MetroFocus: May 24, 2017

As rumors of a staff shake up swirl at the White House, we’re taking a look at “The Gatekeepers” who ultimately define each and every presidency. Then,we chase one man’s dream from poverty to the Metropolitan Opera. Next, travel back to a time where glamour reigned supreme and made Gatsby look like a mere pauper with a gift left behind to us all from the Gilded Age: the Heckscher State Park and Museum of Art. Finally, we’re behind the scenes at the world-famous Carolines on Broadway comedy club with the black female comics who are the “Sisters of Comedy.” Find out how they’re showcasing diversity both onstage and off.

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' AS RUMORS CONTINUE TO SWIRL ABOUT A STAFF SHAKE UP IN THE WHITE HOUSE, WE LOOK AT THE GATE KEEPERS WHO ULTIMATELY DEFINE EACH AND EVERY PRESIDENCY.

> ONE MAN CHASES HIS DREAM FROM POVERTY ALL THE WAY TO THE METROPOLITAN OPERA.

WE EXPLORE AN AMAZING GIFT LEFT BEHIND BY THE GUILDED AGE.

AND THEN WE GO BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE SISTERS OF COMEDY.

ALL THAT AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY -- CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G, SERVING CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS ALSO PROVIDED BY THE JPB FOUNDATION, AND THE FORD FOUNDATION.

NOW WELL PAST HIS FIRST 100 DAYS IN OFFICE, PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS SURROUNDED HIMSELF WITH AN INNER CIRCLE OF ADVISORS WHO ARE DETERMINED TO EXECUTE HIS OUTSIDE AGENDA AND DEAL WITH PRESENT-DAY CRISES AS WELL.

FOREMOST AMONG THEM IS THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF, REINCE PRIEBUS.

UNELECTED, UNCONFIRMED, THE CHIEF SERVES AT THE WHIM OF THE PRESIDENT, HIRED AND FIRED BY HIM ALONE AND YET THE CHIEF'S JOB IS SO CRITICAL THAT THE PRESIDENCY CANNOT FUNCTION EFFECTIVELY WITHOUT A GOOD ONE.

BUT WILL PRIEBUS BE ABLE TO HOLD IT, OR AS SOME HAVE SUGGESTED PRESIDENT TRUMP IS LOSING FAITH IN HIM.

HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE CRITICAL ROLE OF THE CHIEF OF STAFF.

HIS NEW BOOK IS TITLED, THE GATE KEEPERS, HOW THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEFS OF STAFF DEFINE EVERY PRESIDENCY.

THANK YOU FOR COMING.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS SUBJECT MATTER?

IT WAS A PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER.

HE AND HIS BROTHER HAD DONE THE ICONIC DOCUMENTARY 9/11 AND THEY HAD THIS CRAZY IDEA WE SHOULD DO A FILM ON ALL THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEFS OF STAFF.

WE DID IT FOR DISCOVERY IN 2013.

BUT I REALLY THOUGHT THAT IT JUST BARELY SCRATCHED THE SURFACE OF THIS UNBELIEVABLE UNTOLD STORY OF THESE 17 GUYS WHO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESS AND DISASTER FOR EVERY PRESIDENCY.

HOW MANY PEOPLE AND WHAT TYPES OF PEOPLE DID YOU TALK TO ABOUT IT?

I INTERVIEWED ALL 17 LIVING WHITE HOUSE CHIEFS AS WELL AS HOWARD BAKER, DECEASED A COUPLE YEARS AGO.

I ALSO INTERVIEWED TWO PRESIDENTS.

I WENT BACK, YOU KNOW, THE DOCUMENTARY -- WHEN YOU TALK TO JUST THE PRINCIPALS, IT'S THE VIEW IS FROM 30,000 FEET.

I WANTED TO GO GROUND UP.

I TALKED TO A LOT OF STAFFERS.

I HAD DONE A FILM ON THE CIA SO I TALKED TO EVERY LIVING CIA DIRECTOR.

I TALKED TO SECRETARIES OF STATE, INCLUDING COLIN POWELL.

AND I WAS ABLE TO GO A LOT DEEPER INTO THIS AMAZING STORY AND IT'S A CAST OF CHARACTERS THAT AARON SORKIN COULDN'T HAVE DREAMED UP.

I COULDN'T HAVE DREAMED THESE UP.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEFS OF STAFF DEFINING EVERY PRESIDENCY.

THAT'S A POWERFUL STATEMENT.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF IS NOT ONLY THE GATE KEEPER, THE GUY WHO CONTROLS ACCESS TO THE OVAL OFFICE AND CREATES TIME AND SPACE FOR THE PRESIDENT TO THINK, WHICH BEGAN, BY THE WAY, WITH HR HALDEMAN AND NIXON.

HE IS THE HONEST BROKER FOR EVERY PRESIDENT, MAKING SURE EVERY DEE SIEGS IS TEED UP WITH INFORMATION ON EVERY SIDE OF TOUGH DECISIONS.

HE IS THE GUY WHO EXECUTES -- WELL, HE ALSO TAKES BULLETS FOR THE PRESIDENT.

HE'S THE HEAT SHIELD.

HE'S THE JAVELIN CATCHER, AS JACK WATSON, JIMMY CARTER'S CHIEF CALLED HIM.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, HE'S THE GUY WHO EXECUTES THE PRESIDENT'S AGENDA, AND HE IS ALSO FUNDAMENTALLY THE GUY WHO HAS TO TELL THE PRESIDENT WHAT HE DOESN'T WANT TO HEAR.

THAT'S NOT HAPPENING IN THE CURRENT WHITE HOUSE.

FROM WHAT YOU'VE LEARNED IN THESE VAST EXTENSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH THESE REALLY 17 FORMER, TWO FORMER PRESIDENTS, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP, AND WHAT SORT OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO REINCE PRIEBUS?

YOU KNOW, IT ALL STARTS WITH -- IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY, IT'S ON DONALD TRUMP, YOU KNOW.

EVERY PRESIDENT HAS TO MAKE THIS DECISION ABOUT HOW HE WANTS TO WORK WITH THIS WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF, WHETHER HE WANTS TO EMPOWER HIM.

I THINK THAT THIS WHITE HOUSE IS BROKEN.

THIS WHITE HOUSE IS IN ABSOLUTE CRISIS STAGE.

I THINK THE TRUMP'S ONLY HOPE MAY BE AN INTERVENTION IN WHICH -- AND I DON'T KNOW WHO IT WOULD BE.

IS IT IVANKA TRUMP AND JARED KUSHNER AND MIKE PENCE, DO THEY GO IN AND CLOSE THE DOOR AND SAY, LOOK, YOU ARE IN TROUBLE, YOU ARE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE, AND YOU HAVE A CHOICE.

IF YOU WANT TO BE JIMMY CARTER, JUST KEEP ON DOING EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING.

TRY TO RUN THE WHITE HOUSE ALL BY YOURSELF.

IT DIDN'T WORK FOR CARTER.

IT WON'T WORK FOR YOU.

OR YOU CAN BE RONALD REAGAN.

YOU CAN FIND YOUR OWN EQUIVALENT OF JIM BAKER, SOMEBODY WHO CAN REALLY TELL YOU WHAT YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR AND CAN EXECUTE YOUR AGENDA.

I THINK IT'S COME TO THAT POINT WHERE REINCE PRIEBUS IS -- HE'S REALLY, I THINK, SEVERELY DAMAGED.

FIRST OF ALL, HE HAS NO AUTHORITY AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT.

AND THAT'S FATAL.

FOR ANY CEO OR ANY EXECUTIVE, EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT YOU HAVE NO POWER AT ALL?

EXACTLY.

YOU'RE DONE.

AND EARSKIN BILL CLINTON'S WHITE HOUSE CHIEF AFTER PANETTA, WHEN YOU'RE NOT SPEAKING FOR THE PRESIDENT, EVERYONE CAN SMELL IT, THEY CAN SNIFF IT.

YOU'RE NOTHING BUT AN OVERBLOWN SCHEDULER AT THAT POINT.

HE'S LOST HIS CREDIBILITY.

HE'S BEEN COMPLICITY IN THE FLAGRANT LIES.

HE'S BEEN UNABLE TO DISCIPLINE THE PRESIDENT WITH HIS TWITTER ACCOUNT.

I BUMPED INTO DAVID GURGEN, FAMOUS COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENTS, IN THE GREEN ROOM.

HE SAID, BOY, I THINK THE FIRST CONDITION FOR ANY NEW CHIEF COMING IN THERE WOULD BE TO CONTROL THE TWITTER ACCOUNT.

I THINK SOMEBODY HAS TO SAY, LOOK, IT'S A GREAT BULLY PULPIT.

IT'S AN EFFECTIVE TOOL.

YOU CAN DO IT.

YOU HAVE TO RUN IT BY ME FIRST.

AND THAT WOULD BE AN INTERESTING CONVERSATION.

LOVE TO LISTEN IN ON THAT ONE.

ONCE AGAIN, THE BOOK IS CALLED THE GATE KEEP ERPZ.

HOW THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEF DEFINES EVERY PRESIDENCY.

IT IS A MARVELOUS INTRIGUING AND TIMELY READ.

JACK, THANKS SO MUCH.

PLEASURE.

YOU BE WELL.

RYAN GREEN GREW UP IN AN ABUSIVE HOUSEHOLD FILLED WITH RAGE AND LITTLE TO KNOW HOPE OF A BRIGHTER FUTURE.

BUT WITH THE SUPPORT OF MENTORS WHO BELIEVED IN HIM AND PUSHED HIM TO DREAM FOR A BETTER LIFE, HE DISCOVERED HIS VOICE.

A BASE BARITONE TO BE EXACT.

♪♪

AS PART OF OUR ONGOING IN ADDITIONTIVE CHASING THE DREAM, POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA, WE TAKE A LOOK AT HOW GREEN ROSE FROM THE COLD SMITH WALLS OF THE JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITY TO TAKE CENTER STAGE AT SOME OF THE WORLD'S MOSTLY PARISE TEENAGER US OPERA HOUSES ALL IN SPITE OF THE RACISM THAT FOLLOWED HIM BACK STAGE TO THE WINGS OF THE THEATER.

JOINING US TO SHARE GREEN'S STORY FROM HIS CHILDHOOD AND POVERTY TO HIS MODERN-DAY RISE AS OPERA STAR IS DANIEL BERGENER, AUTHOR OF A STORY OF RACE, MUSIC AND FAMILY.

DANIEL, WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

THANKS.

GREAT TO BE HERE.

SO, FIRST TELL ME A LITTLE BIT, HOW DID YOU EVEN COME ACROSS THE STORY?

IT SEEMS SO UNIQUE.

I WAS WRITING FOR THE 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' MAGAZINE ABOUT AN ANNUAL CONTEST.

THE METROPOLITAN OFF OPERA HAS TO FIND THE MOST PROMISING SINGERS IN AMERICA UP TO THE AGE OF 30.

WHEN IT CAME TO THE SEMI FINAL ROUND, I WROTE TO SEMI FINALISTS BY E-MAIL.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LIFE, YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO MUSIC, WHATEVER.

I GOT RESPONSES FROM EVERY ONE OF THOSE SEMI FINALS, EXCEPT ONE, BRIAN GREEN.

HE DIDN'T FEEL LIKE HE HAD A STORY TO TELL.

HE DIDN'T FEEL LIKE HE HAD A VOICE WORTH BEING HEARD.

HE HAD NO EXPECTATIONS OF GETTING TO THE FINALS.

THAT SEEMS TO BE VERY INDICATIVE UNFORTUNATELY FOR A LOT OF KIDS WHO GROW UP WITH ABUSE, TRAUMA AND POVERTY, THAT THEY DON'T FEEL LIKE THEIR STORY IS WORTH TELLING OR BEING TOLD.

AND YOU AS A PROFESSIONAL WRITER FOUND THAT THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

COMPLETELY.

THE OPPOSITE WAS TRUE.

HE GREW UP IN A VOLATILE AND VIOLENT HOUSEHOLD WITHOUT A FATHER, WAS PUT AS A YOUNG KID INTO THIS CLASSROOM FOR SIX OR SEVEN KIDS WHO WERE THE MOST OUT OF CONTROL ELEMENTARY SCHOOLERS IN THE ENTIRE SCHOOL DISTRICT.

WOW.

WAS LOCKED UP AS A 12-YEAR-OLD FOR THREATENING HIS MOM'S LIFE.

AS YOU SAID, THAT WAS A HOUSEHOLD FULL OF RAGE.

TAKEN AWAY IN CUFFS AND SHACKLES ACROSS THE STATE.

THERE HAD TO HAVE BEEN SOME SPARK OR SOMETHING BETWEEN THAT YOUNG CHILD BEING TAKEN AWAY IN SHACKLES AND THAT AUDITION.

SO, A FEW THINGS.

ONE, AND I THINK RYAN HIMSELF UNDER PLAYS THIS.

THERE IS A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF SHEER WILL ON HIS PART.

BUT THEN THERE ARE ALSO TWO TEACHERS WHO ARE SPECTACULAR AND INSPIRING.

ONE RAN THAT LITTLE CLASSROOM FOR SIX OR SEVEN COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL KIDS.

MRS. HUGHES.

HE ENTERS THAT CLASSROOM, SO, IT'S HIS DESK AT HER.

ON THE FIRST DAY SHE BASICALLY SAYS TO HIM, OKAY, YOU CAN LEARN FROM THE FLOOR SINCE THAT'S WHERE YOUR DESK IS.

AND HE TAKES THIS AS A NOTE OF AFFIRMATION.

SHE'S THE FIRST TEACHER THAT HAS N'T IMMEDIATELY AND COMPLETELY GIVEN UP ON HIM.

SHE HAS THOSE KIDS TO MEMORIZE MARTIN LUTHER KING'S I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH.

THAT METHOD OF BEING ABLE TO SHAPE ONE'S OWN CHARACTER AND DESTINY TAKES HOLD.

TEACHER NUMBER TWO, HE GETS IN THE SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS, AND HE'S ABOUT TO GET THROWN OUT.

HE CAN'T READ MUSIC.

HE JUST DOESN'T REALLY BELONG THERE.

HE GETS TAKEN UNDER WING BY AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN VOCAL TEACHER, MR. BROWN, WHO NOT ONLY BEGAN TO TEACH HIM MUSIC, BUT BECOMES A KIND OF FATHER FIGURE AND LEADS A SCHOOL TRIP FROM VIRGINIA TO THE MET.

THERE, BRIAN HAPPENS TO SEE A PERFORMANCE OF CARMEN STARRING THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEZZO-SOPRANO DENISE GRAVES.

HE'S SO TAKEN WITH THIS.

AND AS HE SAYS, SO OVERWHELMED BY THIS REVELATION THAT, AS HE PUTS IT, SOMEONE WHO LOOKS LIKE ME CAN SING AND PERFORM MUSIC LIKE THIS --

AT THE MET, NO LESS.

AT THE MET.

HE WALKS OUT ONTO THE PLAZA AND SAYS TO MR. BROWN AFTER THAT PERFORMANCE, I'M GOING TO SING AT THE MET SOME DAY.

AND AS RYAN PUTS IT, THE FIRST TIME HE'D SPOKEN A DREAM FOR HIS FUTURE.

SO, TAKE US TO WHERE HE IS NOW, BECAUSE I'M WONDERING WHAT ROLE OPERA PLAYS IN HIS LIFE.

ASIDE FROM THE PAYCHECK PART, BUT I THINK A LOT OF YOUNG KIDS DON'T NECESSARILY LOOK TO OPERA AS A MUSIC GENRE OR SOURCE OF INSPIRATION.

THERE IS SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT HERE BECAUSE, OF COURSE, WHERE HE CAME FROM, NO ONE WAS LOOKING TO OPERA AS A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION OR AS A MUSIC TO LISTEN TO.

AND ONCE OPERA CAUGHT HOLD OF HIM AS AN ART FORM, HE TOOK A LOT OF ABUSE FROM OTHER AFRICAN-AMERICAN KIDS IN HIS COMMUNITY FOR SINGING A WHITE ART FORM.

HE FACED OBSTACLES AS A BLACK MAN SINGING OPERA NOW BECAUSE THERE ARE CERTAIN PRECONCEPTIONS, EVEN IN OUR LIBERAL WORLD, EVEN IN THE LIBERAL WORLD OF THE MET.

A BLACK SINGER LIKE RYAN, YOU SEE HE'S GOING TO HAVE A GOSPELY RASPY SOUNDING VOICE.

IS HE GOING TO BE ABLE TO LEARN MUSIC AS QUICKLY AS SOMEONE ELSE?

JUST THESE THINGS THAT GET IN THE WAY OF HEARING.

NEVERTHELESS, HE'S DONE INCREDIBLY WELL.

HE'S SINGING REGULARLY IN VIENNA WHICH IS ONE OF THE TOP HOUSES IN EUROPE.

YOU KNOW, FOR HIM, SO IMPORTANT TO SORT OF TRANSCEND RACE, AS HE WOULD PUT IT, THROUGH HIS VOICE.

AND I THINK IN SOME WAY THAT'S WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT.

IT ASKED THAT QUESTION, CAN WE DO THAT?

HOW CAN WE DO THAT?

YOU KNOW, ARE THERE THINGS THAT ARE SACRIFICED ALONG THE WAY?

BUT FINALLY, YOU KNOW, THE STORY IS REALLY TRIUMPHANT.

IT DEFINITELY IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF WHAT OPPORTUNITY CAN DO.

SO, LISTEN, DANIEL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANKS SO MUCH.

THINK OF ARCHITECTURE WHO GAVE A LOT OF LAND FOR PLAY GROUNDS IN NEW YORK CITY.

THE CROWDED CITY AND THE KIDS HAD NO PLACE TO RECREATE.

HERE WAS FARM COUNTRY BUT HE STILL SAW THE NEED FOR A PUBLIC PARK.

IF AUGUST TEXTURE RINGS A BELL, THAT'S BECAUSE THE PHILANTHROPIST LEGACY IS CREATING SPECIAL PLACES FOR THE PUBLIC.

PLAY GROUNDS IN MANHATTAN AND BROOKLYN.

STATE PARK IN EAST ISLIP.

AND HERE IN THE LONG ISLAND TOWN OF HUNTINGTON, THE MUSEUM OF ART NESTLED INSIDE THE PARK.

HE HAD A GREAT ART COLLECTION.

AND HE WANTED TO SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD.

SO, HE CREATED A MUSEUM TO HOUSE IT.

HE IMMIGRATED FROM GERMANY AT THE AGE OF 19.

HE STARTED AS A COAL MINOR LEARNING ENGLISH AT NIGHT AND WORKING HIS WAY UP, ULTIMATELY MAKING MILLIONS IN IRON, COAL, AND THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY.

HE LATER USED HIS WEALTH TO BATTLE NEW YORK CITY SLUM CONDITIONS AND CREATE PLAY GROUNDS FOR KIDS.

HE SEEMED TO HAVE A REAL AFFECTS FOR CHILDREN AND THE WELL-BEING OF CHILDREN AND THAT'S BEEN A CENTRAL FOCUS OF HIS GIVING THROUGHOUT THE YEARS.

NEARLY 100 YEARS LATER, THIS PARK REMAINS A HAVEN FOR KIDS AND ADULTS, TOO.

THERE IS A HIDDEN GEM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARK DISGUISED AS A GA SEEN OWE.

WHAT'S NEAT ABOUT THAT, IT'S A REAL ECHO CHAMBER.

YOU GO INSIDE AND YOU HAVE A CLEAR ECHO WHEN YOU STAND IN THE MIDDLE.

ISN'T THAT SOMETHING?

THE STAGE NAMED AFTER A FAMOUS HUNTINGTON RESIDENT, SINGER SONG WRITER HARRY CHAPIN.

IT'S HOME TO THE FESTIVAL.

THEN OF COURSE THERE IS THE PARK'S MAIN ATTRACTION, THE MUSEUM OF ART.

ARCHITECTS JULIUS DESIGNED THE STRUCTURE, IT WAS IN VOGUE FOR MUSEUMS AT THE TIME.

WHEN THE MUSEUM OPENED IN 1920, IT WAS FILLED WITH OVER 185 WORKS DONATED BY HECHTURE HIMSELF.

IT WAS A COLLECTION THAT ACTUALLY SPANNED 500 YEARS OF WESTERN ART.

FOR HIS PERIOD, HE WAS IN A SENSE THE VANGUARD OF COLLECTORS COLLECTING AMERICAN 19th CENTURY ART.

AND, SO, THAT SORT OF ESTABLISHED THE PARAMETERS FOR THE COLLECTION, THAT IS, THAT WE COLLECT AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN ART.

THERE ARE NOW ABOUT 2,500 WORKS IN THE PERMANENT COLLECTION, INCLUDING WHAT'S CONSIDERED TO BE THE MUSEUM'S CROWN JEWEL.

DATA ARTIST GEORGE'S ECLIPSE OF THE SUN.

IT IS OUR MONA LISA.

GEORGE GROSS WAS ONE OF THOSE WHAT HITLER CALLED DEGENERATES, RIGHT?

AND, SO, HE LIKE SO MANY OTHERS HAD TO GET OUT OF DODGE FAST.

AND AT ONE POINT HE ACTUALLY LIVED AND WORKED RIGHT HERE IN HUNTINGTON.

HE BROUGHT IT TO THE U.S.

WITH HIM WHEN HE LEFT GERMANY, AND IT IS AN INDICTMENT OF GERMANY.

THE DECORATED GENERAL IS PAUL VON HINDENBURG WHO WAS THE SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE VON MAR REPUBLIC.

THE DONKEY IS WEARING BLINDERS IS A GERMAN CITIZEN.

AND THEN AT THE LAST, THE SUN BEING A SYMBOL OF LIFE, BUT IS HERE TOTALLY OBSTRUCTED BY A DOLLAR SIGN.

THIS WORK, WHICH WAS STILL PRECIOUS TO GROSS THEN, STILL HAS MEANING TO VISITORS TODAY.

THE MUSEUM HOSTS A COMPETITION CALLED LONG ISLAND'S BEST YOUNG ARTISTS IN WHICH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TOUR THROUGH THE GALLERIES AND CHOOSE A WORK THAT INSPIRED THEM AS A STARTING POINT.

HE CHOSE GROSS'S MASTERPIECE.

I TOOK HIS MEANING FROM HIS PIECE.

HE EXPLORED WORLD WAR II AND HOW GREED WAS TAKING LIVES AWAY FROM PEOPLE.

WELL, IN SPITE OF THE IDEA OF THE WAR ON DRUGS AND HOW CARTELS ARE DISTRIBUTING DRUGS WITHOUT ANY THOUGHT IN MIND ABOUT WHAT IT'S DOING TO ITS USERS.

HE SAID SEEING HIS WORK IN THE MUSEUM INVIGORATES HIS INTEREST IN FINE ARTS.

BUT THE JURY COMPETITION SERVES PEOPLE IN MANY WAYS.

WE TREAT THIS WORK AS OUR PERMANENT COLLECTION WORKS.

OR ANY WORKS BY PROFESSIONAL ARTISTS.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO CHOOSE TO BE AN ARTIST IN YOUR LIFE, IT'S SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO DEAL WITH, YOU KNOW?

TO APPLY FOR THINGS, TO BE ABLE TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR WORK, TO BE ABLE TO FOLLOW THROUGH.

AND IT'S NOT JUST EVEN IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE AN ARTIST.

THOSE ARE SKILLS THAT YOU'LL TAKE WITH YOU IN ALL THE OTHER SUBJECTS.

THE MUSEUM STAFF PRIDE THEMSELVES ON THEIR EDUCATION DEPARTMENT.

THIS IS A COMMUNITY MUSEUM.

IT WAS FOUNDED TO BE A COMMUNITY MUSEUM.

IT WAS MEANT TO REACH OUT TO SCHOOL CHILDREN.

IT BRINGS ME A LOT OF JOY.

I MEAN, A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SEE THE PIECE AND THAT'S WHAT MY INTENTIONS ARE.

IT'S GREAT BEING IN A MUSEUM.

AND, SO, THROUGH THE MUSEUM AND PARK, THE WORK LIVES ON HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE AND PRESERVING PLACES FOR THE PUBLIC.

IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE WHAT ALL THIS WOULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE WHEN IT OPENED JUST OVER A HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

BUT OUTSIDE THE MUSEUM IS A PLAQUE THAT PROVIDES THE VISITORS A LOOK BACK INTO HISTORY.

ON IT, A LINE FROM THE SPEECH GIVEN AT THE PARK'S DEDICATION BY AUGUST TEXTURE, WHO TRAVELED A GREAT DISTANCE AT A YOUNG AGE AND FOREVER CHANGED THE LANDSCAPE OF HUNTINGTON.

TO THE LITTLE BIRDS THAT MIGRATE AND TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN WHO FORTUNATELY DO NOT.

IN HUNTINGTON, I'M MADDIE ORTON FOR 'METROFOCUS.'

♪♪

NEW YORK'S ANNUAL COMEDY FESTIVAL KICKED OFF THIS YEAR WITH AN HOMAGE TO COMEDY BY UNIQUE SISTERS AT THE WORLD FAMOUS CAROLINE IN NEW YORK CITY.

THE SISTERS OF COMEDY ARE THE STARZ OF THE SHOW AND THEY'RE NOT ONLY FEMALE, BUT BLACK.

AND BLACK WOMEN AS THE SHOW'S CREATOR POINTS OUT ARE OFTEN UNDER REPRESENTED ON COMEDY SHOW BILLS.

BUT THIS ISN'T JUST ABOUT VISIBILITY.

FOR HER, THIS COMEDY IS ABOUT CELEBRATING THE DIVERSITY OF STYLES AND POINTS OF VIEW OF BLACK WOMEN COMICS IN FRONT OF A DIVERSE AUDIENCE.

I GOT A CHANCE TO SEE THEIR SHOW.

I ALWAYS AM FASCINATED WHEN GUYS COME TO THE SHOW.

THIS IS COMEDY.

SISTER WIVES, WHAT IS GOING ON?

[ LAUGHTER ]

I'M JUST CURIOUS.

ANYWAY, I'M YOUR HOST FOR TONIGHT.

MY NAME IS MICHELLE.

ONE THING ABOUT WOMEN IN COMEDY, THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF WOMEN ACTUALLY DOING STAND-UP RIGHT NOW.

I WAS WORKING AT A CLUB AND I WAS LOOKING AT THE PEOPLE WHO WERE COMING UP ON STAGE AND THE SHOWCASES THAT WERE COMING UP ON STAGE.

AND I NOTICED THERE WAS REALLY LIKE NO ALL BLACK WOMEN SHOWCASES.

WHY IS THAT?

AT ONE POINT I WAS LIKE, YOU KNOW WHAT, MAYBE I SHOULD PRODUCE THE SHOW BECAUSE I NEED TO GO AHEAD AND ILLUSTRATE TO PEOPLE THAT BLACK WOMEN ARE ABSOLUTELY DIVERSE AMONGST OURSELVES AND THERE IS DEFINITELY A LOT OF TALENT WITHIN THE COMMUNITY.

HEY!

BLACK LIVES MATTER, RIGHT?

IT JUST DRIVES IT HOME.

THE REALITY IS I AM A WOMAN.

I DO HAVE NATURAL HAIR.

I HAD A SHAVED HEAD THE MAJORITY OF MY CAREER SO FAR.

AND I TALK ABOUT MY SPECIFIC EXPERIENCES ON STAGE.

I'M ALWAYS EXISTING AS A WOMAN, AS A BLACK WOMAN, AS A TALL WOMAN, AS A SISTER, AS A DAUGHTER.

I'M ALWAYS EXISTING AS THOSE THINGS.

SO, THEY'RE ALWAYS GOING TO COME OUT ON STAGE WHEN I TALK ABOUT MYSELF.

DO I GET UP ON STAGE AND SAY, HEY, I'M A GIRL?

THAT'S OBVIOUS.

THERE'S NO NEED TO STATE THE OBVIOUS.

I TALK ABOUT ME AND I'M ALL THOSE THINGS.

SO, THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO HEAR ABOUT.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUDING]

I KNOW, SOMETIMES THEY HAVE ME ON BOARD.

OH, LOOK.

[ LAUGHTER ]

YOU CAN'T LOOK AT ME AND TELL IT'S VERY EASY FOR ME TO FLY?

EVEN THOUGH SISTERS OF COMEDY IS GEARED TOWARDS PUTTING BLACK WOMEN AT THE CENTER, I TRY TO HAVE AGE DIVERSITY, CULTURAL DIVERSITY, ETHNIC DIVERSITY.

THE SHOW IS VERY IMPORTANT AND HOPEFULLY WE GET TO A POINT WHERE WE DON'T HAVE TO HAVE SHOWS LIKE THIS.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME BE PART OF IT.

PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE IT.

IT'S AN ART.

THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE SHOW FUN.

I BASICALLY TRY TO STRUCTURE IT IN SUCH A WAY PEOPLE HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE AND ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO I WORK WITH, THEY'RE ALL UNIQUE AND INTERESTING IN THEIR WAY.

AND I KNOW HOW TO KIND OF MIX AND MATCH THE STUFF.

[ LAUGHTER ]

[ INAUDIBLE ].

THIS IS A VERY MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY.

SO, THE MISOGYNY, ALL OF THAT COLLOQUIALISM IS NOT MUTING.

I'M A WOMAN.

I'M NOT 19, AND I'M BLONDE.

I'VE CONTENDED WITH ALL THESE THINGS.

THE JOY ABOUT COMEDY IS THE CAMARADERIE AMONGST ALL OF US.

WE'VE ALL FACED THE SAME KIND OF OBSTACLES AND THERE'S NOT TOO MUCH TESTOSTERONE.

[LAUGHTER]

MY MOM IS AN IMMIGRANT.

WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR KIDS, YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO DO REALLY WELL.

AS AN AFRICAN FAMILY, YOU KNOW IT'S NIGERIA, [ INAUDIBLE ].

AS A COMEDIAN, I'VE GONE OUT TO DIFFERENT CITIES TO DO CLUBS AND, OH, YEAH, WE HAVE TO MARKET YOU TO AN URBAN AUDIENCE.

AND I'M LIKE, HOW ABOUT YOU JUST MARKET ME TO AN AUDIENCE OF PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO LAUGH?

I DON'T NEED TO JUST GO TO THE URBAN RADIO STATIONS.

THEY THINK I CAN ONLY TALK TO BLACK PEOPLE AND I CAN ONLY TALK TO WOMEN.

NO, COMEDY IS COMEDY.

I'M SPEAKING ENGLISH.

IF YOU UNDERSTAND ENGLISH, I'M FUNNY.

I THINK COMEDY COMES FROM A PATHOS.

IT'S VERY MUCH RELATED TO SOME SORT OF EXPERIENCE OF PAIN AND STRUGGLE.

IT IS SOMETHING NOT ALIEN TO THE BLACK EXPERIENCE.

SO, YOU KNOW, YOU DEVELOP -- IT'S A COPING MECHANISM.

IT'S A MEANS OF FINDING WAY TO HAVE LEVITY IN THESE DIFFICULT SITUATIONS.

AND I THINK THAT WITHIN THE BLACK COMMUNITY, ALMOST LIKE GLOBALLY, I'M KENYA ORIGINALLY AND I GREW UP IN NEW YORK.

MANY, MANY JOKES IN MY FAMILY.

WE HAVE TO JOKE.

EVEN WHEN IT COMES TO DIFFICULT THINGS.

I CAN'T EVEN TELL YOU HOW MANY DIFFICULT THINGS I DEALT WITH AS A CHILD AND IMMEDIATELY THE REACTION YOU HAVE IS LET'S MAKE A JOKE ABOUT IT.

WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

IT'S A SENSE OF GIVING POWER THAT NO ONE CAN REALLY TAKE FROM YOU BECAUSE IT'S NOT MATERIAL.

YOU CAN ACTUALLY KIND OF EVEN MAKE INSULTS AT SOMEBODY WHO IS IN A POSITION OF AUTHORITY AND PRIVILEGE MORE THAN YOU.

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

IT'S JUST YOUR WORDS.

YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IT BECAUSE YOU CAN MAKE THEM LAUGH EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE MAKING FUN OF THEM, YOU KNOW?

I WOULD SAY CERTAINLY WITHIN THE BLACK COMMUNITY BLACK WOMEN HAVE A VISCERAL REACTION AND CONNECTION TO 2, YEAH.

-- TO IT, YEAH.

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