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Your Favorite Raunchy Card Game Goes Live

The artistic director of Cards Against Humanity talks bad card combinations, choosing good improvisers, and more.

Photo: Courtesy of Kevin Reader

Up next in our series of interviews with notable, in-the-know locals: Kevin Reader, artistic director of Cards Against Humanity, who performs in the game’s live show on Friday.

How exactly does Cards Against Humanity Live work?

We basically play Cards Against Humanity live onstage with a guest host. We bring a bunch of our writers and friends from the comedy scene and play the game with them. Then the hosts—one of our founders, Max Temkin, and the special cohost—pick out their favorite scene suggestions, and the performers improvise scenes based on the card combinations.

What’s been your favorite card combination to improvise?

The first time we ever did the show, we played the card “A slightly shittier parallel universe.” So we riffed about playing other board games live in different theaters throughout the city. That one sticks out as a fun moment for me.

What makes for a bad card combination, in your opinion?

The ones we throw out are when people don’t have great grammar structure. That will ding you really quickly. And inside jokes, while very funny to you and your friend group, probably won’t play well to a larger subset of people. We also talk a lot about punching in the right direction—punching up rather than down.

The guest host for this performance is Matthew Hoffman of the “You Are Beautiful” project. How do you pick hosts?

We want someone who is working on a meaningful project in the city. The last show we had our friend Peter Sagal [of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…] host with us. We want someone who’s accustomed to being in front of an audience and knows how to interact with them, has a good sense of humor, and doesn’t take life too seriously all the time.

You’ve been doing these live shows for years now. What’s new about this weekend’s?

We always find a local charity to team up with. For this show, we’re going to donate proceeds to Designs for Dignity, a not-for-profit that designs spaces for other not-for-profits—organizations that need some help creating fun, interactive spaces that inspire the people who work in them.

What’s it like getting so many Cards Against Humanity fans in one room?

It’s a delight. Everyone always has a great story about the first time they played the game, or a moment when they played the game with their family, or something they made their grandmother say. I always enjoyed being able to connect with people who play the game and care so much about it.

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