Experts on lucid dreaming suggest that one of the best ways to take control of your dreams is by getting into the habit of asking "am I dreaming" in your everyday life.

But sometimes the strangeness of real life events can make it really difficult to tell. And if the details of "reality" that seem absurd or inexplicable are actually evidence that you're dreaming all this, then what kind of dream are you having? What message should you take from it when you eventually wake up?

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FILM

The Best Netflix Comedy Specials of the 2010s

It was so bad, it was funny.

Everything in life is funny.

Remember that the next time you feel creeping alarm about climate change, impeachment proceedings, or Brexit. As George Carlin once said, "There's a humorous side to every situation. The challenge is to find it." But in the age of Twitter and op-eds about bad dates with comedians, it's hard to keep track of what's funny and what's cringey. In the last decade, we've been treated to all variations. From critics lamenting that Hannah Gadsby's emotional comedy isn't "real" stand-up to Dave Chappelle returning to say exactly what's on his mind regardless of the political climate, our cultural understanding of what constitutes comedy is currently in flux.

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Humor

Tig Notaro's New Netflix Special Is AWESOME (& Jennifer Aniston Agrees)

Tig's Ability to Portray and Parlay Hateful and Discriminatory Stances as Ironic Makes her Humor Subversive.

I'll get to Jennifer later, that was just an attention grabber...

Whether you have been a fan of Tig for years, or just fell in love with her show One Mississippi, her recent Netflix Special Happy To Be Here is lovely/hysterical/spot on/enjoyable/worth watching and many more positive adverbs. Tig is most famous for her comedy surrounding extreme life events that she survived like cancer, a double mastectomy, death of her mother, and almost dying from c-diff. That's not what this special is about.

Tig proves she is not only able to make great comedy out of life's misery she is able to make jokes and find humor in the non-dramatics of life - the diapers, the dumb questions your loving spouse asks you, and how people react to your parenting choices. She paints us a picture of a calmer, happier, more stable and healthy phase of life and yet, you will be slapping your knee, mouth open, no sound coming, until your laugh finds its way out.

How great is it that Tig normalizes gay-ness (whatever that is), femaleness, breast-less-ness, etc.? A boyish lesbian with a double mastectomy can still make jokes about day-to-day life. Tig doesn't relegate her humor to lesbian jokes, cancer jokes, etc. Tig has a wife, her wife asks her wicked dumb questions (like "What do you think they are serving for breakfast on the flight this morning?" and "Do you think you should meow at our cat? You don't know what you could be saying to her."). I won't spoil much more of her special but as I said, don't expect just gay jokes, women jokes, cancer stuff. This special is for everyone.

Tig is one of those people who makes everything funny. Her delivery is suuuuper dry. She is comfortable thinking through something on stage, and she doesn't tell "jokes." Tig tells stories, and offers us her unique, hysterical perspective. While I said this special is not relegated to cancer, gay, and death jokes, of course those elements are included, as is marriage, motherhood, and being famous. Tig is able to offer a vantage point on all of these topics from both a marginalized and empowered perspective. Tig is clearly comfortable with so many aspects of herself that so many people in this world are still so uncomfortable with. Tig is able to name this discomfort that others have with her, without blaming them.

What a gift Tig offers us, being able to be comfortable with other people's discomfort. In a world where the news and politicians are polarized, people have to choose sides, choose one community over the other, claim one identify over another, just by being herself, Tig is often able to stand smack in the middle of the fray. She doesn't feed off controversy, but certainly relishes irony. Her ability to portray and parlay hateful and discriminatory stances as ironic is what makes her humor so subversive. When Tig is onstage, it's as if she is leading her own peaceful protest that we all get to watch.

PS: Sounds Like Jennifer Aniston thinks Tig is all that as well since she is on board to star in Netflix's new show First Ladies.

Keepin' It Real

Rachel


By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, is a writer, a personal coach, and even though she is very very fun (just ask her three-year-old daughter) due to her academic inclinations, always the pooper at the party. She works with all kinds of people to improve their ability to work with all kinds of people. She can often be found hiding from her two children in her laundry room. More about her on her website.

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THE REAL REEL | Not Just For Lesbians

Tig Notaro's One Mississippi Is One Of The Most Relatable Shows On TV

Viewers of One Mississippi are devastated about Amazon's recent decision to cancel the critically acclaimed show, and they should be. This show is nothing but honest, and insightful in a way that so many shows are not. The first season is mostly based on the actual recent events of Notaro's life, and often mirrors the very personal and intimate stories she shares in her book, "I'm Just A Person." Viewers will watch Tig survive cancer, a rare deadly infection, the loss of her mother, and a romantic break-up, pretty much simultaneously. So why would one watch a show with such seemingly depressing overtures? Because you will laugh out loud, and maybe cry too, but mostly, you will look like a dog, who hears a funny unidentifiable noise…cocking your head…ears perked… trying to make sense of what you are taking in, and you wont be able to stop watching, listening, and learning until you do. Tig succeeds in showing us the basic humanity that can be seen in all of us.

Want to know where an androgynous white lesbian and a post-military OCD Step father intersect? Or where a straight white girl can wind up begging a "boy-ish girl" with a double mastectomy to make-out with her? Or maybe where an evangelical evolution-denier can converse with a die-hard agnostic liberal? This show is the place where realistic characters (again, mostly based on Notaro's actual life) from actual diverse backgrounds, intersect. Tig doesn't have to create a reality show, flying in the "token liberal" to come to dinner with the "token conservative." She knows and is related to these people, and they know and love her back. This doesn't mean these relationships are without conflict, in-fact quite the opposite; the conflicting beliefs she engages with are the best part. That being said, she is able to show compassion for all sides, always focusing on each character's humanity.

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Even if you haven't had the pleasure of dating a woman whose mother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away (sad to say I have), you will see pieces of yourself in this show. The thing about loving someone who is grieving, is that you get a very specific part of them, one they likely had never known. As their partner, you are grounded in the moment, aware of the bigger picture, able to understand that this time will pass. As the one grieving, they are not aware of all these things. They are floating, trying to understand their loss, wondering what it means to now be motherless, in world where their mother was still in many ways, a home base for them. A love they could go back to, if only metaphorically, if their life didn't work out. Now, they are alone. Except they are not, their partner might be there, still able to focus on other things like rent, and work, and friendships, and eating. This experience will likely bring you closer together… or wedge you apart. Either way, the world continues to turn and Notaro gives us a glimpse of this orbit.

In the same vein as the world continuing to turn among tragedy, Notaro very honestly delves into sexual assault, clearly in a very timely manner. She tells us that many of the episodes about sexual assault were written before the dozens and dozens of industry names were called out, including one of the executive producers on the show, Louis C.K. In fact, One Mississippi, in it's second season includes a masturbation in front of a co-worker scene making it hard to deny a connection to the Louis C.K. events and the episode. During an appearance on The View, Notaro states that she knows and believes some of C.K's victims, and "is relieved" not to be working with him. However, Notaro is addressing sexual assault before #metoo, and before it was common to discuss which celebrity was being called out, over the breakfast table. She is also addressing the complexity of family sexual abuse, the messiness of it, and how it affects family dynamics in general. She shows us how a grandfather can be giving loving shoulder rides one minute, and molesting the next. Again, she shows us the intersection of good and evil, love and hate, and the devastating lack of clarity in-between.

This show isn't about cancer, or death, or being a lesbian, or sexual assault, or make-ups, and break-ups. It's about our un-deniable humanity throughout all of these experiences. It reminds us that none of these experiences happen in a vacuum, or even one at a time, or to one person at a time. One might need to go pee, lose a parent, almost die, change the dial on the radio, recall that they were molested as a child, and fall in love… all at once. We don't get "I'm a lesbian only" days or "Cancer Mondays." In an era that is so politically charged, and so politically disappointing, with fragmented movements and sides to choose, One Mississippi makes picking a side impossible. One Mississippi chooses love and relationships above all, and the rest is the debris one must sort through in order to make sense of it all. Watch this show, I don't care who you are, what your political background, what gender you sleep with, or how many towels you use in the morning (it really can be astonishing how many towels some people use).


By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, and a BA in Communication & Culture, and works with all kinds of people to improve their ability to work with all kinds of people. She can often be found hiding in her laundry room from her two children. More about her on her website.

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How to reconcile Louis C.K. the comic with Louis C.K. the creep

His name is on a lot of good comedy, and that's hard to admit.

Nigel Parry

We are all disappointed in Louis C.K.

A few months ago I pitched an article about Louis C.K. that I planned to title "What Exactly Does a Male Feminist Look Like?" After reviewing C.K.'s work—including his early standup, FX's Louie, and all of his Netflix specials—I had argued in favor of C.K.'s comedy and what I perceived to be his support of liberalism and feminism. My personal favorite, Louie, is an absurdist comedy about a single dad navigating NYC with his two girls; a father who makes a comedy of his insecurities, fears, and worst inclinations as a man. Most of C.K.'s comedy is loosely inspired by his personal stories of fatherhood, so the recent news of his sexual misconduct with five women (brave enough to come forward), is shocking—and certainly eerie—and a stark reminder that a father of two girls is capable of abusing his power with other women and going home to tuck his babies in.

'Louie'Courtesy of Netflix

C.K. has writing and producer credits on Pamela Adlon's Better Things, another show about parenting and the weird grey areas of managing a love life after divorce. Lucky Louie on HBO ran for one season and was an adult sitcom with a typical PG-13 setup: a father trying to have sex with his exhausted wife, and an exhausted wife catering to her cute, little girl. I used to watch Louie in college on days where I needed a real laugh and when I wanted to see NYC in a sentimental light—and as bleak as C.K.'s comedy is, his admiration for NYC was always present. Friends and I would make inside jokes about Louis' therapist sessions, dates, gross eating habits, and even identify with his self-loathing. As a comic's comic, by the time I graduated, C.K. was a household name.

When news broke of Bill Cosby's sexual misconduct and accusations made by more than 50 women, I wanted justice for these women and media representation for their stories and the pain they endured in silence. When news broke of Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulting leading ladies in Hollywood, I wanted justice for these women, but again, I found myself disgusted that these women had to keep silent for years before speaking up. When news broke of Louis C.K., I felt numb. It's starting to feel like everyone's daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and friends keep quiet about sexual harassment and misconduct, scared that our experiences will define us, dirty, and ruin our ability to claim our own bodies, careers, and lives outside of the hands of men.

I'm not interested in think pieces arguing if we should stop watching Louie or The Cosby Show; I'm only interested in discussing how women can come together to protect one another, to build spaces where this type of sexual misconduct can no longer be silenced. But again, no one can police what successful father's feel like doing to their employees, peers, and friends in professional spaces; accountability is essential.

The Internet is disappointed. Tig Notaro is disappointed. My mom is disappointed. We are all disappointed in Louis C.K.

But what's most disappointing is that the year 2017 is nearing an end and women still don't feel safe enough to speak publicly about sexual mistreatment. We are still publicly discussing how to protect women's rights and bodies against men who wrongfully feel entitled to them. We are still deciding how to punish these men, how to publicly speak about their misconduct, and how to provide women with the tools needed to openly speak about sexism and inequality in the workplace. We are still primitively discussing why and how abusing power and authority can lead to manipulation, and harassment (as if women ever stopped being placed in positions where their livelihood depended on forced silence and cooperation).

I've since scrapped my piece on C.K.'s brand of feminism, slightly nauseated that I could have published an essay praising him while women silently held on to their experiences with him. Silence is no longer an option. Women should have the freedom to feel safe and supported when they decide to speak sooner than later. 2017 has proven that power is a hell of a drug, but our voices, even stronger.

Louis C.K. (Courtesy of Netflix)


Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.


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Humor

REVIEW | 5 underrated TV comedies that are really good

Tired of scrolling through your Netflix queue? Check out these five binge-worthy comedies.

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Just want to laugh, but can't find a show that's worth the time to stream?

It's another late night and you've been switching between Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu scrolling through the feeds with a million options but nothing spikes your interest. It seems that there are so many TV shows out there making it difficult to filter through all the noise. Instead of cuing up Friends for the hundredth time, why not give some new shows a try?

Catastrophe

The premise of the show is an American guy (Rob Delaney) meets a British woman (Sharon Horgan) and after a one-night stand she gets pregnant. They decide to try and make it work and start a family together. Catastrophe is a kind of like the train-wreck you can't peel your eyes away from. It's a show about what it's like to be in a relationship today, facing realities many couples face like losing a job, infidelity and deception all while trying to raise a family. There are three seasons and each one is vastly different from the last. While still categorized as a comedy, this show pulls on the heartstrings and raises deep questions about love and relationships. But, you'll find yourself rooting for the characters by the end.

The third season of Catastrophe was just released on Amazon. Click here to start with Season one.

Happy Endings

The Friends-style comedy of the 90's worked exceptionally well and we've seen countless series attempt to recreate that plot line. We all know the formula: six friends, three ladies and three guys, two of them are dating, and a couple of them switch off being the comic relief. Happy Endings is one example of a show that was able to get the formula right but with an up-to-date, modern plot line. Each episode surprises you with laughs and the storylines twist when you might be expecting a turn. Happy Endings is the perfect show to turn on when you just want to lounge and veg out, oh and possibly cry with laughter. Unfortunately it was cancelled after three seasons on ABC, but thank God for Hulu keeping it alive.

I dare you to start with the pilot episode and not get hooked. Hulu features all three seasons here.

Transparent

If you're in the mood for a good comedy but like a little more complexity and character development, then Transparent is for you. This show features a far-from-functional family with healthy familial boundaries constantly being crossed. The patriarch of the family, played by Jeffrey Tambor comes out to his family as trans, but the show doesn't just rely on that subject matter to move it forward. Transparent reveals the intricacies of family dynamics focusing on parent/adult-child relationships, sibling relationships, and romantic relationships. This show pushes past the typical boundaries of a prescribed plot line, sometimes forcing the viewer to suspend disbelief and follow it down a rabbit hole into a character's twisted psyche. It's at once improbable and very much relatable to see how complicated all relationships can be.

Start with season one on Amazon Prime. Oh, and the soundtrack is reason alone to watch the show.

Insecure

With only eight episodes so far, Insecure has made quite the impact on the audience scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and receiving much critical acclaim. Created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore and loosely based on the web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, the show revolves around the happenings of main character, Issa and her best friend, Molly. The first season explores themes of dating, building a career, and finding oneself in your 20s, through the black female perspective. This show will draw you in and make you cringe with anxious nerves as you see Issa's life awkwardly unravel, all the while hoping this unraveling is exactly what she needed.

Season two premieres on HBO on Sunday, July 23rd. Read more about Issa Rae and Insecure here.

One Mississippi

Tig Notaro has gained a lot of attention the past few years with her Netflix comedy special and her memoir about loss and her personal experience with cancer, I'm Just a Person. Her new Amazon Prime series, One Mississippi, takes the audience on an emotional adventure when Tig returns to her hometown in Mississippi to be at her mother's deathbed. Written unlike any other show, One Mississippi, is about the absurdity and the unavoidable moments of humor that arise when life presents us with extreme pain and death. Tig crafts a beautiful story about family that somehow makes you laugh even when you should be crying.

Check out season one on Amazon and watch Tig's comedy special on Netflix here.