Comedy

Comedian and Filmmaker Hari Kondabolu on Comedy, Culture and Maintaining Your Integrity

Hari Kondabolu. Illustrated portrait by Atticus Bergman.
Hari Kondabolu. Illustrated portrait by Atticus Bergman.

I met Hari Kondabolu exactly how I meet most people these days, through Zoom. To describe his current state, he reminded me of the film They Live, in which the protagonist finds sunglasses that allow him to see that the world is in fact populated with aliens and coded messages hiding in plain sight—except the sunglasses we put on reveal white supremacists instead. That’s certainly the kind of humor I know Kondabolu for. He doesn’t shy away from hard content, but he still wants the laugh. His comedy isn’t about racism—it’s about living a life in which you can’t avoid it. He isn’t trying to assert a specific identity, only to live and be as honest as he can with himself. While stand-up may not be his current avenue of expression, he’s been hard at work on a number of other projects. For one, he’s a new father. On top of that, he’s restarted the sharp and funny podcast Politically Re-Active with his friend, comedian W. Kamau Bell. And he’s been writing with his best friend—his brother. It was a pleasure speaking to him about comedy, television, culture and integrity, and what to do when you’re really stuck.

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