Comedy is something we tend to think of as universal. If a joke's funny, it's just funny, right? Not really. Turns out humor can be really culturally specific. And today, we're going to look at what happens when comedians try to cross over from one cultural to another. Our next guest has some experience with that. His name is Ryan Ha. He's a Chinese-American who lives in Beijing. And he is the CEO of something called Comedy Club China. He's joined us in our studios this morning. Hey, Ryan. Thanks for coming in.
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. If you watched "Saturday Night Live" in the 1990s, you might remember this:
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UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As announcer) And now, deep thoughts by Jack Handey.
JACK HANDEY: Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself, mankind. Basically, it's made up of two separate words: mank and ind. What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.
Sixteen years ago, Rob Sheffield had everything going for him. He was young, ambitious, working as a music critic in Charlottesville, Va., and married to the woman he thought he'd spend the rest of his life with.
All that changed suddenly when his wife died of a pulmonary embolism. Sheffield was a widow and not yet 30 years old.
There were many factors that helped him dig himself out of the deep depression that followed: moving to a new city, the simple passage of time. But the most unexpected antidote for his grief came in the form of karaoke.
When country violinist Amanda Shires goes on tour, she meets a lot of interesting people. Once after a show in Tampa, Florida, a fellow calling himself Tiger Bill handed her a mysterious bag — whose contents, he said, would make her "bulletproof."
"And I opened it and looked inside of it," Shires recalls. "And it was whiskers and claws and teeth and fur."
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's latest book is Oleander Girl.
I was about 12 when I first encountered The Moonstone — or a Classics Illustrated version of it — digging through an old trunk in my grandfather's house on a rainy Bengali afternoon. I loved the Classics Illustrated series (the graphic novels of my youth that simplified famous novels for children), presenting us with swashbuckling plotlines, and heroes and villains that were unmistakably, unashamedly, what they were supposed to be.