Everything You Need to Know About Stand Up Planet

 

Stand Up Planet host Hasan Minhaj

 

 

So what is it?

 

Stand Up Planet is a documentary TV show and digital series that showcases life in some of the toughest places on Earth through the lens and experiences of stand-up comics. Indian-American, Hollywood based comedian Hasan Minhaj takes you to bustling Mumbai and India to meet up-and-coming comedians. Their humor helps you learn about their homelands in striking ways. It’s equal parts reality TV, documentary and travelogue. Check out the trailer to see Minhaj and other comedians in action:

 

 

How can I watch it?

 

The two-hour Stand Up Planet special premieres Wednesday, May 14 at 7pm ET/PT on Link TV. (The first hour is a documentary following Minhaj as he travels abroad. The second hour is the comedy showcase, hosted by Minhaj and which features a variety of comedians performing at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood.) You can also watch it on KCET -- premiering 9pm on May 14 -- and on Pivot -- premiering at 10pm on May 14. Click here for more airdates.

 

What comedians does Stand Up Planet feature?

 

In addition to Hasan Minhaj, you’ll see two Indian comics (Aditi Mittal and Tanmay Bhat), three South African comics (Mpho Popps, Loyiso Gola and Kagiso Lediga). Also expect American stand-ups James Adomian, Nate Bargatze and Michelle Buteau as well as comedy legends Bill Cosby, Norman Lear and Carl Reiner.

 

Stand Up Planet cast, left to right: Norman Lear, James Adomian, Hassan Minhaj, Carl Reiner, Nate Bargatze, Michelle Buteau, Aditi Mittal and Mpho Popps

 

What kind of humor are we talking about?

 

Like any comedians in the US, comedians abroad make light of the stuff they encounter on a day-to-day basis. But what’s interesting about Stand Up Planet is how it helps you understand what constitutes a part of everyday life in India or South Africa. Take Aditi Mittal’s literal take on bathroom humor, for example. Did you know that 40 percent of the world’s population doesn’t have access to a toilet?

 

 

HIV and AIDS are widespread in South Africa. But did you know men can reduce their chance of contracting HIV by 60 perfect just by getting circumcised? That decision isn’t so easy, of course. Listen to Mpho Popps’ take on “going to the mountain.”

 

 

So it’s just a comedy show and special?

 

As Hasan embarks on an epic journey of discovery to find some of the funniest stand-up comics in the most unlikely places, he follows their jokes and personal experiences deep into the hard truths and the promise for change in some of the toughest global poverty issues of our time.

 

Aditi Mittal

 

Mpho Popps

 

From rural villages and urban communities in India to the streets of Soweto in South Africa, Stand Up Planet brings you the stories and perspectives of individuals and organizations on the frontlines of social change. Learn more about SUP’s heroes and allies here. And get all the latest information about Stand Up Planet -- the broadcast show as well as the web-original content -- on the show's official website.

 
 

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In Defense of the Chinese Tourist
 
 

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Fukushima: Four Tons of Radioactive Rainwater Leaks from Stricken Nuclear Plant
FukushimaThere's yet another problem at Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear reactors. The operators of the reactors reported earlier this week that four tons of radioactive rainwater has leaked from the plant. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, reported on the story.

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Reporter:
An official with plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company says crews were pumping up pools of contaminated rain water. A tropical storm passed over the complex last month. Rain built up around tanks used to store contaminated water. The crews may have transferred it to the wrong tank leading to an overflow. Workers measured the radiation levels inside the tank after the leak. It was 13 times higher than the government safety limit for releasing tainted water into the ocean. For some reason the level of radiation has doubled since measurements taken just after the storm. Plant managers are looking into what caused the spike.

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And, Japanese and American scientists are trying to work together to find out how much radiation seeped into the Pacific Ocean since the disaster at Fukushima 31 months ago. The American side says it's found low levels of the radioactive cesium in Bluefin tuna caught off the US coast. NHK has a report.

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Reporter:
Professor Hideo Yamazaki of Kinki University has been studying marine creatures in the waters off Fukushima Prefecture.

Hideo Yamazaki:
We estimated concentration levels to be so low, they wouldn't be detectable in the US, But the fact that they found contaminated fish off the coast of the US really shocked us, even if the figures are extremely low.

Reporter:
Yamazaki says the level of contamination doesn't pose a threat to human health. But he says he wants to share his data with the US researchers to figure out how the tuna picked up the radioactive material. Yamazaki says it takes time for tuna to accumulate radioactive substances since they're at the top of the marine food chain. Tiny creatures such and plankton absorb radioactive substances first. Small fish then eat the plankton. Then big fish like tuna eat the smaller ones. Recent studies show Bluefin tuna spend their juvenile period in Japan's coastal water. The fish take one to four months to migrate across the Pacific to the US West Coast. Yamazaki says he thinks he can figure out how and where the Bluefin tuna accumulate radioactivity by studying fish on both sides of the ocean. He asked US researchers to collaborate with his team.

Hideo Yamazaki:
Japan needs to work with people from different sides to gather and assess the same kind of data. We need to provide the public with reliable information.

Reporter:
Researchers from Stanford University sent last April twenty three-gram slices of Bluefin tuna to Japan. But customs agents at Kansai International Airport stopped them. They said proper documentation was missing. But the US government does not issue such paperwork for research purposes. So the samples are still at the airport, frozen, six months on.

Hideo Yamazaki:
This is an urgent situation. We need customs officials to understand just how critical this is and facilitate the timely transportation of materials that need to be studied.

Reporter:
Scientists in the US and Japan are calling for international cooperation and flexibility, so they can better study the effects of the nuclear accident.
 
 

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Obama's 'Asian Pivot' Takes a Hit, Government Shutdown to Blame
APEC SummitPresident Obama's Asian strategy, put on hold, is taking a hit because of the stalemate over the budget and the government shutdown. Obama has decided to cut short a week-long trip to Asia to stay home and deal with the Republican-sparked crisis. His decision is getting attention in Asia. Japan's public broadcaster NHK gave their perspective in this report.

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Reporter:
Obama was to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bali. He was then supposed to chair the Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade talks there. The president's next scheduled stop was the East Asia Summit to Brunei. A White House spokesman said Obama phoned the leaders of the two host countries to express his regrets. Obama had already canceled visits to Malaysia and the Philippines.
 
 

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Are South Korea's Singing Bullies Promoting School Violence?
 
 

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Chinese Tourists Flocking to Japan Despite Tense Relations

SenkakuRelations between Japan and China are more than a little rocky at the moment. What's getting all the attention is a territorial dispute over a group of tiny, uninhabited islands south of Okinawa. Both countries claim them. The dispute has hurt Japanese travel to China. But as Japan public broadcaster NHK reports, Chinese don't seem to be deterred from visiting Japan.

 

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Reporter:
The centuries old Forbidden City is a popular site in Beijing, but take a look around and you hardly see any Japanese visitors. Travel agency owner, Sun Bo, says it's been this way for almost a year.

Sun Bo:
It's so bad, business is down 80 to 90 percent. I'm making no money at all. My business is almost in the red.

Reporter:
Sun works with a major firm in Japan to bring Japanese groups to China. But as relations remain tense between the countries, fewer Japanese are choosing to come. On the other hand, Chinese businesses arranging tours to Japan have seen a rebound in business. In the past two months, Japan's embassy in Beijing has issued 10 percent more tourist visas compared to the same time last year.

Chinese Tourist:
Political relations between China and Japan are not so good. But that has no impact at the grassroots level.

Reporter:
And it's not just for holidays. Japan is still attracting many young Chinese wanting to stay for an extended time. Last month, Liu Muyan began a year of studies at this school in Nagano. It's part of an exchange program set up by the Japanese government several years ago to promote mutual understanding between the countries.

Liu Muyan:
I'm sure that I can become a bridge that links the people of Japan and China.

Japanese Student:
I was expecting him to be anti-Japanese, but he is seeker to learn all he can about Japan. And his Japanese is good. This experience taught me not to be misled what other say.

Reporter:
This expert says people like Liu are exactly what Japan and China need.

Satoshi Amako: The scale of misunderstanding may grow time goes by, but exchanges are taking place between people from the two countries on a daily bases. Those people deserve our attention. I think they should have more prominence.

Reporter:
So while the governments of Japan and China continue to seek ways to mend ties, some regular people are already forging ahead. Improving relations and understanding to strengthen ties.

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Pakistan is reeling from a horrific suicide bombing. More than 80 people were killed and more than a hundred others were injured after an Episcopalian church was attacked. Here's Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

 

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Reporter:
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up among hundreds of worshippers in a church in Peshawar. Sectarian violence between majority Sunni and minority Shi'a groups has been rampant. But attacks against Christians have been rare in the predominant Muslim country. A local Islamic extremist group has claimed responsibility. They said all non-Muslim groups are targets and the attack was to retaliate against US drone strikes in Pakistan. Christians called for an end to the violence. They protested across the country including the capital, Islamabad, and in Karachi in the south.

 
 

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China's Liberal Arts Colleges: Going Against the Mainstream
 
 

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Chinese Communist Party Official Eats His Words
 
 

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Pyongyang: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
North KoreaBefore it closed, Kaesong was bringing the North Korean government about a hundred million dollars a year. Re-opening it seems to indicate the regime is anxious to concentrate on economic renewal. And, there are signs the North's economy is getting better. At least in the capital, Pyongyang. Japan's public broadcaster NHK was able to send a crew to North Korea in August and early September. It found some changes -- and some things that haven't changed at all.

Reporter:
This is becoming an increasingly popular way to get around Pyongyang. Just a few years ago the number of taxis were few and far between. But this driver tells me they are now on the rise.

Taxi driver:
Our supreme leader Kim Jong-un says he wants to increase the number of taxis in Pyongyang to 1,000. There are already more than 500 on the streets.

Reporter:
A six kilometer ride costs just three dollars. It may not sound too expensive, but for the average citizen here it's about one-tenth the monthly wage. Taxis are still very much reserved for the rich. But the government says more and more people are becoming members of the upper class. This residential area of Pyongyang is covered with high-rise buildings where only the most privileged classes can afford to live and many more towers are currently under construction. The city plans to build enough condominiums to house 100,000 newly wealthy citizens, people who have made fortunes as the central government started allowing small-scale private businesses a decade ago. Most have capitalized on foreign investment, mainly from China. They can be seen buying imported goods by the bag full. And even buying North Korean made tablet computers. Even though one unit costs five times the average monthly salary.

North Korean citizen:
Pyongyang has changed a great deal. Our comrade Kim Jong-un's initiatives are producing fruitful results.

Reporter:
But then there's the North Korea the government doesn't want you to see. Driving out of the capital is like going back in time. The road turns from paved to bumpy. A steady stream of cars replaced with ox-pulled carts and vehicles that run on charcoal. Most people still rely on bicycles to travel around. But North Korean officials don't talk about these issues. They'd rather focus on what they say is the country's rising rich, and government policies that have stimulated economic growth like this ski resort about three hours from Pyongyang. Currently being built by some ten thousand soldiers and students, officials say it's expected to be completed this year. It will boast 11 ski slopes, a high class hotel and a heliport.

Won Kil-u, Physical Culture and Sports Vice Minister:
This resort aims to be profitable. But it's also a place where the North Koreans, including the young can enjoy skiing.

Reporter:
And there's this project, already complete. A suite with an ocean view at this beach resort costs USD$262 for a night.

Resort Guest #1:
We came from Pyongyang.

Resort Guest #2:
I feel very good. People can enjoy themselves at resorts like this thanks to the profound love of our leader Kim Jong-un.

Reporter:
A luxury getaway for North Koreans lucky enough to benefit from the government's economic reforms. Officials want to give the impression the entire country is booming. But the contrast between the capital and the countryside are just a different story.
 
 

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Japan to Fukushima Residents: You Can't Go Home Again
Nuclear RadiationJapan paused on Wednesday to mark the earthquake and tsunami that struck 30 months ago. The disaster killed at least 1,600 people. About 300,000 people are still displaced, their homes in shambles. On September 11th, Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, took a look at where the rebuilding efforts stand two and a half years later.

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Reporter:
People in the City of Natori gathered in front of a monument to those who died. The tsunami washed away many houses in their community. Construction workers in the city of Iwanuma also offered prayer. They're preparing land on higher ground for about 350 new homes. The first batch of land will be ready for construction by the end of the year.

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At least 160,000 people still can't go home because of radiation. It spewed over the region around the Fukushima nuclear plant. The plant was seriously damaged by the quake and tsunami. Three reactors melted down and the owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company, has been unable to make much progress on decommissioning the facility. In this second report, NHK looks at the status of these internally displaced persons.

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Reporter:
Nine months after the accident the Japanese government said the situation at the reactor was under control. Government leaders and TEPCO executives unveiled together a roadmap for decommissioning the reactors within three to four decades. But progress has been hampered by several serious problems. One of the most challenging so far has been the leakage of contaminated water. TEPCO officials admitted lin July that some of the toxic water is leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

Masayuki Ono, TEPCO official:
We sincerely apologize for causing concern to so many people, particularly those who live in Fukushima.

Reporter:
TEPCO officials estimate that every day 800 tons of water coming from nearby mountains runs under the nuclear complex. Some of it becomes contaminated and reaches the sea. A portion of the water flows into the basement of the damaged buildings. There, it mixes with water used to cool the reactor cores. Workers have to pump out 400 tons of highly toxic liquid every day and store it on-site. TEPCO workers have so far built 1,000 tanks to store the excess water. But some of these containers have been leaking. In August 300 tons of highly contaminated water escaped from a tank. Workers have identified several other leaks since then. The scale of the problem led Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to decide on government intervention.

Shinzo Abe:
The government will work in a coordinated way as the world is closely watching whether Japan can successfully solve the problems at the plant and decommission the reactors.

Reporter: The government plans to isolate the plant behind an underground wall of ice. The first step will be to bury a network of pipes around the buildings. Coolant at a temperature of minus 40 degrees Celsius will be passed through the pipes. This will freeze the soil, preventing water from seeping into and out of the complex. But experts say it's unclear whether this method will succeed. It has yet to be tested for this specific purpose, and it's never been used on such a large scale. The governments of China and South Korea have expressed serious concerns about the impact of the leakage on the ocean. And now, government officials in Japan feat this problem could delay the entire decommissioning process.
 
 

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