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The On Being Project

Sam Sanders, Terry McMillan, Lindy West, et al

Humor as a Tool for Survival

Humor lifts us up but it also underscores what's already great; it connects us with others and also brings us home to ourselves. And like everything meaningful, it's complex and nuanced — it can be fortifying or damaging, depending on how we wield it. But as a tool for survival, humor is elemental. We explore this idea with a rabbi who started out in drag, comedians, an NPR host, writers of sci-fi/fantasy, social commentary, and the TV show Veep.
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  • Sam Sanders

    Sam Sanders

    is a reporter and the host of the podcast It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders. He was one of the original co-hosts of the NPR Politics Podcast.

  • Alexis Wilkinson

    Alexis Wilkinson

    is a staff writer on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and wrote for HBO’s Veep. She’s also written for several publications, including Slate, TIME, and The New Yorker.

  • Hari Kondabolu

    Hari Kondabolu

    is a stand-up comedian and writer. His albums include Waiting for 2042, Mainstream American Comic, and most recently Hari Kondabolu’s New Material Night.

  • Amichai Lau-Lavie

    Amichai Lau-Lavie

    is a rabbi and founding spiritual leader of Lab/Shul in New York City. He’s also the founding director of Storahtelling.

  • Lindy West

    Lindy West

    is a columnist at The Guardian, a contributor to This American Life, and the author of Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. Her work has appeared The New York Times, GQ, Jezebel, and The Stranger.

  • Mark McCleary

    Mark McCleary

    is a writer, radio producer, and head of communications at the Corrymeela Community of Northern Ireland.

  • Daniel José Older

    Daniel José Older

    is The New York Times bestselling author of Salsa Nocturna, The Bone Street Rumba series, and the young adult novel Shadowshaper. His short stories and essays have appeared in The Guardian, Salon, and BuzzFeed.

  • Terry McMillan

    Terry McMillan

    is The New York Times bestselling author of Waiting To Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Her latest novel, I Almost Forgot About You, is now out in paperback.