I Went To A Star Wars Convention With My 10 Year Old Daughter & All We Got Was A Hella Good Time

  BY JON SOLOMON & MAGGIE SOLOMON-SCHELLER Rushing straight from the airport into McCormick Place with my 10 year-old daughter for our weekend in Chicago at Star Wars Celebration, it was hard not to channel True Hero of the Rebellion Wedge Antilles in the cockpit of his X-Wing, gazing upon the Death Star for the first time:?? “Look at the size of that thing.” Tens of thousands of Star Wars fans from all over the planet gathered at the nation’s largest convention center from April 11th through the 15th for the 20th annual edition of this enormous event, a potentially […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

  FRESH AIR: After working for five years as a writer and producer on Saturday Night Live, comic John Mulaney thought he knew everything there was to know about the show. “I was like a busboy,” Mulaney says of his SNL tenure. “I was like, ‘I know all the secrets, and I know all the ins and outs, and I know how to sneak out of the kitchen and I know where we get the meat delivered from.’ ” Though Mulaney left SNL in 2012 to pursue other comedic projects, he returned in 2018 and again in 2019 — this […]


  BY HENRY SAVAGE Sitting in a Los Angeles Roscoe’s Chicken with his mother, Derek Gaines took some time to discuss his career, comedic inspiration, and growing up in a multicultural suburb of Philadelphia. Gaines started doing stand up over a decade ago when he was the ripe age of 19 years old and hasn’t looked back since. Moving to New York City, he was able to improve his craft in the comedy circuits there, where he would later live with SNL cast member, Pete Davidson. Soon after, Gaines started getting booked for gigs on MTV, including his own series, […]

FUNNY GIRL: Q&A W/ Sasheer Zamata

  BY ANTONIA BROWN Sasheer Zamata is a young comedian, actress, and writer perhaps best known for her tenure as a cast member on SNL, her appearances on the Stephen Colbert Show, or her own live variety show called Sasheer Zamata Party Time. Her new stand-up special Pizza Mind is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Starz. She’s been in numerous short films as well starring in The Weekend, a new rom-com with a cast that is a who’s who of hot young black Hollywood that just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. She is a contributor to public radio’s […]

CINEMA: Being Jenny McCarthy

  FRESH AIR: Melissa McCarthy is not interested in playing pleasant characters — flawless women with perfect clothes and relationships. “Who wants to watch that?” she asks. “There’s nothing to sink your teeth into. … The people I love and like are filled with quirks and eccentricities. … We’re a bundle of all these different weirdnesses.” Instead, McCarthy became known for her comic roles in movies like Bridesmaids and The Heat — and for her impersonation of President Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, on SNL. More recently, McCarthy’s taken a turn into drama, playing the misanthropic writer and literary […]

Q&A: Talking Funny w/ SNL’s Melissa Villasenor

Photo by ROBYN VON SWANK BY JONATHAN VALANIA Comedian/actress/impressionist extraordinaire Melissa Villasenor was born 30 years ago in Whittier, California. By the age of 12 she was doing impressions of famous people. At the tender age of 15 she did her first stand-up routine at the storied Laugh Factory in Hollywood. By the age of 18 she was a regular at comedy open mic nights around town, often hiding under a hoodie to pass for a dude to get her jokes taken seriously in this sexist world we currently reside in. After years of working the comedy circuit, and an […]


Illustration by MARIO ZUCCA THE RINGER: If you think about it, Bill Hader’s long and successful career can be traced back to the day he took his SATs—or, rather, the day he chose not to take his SATs. There he was, an anxious 16-year-old sitting in a classroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma; the time had come to make that first important step toward college by proving how well he remembered algebra and how many multisyllabic words he knew. “I put my name on the thing and everything,” Hader remembers, but the moment started to feel too big. The knowledge that with […]

FROM THE VAULT: It’s John DeBella’s Morning, Philadelphia Just Wakes Up In It Every Day

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wrote this 14 years ago (14? Good Lord!), reprinting this today in the wake of today’s news that DeBella is being sued for sexual harrassment by his long-time on-air sidekick. The title of the profile was JOHN DEBELLA IS NOT AN ASSHOLE. ANYMORE — in retrospect, that assessment was premature. BY JONATHAN VALANIA John DeBella has been a hippie and a punk. A winner and a loser. A hero and a villain. And now he just wants to be a nice guy. As if to prove it, he is going to start welling up in T-minus-three seconds. “I […]

CINEMA: Smarter Than The Average Bear

BRIGSBY BEAR (Directed by Dave McCary, 100 minutes, 2017, USA) BY CHRISTOPHER MALENEY If Philip K. Dick was alive today, he may well have ended up writing something a little like Brigsby Bear. The movie bears many of his hallmarks: a seeming post-collapse family unit; an obsession with obscure television; the utter distortion of seeming-reality; and the ultimate question of how society copes with aberrant individuals. However, this is not a Philip K. Dick movie, and the creative team never intended it to be. What we have instead is equal parts fish-out-of-water comedy and bildungsroman drama with a bizarre setup […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

  FRESH AIR: Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has the distinction of being the only former Saturday Night Live cast member to serve in the U.S. Senate. It’s a singular career trajectory, but it’s also not particularly surprising given Franken’s deep interest in politics and comedy. It all started in high school, when Franken began writing satire with his friend (and later SNL writing partner) Tom Davis. “One of the first things we wrote was a local newscast the night of the day of World War III,” Franken says. “It was … ‘Well, it happened. World War III. The stock market […]

REVIEW: Gorillaz Humanz

  Gorillaz, The Guinness Book of World Record’s most successful virtual band, is back from a seven year hiatus with a new album, Humanz. Born as the side-project of Blur’s frontman Damon Albarn, Gorillaz was intended to be an outlet for Albarn’s more experimental whims, a musical project meant to give him space from Blur’s inescapably recognizable “Woo-hoo.” With the help of Jamie Hewlett, the co-creator of Tank Girl, an absurdist comic book about a girl who lives in a tank with her mutant kangaroo boyfriend, Gorillaz materialized out of the ether into a cartoon form. The cartoon musicians all […]

ON TV: The Importance Of Being Kenan Thompson

  HUFFINGTON POST: But after six years of working at SNL without ever quite thriving in it, Thompson finally found something in “What Up With That.” It was bizarre and disorganized and unlike anything else on the show. And it was a hit ? and his hit to boot. “Once it happened once, I was like, ‘Oh, this is a great formula,” Thompson said. “Then when we did it the second time, I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this.’” “What Up With That” gave Thompson confidence, and it gave SNL writers an understanding of his greatest strength: his ability […]