Imprisoned three times by the Nigerian government, Chris Abani turned his experience into poems that Harold Pinter called "the most naked, harrowing expression of prison life and political torture imaginable." His novels include GraceLand (2004) and The Virgin of Flames (2007).
Jamil Abu-Wardeh believes in the community-building power of a shared laugh -- especially in Arabic. He jumpstarted the Dubai standup comedy scene and produced the Axis of Evil Middle East Comedy Tour.
Traditionally, Tom Rielly closes the TED Conference with a merciless 18-minute monologue, skewering all the speakers with his deadpan delivery, spot-on satire and boundary-less performance (complete with PowerPoint, pratfalls and partial nudity).
Mark Bittman is a bestselling cookbook author, journalist and television personality. His friendly, informal approach to home cooking has shown millions that fancy execution is no substitute for flavor and soul.
Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong -- a premise he supports with intriguing research, and explains in his accessible and unexpectedly funny book, Stumbling on Happiness.
Immersing himself in alternate lifestyles and hilarious experiments (usually with himself as the guinea pig), writer A.J. Jacobs tests the limits of behavior, customs, culture -- and reports back on the wisdom and practical knowledge he's gained.
Listening to Bobby McFerrin sing may be hazardous to your preconceptions. Side effects may include unparalleled joy, a new perspective on creativity, rejection of the predictable, and a sudden, irreversible urge to lead a more spontaneous existence.
Bono, the lead singer of U2, uses his celebrity to fight for social justice worldwide: to end hunger, poverty and disease, especially in Africa. His nonprofit ONE raises awareness via media, policy and calls to action.