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  • Audrey Cleo

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    A mandate to laugh.

    The news has been heavy lately. So heavy. And it feels like it’s been non-stop: Since last Friday — when I heard about Christina Grimmie’s sudden passing — I have found myself intermittently tearing up at pieces of news trickling in, like the one about Luis Velma, a 22-year-old ride operator at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and one of the victims of Saturday evening’s Pulse nightclub shooting, also in Orlando. And then just tearing up because through the terrible and inexplicable darkness, there are these little streams of light, like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sonnet at the Tony Awards.

    Grace Helbig, me, Hannah Hart in the Young Hollywood studio.

    While I am not an artist, I interact with a lot of them — actors, comedians, musicians, creators from film and video games and technology. I often think about what is art’s place in the world? Can it be educational? Definitely. I mean, I’ve written about it. But it’s also an outlet for expressing the abstract, for the things that I can’t as a writer. And the most effective pieces of art, I think, are the ones that move you.

    In college, I was an intern at CNN’s now-defunct San Francisco bureau. I badgered every roving reporter who came through our office with questions about being on-camera, constructing a story for broadcast, how to read from a Teleprompter. One of my mentors (whether he wanted to be one or not — I kind of made all of them my mentors!) told me that no matter what, though, to just remember that “it’s only TV. Leave the real jobs to other people.” By “other people,” he meant the EMTs, the nurses, the doctors, the social workers, the policymakers. It was humbling and reassuring — the stakes of what I do compared to what other people do.

    I don’t have what I consider to be a “real” job. But I do get to laugh a lot in that job. I get to meet a lot of interesting and fascinating people because of that job. And I hope that in times when the darkest facets of the human experience become all too real, that others can find some reprieve in that, too.

    Below is a recent interview I did with comediennes Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart. I hope you laugh, even if it’s just a little.

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