@jonnysun presents

The Online Humor Conversation Series at MIT

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Generously funded by the MIT De Florez Fund for Humor, in association with the MIT Media Lab's Center for Civic Media, and co-sponsored by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

 
 

The Online Humor Conversation Series at MIT brings comedians working online in conversation with academics and researchers to discuss humor's impact and influence on the internet, society and culture. 

Free and open to the public.

 

SPRING 2017

UPCOMING EVENTS

Resisting Trump through Humor. The comedians behind the Tax MarchMaura Quint (The Onion, New Yorker, McSweeney's) and Frank Lesser (Emmy-winning writer, The Colbert Report), in conversation with Kate Coyer and Jonny Sun. On humor, social media, and protest. Thursday, May 18. 5-6:30pm. Media Lab. E14-633.

Emmy-winning Colbert Report writer Frank Lesser and New Yorker humorist Maura Quint (who also was an executive board member and national organizer of the 2017 Tax March) stop by the MIT Media Lab to discuss how a single Twitter joke inadvertently helped start the 2017 Tax March, their involvement in organizing the March, the relationship between humor and protest, activism through social media and networked protest, and how to resist Trump through comedy. In conversation with Dr. Kate Coyer (director of the Civil Society and Technology Project at CEU) and comedian Jonny Sun. Free and open to the public. RSVP here.

5:00pm-6:30pm. MIT Media Lab, E14 Lecture Hall (E14-633) on the sixth floor. 75 Amherst St, Cambridge.

Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.

This event will be live-streamed through Periscope at @MITHumorSeries.

This event is also sponsored by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.

 

PAST EVENTS

Matt Nelson (creator of @dog_rates), in conversation with Jonny Sun (@jonnysun) and Susan Benesch. On cuteness, dogs, and humor in online discourse. Wednesday, April 19. 5:00-6:30pm. Media Lab. E14-633.

The creator behind the wildly popular Twitter account @dog_rates (over 1.5M followers) sits down with MIT PhD student and internet comedian @jonnysun to discuss the process behind creating online content, the "Wholesome Humor" movement, the universal appeal of dogs, remix culture, the legitimacy of creative work on the internet, humor's role in political discourse, countering negative speech, and more. Free and open to the public. RSVP here.

5:00pm-6:30pm. MIT Media Lab, E14 Lecture Hall (E14-633) on the sixth floor. 75 Amherst St, Cambridge.

Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.

This event will be live-streamed through Periscope at @MITHumorSeries.

Kambiz Hosseini ("The Jon Stewart of Iran"), in conversation with Simin Kargar and Susan Benesch. Can Authoritarians Take Jokes? Humor as a tool for political resistance. Wednesday, May 3. 5-6:30pm. Media Lab. E14-633.

Iranian political satirist Kambiz Hosseini ("The Jon Stewart of Iran" - The Washington Post) speaks with Simin Kargar (human rights lawyer) and Susan Benesch (director of the Dangerous Speech Project) about the use of humor as a tool for political resistance, talking truth under extensive propaganda, leveraging online spaces to bypass censorship, and poking an authoritarian state with jokes! Free and open to the public. RSVP here.

5:00pm-6:30pm. MIT Media Lab, E14 Lecture Hall (E14-633) on the sixth floor. 75 Amherst St, Cambridge.

Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.

This event will be live-streamed through Periscope at @MITHumorSeries.

This event is also sponsored by the Dangerous Speech Project.

Heben Nigatu (BuzzFeed's Another Round podcast), in conversation with Meryl Alper and Kishonna Gray. Wednesday, May 10. 5-6:30pm. Media Lab. E14-633.

Heben Nigatu, the co-host of BuzzFeed’s wildly popular Another Round podcast ("A cultural phenomenon" --The Atlantic), speaks with Dr. Meryl Alper (author, Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality, MIT Press 2017) and Dr. Kishonna Gray (author, Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live, Routledge 2014) about the cultural phenomenon of Another Round, creating space for underrepresented voices on online platforms and the podcasting landscape, Vine, #carefreeblackkids2k16 and sharing black joy, podcasts as journalism, speaking with Hilary Clinton, and using humor to talk about feminism, depression, anxiety, race, and racism. Moderated by Jonny Sun (internet comedian and MIT PhD student). Moderated by Jonny Sun. Free and open to the public. RSVP here.

5:00pm-6:30pm. MIT Media Lab, E14 Lecture Hall (E14-633) on the sixth floor. 75 Amherst St, Cambridge.

Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.

This event will be live-streamed through Periscope at @MITHumorSeries.

This event is also sponsored by the MIT DUSP Students of Color Committee.

Dylan Marron (Welcome to Night Vale, Seriously.tv), in conversation with Jonny Sun and Ethan Zuckerman. Humor in media-activism for underrepresented and marginalized communities. Thursday, May 11. 5-6:30pm. Bartos Theater. E15-070.

Dylan Marron (Drama Desk-nominated writer, performer, media-activist, and video maker) speaks with Jonny Sun (internet comedian and PhD student) and Ethan Zuckerman (director, Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab) about the intersectional representation of people of color and LGBTQ+ communities in media and online, his role as Carlos in the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast, creating Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People, Shutting Down Bullsh*t, and his signature Unboxing series, his future projects, and the role of humor and snark in media-activism for underrepresented and marginalized communities. Free and open to the public. RSVP here.

5:00pm-6:30pm. Bartos Theater, E15-070. Lower level of the List Visual Arts Center. Next door to the MIT Media Lab. 20 Ames St, Cambridge.

Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.

This event is also sponsored by the MIT DUSP Student Council and the MIT DUSP Students of Color Committee.

Nathan Zed (@nathanzed), in conversation with Jonny Sun and Kishonna Gray. Monday, May 15. 5-6:30pm. Media Lab. E14-633.

Youtuber, Vine star, and Twitter comedian Nathan Zed (@nathanzed), speaks with professor Kishonna Gray (Author: Race, Gender, and Deviance in Xbox Live) and Jonny Sun (Twitter comedian @jonnysun), on humor as culture-making, black cultural production online, remix culture, the monetization of creative work across different social media platforms, Vine as cultural platform, online content ownership, mental health online, and humor as a vehicle for social and political commentary. Free and open to the public. RSVP here.

5:00pm-6:30pm. MIT Media Lab, E14 Lecture Hall (E14-633) on the sixth floor. 75 Amherst St, Cambridge.

Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.

This event will be live-streamed through Periscope at @MITHumorSeries.

This event is also sponsored by the MIT DUSP Students of Color Committee.

Coming FALL 2017...

Megan Amram (@meganamram). Writer, Parks and Recreation, The Good Place, Transparent, Silicon Valley, Children's Hospital. Author, Science... for Her!

Demi Adejuyigbe (@electrolemon). Writer, The Good PlaceCo-creator, Gilmore Guys podcast.

...and more!

 

About our guests

Dr. Meryl Alper is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Dr. Alper studies and teaches about the social implications of communication technologies, with a focus on youth and families, disability, and mobile media. She is the author of Digital Youth with Disabilities (MIT Press, 2014) and Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality (MIT Press, 2017). Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, she earned her doctoral and master’s degrees from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and History from Northwestern University. In her research and teaching, Dr. Alper draws on her professional experience in educational children’s media as a researcher, strategist, and consultant with Sesame Workshop, PBS, Disney, Nickelodeon, and Noggin/The-N (which is where she met Drake when he was still just Jimmy Brooks #Degrassi).

Susan Benesch directs the Dangerous Speech Project and studies pro-speech, effective ways of responding to online hatred and harassment, with special focus on humor. She is faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, and teaches at American University in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Kate Coyer Kate Coyer is a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University this year and directs the Civil Society and Technology Project at Central European University's Center for Media, Data and Society. She is the co-author of the Handbook of Alternative Media. Her research examines the use of new and old technologies for social change and the impacts on human rights and freedom of expression, and the role of social media company policy and practice. She has been an organizer with the Independent Media Center and volunteered with the Prometheus Radio Project helping build community radio stations around the globe. Her work also supports digital rights advocacy, community media, and communication access for refugees whose work has been featured on NPR, BBC, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, New Scientist, Mashable and others.

Dr. Kishonna L. Gray (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is currently a MLK Visiting Scholar in Women & Gender Studies and Comparative Media Studies/Writing at MIT, and a Berkman Klein Fellow at Harvard. She is also the Founder of the Critical Gaming Lab at Eastern Kentucky University. She is expanding on the work created here to develop new initiatives surrounding Equity in Gaming (www.equityingaming.com). Her work broadly intersects identity and new media although she has a particular focus on gaming. Her most recent book, Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live (Routledge, 2014), provides a much-needed theoretical framework for examining deviant behavior and deviant bodies within that virtual gaming community. Her work has been featured in the LA Times, Paste Magazine, Engadget, The Guardian, BET, and Blavity. Follow her on Twitter @KishonnaGray and the Equity in Gaming Initative at @equityingaming.

Kambiz Hosseini is an Iranian-American political satirist, actor, and radio and television host. He lives in NYC and makes fun of Iranian politicians for a living! Kambiz is the host of Paradox, a weekly satirical news program that airs on Radio Farda. From 2013-2015, Kambiz hosted a weekly satirical news show, Poletik, with over 10 million views on YouTube. From 2013-2016, Kambiz produced and hosted a weekly Persian-language podcast on news and developments of human rights in Iran, Five in the Afternoon, with more than 4 million plays on SoundCloud. In 2015, Five in the Afternoon won the Reporters Without Borders Award and Kambiz received the Reporters Without Borders User Award that honors individuals advocating for freedom of expression around the world. From 2009-2012, Kambiz co-created and hosted the successful and critically acclaimed TV show Parazit on Voice of America, which reached over 30 million viewers worldwide. The Washington Post dubbed Parazit “The Iranian Daily Show” and referred to him as the “Jon Stewart of Iran.” Among the high-profile guests that he interviewed on Parazit was the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Kambiz was awarded the Bronze Medal for Parazit at the 2012 New York Festival’s Best Television and Films in the comedy/satire category. In 2011, Kambiz testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Affairs, where he delivered personal remarks advocating for human rights in Iran. Kambiz immigrated to the United States in 2000 and is based in New York City. He has been featured on CNN, FOX News, PBS, NPR, PRI, CBC, and many other media outlets. Kambiz has 1.6m followers on his Facebook page, 203k followers on Twitter and 235k on Instagram.

Simin Kargar is a human rights lawyer and a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. At Harvard, she focuses on harmful speech online, the interplays of media, power and new propaganda and how online platforms are facilitating its dissemination. In addition, Simin studies how discourses of geopolitical issues are created and disseminated through social media. Simin has published research analyzing the formation of online movements that led to changes in policies, or to creating tangible social impact. Her current research addresses cyber abuse and online harassment against communities of journalists, artists and activists who - due to their profession, activities or beliefs- are more likely to become targets of coordinated online mobs.  

Frank Lesser is an Emmy-winning comedy writer who wrote for The Colbert Report for 8 years. His humor has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker's Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s, and Slate, and in his book Sad Monsters: Growling on the Outside, Crying on the Inside. One time he wrote an unfunny tweet that accidentally helped start a 200-city anti-Trump protest.

Matt Nelson, the online humorist behind the wildly popular @dog_rates, joined Twitter in 2014, and quickly began to combine two of the hottest things on the Internet: dogs and humor.  In late 2015, as a teenager, he started WeRateDogs, a Twitter account that changed the game when it came to the "cute" account genre, focusing on unique and hilarious captions to accompany dog pictures. Now, @dog_rates has over 1.7 million followers on Twitter, a shop for t-shirts and hats, a new app (@GoodDogsGame), and a forthcoming book in October 2017. Nelson, 20, studies Professional Golf Management when he’s not rating dogs, and lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

Heben Nigatu is a writer, comedian, and America’s Foremost Public Intellectual. She is the co-host of the podcast Another Round, which has been called the “Beyoncé of podcasts” by a human who is definitely not her. She brings her love of Vines (R.I.P.) and knowledge of issues of race, gender, media and pop culture to all of her work and only loves one thing more than her favorite shows: mangoes. Awards: Forbes’s 30 Under 30 in Media, 2016; Fast Company’s Most Creative People, 2016; Brooklyn Magazine’s 50 Funniest People, 2016; Marie Claire’s 50 Most Influential Women, 2016; The Root’s 100 Most Influential African-Americans, 2016.

Dylan Marron is an IFP Gotham Award and Drama Desk-nominated writer, performer and video maker. He is the voice of Carlos on the hit podcast Welcome to Nightvale, an alum of the New York Neo Futurists, and the creator of Every Single Word (Tumblr’s “Most Viral Blog” of 2016 and Shorty Award Nominee). Dylan is a writer, correspondent and the most recognized face of Seriously.tv, where he created the viral smashes Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People, Shutting Down Bullsh*t, and his signature Unboxing series.

Maura Quint is a humor writer whose work has been featured in publications such as McSweeneys and The New Yorker. She was named one of Rolling Stone’s top 25 funniest twitter accounts of 2016. When not writing comedy, Maura has worked extensively with non-profits in diverse sectors including political action campaigns, international arts collectives and health and human services organizations. She was a national organizer of the 2017 Tax March and serves on the Executive Board. She has never been officially paid to protest but did once find fifteen cents on the ground at an immigrants’ rights rally and wanted to make sure that had been disclosed.

Jonny Sun is the author behind @jonnysun. As a Twitter comedian, he has appeared in NPR, BuzzFeed, Playboy, GQ, and McSweeney’s. His past and present lives include: architect, designer, engineer, artist, playwright and comedy writer. He is currently a doctoral student at MIT and a Berkman Klein Fellow at Harvard, where he studies humor and online place. His first book, “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” (HarperPerennial) comes out in June 2017.

Nathan Zed is a vlogger, viner, and Twitter comedian who is more commonly known online by his username of "The Third Pew." His YouTube channel has more than 440k subscribers and over 18 million views, his Vine account currently had amassed 1 million followers before the platform was shut down, and his Twitter account has over 300k followers. On YouTube, Nathan posts mostly vlog-style videos where he satirizes celebrities and other YouTubers, which are known for their fast-paced and honest style. On Twitter, Nathan is known for posting memes, social commentary about politics and race, video remixes, and his signature “Evolution of…” video series of hip hop artists. He recently co-starred in Demetrius Harmon’s “Be Happy” short, which addressed mental health stigmas and mental health in the black community.

Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and an Associate Professor of the Practice at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change, the role of technology in international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists. He is the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection (W. W. Norton, 2013). With Rebecca MacKinnon, Zuckerman co-founded the international blogging community, Global Voices. It showcases news and opinions from citizen media in more than 150 nations and 30 languages, publishing editions in 20 languages. Through Global Voices and through the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where he served as a researcher and fellow for eight years, Zuckerman is active in efforts to promote freedom of expression and fight censorship in online spaces. In 2000, Zuckerman founded Geekcorps, a technology volunteer organization that sends IT specialists to work on projects in developing nations, with a focus on West Africa. Previously, he helped found Tripod.com, one of the web's first "personal publishing" sites. Zuckerman blogs at ethanzuckerman.com/blog. He received his bachelor's degree from Williams College, and as a Fulbright scholar, studied at the University of Ghana at Legon.

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Created by Jonny Sun, Susan Benesch, and the Berkman Klein Center's Online Humor working group. Generously funded by the MIT De Florez Fund for Humor, in association with the MIT Media Lab's Center for Civic Media, and co-sponsored by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

 

Series sponsors

 
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Event co-sponsors

 
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