Lineup Includes Negin Farsad, Maeve Higgins, Tamer Kattan and an Unannounced Guest Nonpartisan Nonprofit founded by Filmmaker and Award-winning Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas Seeks to Celebrate the Modern Immigrant Experience and Combat Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Through Comedy
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(New York, NY) October 13, 2016 — Define American — Jose Antonio Vargas’ nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving perceptions of immigrants through media and entertainment – today announced that it will present its first-ever Comedy Night in New York City, hosted by acclaimed comedian Cristela Alonzo.
Comedy Night will take place at the Broadway Comedy Club on the evening of Thursday, November 3rd. Doors open at 6:00 PM Eastern time. Tickets are currently on sale at defineamerican.com/comedy.
The show will include acts from comedians Negin Farsad, Maeve Higgins, Tamer Kattan and a surprise guest. The comedians will be building their sets around the theme of the modern immigrant experience, telling stories from their own lives.
Host Cristela Alonzo — who recently joined Define American’s advisory board, which also includes Chris Weitz and Janet Yang — said: “I love that Define American is opening honest conversations between people. These conversations help teach us that while many of us might look different from one another, our stories aren’t. We are all connected, one way or another. It’s important to give a face and a soul to immigrants in order to humanize us, because we are more than just a statistic. We are all people who want our voices heard. I’m thrilled to be hosting this comedy night for Define American because I truly believe their work is necessary in teaching all of us that there is a way to entertain AND educate. When you think about it, what better way to start these conversations than by making people laugh and think?”
Define American’s announcement of Comedy Night comes shortly after news of their recently formed Entertainment Media division, helmed by veteran showrunner Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees. Along with creating new events like Comedy Night, Voorhees is pursuing collaborations with writers, directors, producers and other entertainment professionals to elevate the portrayal of storylines around race, immigration, and citizenship in mainstream entertainment.
About Comedy Night, Voorhees said: “At Define American, we believe that it is important to change the culture in which we talk about immigrants and immigration in order to successfully push for political reform. Comedy is unifying and allows us to interact directly with stories that highlight our humanity. Sometimes a lighthearted look at a serious issue can be more impactful than a tragic news story and with the November election approaching, what better time to pause and take a moment to laugh?”
Voorhees will be charged with leading efforts to build a pipeline between Define American, which has amassed the largest collection of immigrant- and citizenship-related stories online, and content creators looking for compelling stories about the modern day immigrant experience. Voorhees will also be expanding existing initiatives, such as the Define American Film Festival (DAFF), which first launched last year in Des Moines, Iowa, right before the Iowa caucuses. DAFF will take place in different cities each year: 2017’s location and dates will be announced soon.
The division is expanding rapidly. Recently, Voorhees hired Kristen Marston to join Define American’s Entertainment Media division as Entertainment Media Manager. Marston comes to Define American from the Directors Guild of America, where she worked on diversity initiatives and advocated for equal employment opportunities for diverse directors.
Vargas and Define American have placed an emphasis on the power of culture to change hearts and minds since the organization’s inception. Projects of Define American include the Vargas-written-and-directed documentary feature “Documented,” which aired on CNN in June 2014, and its corresponding school curriculum for 11th and 12th graders; and the Vargas-directed-and-hosted, controversial one-hour MTV doc “White People,” in July 2015, along with its discussion guide developed in collaboration with MTV and the Anti-Defamation League.