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Happy Spring ya'll! It's been longer than usual since I was last in touch but as you'll see below I've been keeping very busy performing, creating, and taking in some cool stuff that I'm happy to share with you. I won't spend too much time on a preamble here, instead I'll just say that I'm loving being in NYC since my move from Boston in the fall, I've got a lot of irons in the fire for 2019, and I hope you're all thriving and surviving as best you can.

For those of you who are new to the newsletter here's the deal: It's partly a semi-regular (every 6 weeks or so...usually) update from me about cool projects I'm working on, upcoming shows, new performance clips etc. However a huge part of each newsletter serves as a digest of dope articles/vids/books/music that I've been enjoying recently and which I think you'll dig too. Kind of like a personal mini-magazine edited by yours truly. you might not love everything I include but there should be something worthwhile for everyone here.

If you like what you're reading and want to subscribe or think a friend might like to you can do that HERE.

If you've forgotten who I am since you signed up for this list (and that's the only way you would have found this in your inbox) you can visit HERE to find a quick landing page of info about who I am and what I do complete with pics/clips/press/etc.

Thank You. Peace. Onward!

“On behalf of Wakanda I’d like to say thank you to the Academy!” OK, Black Panther didn’t win the Oscar but this jacket is still fabulous. I wore it for a Jeopardy! win last year and hosted an incredibly fun show for Rogue Burlesque in it in February. I'm probably retiring it from public events for the time being but its spirit will never die. The Pilot G2 on my shirt will be there until they stop making them tho. Many thanks for the ever talented Roger Gordy for making me look fabulous once again.
We're long past the holiday season (and I hope yours treated you well) but take it back to Christmas one last time with this presentation + article I did in honor of an all-time holiday classic. If you love Home Alone 2 as much as I do and you want to read/hear about the biggest goof in the movie, the weird nude scene that was cut, the actual name of the "Pigeon Lady", how many black actors have speaking roles, & what it took to get my hands on a Talkboy Tape Recorder in 2018 then check this!
Here's a snippet of the presentation detailing what is probably now (unfortunately) the most notable cameo in all of 90s cinema.
Trump is in This Movie: Home Alone 2
On Valentine's Day 2016 I hit ya with My 11th Grade Sad Bastard Playlist. It's a collection of songs and commentary on the music that sad sack 17-year old Wes was bumping back in the day. This Valentine's Day I've curated a similar list, going in deep on my most essential sad songs from my sophomore year of college. I wish I could say I was any less insufferable then but university is for making mistakes. If you're alone on any given night this year I highly suggest some wine, a lit candle, and this: My College Sophomore Sad Bastard Playlist. We've got an article with biographical notes for each song plus a public spotify playlist for you to take your depression with you on the go.
I had the chance to have a delightful conversation with comedian Myq Kaplan about comedy, Jeopardy!, spirituality, & working to get better at things you might never be "good" at. I've known Myq for 14 years but I think this was the first conversation we've had that both lasted for more than 3 minutes and wasn't about a comedy show that we happened to be at. It was most definitely worth the wait as he's a gracious & engaging interviewer, an extremely talented comic, and an all-around great guy. Give it a listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.
Life is weird sometimes. For example, maybe you give a comedic presentation about insects years ago and one of your talking points is the fact that the full name for Skeeter (Doug Funnie's best friend on the original NickToons series "Doug") was Mosquito. Then you make a quick tangent to point out that although he was animated with blue skin Skeeter was MOST DEFINITELY black. Then you post that clip and 2 years later a nationally syndicated public radio show gets in touch to say that they're doing a retrospective series on influential 90s media and they're taking a deep dive into "Doug" and they'd like to interview you about your thoughts on the show and how race was depicted in it. So you end up referencing James Baldwin in a discussion of Doug, Skeeter, Patti Mayonnaise, Roger, and the crew and they sample your bit. I chime in around 15:20. Like I said, weird.

The show was originally broadcast in New York on WNYC 93.9 as well as on 200+ stations nationwide but you can also listen to the story on the Studio 360 website via this link. Good times!
Of all my many job titles "Quiz Master" is both the most whimsical and magisterial. Being one for The Big Quiz Thing meant I had a chance to talk to Boston.com about what makes for a great night of trivia.

Side Note: If you like to book a custom trivia event for your office party, fundraiser, retirement celebration hit up BQT. I will come to your local Elk's lodge with a shiny jacket, jokes, and 4 rounds of questions on any topic you'd like.

Festival Season Begins!

Some years I go all-out applying to every comedy festival under the sun. Some years I'm focused on other things and I maybe apply to 1 or 2. This year definitely falls into the more festival-focused category. I've got a lot of newer material I'm excited about and I'm eager to put it in front of audiences that love comedy. Hopefully there will be more to come but thus far I'm happy to announce that I'll be appearing at the Burning Bridges Festival later this month in Pittsburgh, PA and in May I'm thrilled to be returning once again to the Women In Comedy Festival in Boston, MA. Also in May I'll be part of the Cape Fear Comedy Festival in Wilmington, NC for the very first time.

I'm jumping on a plane tomorrow to head to Pittsburgh, PA for the Burning Bridges Festival. Burning Bridges is run by comics for comics and is chock full of shows and side events. I've never been to Pittsburgh so I'm looking forward to getting my pirogi on and checking out the Warhol Museum and The Mattress Factory.

WICF is without doubt my favorite of any comedy festival I've ever been to. I never miss a chance to go if I can because of the incredible workshops, hilarious shows, and the amazing and supportive vibe that abounds there every year. If you're in or around Boston May 2-5 and you like to laugh you should absolutely come through.



As I've said I've never done the Cape Fear fest but I've heard great things and it looks like it's run by people who know how to make a festival as accommodating as possible for comics. Also, random nerd motive:  I just finished a great book on the American Civil War and I'm keen to check out some historic battlefields if possible.

Roy Wood Jr. is one of the best comics doing right now and his latest special No One Loves You did not disappoint. Check out this sketch he did to accompany one of the bits on it.
My Great Aunt on my mother's side, Dr. Rena Karefa-Smart, passed away earlier this year at 97. To say that she was both professionally accomplished and adored by her family would be the twin understatements of the year. As it happens I personally did not get to spend a great deal of time with her and I'm sorry to say I was relatively in the dark regarding just how incredible her life and achievements were. Like, truly. I'd thought I'd put together a halfway decent resume for my age with a New England Emmy and some Jeopardy! wins under my belt....but nah. She was blowing me out of the water at every stage of the game.



To quote just a bit of her obituary in the New York Times:

 
"In addition to her achievement at Yale — from which she graduated in 1945, when black women on any college campus were extremely rare — Dr. Karefa-Smart was the first black woman to earn a doctor of theology degree from Harvard Divinity School, in 1976. She was also the first female professor of any color to receive tenure at Howard University School of Divinity, in 1979."

...

"After Yale, her career was shaped largely by that of her husband, Dr. John Albert Musselman Karefa-Smart, whom she married in 1948. A medical doctor and minister from Sierra Leone, he went on to become a prominent diplomat and politician. He helped bring about Sierra Leone’s independence from Britain in 1961, served as the country’s first foreign minister and led its delegation to the United Nations."

...

"While in Sierra Leone she developed empowerment groups for women, teaching them about family planning and how to earn an income. In Geneva she was active in the World Council of Churches and helped create the Program to Combat Racism, aimed at pressuring South Africa to dismantle its apartheid system.

She and her husband wrote a book, “The Halting Kingdom: Christianity and the African Revolution” (1959). She also raised their three children."

 


 

Oh, btw. Random bit of family history: After learning last year out of nowhere that I'm an 1/8th white, I found out a few weeks ago at Aunt Rena's service that James Baldwin (yes, THAT JAMES BALDWIN) was my great uncle in law. That is astounding to me and I really can't comprehend how I never knew this before but I'm convinced these 2 facts more or less balance out.

 
One of the absolute best things I've read in 2019 so far. GOT DAMN! This essay is so so good. Lauren Hough describes her time working as a "Cable Guy" for ten years as a politically liberal lesbian woman operating in Virginia. I cannot count all of the terrifying, infuriating, hilarious, WTF?! moments contained in this. I did customer service in some form for 17 years of my professional life and while there are infinite satisfactions to be found in helping a person in need the job comes with an equally infinite amount of slights, frustrations, trials, and moments of exasperated fury. But I was always on home turf. Either at MY place of work or on a phone or computer safely physically cushioned from the hostilities or unfathomable weirdness of customers. Hough had to go inside the lairs of her clients, and get right up next to their anger, prejudice, and sex dungeons. I also didn't have to do backbreaking labor in every conceivable element. Wild.

This piece has so much to say about service work, misogyny, class in America, and quite a few other things. I cannot recommend it enough.


I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America.

"That’s the thing they don’t tell you about opiate addiction. People are in pain because unless you went to college, the only way you’ll earn a decent living is by breaking your body or risking your life — plumbers, electricians, steamfitters, welders, mechanics, cable guys, linemen, fishermen, garbagemen, the options are endless.

They’re all considered jobs for men because they require a certain amount of strength. The bigger the risk, the bigger the paycheck. But you don’t get to take it easy when your back hurts from carrying a 90-pound ladder that becomes a sail in the wind. You don’t get to sit at a desk when your knees or ankles start to give out after crawling through attics, under desks, through crawl spaces. When your elbow still hurts from the time you disconnected a cable line and your body became the neutral line on the electrical feeder and 220 volts ran through your body to the ground. When your hands become useless claws 30 feet in the air on a telephone pole and you leave your skin frozen to the metal tap. So you take a couple pills to get through the day, the week, the year. If painkillers show up on your drug test, you have that prescription from the last time you fell off a roof. Because that’s the other thing about these jobs, they all require drug tests when you get hurt. Smoke pot one night, whether for fun or because you hurt too much to sleep, the company doesn’t have to pay for your injury when your van slides down an icy off-ramp three weeks later. I chose pot to numb my head and body every night. But it was the bigger risk."
 
I saw this image on Instagram a while back and I've thought about it a lot. A portrait of Bill Cosby with three dimensional rats used for his moles. By Bette Carney at the Winston Gallery at Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove in New Bedford MA.
Kyung Me (NYT)
Comedian Jo Firestone wrote an excellent piece for the NYT about grief. Rather than telling you why I think it's great I'll just quote it at length here. Be sure to check it out.

“If you also grieve, I am sorry. Because it’s not only that someone has died, but that no one alive seems to know what to do about it. Some people will disappear or will silently drop off lasagna, while others will push you too hard to try Zumba. The bottom line is that people hate to see you broken and will fumble to help you get through it. So here I fumble, offering you what has helped me:

Buy foods that are easy to prepare, and make it your only goal to eat them before they go bad.

Save your darkest thoughts for a journal, and never reread this journal. Label it in such a way that no one will ever be tempted to read it, like, “My Longer Dream Interpretations” or “A List of My Moles.”

When you think about the person who is gone, try to remember everything, not just the good. Remember the fights. Remember the small annoyances. It’ll keep the person whole.

Accept awkward apologies and flowers. Try your best to love other people besides the one you lost.

And finally, whatever people tell you, do not start reading that Joan Didion book.”

 
Martin Luther King Jr. Was More Radical Than You Think

A most worthwhile piece from Ben Passmore (via The Nib) about how Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideology has been de-fanged and co-opted in the decades since his murder. I really appreciate how justified reverence for the radical/intersectional nature of Dr. King's late-career theory (with an emphasis on economic justice) is placed next to a reasoned opposition to non-violence at all costs, no matter the circumstances (such as your opponent having demonstrated a complete lack of conscience...). MLK was a complex man who is revered by a great many Americans but beyond the bus boycott, the I Have A Dream Speech, and *maybe* Selma Bridge I think precious few people know anything about his ideology, his methods, or how he was viewed by contemporaneous Black leaders.

 
Tierra Whack is one of my fav new artists. Flow, production, style, you name it, she can do it all. If you missed out on 2018's Whack World, her collection of one minute songs that boiled every musical style that you can think of down to its essence then please go ahead and correct that now, you'll thank me. She's been dropping a string of singles as of late and this track, Clones, is my 2019 banger of the year so far. Bass so deep it scrapes the bottom of the ocean floor.
Thanks so much for reading! Please go ahead and subscribe if you think you'll want more and tell a friend if you think they'll like it. You can check me out on social media using the links below if you'd like more regular updates.






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Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer. · 121 East Vanston Rd. · Stoughton, MA 02072 · USA

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