Press Releases

Wits--A Good Laugh with Writers

February 19, 2010

MPR brings storytellers and writers together for a four-part series in St. Paul

Featuring writers Julia Sweeney, George Saunders, Susan Orlean and John Hodgman

With host John Moe and bassist John Munson to bring down the house for every show

Starting in March, Minnesota Public Radio presents Wits™--a four-part humor series hosted by John Moe and featuring John Munson on upright bass and mic at The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

Writers Julia Sweeney, George Saunders, Susan Orlean and John Hodgman will join John and John on stage to weave (and unravel) conversations around topics as wide-ranging as hard work, chickens, parenting and distraction. Wits™ will feature phone calls from special guests Billy Collins, Dana Gould, Neil Gaiman as well as musical guests Mike Doughty, Mason Jennings, Haley Bonar and more. It will also include readings -- poems, passages, quotes -- of works by our favorite clever dead guys, and some living ones, too.

WHERE: The Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul

TICKETS: $25. MPR members and students receive a discount. College students receive half-off admission. For a season package, buy tickets to three shows and get the fourth free. Tickets can be purchased through the Fitzgerald Theater Box Office at 651-290-1221.


Saturday, March 27 8 p.m.
Julia Sweeney

Show topic: "How to Sacrifice Everything for Your Ungrateful Children"
With phone guest: Dana Gould, former writer for The Simpsons and The Ben Stiller Show
Musical guest: Mason Jennings

The former Saturday Night Live cast member, actress and sometime Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! panelist, Julia Sweeney is the creator of autobiographical monologues, including "God Said Ha!"--portions of which have been featured on This American Life. Julia Sweeney left Hollywood for a quieter part of the country and a life as a stay-at-home mom. She'll explore this transition with John Moe. Comedy writer and former writer for The Simpsons Dana Gould will join the conversation by phone from Hollywood, where he lives with his wife and children.

Thursday, April 29 8 p.m.
George Saunders

Show topic: "Hard Work and for What?"
With phone guests: Amy Sedaris and Chuck Klosterman
Musical guest: Mike Doughty

The geophysical engineer and former convenience store employee turned writer George Saunders is the author of the essay collection The Braindead Megaphone. An award-winning fiction writer and Syracuse University creative writing professor, George is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, GQ, McSweeney's and Harper's. He recently lived in a homeless tent in Fresno, CA and wrote about it for GQ. From soil engineer to convenience store employee to award-winning writer, George has a vast store of experience to draw from when he talks about hard work. Authors Chuck Klosterman and Amy Sedaris will join us by phone to labor over the question as well.

Thursday, May 20 8 p.m.
Susan Orlean

Show topic: "Chickens and Other Dilemmas"
With phone guest Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate
Musical guest: Haley Bonar

Susan Orlean has written for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice. She's been played by Meryl Streep in the film, Adaptation, which was based on her book, The Orchid Thief. Orlean is a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of The Bullfighter Checks Her Make-Up and Lazy Little Loafers. She has a body of work about animals, including articles about dogs, birds, donkeys and chickens. Host John Moe ventured into the animal world as well with a recent article for the New York Times Magazine about his dog and animals figure large in several Billy Collins poems. Clearly, there's a lot to talk about.

Friday, June 18, 2010 8 p.m.
John Hodgman

Show topic: "An Examination of Diversions, Distractions, and Hey Look at That Thing Over There!"
With phone guest Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline, The Graveyard Book and The Sandman graphic novel series

The Daily Show's "Resident Expert" and author of The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require, John Hodgman has become a famous television personality as the PC in the Apple Mac commercials. He's appeared in the films The Invention of Lying, Baby Mama and Coraline and has served as humor editor for The New York Times Magazine. Hodgman and Moe first met as writers on Moe talks with his longtime friend about everything but the topic at hand. Author Neil Gaiman will take part in the conversation by phone from "somewhere unlikely."

TUNE IN: Wits™ will be recorded for broadcast in July and August on MPR News, KNOW 91.1 FM in the Twin Cities. Go to [[link: type:ext]] for more details.

More about John Moe, host of Wits™
An American Public Media host, John Moe was the host of APM's Weekend America and his work has been featured on APM's Marketplace, The Splendid Table and Future Tense, in addition to numerous NPR programs. He is the author of Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith and Beef Jerky and his writing has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Seattle Times and various humor anthologies. Having lived in Minnesota only a couple of years, he is wondering if God is trying to murder him this winter. He can't skate but can sled okay.

More about John Munson, musical guide
Native Saint Paulite John Munson has been performing in the Twin Cities for 20 years. He was indoctrinated into the value of Minnesota Public Radio virtually from birth by his mom, Mary Jane. He wrote, sang and played in 90's cult favorites Trip Shakespeare as well as the multi-platinum selling hit-makers Semisonic. His current projects include founding and playing bass with jazzy revisionists (and hosts of the wildly successful annual Holiday Show at The Fitzgerald!), The New Standards, and his latest rawk group, The Twilight Hours. He's quick to laugh, which will make each Wits show go faster for those on the stage.

About the Fitzgerald Theater
The Fitzgerald Theater is committed to programming that reflects the audience and mission of Minnesota Public Radio. This 1,000-seat theater acts as MPR's largest broadcast studio, with airwaves reaching millions of people tuned in to A Prairie Home Companion. Our staged productions commission authors, artists and radio hosts to create intellectually stimulating programs that delight and enlighten our vast public radio community. The Fitzgerald Theater is St. Paul's oldest theater and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

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