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Yiddish novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer once told San Francisco-based NPR talk host Michael Krasny that “Jews suffer from every disease except amnesia.”

This unforgettable evening features 3 of the New Yorker’s leading writers, Calvin Trillin, Adam Gopnik and Jeffrey Toobin, in conversation with Krasny, author of the bestselling book, Let There Be Laughter: A Treasury of Great Jewish Humor and What It All Means, about which Andy Borowitz said, “what’s not to love?” There will be a joyous feast of jokes, and commentary on the historical and cultural implications. You will enjoy and learn, even if you aren’t Jewish.

Michael Krasny will sign copies of his book, Let There Be Laughter, following the event.


This event is supported by Producers Circle member the Edythe Kenner Foundation (Robert and Lynda Safron). Learn more about the 92Y Producers Circle.


(Click the names below to expand info.)

Calvin Trillin

Calvin Trillin, author of Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America, has been acclaimed in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorker for more than fifty years, he has been called "perhaps the finest reporter in America." His wry commentary on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a "happy eater" have earned him renown as "a classic American humorist." His About Alice — a 2007 New York Times bestseller that was hailed as “a miniature masterpiece” — followed two other bestselling memoirs, Remembering Denny and Messages from My Father.

Trillin was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo., and now lives in New York. He graduated from Yale in 1957, did a hitch in the army and then joined Time. After a year covering the South from the Atlanta bureau, he became a writer for Time in New York.

In 1963, he became a staff writer for The New Yorker. From 1967 to 1982, he produced a highly praised series of articles for The New Yorker called "U. S. Journal" — 3,000 word pieces every three weeks from somewhere in the United States, on subjects that ranged from the murder of a farmer's wife in Iowa to the author's effort to write the definitive history of a Louisiana restaurant called Didee's "or to eat an awful lot of baked duck and dirty rice trying." Some of the murder stories from that series were published in 1984 as Killings, a book that was described by William Geist in The New York Times Book Review as "that rarity, reportage as art."

From 1978 through 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, writing what USA Today called "simply the funniest regular column in journalism." From 1986 through 1995, the column was syndicated to newspapers. From 1996 to 2001, Trillin did a column for Time. His columns have been collected in five books. His Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2011.

Since 1990, Trillin has written a piece of comic verse weekly for The Nation. His books of what he calls deadline poetry have all been New York Times bestsellers.

Trillin's books have included three comic novels (most recently the national bestseller Tepper Isn't Going Out) and a collection of short stories and a travel book and an account of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. Three of his antic books on eating — American Fried, Alice Let's Eat and Third Helpings — were compiled in 1994 into a single volume called The Tummy Trilogy.

He lectures widely, and has appeared often as a guest on television. He has written and presented two one man shows at the American Place Theater in New York — both of them critically acclaimed and both sell outs. In reviewing Words, No Music, in 1990, New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow called Trillin "the Buster Keaton of performance humorists."

Trillin has been a trustee of the New York Public Library and of Yale He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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Patricia Marx

Patricia Marx is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats. Her most recent book is Let’s Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain my Mental Faculties. Her children’s book, Now Everybody Really Hates Me, was the first and only winner of the Friedrich Medal, an award made up by Marx and named after her air-conditioner. She can take a baked potato out of the oven with her bare hand.

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Adam Gopnik

A staff writer for the New Yorker since 1986, Adam Gopnik was born in Philadelphia and raised in Montreal. He received his BA. in Art History from McGill University, before completing his graduate work at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. His first essay in The New Yorker, "Quattrocento Baseball" appeared in May of 1986 and he served as the magazine’s art critic from 1987 to 1995. That year, he left New York to live and write in Paris, where he wrote the magazine’s “Paris Journal” for the next five years. His expanded collection of his essays from Paris, Paris To the Moon, appeared in 2000, and was called by The New York Times “the finest book on France in recent years.” While in Paris, he began work on an adventure novel, The King In The Window, which was published in 2005, and which the Journal of Fantasy & Science Fiction called “a spectacularly fine children’s novel…children’s literature of the highest order, which means literature of the highest order.” He still often writes from Paris for the New Yorker, has edited the anthology Americans In Paris for the Library of America, and has written a number of introductions to new editions of works by Maupassant, Balzac, Proust, Victor Hugo and Alain-Fournier.

His 2006 book, Through The Children’s Gate: A Home In New York collected and expanded his essays from the previous five years about life in New York and about raising two children in the shadow of many kinds of sadness. It includes the much-anthologized essays “Bumping Into Mr. Ravioli,” about his daughter Olivia’s imaginary friend, who is always too busy to play with her, and “Last of the Metrozoids,” about the life and last year of Kirk Varnedoe. In 2009, Gopnik completed Angels And Ages: A Short Book About Lincoln, Darwin And Modern Life, which became a national bestseller and which the Telegraph in London called “the essay every essayist would like to have written.” Shortly after, in 2010, Gopnik published another children’s novel, The Steps Across the Water, which chronicles the adventures of a young girl, Rose, in U Nork.

In 2011, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asked Gopnik to deliver the fiftieth anniversary Massey Lectures, broadcast every year throughout Canada. His Massey Lectures, called Winter: Five Windows on the Season, were published that same fall — as was his collection of essays on cooking and eating, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food.

In addition to his work as a writer, Adam has been an active lecturer. He has given lectures and readings in almost every major American city, and some smaller ones, too, from Jackson, Mississippi to Seattle, Washington. In addition to the Massey series, his more formal and extended lectures have included the New York Public Library/Oxford University Press lectures in New York; the Phillips Lecture in Washington and the Whitney Lecture in New York, and the Shapiro Lectures at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. In 2006, he also hosted and presented an hour-long film about New York, Lighting Up New York, for the BBC in London.

In the past five years, Gopnik has engaged in many musical projects, working both as a lyricist and libretto writer. With the composer David Shire he has written both book and lyrics for the musical comedy TABLE, to be produced in 2016 by the Long Wharf theater under the direction of Gordon Edelstein. He wrote the libretto for Nico Muhly’s oratorio Sentences, which premiered in London at the Barbican in June of 2015. Other projects include collaborating on a one-woman show for the soprano Melissa Errico, Sing The Silence, which debuted in November of 2015 at the Public Theater in New York, and included new songs co-written with David Shire, Scott Frankel and Peter Mills. Future projects include a new musical with Scott Frankel.

He has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism three times, as well as the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting and the Canadian National Magazine Award Gold Medal for arts writing. His work has been anthologized many times, in Best American Essays, Best American Travel WritingBest American Sports WritingBest American Food Writing and Best American Spiritual Writing. In March of 2013, Gopnik was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Republic. Two months later, he received an honoris causa from McGill University. He lives in New York with his wife, filmmaker Martha Parker, and their two children, Luke Auden and Olivia Esme Claire.

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Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, Ph.D., is a scholar and Professor of English and American Literature at San Francisco State University, the host of KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny, an award winning broadcast journalist and author of two acclaimed books, Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life and Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic’s Search. Since 1993 he has been the host of Forum with Michael Krasny, a news and public affairs interview program produced at KQED Radio, the National Public Radio affiliate in San Francisco, California.

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Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer for The New Yorker and senior analyst for CNN, is one of the most recognized and admired legal journalists in the country. His most recent book, American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, was published by Doubleday in 2016 and became an immediate New York Times bestseller. His book, The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, was the basis for the acclaimed ten-part limited series, American Crime Story, starring John Travolta and Cuba Gooding, Jr., on the FX Network, in early 2016.

His book, The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, was published by Doubleday in 2012 and was also a New York Times bestseller. The Oath followed The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, which was also a bestseller and earned the 2008 J. Anthony Lukas Prize for Nonfiction from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Toobin, who is also a noted lecturer, has written several other critically acclaimed, bestselling books including A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President, and Too Close to Call: The 36-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election.

Previously, Toobin served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn. He also served as an associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, an experience that provided the basis for his first book, Opening Arguments: A Young Lawyer's First Case—United States v. Oliver North.

Toobin earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

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