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Hari Kondabolu Reflects On Being a Political Comic During An Exceptional Election

Comedian Hari Kondabolu

These could be said to be both the best and the worst of times for political comedy and for stand-up Hari Kondabolu, the worst has never felt closer to home. He's received more contentious reaction to his jokes and opinions on social media now than ever before and says he's witnessing a turning point in the U.S. political landscape.

His new album, "Mainstream American Comic," tackles these issues head on – making the case that race, gender, and politics should be mainstream comedy.

"Comedy is going to go where society goes in terms of material and ideas. It definitely feels like we’re right now in a period of great change," says Kondabolu.

As a person of color who talks about race in a critical fashion, Kondabolu expects a certain degree of backlash for his material. However, now that Donald Trump is the Republican party's presidential candidate, Kondabolu believes more people express their biased points of view publicly because that's what a national candidate is doing.

"I talk a lot about race in my act and big issues I care about, and I've noticed more than ever that I'm getting hate mail and death threats at a pace I'm not used to," Kondabolu says.

This summer Kondabolu is keeping himself quite busy, with regular TV appearances, a new podcast called "Politically Re-Active," with comedian W. Kamau Bell, and a packed tour in support of his newly-released album.

Part of Kondabolu's comedic style is his explanations and lead up to jokes to his audience. In contrast to keeping a tight "word economy," Kondabolu is not afraid to shy away from an unknown reference. And as a "victim of over-eduation," his academic style in comedy was not originally planned, but Kondabolu is more inclined to embrace explaining his jokes,

"Sometimes I feel like that's the perfect reference - that is the joke - and if they don't get it, they will by the end of it," he explains. "It's through that explanation that you get a whole series of other it was built of out of necessity, but it's also become a cool stylistic thing."

Straight off the heels of the Democratic National Convention Kondabolu makes his Milwaukee debut this Sunday evening at Turner Hall Ballroom.

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