san francisco

Here's what I'm up to the next little bit.

I just figured I would put it into one post because I'm starting to confuse myself so here goes...>

Sept 6         San Francisco, CA      Stage Werx Theatre - Me & Boots Riley in Conversation - A Benefit for Laughter Against The Machine

Laughter Against The Machine's Tour & Documentary Sept 10       Phoenix, AZ                 Space 55 BUY TICKETS Sept 14       Chicago, IL                  Greenhouse Theater BUY TICKETS Sept 16       Dearborn, MI               Henry Ford / Adray Auditorium BUY TICKETS Sept 17       Madison, WI                Bartell Theatre BUY TICKETS Nov 9-10     Washington, DC           DC Arts Center BUY TICKETS Nov 11-12   New Orleans, LA          La Nuit Comedy Theater BUY TICKETS Nov 14-15   Oakland, CA                New Parish Theater BUY TICKETS

And we only have days left to raise the money we need to make the documentary about all this nuttiness! Can we borrow 5 bucks to make it happen? Thanks! Why Comics Love Recording in San Francisco


Comics love to record their CDs and DVDs in San Francisco. They LOOOOOOOVE it! Even if they don't live here. Even if they didn't come up doing comedy here. Even if they don't spend that much time in the bay. They still love to record those permanent records known as "specials" here. And they even used to love to record them here when those permanent records were actually records.

Here is a quick list off the top of my Googler of notable CDs, DVDs, and albums that were recorded in San Francisco:

1. Paul Mooney's Race - 1993 (The San Francisco Punch Line)2. Steve Martin's Comedy Is Not Pretty - 1979, and Let's Get Small - 1977 (both at The Boarding House in San Francisco)

3. Margaret Cho's I'm The One That I Want (The Warfield -- this reset the bar for the modern special.)

4. Lenny Bruce's Live At The Curran Theater - 1961 (Apparently the actual show was --- GULP! --- THREE HOURS AND SEVEN MINUTES LONG!)

5. Mort Sahl at The Hungry i - 1960 (Yup, before it was a seedy strip club it was home to the best comedy the country has ever seen.)

6. Zach Galifinakis' Live at The Purple Onion - 2007 (You can hear our very own Alex Koll* introduce Zach at the beginning of the DVD.)

7. Sandra Bernhard's I'm Still Here... Damn It! - 1998 (Slim's)

8. Bill Burr's Let It Go - 2010 (The Fillmore)

9. Phyllis Diller's Live in San Francisco - 2001**

10. Kevin Avery's Hardcore 2007 (The San Francisco Punch Line)

11. Daniel Tosh's Happy Thoughts - 2011 (Yerba Buena Center)

12. Eddie Izzard's Dress To Kill - 1998 (Stage Door Theatre, I was in the flippin' audience the night it was recorded for HBO. I didn't get it. I do now.) FOR THE REST OF THIS POST GO HERE!

Listen my FULL interview on Forum! #GreatestInterviewEver

This was the best radio interview I've ever done. Mostly because it was an hour focused all on ME! Dave Iverson, the host, asked probing and intelligent and thoughtful questions... which is certainly not always the case for radio. Afterward, I met all the black people at KQED... three. (Just kidding... I met three but I saw five.) It was a lot of fun... the second half many people called in and they were all cool. Enjoy. And I understand if you don't have enough interest to take the whole hour of KAMAU! It was like Frost/Nixon... but less jowl-ly and confrontational.


W. Kamau Bell

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 -- 10:00

Download audio (MP3)

San Francisco-based comic W. Kamau Bell is known for telling the very first joke about President Obama on Comedy Central, when he memorably predicted in 2005 that Obama was not going to win the election. Bell joins us in the studio for a conversation on humor, and race.

Bell has been named best San Francisco comedian by 7x7 Magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian and SF Weekly. His new comedy album "Face Full of Flour" made the iTunes list of best comedy albums of 2010 -- and he's performing at the Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco on New Year's Eve.

Host: Dave Iverson


  • W. Kamau Bell, San Francisco-based comic

I'll be on KQED's Forum w/ Michael Krasny 10am, 12/17/10

I'll be on KQED radio on 12/17/10 from 10am-11am. I'd better take my smart pills or it'll be like, "What's this? Wikipedia is leaking?"


Michael Krasny KQED's live call-in program presents wide-ranging discussions of local, state, national and international issues, as well as in-depth interviews.

Airs on KQED Public Radio weekdays at 9am & 10am

Coming up on Forum:

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 -- 10:00 AM

W. Kamau Bell

San Francisco-based comic W. Kamau Bell is known for telling the very first joke about President Obama on Comedy Central, when he memorably predicted in 2005 that Obama was not going to win the election. Bell is performing at the Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco on New Year's Eve, and he joins us in the studio.

Bell has been named best San Francisco comedian by 7x7 Magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian and SF Weekly. His new comedy album "Face Full of Flour" made the iTunes list of best comedy albums of 2010.

I might just make it to SF Comedy Eagle Scout after all.

So there are 13 things that need to happen in order to be fully vetted/made as a San Francisco comic... as opposed to a comic who does and/or did comedy in San Francisco.

I am proud to say I think I have just been blessed with one of the most key elements.

First, here’s the list of things that you need to accomplish if you want to be considered a San Francisco comic. (And yes, I made this list up, but I stand by it, although feel free to suggest other things.)

In NO particular order...

1. Open for Will Durst. (check)

2. Drive yourself --- or get driven... thanks to Jim Short. --- all over the hinterlands of California (and/or Nevada and/or Oregon) doing the San Francisco International (but not Intentional) Comedy Competition. (Sadly check. Cotati?)

3. See your name on the back of the Punch Line t-shirt several times. (check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check...)

4. Get bumped from a show that you were booked in advance to be on at Cobb’s. (check, check, check, and yes check! I even got bumped from a show on fucking New Year’s Eve. My wife is still mad at you, Joe Rogan.) When Cobb’s was a smaller club, number 4 used to be “Be House MC at Cobb’s but those days are goooooooooone.

5. Bomb at The Brainwash. / Have Tony Sparks tell you that he loves you. (check on both counts more times than I could ever remember.)

6. Perform at a benefit at The Punch Line. Bonus points if it is Troy’s YMCA benefit. You lose points if it is the REDACTED benefit or the REDACTED benefit. Both of them suck. They suck and the people who come out to support them suck. And that sucks, because you think I’d like to perform in front of REDACTED people.

7. Hear about how great the old days were from a comic who came before you. (At this point the old days could be the Holy City Zoo, Cobb’s in The Marina, The Walnut Creek Punch Line, The One World Cafe, or even (YIKES!) The Comedy College. (check. Doug Ferrari is good for this one if you need to get this one done soon. Actually, I’m getting pretty good at this one, too.)

8. Hear YOURSELF talk about how Comedy Day in The Park used to be a much bigger deal. (check)

9. Play whatever is the current hell gig of the time while you are still on your way up in the local scene. During my time it was Modesto. It probably still is. Let’s just say that you know a gig is bad when Vanilla Ice is playing the same place as you the week AFTER you are there.

10. Open for Dave Chappelle at The Punch Line. It sounds like an honor, until you see the rabid audience look at you like the parsley on top of the steak. (You can also get credit for this if you open for him at The New Parish in Oakland.)


12A. Be in a city other than SF, and have a comic in that city give you some measure of respect when they find out that you are from San Francisco.

12B. Also, know that our audiences aren’t as smart as people outside of SF, think they are.

13. And finally, lucky 13, I just got it recently. One of the most important pieces of the San Francisco comic puzzle was found last week. See, last week, I performed on an AWESOME benefit for Glide Memorial Church (not that...) and I was on a show with Johnny Steele (not that... although he is apt to tell you about the old days.) and Selene Luna (not that...) and also on the show was Robin Williams (not even that... at least not quite...) The "IT" is that Robin watched my set ANNNNNND thought I was funny. And he shared some thoughts about me that he is allowing me to share with YOU!

"W. Kamau Bell is ferociously funny.” - Robin Williams

Yup, he said that about me. Pretty cool. Actually VERY cool. I have definitely seen him give the nod to other SF comedians: Jim Short, Colin Mahan... And certainly non SF comedians who have spent time in SF: Eddie Izzard and recently Jamie Kilstein.

But I feel like I have finally completed my fair share of the SF comedy scene Merit Badges. I’ve been bona fide funny by Mr. San Francisco Comedy, himself: Robin Williams. And yes, there are certainly more SF Comedy Scene Merit Badges than these out there. Hell, fifteen alone deal with weed, and 11 of those involve N’Gaio Bealum --- who people still confuse me with, but nothing is perfect. But this feels like a pretty good place to be at. Now, I got to nail down some LA and NYC Comedy Scene Merit Badges.

Me & Kevin Avery Together are "As rare & magical as a sparkle-unicorn..."

Check out what the SF Weekly has to say about our upcoming shows on November 23 (Tues) & 24 (Wed) at The SF Punch Line...

Kevin Avery and W. Kamau Bell

Twice the Awesomeness

By Hiya Swanhuyser

Just on the off chance you're looking for something to do tonight, something like, kind of, maybe, as rare and magical as a sparkle-unicorn doing West Side Story choreography under a liquid light show, consider Kevin Avery and W. Kamau Bell. They're not unicorns, not yet. As former co-pilots of radio's "Siskel & Negro," the duo have killed hard on many Bay Area stages and airwaves. Currently, Bell is "spending a lot of time in New York," aka not likely to be performing small venues around here much longer, and Avery already lives in Los Angeles and is writing a film called Thugs: The Musical. Unicorn status imminent.


What more do I have to do to get you to come? Half price tickets? BAM!

My NEW Solo Show Debuts in SF 8/28! ONE NIGHT ONLY!

This is the poster for my NEW solo show. It debuts in San Francisco on August 28th @8pm as a part of The Solo Performance Workshop Festival. It's called, "AAAAAAAAAARGH!: A Solo Show About How Frustrating Frustration Can Be"

Come that night, because it may never happen again! Get your tix HERE!

Getting schooled in post-racial America

Getting schooled in post-racial America

By Rachel Swan, SF Public Press
— Aug 10 2010 - 3:47pm

Any artist who promises to end racism in about an hour will earn his fair share of cynics. Comedian W. Kamau Bell was well aware of that when he launched his solo comedy show, “The W. Kamau Bell Curve,” in fall 2007.

During a run at The Shelton Theater a few months later, Bell watched from the corner of his eye as a middle-aged couple shuffled out of the room. He was roughly 15 minutes into a well-honed comedy set that lampooned the idea of “post-racial” America. He resisted his knee-jerk tendency to heckle the man and woman as they quietly left their seats.

“They weren’t making a huff or anything,” he said. “In my mind, I’m just like, ‘Oh, they gotta go to the bathroom.’ I didn’t think anything of it. They never came back, but I also never noticed.”

After the show, Bell’s producer, Bruce Pachtman, looked somber. “That couple left,” he said. Apparently the man was repelled by Kamau’s material. He was white and characterized himself as a progressive.

“I feel like I’m being blamed,” the man told Pachtman. “I don’t have to listen to this; I’ve done a lot for black people.”

Bell was unruffled.

“If I’m a straight white guy and I go to a show about racism, I would expect to get something on me — that they’d start flinging the s— stick my way,” he said. “I thought, ‘That is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious.’”

In fact, San Francisco progressives – particularly the ones who have “done a lot for black people” – were the impetus for Bell’s show. He began writing the first bits just a few months after the Don Imus flap, when the MSNBC talk show host in April 2007 called the Rutgers University women’s basketball team — made up of eight African- American women and two white women — “nappy-headed hos.”

At that time, America had begun conceiving itself as a “post-racial” society, even though the label seemed unwarranted. Celebrities like Sarah Silverman engaged with race in a way that challenged social norms, but also teetered right over the edge of political correctness. (Kamau says his beef with Silverman was a big inspiration for “The Bell Curve.”) Some, like Michael Richards and Rosie O’Donnell, had already crossed the line.

With the advent of YouTube and an increasingly permissive shock culture, racial outbursts had become a common media event. But somehow, these so-called celebrity meltdowns weren’t cause for major concern or discussion. Imus might have been scorned, but he was still treated as an aberration. Many people thought that if we cast a blind eye to racial inequality, it might disappear on its own. Bell wouldn’t buy it.

“You know after a while, this starts to hurt,” he said. “I felt like Russell Crowe’s character in ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ looking through magazines, making connections and drawing from one magazine article to another. I was really trying to draw these connections and prove that there’s actually this culture of racism that we’re accepting as just being crazy celebrities, when it actually can affect the populace as a whole.”

Bell is not a provocateur per se. Born in Chicago, he launched his comedy career 13 years ago when he moved to San Francisco. Race has always informed his bits and he’s always told jokes in monologue form. Many critics would cite George Carlin and Lord Buckley as his proper antecedents.

“I would transcribe their bits just to see what they looked like on paper,” Bell recalled. “I bolded the punch lines. It just seemed magical.” Bell’s interest in racial themes aligns him with other local performance artists who’ve made it their business to analyze race — both as a construct and a lived experience. He belongs in the same camp as poet Chinaka Hodge, rapper Boots Riley, monologist Jennifer Jajeh, novelist Adam Mansbach and emcee Ise Lyfe.

Among comics, though, Bell stands out because of his format and his intentions. He started off with a one-hour routine that was partly anecdotal and largely about spoofing celebrities. After Barack Obama’s election, the show transformed and became mostly political in nature. Now, it’s a pedagogical tool. He’s trying to prove something to liberals of San Francisco and to do it, he needs visual aids.

“San Francisco is 6 percent black — I’ve heard it reported at 7 percent — and for a city that considers itself one of the most liberal cities in the world, we aren’t even as black as Jasper, Texas,” he said. “That’s impactful enough that the show can be built on that point.”

More than 2-1/2 years in business, Bell has incorporated YouTube clips and PowerPoint presentations into “The Bell Curve.” He’s learned to stay on top of the news cycle, mine Wikipedia for material and try the premise for a new joke on Twitter, right before he presents it onstage. He goes to town every time a big race story hits the media — like Henry Louis Gates getting arrested for breaking into his own house. (Bell’s take: “Now that there’s a black president, they have to invent new crimes for black people.”)

Bell takes a rather imperious approach to comedy, but he does occasionally glean something from audience feedback. Within a week of the walkout incident, he found an answer to the white guy who’d done a lot for black people.

He’s now perfected the bit, which pays homage to “five white guys from history who can say they’ve done a lot for black people.” They are: Abraham Lincoln; Lyndon B. Johnson (for ratifying the Civil Rights Act); abolitionist John Brown; Branch Rickey (who signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers); and Olympic silver medalist Peter Norman, who stood by while his fellow medal-winners made Black Power fists at the 1968 Olympic ceremony. According to legend, Norman also was complicit in the act, because he suggested that gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos share Smith’s gloves after Carlos forgot to bring his own.

“You see?” Bell recently asked his audience at Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center, after presenting a slide of the famous 1968 photograph. “Peter Norman did that ‘think outside the box’ thing that you white guys are so good at!”

People laughed. A few looked embarrassed. But nobody walked out.

A version of this article was published in the summer 2010 pilot edition of the San Francisco Public Press newspaper. Read select stories online, or buy a copy.

My buddy Hari Kondabolu interviews me at


By Hari Kondabulu

“W. Kamau Bell is the most important guy doing comedy right now. He’s got the most astute, hilarious and completely righteous material going and he’s going to be a legend in his own lifetime like Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce. Think Bill Hicks but slightly taller.” — Margaret Cho

It’s praise like that has made W. Kamau Bell’s “Face Full of Flour” one of the most anticipated comedy albums of 2010. Recorded live at the San Francisco Punchline and produced by Rooftop Comedy Productions, the album features comedic meditations on Barack Obama, the wrongness of the Right, interracial mating, and why Black + White = Black.

Kamau was nice enough to take a break from his busy schedule to answer a few questions from fellow comedian Hari Kondabolu.

Hari Kondabolu: Why did you name your CD “Face Full of Flour” and how does it and you differ from your last album “One Night Only?”

W. Kamau Bell: First of all, my first CD wasn’t named “One Night Only” It was named ONE NIGht ONLY,” which is very funny joke if you get it. Most people didn’t. And secondly, how come you didn’t listen to my CD before the interview, Hari? I thought we were supposed to be cool. I’m going to go unfollow you on Twitter… There. It’s done.

This CD is called Face Full of Flour because there is a joke on it that was inspired by a Rice Krispies commercial from way back the 80’s. In the commercial a mom throws flour on her face to convince her family that she’s working harder than she actually is. My joke recommends Barack do the same thing.

Dammit. Now the joke is ruined. Nothing is less funny than a joke explained.

HK: Why make this album now?

WKB: I was very much aware that for like two years I was one of the only comics talking about Barack Obama. My first joke about him was in 2005, and I did it that year on Comedy Central, which according to Comedy Centrla is the very first Barack Obama joke. Don’t believe me? Google it. (I’m talking to the “YOU” who is reading this right now. Go ahead and Google it. Hari knows this already.)

Anyway, now that Barack is President there has been a ridiculous media story going around that it is impossible to make jokes about Barack Obama. I know this is ridiculous because I haven’t stopped telling Barack jokes since 2005. I kind of wanted to be on record again as being ahead of this nonexistent curve. Also the country is in such incredible transition it is great to be able to release a CD that addresses the transition while it is still transitioning… transitorially.

HK: You’ve told me that there are things on the last record that you no longer stand by. Did you have any fear when recording this record about making that particular moment permanent?

WKB: First of all, allow me to go very public with the first part of what you said. I had a joke on the first CD about Condoleeza Rice, which I also did on Comedy Central. It was a very funny joke to me when I wrote it… because I was so angry at Condoleeza at the time and at her stature as a such high ranking Bush cabinet member, but very soon after I had done it, it became clear to me (actually it was made clear by many, MANY women in my life) that the joke was not helpful to the struggle of women as a group… no matter how evil I perceived her to be at the time. And as my friend and main co-conspirator Martha Rynberg said so eloquently to me at the time, “You can’t talk about ending racism and then go out and create more sexism.” (KAMAU’S NOTE: This has now beccome OFFICIALLY the most unfunny interview in the history of Rooftop Comedy.) And unfortunately for me, the joke is forever out there on the Internet so occasionally people discover it and GO OFF on me. Recently when a dude on a website went off on me on his blog, I commented on the blog that I agreed with him, which I’m pretty sure shocked him. People don’t realize that us comics spend about 45% of our days Googling oursleves.

On some level I’m always thinking about how people will take something I have said. But I can say that right now I stand by the things on this record. I’m still progressing as a writer and performer, and as much as I love it, stand-up comedy can be a pretty poor way to communicate subtle ideas. And I’m certainly not above rethinking things I have said if new information comes in. As Muhammad Ali said, “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” (KAMAU’S NOTE: Is this the first Muhammad Ali quote in Rooftop Comedy history?)

HK: Margaret Cho said you were the most important guy doing standup right now and compared you to Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks. That’s a huge statement. What do you do with that?

WKB: I continue to thank her profusely and also realize that I haven’t accomplished one million of one thousandth of a percent of what all those geniuses did. I think she was just trying to say that she liked what I do a lot, and one way to do explain to people outside comedy how much you like a comedian is to invoke the legends. Admittedly those are the legends I would want to have my name associated with. And me and Margaret have had long conversations about the comedians we like and those names have certainly come up. I think the comment really speaks more to a tradition of comedy that I am trying to engage with… the agenda driven / socio-political / social critic comedian. I think those names — Pryor, Bruce, & Hicks — are also a shortcut for someone who reads that quote to decide if they might be interested in what I do. She’s basically saying, “If you like these comics, you might like Kamau.” It would be different if she had compared me to Bill Cosby, Jonathan Winters, and Carol Burnett. Those three are also geniuses but I don’t do ANYTHING like they do.

HK: Do you see this as a record that is very much informed by San Francisco? Could you imagine being somewhere else the past 5 years and still be able to make this record?

WKB: I don’t know. There is certainly a freedom of expression thing that exists in San Francisco — and other major cities — that I don’t feel when I travel in most smaller cities. But San Francisco is not perfect. Far from it. In fact much of the frustration in my act comes from the difference of perception of San Francisco and the reality. People percieve SF as being as liberal and lefty as can be, but San Frnacisco can be just as conservative and especially racially fucked up as any place in America. SF is like 6% black… and falling. This city is literally chasing diversity out of it to make room for condos. I do have great audiences in the SF and all around the Bay Area, and the media here has been very supportive of me. especially The San Francisco Weekly & The East Bay Express, but at this point I find myself much more at home in Oakland, but as Tony Bennett said, I’ve left my apartment is in San Francisco. Add a rimshot here.

HK: You are one of the elder statesmen of the San Francisco scene. I’ve met so many comics with such drastically different styles that cite you as an influence or pivotal figure it their development? Why are you so great?

WKB: First of all, just because I’m older than you, Hari, that doesn’t make me an “elder statesman.” Come on, I’m tying to convince Hollywood that I’m 22! And I don’t know who these unnamed comics are that you are talking about. If anything I’m an example of what happens when you go your own way. I could’ve (and maybe should’ve) moved to LA years ago, but I really wanted to create something of my own… that I had ultimate control of, and that has happened through my solo show. (KAMAU’S NOTE: I’ve read ahead and I’ve seen that Hari is going to ask me about my solo show later, so I won’t go into my show now.) The San Francisco Bay Area is awash with a history of GREAT COMEDIANS. Comics who grew up here like Margaret Cho, Greg Proops, and Jake Johannsen… to comics who transplanted themselves here to grow their acts, like Marc Maron, Patton Oswalt, Robert Hawkins, Jim Short, Tom Rhodes, Dana Gould, Janeane Garofalo… I believe. And when you look through that both of those lists you’ll notice something: Again, I haven’t accomplished any part of what ANY of those comics have done. And those are mostly just comics from the recent era. We’re not talking Mort Sahl, The Smothers Brothers, Paul Mooney, some dude named Robin Williams. I have a looooong way to go before I make The SF Comedy Hall of Fame.

HK: You really refocused your energy from doing pure standup to your one-man show, the “W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism Within An Hour. Do you still love doing standup? How does your standup (and specifically the content of this album) differ from the content of the one man show? Does the show inform your standup now?

WKB: I LOOOOOOOOVE stand-up. When I’m killing in stand-up, no feeling is better. The difference between stand-up and solo for me is that when I do solo I feel like I am using a scalpel to get my point across. When I do stand-up I feel like I am using a two by four… with a rusty nail in the end of it. (KAMAU’S NOTE: I may have taken this metaphor too far.) I feel like a great stand-up set is like beating someone up in a dark alley. The6 don’t know where the blows/punchlines are coming from and they can’t stop you. (KAMAU’ NOTE: I have CERTAINLY taken this one too far.) The solo show is much more crafted and I am trying to build an arc, so that by the end you feel like there was a reason that you showed up besides just laughter. However, differences aside, in both formats I’m trying to get body-doubling over laughter.

The solo show also incorporates video, audio, slides and stories that are far more personal than I get in stand-up. As far as the stories go, to me it feels like what I would imagine it was to do stand-up in the 70’s, when audiences allowed you to take your time more. Although the by product of this is that solo has DEFINITELY made me a better stand-up.

HK: Has Barack Obama’s presidency made it easier or harder to talk about race for a general audience in America? It is still possible to tell jokes about Obama? (You know I know the answer to this question, Kamau. I mean, c’mon! I’m asking this for the kids)

WKB: Before Barack began campaigning, occasionally there were crowds that made me feel like, “HEY! GET OVER IT! THAT RACISM THING IS LONG OVER!” But ever since the campaign up through today. racism has become so much a part of America’s daily discussion that now, that I don’t have to spend as much time fighting to get people to understand that racism exists. Although there are definitely still times when crowds who didn’t come to see me specifically feel like, “WE DIDN’T COME TO A COMEDY CLUB TO HEAR ABOUT RACISM! WE CAME TO A COMEDY CLUB TO GET DRUNK!”, but every comic deals with that. And THAT is a big reason I started my solo show. I’d rather fifty people who wanted to hear what I want to talk about vs. 200 who would rather eat nachos and drink Bud Light in peace.

HK: You have become a beloved and respected commentator on issues of race in San Francisco? Does this add a responsibility and pressure when you write and perform? Do you ever feel handcuffed by a sense of responsibility?

WKB: “Beloved and respected”??? Next question. The only people I feel responsible to are my good friends and my family. They are the only ones that I want to make sure can stand behind what I am saying. And as I have said, many of my friends will call me on my shit when they believe I am going in the wrong direction OR if they think my message is confused. Hari, I believe you have called me out on stuff on more than one occasion. And I appreciate that, because my friends want me to succeed as much… if not more than I do. I don’t feel handcuffed at all. I feel supported. But having said that, I do heartily support a comedian’s need/inalienable right to go up onstage and fall flat on their faces and also to go over the line in an effort try to find out where their individual line is. I also don’t try out many jokes out on people before I do them onstage, because I have a fear that if I get input too early that it will somehow negatively affect the jokes chances of succeeding.

HK: You’re one of the most prolific comedy writers I have ever met. Why did you choose the jokes you did for this record?

WKB: These are for the most part jokes that have been created in the Obama Era, so they feel very current for me, and I think that material that feels alive makes for a great comedy CD. There is of course a danger that topical jokes may not hold up over time. There’s some Lenny Bruce stuff that might as well be in a different language, becasue the references are so specific to that era. You’d be best off with Wikipedia open to get through some of it. Although it is amazing how much of Bill Hicks stuff is still relevant today… not that I’m comparing myself to Hicks.

Even the some stuff on my CD that isn’t topical is still newer jokes for me. For example, I did just get married so those jokes about my relationship are fresh. I think George Carlin and Bill Burr are great examples of how to be a comedian. A comedian is supposed to be constantly writing and trying out new material, and therefore you should have a new hour every year or so. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying. My first CD was basically all my best jokes at the time, this one is more the stuff I was really thinking about on the night I recorded it. The goal is to have a stack of comedy CD’s a foot high when it’s all said and done. Although by the time I’m done, CD’s will be obsolete, so I guess the goal is to have a stack of mp3’s a foot high. Can you stack mp3’s?

HK: How have your friendships with Nato Green and Hari Kondabolu affected you as a writer and performer?

WKB: I’ve never met them. BUT SERIOUSLY… As you know, the three of us — you, Nato, and myself — have a comedy tour called Laughter Against The Machine which we have done to sold out audiences in the Bay Area and will soon be taking to Seattle. And the entire reason for LATM is so that we can do shows surrounded by comedians that inspire, challenge, and most of all entertain us AND the audiences that we perform for. It is opinionated comedy for times that need opinions. Nato is a political comic in the truest sense, in that HE is political onstage and off. He’s not just attacking both sides equally. He has a group of ideas that he wants to put forth AND he truly believes that the world would be a better place if he was in charge. I think of the three of us, he actually represent most what LATM is supposed to be. And you, Hari… and it pains me to say this to your Internetic face… are one of my favorite comics of all-time, and I know that because the moment I first saw you it made me want to be a better comedian. And I tell you this even though I know you will one day use it against me. Probably tomorrow. Face Full of Flour is available on iTunes. Keep up with Kamau on Hari Kondabolu is a standup comedian based in Queens, NY. He has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show.