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Francesca Fiorentini

Francesca FiorentiniFrancesca Fiorentini , born on July 21st, 1967 in Rome, Italy is a journalist, activist and stand up comedian. Fiorentini has spent most of her life comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable - from on the street to your television screen and on the stage - not to mention that she is drop dead gorgeous.

As a host and producer, Francesca helped Al Jazeera Media Network successfully launch the online news channel AJ+ in 2013. She has captured online audiences with viral hits like "The Real Deal with the U.S. Mexico Border"and "How America is Already Socialist."

For AJ+ she's also covered climate change in the Louisiana delta, disappearances in Mexico, the 2016 presidential elections and whether female viagra will ever be a thing.

In the Spring of 2016 Francesca launched Al Jazeera's first comedy show. Newsbroke is a weekly scripted deep-dive into nuclear power, the war in Afghanistan, immigration policy and other totally non serious topics.

As head writer and host, Francesca oversaw Newsbroke's 91 segments including viral hits like "How the Rich Want to Keep you Dumb" and the sketch "White Fragility in the Workplace."

Francesca has also been a correspondent with Explorer on the National Geographic Channel since 2016. She has played matchmaker in Japan, toured a cadaver farm in Texas, and met Oklahomans demanding accountability for fracking-induced earthquakes.

Francesca FiorentiniFor her National Geographic work on draconian abortion laws in El Salvador she won a Media Excellence award from Planned Parenthood in 2018.

Francesca regularly speaks dick jokes to power on stage as a stand up comic. She has been featured on the podcast Lovett or Leave It (2018), the BBC Arts Hour in 2018, and has been part of SF Sketchfest in 2017 and 2018, SF Comedy Day in 2017, and the Asian-American Comedy Comedy Festival in LA in 2015.

She is also a regular contributor to the progressive news network The Young Turks. Her management is with 3Arts Entertainment and she is represented by ICM Partners.

As a comedy writer & correspondent she has been the host and head writer of Newsbroke on the Al Jazeera Network since July 2016 until the present.

She also does the pitching, researching, head writing, hosting and oversees production of a weekly news comedy show on Facebook Watch and YouTube.

She has been a senior presenter/producer at AJ+ since September 2013 until June 2018 and helped launch Al Jazeera Media Network’s social news brand, AJ+.

She has pitched, produced, crafted shows and hosted both comedic and serious segments including “The Real Deal with the US-Mexico Border”, “Trolling the Paris Climate Talks”, and “5 Ways America is Already Socialist.”

Francesca FiorentiniShe was a correspondent on the National Geographic Channel’s Explorer from August 2016 - July 2018 on 8 segments spanning two seasons. Segments include: “So You Want to Donate Your Body to Science”, “Do it For Japan”, and “No Good Choice in El Salvador.”

Additional credits include the following:

Lovett or Leave It Podcast, “The Fucking Memo” February 2018
BBC World Service, Arts Hour segment March 2018
Kamau Right Now Podcast, Live from the New Parish July 2017
Desi Comedy Festival August 2016
Comedy Comedy Asian-American Festival, LA August 2015
“GrinGo”, a weekly stand up show in Buenos Aires 2011-2013

She is a Journalist / Analyst for The Young Turks, as well as a contributor from July 2016 to the present.
Worked as a freelance Reporter from November 2008 to the present for online and print publications including The Nation, ABC/Univision, Upside Down World, Red Pepper UK, The Argentina Independent, Left Turn Magazine and has appeared multiple times on Al Jazeera English.



Francesca FiorentiniAs an Editor for WIN Magazine, War Resisters League July 2005 to August 2007

As a Co-Editor Left Turn Magazine, New York, NY Aug. 2004 to 2009 (Left Turn was a U.S.-based independent publication covering social movements in the U.S., the Middle East, and Latin America)

Education

Graduated from New York University in 2005 with a B.A. in Feminist Theory and Colonial Studies, Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Thesis Title: Ideas for Action: Postcolonial Feminism

Dean’s List 2001-2005, Founder’s Award for Academic Excellence 2005

Language Skills

Fluent in Spanish





Francesca FiorentiniThere's no shortage of stories in the news cycle that can overwhelm and even depress us. With that comes the risk that viewers will burn out and shut off the news. But that's exactly why comedy may be the best way to keep Americans informed, engaging us in a way straightforward news can't.

No one knows that better than Francesca Fiorentini, the producer and host of Newsbroke, the first comedy venture from AJ+, Al Jazeera Media Network's digital-only offshoot.

"I hate the word, but 'infotainment' is good. It's not letting people off the hook, it's pointing out the absurd," Fiorentini said in an interview. "Now that we live in the ninth ring of absurdity and everything hurts to read, I think political comedy is the perfect vehicle to alleviate that pain and not let folks off the hook when it comes to knowing where that pain is coming from."

"In a sense, political comedy serves a twofold purpose, as it can temporarily relieve news-based stress, while simultaneously prodding and poking fun of the origin of our collective stress.

This balancing of information and entertainment is particularly cathartic at a time when Donald Trump's election has caused additional stress for many Americans. In fact, a report released in February by the American Psychological Association (APA) revealed that 57 percent of Americans said the political climate was a "very" or "somewhat" significant source of their stress, while nearly half claimed the outcome of the election caused them stress.

But her program on AJ+, Newsbroke is about more than getting some laughs out of some pretty not-so-funny news. Fiorentini says that one of her goals is to make the journalistic main operative of Al Jazeera more digestible and accessible for both younger audiences and audiences that don't aggressively seek out hard-hitting journalism. Using comedy, she says, is an ideal way to bridge this gap.

Francesca Fiorentini"AJ+'s goal is so much about creating news like Al-Jazeera, but making that digestible for young folks," Fiorentini says. "One way we do that is through humor, speaking to people like you're talking to a friend.

There's something almost more honest about political comedy, because you're fusing real concerns with the desire to make people laugh, and being unapologetic about both."

She believes the comedic bent of Newsbroke can even help lure skeptics caught up in the "fake news" allegations against legitimate, credible sources. As politicians, including the president, slam unfavorable coverage as mere "fake news," comedy may be a way to counter these attacks on news reporting.

"People are so quick to call news fake, to adopt this teenage angsty attitude, the fomenting of doubt of the truth. When people say, 'Screw news, it's all the same, it's all corporate,' then I'm like, 'So where do you go?!'" says Fiorentini. "Whether or not it's conscious, there is a discrediting and a dismissal of real news sources."

However, that's where Newsbroke has a golden opportunity: "You can just say 'fake news' and use that as an excuse to be an anti-intellectual, so that's where comedy swoops in."

While Fiorentini and her Newsbroke team are constantly looking for ways to find the funny amidst a bleak news stream, she shares that for her personally, it's important to let viewers know that they do take the implications of this administration seriously. The jokes, she says, are meant to punch up and make light of our current state, rather than undermine any real fears or pain.

"I think there's a comedy renaissance going on, because deep down people realize we can't dismiss everything. We can't laugh everything off and be ironic. Yeah, we're going to throw in a joke about Dumb and Dumber 2 after talking about an immigrant being deported, but we're still punching up," Fiorentini says. "We're not taking any of this lightly. I think that's the renaissance, I think people want realness."

Francesca Fiorentini"As a comic, finding your voice is the biggest struggle. You may have a solid five minutes, be able to tell a funny story, and have the timing down - but how strong is your angle? What do you really have to say?

For Francesca Fiorentini, that angle - her voice, is the part that comes easy. In a 9-minute YouTube video called “The Rich Want To Keep You Dumb,” shot for Newsbroke, Fiorentini breaks down why “intellectual,” which translates to “kale eaters,” has become a dirty word in current American politics.

Cutting to a Fox News clip of conservative activist Charlie Kirk spouting off about the “the islands of totalitarianism” that are American universities, Fiorentini interrupts with: “Time out. Charlie Kirk never actually went to college. Why would he? He’s on Fox. Time in.”

Sharp, quick, and cunning, Fiorentini does not hold back. And the blessing of the internet, she says, is that you don’t have to make everything TV-safe.

It’s a fierce ideology that works to her advantage both in comedy and on serious spots for the network, including “The Real Deal with the Border,” where she explains immigration policy while reporting from the walls, fences, and security patrol on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Fiorentini explains her work as “breaking down tough concepts into succinct pieces with a strong perspective backed up by facts and fart jokes.” But it’s her knack for using performance to connect the dots with social justice and activism that brings the views (as many as 52 million hits for a single video spot).

Francesca FiorentiniHer role being part journalist, part comedian, part activist - isn’t one that a career-focused, traditional overachiever could fill. Rather, it’s one that’s braided by varied life experiences, unexpected twists, and a passion for truth, and Fiorentini posesses plenty of all three.

Like the rest of us who are old enough to remember September 11th, 2001, Fiorentini’s world changed that day; it was the same week the California native turned 18 and moved to New York City from Palo Alto for her first week of college at NYU.

While many of her classmates left the city in the wake of the terrorist attack, shook by its proximity and uncertain of what would happen next, Fiorentini stayed. “It changed everything, I became totally curious about the world,” she says.

“The first question I asked was, ‘Why?’ The Bush administration told us it was because they were jealous of our freedom, which sounded like BS to me. It felt like an important moment to stay in New York and figure things out.”

Fiorentini swiftly changed majors from Communications and Marketing to Postcolonial and Feminist Theory at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

When asked where she thought her major would take her, “I just wanted to learn more,” she says. “Mostly I skipped class and went to protest. I learned more from my fellow activists and community organizers than I ever did in school.”

Francesca FiorentiniA self-described playful “drama kid” who did improv in high school, Fiorentini put her creative inclinations on the back burner and dove into life as a social organizer.

After graduation, she worked in Lower Manhattan’s legendary Peace Pentagon building as an editor for both the War Resisters League and activist news magazine Left Turn.

But the combination of being in her 20s, working in leftist politics, and living in New York City was a grind. So when love presented itself in 2008, Fiorentini followed it to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, a city she describes as enchanting andbohemian, “I spent five years there de-NewYorkifying myself,” she says.

“I gained back my ability to be present and creative, and just chill out a bit.” She worked odd jobs, taught English, drank red wine, ate steak, and, most daringly, explored stand-up comedy. She began performing in and hosting a weekly comedy show called “Grin-go.”

She wasw doing bits both in English and Spanish (in which she became fluent) for audiences of mostly tourists, including Danes, who she says didn’t necessarily laugh on the outside. “I could’ve gotten up and slipped on a banana peel, and I would’ve gotten way more laughs,” she says.

However, Fiorentini found comfort on stage. “If you just focus on making fun of sleazy Argentine men and gullible American women, you can’t go wrong.”

Augmenting her live act, she started a YouTube channel in her apartment, writing jokes about what she was seeing abroad. “When you live abroad, you have an incredible perspective on the United States,” she says.

Francesca Fiorentini“I’m someone who firmly believes that if you build it, they will come, even if what you build is a green screen in your living room, a camera, and begging your boyfriend to help you record something at 11 at night.”

Fiorentini honed her joke-writing skills and produced cohesive videos, so when she heard that Al Jazeera was going to start an online version of their network called AJ+ in 2013, she jumped at the opportunity as both a career and way to move back to the Bay Area.

“They were looking for a host and a producer, and I said, ‘I’m there.’ I was basically doing it on my own already.”

Now living in San Francisco, she’s produced more than 100 videos for Newsbroke, and expanded her correspondent repertoire to freelance hosting for Explorer on the National Geographic Channel.

In January, she won a 2018 Planned Parenthood Media Excellence Award for her piece, “Jailed for a Miscarriage,” exposing the struggle of women who’ve had miscarriages in El Salvador under the shadow of the country’s oppressive abortion laws.

With role models like Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle, Fiorentini sees her ability to shed light onto crucial social issues as a great privilege. “Everything you’re saying is coming from your mouth, your mind, your perspective and yours alone,” she says. “There’s something about it that’s more powerful than making people laugh.”

Francesca FiorentiniHer vision of the future is optimistic, with a caveat. “I foresee a psychic break with the amount of internet technology and hyperconsumerist BS that we are fed,” she says, noting Occupy Wall Street as an example. “I think young folks are deeply cynical and smart, but also very much insulated and distracted, and rightfully so - everything is depressing right now.

But there’s going to be a moment of realization, ‘All this is crap we’re inheriting is a bunch of crap,’ and in that, a fight for the future. I think we’re going to have to get angry in a positive way.”

www.francescafiorentini.com
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