Hari Kondabolu: Finding humor in politics

By Evelyn Garcia

The days of not talking politics or religion at the dinner table are long gone with the current political climate.

It seems like we can’t escape, and the only way to deal with what’s going on is to find humor in it all every now and then.

This has been comedian Hari Kondabolu’s approach for many years throughout his career.

Kondabolu made an appearance and performed stand-up at Ursa Major on April 25.

He’s performed on Jimmy Kimmel, Conan, The Late Show with David Letterman and has made appearances on Comedy Central.

“He has a lot to say, and even if you don’t politically agree with his comments, it’s still humor,” said Brianna Serrano, coordinator at the Pride Center on campus. “So I think that comedy in itself is a good tool to promote social justice and awareness that is very easily received, instead of a lecture, for example.”

The Pride Center and the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center co-hosted the event, which was cosponsored by Associated Students, Inc. and Greek Council.

Kondabolu began his set by cracking a joke at the fact he was performing on a college campus, saying he should have fired his manager when he received the call. He later came to the conclusion, “the kids need me,” as the audience immediately burst into laughter.

The rest of his set consisted of one political or social joke after the other in such a way that brought on laughter and applause from the crowd every now and then.

Kondabolu said Trump has been using Shaggy’s song, “It Wasn’t Me,” as a philosophy to avoid confronting mishaps or questionable things he’s done.

He even made a joke about how it seems unnecessary to have created white chocolate, saying it could have been marketed to racist people as “Do you love the taste of chocolate, but can’t stand looking at it?” Kondabolu added, it’d be “from the same people who brought you white Jesus,” playing in to the usual depiction of Jesus we have seen popularized with white skin.

There were audible sounds of surprise mixed with laughter form the audience.

“As you can imagine, California, this joke doesn’t work in much of the country,” said Kondabolu.

Erik Larsen, a first-year business student, attended the show and echoed sentiments Serrano had when they explained the purpose of bringing Kondabolu to Cal Poly Pomona.

“We obviously are not going to agree on everything, just because” I’ve been brought up a certain way, he’s obviously been brought up a certain way; we have different perspectives,” said Larsen. “But there were some funny jokes, and I can laugh about things maybe I don’t agree with.”

Larsen explained that as long as everyone is respectful of each other’s beliefs, it’s good to be exposed to differing views in college.

“This is where we can have our morals, our values challenged; it’s good to have that exposure, this is probably the place that’s going to happen,” he said.

Kondabolu also managed to bring in sexual assault and how often women are victim-blamed for what they wear, yet there is no accountability placed on men or the perpetrators. To this he offered a solution: Next time a guy is wearing a sports jersey, tackle him. He must’ve been asking for it anyway judging by his outfit.

The audience erupted in applause.

Edith Espejo, a fourth-year environmental biology student who also attended, explained her favorite part of the set was Kondabolu’s jokes having to do with his mom.

He explained ways in which his mother has progressed in her beliefs, which Espejo could relate to as a first-generation American like Kondabolu.

She said she enjoyed “seeing his mom grow in her political beliefs and her opinions, because we’re products of our parents and their beliefs, and then we grow as well. So seeing that you aren’t always born to think this way, but there’s time for growth and change””

Another point Espejo noted is Kondabolu touching on how there aren’t many people like him in comedy, joking his father tells people he’s Aziz Ansari.

This theme translates to CPP students as well.

“Seeing people of color in general as lecturers on campus I really appreciate, because you don’t see a lot,” said Espejo. “I don’t see a lot of Southeast Asian representation, so that was really cool too.”

Kondabolu ended his appearance with a question and answer session at the end.

He explained that although the topics he covers are of political or social issues, he doesn’t consider himself an activist and simply combines comedy with what he feels is important to discuss.

“My job is to entertain,” Kondabolu said.

When asked how he deals with what subjects to discuss or hold back on, Kondabolu said he doesn’t ever limit what he says, and he doesn’t pander to audiences for what they’d like to hear.

“This is not an art form for people who are afraid to speak their truths,” he said. “Comedy is the freest form of expression in a lot of ways.”

Indeed, Kondabolu hasn’t held back, but during a time where the world needs more laughter, he does it incredibly well.

To hear more of what Kondabolu has to say, you can listen to his podcast with W. Kamau Bell, “Politically Re-active.”

Hari Kondabolu and Thavery Lay-Bounpraseuth, coordinator of APISC.

Evelyn Garcia / The Poly Post

Hari Kondabolu and Thavery Lay-Bounpraseuth, coordinator of APISC.

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

‘Trolls’ delivers colorful humor for all to enjoy

In an explosion of colors, fluffy hair and song and dance, the movie “Trolls” ...

Theatre production gives Shakespeare new life

By Angela Stevens In the “Taming of the Shrew,” a young woman named Kate ...

ISA marks traditional Hindu festival of lights

By Agnes Musee In celebration of Diwali, the Indian Student Association collaborated with the ...