Julia Sweeney creates comedic works that tackle deep issues: cancer, family, faith. Her latest book is "If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother," on parenting and being parented. She performs often with Jill Sobule, telling stories alongside Jill's songs, in their "Jill & Julia Show."

Why you should listen

Known for her four-year run on Saturday Night Live and her powerful solo shows, Julia Sweeney is carving out her own territory in entertainment, one that moves between the personal and the political, the controversial and the comical. Her piece Letting Go of God traces a spiritual journey that takes an unexpected turn toward science (a turn that, incidentally, also led her to TED) and ends with atheism. Her latest book is If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother, on parenting and being parented.

In this, as in all her performances, Sweeney projects a warmth and sincerity on stage that's unmatched in today's theater; you immediately feel you're chatting with an old friend. And this gift of intimacy allows her to achieve the impossible: an utterly disarming show that honestly confronts the most controversial topic of our times. Her earlier shows God Said “Ha!” and In the Family Way also garnered praise and prizes for their pairings of humor and poignant truth.

What others say

“Without breaking her affably conversational tone, in Letting Go of God she inhabits the emotional memory of each step on her path.” — New York Times

Julia Sweeney’s TED talks

Julia Sweeney on the TED Blog
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Live from TED2014

In case you missed it: Day 5 of TED2014

March 22, 2014

This year’s packed conference came to a close on March 21, 2014: Day 5 at TED2014. Here are some highlights from this Friday: Mark Ronson ruled the dance floor On Thursday night, Mark Ronson DJ’d for TEDsters. Bent over the mixing board under a neon green TED sign, he tied all the music back to […]

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News

As told to Aunt Bonnie: Julia Sweeney wraps up TED2014

March 21, 2014

In a naked grab for the new TED/XPRIZE, Julia Sweeney has spent the last day and a half building an AI. It rolls onstage to give a convincing simulacrum of a TED Talk — until Sweeney herself runs out from backstage to chastise the rogue intelligence. She’s actually here to wrap up TED2014, in her […]

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News

A Ripple Effect: Speakers in Session 12 of TED2013

March 1, 2013

TED2013 has come to an end. Here, the final session — about the doers and givers who never stop spreading their ideas. In session 12, these speakers shared their bold words and even bolder actions. And it all built to a riveting finale. Here, the speakers who appeared in this session. Click on their name […]

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Quotes from Julia Sweeney

Our family was too strange and weird for even Santa Claus to come visit … Santa, who was jolly — but, let’s face it, he was also very judgmental.
Julia Sweeney
TED2006 • 2.9M views Jul 2006
Funny, Courageous
I had taken my little eight-year-old’s hand and taken her right into Internet porn.
Julia Sweeney
TED2010 • 2.5M views May 2010
Funny, Beautiful