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Baratunde Thurston        

Futurist Comedian, Writer & Cultural Critic

Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller "How To Be Black." He’s the executive producer and host of two podcasts: "How To Citizen with Baratunde" and "We’re Having A Moment" which CNET called “the most important podcast of 2020.” He’s also the creator and host of the weekly pandemic show, "Live On Lockdown." In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time.” Right now, the writer, activist and comedian is using his powerful voice to help people understand this revolutionary moment with his unique blend of insight, humor, and empathy.

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, Thurston 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.

Thurston’s mind, forged by his mother’s lessons and polished by a philosophy degree from Harvard, has found expression in the pages of Fast Company and the New York Times, the screens of HBO, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, the sound waves of NPR and podcasts such as Pivot, WTF, and Hello, Monday.

He has hosted shows and stories on NatGeo and Discovery’s Science Channel and earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for hosting the Spotify/Mic series, "Clarify." Thurston is also an in-demand public speaker and live events host for organizations ranging from Google to criminal justice reform non-profits such as JustLeadershipUSA.

Far from simply appearing in media, Thurston has also helped 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co-founded Jack & Jill Politics, a black political blog whose coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention has been archived by the Library of Congress.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 served as an advisor to the Data & Society Research Institute and a director’s fellow at the MIT Media Lab.

Thurston is a rare leader who sits at the intersection of race, technology, and democracy and seamlessly integrates past, present and future. Thurston serves on the boards of BUILD and the Brooklyn Public Library.

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

News


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.

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