Isle at War: Good Luck, Everyone.

Laxey's WWI memorial -- one of nearly 200 scattered across the Isle of Man. Photography by Graham Richards.

Laxey’s WWI memorial — one of nearly 200 scattered across the Isle of Man. Photography by Graham Richards.

We’ve recently returned from an enchanted holiday on the British Isles, where we ran wild among ruins while I scribbled copious notes on index cards squirreled away in my flesh-tone fanny pack. Many of the notes belong to essays for my current book project, The Baroness and Fool, while others make better conversation pieces for the world at large.

Our arrival coincided with the Island at War events honoring the fallen and brave of The Great War. Now, being a gun-shy American I struggle with any celebration of war. I come from a land where war is endlessly perpetuated both in secret and broad daylight. Still, I was profoundly moved by the love poured into remembering a terrible time that forever changed the people inhabiting this breathtaking landscape. The Manx culture maintains a reverence for the losses of war, one that seems to render them impervious to the fear perpetuated in most other corners of the globe.

Inspired to learn more from the British perspective on WWI, I turned to my favorite history professor, The Black Adder. While I have watched the first three series at least a dozen times each, I’ve never sat down to go through all of The Black Adder Goes Forth. I clearly was not emotionally prepared to end my favorite television program, the single greatest period sitcom of all time. But I digress. The final episode, “Goodbyeee”, is available on Netflix. Once you’ve gone through the entire series for your own delight, grab your favorite sedative and saddle up for a jarring bolt of the reality of war. I was thunderstruck, which surprised me as Hugh Laurie had been wearing a pretty dress not two episodes prior. Biting hilarity is the most effective way to speak truth to power, to embrace satire as a weapon in the battle you know you’re going to lose.

Or, you can watch the last few moments here. Good luck, everyone.





A Brief History of Muncaster Castle

The Richards. Photography by Tiffany Black,

The Richards. Photography by Tiffany Black,


This week, I made a dispassionate decision to put the podcast on sabbatical in order to devote my life to telling ghost stories of my ancestors, the Penningtons of Muncaster Castle. This is a project I have been researching for 10 years — 30, if you count the endless hours of Blackadder I watched as a child or my own personal paranormal experiences, 800 if you count my genetic memory imprinted across the castle grounds.

The Baroness & the Fool began in earnest two years ago at Cicily JanusWriting Away mountaintop retreat. There at a cozy oak table in the company of literary lovelies, I realized my responsibility as “the Pennington with the pen.” Incidentally, that is the very same moment I realized I am in love with Graham. I called him up and said, “I need you to go with me to my family’s castle, and also I am in love with you.”

Since then, we uprooted our entire lives in order to be together and bring you these stories. Please enjoy this construction paper tale introducing the adventure at hand.

Follow along on our journey from the modern comforts of electronic mail.


Homeschool History: Tyranny and Revolt


Let’s share brains.  Be my GoodReads friends.

Crisman Richards shares an essay exploring deep history of Tyranny and Revolution in these United States by way of Netflix and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

Download this episode.

Written and Produced by Crisman | Richards. Theme music and engineering by Graham Richards (BMI). Music by G Koop and O-man featuring Whitton, Jerome Rodgers, and the Mastrs. 

Featuring J.S. Bach Prelude and Fugue #9 in E Major and #11 in F Major from the Well-tempered Clavier.  Performed by Graham Richards.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Add us to your Stitcher Favorites Playlist.

Download G Koop & O-man Mixtape.

Want to grease the wheels on our mini-van?  Check out our IndieGoGo campaign for jingles, essay collections, merchandise, and production credits.  We don’t need Hollywood.  We need you.

Additional Sources:

Early Modern England: Politics, Religion, and Society Under the Tudors and Stuarts.  Keith Wrightson, Yale University.

The Tudors


Tell it Slant

Obama’s Rhetoric: Manipulating Your Trust (@BreakingtheSet)

Understanding Obamacare

Say hello on Twitter @CrismanRichards

Say hello on Twitter @CrismanRichards

Understanding the Affordable Care Act is a breeze once you consider the policies of the Obama Administration as a whole.

Written and produced by Crisman Richards. Theme music and engineering by Graham Richards (BMI). Music by G Koop & O-man (RM Moods & Colors, BMI) featuring Lauren Avery and Sayknowledge.

Download this episode.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Add us to your Stitcher Favorites Playlist.

Download G Koop & O-man Mixtape.

Want to grease the wheels on our mini-van?  Check out our IndieGoGo campaign for jingles, essay collections, merchandise, and production credits.  We don’t need Hollywood.  We need you.

Support TCS: Treat Yourself To Your Own Jingle


Photography by TIffany Black,

Hey Mysterious Strangers,

First: thank you for paying attention.  We just love you for it.  If you would like to support the Crisman Show in a way that is so fun it crosses over into pure narcissism, please consider donating to our IndieGoGo campaign.  You can help us get our merchandise store up and running (Gas Up the Mini Van flasks, anyone?) and get a little something pretty for yourself while you’re at it.

To wit: your own original jingle composed by the brilliant monster, Graham Richards.  Plus merch goodness and production credits.

Our goal is to document revolution in the most playful and joyous manner.  We want to spend 2014 touring International comedy festivals to meet our supporters and carry on riveting conversations.  Your generous donation will equip us to transition our pirate public radio operation into a self-sufficient production company.

What We Need & What You Get

  • By contributing to our first round of merchandising, you will receive a Crisman Show care package filled with TCS merchandise you helped bring into existence.  The more you give us, the more we give you.
  • Contributions will also go to cover the expense of a professional-grade portable rig. Donors will receive advanced tour dates and links to subsequent coverage in monthly newsletter updates (We promise not to Spam your box).

The Impact

  • We are committed to excellent programming, bangin’ hip hop, and laughing through the beautiful mire of planet earth.
  • We do not accept corporate financing.  What does The Man hate more than a talking lady?  The freedom of indie production allows us to interview whomever we please: activists, journalists, protesters, authors capable of original thought.  Contributing to us sticks it to the establishment.

Other Ways You Can Help

The Crisman Show Tiny Documentary (NSFW)

Presenting four years of work in under 14 minutes. The story of our indie variety show.

Directed by Graham Richards. Written by Crisman Richards. Music by Graham Richards with G Koop & O-man. Animated by Grant Pennington.

Thanks to all of you out in the aether, laughing along or at the very least, listening in a silent panic.

The Crisman Show Podcast: Minions

Follow our adventures on Instagram @crismanshow.

Follow our adventures on Instagram @crismanshow.



Comedian Sarah Crisman offers political commentary and creative activist news to a banging instrumental hip-hop soundtrack by G Koop & O-man.

Written and produced by Sarah Crisman. Theme music and engineering by Graham Richards (BMI). Music by G Koop and O-man (RM Moods and Colors, BMI) featuring Lincoln Adler and Marianne Thompson. For licensing information contact Rob@gkoop.comor visit

Find us on Facebook.

Special thanks to Kyle Harris.



The Crisman Show Podcast: Coots


Comedian Sarah Crisman offers political commentary and pop culture essays punctuated by instrumental hip-hop.

Written and produced by Sarah Crisman. Theme music and engineering by Graham Richards (BMI). Music by G Koop and O-man (RM Moods and Colors, BMI) featuring Taylor Eigsti. For licensing information contact or visit

For more stories, podcasts, and video episodes visit

Special thanks to Dr Bethany Poston.

Shattered Reflection 

A parallel interpretation of Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” music video with events unfolding in my own life.  

 Since moving to California, I find myself listening to a lot of Katy Perry.  For years I have followed her career with a fascination generally reserved for mirrors and her majesty, the Queen.  I miss my best friend, Bethany, and I don’t really have any California girl friends yet.  I wind up alone quite a bit, inflicting dance parties on my step-dogs in an effort to girl up my new home.  Do you know how frustrating it is to live in San Francisco without your Gays?  They don’t come around every day, you know.  Spectacular friendships like that take time to cultivate.  On top of which,the cross-country move triggered my debilitating social anxiety disorder.  What I’m trying to say is I spend more time at home watching Katy Perry videos than I do going out around people.  I am developing a keen understanding of California culture.  I see myself in her miniature films, in particular, “Wide Awake.”

After going through the looking glass, Katy arrives before an eerie labyrinth.  Reflecting on my own life, I look at the gothic maze and see my emotional transition to California.  Beyond the dark walls lies a sunlit hill.  As soon as she enters, the walls begin closing in on her — only, rather than be crushed, Katy draws on her inner-strength and summons the same kind of golden pyrotechnics we saw in her “Firework” video and that I have seen in dreams and meditation for years.  Sparks shoot from her hands and her heart, specifically.  Imagery I’ve seen dance across my fantasies for years — brilliant flames igniting from my own hands and heart..  The walls retreat.  This, my friends, is what a panic attack feels like.  In fact, if it weren’t for my daily devotion to meditation and Katy Perry, I would be in a constant state of panic.

The walls part, revealing Katy as her Former Self — Kiddie Perry, if you will.  Kiddie Perry helps guide her grown-up self through her perilous voyage — and even helps save her with a commanding stomp. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.

While trapped in a mirror of paparazzi, Katy’s fantasy world begins to crumble behind her.  She pushes through the glass in time but is left debilitated, confined to a wheelchair and unable to defend herself.  Kiddie Perry steps up in swift defense, abolishing the critical minotaurs standing in her way.  Katy wakes up and they make a run for the end of the labyrinth.  The walls peel away to reveal a dazzle of sunlight now chasing the darkness to reveal a lush green landscape not unlike the valley I live in today.

The Katies Perry high five and share a hug.  True to many meditations, Katy’s guide places a keepsake in her doppelganger’s hand as they part ways.  In this case, a butterfly signifying her innocence and bravery.  The gift is meant to impart the wisdom of the journey together.  To remember how far you have come and what you learned along the way.  It is a souvenir of possibility.

The final scene pans out from the butterfly in Katy’s open hand.  She is back in her dressing room, this time backstage before a show.  Here we have an internal representation of the most powerful moment from her documentary, Part of Me.  Her marriage to Russell Brand fell to pieces over the course of this film.  It is gut-wrenching, especially considering we love Russell Brand as much as we love Katy Perry.  There is a reason Royals shouldn’t split.  Katy is weeping in her makeup chair and removes her wedding ring.  At this point in the 3D movie theater, Bethany and I humiliate my son with our emotional display.  We cannot keep it together.  But my younger self, Katy Perry, can.  Thousands of Brazilians are waiting to see her.  She pulls it together and is lifted on stage.  The arena fills with love.

When I feel defeated and frightened, I listen to Katy Perry.  I remember her strength.  I remember my own.  I pull it together and lift myself to the stage.

The Crisman Show Podcast: Silent Applause

Comedian Sarah Crisman offers political commentary, audio essays, and interviews laced with Bay Area hip-hop.

This week, Crisman sits down with Oakland producers G Koop, O-man, and Anthony Caruso — masterminds to all the sounds heard on this program.

Written and Produced by Sarah Crisman
Produced and Engineered by Graham Richards

Recorded at Blanketfort Studios, California. Themes by Graham Richards (BMI). Other music by G Koop & O-man, ©2012 RM Moods & Colors (BMI), “Lige”, “Juice” featuring Blush, Foreign Legion, DJ Toure, DJ Platurn; “Guitar Jam” featuring Jerome Rodgers. Kim Manning, and The Mastrs. For licensing information, contact

For more visit


Jack Benny

Jack Benny

“Silent Applause”

The sound of my little sister’s breath deepens.  She always fall asleep before me.  The chow chow next door barks again.  I think about the creepy image of a little girl staring saucer eyed into the darkness and shut my eyes tight.  I roll over toward the drafty window as the wind swirls through the tall pine trees surrounding our street.  I reach my arm between the bed and the wall and grab the handle to the pink boom box my Mom gave me for my 8th birthday.  The plastic scrapes along the wall, knocking a bit of plaster loose.  My sister lets out a tiny snore.  I hold still then carefully pull the radio under my Strawberry Shortcake pillow.  My fingers navigate the dial in the darkness.  I make sure the volume is at zero before clicking the power on.

Bringing the sound up a single notch, Diana Ross sings a muffled melody through the pillow to my waiting ears.  I imagine myself on stage with the Supremes.  The station cuts to commercial.  I edge the dial through the static along less satisfying channels and long distance dedications.  I know every station by ear. Oldies. Classic Rock. Love songs.  Jazz. Pausing on a big band at the edge of the dial, I remember it is Sunday and immediately flip the switch to AM.  More static.  I turn the volume down and ease the knob silently to the general vicinity of WBBM.  AM stations are better for Golden Age programming as they operate on the preferred wavelength of World War II veterans and odd, insomniac children.

Talk radio and Tejano crackle by as I nimbly hone in along one edge of my fingertip to the other.  My deft ears are rewarded with trumpeting fanfare as the voice of Don Wilson announces: “The Jack Benny Program!”


I close my eyes and listen to the great miser’s familiar quips and the space between every laugh.  Jack Benny’s poignant pause.  The longer his silence between subdued jokes, the louder the audience laughs.  I am tickled by Mr Benny’s indignant banter with Fred Allen and wonder what the audience got to see that I cannot.  Something is terribly funny.  Even Mary Livingston is breaking through her lines — and she’s married to him!  Jack lets out an exasperated “Now cut that out!”

My own laugh escapes into the darkness.  I broke.  I slap my hand over my mouth and listen to my sister mutter incoherently and turn over under her quilt.  I mute the radio until I am sure she is fully asleep.  A car rolls into the gravel driveway next door and I bring the show up to an audible yet undisturbing level, just in time for a Lucky Strike cigarette spot.  I close my eyes and drift off to sleep to the smooth sophistication of 1947 advertising.

Jack Benny grew up in Chicagoland, only an hour away from where I was growing up.  We were both on the skirts of the Second City.  I wonder if he longed for the city as much as I did, ever searching the horizon for the towering skyline.  Jack Benny’s Chicago was shorter than mine.  The city taught him vaudeville.  I learned improvisation.  We gravitated to the stage.  My great grandfather was a vaudevillian in those days.  I wonder if they ever met and if Dr Clutterhouse was as mean to Jack Benny as he had been to me.  The historical overlap inspired me to one day write my own vaudevillian character, Dr Clusterfuck.

Jack Benny’s sidekick, Rochester is my favorite character; played by an astute, seemingly flustered Eddie Anderson.  Unlike many black supporting characters of the time, Rochester was a regular member of the fictional household of Benny — and actually black. Benny treated Rochester as a partner rather than hired domestic, writing Anderson’s character to subtly transcend racial stereotype.  This conscientious equal treatment on the show is clear during World War II episodes when Benny pays frequent tribute to the diversity of Americans drafted into military service.

After the war, when the depths of Nazi racism and hatred were seen, Benny made a conscious effort to remove the stereotypical aspects of the Rochester character. In 1948, it became apparent to Benny how much times had evolved when a 1941 script for “The Jack Benny Program” was re-used for the show one week. The script included mention of several African-American stereotypes— for example, a reference to Rochester carrying a razor— and prompted a number of listeners to send in angry letters protesting the stereotypes. Thereafter, Benny insisted that his writers make sure that no racial jokes or references be heard on his show. Benny also often gave key guest-star appearances to African-American performers such as Louis Armstrong and The Ink Spots.

I would have never pursued a life in radio had it not been for Jack Benny.  Though we were not alive at the same time, we followed a parallel path.  In one episode he talks about his first live performance playing violin on Market and Taylor, less than two miles from where I first stepped on to a San Francisco stage.  Jack Benny’s influence over my ear remains in tact thanks to Netflix, Spotify, and Stitcher radio.  You’d be hard pressed to know what year it is if you passed through my mind today.  I have my show.  I have my stage.  Now all I need is my Rochester.

The Crisman Show Podcast: Petionnaire


We’ve evolved to a properly written program.  Inspired by these new surroundings and my voracious news-addiction, I am putting my writing chops to the test to bring you a fresh, thoughtful program every week.  Graham is by my side with G Koop & O-man providing musical accompaniment to rival The Roots.  As always, I promise to make every episode better than the last.  Thank you for listening.  Here is this week’s audio essay for your eyeball reading pleasure.


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Nerd Lady Awry: SF Sketchfest 2013

Every laugh lead to this moment.  For 12 years, the deepest nerds in the comedy industry have gathered in San Francisco for the mother of comedy festivals, SF Sketchfest — a triumph of talent and endearing crowds standing in applause for days on end.  Three weeks into my new life in the promised land, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a troupe of enthusiastic volunteers, smiling maniacally as Kenneth on 30 Rock.  I just love comedy so much.

SF Sketchfest welcomes seasoned veterans and bright-eyed rubes like myself in a playful bond united by the joy of laughter — Pure laughter filling 26 venues across our Beloved San Francisco.  Between green room hospitality and directing fan traffic, my own laughter laced into a fraction of these programs.  I stepped into my element in service to my heroes.

My first assignment:  Drew Carey Presents The Midnight Show at Eureka Theater.  When given the chance I believe it important to communicate a champion’s influence over one’s life in the least sociopathic way possible.  I have personally thanked President Obama for inspiring me to great things and Stevie Wonder for existing.  Drew Carey is no exception.  When Drew Carey first appeared on Johnny Carson, his stand up set made me laugh until Orange Fanta came out my nose.  The other girls at the slumber party found this hilarious.  They weren’t even paying attention to the television.  I made them laugh because Drew Carey made me laugh.  In that moment I experienced the surprising cycle of being tickled and getting a laugh.  Simultaneous horror and delight.  I was hooked.  21 years later I stood over a box of empty beer bottles thanking Drew Carey for sparking me into life in comedy.  He thanked me earnestly and told me the toilet in the green room wasn’t flushing.

The California Academy of Sciences proved to be an overwhelming rush of energy as hundreds of Nerdists descended upon Golden Gate Park in a swirling mass of Tig enthusiasts and Proop Kittens.  I confess I find it a challenge keeping my shit together around Greg Proops.  His esoterism is as close to religion as I care venture.  Though we met last year in Hollywood, I still broke into a full-on, immediate ass sweat the moment he appeared vampire-like at my side.  Serendipitously, I was in the middle of a wildly animated discussion with SF Sketchfest founder, Janet Varney, when the Smartest Man in the World popped up out of nowhere.  When I told Janet my story, she said they built Sketchfest for me.  Our kindred passion and determination born of a deep commitment to the art of live comedy had lead us to this very moment.  It was this precise moment that Greg Proops materialized at my side.  Flop sweat.  Startling hug.  Comics, in general, are not a huggy-bunch.  But there I was enveloped in Greg Proops.  He remembered me from numerous fan Tweets, my email two days earlier, and excessive reminders detailing the first time we met.  Poor Mr Proops labored graciously under the tyranny of my affection as I stood in silent panic until he asked me the way to the Green Room.  Follow Janet, I said.

The remainder of my evening was a roving blur of jellyfish and happy fans attending podcast tapings and all star stand up sets in various corners of the world class museum.  I carried one other thank you note tucked into my lady business jacket.  A fart joke on fancy paper scrawled addressed to Chris Hardwick, the leader of the Nerdist world himself.  After fulfilling my volunteer responsibilities and wandering star-eyed through the aquarium, I caught his stand up set in the Piazza then nipped to the Green Room to say goodnight to my Lovely Lady Crush, Janet.  As I passed through the security checkpoint I saw Mr Hardwick in nearby conversation and immediately pretended to check my phone.  Really I was curving the alarming spike in my heart rate, wiping my clammy palms against my skirt and ironing out the fine stationery now subtly shaped by my breasts.  As he broke in my direction, I slipped right into his line of sight.

“I wrote you a fan letter.”  I said, presenting the ivory card in the least creepy way I could muster.

“You did?” He said with a satisfying amount of genuine surprise.

“Yes, well, your work has shaped my career; so, thanks.”

“I’m going to read the shit out of this!”

I introduced myself and took no more of his time.

“I’ll see you around.”  I said and fucked off into the night, thus marking myself as a wee blip on the Nerdist radar.

“Yes,” he said.  “I will see you around.”

Two days later I was at Cobb’s Comedy Club.  The next message to deliver was simple:  “Pete Holmes, you bring such joy to my life!”  That was it.  I will be happy to one day get lost in hours of bawdy enlightenment with the host of You Made It Weird — but not today.  Today, he must simply know he brings me joy, specifically.  Pete was my favorite 2012 discovery thanks to Comedy Central shows like TJ Miller’s Mash Up and John Oliver’s New York Stand Up.  The hours I spent listening to his podcast inspired my New Year Resolution: Be playful, be joyful.  I also meditate a lot more than I did before I became a bonafide Weirdo.  It works.  I am playful.  I am joyful.  And Pete Holmes gave me a hug.

Nothing short of Conan O’Brien himself could have improved my final night of Sketchfest.   Armed with coffee and a jar of fresh lavender from my “Calm the Fuck Down” garden, I returned to the Eureka to serve the current regime of my ultimate comedy dream job: Conan’s Writers.  Josh Comers and Laurie Kilmartin joined Write Now! with Jimmy Pardo — a panel game show hosted by gentleman responsible for warming up Conan’s studio audience and one of the most influential podcasts drifting through the ether.  Simply meeting Pardo and super producer Matt Belknap would have left me with enough revenge bliss to make my ex-boyfriend wild with a lifetime of professional jealousy (at least in my imagination).  Instead, I left elated.  I had not anticipated so much face time with Mr Pardo, nor did I shirk my responsibility at quick-witted banter.  Never Not Funny taught me how to handle party conversation — and boy, was our conversation a party!  His was the first podcast I followed in earnest.  I thanked them for teaching me the importance of Yes, And-ing in repartee.  I surprised myself.  I made them laugh.