Two weeks ago, I came across a video on Twitter called #RecipesForThePeople. It was a cooking video posted by José Andrés, a Spanish-American chef and founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. In this six minute clip, Andrés and his daughters made angel hair pasta and tomato sauce as they sang and danced their way through Hamilton. The internet went crazy — from, “I did not think I could love José Andrés more. I was wrong.
Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, two of America’s most well-respected veteran comedians, won’t perform on college campuses. Their reasoning centers around the usual complaints about political correctness, assuming that today’s young people don’t appreciate, or maybe can’t even handle, the types of humor they tend to use in their sets. High-profile examples of clashes between college audiences and comedians are ripe for cherry-picking. Last December Nimesh Patel, a writer for SNL, was pulled off stage in the middle of a set at Columbia University after one of his jokes was deemed too offensive for the event: an example that fits snuggly into the idea that college students can’t take a joke. But in an op-ed in The New York Times that followed the incident, Patel himself acknowledged a complexity that this stereotype doesn’t completely capture, writing, “I do not think we should let the actions of a small group — actions that get blown out of proportion because they feed a narrative many people want to hear — paint college campuses as bad places to perform and paint this next generation as doomed.”
I talked to students who perform comedy at Cornell, at other universities and in cities across the United States.
I’d say we all enjoy political comedy now and then. Whether it’s making fun of Hillary Clinton dabbing or making fun of anything Donald Trump tweets, nothing feels as good as teasing those in power. So, when I first saw ads for The Death of Stalin, I was thrilled. It’s a British film based on the French comic La mort de Staline, and only recently opened here in the United States. The film has some weak points here and there, but manages to deliver plenty of laughs and has a good heart.
Writing music criticism all too often feels like shouting into the void. When musicians remark on criticism, they often do so cautiously. Consider St. Vincent’s answer to Jessica Hopper’s question about her public image in a 2011 Village Voice article: “I have one answer for you if the tape recorder is on, and another if it’s off.”
Thus, when musicians openly engage their critical counterparts, it is a rare and valuable occurrence. As such, alt-country artist Ryan Adams’ rage-filled voicemail to concert reviewer Jim DeRogatis is an irreplaceable resource on music criticism, just as important as any Lester Bangs masterpiece.