Posts Tagged ‘art and politics’

Chapter Four: Comedic & Cultural Entertainment in NYC

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

My mental health preservation efforts do not stop with good food and exercise, but emphatically extend to comedy. An overarching theme of what I write about regards being intentional with your “self,” your time, and what you enjoy. I love going to comedy clubs, watching late night shows (from home or in-person through the iota lottery system), seeing movies (which are cheaper earlier in the day/as matinees), and going to museums.

Having gone to college, I know that the experience can be very overwhelming, especially if you are in a new (and big) city. I wanted to attend NYU because I dreamed of working in political satire, which remains true. I knew New York City was where political satire thrived, and that’s where I wanted to be. Still, although it was my choice to ultimately move away from home, I had no idea where to begin when it came to actually exploring the city. 

So, I started with late night, since that’s where I enjoy my favorite political comedians including Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, John Oliver (who is not technically “late night”), and Seth Meyers. If you simply Google the name of any of these people/shows along with “tickets,” you will find the link to sign up for the lottery to see them live. Through this free lottery system I have been able to see Sam Bee once, and Colbert twice. These were incredibly emotional and fun experiences for me, not only because comedy has been my passion since childhood, but also because the reason I chose to study Media was so that I could work in comedy entertainment. Because of Jon Stewart’s influence as a political satirist, I even worked in proper politics for a few years after 2016. 

A picture from when a friend and I had the opportunity to see Colbert live.

Aside from going to free late night shows, I love going to comedy shows. One of the best times in my life was when I had the opportunity to intern at Gotham Comedy Club, which auspiciously entailed me getting to watch two to four hours of stand-up for free every week while helping post promotions to social media. Being mindful of some age restrictions, there is usually a minimum cover fee at comedy clubs, so your evening can get pricey, but it is absolutely worth going to at least one to experience the NYC stand-up comedy scene. 

My best friend and I felt that we didn’t always make the most of our time in undergrad, so we made a point to go to as many shows and events as we could in senior year. We saw one of our favorite stand-ups (Nate Bargatze) perform an hour-long special live, and we went to Broadway shows as well. There are often some form of student discounts available for Broadway, or even films, and colleges often send emails about such opportunities– so keep a lookout. 

Whatever your passions are outside of school, be intentional with making time for yourself. I had fun in school and enjoyed my classes, but a break can offer rejuvenation. When I felt inspired and/or didn’t have the time or resources to go see something, I took it upon myself to write my own comedy for fun– I have not yet gathered the courage to do an open mic myself, but my goal is to try soon. To mentally prepare, I just remind myself: it’s a right of passage for every comedian to bomb… right?!

For more “serious” cultural moments in NYC, I love visiting the Hayden Planetarium’s Space Theater at the American Museum of Natural History and watching their immersive mini-documentaries on Space projected onto a spherical dome above the audience. Museums in New York are plentiful, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), the Guggenheim, and my personal favorite: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET). The MET has so many sections that I still haven’t seen. They also have seasonal or temporary exhibits, which are very novel. I visited just last week and they had a Dutch exhibit up, displaying multiple Rembrandts (which are very cool and sad).  

Marble statue of Orpheus visible from the back on “the Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco, 1506–15”

Whether you love comedy or not, there are  plenty of forms of entertainment in New York City, or surely wherever you are going to school. Colleges do a fantastic job of promoting discounted events, so keep an eye out in your emails and school bulletins for any opportunities. 

Ultimately, my advice is that you be intentional with your “self,” what you enjoy, and the time (off) that you have. 

For those seeking entertainment while in college:

  • Be intentional with your off-time; resting/relaxing can be achieved in other ways than just sitting at home
  • Colleges do a fantastic job of promoting discounted events, so check your emails and school bulletins for any opportunities/ find Campus Clipper on social media for coupons! 
  • Museums are always worth visiting; students usually receive significant discounts if not the “pay what you can” option (which can just be nothing)
  • NYC offers a lot of free entertainment, whether it means seeing a daytime talk show live,  SNL, or late night

By: Anna Matefy

Anna Matefy recently graduated from NYU with a Bachelor’s in Media, Culture, and Communication. She has been working in politics for the past few years, and wants to transition into a career in media entertainment/comedy. She will be attending NYU as a graduate student in Media beginning in 2021.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


The Creative Mind in a Chaotic World: Balancing Mental Health, Art, and Political Involvement

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Channing Smith is a woman of many talents: filmmaking, photography, and screenwriting being a small few. I spoke with her one on one about how she balances her artistic inclinations with her mental health and political involvement as a student. 

TC: Can you give me the official rundown of your major? 

CS: I am a senior film major. I’ve really concentrated on documentary [film] just because I think it’s a really amazing social justice tool to teach and inform other people about issues that they might think is not a concern to them. Documentary film tells you, Hey, this is happening. And you might not know it, but you should know about it now. And here’s why you should know about it.

So currently–you’re kind of getting a new exclusive here– my senior thesis is going to be about women’s experiences in solitary confinement. And I’ve actually been speaking with women for months now who have experienced solitary, whose wives are in solitary, whose mothers, sisters, and daughters are in solitary. Because I think that the narrative around incarceration, especially working with Re/Creation is really centered around men, which there’s nothing wrong with that because there are disproportionately a lot of Black men that are in prison. But I think we also need to not forget women. As a woman myself, I would want to be included in that story. So it’s about women in solitary confinement and the treatment that we don’t see. 

TC: I think the project that you’re describing is so necessary in the representation and the work that it does. It reminds me of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and how heartbreaking it was to read. It’s reporting live and it’s giving these people humanity. 

How does your art relate to your political stances? 

CS: So first I would like to say one that I am Black. I am a woman and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. And all of that is already enough to make a statement when I’m in the room, you know? I am a masculine presenting woman. I don’t conform to what women should do or what women should say or how women should act [according to] patriarchy and racism. So with that being said, my being is political. My personhood is being policed in multiple ways every day. And so in order to combat that my work has to be political because that’s my life.

TC: How does your art relate to your mental health?

CS: In terms of mental health I definitely will say that there’s kind of a bifurcation between helping and hindering. Meaning, [I’m often] stuck on something for so long and I’m just beating myself up about it when it’s not perfect yet, but then really when is a piece ever finished? When is a piece ever perfect? When will it ever be exactly the way I see it in my head? Probably never; it never really ends up happening that way. And I just have to have someone tell me to stop and just put it down. 

My mind is really full all the time, racing all the time. And some of that is in my control and some of it isn’t, but I will say that art, my medium specifically, really helped with being able to relieve that sense of busy-ness. Even if I’m writing a script and to a normal person it may seem like there’s a lot going on, [for me] that’s the most still my brain can be. I feel the most energized after I’ve done a shoot with someone. I love being on sets. I feel like my mind is most still when there’s chaos going on around me which is very hard to explain to people who don’t understand or have some sort of mental illness.

TC: How would you say that you manage stress and anxiety as it relates to your work? And then also as it relates to world events? Because I personally could only imagine working in a field that relates so closely to heavy subjects like mass incarceration and inequality. At some point it can weigh on you.

CS: One, I will be completely transparent and say medication. [It’s important to] just take care of myself first. And if that means medication, if that means therapy, if that means working out [that will help me] to optimize myself. Also, probably the thing that I’ve found to be most important is finding community in those areas.

I definitely have different sets of communities. When I’m dealing with mass incarceration work, I have my Re/Creation family. And we’ve all been in the thick of it since the very beginning of Re/Creation. And then I have my film community. So that has really helped.

Because it is a tough thing to also learn that a lot of artists in any medium deal with anxiety and depression. It’s kind of a weird reality to live in where some of the most beautiful art or the most thought provoking or the most emotionally provoking art in whatever medium was made by someone who had a mental illness. I can still create art in the mental state just exactly how I am. So that’s also kind of cool, but in a creepy cool kind of way.

TC: Do you have any advice for other artists and other creatives about how to balance mental health, art, and political involvement? 

CS: One day at a time, honestly. I feel like people with depression and anxiety often think about the world on a much broader level. And it’s just like, man, everything kind of sucks. 

And so I was thinking about that and [talking with] my friends and they were just like, you just got to be gentle with yourself. You just gotta take it one day at a time and one project at a time, one idea at a time. 

To learn more about Channing’s prison abolition work with Re/Creation, visit:

To see Channing’s latest artistic projects, visit her art Instagram page @Lightandsmith

By Taylor Custis

Taylor Custis is a recent graduate of NYU where she made her own major because it sounded like a cool thing to do. She enjoys stories of all kinds, ethnic foods, and spiritually charged candles. She is currently in Queens embarking on a career in written and visual storytelling.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.