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AP: Have you considered your own safety?

Kern: No, I’m not worried about Salman Rushdie’s life happening to me. I don’t know if the climate is like that, I don’t know if anyone knows who I am. It seems very self-important to worry about death threats.

AP: You’re now a writer on “The Simpsons.” What’s that like?

Kern: It’s probably the job I dreamed of having when I was 16. I became a playwright and didn’t think this would ever happen to me. So now I’m hanging out with all these guys and a couple of ladies and we sit around and make jokes and try to write funny things for Homer. It’s a little surreal.

AP: This play is about terrorists and your last one was about the genocide in Sudan. Why tackle these big, tough subjects?

Kern: I want people to pay attention to difficult things, and I think the only way to do that is to make them palatable. A joke is like a Flintstones chewable vitamin: It looks like a dinosaur and tastes good and the kid will eat it. I think that works for adults. I also think that audiences are less receptive _ if they think there’s a message coming at them, they’re going to be prepared for a message. They’re very savvy that way. You have to trick them or soften them up so that they can actually engage emotionally.




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