Elizabeth Blair

Nothing like a comedy festival to make you think so hard your head hurts. Immigration, #MeToo, bullying. Pain has long been at the root of great comedic material, and it was no different at this year's annual Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, where hundreds of comedians perform, attend panels and schmooze with agents, TV network reps and each other. "We're an industry built on outsiders," Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby told a roomful of her peers at the annual Just For Laughs Awards Show on Friday. She also urged the crowd not to forget it.

The bugle call of taps. The swell of voices spontaneously joining to sing "We Shall Overcome." The urgency of "Fight The Power." Anthems are songs that tap into the collective emotions that listeners and performers have around an issue, whether it's joyful pride in one's country or rage over injustice.

Our Take A Number series is looking at problems around the world — and people trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

In Huntington, W.Va., the number is 10. As in, the rate of babies born with a drug dependency there is 10 times the national average.

It's a number that shows the magnitude of the opioid crisis in this blue collar city. It's also one of the numbers that has prompted two very different people in this community to say, "Enough."

In National Geographic's forthcoming race issue, the 130-year-old scientific and cultural institution now admits it often showed foreign cultures through a racist lens.

Edwin Hawkins' "Oh Happy Day" was an accidental hit. The song, a gospel-style rework of an 18th century hymn, starts with a jazzy drum beat and a kind of blues pop piano groove. Dorothy Morrison, who sings lead on the recording, remembers at first, the pop feel got a lukewarm reception from the church.

"At first the reaction was, 'Well, we're not sure,' " Morrison says.

Dozens of powerful men, including two at NPR, have lost their jobs and reputations in the cultural reckoning that is the #MeToo movement. Clearly, there's tremendous momentum behind it, but where does it go from here? Do those men have a shot at redemption?

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The 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors were a chance to celebrate among others a dancer, a rapper and a TV-sitcom pioneer. Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

For decades, women generally kept quiet about being sexually harassed — or even assaulted — at work. But that may be starting to change. The recent New York Times and New Yorker exposés on Harvey Weinstein helped open the flood gates for women who allege they too have been victims. The #MeToo campaign lead to more stories. So we wondered — why now?

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People who write jokes on a freelance basis are losing a precious customer - "Saturday Night Live's" "Weekend Update." Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Late-night comedy shows burn through a lot of material.

Comedian Shelley Berman has died. According to his publicist, Glenn Schwartz, Berman died early Friday morning at his home in Bell Canyon, Calif. He was 92 and had Alzheimer's disease.

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Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 was supposed to be the next Hamilton. It was going to invigorate Broadway and attract younger and more diverse audiences — and it almost succeeded. Instead, it's closing on Sept. 3, in part because of a controversy over casting and race.

Comedians have vastly different styles and sensibilities. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Montreal's annual Just For Laughs comedy festival, where one minute you're riding a speedboat of brainy one-liners from Jerry Seinfeld; the next, you're floating along with the intoxicating tales of Ron Funches.

Comedians are just as varied in their decisions of whether to talk politics on stage.

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The third and final movie in the "Planet Of The Apes" trilogy opens today. In this retelling of the original movies, the apes are in an epic battle for their survival.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES")

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has had several confrontations with Chinese authorities. (He was once beaten so badly by police that he had to have brain surgery.) Through it all, Ai continued to make art, and his art continued to travel the world, sometimes without him.

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It is a good time for the spoken word. There's a whole lot out there - from radio to podcasts to audio books. Turns out there are lots of choices out there for young audiophiles too.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOW IN THE WORLD")

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A painting of a skull by Jean-Michel Basquiat broke records at Sotheby's last night. The work sold for more than $110 million. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, that is the most ever for an American artist's work at auction.

Actor Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, 24: Legacy) remembers the moment he knew he wanted to be a performer. At 9 years old, the Washington, D.C., native auditioned for a Kennedy Center production of The Brothers of the Knight, a children's musical about a preacher who doesn't approve of his 12 sons' all-night dancing.

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For comedians, skewering presidents is a time-honored tradition. President Trump, with his outsized personality and early morning tweets, is proving to be a rich source of material - and not just for comedians.

Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

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During the Vietnam War, An-My Le lived with her family in Saigon in the southern part of the country. It was April 1975, the tense days before the city fell to the North Vietnamese, and there was a knock on the door.

Infinity is a concept that's nearly impossible to grasp, let alone see. But it's one of artist Yayoi Kusama's obsessions.

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From head to toe, a first lady's look is heavily scrutinized, and Melania Trump will be no exception. But Trump is no stranger to the spotlight: In 2005, she was on the cover of Vogue in her Dior wedding dress, and she's modeled for Harper's Bazaar and posed nude for GQ. She also once sold her own line of costume jewelry and watches on QVC.

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President-elect Trump lets it be known when he'd like something and when he doesn't. And he does not like the way Alec Baldwin plays him on "Saturday Night Live."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

It didn't get a lot of attention – and maybe that was intentional - but a new website from President-elect Donald Trump's transition team went live last week. It's too soon to judge the Trump administration's aesthetic sensibilities, but the new site provides some clues.

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