Editor's note: This show is sold out.
Current news headlines decrying espionage and Russian collusion read like pages ripped from a pre-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. Meanwhile, one Los Angeles-based writer with a penchant for cuisine and culture has waded into the social consequences stemming from the Presidential Election.
But first, to pair with that side of biting commentary, Tess Rafferty recommends a heavy Petite Sirah ahead of her Flagstaff performance.
“They’re a teeth-stainer,”she said with a laugh. “I find you can only drink them in rainy, cold weather.”
And that drink, too, might help soften anxieties some have been experiencing since November, and to prepare for An Evening with Tess Rafferty.
Rafferty appears at the Coconino Center for the Arts Tuesday, Jan. 17 courtesy of Together We Will Northern Arizona. This all-ages event starts with a reception from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets, $25, will not be sold at the door. To purchase them, visit FlagArtsCouncil.org and see TWWNAZ on Facebook.
Rafferty has been known among the coterie of Hollywood writers since her seven-year stretch at E! News Network’s “The Soup.” Afterward, she craved something new and published a 2012 culinary memoir, “Recipes for Disaster,” filled with group-favorite foods and her worst dinner party moments.
But after the election, Rafferty typed a lengthy Facebook post surrounding her blunt opinion of supporters on the winning side. Her honesty caught the attention of her friend, director Steve Cohen, who suggested the pair put those words on film.
To date, “Aftermath 2016” has garnered tens of millions of views on YouTube and beyond, and has touched the wounded hearts of many who found a commonality in Rafferty’s unabashed soliloquy.
“When I encounter some kind of hate, whether it’s flat-out misogyny or racism or anti-Semitism, I do like to share it with people because I feel like we need to know,” she expressed, noting the video aimed at those she felt needed to plainly hear what the president-elect represents. “I don’t want us to think it’s isolated.”
Lori Staudinger, too, felt her prescience regarding the divisive undulating social current and how to reconnect. As the Executive Director of TWWNAZ, a pending 501(c)4 non-profit formerly known as Pantsuit Nation, Staudinger has been organizing listening parties of political speeches and the upcoming Flagstaff-based Women’s March on Washington. Rafferty’s performance will be the organization’s first major event, with proceeds benefitting local groups aiding LGBTQIA and immigrants.
“Tess put into words the way a lot of us were feeling at the time about the election,” Staudinger said, noting the group’s vice president, Stacy Pinkston, reached out to Rafferty through her manager. “She told her about the amazing grassroots activism taking place in Flagstaff and asked if Tess would ever like to come here.”
After confirmation, the mad planning started, Staudinger added.
Rafferty, who is donating her time here in Flagstaff, noted one of her greatest personal accomplishments was impacting viewers in such a way.
“That really impressed me because I know mostly creative people who are writers or actors or directors, who do things where they can express themselves and you forget that not everybody excels in that and are looking for people who can do it for them as sort of a cathartic experience,” she explained.
And though the comedian’s heavy on humor, she’s humbled to have touched people on an unexpected level — though she’d rather no one have needed it. Still, she will perform for her first time in Arizona as a means to help to the best of her witty abilities and for a cause benefitting people who will feel the ripples of the next four years the deepest.
Staudinger explained her hope is TWWNAZ “will serve as an important voice of the opposition.”
“We will work tirelessly to stand up for women, LGBTQIA individuals, immigrants and the environment,” she continued. “We will put up a vigorous resistance to efforts to curtail rights for these groups and against legislation that threatens these groups.”
Going forward, Staudinger said northern Arizona can expect a broad impact as the organization works for these groups, and hosts additional events along with weekly calls-to-action, announced on their Facebook page.
Rafferty, too, offered her advice for keeping up in this climate: creating change by staying realistic and acknowledging personal strengths. And in the way she channels her work for a purpose, the evening will follow the format of her live essay readings at L.A. venues: compounding politics with other pieces.
As she explores in her writing a greater lack of control over the world, she offsets it with small gestures that can have tremendous benefit well beyond her — and hopes the same for others.
Rafferty added, “More random acts of kindness in 2017, for all of us.”