She/He Loves DC is a series highlighting the people who love this city just as much as we do.
Jody Avirgan likes questions more than answers. As a result of that, he is now the host of a unique conversation series called Ask Roulette. The live show encourages strangers to ask each others questions on stage. And, for the first time, the New York based show is coming to DC. The show is scheduled for Friday, August 9 at Politics and Prose with special guests Clinton Yates on The Washington Post, Dave Weigel of Slate, and Linda Holmes of NPR’s Monkey See.
According to Avirgan, “Ask Roulette is a little hard to envision but the crux of it is that audience members show up with a question they want to ask a stranger. All the questions get put in a box then randomly selected. When you come on stage, you answer a question from a stranger, then turn around and ask a stranger your question. There are also special guests at each event. Questions are long, short, serious, silly, whatever. Any question goes. And of course you can just watch.”
When Avirgan’s not spending time on Ask Roulette, he works as a producer for NPR’s New York station WNYC radio. But not so long ago, Avirgan grew up in DC.
What is it about DC that makes it home to you?
Well, my parents are there, still living in the same house, so there are inherent memories of home tied up with any time I come back. But I really do like the fact that, to most Americans, DC is an abstraction — a company town filled with hired political guns. The disconnect between that vision and the DC I know – one full of real people and everyday pleasures, makes it that much more special. It’s like we’re all in on a secret together.
courtesy of CuriousTripod
Describe your perfect day in DC. Where would you go and what would you do?
It would start very, very slowly, but would eventually end up at one of the Smithsonian museums. Free museums: you take ‘em for granted until the Met tries to hit you up for $20! Somewhere in there, a stop at an Ethiopian restaurant — DC still has better Ethiopian food than any city in the country.
What’s your favorite hidden gem of a location in DC? How did you find it and why do you love it?
I really like watching the planes land and take off at Gravelly Point. I discovered it because I play ultimate frisbee, and some of the fields I played on when I lived in DC were down there. Nothing like trying to play sports while a 747 whizzes 100 feet above your head.
Who’s your favorite DC personality and why?
This may be blasphemy for someone who works in public radio, but I watch Pardon the Interruption every day and feel a particular DC pride in Kornheiser and Wilbon, even though they may no longer. But my favorite recent DC personality is Clinton Yates of the Post, who I think displays a special DC-ness in every thing he writes about. He writes very well. He also happens to be a guest at Ask Roulette, so I’m excited to finally meet him.
What is your favorite childhood memory associated with DC and why?
I’m just, just old enough — and also had parents who didn’t understand what kind of stuff they should and shouldn’t let a 13-year-old do on his own — to have gone to a bunch of concerts at the old 9:30 club. Woah.
You can see Jody and his show Ask Roulette at Politics and Prose (5015 Connecticut Avenue NW) on August 9.