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.

Norm Macdonald Urges You to Release the Moths!

Sep 16, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is comedian Norm Macdonald. After giving us a little insight on his new memoir and his”Saturday Night Live” days, he hung back for a bit to tell our listeners how to behave.

A true test of friendship

Rico Gagliano: Hey, our audience sent in questions for you about how to behave.


Norm Macdonald: Some etiquette questions.

Norm Macdonald Goes Gonzo

Sep 16, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Norm Macdonald has been a major figure in the comedy world since at least the early ’90s, when he began a long run as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live.” He ultimately helmed the show’s “Weekend Update” news segment, where he managed to delight and/or outrage the audience and his bosses with his take no prisoner satire.

Later, he started three seasons of his own sitcom, starred or made cameos in a slew of films, and now he’s published a memoir. It’s called “Based on a True Story.”

Mara Wilson Confronts the Hereafter

Sep 16, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

As a tiny kid with a huge smile, Mara Wilson starred in films like “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Matilda.” Now 29, she’s traded acting for writing in outlets like McSweeney’s. And her latest work is a memoir called, “Where Am I Now.”


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Lopez, Kristina

Indie-rock legend Lou Barlow was one of the founding members of Dinosaur Jr, which arguably defined the genre by burying catchy melodies and vulnerable lyrics under layers of noise. The band just released their 11th studio album, “Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not.”

Lou has also helmed other successful bands, including Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, whose song “Natural One” became a modern rock standard. So, naturally, we asked him to craft a dinner party soundtrack.

Joan Shelley – “Cost of the Cold”

Sep 9, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Dave Barry’s Answer to All Your Problems? Mace.

Sep 9, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Rico Gagliano: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and returning to answer them is one of our favorite etiquette guests: writer Dave Barry. You may have chuckled your way through one of his thousand or so humor columns for The Miami Herald, which were also syndicated. He won a Pulitzer for those.

Submit YOUR Icebreaker Joke!

Aug 19, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

You might’ve heard during our All-Icebreaker episode that we’re looking for jokes from YOU! If you submit one, your eye-roll worthy gag could end up on the show.

So how do you do it? It’s simple:

In July, author Nicole Dennis-Benn stopped by to read an excerpt from her debut novel “Here Comes The Sun,” which explored identity, sexuality, and what people risk by being out in Jamaica. While she was in our studio, the author shared another riveting tale from the book, which you can hear in the audio above.

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Lopez, Kristina

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Júníus Meyvant Spins a Cool Soundtrack to Beat the Heat

Jul 29, 2016

Iceland’s own Júníus Meyvant won his home country’s equivalent of a Grammy for “Song of the Year,” and he’s making an international name for himself with soulful folk-pop that’s both emotive and uplifting. His debut album, “Floating Harmonies” just came out. Below he spins a few tunes for your next get easy-going together.

Sharon Jones Tells Cancer ‘Get up and Get Out’

Jul 29, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Sharon Jones is the unstoppable lead singer of the funk and soul band Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings The ten piece act has been releasing albums and touring the world for a decade. In 2014, they earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B album.

Kristen Bell Entertains our Emoji Etiquette Questions

Jul 29, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Each week our listeners send in questions about how to behave (you can check out more each week by subscribing to our podcast). Answering them this time around is actress Kristen Bell.

She’s starred in series like “House Of Lies,” the cult hit “Veronica Mars,” and she was the off-screen narrator of the scandalous teen drama “Gossip Girl.” Bell also voiced the sweet princess Anna in the mega-hit Disney film “Frozen.” If you have a child, they are probably still singing songs from that.

Josh Gondelman Celebrates His Sublime Relationship

Jul 29, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Comedian Josh Gondelman is up for an Emmy for his writing on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” His new comedy album, “Physical Whisper,” is out now. Listen to a tale from the album in the audio above about how he knew his girlfriend was the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

How Bruce Lee’s Legacy Lives on After His Death

Jul 29, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Each week on Chattering Class, we’re schooled by an expert in some party-worthy topic. This week, the topic is the most famous martial arts fighter of all time, Bruce Lee. And our teacher is Charles Russo.

Anna Meredith DJs Your Next Dinner Party/Obstacle Course

Jul 22, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Scottish composer Anna Meredith’s background is in classical music, but she’s acclaimed for her jubilant synth pop. The Guardian says her work, “conjures images of a jetpack through the northern lights.”

Rubik’s Cube’s Puzzling Past

Jul 22, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

The History Lesson

One of the most popular toys in the free world was created in the unfree world.

Photo of Ernő Rubik By Babak Mansouri [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It was 1974. In the Soviet-bloc country of Hungary, a design professor named Ernő Rubik — barely 30 and still living with his parents — made himself a little wooden gizmo: a cube, made up of a bunch of little cubes.

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Lopez, Kristina

Each week in chattering class we’re schooled by an expert in some party-worthy topic. This week our topic is “the worst opera singer ever.” And our expert is a purveyor of fine, bad music author Darryl W. Bullock.

Emma Cline Discusses the Cult of Her Hit First Novel

Jul 22, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Emma Cline is author of “The Girls,” this season’s hottest literary debut. The New York Times describes it as, “A seductive and arresting coming-of-age story… told in sentences at times so finely wrought they could almost be worn as jewelry.”

Nicole Dennis-Benn Finds Trouble in Paradise

Jul 22, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Lately, there’s been a flowering of fiction from Caribbean writers. Jamaican-born Marlon James won last year’s Man Booker prize. Now he’s one of a chorus of voices singing the praises of his countrywoman Nicole Dennis-Benn, and her debut novel, “Here Comes The Sun.”

Jim Gaffigan Feasts on Your Etiquette Questions

Jul 22, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and answering them this time is Jim Gaffigan.

Over the last 20 years, he’s become one of America’s most-watched stand-up comics, with self-deprecating observations about raising five kids with his wife, and especially about his love of food. In fact, a couple years back, he published the best-selling book called, “Food: A Love Story.”

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Lopez, Kristina

Aparna Nancherla has written and appeared on comedy shows from “Late Night with Seth Meyers” to “Inside Amy Schumer.” She’s performed improv and stand-up for years, and Variety just named her one of their Ten Comics to Watch.

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Lopez, Kristina

Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this time around is star of stage, screen, and song, Anna Kendrick.

Anna spent part of her teen years on Broadway, winning a Tony nomination for the musical “High Society” at age 13. That’s pretty classy. She earned an Oscar nomination for her performance opposite George Clooney in “Up in the Air.”

D.A. Pennebaker: Witness to History

Jul 1, 2016
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Lopez, Kristina

Back in the 1950s, D.A. Pennebaker was a pioneer of “direct cinema”– documentaries that tried to capture reality unobtrusively, as it happened. In fact, he helped design the sync-sound cameras that made that style even possible.

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Lopez, Kristina

Longtime Dinner Party Download listeners might know Brendan’s feelings about brunch. In fact, he and Julia Stiles had a bonding moment over their mutual hatred of it. And yet, he has to admit even he likes a pancake every once in awhile. So why we have to stop eating them at noon?

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