Margaret Cho Riffs on Parents, Politics, and Personal Demons

For decades now, Margaret Cho has been fearlessly making audiences laugh about race, sex, and gender. Before taking on our listeners' etiquette questions, she chatted with Brendan and Rico about her new stand-up show called "Fresh Off the Bloat," making jokes in an age where comedians are facing career-altering backlashes for testing boundaries, and more.

Margaret Cho Tells People Who Ask Where She’s from, Where They Can Go

Each week, you send us your questions about how to behave and here to answer them this week is comedian and writer Margaret Cho. Before answering your questions, Brendan and Rico chatted with Margaret about her upcoming tour and what it's like to write comedy in the age of instant backlash. Here, she gives our listeners apt advice on how to handle some oblivious friends and acquaintances.

A Farewell to Michelle Philippe

We're marking the historic end of an era. For years, our friend Michelle Philippe has been our show's "voice of history," but she's leaving public radio to pursue her writing and acting career. We wanted to have her on for a final goodbye. Toast to her tenure with a vodka and tomato-infused cocktail.

We get our Kvass Handed to Us

What do "The Brothers Karamazov," "Anna Karenina," and "The Cherry Orchard" have in common? They all talk about Kvass. The authors were Russian and Kvass is a popular drink there and all around Eastern Europe. But, until recently, there wasn't much of it available in the States. Listen as Brendan gets a lesson on the Slavic fermented beverage, which is made from stale rye bread, from the folks over at Enlightenment Wines.

Yance Ford Turns a Personal Lens on Grief and Social Injustice in ‘Strong Island’

In 1992, Yance's Ford's brother William was killed. Then, 10 years ago, Yance started making a documentary about the murder and why a grand jury decided the case would never go to trial. That film, titled "Strong Island," is more of a personal movie than a piece of journalism. Yance explains why he features his hands prominently while showing the personal items on screen, how talking about the film gave him a sense of relief, and more.

Documentarian Theo Anthony Finds the Parallels Between Rats and Racism

"Rat Film" takes Baltimore's longstanding rat control problem as a metaphor for other social ills, from institutional racism to economic inequality. It's an impressionistic, vaguely creepy mix of cinema verite and art film -- and it's earned its creator, Theo Anthony, comparisons to filmmakers like Werner Herzog. Hear Rico talk with Theo about how he got interested in rats, what he learned about what people's relationship to rats can reveal about themselves, and more.

A Librarian’s Love Letters to Books (With Bonus Audio)

Annie Spence has spent much of her life lost in books-- first as a ravenous reader, and then, for the past ten years, as a librarian in the Midwest. Listen as she shares an excerpt from her new book, which collects dozens of letters she's written TO the books in her life.

Jesmyn Ward Examines A Few Hard Truths About Race

Author Jesmyn Ward was raised in coastal Mississippi and she was the first in her family to go to college, which is where she started writing. Her second novel "Salvage the Bones,” informed by her experience enduring Hurricane Katrina, won the National Book Award. She talks to Brendan about what inspired her new novel, "Sing, Unburied, Sing," and more.

Matt Berninger Gets Honest About Encores and Etiquette

Each week you send us your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is Matt Berninger, the frontman for the band The National. This week, they're releasing their seventh and latest album called "Sleep Well Beast." Hear Matt share insights on the album, what it's like to write songs with his wife, and how he got fashion tips from a few members of the Bad Seeds.