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Episode 35 - Kumail Nanjiani

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Comedian, actor, and writer Kumail Nanjiani feels apologetic about being Conan O’Brien’s friend.

Kumail sits down with Conan to discuss his recent absence on the television program, coming from a hardworking family, having incredible balance, hating Ferris Bueller, and the best way to reward oneself. Plus, Conan responds to a listener voicemail about being a godfather.

Got a question for Conan? Call our voicemail: (323) 451-2821.

For Conan videos, tour dates and more visit TeamCoco.com.

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Hey Team CONAF (good acronym, amiright?)—

Love the show. Honestly have to say Matt Gourley is my favorite character, with Sona coming in a close second. Third might be . . . Jen Samples?

I feel inclined to weigh in on the pre-interview font discussion.  I'm a book designer at Stanford University Press and a type designer. 

As Gourley surmises, Cambria is a pretty good font, but it's not a good choice in this situation for several reasons. First off, it's a system font for Windows, and so isn't really keeping with Gourley's hipster identity. It's what I would call "a lazy choice" to say the least. Secondly, it was designed in 2004 specifically for lower resolution screens, to be read on such. In construction, it is heavy in weight (it looks almost bold by typographic standards), has a high x-height, and has relatively low contrast. These features contribute to its being a sub-optimal typeface for use in print, especially if you're using a typical office copier with low print quality. And thirdly, 11pt is not "small" by any standard. Point sizes are somewhat arbitrary from typeface to typeface, but in general, even in trade books that I design, I never set text larger than 11pt. Conan, if you're having trouble reading 11pt type on its own, might I suggest getting your eyes checked? Most books you read are set in something smaller than 11pt, unless you're reading children's books or large-text books for the visually impaired.

That said, Gourley, there are some things you can do to help Conan with the legibility of his interviewee cheat sheet.

1. Pick a different typeface. Might I recommend Garamond or even Minion (usually system fonts or free on Google Fonts)? Or perhaps, in keeping with your hipsterness, go for Frere-Jones's new typeface Exchange (though it'll set you back $250)? These typefaces are meant for print, and will be easier to read even with a low printer quality. 

2. What we find with typefaces is that legibility is as much about typesetting elements as it is about the chosen typeface. Above all, line length (measure) and line spacing (leading) tend to have as much, if not more, of an effect on legibility. Especially on the provided text block on a new Microsoft Word document, 11pt type across the full page will result in too many characters in one line for optimal legibility. Splitting the text into two columns would certainly help. For leading, because Cambria has such a high x-height, it needs more space between lines to be optimally legible, which I'm guessing is what is making it so hard for Conan to read. Choose a different typeface, as per (1), or just increase the line spacing a little bit. 

My apologies for a jargon-heavy, presumptuous response to the interview—I actually haven't finished it yet, because this message was that important to me. To make it up to you, I've actually built a MS Word template for you to use on the show, attached below. MS Word is a terrible program, so it may not work, but hopefully it will prove useful on future episodes. Can't wait for the next season!


Kevin Barrett Kane



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