Famous Firsts, Legendary Lasts, Iran’s Revolution Powers On
Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content
We may have just bid farewell to Elton John’s touring career, but there’s so much excitement in learning about “firsts,” not just lasts. V is joined by comedian Kareem Rahma to talk about his new podcast where famous firsts are the focus. V also relays important updates on the language and resources supporters should be using to help the Iranian people leading the anti-regime efforts — that is, leading the revolution, which has grown well past a protest.
For calls to action and up-to-date information, follow the organization Middle East Matters (@middleeastmatters) on Instagram.
You can find Kareem at @kareem on Instagram and @kareem.rahma on TikTok, and catch his series Keep the Meter Running at @keepthemeterrunning on TikTok. To listen to FIRST!, search wherever you get your podcasts or click here.
Keep up with V on TikTok at @underthedesknews and on Twitter at @VitusSpehar. And stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.
For a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and every other Lemonada show, go to lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.
Joining Lemonada Premium is a great way to support our show and get bonus content. Subscribe today at bit.ly/lemonadapremium.
V Spehar, Kareem Rahma
V Spehar 00:00
Hey friends, it’s Tuesday, November 22, 2022. Welcome to V INTERESTING, where we break down the viral and very interesting news you might have missed. I’m V SPEHAR. And today, do you ever wonder why musicians make such a big deal about their farewell tour? Spoiler alert, it’s all about the Benjamins. We’ll also take you through updated actions you can take to help the people of Iran. Then I’m joined by comedian Kareem Rahma to talk about his incredible new podcast FIRST. It’s funny, it’s educational, and it’s about damn time I got to talk to somebody who had a cat perched on their shoulder during the entire interview. It was quite a delight. All that more on today’s be interesting from Lemonada Media. Let’s be smart together.
V Spehar 01:04
First step, we’re going to talk about some firsts. Our guest today is going to talk about some incredible people who were the first in history to do something. And since Thanksgiving is just two days away, how about we talk about some Thanksgiving related first, Thanksgiving was first enshrined as a federal holiday in 1941 by FDR, in 1989, George HW Bush became the first president to officially pardon a turkey. And I should note that some had been spared before then, notably by Abe Lincoln and JFK, but Bush’s official pardon was the first of its kind. And back in 1893. Before all of these traditions and decrees were in place, Oregon was the first state to celebrate Thanksgiving twice in one year, the governor of Oregon was a pretty bad guy, declaring a separate holiday to stick it to the president was by far the smallest of his offenses. Now, the elephant in the room, of course, is that other big first, the first Thanksgiving. Now there’s a story about the first Thanksgiving that American students have historically been taught. And that story goes that English colonists arrived in Massachusetts and 1620. And they all got along great with the local Wampanoag tribe. They had a successful joint harvest the following year, and they all celebrated and everything was perfect and beautiful, right? That narrative, and that focus on the first celebration is basically the whole dang lesson. As a student, you might have done arts and crafts and reenactments of all of this, even though we don’t talk about other holidays that way, and that is very unfortunate, considering a lot of what you learned was probably untrue. First of all, nearly all of the information we have to work off of comes from one person’s account, and that person was an Englishman. Keep in mind that most of the mainstream narrative today comes from that singular white fellas perspective, plus plenty of fabrication that’s been added to it over the years. And get this since records are sparse. Scholars believe that the event we think of as the first Thanksgiving probably wasn’t very important at the time, the intense focus on Thanksgiving only started in the past 150 years. This dramatized origin story can only really be traced back to the early 1800s when a collector in Philadelphia found that original journal entry and published it.
V Spehar 03:24
On the other hand, there is a much more realistic narrative that is backed up by lots of other historical accounts from around that time. And that narrative is that Thanksgiving, which was probably considered a pretty mundane gathering by the people involved, was probably pretty somber, and very transactional in the years leading up to 1620, which is when the people we call pilgrims, which is just another word for religious extremists, arrived in what is now called Massachusetts. They were not the first lots of Europeans had come on boats prior to these folks hopping off at Plymouth Rock. Some had invited Wampanoag onto their ships and then killed or enslaved them. Once those colonists left, others arrived. Many brought deadly disease that wiped out the majority of some indigenous communities. By the time the English came in 1620 the Wampanoag had strategies in place, they knew the colonists would be armed, so they brokered trades with them early on. After all, it would be beneficial to have the colonists as allies against rival tribes, or to at least try and get their hands on some European weapons if they had to fight these people off themselves. This is still a super simplified version of events. But the general thread that exists throughout the records in journals is that the Wampanoag had been wronged by previous white colonizers, and they were learning ways to get ahead of it by the time that the buckle hat version of pilgrims had arrived. We tend to think of pilgrims as these like very savvy noble folks. No, the colonists were freaked out and cold and malnourished. And they lived on their ship for months after landing because they couldn’t set up a village. And the Wampanoag knew the land and they taught the colonists where to fish and how to plant and harvest corn. Once that harvest came to fruition the following year, the colonists planned a feast and that’s what we think of is the first Thanksgiving. They wanted to celebrate since compared to when they arrived they had much more solid footing. Well, at least the ones that survived the first Thanksgiving was also mostly men. Because the women had died only four women were said to have been in attendance.
V Spehar 03:31
Other records corroborate that by stating that almost 80% of the English women died during their first winter. And for this big manly gathering some of the men hunted waterfowl, so ducks and geese and the Wampanoag brought venison, aka deer. That’s at least according to the original account of the feast, so yeah, there wasn’t even any turkey. As you can see, we’ve muddled the story over centuries. records from the time of the first Thanksgiving don’t show a jovial party between Wampanoag and pilgrims. It was a bleak time. diplomacy was the word, not friendliness. And yeah, it looks nothing like the Thanksgiving we’ve been teaching kids. And yet, who hasn’t had to make a handprint Turkey in school, and I bet money that some of you even had to take construction paper and make that creepy little pilgrim hat. Now, if you’re uncomfortable, celebrating Thanksgiving Day, as many people are, there is an alternative. It’s known as the national day of mourning, and it’s an annual protest held on Thanksgiving Day, protesters acknowledge the historic and current suffering of indigenous people. There’s a protest held in Plymouth, Massachusetts at noon, but if you can’t make the physical protest, you can still stand in solidarity by teaching others about indigenous history.
V Spehar 06:46
Where there are first, there are last, and some of the biggest last are the announcements from our favorite artists that they are retiring. It is an incredibly profitable statement to make because for so many fans, no price is too high for the final performance. That’s right. Not only is demand high, the actual cost often gets jacked up for these performances too. Now, this may come as no surprise to you if you had listened to last week’s episode where we talked about ticketmasters hold on the music industry. At the very start of their farewell tour in 2018. Kiss was reportedly already making three times as much money as they made performing in the same city just two years earlier. Elton John followed the same trend. In 2016, he toured and he did really well as Elton John does. But in 2018 when he started a farewell tour, he was reportedly making $2.5 million each night. That’s 56% more per show than he was making two years prior and Elton’s farewell tour was scheduled to be three years long. If you do that math, it’s scientifically proven that your eyes will turn into dollar signs and your brain will start releasing smokes, so stop thinking about it now, to cap off Elton’s farewell US tour, which he insists is truly a real farewell even if it takes him years. He also just live streamed to the final show. That was just two days ago on Sunday, and it is only on Disney plus which you of course also have to pay a subscription for, I’ll bet more than a few people are signing up to catch that recording though. And Disney is also putting together a documentary specifically about the farewell tour, it said to be called Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the final Elton John performances and the years that made his legend, it just doesn’t stop friends. It never stops. And with this Dalta in full swing these past few years, it’s no surprise that these announcements drive this kind of interest. And the trend has even held when artists come out of retirement meaning that their farewell wasn’t actually a farewell so much as like a See you later. Even if you felt duped by them the first time there is still that urgency to see them before they stopped for real or before they pass away or get sick as many celebrities have. I mean, some of these folks, I guess that’s what it’s gonna take to stop them.
V Spehar 09:03
That Kiss tour I mentioned that was actually their second farewell tour. Cher has done several farewell tours as well as has Ozzy Osbourne , who poked fun at the trend. His farewell tour was named no more tours and his second dome or tours 2, you might have noticed that I had to say farewell. But just for one night though, I had to say farewell to reporting the news last week on Monday night I was at an important meeting with Iranian journalists, activists, youth group leaders and such. And I’m here to tell you a little bit more about what I learned. So first off, I was invited to a networking dinner by one of these groups to discuss the revolution in Iran and how we could leverage TikTok to help shine a spotlight on both the citizen journalists on the ground in Iran and organizations here and abroad that are supporting the revolution. And this is an important language change for all of us to make. It is a revolution. It is not a protest; we are way past protests. Also, when we’re talking about the government of Iran, we have to say the Islamic Republic or the regime. When we say Iran, we mean the people of Iran. So Iran is fighting for democracy and freedom. The regime is sending weapons to Russia to try and squash democracy in Ukraine. See, this is the new language we need to use just like that simple as can be. When we think of revolution, we can usually name a leader, right? I mean, you got Che Guevara of Argentina, who was a major figure in the Cuban Revolution. Gandhi, an anti-colonialist, who led nonviolent protest to free India from British rule, Mother Jones, an Irish born American school teacher and dressmaker who became a prominent union organizer, but not this time, this revolution is being done as a collective. It’s a collective revolution. There is no single leader and there are many voices, and it’s important to listen to all of them. Iranians are asking for our help as allies to help amplify their voice and their message of woman life, freedom, democracy, but Okay, now, I know where some of yours minds are going. And no, Iranians are not asking for the West to roll up with tanks and do an imperialism, like war thing, okay, they got this, this is their fight. And they are asking for us to just support them, you know, not like topple the government for the old red, white and blue like we did in the 50s. Okay, everything is bad enough. So get that idea of like the US going to war and like removing the regime and like saving everyone get that out of your mind. That’s not an option. That’s not what they’re asking for.
V Spehar 11:36
The regime has a history of mass murder, torture imprisonment, and has proven that they will not hesitate to kill their own citizens. And our November 8 episode, our guest, Negin Farsad, it talks about her family’s own experience with the regime and the so called morality police. The human rights violations the regime are being accused of are egregious, obviously. And there are more than 15,000 people who have been arrested, including dozens of journalists a number that is only growing. The regime also controls the media, which is a major form of oppression. In fact, the United States just sanctioned six TV executives for misuse of media, they have this habit of using forced confessions to try and make the regime look legit to the people. And in this case, they had forced the family members of protesters that were killed during the uprising, to go on television and say, the regime didn’t kill my son didn’t kill my daughter, my wife, my child, my cousin, those people died of natural causes. Now, we cannot afford to ignore Iranians who quite simply want what you have right now. democracy, freedom to dress, how they want marry who they want, access to education and to opportunity to community and to respect and to due process, fair trials, and freedom of the press. So what can people in America do? Amplify awareness? Social media is not a passive slash activist move this time around. Iranian creators and activists are asking, wanting retweets, repost, to help amplify the situation on the ground. You can follow citizen journalists boost their content by engaging with it. And if you can only remember one name, let it be Middle East matters, which is the collective of young people who are all contributing to a central account that is run by journalists and they are vetting the stories very well. You can check out the Vital Voices petition, which is a petition to quite simply remove the Islamic Republic from the UN Commission on Human Rights. And you can find that at womanlife freedom.today, the UN has a lot of power to show the regime that they are not welcome in community with other powerful countries if they’re going to treat their people this way. And the UN is voting this week to remove the regime from the UN Commission on the Status of Women and launched an investigation into human rights violations. So we have to keep the pressure up. But overall, just don’t stop caring about it. For more information on what’s happening in Iran, check out the show notes for links to petitions calls to action. And that Middle East matters Instagram account. You have to raise awareness to get people involved in building democracy. You have to show people what’s at stake in real time. And we just saw use of social media be very effective in getting folks to the polls during the midterm elections. And while we all wish this cycle was over, the whole card Castle can come toppling down if you move on too quickly. Looking at the state of Georgia, so much attention for this election cycle was on that governor’s race, Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams, were having a rematch for their super close 2018 contest. Even though there seemed to be a ton of support for camp, donations and enthusiasm still poured in for Abrams. Now that election was called for cat who won by almost eight percentage points. And at that point The national narrative about Georgia changed. It quickly became about the Senate race. Nationally control of the Senate was coming down to the wire. And the Georgia race could be the call. If Reverend Raphael Warnock held strong, the Democrats could keep their Senate Majority. If Herschel Walker won, the Republicans would take control of the Senate. And then shockingly, Nevada’s Senate race went to the Democrats, meaning that the Democrats got the majority with or without Georgia. And so Democrats started saying things like, we don’t need Georgia. We don’t need Georgia. And the days that have passed, reporters and analysts have made a common observation that the country quickly disregarded the ongoing importance of Georgia politics, even though only two years ago, both of Georgia senators pulled off historic victories and changed the direction of Biden’s presidency. A recent New York Times headline put it plainly, quote, Georgia gears up for runoff election as rest of us moves on.
V Spehar 16:04
The rest of the US was also largely ignoring races that were further down the ballot in Georgia. At times we might have been focusing a lot of attention on the governor and Senate races, but we were hardly talking about the others. Like did you guys know that in dozens of Georgia districts Republicans ran unopposed in the midterms. And the vast majority of them were incumbents. Where was the attention the funding the resources for potential new lawmakers? I will say though, ignoring the runoff is bad too. For one, it means not giving attention to how Georgia has recently changed voter laws. Normally a runoff has nine weeks to activate voters, but this time around Warnock and Walker have barely a month to try and drive voters back to the ballot box. It also means way less time to receive and return mail in ballots like way less time. To make things worse. Georgia also knocked an early voting day from its already tight timeline. And it’s a Saturday aka an important day for people who can’t take off work or school to vote during the week, Saturday, November 26. Polls will be closed to early voters in Georgia. And listen, that day is being pulled for what might sound like a real in the weeds reason. According to Georgia’s state constitution, you can’t have polls open back close to a holiday. So because Thanksgiving is on Thursday. We can’t vote on Saturday. Come on. That doesn’t even make sense. Lawmakers introduced this Saturday rule in 2016. Yes, the incredibly contentious political year of 2016. And lawmakers introduced the shortened runoff period in 2021. Right after the Republican senators lost in their respective runoff races. You really can’t argue with the facts, my friends. Shortening a campaign calendar can result in lower turnout and obviously the Saturday rule can result in lower turnout, too. This is what voter suppression looks like. Several groups have already come together to sue the state of Georgia over these new restrictions. And one of those parties is Rafael Warnock’s campaign itself. As you might expect, many of the criticisms of the suit sound a lot like the criticisms in the suit, that one party is seeking to change regulation to work in their favor. But take a look at all the cases of litigation that have been brought against these kinds of voter laws in the past and I think you’ll start to see a narrative of who it is that most often wants to change and restrict election rules. It’s a real elephant in the room. Now, after the break, we’re going to talk about the rules a little bit more positively. Comedian Kareem Rahma is the new host of a new podcast distributed by Lemonada about people who broke racial barriers and restrictions. And when they did, they became the first to enter an industry or hold a certain position. It’s a jam packed area of history and we’re gonna have a lot of fun getting into it. So stay tuned.
V Spehar 19:16
Here with me today as a real renaissance man Kareem Rahma, he is a New York City based writer, comedian and creator who likes to take cab drivers on impromptu dinner dates. He helped create the Museum of pizza but you may know him best as the guy who went viral for dunking his hot dog in a beer at a Yankees game. And if that wasn’t enough for you, he has a new podcast here on the Lemonada Media network called FIRST. Kareem Rahma.
Kareem Rahma 19:41
Thank you so much. Holy moly, I didn’t know that. You would know so much about me.
V Spehar 19:46
I come prepared. So you’re getting you’re getting pretty big on TikTok, TikTok is my main platform to I’m like completely addicted to it. You have this show. Tell us about the cat driving show on TikTok
Kareem Rahma 19:57
Yeah, so keep the meter running came to me, probably two years ago, when I took a cab ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn and I was having girl problems. I was very upset. It was late night it was raining. Remember all these things. And I held this cab and the guy who picked me up, ended up being like a Sherpa slash like therapist. And I had so much good advice from Alex spilled the beans on this girl. And by the time he dropped me off, I was like, I will just hang out with you, if you will just drive me around, I’ll keep paying, but like, I really liked talking with you. And he was like, buddy, go home, you’re drunk. And I was like, I’m not drunk. And he’s like, you are drunk. And you know? Exactly. I’m not drunk, I’m lonely, sir, I’ll pay you to hang out with me. Like, it’s like I joined a fraternity. I’m like, paying for my friends. And, and so that is when the nugget occurred where I was like, oh, there’s something interesting here. I sat on it for like two years, until I found a company that was willing to like fund a show. And I wanted to make the show, but obviously, when doing it alone, the bill can rack up quite largely. So they love the show. They were like, let’s do it. And you know, from day one, I’ve always been of the mindset that like less is more. So when it went to actually making the show. They were like, do want to do a casting call. I was like no way. Let’s just go into the streets, hail a cab and see what we get. And, you know, it took like eight or nine tries, I was getting deflated. I was like, Maybe this was actually a bad idea for the show. And finally, this guy picked me up. His name is […]. And he’s from Pakistan. And that was like our pilot episode. And it was an immediate, kind of like moment where I knew that the show was going to be big and that the show was gonna hit because it’s like, you couldn’t make up what he was saying. It couldn’t be written how good it was. Especially because the situation just goes from hailing a cab to like, take me to a favorite place. And I have no idea where we’re gonna go. So we ended up in Queens at this restaurant called Dara, which is a Pakistani place never been there before. I’ve never even heard of it had some food that I’ve never had before. You know, we tried to go to the mosque and pray. But unfortunately, the mosque was closed, which was just a funny joke in and of itself. And it’s fascinating how much I’m learning about myself by more or less, traveling the world, but not leaving New York City. Right. And that’s what it feels like. It’s like every driver is a different world.
V Spehar 22:39
One of my favorite drivers you’ve picked up because I watched the show is the guy you were like, take me to your favorite place. And he was like, it’s Buffalo Wild Wings. And you’re like, for real man. That’s your favorite. He was great, though. When you did the hot wing challenge together. How are you? Have you always been the type of person who could like just immediately bond with someone because you guys came off like besties straight off.
Kareem Rahma 23:00
Yeah, I think I’ve always been a I guess a people person. Or it’s more like a magnet. It’s really funny. Like, it’s the first time I’ve been able to put it into action. In my comedy or in my content. Normally, it’s just like, that’s how I am in real life. But this is the first time I’ve been able to share it on screen and also kind of crack into a world or peek into a world that seems fairly closed off. You know, a lot of the cab drivers that I hail they’re like, I won’t do it. No, no, no, no. You know, I got a boss. I don’t want to mess up the club level. There’s just a lot of excuses. Now understand, like, many of them are immigrants. Many of them are dealing with lawsuits against taxi companies. Many of them are in their own situations that maybe they don’t want to be on camera, but it is been really kind of humbling for me to get the access that I’ve had and to also, yeah, realize that. I’m like, I guess I am a people person in this weird way. Because normally I’m pretty introverted. And I stay home. I have two cats. And I’m not really out in the streets as much as people usually think I am because I’m so like zany and have so many antics but like, generally speaking, I don’t like staying outside of my house past 9PM.
V Spehar 24:19
When did you know that you were funny? Were you funny as a kid?
Kareem Rahma 24:23
I was always a silly, silly boy. I mean, I’m a goofball. There’s this saying in Arabic. It’s called dem mech fief. And it means that you have light blood, which I also think like loosely translates probably like you’re really light hearted. And so but it also means like cute and like just like not really not just not like taking things so heavy. And I’ve always been an entertainer always entertaining my family and friends. I never had the opportunity to really explore it as a young person, due to a number of factors due to the fact that my peers we’re immigrants and we’re like, What are you talking about? Do the fact that I didn’t speak up and say like, I want to be a comedian or a writer or an actor or whatever, I never even, it just wasn’t an option. But it wasn’t until kind of like I got on TikTok, actually, that I was like, let me try to really do this. And that was in 2018, which seems like ages ago, but it’s fairly recent. And then I just started like making videos. And I was like, oh, this is really nice. I really like this feeling. I love this laughter at the same time, I was doing poetry, and writing poems and also performing them around New York, I was a poet, I called myself a poet, and I was a poet. But my poems, they started getting more and more funny, because I would be reading at poetry clubs and poetry readings and the reaction that I was looking for. And the reaction that I got addicted to was laughter. And so in between every poem, I’d start, you know, I do a little bit about XYZ, and that make people laugh. And eventually, I came to acknowledge that the feeling that I was seeking from others was, was actually that of laughter and humor. And so that’s kind of how I became a comedian. I guess.
V Spehar 26:12
That is a very beautiful story. And you’ve, you’ve had so many interesting projects you’ve got to work on, and you have a new one. Now you have a podcast called first, which is about like the first person or the first time things happen, which I think is so clever. And I was wondering from TikTok culture, there is this thing when people comment first on TV, the first comment, that’s like, very culturally a TikTok thing. Did you get the idea from that, or it’s like completely unrelated to TikTok culture?
Kareem Rahma 26:40
Maybe the name is related to TikTok culture. But the idea for the show itself is just something again, one of those ideas that I had on the back burner for a long time and thought would be interesting. But the name first yeah, it’s like first, I mean, they leave the first communist like, first, it’s always like, first exclamation point. So the name of the show was first with Kareem Rahma. But aside from the show like, you know, I’m always I’ve always been as an adult, I’ve realized how little I know about history. But it’s so fascinating and so interesting. And I find myself watching 10 hour documentaries about, like the Civil War. Whereas when I was a child, I would be like, This is the most boring class on earth. Why Does anyone care about this, but I had this idea that like every adult, like, once you turn 25, it’s you have to take a mandatory history class. That’s like, just sponsored by the government.
V Spehar 27:32
Just a civics class, because now you’re going to be a concerned voter and citizen, you may be going to buy a property, you’re going to have some influence, I completely agree, you really do need to get caught up on the mistakes we already made one more time.
Kareem Rahma 27:43
It’s a good idea, like everyone should know or like, what, like Bosnia was, you know what I mean, like everyone should know, like, about work, like global affairs, not just like, local politics, but like, we don’t know anything. And especially as American Americans, I’ve noticed just like, don’t have the capacity to think outside of the, you know, the United States. It’s just like, not really a thing that happens here. Whereas, if you’re on a trip somewhere in Europe, or the Middle East, you know, the news is more geared toward world news. But in the States, it’s very, very much so about the states very interesting kind of juxtaposition.
V Spehar 28:22
I agree at 25, we have to revisit at least the last 40 years of history so that we just make sure everybody stays abreast of the situations we’ve already. But that aside on your show, first you’re talking about first, who is your first guest?
Kareem Rahma 28:37
My first guest, in the episode of releasing the show is an amazing comedian called Alyssa imperious and she’s so funny. She has a new special on peacock. It’s everyone should go watch it. It’s really, really funny. Really, really personal. And in that episode, we talk about Maria Tallchief, who was America’s first prima ballerina. Now, the interesting thing about Maria Tallchief is that not only was she America’s first prima ballerina, but she was also Native American. And I don’t think 1% of the population even knows about her, or the fact that that’s true. And I’ll say her contributions to ballet and the art ended up resulting in the Nutcracker, which she has invented with her collaborator, which is one of the most famous players in the world, and her other and also the New York ballet is literally founded by her and she came up against kind of this racism because the premium ballerinas and the ballerinas at the time were all Russian or French or Italian. And ballet was a relatively new sport in America, or art form in America. So, you know, she also like, kept her name when people were trying to change it constantly. Because they were like, let’s […] trying to get her to kind of adjust her name to become more American at least. And she refused to do it. So that story like in the podcast, what I do is I tell the life story of a person who broke down racial barrier. I tell that story to comedian. And what that comedian does is they interrupt me, they add their own jokes in they add their own personal anecdotes and little stories, and just react honestly to the things that I’m saying about these people’s lives. So we’ve covered everyone from the episodes that are really so far Maria Tallchief, Connie Chung, who is the first Asian American to ever host a major news broadcast. I was joined on that one by Sidney Washington, another terrific, terrific comedian. We did Omar Sharif, who was the first Arab to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. I did that one with Rami Youssef, which was really fun, because all three of us are Egyptian. So that was like, wow, yeah, that was that was one of those episodes that like, I feel like because the only time it will happen is because I’m Egyptian. He’s Egyptian Omar Sharif’s Egyptian, we’re both, you know, entertainers in some capacity. And we all have mustaches.
V Spehar 31:18
I mean, that’s really what United y’all I’m sure it was like mustache measuring.
Kareem Rahma 31:24
There was nothing else.
V Spehar 31:25
What was interesting about Connie Chung, that you learned that maybe folks might not know?
Kareem Rahma 31:31
By the end of her career, you could probably lament that racism and or sexism, were to blame for her kind of fall from grace. Because if you look at the context of what she did, which was not bad, she asked Newt Gingrich, his mom, which he honestly thinks of, I forgot which President wasn’t, she was like Newt Gingrich, his mom leaned over and was like, she’s a bitch. And they ended it. But you see so much worse on the news today? Like it’s nothing, yeah. And then I believe that the Oklahoma City bombing she, like kind of rhetorically asked the fire captain, she was like, Do you think that your guys are equipped for this, it looks like an absolute mess. And everyone’s like, called for her to be canceled off the air. And I was like, that’s nothing she didn’t even say it facetiously. So I think had it been a different time. Connie Chung would probably still be on the air. And when you think about it, it’s like, she is a household name. Right? Connie Chung is a household name for people our age or you know, and but we don’t necessarily know why. It’s like, I know Connie, like I didn’t know this though. Like I’ve heard of the name Connie Chung. I remember seeing Connie Chung. But I don’t understand the cultural significance and the impact that Connie Chung had on media as a whole. And that’s what these stories are for, right. There’s like historical figures like Maria Tallchief. But there’s also modern figures who are here today, who left this huge legacy, and that are so alive, and that a lot of people don’t even know about. And that is the goal of the show. It’s like to make history fun to highlight, elevate these people who have a tremendous impact on American society and never really got their time to shine. And to make people laugh. At the end of the day, the show is funny. It’s a comedy show. Everyone has a great time. It’s really fun. But you laugh and you learn a little bit along the way too. And my goal for it was like for people listen to it on the way to dinner with their friends, and then show up and say, hey, did you like Connie Chung was the first Asian American news anchor to ever hosted nightly news program. Like that’s what I want people to do. If you don’t take away any other information from the show, if you’re just laughing the whole time. But you get that one little nugget. That is enough to make me happy.
V Spehar 33:53
That is an excellent goal. Yeah, we just want to make people more conversational, right. Help them have better conversations stuff to talk about, meet up with people feel smart, and give people their due because back then, when she was breaking all these glass ceilings for Asian American women in journalism, it wasn’t really seen as an asset like now when somebody breaks the ceiling. It’s like, this is the first black congresswoman from this particular state or whatever. And people are celebrating that back then it was about like trying to diminish any kind of diversity so that they could prove they can assimilate to like white culture. And now we have this opportunity to go back and revisit and recognize, you know, how hard that was and what the different challenges were in what we gained and what we lost through that process.
Kareem Rahma 34:34
Even the first non-white NBA player, like you would expect that he was Back, but he was actually Asian, and his name was Wataru Masaka is the first non-white player in the NBA. And again, fascinating story played for the New York Knicks. No one has ever heard of him. And, you know, everyone thinks that Yao Ming or Jeremy Lin or the for Asians in the NBA, but this guy was in the NBA during World War Two, which means he’s Japanese. So he’s Japanese. So we were at war, we’re at war with Japan. Anti-Japanese sentiment was an all-time high in America. And he’s sometimes he somehow snuck onto the New York Knicks. And that is, but the, I mean, on that one, I had Atsuko Okatsuka , who’s a hilarious Comedian, she joined me she’s also Japanese. And it was so much fun. And it’s like, there’s a way to make these stories fun, even if there’s a little bit of tragedy involved. And I will say, I avoided doing some episodes that were like just don’t make sense to make fun of or to even make light of, but all of the episodes that we did pick our like, fair, fair game, and we never make fun of the person it’s always making fun of the peripheral characters or the context or just making fun of ourselves you know, like Maria Tallchief was doing professional ballet at the age of 11 and I was literally sitting in my house playing Pokémon by myself so it’s not the same
V Spehar 36:23
Is there anything that you’ve gotten to be the first for?
Kareem Rahma 36:25
Well I made this joke, Rami Youssef and I were joking about it’s like, it feels like somebody’s the first have been taken that now you could just add like, you know what, I’m literally the first guy to dip a hot dog into a beer and then get covered on Jimmy Fallon.
V Spehar 36:43
It’s true. We are all still asking what prompted you to do that? I’ve never seen them do it the eating competitions but not like casually dunk and, and enjoy. It’s even what was it about?
Kareem Rahma 36:54
You know, sometimes you just gotta do a prank. Sometimes you just gotta prank the internet. It’s just a little pranky. But that’s why I didn’t reveal it was myself. Because I think if I did, people would know that it’s a prankster. And yeah, a lot of the stuff I do on the internet is primarily to just kind of have fun and take the piss out of it the whole thing. So yeah, there was no real reason that I did it other than I thought it would be funny to get caught doing it. And I did.
V Spehar 37:22
Yeah, let’s move on to something more tasty, like the Museum of pizza that you helped found. Tell me about this museum of pizza.
Kareem Rahma 37:29
I saw that this person was doing Museum of ice cream, and that she was having a lot of success with it. And I was like, that’s a really good idea. And it sounds like a lot of fun to make. And so I was like, what’s the, I guess, what’s the second best food although I would argue that pizza is the first best food but I was like, What’s the second best food to do this about? And it’s like, it’s the internet’s favorite food. It’s so many people’s favorite food. Pizza is the one of the only foods that is called pizza wherever you go, you know, you go to Kenya and you go to slice pizza. You go to New York, you have a slice of pizza, you get Alaska slice of pizza, go to Germany get slice of pizza is all the same. So I was like, this has universal appeal. So I put together this website, selling tickets for I think like $36 or something I literally had no thought in my mind that it would actually sell. I was just like, let’s see if people like it. I put it up and overnight, I had sold $250,000 worth of tickets. To a museum that did not exist yet. So it was very scary that you know, Fire Fest was happening around the backlash was happening around the time. And after I sold all those tickets. I was like, oh God, I cannot let I cannot let this be another fire festival. So I have to produce a museum and pizza. You know, all of me would probably refund everyone their money back and say like, haha, that was cool. Young me was like I’m doing it. And so for the next five months of my life, every single morning, was dedicated to building a museum of pizza in Brooklyn, New York, where I collaborated with 20 different artists gave them all a huge amount of money each to make whatever the hell they wanted. That was pizza related. So there was a pizza beach, there was a pizza cave, there was a pizza Film Festival inside the museum. There was actual pizza I built a pizzeria. Because, you know, that’s, that’s 72 hours we made $250,000. But then over the course of the next four months, we probably made another $750,000. And being the, you know, young man that I was, the more money that came in, the bigger the pizza museum got. I literally was like, I don’t care if I make a single penny off this and in fact, I actually lost money by the end of it. But I went down in history. and that will oh, I am the first.
V Spehar 40:04
The first pizza Museum, pizza museum founder, curator, prankster, podcaster. What can we expect from you in the next incoming year?
Kareem Rahma 40:15
I’m making a movie, making a movie, shooting it literally in? Well, I just got real scared 30 days, doing a feature length film with my friend, Meely Neely, who is a co-writer and co-actress. And then my friend Jeffrey Schroeder is directing and producing. And the rest of the team is coming together at the moment. But it’s a departure from my comedic work, I’ve decided that I want to try something a little more dramatic. And so we’re doing more of a kind of independent New York City Walk and Talk film that is really about platonic friendship between a man and a woman, which I feel like is not explored often in film. It’s usually like a love story or romance. But it’s never about like, what happens when a guy and girl just become friends and never even have the desire to hook up or date or marry or have sex. So the movie is kind of a one day exploration of what it feels like to be in a platonic relationship with a person that that is, is not the same identification as Yeah, I guess that’s how I would say it. But yeah, it’s really kind of I mean, it takes a dark turn. So I’ll say that much. But it’s definitely a more. It’s a more intellectual, more dramatic role than the things I’ve usually done. And I think, you know, as an artist, you kind of never want to stop learning about yourself. And so the minute I made this comedy film that made it into Tribeca Film Festival is called out of order, which I wrote and starred in and then my friend, Nicholas Heller, aka New York, Nico directed, but it was a pure comedy about a guy that had to use the bathroom and couldn’t find one. Just like that for that. But yeah, like coming off of that funny, funny, funny, zany wild movie. I was like, Okay, what’s next? Let’s like slow it down a bit, do something a little more dramatic. So that’s the next big project. And hopefully, you know, that’s, that’s how I’m gonna end my year. That’s how I plan that my year and so hopefully, people will be able to see that movie in 2023.
V Spehar 42:22
That sounds awesome. I am looking forward to that. Kareem, it has been such a delight chatting with you tell folks where they can find you.
Kareem Rahma 42:29
Thank you so much for having me on the show. I’ve had a blast. Y’all can follow me on Instagram at Kareem on TikTok at Kareem.Rahma, or follow the taxi show which is at keep the meter running on TikTok.
V Spehar 42:49
Thanks for being here.
Kareem Rahma 42:50
Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Thank you. And nice to meet everyone. That’s a listener.
V Spehar 42:59
I cannot get the mental taste of what a hot dog dunking a beer would be like, I cannot get it out of my head. We did the entire interview and I was like hot dog beer bun, blah. Now I am really excited for his show to be out though. And I love this kind of stuff. I love it so much that I’m letting them drop an episode on my feed Friday so you guys can eat up on Thursday. And then feast on new content from Kareem right here on Friday. And hey, leave me a voicemail. Let me know how your Thanksgiving what kind of weird stuff happened. 612-293-8550 Follow me at @underthedesknews on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. And guess what friends? If this wasn’t enough for you, there’s more V INTERESTING with Lemonada Premium. Right now there is a limited time discount on our annual subscription between now and Monday, November 28. It’s just $29.49 that is nearly half off. And you’ll get access to all of Lemonada’s Premium content, like extra tips from Jennifer Lincoln. So subscribe now in Apple podcasts right where you’re listening to the show, and be sure to do it before the sale ends on November 28th.
V INTERESTING is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producers are Rachel Neel, Xorje Olivares, Martín Macías, Jr. And Dani Matias. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Mixing and Scoring is by Brian Castillo, Johnny Evans and Ivan Kuraev. music is by Seth Applebaum. Please help others find the show by rating and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @VitusSpehar and @UnderTheDeskNews, also, @LemonadaMedia. If you want more be interesting, subscribe to Lemonada premium only on Apple podcasts.