Hari Kondabolu explores diversity in comedy show

Comedian and writer Hari Kondabolu performed at Memorial Union to promote Asian American Awareness Month.
Comedian Hari Kondabolu performs his stand-up routine in Memorial Union's Bengal Lair on Monday night. Kondabolu has performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan and Comedy Central.

“Some of this shit isn’t going to be funny until four years from now,” Hari Kondabolu said. “It’s like a comedy time bomb … I’ve done Denmark, I think I can do Columbia, Missouri.”

The South Asian Student Association hosted a stand-up show featuring comedian and writer Hari Kondabolu on Monday. MU’s own Comedy Wars improv troupe opened the free show at Bengal Lair.

Kondabolu has been featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan and Comedy Central.

“When I first heard about Hari, I saw that he was an amazing comedian who focused his work on social justice issues,” SASA President Pinki Thakker said. “I contacted him through his official website about doing a performance and he seemed very interested in coming out here.”

SASA’s sponsors for the event included Four Front Minority Student Leaders Council, the Asian American Association and the Multicultural Center.

“It’s awesome to reach into different communities to bring people to Mizzou," Comedy Wars President Zach Beattie said. "We love to help support in whatever way we can. Having the opportunity to meet professionals in the field like Hari also provides connections for us in the future.”

Drew Kohler of Comedy Wars said it was an honor to open for such a big name, especially because he plans to pursue comedy as a career.

“I think laughter is underestimated in terms of how beneficial it can be to self-esteem,” Kohler said. “If we can make someone laugh one time (during a show), then I’m happy. It blows my mind that this can be made into a career.”

In this comedic setting, SASA also aimed to promote Asian American Awareness Month.

“During AAA Month, there is a series of events to promote educational programs and Asian awareness,” Four Front President Ana Gutierrez-Gamez said. “Hari was a good fit for this because he talks about diverse issues that he’s seen growing up as a South Asian-American.”

Senior Rafa Nizam said he attended the event because he is an avid stand-up comedy fan with a lot of friends in SASA.

“A major aspect of Hari’s style that I like is that he is very relevant (and) you can even learn things from his jokes,” Nizam said. “Some of his historical references really shed light on why a certain issue is the way it is.”

Throughout the show, Kondabolu entertained the audience by poking fun at religion, politics, sex, pop culture and racism.

“Through the comedy of Hari Kondabolu, we hope (to have) raised awareness about discrimination and worked for the inclusion of South Asian issues into society’s cultural awareness,” Thakker said.

The next AAA Month event is the Eighth Annual Grand Songkran Festival to celebrate Thai culture. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday on the South Quad behind Tiger Plaza.

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