Hari Kondabolu's incendiary humor | Comedy Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Comedy Critic's Choice

Hari Kondabolu's incendiary humor

The comic has helped change the way race and class are talked about on TV.


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Hari Kondabolu is a member of the unconventionally diverse group of writers and performers for Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, a show that's changed the paradigm of what kind of people lead conversations about race, class, and politics on television. Like his boss, Kondabolu tackles these issues viciously: in a 2011 Spin magazine story about his brother Ashok's now-defunct rap group, Das Racist, he described the audience at a gig at the Sasquatch! Music Festival as "white people who had no issue wearing Native American headdresses and face paint and didn't even have the decency to finish off the impression by being unjustifiably killed."

In that same article, the Queens native said that relatives in India describe him as a "lawyer" to other family and friends. That's not too far off. First of all, dude has a master's in human rights from the London School of Economics. A former immigrant rights organizer, he has bits about Superman being undocumented, and a Twitter feed filled with observations about stop and frisk and NSA surveillance. Kondabolu's humor isn't always funny: it's indicting and incendiary, politically charged but without the corrosive misogyny and white-guy indignation you usually get with this comic genre. Watch and learn, Bill Maher.

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