Baratunde Thurston Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Baratunde Thurston        

Futurist Comedian, Writer & Cultural Critic

Baratunde Thurston is a futurist comedian, writer, and cultural critic who helped re-launch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, co-founded Cultivated Wit and the About Race podcast, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. Baratunde is is a highly sought-after public speaker, television personality, and thought leader who has been part of noteworthy institutions such as Fast Company, TED, the MIT Media Lab, The Onion, and the gentrification of Brooklyn, New York.

Baratunde has an uncanny ability to crack the shell of any uncomfortable topic through a personal, accessible, and intelligent point of view.

With an ancestry that includes a great-grandfather who taught himself to read, a grandmother who was the first black employee at the U.S. Supreme Court building, a computer-programming mother who took over radio stations in the name of the black liberation struggle, and an older sister who teaches yoga at her donation-based studio in Lansing, Michigan, Baratunde has long been taught to question authority and forge his own path. It helps that he was raised in Washington, D.C. under crackhead Mayor Marion Barry.

His creative and inquisitive mind, forged by his mother’s lessons and polished by a philosophy degree from Harvard, have found expression in the pages of Fast Company, the screens of HBO, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, the sound waves of NPR and roughly one bajillion podcasts, including Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race, which he co-founded. He has hosted shows and stories on NatGeo, Discovery's Science Channel, Yahoo, AOL, YouTube, and Pivot TV. In 2016 he hosted a special three-part PBS series of TED Talks and earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for the Spotify/Mic series, Clarify.

Far from simply appearing in media, Baratunde is also helping define its future. In 2006 he co-founded Jack & Jill Politics, a black political blog whose coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention has been archived by the Library of Congress. From 2007 to 2012, he helped bring one of America's finest journalistic institutions into the future, serving as Director of Digital for The Onion then did something similar as Supervising Producer for digital expansion at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has been a judge for the Knight Foundation News Challenge, an affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and a director’s fellow at the MIT Media Lab. His book, How To Be Black, was published by Harper Collins in February 2012 and is a New York Times best-seller.

In 2012, he co-founded Cultivated Wit, a comedic digital company on a quest to merge comedy and technology into a new genre of creative expression, with Brian Janosch and Craig Cannon. The company produces Comedy Hack Day during which developers and comedians collaborate to make intentionally funny tech projects that humanize technology while offering social commentary on the world at large.

The ACLU of Michigan honored Baratunde “for changing the political and social landscape one laugh at a time.” He was nominated for the Bill Hicks Award for Thought Provoking Comedy. The Root named him to its list of 100 most influential African Americans, and Fast Company listed him as one of the 100 Most Creative People In Business. He has advised the Obama White House and serves on the National Board of BUILD, an organization that uses entrepreneurship-based experiential learning to propel underserved youth through high school on to college and career success. He also serves as an advisor to Civic Hall Labs and the Data & Society Research Institute.

When he’s not staring at glowing rectangles, Mr. Thurston, which he goes by toward the end of his bio, cooks, does yoga, and punches bags designed for that purpose. Mr. Thurston has traveled heavily within and beyond the United States and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Speech Topics

Creative Digital Strategy That Works

Comedian and Former Onion Director of Digital Baratunde Thurston pushes the envelope on the latest web platforms. Whether personifying The Swine Flu on Twitter, treating a Foursquare mayor battle as legitimate politics or live-blogging his experience clearing an exit ramp on Lakeshore Drive during Chicago's epic blizzard of 2011, he's found ways to do more than post photos and beg for followers. Far beyond delivering comedy and shock value, Baratunde has also delivered results and proven an ability to engage communities. Tune in for an entertaining and insightful journey that explores the limits of your favorite digital platforms and gets at the very heart of what it is to be human. Ideal for audiences with an interest in: marketing, social media, digital strategy, the future of media, future of news

Correspondent From The Future

In this technology and future-oriented talk, Baratunde goes behind the scenes of his television show as well as his past digital strategy work at The Onion and other companies to give a deeper analysis of the issues raised in his exploration of the future. From self-driving cars to creepy Japanese robots to a real, functioning orgasmatron, Baratunde will share anecdotes, images and a thoughtful, provocative and humorous analysis of what the future might hold. Ideal for audiences with an interest in: technology, science, the future, television, TV production, media

The Role of Satire / Comedy in Politics

Generally, and democracy specifically. He is also regularly invited to speak on The Future of News / Media and to discuss race, politics, comedy/satire and the media.

Digital Future & Storytelling


Pivot Adds Baratunde Thurston As Co-Host Of 'TakePart Live' | Variety

The on-air panel at Pivot's "TakePart Live" is officially a trio again. After matching regulars Meghan McCain and Jacob Soboroff with a series of guest hosts since ...

Baratunde Thurston: Focus on substance, not branding - Business ...

16, 2016, 9:38 AM; 5,161; 2 ... Baratunde Thurston. ... Some career experts love to tell people, "build your personal brand," says Thurston, who wrote the New ...

The Daily Show's Baratunde Thurston on comedy in the age of Trump

But in 2016, Jon Stewart isn't leading the way anymore. ... Baratunde Thurston was hired last year to join Noah as supervising producer in charge of digital ...

'The Daily Show With Trevor Noah' Hires Baratunde Thurston to ...

Fans will have access to more content across multiple platforms and devices.

Related Speakers View all

More like Baratunde