Into Comedy in a Crisis with Michelle Buteau


It feels like it's been a while since America had any kind of holiday this one memorial day the unofficial start of summer honors the men and women who have died while serving in the US military this year. Those folks while at the very same time nearly one hundred thousand other. Americans are known to have died from covid nineteen and that number goes up every day. We know lots of people are going through hard times right now and won't be spending this holiday weekend at traditional events. I know my family sure is going to miss the annual African Dance Brooklyn so we thought maybe we could lift the mood just a little bit. Bring some relief and some laugh. Do I'm so excited. I have shoulder pads and a statement limp earrings to get it. I see that's comedian and actor and podcast and author Michelle Bhutto after working her but offer nearly two decades and comedy. She's finally getting her due. There's first wives club alongside seal Scott. She's got a netflix special coming up in a book to and she's our guest on today's episode just before Corona virus hit Michelle hosted a reality show also net flix called the circle. Welcome to the circle. A new social experiment. We're players. Don't meet face to face. They only communicate through this circle. Circles are called me some more profile. Listen THE PREMISE. Am serious year was eight people who had to stay inside their apartment and could not meet face to face? They even had the use social media and giant screens. To communicate. Sounds familiar. Right we'll get to that. I'm sure mainly and this is into America today. Show laughter and comedy during a national trauma. Is it okay to be funny? Is it even possible heads up to our listeners? You'll notice that we bleeped out some adult language Michelle Bhutto thank you so much for joining us my God of course. What else was I going to do? Laundry cleaned my kitchen for the third time and never have a cleanest bowed another thing. I should mention turns out Michelle Knight having mutual friend and actor or whenever shows. He told me about some kind of fabulous meatball party. That happens at her place. It's called swap. Meet conduct Thanksgiving but not really. Apparently I've been invited next meatball party. I don't notice meatballs happening. Apparently between I don't know what's happening. Actually that's my meatball party. I can't believe he just invited you to find me ballpark. But look it is what it is. It is one of those events I like to make events that have a pun in them but then also involve food. That is not like Thanksgiving. 'cause I feel like that is so boring thanksgiving Turkey and size and like some people. Don't even mind sweet potato. Some people call them yams is accusing so my husband and I love meatballs. We Love Food in general. We're just good old fashioned garbage cans. We've been doing it for five or six years about forty to forty five people make meatballs small ones so we can all by and over one hundred people come. It's exciting to see what people bring and it's all about the sauce for me like if you have a good gravy to dip something into then that's all that matters house you actually get in the comedy. Oh my God okay. Black James Lipton. Let's do it okay. Mantell Williams. Let's go let's go okay. Low Budget Steve Harvey. How're you doing of so sorry? This is what happens when I put on the steak and shoulder pads. I've been doing comedy for eighteen years now. I was in TV production. At first. I worked for local news stations and did some field producing and editing and I was simply behind the camera because I had a college professor. That told me I was too fat to be on camera because I wanted to be a reporter and you know this was like in the mid nineties before we had cameras and before we had hashtags and we were offended and did stuff Okay A and to his point there was no one that looks like me on TV anyway. So I was like I definitely want to be creative and have every day feel like a different day so I went into production. I did that for a really long time but I also just had this little thing inside and we were always like. I'm so tired of making everybody look so good. These people are basic. I'm basically telling them how how to have a personality on camera so you know nine eleven happened and I was like you know what screw it The world is crumbling. And I might as well do something that I've always wanted to do. Because who cares about what people think at this point and this is you know it's similar to what's happening now. A lot of my friends have finished script. Or you know. Clean their closet or Ashford divorce and so when something major like this happens. It's like okay. This is the universe just telling us that we need to do some spring cleaning. So let's talk about the circle here and so you have this show sequestered. They're quarantined they don't access to each other. So now we're all living like we're in the circle. Are You clairvoyant? The you know something? We don't know the Manati was call me now. I know I miss cleo circle. Yes this is wild crying face emoji. Send I'm still wrapping my bloated face around that one to be honest because I spent hours and hours watching footage of everybody just looking at screens talking to each other and here we are all on screen talking to each other so you know. I do keep in touch with the season cast. Because they're really wonderful people. I mean casting get a great job. Picking Real Americans that represent the diversity of America right and even social media where we're at and so we keep in touch with each other. We SEND VIDEO. See each other and like we're reliving the whole episode all over again because it's just like heart face. Emoji send so everything is Kinda come to a screeching halt but this has been a really big year for your career. Like your name is. It's growing your stature. Your projects you start in some movies you halted. Netflix'S REALITY SHOW. You have this amazing book coming out later for someone who was grind and enroll in in for this to happen. Was this kind of a needed break or was it. Kinda like did it. Throw you off kilter. I think a little bit of both you know. I think a little bit of both when it first happened. I was like okay two weeks. Okay and I think the scariest part two was like there was so much information coming in more than it was coming in so fast I couldn't process it and I live by heart island which is an island. Where a lot of Jane and John Does are buried? And it's sort of just like It's a graveyard for people that died alone and as I'm looking out my window and I see these refrigerator trucks coming in. I'm like that is so sad that they died alone but also like wow so beautiful that they ought to be buried together for eternity so it is just like multiple levels of what you know. You can't be in a business. Like stand up comedy or the entertainment business and worry about. Oh Man What's going to happen next? You just have to trust that something will happen and you just have to keep creating something because you know the world could be functioning just fine and you'd still be like that you just is so crazy like Oh. She's got that he's got that it's like who cares what everybody got focused on what you have look at your play and keep it moving. Oh my God all truth. You are the mother of twins how they are sixteen months which is like a year and a half. I'm bad at math. So is more more comedy or drama at your household. Your your wife mother to small cute. That's that's a lot. Yeah I mean it's a lot but it's also like just enough right because what would I be doing if I didn't have this beautiful family to take care of I'm really I'm really so glad. They're so cute and look like me because it'd be so much harder if they were ugly as a mom or even as any parent just taking care of whether it's a puppy finicky plant or your kid. It's like you spend so much time taking care of it. You're like when do I bond with it and how I didn't even know that was a thing so I'm having all these leg. Many revelations to is really fun for me exam like talking to my mom. I had no idea they're like yet girl. It's okay to cry when you get poop stuck in your fingernail before you had your coffee. I sat like you are not alone. So that's fun you know. I hustled hard. I've hustled hard for eighteen years. And now I get to being the Bronx brawlers with my cute kids with curly hair. And jus- cut up a bunch of Broccoli and feed them. And that's where I'm at right now. That feels like heaven more truth for Michelle Bhutto right after this. Hey It's Chris. As this week on my podcast is happening. I'll be talking with New York Times. Education reporter Dana Goldstein. About what it for country when fifty five million children home from school we started looking into this at the Times right off the bat it became clear that in some cities like Ohio like Los Angeles. There was about fifteen to twenty percent of kids that lost to schools. And what I mean by that is. It's not just that they were in signing on to these video chats with teachers or lessons and not submitting work. They were actually not in contact at all. So the teachers and the administrators sometimes social workers or bilingual support staff. That can speak that families home. Language are trying to reach out and they cannot find where these kids are. That's this week. I'm wise is happening. Search for wise is happening wherever you're listening right now and subscribe. The the rapper common famously said nobody smiling and so I wonder right now when folks are going through so much unemployment. The virus is this a time to be smiling laughing or trying to entertainment. I mean you know the big answer is yeah sure but I think the real answer. Is You have to do whatever you need to do. You have to allow yourself to feel sad and mad and You know in order to get to the place of okay. I can breathe now. I went through that. What is science and my sick. Are they sick? What does this mean will I come back? I don't have my job but I have my. It's like you just have to allow yourself to feel whatever you're feeling and so I think it's important for SNL and Wendy Williams and like pop culture shore to maintain whatever sense of normalcy. We can because people do like to check in and especially people who were by themselves. They needed more than ever. I mean people like me who are stuck home with the kids Hashtag blessed. But we don't have time to watch stuff we're just cleaning and raising and you know all the housekeeping and just trying to maintain our sanity so I think it's and then once in a while I'll see me man. Thank you so much. Ninety Day. Fiance for all those means. I check them on nominal on the toilet. Because that's my me time. Don't worry about I wash my hands after I take a and I wiped phone okay. Who IS NOT WASHING THEIR HANDS? After they take Ryan the subway. We've got into this mess. Trifling Fade to make people laugh but during these times. What's making you laugh or you finding sources of entertainment? I mean for sure. I'm conjuring good feelings in simply because I have to be strong for my parents and for my husband and for my kids and from my dog and let's be on for me but I'm realizing now that I am home how much I worked. How much I was really entertaining. Everybody all the time how much I was tap dancing in like look. I'm taking a pause for the cause like everybody else. I'm taking a rest. This is the first time I put on a like in seven weeks or months. You know I feel like I've created this beautiful plus sized body of work for people to enjoy. Let me just sit back and drink ma while you guys watch all the stuff. I've done on the Youtube one thing. That's just how absurd this moment actually really is like the take out. Food people with bags on our heads would have you noticed of the silliness of this. Obviously very serious but is there. Some silly observed nature to everything is going on. Oh Man I think I don't want to discount people's feelings but you know when science is politicized it's like what are you even talking about? These are facts boo boo. You know this doesn't Mean Lake. We're not even talking about insurance and taxes. We're talking about science drink some bleach. You know so. Is this like if a woman were to say? We should have some bleach. We like women are so stupid if a black man were to say you know what we should we'd be like black. People are not educated. It's like it makes my right. I just have a heartbeat and just like this. Can't I a young guy who's got by? Nobody's got buyer's remorse get. This is crazy. You have this book coming out. This might be my favorite book title ever survival. That biggies gay talk to me about it. She survival the thickest plus size essays in a small minor world guess honey. I wrote this because my heart was full my jeans I you know when I started podcasting. I just thought I'd be talking to people about what was going on in the world how they grew up blase Blah and then I started realizing I got a lot of stories and it's not just like the same story you keep telling at the dinner table. These are stories that sort of resonate with people from all walks of life and so I just started making a bank of. Oh I'll tell that one day are all flesh it out or I'll do it at a storytelling show and storytelling shows are wonderful magic. Because you're just telling this like very deep intimate raw story of this part of your life in a dark room then people reach out to you and they're just like Oh man. I was going through this. Thank you so much now. I feel less alone. I'm just like I feel less alone for sharing and you feel us alone for hearing and then you'd read other books and manuscripts and stuff and essays from Comedians. And you're your dislike. That is so interesting and that is so wild and and and and truth telling an in their voice but yeah man my husband truly like put me in a room and he's like we're doing everything else. How about you just focus on this? And so he really helped me find the time. So I am very excited. Isn't even the word? I'm all the things you know. I'm anxious I'm I'm hopeful. I'm excited I can't wait for people to this and be like I cannot believe. She said that she did that. I can't believe she went through that. What's it like working with Jill? Scott we saw the versus Jill Scott Erica by do and I saw someone say that just got looks like she gave the best hugs. She's glowing and warm. Ooh I'm getting chills. Just even thinking about Jill's hugs gills. Mom is a healer. And so jill has that she's got that thing. Where if you walk into the trailer and she's like and sleep well last night. You Okay and I'm like you know like the Audio Guy. Will Mike her and she'll be like you need to take some vitamin C. You gotta get sick next week. Relate what she'll just come up and like touch a part of your arm. You're like I feel better. She's like I know and like we'll just walk away. She's magic she. She's pure magic and she's so talented. I mean she's nice to everybody onset but she's also like do your job because I'm doing my job. You're mean choose business. She's she's gorgeous. She makes up songs for no reason. Like she's just a sounds very Jill Scott of her when one last question. Why does comedy matter now? Oh man comedy always matters to be honest right now. We are going through something collectively but people go through stuff every day and they need to laugh as well the biggest highest compliment you could tell a comedian after show is. I needed this at a rough day at work. My husband just left me. My Dad's died. I need to laugh. I just lost another baby. Thank you so much like you never know what people are going through. And so. That's why comedy is always important because Ryan Michelle bathe. They who plays one of my first wives friends on. I would always say her grandma would say if you're not laughing or crying if you're not crying laughing it's like well why can't we do both? Michelle Bhutto Thank you for the laugh. I think so many of us needed this. You are a bright shining star and we really really appreciate your time. Thank you so much. This is how we do it almost right so nice to meet you sort of likewise meatball party so they we go all right. You're invited here we go. Okay bye into. America is produced by Isabel Angel Alison Bailey Aaron. Don Max Jacobs. Barbara Rab cleared CY. I should Turner and Previ- Vartan original music by Hanns Braun. Our Executive Producer is ellen. Franken Steve Lake Tai is executive producer video. I'm mainly hope you had a healthy happy and safe holiday and we'll catch you on Thursday.

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