Baratunde Thurston Uses Comedy to Deal with Difficult Topics

“Comedy can be a pretty effective way of skipping past someone’s lack of desire to engage in a topic.”

Baratunde Thurston is more than a comedian.  His list of contributions range from serving as the Director of Digital for The Onion to the Supervising Producer for digital expansion at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.  His sharp and comedic mind has been a part of numerous television, news, and radio outlets.  He was honored by The Root on their list of 100 most influential African Americans and nominated for the Bill Hicks Award for Thought Provoking Comedy.  A Harvard graduate with amazing wit, Thurston utilizes comedy to start dialogues on race relations and the current political and social landscapes.

Multiracial Dialogue

Thurston co-founded the About Race podcast, where he held open conversations about race in our country with co-discussants Raquel Cepeda, Anna Holmes, and Tanner Colby.  With such titles as “Will You Be My Black Friend?” and “The Diversity Drinking Game”, these podcasts are a thought provoking look at “the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America.”

A Comedic Memoir

A best-selling author, Thurston’s How to Be Black takes an autobiographical look at his life while also examining racial stereotypes and social identity in a satirical fashion.  His essays touch on such topics as “Can You Swim?”, “How to be the Black Employee”, and “Do You Know What an Oreo is?” and will make readers laugh yet ponder race relations in today’s America.

Humor Meets Technology

With Brian Janosch and Craig Cannon, he co-founded Cultivated Wit in 2012.  Most noteworthy, this comedy company produces the hysterical Comedy Hack Day.  Comedians and developers work together to create tech projects that are hilarious and actually work.  One project, Equitable, allows you to split a meal with friends based on racial and gender inequalities.  Another, Timesify, hides whatever you are reading by disguising it as a New York Times article.  These creative projects are a prime example of functioning satire.

Highly regarded as a speaker, author, and television personality, thought leader Baratunde Thurston makes us think.  Furthermore, he believes humor is a great way to change opinions of people by bypassing their defense mechanisms.  Baratunde uses the power of comedy to raise awareness and start critical discussions.



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