If you were looking for a night of laughs and enlightenment, then The Englert Theatre was the right place to be on the 20th of October. Hari Kondabolu alongside opener Stephanie Weber, had the entire audience of the Englert in laughs throughout the evening; with most people bent over their seats nearly crying from laughter.
The incredible opener of the night was Stephanie Weber, an Illinois native who writes humorous clickbait history articles and does stand up comedy. Weber, with her vibrant personality, had the crowd shaking with laughter.
She touched on topics of The Midwest, trashed the south, talked about her ethnicity, and the difference between white dads: those who own a boat and went to Yale white dads, and the white dads that still openly believe in Bigfoot. Her 15 minutes up on stage seemed too short and I hope that one day she can make her own hour-long special because she was pretty damn funny.
And then of course Hari Kondabolu was next.
I actually learned a lot about Kondabolu’s comedy last semester through a course I took about political satire. Which, is one of Kondabolu’s specialties.
Kondabolu walked out on stage with a big smile.
“Iowa City! My favorite city… in Iowa…”
Kondabolu jumped right into his routine by talking about his dad first followed by telling a joke about airport security. Which, soon turned into a 9/11 joke (which he pulled off very well, I might add.) “You don’t know why you can’t bring your water through airport security? I thought we collectively agreed as a nation to ‘never forget’!” The crowd broke out in stifled laughs.
It wouldn’t be a Hari Kondabolu show if he didn’t talk about religion. “‘What religion are you, Hari?’ Well, I’m Hindu, or as American’s like to pronounce it — Muslim.”
He spent a great deal of time talking about hate crimes and how a lot of them have been committed by Trump supporters. “And I know that it’s Trump supporters because after the hate crimes, they yell ‘TRUMP!’ which is like, the clue.”
He pointed out that hate violence racial violence was the original terrorism in this country, and that the bar has been set high. “It’s so hard to prove a hate crime,” Kondabolu proves his brilliance with his play on words, “Was there a whiteness? An eye whiteness?” (which if you don’t get it, it means that if the witness was white, then that’s more “valid” than if a POC said it. At least, that’s how I interpreted it.)
Kondabolu has the special skill of using humor and political commentary to bring light to current issues, something that I think is incredibly important considering our current political climate.
Kondabolu talked about other topics that weren’t just political commentary, like being heckled by Tracey Morgan and being mistaken as Kid Rock (even though the Kid Rock story ended up being about a white person who couldn’t see race).
Overall, it was a great show to be at and you should check out some of Hari Kondabolu’s comedy!