Caitlin’s Comedy and Satire Newsletter
I have a big announcement for you!!
HELLO FRIENDS AND BUDS! Welcome to issue #17.
Welcome one and all! This newsletter is focused on comedy and satire writing and features interviews with writers about their process as well as what I, Caitlin Kunkel, have been up to. It’s my newsletter, after all!
Well, actually, contrary to the above statement, there is no interview in this newsletter. I’m sending it to announce a big thing that is coming in just about a month…
I’m co-producing the VERY FIRST Satire & Humor Festival March 22–24th in NYC!
This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I finally got in with the right collaborators for it. James Folta is an editor over at humor site Points in Case, a fantastic writer himself, and one of the three producers/hosts behind the long-time NY show “An Evening of Humorous Readings” (and their weekly newsletter!). Tulio Espinoza is an excellent performer, writer, and maybe the most organized person I’ve ever met. He worked on the Del Close Improv Marathon last year for UCB (the last one in NY!), so you KNOW he can organize a festival.
Between the three of us we scheduled workshops (Six! They’re sold out!), set up events at Caveat and Magnet Theater, and put together lineups and panels. We’re sponsored financially by Kickstarter, and have a lot of other “friends” of the festival, including McSweeney’s, Catapult, and The Belladonna.
Our logo is by Amir Khan. I will be moderating the book panel at Magnet on Sunday, 3/24 at 1pm (still adding a few additions to the lineup!):
And I’m psyched to announce the KILLER line up for the Evening of Humorous Readings!
And here’s an example of just ONE of the major events included in the festival pass:
We also have a panel on Writing for the Screen, a Diversity Panel, and a Mini-Crit/Networking event. Check out all the events included in the festival pass, as well as the one-offs, here! We are continuing to add to the lineups. We also have a pretty extensive reading list associated with the festival, and you can see that here.
Reply to this email and let me know if you’re coming so I can be sure to keep an eye out for you. There’s a lot of moving pieces so I will be a little, uh, frantic.
BOOK STUFF — I’LL KEEP IT BRIEF!
Remember when Jeb Bush said “please clap?” That’s me, except I’m saying “please review!” Even if you didn’t buy the book on Amazon, head over and give us a lil review to mess with Bezos’ algorithms. If you send me a screenshot of a review you write this week to this email, I’ll give you a lil compliment.
This is a little bit of an abbreviated newsletter, but below are links, my next show, and an interesting concept I (not to brag) read about in a BOOK! Let’s do it.
I couldn’t make the recording because I was teaching a workshop, but Carrie, Fiona, and Brooke talked to the LOVELY Rosy and Hollie, the people behind Books on the Subway for their new podcast, “Ride, Read, Discuss”! Check out the very fun, giggly episode here.
With the members of my writing group, we now have a MONTHLY show at Velvet Brooklyn! Our next show is Sunday, 3/10/19 at 7pm, featuring guests MARISELA GONZALES (McSweeney’s), CARRIE WITTMER (New Erotica for Feminists!) and DANIEL KIBBLESMITH (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert). Ignore the date on the graphic, save 3/10, we have a great time every time at A GREAT WEEK FOR WOMEN!
MAKING TINY BETS
I read a lot of Cal Newport’s work, which some of you might know from his book DEEP WORK. DEEP WORK is basically about getting your shit together and actually working hard on things and not lying to yourself that toggling between 30 tabs and apps is good for you (it’s more eloquent than that). I’m reading his new book, DIGITAL MINIMALISM now, and you can listen to a great podcast with Ezra Klein to talk about some of the tenants here.
But I recently read one of his earlier books that gave me a big realization about my career, and that’s the one I want to talk about today.
It’s called SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU (based off the famous Steve Martin quote), and I found a lot it extremely interesting. The premise is that “following your passion” is bad career advice, because we can’t really be certain where our passions lie before we’ve worked in a variety of jobs/fields/disciplines. You also normally needs skills developed from your “non-passionate” fields in order to succeed at the thing you ultimately find to be your passion.
The section I really liked talked about the process of placing a series of tiny bets, and then gradually placing more and more in one direction as they start to pay off. I was verbally agreeing with my book as I got to this section, when I realized I’ve been doing this my whole career without conceiving of it in that way.
I knew I wanted to write, but I also knew I wanted to have a stable career in terms of finances and frankly, didn’t know what KIND of writing I wanted to do. So after making a big, bad bet (in terms of student loans) on going to grad school too young, I placed some smaller bets in the following years.
I learned and wrote sketch at Second City, ultimately learning how to produce and market and direct my own shows. I started writing online pieces when I lived in Portland, both out of geographic necessity and because it was free and I was trying to pay down the aforementioned giant loans. Then when those little bets on writing online started paying off, I stopped doing as much sketch to write more. At the same time my teaching sketch led to teaching at a college, teaching for Second City online, and I started to place bigger bets on satire as a format rather than writing for TV or fiction or essays. And those bets led me to co-found The Belladonna and write the piece that led to my first book.
It was kind of mind-blowing for me to look back and see how I had consistently veered into the directions that were paying off in terms of tiny things leading to slightly bigger things, and how I naturally shed other elements along the way. Not to totally be all over this guy, but Cal Newport is a smart dude and I really recommend all the books I mentioned here. Check them out!
Do you see this pattern of tiny bets in your own career at all? Write back and let me know!
LINK ROUNDUP! GETYA LINKS HERE!
As someone who went to a lot of Catholic school and didn’t always love it (it’s complicated), this piece was complicated and thought-provoking for me to read as an adult feminist. “Everything I Know About Feminism I Learned From Nuns.”
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve DONE The Artist’s Way, it HAS changed my writing life, and I LOVED reading about Julia Cameron, the creator. I am not a woo-woo person at all but this book is legit and you can cherrypick the stuff that works for you.
“When In Doubt, Play Insane.” Catherine O’Hara is my absolute ideal of comedic performance. You all watch Schitt’s Creek, right??
ABOUT ME: Caitlin Kunkel is a writer, satirist and famed pizza scientist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been featured in Shouts & Murmurs, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and other places across the vast internetz. She created the online satire program for The Second City and writes for Live Wire Radio, distributed by Public Radio International. She’s also the co-founder and editor of the comedy and satire site for women and nonbinary writers, The Belladonna.
Her first book, NEW EROTICA FOR FEMINISTS, co-written with Belladonna editors Carrie Wittmer, Brooke Preston, and Fiona Taylor, was published by Plume in the US and Sceptre in the UK in NOVEMBER OF 2018! Follow her musings on Twitter @KunkelTron.