Tuner Sparks and Michael Kaplan’s podcast, Lost in America, provides us with a humorous conversation each week about how something in the US compares to that same thing abroad. The tagline for the show is that despite both hosts coming from different geographical backgrounds (Sparks living in China for 12 years and Kaplan knowing nothing but the USA), “neither one can figure their country out.”
In last week’s episode, Sparks and Kaplan talked to rising comedy star, Monroe Martin, about how his experiences with the US foster care program compared to those in China—Fun fact: There’s only about 30,000 foster kids in China, despite the massive population (and many more interesting facts if you listen to the episode!). Martin is very candid about growing up in foster care between the ages of 7 and 21, and how he’s harnessed his challenging upbringing as a means of joke-writing.
What I found most fascinating was Martin’s explanation of the reason why jokes about taboo topics just don’t land in some crowds. Basically, you need to tweak a joke until it doesn’t make the audience feel guilty about their privilege, reminding us that sometimes, a joke’s failure says more about the audience receiving it, than the actual form or quality of the joke itself.
The three also discussed their experiences with generally sadder crowds, as a result of today’s political climate. Monroe laughs that it’s usually just white people who get depressed about that stuff, because “we saw this shit coming all along.” Finally, Monroe gives his two cents on political comedy, telling the hosts that he tends to stay away from political topics unless he has an interesting and unique angle, which often times he believes, comedians don’t.
Take a listen to the Lost in America podcast here!