(Review) Hari Kondabolu @ Columbia College, Chicago IL

I said awhile ago I would make a point to take in more art. I’m pretty sure it’s one of my resolutions I seem to fail on and give excuses for every month, too, but on Thursday night I finally took advantage of one of the events on campus — one I wasn’t planning, for once.

Columbia is pretty neat in the fact that there are so many different student organizations on campus. One of them is the Asian Student Organization, and in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, they’re hosting various events throughout the month of April. One of these events I found early in the month, and couldn’t help but squeal when I did. Hari Kondabolu is an American Stand-up comedian who I first discovered on a few episodes of Wits. I thought he was hilarious on the podcast, even after listening to those episodes multiple times, and leapt at the chance to see him live right on my campus. And best of all — for free.

The evening of comedy started with two Columbia students — a musical theatre major whose name I didn’t catch, and Jayson Acevedo. Acevedo is also a student in the radio department, and one of my friends, so I can’t really “review” his bit, but it was pretty cool to see two fellow Columbia students performing alongside a big name like Hari Kondabolu. And I hadn’t seen Acevedo’s stand-up before, so it was great to finally see some of what he posts about on Facebook so much. Keep an eye out for him: he’s already done comedy internationally, and is filming his first one-hour special later this month. Big things. Both of the Columbia students ended up singing as part of their routine, and when Kondabolu took the stage, it was one of the first things he addressed.

“I’ve traveled the world doing comedy and I’ve never had to sing,” Kondabolu said, “I’m moderately successful and now both of these guys sang?! I’m not ready for this.” He laughed to himself, then dug into his well-rehearsed bits.

Kondabolu talked about a variety of things — how he worked as an intern in Hilary Clinton’s mailroom, and since he worked on her previous campaign, that’s why he’s voting for Bernie Sanders. He told us bits about performing around the world, and how interesting American airport security is. He discussed a topic that has been coming up in the media recently, how the term “boys will be boys” should no longer be acceptable and what’s wrong with it. He discussed how it’s weird what we (as a society) consider to be art, and how there’s so much more that should be considered art. As a student in the radio department at an art school, I couldn’t relate more to his entire bit — and the “abstract comedic art” he wove right in front of us.

Kondabolu’s album out now, Waiting for 2042 is a good summary of what he performed in his free show at Columbia this past week, and inspired me to spend the entirety of Friday listening to other stand-up comedy. He said his new album should be released later this summer. Stay tuned on Spotify.


Author: erikabunk

Raised in Northern Minnesota. BA in Radio/Business & Entrepreneurship. Painfully average marathoner. Spends too much time on Spotify, in search of the best record store in the world, and dreams of returning to Reykjavík.

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