© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ope! This Kansas City humorist wrote the 'Guide to Midwestern Conversation'

Taylor Kay Phillips
Phillips has lived in New York City for most of her adult life, but she's originally from Kansas City, Missouri: "born-and-bred" Midwestener.

The new book from Taylor Kay Phillips, a Kansas City-born writer living in New York City, explains what it means to take a short drive (at least eight hours), how to talk sports (until you’re six feet under) and how to use “Ope! Lemme just squeeze right past ya” in casual conversation.

Taylor Kay Phillips knows what it’s like to be a Midwesterner living on the East Coast.

The writer, actor and comedian has lived in New York City for most of her adult life, and currently writes for Last Week Tonight With John Oliver on HBO. But when she tells the “Coasties” (her words) that she’s from Missouri, they almost always respond with confusion.

“People would say to me, ‘Oh, you're from Missouri. That's so random.’ "What's random about that?" Phillips told KCUR's Up To Date.

That’s one of the reasons she wrote the humor book “A Guide to Midwestern Conversation”: to demystify the Midwest to non-Midwesterners.

The “guidebook” takes the reader on a road trip through the American Heartland, stopping at each of the 12 states the United States Census Bureau has labeled “The Midwest” (and no, Oklahoma, you don’t make the cut).

But the guide isn’t just for non-Midwesterners; it’s also a celebration of the region’s people, language and culture through comedy.

“I'm a firm believer in the fact that humor can be and should be a unifying and identifying way of communicating,” she said.

Phillips clarifies at the beginning of the book that it's not about laughing at or oversimplifying this very large and diverse region.

“I didn't want people – Coasties or Midwesterners — thinking I was coming at this from a place of observing cruelty," she said. "It's more, this is how we behave, isn't that great? Isn't that complicated? Isn't that true? And I think there's a humor and an arresting feeling that makes us laugh when we see ourselves so clearly."

  • Taylor Kay Phillips, author, comedian, actor and writer for “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” on HBO
Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As a producer for Up To Date, I create sound-rich talk show segments about the individuals and communities that call Kansas City home. Whether it’s a poet, a business owner or a local lawmaker, I seek out diverse voices to help break down the biggest stories of the day. After listening to the show, I want Up To Date listeners to feel informed and empowered to make decisions in their daily lives. You can reach me at claudiab@kcur.org
As an assistant producer on Up To Date, my goal is to amplify voices of people who serve as pioneers in their respective fields while shedding light on issues that affect underserved communities. I produce daily conversations to uplift and inspire the people of the Kansas City area to make the world a better place. You can reach me at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.