As the rollup to the Presidential elections continues, we offer two stories about big shots, presented by guest host Jane Curtin. First, classic humorist James Thurber imagines what happens when an aviation hero has feet of clay. "The Greatest Man in the World” is read by Michael Ian Black. And former President Bill Clinton makes a cameo appearance in Meera Nair’s warmly funny tale of a village in Bangladesh about to be rescued from "centuries of obscurity.” "A Warm Welcome to the President, Insh'Allah!” is performed by Aasif Mandvi.
ACTORS & ARTISTS
Michael Ian Black is known for such seminal television programs as The State, Stella, and Michael and Michael Have Issues, all of which he co-created, wrote, and starred in. In addition to performing standup across the country, Black has appeared in many films and television shows, including Ed, Wet Hot American Summer, Burning Love, They Came Together, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Inside Amy Schumer, VH1’s I Love the '80s, The Good Fight, Dogs in a Park, Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later, Another Period, and Insatiable. He has written best-selling books for both children and adults. Black is the host of the podcast How to Be Amazing.
Jane Curtin has appeared on Broadway in Noises Off, Candida, and Our Town. Her off-Broadway work includes Love Letters and the musical revue Pretzels, which she co-wrote. She starred in the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun and won back-to-back Emmy Awards for her role on Kate & Allie. She is an original cast member of Saturday Night Live and also starred in the television film series The Librarian and its spin-off, The Librarians. Her film credits include Coneheads; Antz; I Love You, Man; I Don’t Know How She Does It; The Heat; The Spy Who Dumped Me; Can You Ever Forgive Me?; and Ode to Joy. She starred on the television series Unforgettable and has had guest appearances on The Good Wife, 48 Hours ’til Monday, The Good Fight, and Broad City. Curtin will appear in the forthcoming film Never Too Late.
Aasif Mandvi won an Obie Award for his critically acclaimed play Sakina’s Restaurant, which was adapted into a film. Additional theater credits, on and off-Broadway, include Oklahoma!, Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, Disgraced, and Nassim. Mandvi’s screen credits include The Daily Show, Jericho, Margin Call, Gods Behaving Badly, Million Dollar Arm, The Brink, Halal in the Family, Younger, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Blue Bloods, Human Capital, This Way Up, Room 104, and most recently, Evil. Mandvi is the author of the essay collection No Land’s Man.
Meera Nair is the author of the short story collection Video, winner of the Asian-American Literary Award. Video was also named a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, a Notable Book by the Kiriyama Pacific-Rim Prize, and Editor’s Choice by the San Francisco Chronicle. She is also the author of the children’s books Maya Saves the Day and Maya in a Mess. Nair’s work has been featured in TheWashington Post, TheNew York Times, Guernica, Threepenny Review, Calyx, India Abroad, and Departures, as well as in the anthologies Charlie Chan Is Dead-2, Money Changes Everything, and Delhi Noir, among other publications. She currently teaches writing at New York University and Brooklyn College.
One of the 20th century's foremost humorists, James Thurber (1894 - 1961) joined The New Yorker in 1927. Much of his distinctive prose and illustrations were created for its pages and collected in some thirty books. These include Men, Women and Dogs; The Years with Ross; his autobiography, My Life and Hard Times; the play The Male Animal; The Thurber Carnival, a theatrical revue that won a Special Tony Award in 1960; and the renowned story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” twice adapted to film. In honor of Thurber’s legacy, the Thurber Prize for American Humor has recognized outstanding comedic writing since 1997.