06:21
TED2007

Jill Sobule + Julia Sweeney: The Jill and Julia Show

Filmed:

Two TED favorites, Jill Sobule and Julia Sweeney, team up for a delightful set that mixes witty songwriting with a little bit of social commentary.

- Singer/songwriter
Jill Sobule isn't just another singer-songwriter with catchy tunes and smart lyrics, she's one of the more insightful satirists of our age. Each of her fanciful songs captures an issue or irony, an emotion or epiphany that helps us understand what it's like to live now. Full bio

- Actor, comedian, playwright
Julia Sweeney creates comedic works that tackle deep issues: cancer, family, faith. Full bio

♫ Jill Sobule: At a conference in Monterey by the big, big jellyfish tank, ♫
00:32
♫ I first saw you and I got so shy. ♫
00:38
♫ You see, I was a little paranoid 'cause I might have been high. ♫
00:41
♫ And I hadn't done that in ages and I won't do that again. ♫
00:45
♫ But that's another story. ♫
00:48
♫ Loved you forever and I've been a big fan, ♫
00:51
♫ the one-woman shows, I even rented "Pat." ♫
00:56
♫ I got enough nerve to come up to you, ♫
00:59
♫ but little did I know one year later we'd be doing this show. ♫
01:03
♫ I sing. Julia Sweeney: I tell stories. Together: The Jill and Julia Show. ♫
01:08
♫ Sobule: Sometimes it works. Sweeney: Sometimes it doesn't. ♫
01:15
♫ Together: The Jill and Julia Show. ♫
01:18
♫ Sweeney: At a conference in Monterey next to the big, big jellyfish tank, ♫
01:22
♫ I first saw you and I wasn't so shy. ♫
01:29
I made a beeline for you and told you what a huge fan I was
01:33
ever since I was writing that pilot for Fox, and Wendy
01:37
and I wanted you to do the theme song.
01:40
And then the pilot didn't go and I was so sad,
01:41
but I kept remaining a fan of yours.
01:43
And then when I went through that big, horrible breakup with Carl
01:44
and I couldn't get off the couch, I listened to your song,
01:48
♫ "Now That I Don't Have You," ♫ over and over and over and over again.
01:50
And I can't believe you're here and that I'm meeting you here at TED.
01:54
And also, I can't believe that we're eating sushi
01:57
in front of the fish tank,
02:00
which, personally, I think is really inappropriate.
02:01
(Laughter)
02:03
(Applause)
02:05
And little did I know that one year later ... ♫ we'd be doing this show. ♫
02:06
♫ Sobule: I sing. Sweeney: I tell stories. Together: The Jill and Julia Show. ♫
02:10
Sobule: Hey, they asked us back! Sweeney: Can you stand it?!
02:16
♫ Together: The Jill and Julia, the Jill and Julia, the Jill and Julia Show. ♫
02:20
♫ Sobule: Why are all our heroes so imperfect? ♫
02:26
♫ Why do they always bring me down? ♫
02:34
♫ Why are all our heroes so imperfect? ♫
02:40
♫ Statue in the park has lost his crown. ♫
02:45
♫ William Faulkner, drunk and depressed. ♫ Sweeney: Mmm.
02:50
♫ Dorothy Parker, mean, drunk and depressed. ♫ Sweeney: I know.
02:53
♫ And that guy, "Seven Years in Tibet," turned out to be a Nazi. ♫ Sweeney: Yeah.
02:56
♫ Founding fathers all had slaves. ♫ Sweeney: I know.
03:01
♫ The explorers slaughtered the braves. ♫ Sweeney: Horribly.
03:03
♫ Sobule: The Old Testament God can be so petty. ♫
03:06
Sweeney: Don't get me started on that. (Laughter)
03:10
♫ Sobule: Paul McCartney, jealous of John, even more so now that he's gone. ♫
03:12
♫ Dylan was so mean to Donovan in that movie. ♫
03:16
♫ Pablo Picasso, cruel to his wives. ♫ Sweeney: Horrible.
03:21
♫ Sobule: My favorite poets took their own lives. ♫
03:24
♫ Orson Welles peaked at twenty-five, below before our eyes. ♫
03:26
♫ And he sold bad wine. ♫
03:31
♫ Together: Why are all our heroes so imperfect? Yeah ♫
03:33
♫ Why do they always bring me down? ♫
03:38
♫ Sobule: Heard Babe Ruth was full of malice. ♫ Sweeney: Oh.
03:43
♫ Lewis Carroll I'm sure did Alice. ♫ Sweeney: What?!
03:46
♫ Plato in the cave with those very young boys. ♫ Sweeney: Ooh...
03:48
♫ Sobule: Hillary supported the war. ♫
03:53
♫ Sweeney: Even Thomas Friedman supported the war. ♫ (Laughter)
03:56
♫ Sobule: Colin Powell turned out to be ... Together: ... such a pussy. ♫ (Laughter) (Applause)
03:59
♫ Sobule: William Faulkner, drunk and depressed, ♫
04:04
♫ Tennessee Williams, drunk and depressed. ♫ Sweeney: Yeah.
04:06
♫ Sobule: Take it, Julia. ♫
04:08
Sweeney: Okay. Oprah was never necessarily a big hero of mine.
04:10
I mean, I watch Oprah mostly when I'm home in Spokane
04:14
visiting my mother. And to my mother,
04:17
Oprah is a greater moral authority than the Pope,
04:19
which is actually saying something because she's a devout Catholic.
04:21
Anyway, I like Oprah -- I like her girlfriendy-ness,
04:24
I like her weight issues,
04:27
I like how she's transformed talk television,
04:29
I like how she's brought reading back to America --
04:31
but there was something that happened the last two weeks
04:34
that was ... I call it the Soon-Yi moment:
04:36
it is the moment when I cannot continue supporting someone.
04:39
And that was that she did two entire shows
04:44
promoting that movie "The Secret."
04:48
Do you guys know about that movie "The Secret"?
04:50
It makes "What the Bleep Do We Know" seem like a doctoral dissertation
04:52
from Harvard on quantum mechanics -- that's how bad it is.
04:57
It makes "The DaVinci Code" seem like "War and Peace."
05:00
That movie is so horrible. It promotes such awful pseudoscience.
05:04
And the basic idea is
05:09
that there's this law of attraction, and
05:10
your thoughts have this vibrating energy
05:13
that goes out into the universe
05:15
and then you attract good things to happen to you.
05:16
On a scientific basis, it's more than just "Power of Positive Thinking" --
05:18
it has a horrible, horrible dark side. Like if you get ill,
05:22
it's because you've just been thinking negative thoughts.
05:27
Yeah, stuff like that was in the movie and she's promoting it.
05:29
And all I'm saying is that I really wish that Murray Gell-Mann
05:32
would go on Oprah
05:35
and just explain to her that the law of attraction is, in fact, not a law.
05:36
So that's what I have to say.
05:41
(Laughter)
05:43
(Applause)
05:45
♫ Sobule: I sing. Sweeney: I tell stories. Together: The Jill and Julia Show. ♫
05:51
♫ Sobule: Sometimes it works. Sweeney: Sometimes it doesn't. ♫
05:57
♫ Together: The Jill and Julia, the Jill and Julia, the Jill and Julia Show. ♫
06:02
(Applause)
06:10

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About the Speakers:

Jill Sobule - Singer/songwriter
Jill Sobule isn't just another singer-songwriter with catchy tunes and smart lyrics, she's one of the more insightful satirists of our age. Each of her fanciful songs captures an issue or irony, an emotion or epiphany that helps us understand what it's like to live now.

Why you should listen

Jill Sobule first found her place in music history with the controversial 1995 hit "I Kissed a Girl." The song's silly sweetness masked its significance: It broke new ground as the first Top 40 hit to deal with overtly gay themes.

This approach -- packaging hard-hitting social commentary in a wrapper of whimsy -- has defined Sobule's career. Her endearing story-songs veer from fanciful storytelling to forceful satire and back again, covering a wide range of political and social issues from climate change to prostitution; anorexia to anti-semitism. Her winning combination of memorable characters, clever lyrics and catchy tunes has inspired comparisons that range from Burt Bacharach to Gertrude Stein. It also makes her performances and recordings a delight.

Sobule's candy-coated commentary can be found on her Huffington Post blog, as well as in her steady stream of stand-out albums, including Jill Sobule (1995), Happy Town (1997), Pink Pearl (2000) and Underdog Victorious (2004). Lately, Sobule has performed regularly with comedian Julia Sweeney (the two met at TED2006). They put on the "Jill and Julia Show," an utterly endearing evening of stories and songs. She's also recording an album with the string quartet Ethel (another TED2006 match).

More profile about the speaker
Jill Sobule | Speaker | TED.com
Julia Sweeney - Actor, comedian, playwright
Julia Sweeney creates comedic works that tackle deep issues: cancer, family, faith.

Why you should listen

Known for her stint on Saturday Night Live and her powerful solo shows, Julia Sweeney has carved out her own territory in entertainment, one that moves between the personal and the political, the controversial and the comical. Her piece Letting Go of God traces a spiritual journey that takes an unexpected turn toward science (a turn that, incidentally, also led her to TED) and ends with atheism. Her latest book is If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother, on parenting and being parented.

In this, as in all her performances, Sweeney projects a warmth and sincerity on stage that's unmatched in today's theater; you immediately feel you're chatting with an old friend. And this gift of intimacy allows her to achieve the impossible: an utterly disarming show that honestly confronts the most controversial topic of our times. Her earlier shows God Said “Ha!” and In the Family Way also garnered praise and prizes for their pairings of humor and poignant truth.

More profile about the speaker
Julia Sweeney | Speaker | TED.com