Episode for November 25, 2020
Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian and commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies. As author or editor of seven books with over 100 op-eds and essays in media outlets including CNN, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, she brings historical perspective to her analyses of current events. Her insight into the authoritarian playbook has made her an expert source for television, radio, podcasts, and online events around the globe.
Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and an Advisor to Protect Democracy. She is also a historical consultant for film and television productions. She is a big fan of electronic music, which is her preferred soundtrack while writing. She practices yoga several times a week.
Ben-Ghiat’s work has been supported by Fulbright, Guggenheim, and other fellowships. Her books Fascist Modernities and Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema detail what happens to societies when authoritarian governments take hold, and explore the appeal of strongmen to collaborators and followers. Growing up in Pacific Palisades, California, where many intellectuals who fled Nazism resettled, sparked her interest in the subject.
With Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present (Norton, November 10th, 2020), which is now available she offers a blueprint for understanding and resisting authoritarianism.
Judy has written and starred in 2 critically acclaimed, Off-Broadway hit shows: The Judy Show – My Life As A Sitcom, (Outer Critics Circle Nom) and 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, (GLAAD Media Award – Outstanding NY Theater, Drama Desk Nom – Actor). The book with the same title based on more interviews with Jewish Mothers was nominated for the prestigious Quill Award. Judy received rave reviews as Gremio in the all female The Taming Of The Shrew for NYC’s 2016 season of The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. She has co-starred in the Off-Broadway productions of Clinton! The Musical, Disaster! The Musical, Love Loss & What I Wore, and The Vagina Monologues.
Judy’s most recent TV appearances include guest-starring roles on Louie, Broad City, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Inside Amy Schumer, Difficult People, 30 Rock, 2 Broke Girls, Melissa & Joey, The Big C, and she is recurring on the upcoming new series on TBS Search Party. She and her family appeared on ABC’s Celebrity Wife Swap, and Judy has competed on TFN’s Rachael vs. Guy and Chopped All Stars. She appears regularly on The Steve Harvey Show and has made numerous appearances on The View, The Today Show, The Wendy Williams Show and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. She is an original cast member of Tru TV’s Worlds Dumbest. Judy is a frequent contributor for CNN, & MSNBC. Judy has also toured with The Moth. Judy can be seen doing stand-up regularly at NYC’s top comedy clubs including The Comedy Cellar, Carolines on Broadway and Eastville Comedy Clubs, and recently had a sold-out run at Feinstein’s 54 Below.
Judy has had stand-up specials on HBO (Cable Ace Award), Comedy Central and LOGO and was twice nominated for The American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Comedian. Judy has appeared in numerous documentaries including, The Aristocrats, The Last Laugh, When Jews Were Funny. Judy’s popular weekly podcast Kill Me Now, is on CBS Network.
Judy has guest written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, CNN.com, and more. She is an ambassador for The Hetrick Martin Institute, and on the board of GMHC. Judy won 2 Emmy awards for writing and producing, The Rosie O’Donnell Show.
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