The Dinner Party on WUNC

Sat 4p
  • Hosted by Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano

The Dinner Party is a culture show designed to help you dazzle your friends at your next social gathering. Launched as a podcast in 2010, The Dinner Party is beloved by audiences for its spontaneity, thoughtfulness and exuberance. The show was lauded by Wallpaper magazine as one of the “Top 40 Reasons to Live in America” and hosts Gagliano and Newnam were named to Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Thinkers Under 40” list. 

What happened to your WUNC coffee mug, Rico?
Credit APM

The show unfolds like a dinner party, kicking off with “The Icebreaker”— a joke to warm things up. Next comes “Small Talk,” in which top print and online journalists from around the country share their favorite odd news story of the week.  The “Cocktails” portion of the show features a true tale from this week in history with a handcrafted cocktail recipe themed after that it.

Later, we usually “Eavesdrop” on an author reading from a hot new release or answer listeners’ burning etiquette questions. The marquee segment of the show is the “Guest of Honor,” in which hosts Gagliano and Newnam interview some of the most fascinating celebrities in the world and routinely get them to talk about the most unexpected, dinner-party-worthy subjects.

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Lopez, Kristina

Yo-Yo Ma is one of the best-known classical musicians in the world. He’s produced 90 albums and received 18 Grammy awards. And while he continues to perform Western classical music with orchestras around the world, he also practices a classical/world music fusion with his Silk Road Ensemble. They’re a kind of super group of musicians hailing from countries along the legendary trade route that ran from Europe to China.

Negin Farsad Teaches us How to Make White People Laugh

Jun 24, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and to answer them this time around is comedian Negin Farsad. Negin’s degrees in African American Studies and Public Policy naturally led her to a career in comedy, or more specifically, what she calls “social justice comedy” or a way to use humor to push back against Islamophobia in America.

Rashida Jones Shares the Secrets to Success and Satire

Jun 24, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Rashida Jones has acted in some of the most respected comedy shows of the last decade, including “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” She also wrote and starred in the movie “Celeste and Jessie Forever.” We actually spoke to her when that movie came out a couple years back.

These days you can see her on the TBS series “Angie Tribeca.” The second season just came out. It’s a spoof of police procedurals, in the vein of comedies like “The Naked Gun.”

How Doughnuts Got Their Holes and The Mortal Eyes

Jun 24, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

The history of the doughnut is… yes, full of holes.

Most folks agree they’re derived from a fried delicacy from the Netherlands, called an oliekoek, or “oil cake.” Then, at some point around 1800, Americans started calling ’em “doughnuts.” Probably ’cause they were made of dough… and shaped kinda like a nut.

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Lopez, Kristina

As Rico and Brendan both know from covering the food scene for several years now, there’s been an explosion of folks obsessively photographing their meals. The general consensus is this is a bad thing for society. But there’s a recent study out of the University of Southern California’s Marhsall School of Business, which suggests photographing your meal might be good for you… but there are caveats.

DPD’s Unofficial OFFICIAL Martini Poll

Jun 17, 2016

One bit of trivia that didn’t make the final cut of our martini chat with D.C.’s Bartender-in-Chief, Derek Brown? A vodka martini was originally called “The Kangaroo.” Rico and Brendan call it “The Abomination,” because a martini has gin in it, no matter what James Bond says! But perhaps you disagree…What’s in your ideal martini?

Brad Jenkins Bridges Hollywood and D.C.

Jun 17, 2016

Brad Jenkins is the Executive Producer of “Funny or Die DC,” the new Washington branch of the Emmy-winning comedy website. But Brad’s last gig was in the Obama Administration, where he was a Director Of Engagement to the creative community. He gave us an inside look at his role in the Obama White House, and why it was so important for the President to appear on Between Two Ferns.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Did you make mix tapes for the President that explained True Detective? What was your job?


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Neuman, Stu

The opinionated former Congressman lived up to his last name at our Washington, D.C., show.  He held forth on Trump, Hillary, Bernie, and why incremental change is the only change he can endorse. He also shared some personal history about what drove him into politics and out of the closet, which you can read more about in his book, “Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Gay Marriage.”

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Lopez, Kristina

At age 10, Anna Chlumsky became one of the most beloved child stars in America when she starred in the sweet coming-of-age flick “My Girl,” alongside Macaulay Culkin. But these days she’s perhaps better known for her multiple-Emmy-nominated performance on a show few would describe as “sweet.” That would be “Veep,” the foul-mouthed HBO comedy about a Vice President, who — spoiler alert — becomes the first female President.

The Re-Emergence of Hailu Mergia

Jun 17, 2016
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Neuman, Stu

On this week’s Chattering Class, the story of Hailu Mergia, a Washington, D.C., cab driver who also happens to be behind one of the most popular songs in Ethiopian history. His pioneering work on the keyboard in the renowned Walias Band provided the soundtrack to Addis Ababa’s Seventies nightlife. He later emigrated to D.C., and except for a few home recordings, retired from music.

Indie label owner Brian Shimkovitz came across one of Hailu’s cassettes, became obsessed, tracked Hailu down, and re-released it, exposing a whole new generation to the music.


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