Kondabolu in 2016
|Born||October 21, 1982|
Queens, New York, U.S.
|Medium||Stand-up, film, podcasts|
|Relative(s)||Ashok Kondabolu (brother)|
Hari Karthikeya Kondabolu (Telugu: హరి కొండబోలు; born 1982) is an American stand-up comic, actor, filmmaker, and podcast host. He is best known for his comedy on subjects such as race, identity, inequality, and the LGBT community. He has appeared on television on many occasions, and was a writer for Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.
Early life and family
Kondabolu was born in the Flushing neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens in 1982, to Ravi and Uma Kondabolu, who had immigrated from Tenali in Andhra Pradesh, India. Soon after Ravi had immigrated to the United States in 1978, while in a small town in Louisiana, he says he was approached by a person who asked, "Excuse me, sir, are you Chinese?" Both parents were physicians in India, and became the heads of New York area medical labs.
Kondabolu continued performing standup when he attended Bowdoin College; he called his years at Bowdoin "incredibly formative" and continues to spend part of every year in Maine. He studied at Wesleyan University during his third year, focusing on identity and race, globalization, and "the impact of popular culture on society".
Although his stand-up comedy career was gaining traction in 2007, he was accepted to the Masters in Human Rights program at the London School of Economics in 2007, and thus took a hiatus year from stand-up to earn his MSc.
While in Seattle, Kondabolu began participating in its alternative comedy scene. His act included "a bit where I used to read the U.S. citizenship application onstage". In 2006, Kondabolu performed at the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival in Seattle, which he credits as his "big break", as a booker for HBO's Comedy Festival saw his name on the Bumbershoot website. Kondabolu also filmed "Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives" in Seattle and released the special on Netflix in 2018.
Kondabolu has since made several television appearances as a stand-up comic. He made his first notable television appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2007, when he also began to appear in a variety of national comedy festivals, including the 2007 HBO US Comedy Arts Festival. In October 2012, he performed stand-up on an episode of Conan and, in March 2014, he performed stand-up on The Late Show with David Letterman. He has made several appearances on Comedy Central, including a 2008 episode of Live at Gotham, three episodes of John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show in 2010 and 2012, and most prominently, his own episode of Comedy Central Presents which aired on February 11, 2011. He has also appeared a number of times on British television, including on Russell Howard's Good News in 2011 and 8 out of 10 Cats in 2012. In 2012, he had a recurring sketch as part of BBC Three's Live at the Electric hosted by Russell Kane. He has also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was a featured comedian for the US State Department-sponsored "Make Chai Not War" comedy showcase in India in 2012.
From 2012 to 2013, he was on the writing staff for the FX comedy series Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, produced by Chris Rock and hosted by W. Kamau Bell, on which he often appeared as a correspondent.
His second comedy album, Mainstream American Comic, was released on July 22, 2016 on Kill Rock Stars. It debuted at #1 on the iTunes US comedy charts and at #2 on the Billboard comedy charts.
Kondabolu's humor often centers on social issues such as poverty, racism, and a rejection of Indian stereotypes seen in media. He describes writing a July 2003 joke, which focused on the British Raj taking the Koh-i-Noor diamond from India, as "the first time I thought, 'Okay, this is who I actually am. This is what I actually believe.'"
He and his younger brother Ashok performed in a monthly mostly improvised talk show together in New York City called Untitled Kondabolu Brothers Project. Past guests have included Ajay Naidu, Aasif Mandvi, Bell, Leo Allen, Victor Vazquez (Kool AD of Das Racist), Charles Mudede and Blue Scholars. In January 2013, they started Untitled Kondabolu Brothers Podcast. After a hiatus from 2015 onwards, the podcast debuted again as the Kondabolu Brothers Podcast in 2018 on the Earwolf label.
He is a co-host of the podcast Politically Re-Active with Bell, which debuted in June 2016. He also debuted as a rotating host on The Bugle alongside Andy Zaltzman in the fall of 2016 after the departure of John Oliver.
Acting and film
Kondabolu wrote and starred in Zia Mohajerjasbi's 2007 short film Manoj, which has played in comedy and film festivals around the world, including the Just for Laughs Festivals in Montreal and Chicago, and which mocks comedians who broadly exploit their ethnic backgrounds for their material. In Manoj , Kondabolu portrays both Manoj, a fictional Indian immigrant comic who plays to white audiences by repeating their stereotypes of South Asians, and an Indian-American who is critical of Manoj's approach.
Kondabolu portrayed "Crossword Businessman" in the 2009 film All About Steve, a movie he mocks in Mainstream American Comic. He also played a supporting role in the 2016 film Five Nights in Maine, although none of his scenes were included in the final 75-minute cut of the film. Also in 2016, he appeared as a fictionalized version of himself in the Comedy Central web series White Flight.
Kondabolu is the star, creator, and executive director of The Problem with Apu, a documentary about Apu from The Simpsons that premiered in November 2017 on TruTV. The film contextualizes Apu within minstrelsy and other tropes in American pop culture history that have historically stereotyped minorities.
Kondabolu is a practicing Hindu and a fan of baseball and indie rock. As a dark-skinned Indian and a non-Brahmin, he faced casteism and colourism in his twenties while dating an Indian-American woman. He lives in Brooklyn.
- Waiting for 2042 (2014)
- Mainstream American Comic (2016)
- The Best (Worst) Of The Bugle With Andy (Redacted) Zaltzman And Guest(s) (2017)
- Hari Kondabolu's New Material Night: Volume 1 (recorded 2012, released 2017)
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- Beem, p. 38
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Then came word in 1992 that the Indian government planned to use the Wyra acreage for other purposes. "My brother and I rushed back to India and offered our own money to start the college," he said. In 1994, Kondabolu Venkaiaah Choudary Memorial began in rented quarters with only 28 students. ... Ravi, who lives in Jamaica Estates, said he works long hours as chief technologist in the cardiology department of New York Flushing Hospital in an effort to send at least $15,000 annually back to India to support the college.
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MSc in Human Rights: ... Merit ... Hari Karthikeya Kondabolu
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- "John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show: Season 3, Episode 5". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02.
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- "'COMEDY CENTRAL Presents' is Back! Featuring Today's Best and Brightest Stand-Up Talent, the 15th Season Premieres Friday, January 21 at 11:00 p.m." news.sys-con.com. PR Newswire. 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
Fresh new episodes from this season will include stand-up performances from Jack Whitehall, Al Jackson, Chelsea Peretti, Chris D'Elia, Hari Kondabolu, Jay Larson, Jessi Klein, Kyle Kinane, Louis Katz, Matt Fulchiron, Mike Vecchione, Natasha Leggero, Nate Bargatze and Sheng Wang.
- "Hari Kondabolu". BBC.
- Hari Kondabolu (October 17, 2011). "Das Racist Cover Story: These Colors Don't Run". Spin. Retrieved 2011-10-17.
- "State Department Sends 'Chai' Comedy Tour To India". NPR.org. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
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- ""Fresh Starts" with Gary Shteyngart, Hari Kondabolu, Maxine McCormick, and Lenore | Live Wire Radio". www.livewireradio.org. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
- Desai, Manan (2013-03-12). "An Interview with Hari Kondabolu". Tides Magazine. South Asian American Digital Archive. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
- "Kondabolu Brothers". www.kondabolubrothers.com. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
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- "VIB - Very Important Bugle". Soundcloud. The Bugle podcast. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
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- "Matt Braunger launches new webseries "White Flight" and tour dates - The Laugh Button". The Laugh Button. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
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