Tag Archives: Anne Libera

Race + Comedy: Hari Kondabolu Balances His Conscience With His Craft

By Guest Contributor Caitlin M. Boston

Hari Kondabolu on stage. Courtesy: harikondabolu.com

I’m willing to wager that you don’t laugh at every joke you hear–to each her own fart joke, as it were. An obvious fact, but therein lies the challenge for stand-up comedians: how do you make as many people laugh as possible, while still being true to yourself and what you value?

Take that comedic quandary, bear-trap it to an ongoing graduate-level sociology course, and you are now in the head-space of confounded sui generis comedian, Hari Kondabolu.

A first-generation Indian American with roots in Queens, NY, Kondabolu’s comedy is nothing if not a direct reflection of what he values, a baroque product wrought from a first-generation American perspective, academic privilege, work as an immigrant-rights organizer, and of course, White people. Over the past several years as an internationally featured headliner he’s shared his truth in jokes about encountering the “ethnic section” in the grocery store, being colonized by an English girlfriend, ,and how Superman is an undocumented “alien,” yet no one seems concerned. His stand-up makes you feel like you’re ingesting a chuckle-coated vitamin of current socio-political affairs–something theoretically good for you, if at times difficult to swallow.
Continue reading