An Open Letter To People Who Think Women Aren’t Funny

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Despite Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Jessica Williams, Maya Rudolph, Amy Schumer, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa McCarthy, Sarah Silverman, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kate McKinnon, and many more, some men think you can’t be hilarious and also have boobs. So when I started doing stand-up in 2008, comedy club bookers and established comics shared a tip: Dress down so the focus stays on the jokes. No skirts allowed (short ones read video vixen; long ones suggested sister wife). No clingy shirts or deep Vs because: boobs. No LBDs or high heels. I took the advice to heart, striving mightily to forget everything I’d picked up from fashion magazines and present myself instead as a walking fashion don’t. At my early gigs, I dressed all in black, like I was about to bust a Bob Fosse move in a dinner theater rendition of Chicago. My standard getup was some variation of jeans, sneakers, vest, and button-down. I was like an alien arriving on Planet Slay Me: “I come in peace. I’m wearing Chuck Taylors. Give me a chance, dude.”

Thanks to another “rule” about women not being “girly,” I avoided jokes that revolved around dating, periods, feminism, and sex (unless at my expense). Every time I had a good set, I worried that a male comic might get mad. (This happens a lot.) I deflected compliments from audience members.

Then I turned 30. It struck me: I was living in New York City. I’d found my calling. I could afford Netflix and Hulu. I was killing it at my shows and parlaying my comedy into acting gigs and writing jobs. Not once had someone commented, “Oh, wait. Now that I notice you’re a woman, every bit you’ve ever performed retroactively sucks. You tricked me into thinking you were a guy by wearing jeans.” I was on fire. Didn’t I deserve to look hot on stage?

I began overhauling my work wardrobe to mirror what I wore in real life. Boho maxi and body-hugging sweater dresses with Louboutins or thigh-high boots. Leather miniskirts and skintight jeans that made no excuses for my butt. (I eat a lot of bread to maintain that tush!) If I was going for greatness, I couldn’t keep hiding—from my true style or my best material. I retooled my act and started drawing on breakups with guys, awkward moments in interracial dating, and funky female grooming habits. I got used to standing Os, and I stopped worrying about whether anyone would resent me for them.

I recently performed braless in a tiny tank top and jeans. Granted, I’m only a 34A, so not that big a deal, but I did devote five minutes’ worth of jokes to it, probably because I was a little self-conscious. #ImAWorkInProgress. No one in the audience seemed to fixate on the fact that my boobs were roaming free like loose blueberries in the bottom of a Whole Foods shopping cart. They only cared that—like all the women before me—I made them laugh.

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Ryan Adams Gives Us Something Good With ‘Prisoner’ Tour

Signs warning against the use of flash photography were plastered on almost every door at the Beacon Theatre Tuesday night, as Ryan Adams was set to take the stage for his first New York City show on his extensive Prisoner tour.

Adams has Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that can cause a range of symptoms including vertigo, nausea and hearing loss. Flashing lights lead the singer to experience imbalance and can perhaps cause seizures, so a tour manager once again reminded the sold-out crowd to turn off their cameras’ flashes before his set began. 

Not only did this make Adams’ experience better, it changed the entire vibe of the show for the audience ― in the best way possible.

The stage was decorated with old-school TV monitors of all sizes, huge Fender speakers and stuffed tigers. A Tiffany-style lamp sat near the piano with a coat rack close by. The mood was intimate, as Adams would sing some of the more somber songs off his new album “Prisoner,” a combination of “breakup” tunes which he says are associated with the end of his marriage to Mandy Moore and the desire to move on.  

The audience stood and cheered while he opened the night with his rock ballad “Do You Still Love Me?” There were no flashes, no cameras in your face. Adams’ fans were actually taking in the moment rather than documenting every second of it ― a welcome change in the current tech-crazy world we live in.

‪SET LIST. NYC. The Greatest City in the World. ‬ ‪@BeaconTheatre Night 1 ‬

A post shared by Ryan Adams (@misterryanadams) on

The rest of the show was equally as personal, with people singing along to the lyrics of “To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High),” “Gimme Something Good,” and “New York, New York,” which Adams performed solo with a guitar and harmonica. (Lots of girls, and guys for that matter, “woo’d.” And “ooh’d” and “ahh’d.”)

Adams has a way of hooking you in while barely speaking. He’s not the type of artist who’s going to talk to the crowd after every single song, cracking jokes while explaining why or how he wrote something like “Come Pick Me Up.” Yes, he throws out some one-liners here and there ― and introduces his backing band in an entertaining bit ― but clearly it’s all about the music, atmosphere and set list for him.

Although Tuesday night didn’t include a performance of any of his “1989” covers ― “Welcome To New York” would’ve been a nice addition, no? ― or his gloomy radio single “To Be Without You,” the artist made sure to give his NYC fans what they wanted: pure Ryan Adams, lyrical storytelling through that rugged, emotive voice. 

Amen, man. 

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World War II Veterans From Around The World Tell Their Own Moving Stories

The word “veteran,” at least to Americans, is likely to elicit an image of a reverent man, chin held high. But, as photographer Sasha Maslov illustrates in his new book, Veterans: Faces of World War II, veterans from a single, recent war include a huge swath of people, with wildly different perspectives. 

One of his subjects ― from Austin, Texas ― lamented that he got swept up in the draft and had to witness the loss of so many friends. But several others signed up willingly, including Themistoklis Marinos of Athens, Greece, who voiced his enthusiasm for fighting “against invaders.” Maslov took Marinos’s portrait sitting in his living room, surrounded by crosses and other religious iconography. 

His story is among the dozens told and chronicled by Maslov, who aimed with this book to collect veteran stories from around the world and to thereby illustrate just how far-reaching the effects of World War II were.

“The scale of this conflict was so large that I wanted to show as many angles of it as I could,” Maslov told HuffPost in an interview. “Then I discovered that in many countries, including the United States, the view of World War II is somewhat shaped by what is being taught in schools or what the ‘government line’ is, so it often isn’t accurate. That’s why it was so important to get the stories of the people who actually participated in the war and witnessed it first hand.”

When he began the project in 2011, Maslov wanted to be sure to capture not only his subjects but their environments, and how their homes and other personal spaces reflected their personalities. “The folks I photographed for this project had lived in their houses for a long time, so their homes said a lot about who they were,” Maslov said.

“With the rise of hatred globally, maybe this is a good time for this,” Maslov said. “What I’m afraid of is that people in need of history lessons now are not seeking education.”

Read a few excerpts from Maslov’s book below:

Imants Zeltins, from Bauska, Latvia

“By February 1, 1945, the Americans had invaded Germany. The soldiers put signs on hospital doors that forbade patients to leave the area. After a few days,
all the Latvians there got together and literally cried, not because the war was ending, but because they knew Latvia would be once again occupied by the Russians.”

Richard Overton from Austin, Texas, United States

“I didn’t want to go to war. Uncle Sam picked me; he enlisted me. […] I lost a lot of friends. Everybody in the army was my friend. I did regret going, but after I went, I was glad I went. I learned a lot.”‘

Anna Nho, from Almaty, Kazakhstan

“In 1937, many Koreans were deported from the Far East [of Russia]. We were transferred to Karaganda in Kazakhstan. They put up tents for housing. A few families lived in each one, but it was so cold that someone died every day.”

Themistoklis Marinos, from Athens, Greece

“I finished my school in Zakynthos and then moved to Athens to study economics. To finance my studies, I was also working odd jobs. When the Italians attacked Greece, I was called to arms, and I stopped studying.

“When the war was declared, we were very enthusiastic, and we were looking forward to fighting against the invaders. The Germans and Italians took over Greece, and I left for Crete, which was still free.

“With no practical experience in the military, I took part in the Battle of Crete.”

Jaku Kikuchi, from Tsukuba-Shi, Japan

“All these American planes would fly over and bomb us. When the Japanese airplanes met them in the air, the Americans would shoot them down. I do remember being very scared then.”

Images (c) Sasha Maslov from Veterans: Faces of World War II (c) 2017, Princeton Architectural Press.

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J. K. Rowling Magically Trolls Donald Trump For Tweeting In The Third Person

J. K. Rowling just couldn’t resist.

The Harry Potter author gleefully mocked President Donald Trump after he tweeted the following message in the third person on Tuesday:

Here’s how Rowling responded:

Trump often refers to himself by his surname, rather than by using the words “me” and “I.”

It’s a habit that Harvard Medical School professor Elsa Ronningstam says people with “an exaggerated view of how great” they are sometimes use to make themselves appear even bigger.

Trump’s tweet and Rowling’s retort did not go unnoticed by other Twitter users, who seized on the posts to also poke fun at the president.

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Finally, The Trailer For ‘The Dark Tower’ Is Here

After 10 years of development, “The Dark Tower” is at least headed to the big screen. The first trailer previews a stormy adaptation of Stephen King’s series about an 11-year-old adventurer (Tom Taylor) whisked to another dimension, where he becomes involves in a plot to save the world. Idris Elba plays the Gunslinger, who is on a quest to stop the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) from destroying the titular tower. 

J.J. Abrams was attached to direct when the movie was first announced in 2007, then Ron Howard took over, and now Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel (”A Royal Affair”) is steering the ship. “The Dark Tower” opens Aug. 4.

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Ivanka Trump’s ‘Vapid’ New Book Earns A Series Of Savage Reviews

The reviews are in: Ivanka Trump’s new book is “vapid” at worst, “earnest” at best, and “a strawberry milkshake of inspirational quotes” somewhere in between.

Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success went on sale Tuesday and seemed to immediately incite criticism from all corners of the internet. Trump has explained that the book is meant to “inspire you to redefine success and architect a life that honors your individual passions and priorities.” However, the self-help disquisition has been described in noticeably harsher terms in the book reviews that have come out since its release. 

Take, for example, The New York Times’ Jennifer Senior, who indeed described the book as “a strawberry milkshake of inspirational quotes” “perfect for a generation weaned on Pinterest and goop.com,” adding:

Self-actualization is the all-consuming preoccupation of “Women Who Work.” In this way, the book is not really offensive so much as witlessly derivative, endlessly recapitulating the wisdom of other, canonical self-help and business books — by Stephen Covey, Simon Sinek, Shawn Achor, Adam Grant. (Profiting handsomely off the hard work of others appears to be a signature Trumpian trait.) For a while, it reads like the best valedictorian speech ever. 

Business Insider’s Kate Taylor agrees, at least when it comes to Trump’s penchant for regurgitating other people’s advice.

The book […] reads like a mashup of countless essays and articles written in the past decade aimed at female entrepreneurs.

That isn’t to say all the advice is bad — it’s just that little is new. The book borrows heavily from books like Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston’s “How Remarkable Women Lead,” and backlogs of IvankaTrump.com

So does NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben:

Often, the melange of quotes and how-to lists give the book more the aesthetic of a Pinterest board than a career guide.

In a review for Slate, Michelle Goldberg focused more on Trump’s often unchecked privilege, summarizing the book as “a celebration of the unlimited possibilities open to working women when they have full-time household help” that “exploits and cheapens feminism.”

The review really picks up around the second use of the word “vapid”:

As vapid as Women Who Work is — and it is really vapid — there is a subtle political current running through it, one that helps explains how the socially liberal Ivanka can work for her misogynist ogre of a father. Beneath the inspirational quotes from Oprah and the Dalai Lama and the you-go-girl cheerleading, the message of Women Who Work is that people get what they deserve.

[…]

Her worldview, it turns out, is not so different from her father’s. Both see society through the lens of quasi-mystical corporate self-help, the sort pioneered by Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking and a major influence on Donald Trump. In their schema, success is proof of virtue and people are to blame for their own misfortune. If Ivanka Trump hasn’t expressed any outrage at the cruelties her father is inflicting on the poor and vulnerable, it may well be because she doesn’t feel any.

HuffPost’s own Emily Peck similarly remarked upon the First Daughter’s inability to “realize just how much being wealthy, white and famous helped her out in life.”

Trump’s book, written before the election but published Tuesday, is a grab-bag of generic work-life advice for upper-middle-class white women who need to “architect” (a verb that pops up a lot) their lives. But underneath that, and perhaps more remarkable, is Trump’s inability to truly recognize how her own privileged upbringing was key to her success.

Even Boston Globe’s Beth Teitell tongue-in-cheek appraisal speaks volumes:

Ivanka’s life seems pretty smooth, but in her book she reveals struggles, like the time Anna Wintour heard that she was about to graduate from college and called out of the blue with a job offer, a challenge familiar to many aspiring writers.

Ultimately, under the headline “We read Ivanka Trump’s insufferable new book so you don’t have to,” Mashable’s Chris Taylor packaged all the complains into one succinct sentence:

Here is proof that a female CEO can write a business book that is just as bad — just as padded with bromides and widely-known examples and self-promotion and unexamined privilege and jargon — as one written by an overconfident male CEO. 

Some reviews have, of course, been less critical. Meera Jagannathan described the book as “an earnest (if sometimes unrelatable) treatise on work-life balance, motherhood and workplace empowerment” in The New York Daily News.

The Associated Press apparently enjoyed the book’s earnestness as well: “’Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success’ offers earnest advice for women on advancing in the workplace, balancing family and professional life and seeking personal fulfilment,” the review reads.

In fact, “earnest” must be the euphemism of the week ― Maya Oppenheim noted the book’s “somewhat earnest tone” in The Independent, too.

Women Who Work currently boasts three out five stars on Goodreads, with only two written reviews submitted so far. It’s fairing slightly worse on Amazon, earning only two and a half stars (out of five) from reader reviews there.

Book world ire is hardly new for Trump, though. Just last month, a horde of social media-savvy librarians schooled the author after her tone-deaf #NationalLibraryWeek tweet. It’s hard to believe they’ll be stocking her books on shelves anytime soon.

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Hillary Clinton Borrows ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Resistance Slogan In Planned Parenthood Speech

Even Hillary Clinton can admit The Handmaid’s Tale feels a bit more relevant now.

In a speech to celebrate Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary Tuesday night, the former Secretary of State recalled a phrase from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian feminist classic. A politely sanitized version, that is.

The protagonist Offred, whose name comes from “of Fred” to indicate her subservience to the commander of her household, is comforted in the novel by a phrase she finds secretly carved in her room: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” The book documents life in a new militant theocracy on the grounds of what used to be the United States, where Offred is routinely raped in her role as a surrogate for an elite couple.

From the Latin, she finds an English translation: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

“To paraphrase Margaret Atwood, ‘We can never let them grind us down,’” Clinton said, after recalling her own relationship with the 1985 novel.

“We come tonight to celebrate the last 100 years, the progress that so many generations have fought so hard for,” Clinton said at the Planned Parenthood event. “What a time it is to be holding this centennial. Just ask those who’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale, a book I read and was captivated by years ago.”

She was careful not to raise too many eyebrows. 

“Now, I am not suggestion this dystopian future is around the corner,” Clinton continued, “but this show has prompted important conversations about women’s rights and autonomy. In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ women’s rights are gradually, slowly stripped away. As one character says, ‘We didn’t look up from our phones until it was too late.’”

“It is not too late for us,” Clinton assured, so long as supporters of women’s rights “keep fighting.”

“Progress is never fully won. It has to be renewed generation after generation. We stand on the shoulders of the women and men who came before us, and march alongside young activists who are leading the way forward.”

In addition to renewed popularity in libraries and book clubs, The Handmaid’s Tale has been recently adapted into a Hulu series starring Elisabeth Moss, which is available through the streaming service now. In light of its debut, a steady stream of writers have drawn parallels between the book and current events; topics surrounding women’s rights and health have been thrust into international spotlight as a man who once boasted about sexually assaulting women became America’s 45th president.

The author herself has chimed in more than once about her work’s lasting importance, stating in a Time interview that she “made nothing up,” despite the novel’s seemingly unthinkable picture of misogyny.

“The control of women and babies has been a part of every repressive regime in history,” Atwood recently told the outlet.

Planned Parenthood has been under threat by the administration of President Donald Trump, who last month signed a resolution allowing individual states to withdraw funding from the women’s health care provider. Trump appointed an anti-contraception advocate, Teresa Manning, to a top spot within a federal family planning program this week.

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TBS’s ‘Star Wars’ Movie Marathon Airs Thursday So You Can Take The Day Off

Are you sitting down for this? Good, because that’s how you might spend Star Wars Day on Thursday.

TBS is airing the first six “Star Wars” movies to mark the worldwide celebration, Deadline reported. 

The space-saga marathon blasts off with “Star Wars: Episode I ― The Phantom Menace” at 6:40 a.m. and concludes with “Star Wars: Episode VI ― Return of the Jedi.”

Get those snacks ready. Maybe joust with your plastic lightsaber for exercise between films or during the limited commercial breaks.

The cable channel plans to make the marathon an annual event, MovieWeb noted.

Here’s the full schedule:

Here is the full May 4 schedule (Eastern and Pacific):

6:40 a.m. – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
9:25 a.m. – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
12:20 p.m. – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
3:10 p.m. – Star Wars: A New Hope
5:40 p.m. – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
8:15 p.m. – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

As revelers say to mark May 4’s Star Wars Day, “May the 4th be with you.” 

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This Cheeky Instagram Page Is Dedicated To Vacation Butt Shots (NSFW)

Now this is an Instagram page people can really get behind.

It’s called @CheekyExploits and it’s dedicated to bare butt shots of people on vacation.

Whether on the sand …

The snow … 

At a vineyard in France … 

In an alley …

Or on a hotel balcony …

The page is the brainchild of a 31-year-old woman in London who prefers to only be known as “Cheeky.”

She started @CheekyExploits last July after being inspired by an account following one man’s butt around the world.

“I thought this was such a fun idea and my friends, husband and I already had a small collection of photos similar to this,” Cheeky told HuffPost. “So I started the account as a fun way to share them amongst our friend group.”

From there, Cheeky managed to convince strangers to pose for her. Then she started getting submissions through the account and it has just snowballed from there.  

“I never meant for the account to necessarily be about travel and certainly never intended to start a trend,” she said. “It was just a bit of fun and, also, I enjoyed encouraging people to be comfortable with their bodies and participate for the thrill and confidence boost.”

Cheeky is upfront about which spots make the best butt photos.

“The most friendly butt locations tend to be fields, cliffs and beaches,” she said. “I find that people are more comfortable stripping down when they can do so with less risk.”

Although some people might think the page is asinine, Cheeky insists she has standards. She turns up her nose at pics that are too close-up, just someone in the mirror in their bedroom or overtly sexual.  

Cheeky is getting so many submissions that she jokes her life is becoming one big butt pun, “and my friends don’t miss the opportunity to make one.”

Still, she has dreams of the butt pics she’d really like to see.

“I would to love take one in a rainforest with monkeys climbing around,” she said. “Or another one that I think would be really cool is in Giza with a camel!”

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Celebrate Body Positivity With Outspeak

May is Body Positivity Month here at Outspeak and we’re going to be celebrating bodies of all shapes and sizes, and exploring our complicated relationships with them.

Over the course of the month, Outspeak will cover topics such as illness and disability, fitness, body dysmorphia and eating disorders, self-expression through physical means, media representation, and misconceptions about bodies. There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to our flesh vessels, so let’s get this conversation going.

If you currently have a video, or are interested in creating one related to body positivity, send it to us via Facebook or Twitter. Or email your submissions to social@outspeak.tv.

Your video has the opportunity to be featured on Huffington Post’s massive social media pages, on Outspeak social media, and you have the chance to be featured in an article on HuffingtonPost.com. For an example of how these features look. Check out our recent #YourVoteYourVoice Election campaign.

Please keep the following in mind for your videos:

  • Make sure you’re shooting in a well-lit, non-distracted environment.
  • Keep the shots well-composed and in focus.
  • Keep the video short. 1-2 minutes preferred.
  • Keep the video focused on one theme. People will listen if you can speak focused and passionately.
  • Take a unique approach. How is this personal to you? Why is this issue in particular something you’re passionate about?
  • Do not use offensive or derogatory language. If used maliciously or recklessly, your video will not be considered for circulation.

If you have any questions, please contact us at social@outspeak.tv or give us a shout on Twitter.

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