always proved to be a considerable, but always worthy, challenge. Writing on days where I was tired, or busy, or not feeling funny, gave me even more respect for some of the best jokes I know and giggle at.

So, as a means of rewarding the hard – and superior – work that surrounds me, I am sharing with you my list of outstanding laughs that 2016 put forth. I can’t/don’t want to play favorites, so they’re in alphabetical order. Check them out!

Ali Wong, Baby Cobra (Netflix)
The press would have you believe that the revolutionary part of this special is that Ali performs it while seven months pregnant. And while that’s true, it’s among the less interesting parts of her hilarious hour. Her jokes about bathroom stall dominance, countering Sheryl Sandberg’s “lean in” argument, and wishes to eat mango sliced by white people are hysterical.

The revolutionary part of this to me, as someone who knows several women who have struggled to have kids, was for her to write and tell jokes about those struggles. The revolutionary part wasn’t that she did this while pregnant, but that she used such a public forum to talk about how hard it was to get that way. And that matters. Infertility is both fairly common and wildly underreported, so I appreciated – and laughed at – her successful efforts to make these circumstances funny. As she says, “it’s super common, and I wish more women would talk about it so they wouldn’t feel so bad when they go through it.” Glad you did, Ali, and in such an accessible way.

Aparna Nancherla, Just Putting It Out There (Secretly Canadian)
Aparna Nancherla speaks for me. Her ruminations on struggling to work from home, moving awkwardly within office norms, and struggling with anxiety were a comforting reminder that other women out in the world are ill-at-ease in their own skin, but managing to do big things and make their mark on the world anyway. It’s especially comforting to know that this is true of another woman of color; we don’t typically get that opportunity.

I was familiar with her writing and supporting work, including the criminally underwatched Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. But this album was an exciting discovery. I look forward to making a live outing to see her part of my 2017.

Atlanta– “B.A.N.” season 1, episode 7 (FX)
Atlanta is something special. In a year that has given us a few examples that confound black TV portrayals and black humor (see also: Insecure), the surrealism and quiet humor of Donald Glover’s brainchild hit me just perfectly. Of the ten episodes released this year, “B.A.N.” is my favorite for its stark departure from its surroundings. Beyond a “bottle episode,” “B.A.N.” moves into “concept episode” territory, taking on the gestalt of a public access show about black issues. And as the sole thread between this alternate format and the show’s regular happenings, Brian Tyree Henry (as Alfred “Paperboi” Miles) plays it perfectly.

The humor is niche, to be sure, but it’s also spot-on for those familiar with the genre. It takes on the falsely combative nature of talking head television, while also poking at cultural and identity appropriation. Like the invisible car or black Justin Bieber from other episodes of the show, Atlanta cements its status as newly representative and wholly original with this episode.

Chris Redd in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
There aren’t a lot of people who have paid money for a Lonely Island album. There are even fewer who have done it more than once. But that’s who I am. So from the first mention of Popstar, I was already sold. Combine that with the fact that my honors thesis was on documentary filmmaking, including mockumentaries, and you’d think they basically made a movie for me.

This was a midweek, midday movie outing with my sister- one that allowed us to be alone in the theater, and therefore react authentically. Turns out, our authentic reaction was heaving, sobbing laughter for the duration. And the surprise source of many of those laughs was Chris Redd’s Hunter the Hungry, a bombastic and underhanded (or is he? I don’t know!) rapper who joins Connor 4 Real’s tour. I need Redd to go places. There were rumors he’d be joining SNL this year that, sadly, proved to be untrue; let’s fix this, Hollywood? Please?

Dan Soder, Not Special (Comedy Central)
When your favorite comedians recommend someone’s work, listen to them. This is how, in early May, I happened upon Dan Soder. I listened to it for the first time during the intermission of a hockey game, and got caught up enough in the laughs to miss parts of the game. And those who know me recognize that that is a big deal.

This album is comfortable in the best of ways, like a hoodie- a comparison I’d like to think Dan would appreciate. It’s my go-to album when I need a giggle, and anyone who’s been in a car with me over the past six months has been made to listen to it. You can ask, I’ve got references. As someone who loves stories and appreciates their power to bring people together, Dan’s easy conversational style appeals to me. You’ll feel the same. How do I know? Try listening to Not Special, and then seeing how many daily occurrences make you giggle afterward. Guys in tank tops. Abandoned cell phones in cabs. Crying at videos of unlikely animal pairings.

Dave Chappelle monologue, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
I believe my exact words projected to the world via Twitter when I learned that Chappelle would be hosting SNL were “AMMA’S NOT HERE ANYMORE SHE IS DEAD.” After so many years of following Chappelle – yes, even when we lost him to Africa for a bit – it was a dream come true to see him take on Studio 8H (serious question: did they lure him there with the promise of A Tribe Called Quest, or was their appearance part of his terms to do it? Anyone know?).

His monologue had the feel of his standup, which wasn’t a given when you consider the nature of his language and what the FCC tends to allow. It felt unfiltered and true to him, and that tenor was precisely what I needed on the Saturday after a historic and earth-shaking election.The full episode echoed with his frank and critically observational style of writing. I needed his perspective, and I’m so glad that SNL gave him the freedom to provide it in his own way- and I’m so glad that Netflix will be giving him the stage three times in the years ahead. We need you, man.

David S. Pumpkins, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
I can’t explain why this one tickles me as it does. I have no explanation. All I know is that the song was stuck in my head for a solid week, and I laughed harder every time I watched it. And the fact that it was Tom Hanks’ actual Halloween costume? My God.

Hasan Minhaj, Homecoming King
This is one of two live performances that made this list, which is likely remarkable given how much live comedy I consume. And Hasan earned it. The Daily Show correspondent crafted an engaging, emotional, and incredibly funny one-man-show talking about his experience as a first generation American. And from the transformation of his relationship with his younger sister, to dismaying experience “dating white” in high school, the full ninety minutes felt intimately familiar. It stuck with me for days. Because while I hear relatively few stories like his, or like mine, they exist in huge numbers- and I love that Minhaj created a companion space for those stories online. If you have the opportunity to see this show, get there. It’s amazing, no matter who you are.

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Josh Gondelman, Physical Whisper (Rooftop Comedy)
I consider myself to be a  reasonably kind person, and Josh exceeds my kindness by an embarrassing measure. And whereas most stereotypes of comedy imply shades of rudeness or even meanness, Josh manages to be wildly funny and profoundly nice at once. Wherever his writing is – Last Week Tonight, Twitter, or a terse email to a nemesis – is a happier place.

Physical Whisper is a pleasure of an album to listen to, touching on the quirks of family members and our friends at fancy events in a way that is so relatable.  As an example, I haven’t been to a wedding where this bit didn’t come to mind since the first time I heard it. So get it, listen to it, love it. It comes on cassette!

Lady Dynamite, “Jack and Diane”- season 1, episode 4 (Netflix)
I’ve written before about why I love what Maria Bamford did with Lady Dynamite. It was something I needed to see this year to deal with my own stuff. And there are so many episodes that caught my attention that could have landed on this list (give “White Trash,” “Bisexual Because of Meth,” and “Mein Ramp” a watch). But I love the episode in question (a) because it explicitly calls out how introverts fake fun at parties, and (b) a relationship ends because someone doesn’t find farts funny. Farts are funny. I’ll carry that opinion to the grave.

In a larger sense, I needed to see Maria Bamford joke about her mental illness for the same reason I and so many other women needed to see Ali Wong joke about infertility. It legitimized humor as a viable way to cope and heal for me, in a way that I desperately needed. And being able to count jokes about my anxiety as part of my hundred, came in large part because of what I saw them do. And going into the year ahead and years to come, I plan to continue laughing through it. Why the hell not, right?

Last Man on Earth, “You’re All Going to Diet” -season 3, episode 3
Last Man on Earth is a quietly hilarious staple of FOX’s Sunday night lineup- but anything that allows the minds of Clone High creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller to run free, I’m on board with. It challenges the viewer by blending legitimate drama and serious topics, with a silliness that allows it to hold its title as a comedy.

This moment, from earlier this fall, brought me to sobbing, gut-cramping tears. Easily my heartiest laugh of the 2016-2017 TV season to date. Like David S. Pumpkins, I couldn’t really explain why if pushed to use my words. But it’s the fact that moments like this can exist on a show that’s about a civilization-ending plague and the loneliness that presents, that forced my hand in adding it to this list (and yes, it was the last one added despite its relative middle positioning). So watch it. Love it. And keep it from getting cancelled because I have terrible luck in that way.

Matthew Broussard, pedantic. (Comedy Central)
I’m smart enough to recognize that most of the jokes that we see on specials or in albums originated long before we see them. And the benefit of a line of work that lets me watch comedians develop, is that you get to celebrate when they get the recognition they rightfully deserve. Whip-smart and wildly talented Matthew Broussard got that this year, and I refuse to stop talking about it.

pedantic. is an accurate portrayal of the Matthew I’ve come to know: self-aware and unapologetic in nerdiness, and yet accessibly hilarious. Yes, he knows that his face makes it a surprising development. But stick with him- you’ll laugh AND most assuredly learn something.

Michael Che, Michael Che Matters (Netflix)
Most people’s Black Friday was dedicated to a hasty return to Stars Hollow. Mine was spent watching this special, more than once. As a longtime SNL fan, this was going to be a must-watch for me regardless, but those only familiar with Che through the Update desk will find something new and hopefully entertaining about his one-hour outing with Netflix. His “Black Lives Matter” and 9/11 joke has gotten all the attention, but I’m a bigger fan of his arc on women taking hats at clubs to dance.

Che’s matter-of-fact delivery and willingness to tackle tough topics is in some ways like his Update stints that come into our home on a weekly basis, and yet there’s an element of freedom from his surroundings that feels palpable as he tackles topics like Jesus’ carpentry record, his desire to be best friends with Donald Trump, and phrases that only white people can say. For me, it was a welcome addition to my go-to stable of standup specials, and I recommend you give it a watch.

The Characters, “Natasha Rothwell” season 1, episode 5 (Netflix)
“Riddle me this! Why are you dressed for the job you have, instead of the job you want?” Tynesha, the precocious kid sent home from school is only one of the fantastic personas that Natasha dons during her half-hour turn on The Characters. Her outspoken and well-read hobo, her cadre of jury duty candidates, and willing girlfriend of “Black Bernie Madoff” Tyson Beckford pack her episode with so many outstanding moments, I can’t even name them all here. Rothwell just got upped to series regular on Insecure, and I can’t wait to see more of her. She may identify as a basic bitch, but I’m fine with it- she’s a genuine joy.

Two Dope Queens podcast (WNYC)
If you’re reading this, Jessica and Phoebe, couple things. Thank you for Two Dope Queens- it’s a welcome refuge for a black female standup geek, which up until you hit the block I was made to believe was on par with being an actual unicorn. Thank you for hitting upon the challenges of my late twenties and early thirties with equal shares of humor and critical truth. Thank you for introducing me to some of my new favorite comedians, and for introducing some of my favorite comedians to the rest of the world. And do you want to hang out when you’re in Boston? We can get nachos and walk around near the water.

I had the opportunity to see Two Dope Queens live in August, and it was such a fun experience. There was a dog there! I laughed so hard! And I got to watch Jordan Carlos crush a set- on the day that he learned of The Nightly Show’s cancellation. As odd as it might sound, that was the best part to see. Eight hours after crushing news, Jordan got onstage and killed it. Blew me away. It was a great reminder of how powerful humor can be- yes, when it’s easy to be funny, but also when it’s hard. Can’t wait to do it again in January!

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt– “Kimmy Goes to a Play!” season 2, episode 3 (Netflix)
I won’t say much more about this one, because I have written about it before. But I bring it up to reinforce the idea that some laughs can be explicitly designed to encourage you to ask questions. What was designed to be a throwaway joke about Aisha Tyler on Friends, thumped me in the chest hard. This conversation ensued (internally):

“Whoa.”

“What’s going on with you?”

“That felt weird.”

“Yeah? Why?”

“Doesn’t feel weird to assume Aisha Tyler was white.”

“Why?”

“Because she isn’t!”

“Yeah, I know. But why would Kimmy have come to that conclusion?”

“Oh, I don’t know, the whole rest of Friends’ run? There weren’t many other black people, so her reasoning was that they must have just assumed she wasn’t”

“Yup. And what was that about, by the way? Where in New York was that even possible?”

“Not now, you’re watching something, remember?” 

As I go into 2017, particularly since the grant work I’ll be doing means I’ll be watching A LOT MORE COMEDY, I plan to engage with it in ways that lean into the challenge of tough jokes. More from the previous post:

I think problematic comedy can be good. Now, unlike the Internet commenter refusing to get to the end, hear me out here. Well crafted jokes, ones not purely out for shock or amateurishly slapped together, can provoke thought and encourage the listener to examine their behavior. A joke that you struggle with is telling you something, whether you’re ready and able to hear it or not. But there are two sides to that process, and that means the listener has to be willing to rumble with it a bit.

Special Commendation: Rogue Island Comedy Festival
This past October, I spent three days in Newport, RI, watching a fantastic and diverse slate of comedians show their best stuff in one of my favorite cities. I would’ve spent four, but I had a thing…never mind. The brainchild of comedians Doug Key and Rob Greene and supported by an incredibly kind and competent support team, RICF attracts top-level local talent while also bringing national acts to a town that doesn’t always get to see them. And frankly, the commendation designation is only because I can’t identify a favorite moment. Too much good to rank! Only in its second year, I can’t wait to see how it’ll continue to grow. Try and get rid of me, guys. I’m just gonna keep coming 🙂

Coming next week: this, but with books. Stay tuned!

BONUS: a few of my favorite #100dayproject jokes. Maybe not the best ones, but my favorites!

Laughter Through Tears, Laughter Through Fears

My face still tight and salty with tears, trying to negotiate nearby luggage and an airport dinner of tacos and rice, I clumsily fired off a text:

I just cried on a plane. Are we ever going to be funny again?

It was Thursday, November 10th, and I was flying to California for a conference- a day after learning the results of the US presidential election in a crowded room from Between the World and Me author Ta-Nehisi Coates. From Wednesday morning up until that flight, I hadn’t felt much of anything. My body hadn’t yet decided if it wanted to cry or throw up (and it made its erratic uncertainty quite public while I was at another conference), but finally settled on crying as I journaled over the Mountain Time Zone, prompted by Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State.

Even as I talked out my worries with this friend, my mind raced to think of the jokes yet to be written, the hot takes waiting to be served to an at times bewildered, at times emboldened citizenry. And as a child whose family spent late Saturdays playing Scrabble and listening for Don Pardo’s signature “Live from New York…” I was of course curious about how Saturday Night Live would handle this reality, one they didn’t seem fully prepared for. Their approach delayed a ruling, which prompted me to share this question the following week:

The “tweetstorm” that followed this entry into the debate revealed some complicated feelings I have about humor in this specific instance but also humor as a whole, and I warn you that this post holds no solutions about the conflict.

Now. On the one hand, you will find few greater proponents of humor as a coping mechanism when things get tough. I’ve spoken on this publicly, and few who know me would deny it. I regularly joke about difficult things to get through them- anxiety, fear, heartbreak, and other dark moments all need to be infused with humor to make them manageable. Without this type of comedy, I’m not sure where I’d be. Surely somewhere far darker and less productive, as these hard things threatened my peace of mind and perspective. And for that reason, as a political climate emerges that unquestionably provokes many of these same feelings (anxiety and fear for sure, and also even a sense of grief), I think that this type of comedy needs to exist. It allows the marginalized to maintain some sense of power in a situation that renders them otherwise disempowered, in some cases even powerless.

However, I’m struggling to consume it. 

It hasn’t always been this way. You will find few bigger fans of Donald Trump’s SNL 2004 parody ad, “Donald Trump’s House of Wings.” I wish I could link you to it, but the powers that be have erased its existence from the Internet. It was a really catchy takeoff of The Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love),” and I still remember the slight mimicked dance my mom did around the house in the days after it aired. The very second I find it, I promise to share. What’s the difference between this 2004 turn, and the one he made as a presidential candidate, some might ask? Fair question. My honest answer: 2004 was benign. 2015 wasn’t.

This next bit involves theory. You’ve been warned, so here we go.

FastCompany recently did a rundown of comedy theory from past to present, providing a number of frameworks by which to evaluate comedy and its effectiveness, a way to decide objectively if something is funny. Their most current metric, one that I use often when explaining comedy to colleagues and students, is the Benign Violation Theory. To sum up:

Broadly, benign violations theory asserts that all humor derives from three necessary conditions:

  1. The presence of some sort of norm violation, be it a moral norm violation (robbing a retirement home), social norm violation (breaking up with a long-term boyfriend via text message), or physical norm violation (purposefully sneezing directly on a child).

  2. A “benign” or “safe” context in which the violation takes place (this can take many forms).

  3. The interpretation of the first two points simultaneously. In other words, one must view, read, or otherwise interpret a violation as relatively harmless.

As someone with an extraordinarily high burden of offense, I’ve been able to fit most things into this framework; that is to say, I find a lot of things funny. Far more than most people, and often more than is professionally advisable. I like being able to find humor in hard things; again, it’s a coping mechanism and one that I believe in strongly.

So it feels odd to be this person that consciously, willfully, turns away from jokes.  I haven’t watched an SNL cold open since the second presidential debate. I’ve seen Alec Baldwin’s Trump impersonation maybe twice. I have seen other successful approximations of Trump that do the difficult work of making this public figure funny (most notably UCB’s Anthony Atamanuik). But I can’t find the laugh. I’m finding myself in a wholly different territory from where I normally live – not only can I not find the joke, and not find funny the jokes that are out there…but I’m seriously questioning whether those jokes should exist at all. And the overly analytical part of me – the part that can generally be quieted by comedy when needed – is starting to see why.

We have a norm violation. In a big way. We’re about to see a presidency that defies convention in innumerable ways. Sometimes groundbreaking ways. And as an advocate for creativity, that’d be exciting…if the norm deviation weren’t so dangerous. Therein lies the problem: we have violations, but they’re not benign. They’re past malignant, into the realm of toxic. Those who can laugh are likely in a position to frame some of these violations as benign. And I envy them for it, because I can’t yet. Yes, some of that is based in identities that I hold (Black, female, immigrant), and the perceived threat to them. For the first four days, I didn’t laugh because I was too afraid. But much of it is also grounded in identities that I don’t hold but don’t believe should be treated as dismissively or wrongly as they are (Muslim, LGBTQ, undocumented, Latinx). 2004 Trump is laughable because he’s not a threat. 2016 Trump demands gravity because the consequences of his actions are grave.

In that regard, I’m genuinely having a hard time believing (a) that the scenario in which we find ourselves can be funny, and (b) that any attempts should be made to lighten it. This post has no answers, and I truly welcome your feedback on which side you take. Can we joke about this? Should we? What do you think?

So back to that question I posed, taco in hand, tears still drying: are we ever going to be funny again?

To quote associate professor of education Tom Miller, “it depends.”

I talked to a friend several months ago who was having a hard time writing a joke about a difficult relationship. I told him that things can be hard to write about when you’re in them, but the laugh will come when the open wound has healed. Joking from the proverbial eye of a storm is possible, but incredibly hard to do. The jokes can come later, when the threat has passed. I’d like to think this counsel applies here too. In the event that we move past this threat unscathed, the current state of affairs will be easier to laugh about. If we don’t…well, this post will require a follow-up.

This mindset requires a few things, though. Most importantly, in my estimation, it requires allowing those with complicated and unpleasant feelings about all that’s happening to feel them fully and recover from them in their own time. This may be longer than some might expect, and provoke calls to “move on,” “get over it,” or accept the fact that a side “won” or “lost.” This notion is already being challenged in conversations I’ve been a part of, and at times loudly and rudely in my presence. Such a mindset is coded in so many challenging elements – who gets to mourn, for how long, and who gets to decide – but ultimately delays the process of healing to the point of humor.

It requires the understanding that there are circumstances that will definitively keep people from laughing. The jokes we tell can’t please everyone. They’re not puppies, Nutella, or shirtless photos of Idris Elba. (Incidentally, I’ll take any/all of those as I continue to heal). And there is a difference between the joke critic who “has something to add,” and the one whose life story doesn’t allow them to laugh. One of those demands considerably more respect than the other; as we cope with humor, keeping that difference in mind is essential to the community that comedy can build.

And finally, it requires the desire to bring people to a place of brightness again. As I fumbled toward jokes, any jokes, after the election, I had to hold tightly the idea that it was worth it to laugh. I know how much I need it, and I know how hard life can be when I don’t create space to. So if you’re funny, keep doing it. We need you. If you like to laugh, support the folks who make that their life’s work.

Where do you find laughs in difficult times? How do you decide what’s okay to laugh at?

Not Just Another Manic Monday

I’ll start here: I don’t talk enough about how mental illness affects me.

I don’t talk about how I’ve learned to tell when an anxiety attack is coming on, and have left the office (or house, now) on more than one occasion to walk around the neighborhood, calming my breathing and willing my hands to unclench. I don’t talk about how, in the years before I could quantify the signs, I spent these moments under my desk with the lights off, feeling powerless to move or answer the door when someone knocked mid-meltdown. And I certainly never talk about how my mindset of near-certain doom effectively kept me out of any positions requiring on-call responsibilities.

To be clear, the fact that I speak minimally about any of the above is, in my eyes, a problem.

But I recognize where I’m getting better. In a separate conversation with a friend a few weeks ago, he was telling me about the trouble he was having writing a joke about a situation he was dealing with. My response: “you might be too close to write that joke. It’s hard to joke about it, when you’re in it.” And I will say, that’s the area in which I’ve made the most progress. For such a long time, anxiety and panic weighed on me so heavily that I couldn’t joke, couldn’t find anything funny because the world was just too heavy. The comedy of other people was what helped pull me out of it- once I realized I couldn’t laugh and worry or panic at the same time, I was hooked. Ever wonder why comedy’s so important to me? Now you know.

Two seemingly unrelated, but at the same time wholly related, events have brought me to a place of talking about this. First, I spent much of last weekend glued to Maria Bamford’s profoundly revealing and incredibly funny Lady Dynamite (streaming now on Netflix). In it, she tells a multi-layered fictionalized story about a return to working in Hollywood after a breakdown and institutionalization for bipolar disorder and OCD. I’m starting to notice that while I have spent a few of my 100 days writing jokes about the things that make me anxious, the idea of an entire show dedicated to chronicling a breakdown and subsequent return to form is still terrifying.

I’m not sure what it is about Netflix that they’ve decided to tackle the “humor and mental illness niche” – perhaps something about those affected already being in the house? I have no idea. But in any case, I suspect that a lot of things I love so much about the dark but hilarious BoJack Horseman, and hear I’ll like about Flaked (haven’t watched it yet, but it’s on the list!), draw me to Lady Dynamite. Even as I laughed through many of the jokes about common situations that I’ve felt (there’s a joke about faking a personality at a party that includes an out-loud proclamation of “I’m a natural extrovert, and so this is a pleasure” that I was standing when watching…and then was almost on the floor I laughed so hard), there was an ever-present level of awe that came from the realization that I was watching someone tell an incredibly personal story with a level of distance that left it feeling both deeply personal and relatable, while also making it really really funny. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it there, but I am forever grateful to Bamford for doing so. Watch it if you haven’t yet.

Second, and closer to my professional home, was the public disclosure of University of Cincinnati’s president Santa Ono that he’s struggled with mental illness, and attempted suicide twice. In a field that advocates strongly for student well-being but often balks at being open about struggles its own professionals face, this was a major event. I am incredibly appreciative of Kristen Abell’s response to his admission, applauding him for speaking up about how mental illness has affected him but also calling upon our colleagues to help the people that make these disclosures. She makes a distinction between an understood support for those struggling, and active support in those moments when they need help:

Here is the challenge for me: I believe that in higher education we are conditioned to say the right thing – whether we really believe in that thing or not. This is why I believe that it is easier for us to stand up and advocate for our students with mental illness – because we actually believe that is the “right thing” – than it is for us to advocate for our coworkers and colleagues. It’s one thing for students – it’s another thing when we realize we have to work with someone who has a mental illness. And while we might say that we support someone with mental illness, it’s another thing entirely when we have to figure out a way to work with that person.

In defense of higher education, we are likely far from the only field that is having trouble reconciling these two ideas. But I speak about it here because (a) we’re more vocal about it than most, and (b) it’s where I work, so that’s how I’m speaking about it.

This pair of events, at first glance, may not seem connected. But I believe they are. For those unfamiliar with Bamford, Lady Dynamite is not the first instance of her speaking out about how mental illness informs and affects her career. It is, however, the most mainstream and comprehensive conversation she’s had about it. It also highlights how her relationship with coworkers and employers, as well as family and friends, played into her breakdown and eventual return to a “normal” life. President Ono, as he discusses with The Chronicle, very nearly made this speech without any nod to how the topic at hand affected him- but chose to speak up and let his story be heard. And that shift in approach matters.

I had the opportunity to speak with Kristen, as well as the other two founders of The Committed Project (designed to reduce the stigma around mental illness in student affairs and higher education), and asked what they saw as being the ultimate vision of the initiative. My favorite answer of the three provided? In the best version of the future, the brightest of timelines, The Committed Project won’t be necessary. An initiative won’t be needed to draw attention to the legitimacy of mental health days for sick time, or time taken to ensure that depression and anxiety can be effectively managed, or that there is no shame in taking medication to manage symptoms. Whether that acceptance comes from more people speaking up, or more people being able to make their experiences accessible through humor, we have to keep working toward that brightest version of the future. By writing about it, talking about it with students, and even by joking about it, I’m committing to playing a part in that- how about you?

Parody in Practice: The Gentlemen of Humans of Higher Ed [Interview]

Last week, we discussed the nature of parody, the challenges associated with doing it well, and why it feels like the type of comedy we really need right now. This week, I want to take an in-depth look at a higher education-specific example of the form, in  (the award-winning) Humans of Higher Ed.

Developed earlier this year as a creative outlet for three professionals working in the field, Humans of Higher Ed is a Tumblr that parodies the now-famous “Humans of New York” concept. It takes many of our common frustrations and wild stories from our work, and transforms them into straightforward stories that (generally) bridge the gap elegantly between being relatable and familiar, without that “too specific to be hypothetical” feeling that prior higher education-themed Tumblr accounts sometimes had. What I love most about Humans of Higher Ed, truly, is that their desire to lampoon this field that both challenges and entertains us comes from a place of wanting to do the work well. Successful parody is predicated on an appreciation of the form that one seeks to mimic; for HoHE, that appreciation extends to the profession that makes up their site.

Here, I talk to the three founders (noted here as M, B, and J for an added air of mystery) further about how the site came to be, their writing process, and where they hope to see the project go from here.

The Humans of Higher Ed concept, or any concept that seeks to ground work with a bit of humor, appeals to be because it is a reminder that we don’t work at the Pentagon or the CIA or anywhere that can’t allow for a bit of levity. Yes, the work we do is serious, but there are also moments of silliness – or moments that can be seen as silly. HoHE plays on those moments, and expands them to help others find them when they may need them most. In fact, it was that need to see those light moments that spurred the page’s creation.

M: I think the idea first came about back in February. I was in the midst of a crazy time of year with events so I may have had an extra chip on my shoulder – or, a nicer way of putting it, [in] need for an outlet. There was also something going on in the higher ed world on social media platforms. Honestly, I can’t remember what it was, I just remember thinking it would be fun to take all of those annoying things in my work life and put a positive spin on them. I had probably just had a meeting where we discussed meetings and meetings and meetings. So annoying and so relatable. Instead of my normal backhanded or passive aggressive tweet/Facebook post I thought let’s have fun with this!

J: M reached out to me, in what, February, and another colleague with the idea of a spoof Humans of New York account, focusing on our lives in higher ed. I jumped on it immediately, as I had been missing this kind of stuff from my days as an occasional freelancer for CronkNews, which was a bit more longform satire of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Writing and engaging with the Cronk folks throughout grad school and the beginning of my career helped really ground me in a field, I felt at times, was not a right fit for me.  It taught me that there is a lighter side to the sometimes serious work we do.  HofHE is just a continuation of that for me… continually looking at higher ed through a lens of humor in order to find ways to improve and do better.  I love to write humor, and I know I could never be a good actor or stand up comic.  I need the time and editing pen writing allows to refine a joke over and over until it hits just right.

B: I came on right after the page was launched, but I’ve got to imagine the inspiration was the need for a release valve. I’m what you could call a “short-timer” in this field, meaning I’m not going to be doing this the rest of my life. I’m not even really going to be working in true Student Affairs for the rest of this calendar year. And I can appreciate, now, that maybe if I’d had the cathartic release of writing for Humans of Higher Ed – skewering and poking at the madness we work in – maybe I wouldn’t be headed to Business School in the fall.

As I learned more about their writing process, I realized just how much of their work embraces the principles that are used in true parody writing. As you ape an art form in parody, you have to do so with an exactitude that allows only a few hairs to be out of place. The team embraces that as they write. 

M: When we first started writing these, we were all nervous about doing it daily. We were afraid we’d run out of content. That was such a silly thought. At first, we started making lists and saving drafts of upcoming topics to make sure we could fill every day. After about a week of this we realized we didn’t have to. There’s enough silly things going on in our world each and every day that we can just pick one of those. I think that’s my favorite part of the whole thing.

B: I think my favorite part is seeing how close we can get to making something completely accurate while also being completely absurd. That’s satire to me. That’s the balance. My favorite writer is Kurt Vonnegut, largely because nobody rides that fine line like he does. So I look at a situation that I’ve heard about, or experienced, or imagined, and I think “What can we do to ground this in reality but tweak one minute component to make it outlandish.” Because, frankly, after 10 years in student affairs, that’s how I view our whole field: Small, but beautiful, Real moments surrounded by a loaf of the Outlandish. The people who are most able to stomach the outlandish get to savor the most real moments.

J: At this point, B and M do a lot of the writing, and I try to pitch in wherever I can.  we all pitch in and improve and deliberate on pieces throughout the day, and find the best possible pictures for posts.  It’s the most chaotic, but hilariously fun, team effort I’ve been a part of, which I think is my favorite thing.  Our Facebook messenger chats are other worldly.

An inherent uncertainty in parody lies in its reliance on volume, which means that the response to HoHE posts is highly unpredictable. It’s difficult to know which jokes will “hit,” which ones will reveal themselves as funny to the reader later, and which ones will fly right by. 

M: I don’t think we truly ever know which jokes are going to hit. There’s been a couple times where we think something is so so funny and it just whiffs. Then there’s other times where it’s like an ‘OKAY’ joke and it blows up. One of our first posts was just about how younger professionals get confused for students all the time. It was a fine post. Funny enough. But definitely should not be our most shared, liked, viewed post. Sure is though! Our most successful posts is when we can really isolate the issue. Most of the issues that are frustrating in higher ed area also frustrating outside of higher ed. Meetings are a universal annoyance. So in my mind we write the frustration/joke/bit and then place a higher ed lens over it. It’s still for the Higher Ed community but can be digested and understood by all. Lately, we’ve also gotten into the habit of trying to do a pop culturesque post a week. Sprinkling in some Game of Thrones, Lemonade, Running Man, Kanye, whatever is happening we try to pepper that in. That’s enjoyable for the audience but is also just so much fun for us.

J: The stuff I’ve written, I’ve written from personal experience.  I looked back at some of the early posts I wrote when M first approached me, and its totally cringeworthy.  Completely.  Like, I was all excited that first day M approached me about it, but if I could burn a google doc, yeah, I would burn that one. But, having worked with M and B, and growing to really understand where we want to take this, what boundaries we want to push, and what boundaries we surprisingly push, I’ve learned a lot more.

B: I have also found that the audience is 100% unpredictable. One of our most surprising “rockets”, as I’ve taken to calling our most successful posts, was the grocery shopping post, with the picture of a cart full of junk food. I wrote that, almost 100% the way it was published, standing in line at Shaw’s buying snacks for that night’s RHA meeting. That was my actual shopping cart. In my head it was “yeah, this is one of those things people will look at and chuckle for a second and move on”, but it took off in every way. People were commenting about when/why they’ve had shopping carts like that, people were tagging their co-worker who does the shopping or hates junk food or had their pro-card privileges taken away, and it was a banner day for Likes. We had over 80 people subscribe to the Facebook page that day, which is a really, really, really solid day for us. Of course, that snack post was followed immediately by the Facilities post…

As you might guess, knowing both human nature and the nature of higher education over all, not all posts are hits. Humans of Higher Ed hasn’t launched without its fair share of critics, challenges, and…those who miss the point. But as is often the case with comedy, they are learning to take those moments in stride and let them inform the writing rather than deflate it.

M: None of the topics should feel ‘off limits’ or ‘too touchy.’ I think if we’re able to isolate the realness of it all, it should be on the table. The only time we really run into issues is when someone recognizes the behavior we’re calling out and (in my opinion) reacts negatively because they are either embarrassed that they feel they are being called out or just believe that behavior is accurate.

We had one post that was relatively controversial for the language that was used. I stand by the post. In retrospect, there were absolutely some tweaks that could have been made. It’s tricky writing for someone else’s POV. In this particular instance we didn’t clearly articulate who we thought this person was and because of that people (who probably already weren’t fans) were able to misconstrue the message. On a personal level, this was very difficult for me at first. 1. You don’t want to be in the business of marginalizing people. Not a good look. 2. It’s weird when a group of people come out and voice to the world ‘You’re not funny!’ ‘This is dumb!’

I think after that day we were a little gun-shy and  tried to stay away from anything that could be controversial! But that’s silly! This is why we created the page in the first place It doesn’t mean we’re right every time we call something out. We are just trying to show different POV’s and call out aspects of our world that often go uncalled.

J: The chalk post, the INFAMOUS chalk post, was a legit post. I brought the idea to the crew because I had just gotten done yelling in my boss’s office about a group that chalked on a vertical surface on our main academic building… assholes (leave that in)… and it was prime for a HofHe take.  B took the idea and ran with it in a beautiful, multifaceted, and layered piece that just kept giving me smiles.  They day we posted that in the Student Affairs Pros Facebook group and it got primarily decried as stereotyping and offensive (we even got blamed for mocking California’s drought situation, which I will never abide by, but the other issues people brought up I understand), was rough, but it never deterred me from wanting to continue.

B: Ah, the facilities post. Or, as I remember it, “the day the internet called me an oppressor.” J had seen a social media posting of someone’s vertical-surface chalking – it was posted from their official university account – and obviously, any facilities-minded person knows vertical-surface chalking is basically the worst. THE WORST. so we decided to write something about the rivalry between facilities and chalk, since most of our various shops use chalk on sidewalks as a major “social media platform” – which is still one of my favorite lines I’ve written for this project, by the way – and very rarely do we consider how our programs impact our partners in Facilities.

I’m a huge supporter of facilities, I was actually in interviews that week for a search committee for an assistant director position in our maintainers’ shop here. So when J pitched it, I decided to take the idea and write from the heart. My family lives between pig farms and sweet potato farms in rural North Carolina. My younger brother cleans industrial floors for a living, my older sister is a hotel maid. My father made sure asphalt was level on road construction crews. Me, though, I work a desk job where I mostly process the feelings of 20-year-olds and come up with spreadsheet formulas.

When I wrote the Facilities post, I was tapping into the voice of who I really feel like I should be, my own internalized workaday voice. Not the kind of voice I routinely have to use to feel like a professional, where I use obscure words like “workaday”. When I sent that Facilities post to M and J, I honestly never felt more secure in a post coming from a good place. I wrote that Facilities person as the hero of our joke. And then the internet took a huge shit all over my intentions. Because that’s what the internet does.

I remember one person in the Student Affairs Pros group complaining that I’d written the character as someone unable to read greek letters, despite the fact that I explicitly wrote a line indicating the hypothetical worker completely got it, but the greeks just suck at chalking their own logo. One person complained that I wrote it full of grammatical errors, when in reality I *thought* I had written it perfectly, intentionally, but apparently I have internalized saying something like “them boys” for so long it actually is correct to me.
J: We had no inkling of the impact of our intent on that one, but we are very on point with each other on posts that have a clear negative or derogatory intent – they won’t fly.  Obviously, we want to write something that pleases each person, but we also know the people we don’t please will never be pleased, and honestly, they are the reason why I have to write this humor, because they make our field that much more ridiculous and unfulfilling.

B: Has “the Facilities post” changed how I write, or how Humans of Higher Ed posts? I’d like to say it hasn’t. I don’t think we’ve walked any posts back from being offensive or actually oppressive, because we’re not writing those to start with. If I’d been sending the team really offensive stuff and then finding ways to bowdlerize it down to something that won’t trigger anyone, that’d be one thing, but we don’t start anywhere near that kind of material. Conversely, it has made me more intentional about the pictures we use. I often think if we’d had a different picture for the facilities worker, more in line with the photographic tone the project routinely uses, we wouldn’t have ruffled quite as many feathers. Bowdlerize is another one of those words I don’t know why I know.

I will also say: no such thing as bad press. On the day of the facilities post we had 14 people UnLike the facebook page, and 191 people Like it. By raw number of Likes, it is Humans of Higher Ed’s 3rd most successful day. So, as some people might say: Scoreboard.
But despite the occasional misfires and rough receptions, the team plans to continue, and wants to go even bigger in the future, telling funny stories that show even wider swaths of the higher ed experience.

B: Personally I’m looking forward to how we continue to push boundaries and come as close as possible to stepping on toes. I’d love to see us writing more posts that might not even feel funny. that goes back to my Vonnegut love – the shaggy dog stories that may not go anywhere but still take you for a ride. We’ve settled into a nice groove where Friday is experimental day, because we know from DATA ANALYTICS! that Friday is our lowest day for all sorts of ASSESSABLE METRICS! so if we swing and miss on Friday, who cares? At worst, we miss out on getting a handful of page Likes, at best we connect with a new style of post that gives us another branch on the creativi-tree. God I hate myself for writing that.

I do think we need to look at who we have on our writing team, with an eye towards expansion. I’d love to see us reach out to a woman, and it’d be great if we had a person of color. having three white cis-gender dudes write for an audience we know is exceptionally diverse is a treacherous proposition, but, honestly, where are you going to find a proven comedic talent that works in higher education who is a woman of color? where oh where could one such as this beeeeeee?

(And yes, Dear Reader, I know who that’s directed toward. B, I’m still weighing it. )
And as you continue to read their posts (or perhaps discover them for the first time), I want to again drive the point home that this exercise in parody comes from a good place. 
B: For me, the core voice I write with is “I love my work, but hate my job.” So this is an opportunity to give a voice to that part of my brain that sits in staff meetings and yells “WE JUST SPENT 20 MINUTES TALKING ABOUT WHAT KIND OF SNACK BOXES WE CAN HAVE AT TRAINING!” while I have to sit there and nod and at least pretend to be a non-contentious professional. Again, I’m drawn to the idea of a release valve.
M: We are all very lucky to work in this field. It’s important work. But if we can’t laugh at ourselves then what are we doing?