Straight Talk: LIVE! — Bringing Discourse to Isla Vista


Cameron Speltz
Staff Writer

On Wed., Nov. 18, a new show will premiere in Isla Vista by the name of Straight Talk: LIVE! which aims to bring discourse to our campus through humor and, as the name suggests, straight talking.

In the words of the show’s creator and host, David Joseph, its goal is to “bring a variety of issues that are important to college students … talk about these issues in a very lax environment and be able to understand those, and be able to, at the end of the day, just have some humor.”

Straight Talk takes the format of a variety show, along the lines of Real Time with Bill Maher or The Daily Show. Each episode will be centered around one topic or theme, exploring it through monologues, interviews and panel discussions. Eventually, Joseph also wishes to incorporate “SNL-type sketches for the audience.” Like the content of Real Time and The Daily Show, these segments will seek to walk the line between humor and informational value.

The premier episode of Straight Talk will explore the theme of free speech on college campuses. It will feature a diverse panel of UCSB students, including the interviewee for the episode, Alagie Jammeh.

Jammeh is originally from Gambia, a conservative Islamic state in western Africa. He is an ideal student through whom to explore the topic of freedom of speech. While studying abroad at UCSB, Alagie posted a Facebook status expressing support for the gay community, and for this he was exiled from his home country and cut off financially.

As Joseph says, Jammeh’s exile is “all on the basis of him holding an opinion that’s unpopular back home.”

Joseph has designed Straight Talk to serve as a platform on which to talk about events and issues like Jammeh’s. That is, issues that are important to students such as ourselves. But he also wants the show to bring issues to the table that may otherwise largely be ignored on college campuses. “I think that there are issues that we need to discuss without having to flower it up and butter you up and make you comfortable,” Joseph said.

Continuing, Joseph offers examples: “When we have things like ISIS and Boko Haram and Al Qaeda, we have income inequality, we have all these important issues, and it seems like campuses [and] students get fired up over issues that are kind of unimportant in the grand scheme of things.”

To exemplify this, Joseph points to the recent stepping down of Claremont Mckenna College’s junior body president, who was forced to resign after simply appearing in a picture in which others were wearing culturally insensitive costumes.

However, Joseph believes there is a way to bring large-scale problems to the Isla Vista community without “flowering it up”: through humor. “There’s some pretty shitty stuff going on in the world,” he said. “We see it at our fingertips; if it’s not a bombing in a foreign country, it’s a shooting here. We have endless chaos going on, and I believe that comedy is the only medicine that can unite, and can comfort, and can be a source of refuge, so we’re not hearing the same sort of chaotic shit everyday.”

When asked if he was afraid of backlash from making light of certain issues, Joseph offered the following:

“Actually, no. I think this campus is smart … so I’m not really afraid of backlash,” he said. “What I’m afraid of is that some people who won’t see the show will assume what it is, that they’ll assume that it’s pure satire, and that it’s making fun of issues, and I want to make it really clear that we’re not making fun of anything, we’re bringing certain issues into the spotlight, and just making light of it. And it’s all done tastefully, we’re not at all intending to bring anybody down. The sole purpose of the show is to make people laugh and to talk about serious issues that college students care about.”

Straight Talk: LIVE! premiers in IV Theater 2 on Wednesday, November 18 at 10 PM. More information can be found on the Facebook page: