Arts

Comedian Hari Kondabolu will bring personal style to town

One of Hari Kondabolu’s earliest live stand-up comedy shows was at the UW-Madison, where he made a baby cry.

“I remember I was talking about sex, it was a joke about sex, and all of a sudden I heard a baby crying, because these parents had brought their kids to the show, which I did not notice,” he said. “And it was just, initially I tried to ignore it, but eventually I was just like, ‘Is that a baby?,’ and the crowd just erupted. They walked out when I started talking about Obama, and I just remember thinking, ‘You kept the baby for filth, but as soon as I mention Obama you’re out?’”

This show came right after Kondabolu had finished graduate school and decided that comedy was going to be his life and career. He has fond memories of the show and the city, and looks forward to coming back this weekend. He will be in Madison for performances at the Comedy Club on State for five shows Thursday through Saturday.

Kondabolu’s acts typically contain conversations about social commentary. He takes topics that can be serious and makes them funny in ways that not all comics can. His jokes address racism, sexuality, feminism and more.

“To me, this stuff is just observational,” he said. “When I see racism, it’s not like, ‘Let me think about this, is this racism? What are the things to use to analyze whether this is racism?’ Nah it’s just racism. That to me is interesting. The first thought that’s in my head is, how can I break this down and try to expose this? Or, how can I make this funny or useful or new? Certainly my heroes have been people who have done similar things who had something to say.”

For his show in Madison, however, he’ll be taking a different approach—making jokes about his family, living life in Brooklyn and a lot of stories from his life.

“I’ve been talking about racism and sexuality and feminism,” Kondabolu said. “Those big themes are going to be there, but I’m also talking about family a bit more. I’m talking about some more things about my personal life, about living in Brooklyn. There’s new things, which I’m proud of, that I think are expanding my palette which I think makes things more personal. Historically I haven’t really done as much a personal stuff, but that’s a lot of what I think about and care about. So this is actually a me thing, that is like this is who I am and I like it.”

While he’s in Madison, he’ll be taking tips on where to spend time during his stay. He’ll be around after shows to chat, and maybe you’ll even see him around State Street.

“I think stand-up is kind of an incredible art form, and I like what I’ve been writing and what I’ve been experimenting with,” he said. “It will be a fun weekend. Madison’s a great town and I’m really excited about these shows.”

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