Pretty Much Pop #70: RISKy Confessional Comedy w/ Kevin Allison

Kevin (The State, RISK!) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about his telling/curation/coaching of confessional stories. Do they have to be funny? True? How does this form relate to essays a la David Sedaris? How personal is too personal (or indicative of PTSD or something)? What’s the role of craft in this most populist endeavor? Listen at

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Pretty Much Pop #3: CONFORM w/ Yakov Smirnoff

Is media trying to brainwash us into being ALL THE SAME? Are the excesses of the mob scaring us into conformity? Mark, Erica, and Brian muse on cultural homogenization and are joined by comedian Dr. Yakov Smirnoff to talk about growing up in a repressive society and the shadow of political correctness over comedy.

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“Lysistrata” w/ Lucy Lawless, Emily Perkins, Erica Spyres, Bill Youmans & Aaron David Gleason

The PEL Players return to perform a “cold read” of Aristophanes’s play about using a sex strike to end war, first performed in 411 BCE. Jeffrey Henderson’s translation makes this very accessible, and it’s still really damn funny. Your hosts are joined by five real actors from TV, film, and Broadway. We will be following this up in ep. 188 with a full discussion of the play and the issues it raises.

We’re pleased to bring you this performance without commercial interruptions. Why not respond in loving kind by tipping some pennies into the hat?

Lucian: the Well of Laughter

Lucian of Samosata (c. 125–180 CE) was a Greek-speaking Assyrian satirist, who falls within the tradition of the laughing philosophers. He was the George Carlin or perhaps the Bill Maher of his day, eloquently mocking both the credulous masses and the charlatans who made a living off of them.

Philosophy and Comedy

William James said of philosophy, “It sees the familiar as if it were strange, and the strange as if it were familiar.” The comedian evokes laughter by making the familiar seem strange, but the philosopher’s way of unsettling us can please in a similar way.

Episode 57: Henri Bergson on Humor (Citizens Only)

On Bergson’s Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (1900). What is humor? Bergson says that, fundamentally, we laugh as a form of social corrective when others are slow to adapt to society’s demands. Other types of humor are derivative from this. With guest Jennifer Dziura. Learn more.

End songs: “The Nipple Song” (1991) and “Come On, Lady” (1990, with Ken Gerber and Brian Hirt) from Mark Lint’s Black Jelly Beans & Smokes, plus Jen’s standup.