In June 2012, Nik Wallenda — of the great Wallenda Family circus dynasty — walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. On June 23, he plans to cross the Grand Canyon the same way. Wallenda has also recently written a memoir called Balance: Christian Faith and Miraculous Results.
Throughout the entertainment industry, alumni of a tiny, vocational high school program are at work: building sets in Hollywood, mixing sound on Broadway, performing on TV shows like The Office. They're graduates of the Addison Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), an incubator for actors and theater technicians at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, Vt.
Richard Pryor occupies his own special category in comedy. He played Las Vegas and made popular movies, and performed routines that were almost short stories — searing, profane and moving.
Pryor grew up in his grandmother's brothel in Peoria, Ill.; she beat him, too. He was expelled from high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army, but spent much of his military stint in prison. And with a special fever of genius — torched by drugs, fueled by grief and enlivened by exhilaration — he created unforgettable depictions of what it's like to feel left out of American life.
Heard any really good jokes lately? Andrew Hudgins is one of America's most noted poets, but he says he has a hard time recalling any actual lines of poetry. He can, however, recite knock-knock jokes he heard in the third grade. Ever since then, he has favored the kind of humor that can make people squirm or even make them angry. Jokes about religion, race, sex, weight, the O.J. Simpson case, Natalie Wood's death, and punch lines from Adolf Hitler's generals — everything is fair game.
All this week on Code Switch and on air we've been digging into the findings of a survey of African-American views of their communities, finances and social lives. We conducted the poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.