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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell will bring his biting, socially incisive, fiercely political stand-up comedy to the High Noon Saloon Nov. 15. Rapper and comedian Zach Sherwin will open with his own set.

W. Kamau Bell talks podcasts and TV

A day after launching his podcast “Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period” on the Earwolf Podcast Network, W. Kamau Bell told me about his time on his FX show “Totally Biased” and how he gauges audience laughter during his stand-up sets.

With the unfortunate cancellation of “Totally Biased,” Bell has now turned his attention to stand up and his new Denzel Washington-themed podcast alongside friend and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” writer Kevin Avery.

“This year is a recovery from ‘Totally Biased.’ My wife and I just had our second child and I started a new podcast ‘Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period’ on Earwolf.”

He added, “I like that podcasts give you total freedom. I mean, who has a better life than Doug Benson?”

Bell explained the creation of “Totally Biased” and how Chris Rock got involved.

“Originally, I had a live show called the W. Kamau Bell Curve that used stand up and multimedia. It took place in the Bay Area and I entered it in festivals and performed it across the country. My friend Chuck Sklar knew Chris Rock at the time and invited him to a show. I got to meet Chris and he told me I should have a show. He helped work on ‘Totally Biased’ and was a producer.”

The world of TV was a very unexpected and rewarding environment for Bell to work in, often filled with stress and responsibility one normally doesn’t expect.

“It was like being the CEO of a company rather than a comedian. I found myself in more situations I’ve never dealt with as a comic. The bonus to this is the audience is larger, but most of the time people are looking at me to make tough decisions.”

Bell used a funny analogy to compare stand-up and running a TV show.

“It’s like the difference between being Noam Chomsky and Barack Obama. When you’re Chomksy, all you have to do is think about the situation and comment, but as Obama you have to make the final decisions that affect everyone.”

He likened the intensity of becoming the creator of a TV show after being mainly a stand-up as “getting hit by a good car: It’s chaotic, but in a good way.”

Bell’s stand-up is known for its topical and edgy subject matter, which is risky when performing in front of audiences who are sensitive to or don’t understand the material. However, Bell knows exactly how to combat hecklers and read his audience.

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“You should come prepared for what you’re getting into. If you don’t like it, just quietly leave. When people heckle, I mock them to the end of the earth. It’s the only way I know how to be.”

“Audiences have two kinds of laughs. There’s the ‘haha’ laugh at the punch line and there’s the ‘Oh my God he just said that’ laugh. My favorite is the ‘Oh my God’ laugh because they haven’t thought of that before. It shows that I’m being honest and so are they.”

Bell will be performing at the High Noon Saloon on Saturday, Nov. 15 on his Oh, Everything! Tour. His political and social commentary reaches hilarious heights with blunt and witty delivery. Bell’s stand up blends well with the Madisonian culture, and will surely be a night to remember.

Also, if you’re looking for a good book to read while you wait for his show, Bell recommends anything by Malcolm Gladwell or “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

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