Wyatt Cenac On School Funding... And Thor
Everyone. It's Cardiff today, the indicator something a little different. We've got the comedian Wyatt snack on the show he visited our studios because he's now promoting season two of his TV show called problem areas, which is on HBO in which looks at social issues in the US now on the show why it spends a lot of time interviewing people, but in his monologues. He also drops a fair amount of economic data points and other ideas from the social sciences. But of course, why it is also a comedian. So his monologues are a mix of social commentary and jokes delivered in his own cultivating style the truth is that teachers salaries have been stagnant. For decades. The average teachers savings is just three confiscated game boys, and a pack of stickers someone left behind over some break. So on the indicator today, why tonight tells us what he's learned about the economy since he started hosting problem areas his approach hosting the show, and he shares his best interviewing Tim. This message comes from NPR sponsor gained bridge. Gained bridge offers a new Witty's designed for the digital age. Simplified products with guaranteed returns that you can buy direct. Learn more at gain bridge dot life slash NPR. Game bridge is not available in all states. Support also comes from fund rise the future of real estate investing access private market real estate projects from high rises in DC to multifamily apartments in LA. Get your first three months of fees waived at fund arise dot com slash indicator. Let me start with this. You've done a few episodes that look at economics in the economy. You bring in a lot of economic data. As my first question is is there something about how the economy works? That is surprised you that you've learned in the process of making problem areas. I guess if there's anything that's surprising. It's both an over reliance and in under reliance on economic models to look at whether we should fund certain policies or do certain things when you look at sometimes the way that money gets spent I think there's some moments where the say, okay, well, historically, if we put money into schools and into something like education, we see net benefits as far as crime reduction or job growth things. Like that. Where it's like, okay. It seems pretty clear that these numbers play out time and time again, but will ignore those numbers. And so there's an under reliance in that way. But then it feels like there are these over Reliance's on economics as far as where this capitalist society that are focuses on profit profit profit profit at all costs and we use. Those cold numbers to kind of take humanity out of things. And so I think if anything surprises me, it's just how kind of fast and loose. We play with our allegiance to these numbers. Sometimes DC that as one of the goals of your show to marry those two things that you've got these numbers, you're not afraid to use numbers in your show, especially at the top of the show, and then the more human side, which is when you sort of get out into the field yourself with your team. And you interview people, you know, so often the national conversation around an issue is one that gets distilled into these talking points, and when you actually go to a city, and you see the human cost of it. All it changes it at least to me because it's very easy to say. Well, okay, you know, New York City spends X amount of dollars per student. Why Stuyvesant high school liar their students all doing well, academically and the school in the Bronx? They're students are Strug. Alling are we spending the same amount of money per student? And once you dig into the weeds, it's like, well, no, this it's actually different, you know, at this school in a lower income neighbourhood, we may be spending more money on school safety agents than on actual like stem training and things like that. And so what is that doing for that education when money's going to that? But you don't have the resources to sort of fill out the library or do any of those other things as a place like Stuyvesant just should know for our listeners is also a public school. Yes, why the kind of inequality between public schools here is kind of. I mean, we're not talking about like, well, one is just all like, you know, private school. So you would expect all the rich parents spend their money on it. And might be better school. We're talking to public schools. Yes. With dramatically different outcomes for their students. Right. And when you start getting into a definition of what is. Adequate if these two things are in the same public school system, what then becomes adequate when you can have an elite high school exist, and you can have one that has a crumbling infrastructure. A high turnover of teachers most of the students on free and reduced lunch lack of stem, training and other resources. How're those two things falling under the definition of adequate? It's hard to have those conversations in the those things when you're just sort of outside looking from that thirty thousand foot view that I get by being part of the national conversation. Qesku question about how you approach the craft of putting the show together as we've just discussed with a lot of Weiner. As we've just discussed. There's a lot of very heavy topics that you cover season one policing season, two -cation a lot of struggle and sadness in some of the episodes. But you obviously come from a background in comedy. And I'm wondering how you strike the balance between those two things between the fact that you're covering these sort of heavy social issues, but you also have responsibility to make it comedic to make it funny to be entertaining. I mean, I think in the sort of core of my understanding of comedy, that's always been the sort of delicate dance that happens. I think whether you're looking at what a show like mine is doing or even looking at the daily show or last week tonight or Patriot Act Jordan Clapper's gotta show. Kamau bell has a show. Samantha b has full frontal. I don't know that what we're doing. Is that new I think if you go back, and you look. That political cartoons of newspapers from the eighteen hundreds. There was taking comedy and using it as a way to get people to engage in big political conversations oftentimes about some of the same things that we're talking about. Now, I think you look at that. I think you look at stand up comedians. Whether it's Lenny, Bruce, or Richard Pryor, or digress or Joan rivers. There's always an element of it. That is taking something that we're talking about whether it's women's issues, whether it's raise whether it's politics and you're bringing those to a stage trying to wrap them in humor. But at the same time trying to get people to engage with them. And so that's always that balance that I think has been there in comedy. I gotta say the this style of your show seems a little different from some of the shows you just mentioned and even from some of the from the styles from this earlier comedians. Less acerbic, and in particular in your interview style, I guess it's because you're interviewing like normal people rather than somebody who would be the natural like target of a joke. Your jokes tend to be either self deprecating or not about the person certainly that you're interviewing and there is even especially in the teachers episode the kind of element of sweetness to it. Right. There's a lot of listening, and I'm wondering if that was a conscious decision on your part in terms of the style of the show to make it a little bit different from some of those other ones in my mind. I feel like I'm making a late night show. I've just chosen a different way to do it. I honestly think about it a little bit like like Conan when I got to go on Conan. I think one of the things I appreciated most was Conan is such a great interviewer. I think there was something in his approach as well as IRA glasses approach that I I was kind of like, oh, they treat their. Guests as people who are someone that they're proud to talk to and someone that they're excited to talk to. And so to me it was like, okay, I'm not talking to someone who's promoting and avenge his movie, but I'm talking to someone who is proud of the work. They're doing and. Okay. Yeah. This isn't I'm not talking to Thor. But could I talk to this person with the same kind of approach that I would if I was talking for treat everybody like Thor seems like a pretty good pretty good fruits interviewing. Yeah. And so that's that's the that's the way I've gone treat. Everybody like Thor. Yeah. Give me sell me. Your avengers endgame of in a form. Yeah. Why it's an act of being on the indicator around. No, thanks can tell you. We were super proud to have you on the indicator, and like, Chris Hemsworth, or buddy or longtime listener be a first time tweet her. This episode of the indicator was produced by Dr Raphael on and edited by paddy Hirsch, our intern will Ruben and the indicator is production of NPR.