The changing face of comedy has been subject to a wealth of recent discussion. Like other areas of the industry, accurate on-screen depictions of who we are in real life is a serious issue in the world of comedy. Laughing Matters: Diverse Voices from the World of Comedy will cover changes over the past few years and provide information about diversity and inclusion initiatives for up-and-coming comedians. Join NYWIFT and our panel of industry veterans for a lively discussion about the state of comedy today!
Negin Farsad is a comedian, director, producer, writer and onetime golf caddie who has written for Detox (MTV Networks), 1001 Nights (PBS), The Watch List (Comedy Central) and Class Parents Nerdcore Rising (Nickelodeon), which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival to sold out audiences and critical praise. Farsad's solo show Bootleg Islam, which she wrote and performed, has appeared at the Washington DC, Dallas and Chicago Comedy Festivals. Farsad was named a Ted Fellow in 2013 and was recently named one of the 50 Funniest Women by the Huffington Post.
is the world's only female stuttering comedian (at least until she finds another). She is also a disability activist, storyteller, children's book author and educator. She brings her humor to help people confront and understand social justice issues such as disability, diversity and equity. Nina G.'s latest project, Once Upon an Accommodation: A Picture Book for All Ages
is about her own experience as a person with a learning disability and provides information on how to navigate the world of disability related accommodations in school.
is a comedian of Cuban, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent whose one-hour Showtime special, Not Skinny, Not Blonde
, tells it like it is. Featured on the Latin Divas of Comedy
series, she has been performing for over two decades, touring the country with her trademark sass. Marvez began giving hilarious and honest advice to men and women about the inner workings of the female mind on her top rated morning radio show in San Diego.
is an actor and comedian. She toured extensively with her one-person comedy revues Kate's Chink-O-Rama
and Birth of a nASIAN
, which was invited to the Comedy Central Theater in Los Angeles and the Smithsonian Institute for Asian Heritage Week. As a stand-up, she has appeared on LOGO's One Night Stand Up
, NBC's Late Friday
, Comedy Central's Women in Comedy
and Family Guy
. She is the creator of Oxygen Television's Dance Your Ass Off
and creator and executive producer for Cache Craze
on YTV in Canada. The latter is licensed around the world.
worked with the prestigious Negro Ensemble Company Actors Workshop, which is home to such talent as Samuel L. Jackson, Lawrence Fishburn, Mary Alice, Frances Foster, Robert Hooks and Denzel Washington. Scott was chosen for the N.E.C's Black Comedy Team for her solid comedy instincts and timing. She then joined The Kitchen Table, which was a five member ensemble whose early members included Reginald Vel Johnson and Robert Townsend. Scott began her stand up comedy career at the famous Original Improvisation on 44 Street and 9 Avenue in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, where she would become a regular for over ten years. She has performed in clubs, colleges and other venues across the country, and has also served as a warm up comedian for HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central programs taped in New York City. Scott has also been invited to Los Angeles for additional warm up work for shows like The Nanny, Living Single, The Other Side
is an actress, professional standup comedian, and writer. She is the co-founder and co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival. Zayid was a full time On Air Contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann and is a recurring columnist at The Daily Beast. She has appeared on Comedy Central, PBS, CNN, HBO, MTV, ABC and BBC, and had a feature role in Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess with Zohan. Zayid has performed in top New York clubs as a stand-up comedian, and has toured extensively at home and abroad. She is the founder of Maysoon's Kids, a scholarship and wellness program for disabled and wounded refugee children and was honored in 2013 at United Celebral Palsy NYC's Women Who Care Awards.
is an actor, comedian, writer, teacher and community organizer. She is also the Diversity Coordinator at the Training Center of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, where she has performed for over four years. She hosts the monthly Soul Glo Project
at UCB, which highlights diverse comedy performers and acts around New York City. In addition, Zollar writes and produces web content and has three projects currently in development.
Yvonne Russo, Moderator
is an award-winning producer, director, actor and writer of film, television and web. Her film production work includes the 2012 NAACP nominated film, The Rescuers: Heroes of The Holocaust and the award-winning feature, Naturally Native. Russo's acting credits include American Indian Graffiti, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Stolen Women, Captured Hearts. Having worked on productions in over 14 countries, she has been involved in a diverse array of projects for National Geographic, Discovery/TLC and CBS/Smithsonian, which includes her most recent documentary about America's top 40 visual artists under 40, the aptly named, 40 Under 40.
Very special thanks:
Lamonia Brown, Octavia Taylor, Robyn Watson, Roz Murphy,
Anita Katzen, Cindy Smartt and Loreen Arbus.
Producer: Ylana Kellar
Join the conversation on Twitter: #nywift | @nywift
NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Last updated: Feb. 19, 2014