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Comedy steps up as a respite from our current woes

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A funny thing happened on the way to 2021.

Actually, nothing much amusing has happened in the new year so far — or leading up to it.
Our collective need for some comic relief right now is no joke. Luckily, there is laughter to be found.
“History of Swear Words”: Nicolas Cage can teach us something about cursing?
The hell you say!
The actor hosts “History of Swear Words,” a new Netflix series that is both educational and funny. With the help of experts and celebs, the six-part series “explores the origins, pop culture-usage, science and cultural impact of curse words.”
Rachel Brosnahan attends the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 27, 2019, in Los Angeles.

“Yearly Departed”: Leave it to Rachel Brosnahan to give us an all-female comedy special to kick 2020 out the door.
The “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star teamed up with writer Bess Kalb for the year-end — and still timely — Amazon special.
Hosted by “2 Dope Queens” star Phoebe Robinson, the show also features Sarah Silverman, Tiffany Haddish and Natasha Rothwell sending up the year — and reminding us that comedy isn’t just for the boys.
Emmy and Peabody award-winning actor, writer and producer Keegan-Michael Key narrates "The History of Sketch Comedy."

“The History of Sketch Comedy”: Funny isn’t just seen, it can also be heard.
Keegan-Michael Key is just the man to host this new Audible Original podcast.
The “Key & Peele” star shares some of his personal memories about sketch comedy while delving into its history.
“There’s a Chinese proverb that states ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now,'” Key said. “The good news is when it comes to comedy and sketch, most of the seeds and trees were planted tens or hundreds or even thousands of years ago. And every day we are reaping their fruit and making some pretty damn fine sketch comedy pies.”
Samuel L. Jackson stars as Dash Bracket in "Death to 2020."

“Death to 2020”: It feels right to end a wrap-up that starts with a series about swearing with a project starring the Count of Cursing, Samuel L. Jackson.
He’s just one of the stars of the Netflix mockumentary “Death to 2020.” This comedic look back at a year we all want in our rearview mirror is brought to you, ironically enough, by the creators of “Black Mirror.”
See how it all connects from history to current times? How funny is that?

For your weekend

Three things to watch:
‘American Gangster: Trap Queens’ Season 2
The true-life story of Perrion Roberts is recounted in season two of BET's "American Gangster: Trap Queens."

Men don’t have a monopoly on crime.
That’s the premise behind the BET docuseries “American Gangster: Trap Queens,” featuring stories about women who held their own as crime bosses, such as Perrion Roberts, former drug ringleader turned criminal justice reform advocate.
The second season is narrated by rapper Lil’ Kim and is currently streaming on BET+.
Anna Paquin (center) stars as PR executive Robyn in "Flack."

Academy Award-winning actress Anna Paquin stars in this series about a group of relentless publicists who are tasked with doing whatever it takes to protect their celebrity clients.
We can think of a few who might need their help.
“Flack” starts streaming on Amazon Prime Friday.
‘The Sister’
Russell Tovey stars as Nathan, a man with a dark secret, in "The Sister."

Written by Neil Cross and inspired by his novel “Burial,” the plot centers around a man (Russell Tovey) who has never been able to forget the worst night of his life: a party that led to the sudden, shocking death of a young woman.
Only he and an eccentric old acquaintance know what really happened … and they’ve resolved to keep it that way. But secrets have a way of revealing themselves.
Hulu starts streaming the four-part series on Friday.
Two things to listen to:
Zayn Malik attends the 60th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018, in New York City.

It’s not true that “Nobody Is Listening.”
That’s the title of Zayn Malik’s third studio album. The former One Direction member and model Gigi Hadid’s baby daddy goes by just his first name these days.
Honestly, the R&B singer can call himself whatever he wants with an album full of tunes this smooth.
“Nobody Is Listening” is out now.
Maggie Lindemann is shown on September 19, 2019, in Los Angeles.

If Maggie Lindemann has her way, the future of rock is female.
The 22-year-old singer has won fans by blending genres including punk and pop (see Lindemann’s remake of her own song “Friends Go,” with famed Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker) and for her social media presence.
Check out her EP, “Paranoia,” which drops Friday.
One thing to talk about:

“Insecure” is ending with its fifth season and I’m trying not to be in my feelings about it.
Losing a beloved series when it has been canceled or just run its course can feel sad — and 2021 will mark the winding down of several excellent shows.
“Peaky Blinders,” “Shameless,” “Grace and Frankie” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” are just a few of the shows calling it a wrap this year.
Thankfully, we can take solace in the fact that there is a ton of good content out there just waiting to be discovered, so chin up.

Something to sip on

Lady Gaga arrives to sing the national anthem at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden at the US Capitol on January 20 in Washington, DC.

US President Joe Biden issued a call for unity across the nation during his inauguration speech on Wednesday, and the performances by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks echoed that.
Watching the three artists, each talented and reflective of our culturally diverse nation, reminded me we are still one nation, under God.
Let’s hope we move forward, together.
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