Chuck Palahniuk on Beautiful You, Arousal Addiction, and Chick Lit

Categories: Books, Interviews

Courtesy of Chuck Palahniuk
Palahniuk will be at Dobson High School in Mesa on October 23.

When he graduated from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree in 1986, Chuck Palahniuk probably didn't think he would go on to be a bestselling author and one of the most popular novelists for a generation that isn't exactly known for its love of books.

And when Palahniuk, now 52, began taking fiction-writing classes while working for truck manufacturer Freightliner, he might not have thought it would lead to him writing over 15 (and counting) internationally renowned books translated into several languages.

But it did. Though the author hasn't let it affect him too much.

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Josh Higgins on His Work for Obama, Inspiration, and Changing the World Through Design

Courtesy of Josh Higgins
Josh Higgins will be speaking about the moments that changes his life at the Method & Madness Conference Saturday, October 18.
It hit him on a Friday night and was delivered by Jimmy Fallon. Josh Higgins watched as the Late Night host began writing his famous thank you notes on air. "Thank you, Barack Obama..." Fallon said as the image with the word "Forward," white against a blue background with that famous Obama logo filling the "o," flashed up on the screen. The image that Higgins, as President Obama's design director for his 2012 campaign, and his team had created was displayed for the entire country to see. It was then that Higgins realized the scale of his work and the impact it was having on the country.

"What a trip," Higgins says.

Of course, he immediately called his roommate in to share the moment. Higgins says there are a couple moments that changed his "trajectory," as he calls it, in life, and he'll be talking about them on Saturday, October 18, at the Method + Madness conference during Phoenix Design Week.

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Wanda Sykes on Having Kids, Turning 50, and the Problem With Being Too Cool

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Roger Erickson
There aren't many people who sound like Wanda Sykes.

Then again, there aren't many people like Wanda Sykes, period. The longtime comedian who's battled cancer, come out as gay, remarried and had children all while in the spotlight, safely stands in a category all her own.

But it's not just her personal life that has managed to go in all different directions. When it comes to her career, Sykes keeps her plate full as a writer, actor, producer, and first and foremost, a stand-up comedian. Between her many projects, we caught up with Sykes on the phone to discuss motherhood, comics who are too cool for school, and why she doesn't bother with labels.

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National Geographic Photographer Steve Winter on How a Turtle Changed His Life

Categories: Events, Interviews

Sharon Guynup
National Geographic photographer Steve Winter his close calls, memorable moments, and conservation efforts at Mesa Arts Center on October 15.
After you've been charged by a rhino while riding an elephant and come face to face with some of the world's largest cats in the wild, speaking in front of a packed auditorium must seem run-of-the-mill.

At least, that's how we imagine National Geographic photographer Steve Winter will feel when he takes the stage Wednesday, October 15, as part of the eighth season of National Geographic Live at Mesa Arts Center.

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Ralphie May on Filthy Comedy and What He Learned From Sam Kinison

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Courtesy of Ralphie May
Don't let May's size fool you, his comedy is more than just a handful of fat jokes.

Ralphie May didn't take the stereotypical route to comedy stardom. But it doesn't really matter how you get there, because you're going to pay your dues in one way or another.

"There are a lot of different paths to be a stand-up comic," May says. "But there's no easy path to do it; all of them really grind you down."

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Pauly Casillas on Twitter Comedians and Growing Up in South Tucson

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Courtesy of Pauly Casillas
If you go see the national comedy tours that come through Phoenix, odds are good that you've seen Casillas opening for them.

Some people choose to do comedy. Others feel like they were born to do it. For Pauly Casillas, it might be a little of both.

"Well, I've always been fat, so I had to be funny," Casillas says. "I'm a fat comedian, but I'm not a fat comedian. I mean, I don't just make the fat jokes that everyone expects."

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Aidy Bryant's Made It Big on Saturday Night Live, But Phoenix Still Feels Like Home

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC
Aidy Bryant's SNL star is on the rise.

On a warm Wednesday night in June, a hip, young crowd formed a long line along 26th Street in Manhattan. They laughed among themselves, eyed the number of people in front of them, and clutched their blue ticket stubs to AIDY/TAMI/SPO, a sold-out three-woman show at Upright Citizens Brigade.

Billed as a performance by "three improvisers that you will either want to fuck, marry, or kill by the end of the show," AIDY/TAMI/SPO was an hourlong showcase by three improv greats, including Tami Sagher, Shannon O'Neill, and Aidy Bryant.

As the three entered the packed underground theater through two doors on stage, the crowd cheered and an excited (but failed) whisper reached the middle of the crowd: "She's on SNL!"

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Laurie Notaro on Overlooked Women in History, Real Housewives, and Bringing Funyuns to Lit Lounge in Phoenix

Categories: Interviews

Courtesy of Laurie Notaro
Laurie Notaro: Bestselling author, potty mouth, and lover of funyuns.

Chances are, you're familiar with Laurie Notaro. If not, just type her name into that little search bar above, and you'll find a smattering of pieces written by and about this hilarious bestselling author with a mouth like a 10-year-old sailor.

Notaro joins some of Phoenix's most entertaining storytellers on Thursday, September 25, for Lit Lounge: The Best of Phoenix Edition at Crescent Ballroom. We caught up with Notaro before she made the trip from the much cooler Eugene, Oregon, back to Phoenix and discussed everything from pus-colored crayons to her hatred for Alanis Morissette.

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Phoenix Comedian Matt Storrs on Intelligent Humor and Baking Cookies

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Josh Chesler
When he's not performing, Storrs enjoys baking, having uncomfortable conversations, and practicing new material on his friends.

When Matt Storrs was asked in middle school about what he wanted to be when he grew up, the teacher probably didn't expect him to answer "comedian."

Growing up, Storrs watched stand-up specials on channels like Comedy Central while other kids were watching cartoons. As a teenager, he'd take drama classes to further his comedic skill set. Early on in college, he was given a chance to take his comedy routine to the next level.

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Kathleen Madigan on Why She Admires Joan Rivers, Doesn't Fight With Lewis Black, and Could've Predicted the Ferguson Tragedy

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Natalie Brasington
Kathleen Madigan is scheduled to perform on Friday, September 19, at Talking Stick Resort.
Stand-up comic Kathleen Madigan has never been shy about skewering herself. In fact, she can be both candid and clever when joking about her drinking habits, gambling habits, lack of ambition in the gym, Irish-Catholic upbringing, or perpetual singlehood while onstage or in her most recent special, the hilarious Netflix special from last year, Madigan Again.

The comedienne also gets especially snarky when riffing on pop culture and topical issues, except when it comes to certain current events of a tragic nature.

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