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Why Comedian Hari Kondabolu Is 'Waiting For 2042'

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Hari Kondabolu is an Indian-American comedian whose "Konda Bulletins" you might have seen on the FXX show Totally Biased.

Kondabolu's new comedy album is Waiting For 2042 — the year when white people will be the statistical minority in the United States. On the cover, Kondabolu stands proudly perched on a rickshaw, pulled by a white guy in a suit.

Kondabolu talked with NPR's Arun Rath about his new album and how he approaches some of his comedy.


Interview Highlights

On the cover of his new album

I was at the South By Southwest festival a couple years ago and I noticed there were a lot of rickshaws and a lot of them were pulled by white dudes. They didn't call them rickshaws, they called them pedicabs, but it was the same concept, and it was familiar to me because I used to remember riding in them as a kid when I'd visit my grandmother in India.

I remember getting into the back of this bicycle rickshaw being pulled by this white dude and just being stunned thinking, "Oh my God, I think I made it. I don't think my grandmother in India would believe this is happening right now."

On being "obsessed with race"

I don't think I'm obsessed with race. It's part of my lived experience and my day to day and the history of this country. Certainly when I look at things, I see things in terms of a racial angle [and] I spot things maybe faster than other people maybe because I pay close attention to it.

It's not like everything has to do with racism on every level, but at the same time ... there is something racialized to the foundations of this country, so you can't help — well, I can't help — but notice those things.

On doing a comedy album instead of video

Some of the best comedy I've ever heard was just the audio. Dave Chappelle's album, I didn't know it was a Showtime special, I just thought it was the audio. And he was so funny just hearing it, hearing this burnt thing someone had given me — sorry, Dave — it was unbelievable. The imagery and how he described things was so vivid. So when I actually saw the special, I kind of felt disappointed; it didn't live up to the thing I imagined.

To me, audio is still an incredible thing. And to captivate people for an hour with just words is just amazing, and I'm not just saying that to pander to the NPR audience.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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