Rank #1: [S2] Hari Kondabolu: Comedy Is Therapeutic but Not Therapy
“My mom has a very dark sense of humor. I think that’s how I learned how to recycle pain.”
Hari Kondabolu is not your average stand-up comedian. He has a Masters in Human Rights and worked as an immigrants rights organizer — all of which you hear in his writing. His jokes simultaneously bring about discomfort and a nod of the head, without sounding preachy. He uses comedy as a coping mechanism for addressing complex issues of race, identity, and ethnicity post 9/11.
Visit onbeing.com/series/creating-our-own-lives for other episodes and more.
Rank #2: [S1] Billy Mills: Olympians Are Chosen by the Gods
“The number one objective of my Olympic pursuit was to heal a broken soul.” Gold medalist Billy Mills set a world record in the 10,000-meter race at the 1964 Games. He shares how running created a refuge for spirituality and personal growth.
Rank #3: Preview | Creating Our Own Lives
A sneak peek into Creating Our Own Lives, a new podcast from On Being Studios.
Rank #4: [S1] Mike Stavlund: Running is an Inherent Good
“When I’m running, I’m in my body, with all of its limitations but with all of its capabilities at the same time.” Mike Stavlund is the author of “A Force of Will” a memoir about the death of his 4-month-old son.
Rank #5: [S2] Sam Sanders: If I Can Laugh With You, I Can See You
“I cannot tell you how many times laughter has connected me with all different kinds of people throughout the country, of all kinds of political persuasions.”
When politics and comedy mix they can become mean, sarcastic, and divisive. Reporter and NPR Politics Podcast co-host Sam Sanders thoughtfully avoids this. As an African American and Pentecostal growing up near a military base in San Antonio, he was surrounded by people from different class, political, and cultural backgrounds. This helped him develop his thoughtful voice, his objectivity, and his ability to connect to others through jokes and laughter.
Rank #6: [S1] Christina Torres: My Body Can Do Things
“What else have I been lying to myself about? What else have I been hiding from ’cause I was scared?” Teacher, writer, and Mexipina Christina Torres on how running helps her deal with anxiety, body image, and understanding her deepest sense of self.
Rank #7: [S2] Amichai Lau-Lavie: Deep Laughter in the Place of the Deepest Pain
“Humor is always about ‘as if.’ And it just relaxes everybody. We’re going to laugh.”
Transparent creator Jill Soloway describes Amichai Lau-Lavie as “a God-optional, patriarchy-toppling, Jewish modern mind.” He uses humor to connect — to himself and others, his family, his sexual identity, and his spiritual life. The rabbi says the Jewish people have endured because of their ability to laugh at themselves and, in this way, laugh at the world.
Rank #8: [S1] Justin Whitaker: ChiRunning: A Sitting Meditation
“If you watched me run, you wouldn’t think I was sitting or thinking about sitting.” Justin Whitaker is a writer, a ChiRunner and a Buddhist. For Justin, running is a part of his spiritual practice.
Rank #9: [S2] Terry McMillan: Humor Is a Form of Hope
“I don’t think that humor is evasive at all. It’s how we protect our hearts from just bleeding to death.”
Bestselling author Terry McMillan knows how to write funny yet complex female characters: Savannah in Waiting to Exhale, Stella in Stella’s Got Her Groove Back, and Georgia in her latest novel, I Almost Forgot About You. Whether they’re wrestling with heartbreak, grief, or loneliness, these women use humor to face whatever life throws at them. But these characters are simply taking the lead from their creator, who sees humor as a way of “protect[ing] our hearts from just bleeding to death.”
Rank #10: [S2] Margaret Cho: The Deep Connection Between Anger and Humor
“The best expression of humor is something that comes out of suffering and comes out of a sense of alienation.”
Margaret Cho opens difficult conversations about rape, abuse, addiction, failure, and anger through her work as a comedian and writer. Anger and humor, she says, are deeply connected. And she sees talking and joking about her pain as a way to help people heal.