Move over, Conan! Hari's talk show debuts tonight
Hari Kondabolu Hopes Bowdoin Will "Laugh Out Loud" at New Late-Night Talk Show
If you're a Bowdoin student, chances are you know who Hari Kondabolu '04 is. And if you know Kondabolu, chances are you know he's funny.
He has been a member of Bowdoin's Improvabilities since his sophomore year, has frequently performed his stand-up comedy at various campus events (including opening for Patrice O'Neal last spring), and though he was studying away at Wesleyan University last year, his Bowdoin Homecoming performance "Keeping It Brown" packed Kresge above capacity, creating a veritable fire hazard with dozens of people sitting in the aisles.
But while at Wesleyan, Kondabolu was inspired to try something new with his comedy. Something even bigger.
"I was watching Late Night with Conan O'Brien one night," he said, "and I just imagined myself in his position. I was at Wesleyan at the time, but I thought, 'Hey, I can do that at Bowdoin because they kind of like me there.'" After the success of the "Keeping It Brown" performance, Kondabolu said he had "confidence in the crowds" and felt that a late-night talk show "could really work" at Bowdoin.
"There are so many different ways to be funny in a show like this," said Kondabolu. "The monologue is my chance to do stand-up. Then we have live sketch comedy and video clips. And the interview-I find that the funniest moments come out of conversations."
Through the interviews, Kondabolu plans to have prominent campus figures on the show to discuss important issues, which he hopes will "start a dialogue that's been missing on this campus." The guests for the first show will be President Barry Mills and Haliday Douglas '05, and in upcoming shows guests will include Professor Henry Laurence, Bree Dallinga '06, and Adam Ureneck '04. When asked who the one person he would most want as a guest on his show is, Kondabolu responded, "Elaine [from Dining Services]. I think a lot of people are really interested to know more about her."
Many people on campus know Kondabolu for his sharply political stand-up comedy, but he says that this show will be "less aggressive. There are fans [of my stand-up], but there are also people who are alienated at times. I'm a very liberal person and I'm going to be a very liberal talk show host, but I won't be as adamant as in stand-up. I just want people to have a good time, to laugh, and be comfortable."
Kondabolu's co-host on the show will be James Wilkins '04, someone Kondabolu describes as "funny, offbeat . . . he's a presence. Everybody likes James-he's very likable and has a great persona." There will also be a recurring cast of supporting actors in both the live and taped sketches.
Live music will have a significant presence in the show, as each show will feature a different campus musical act as well as a house band that will play during breaks and between sketches. The musical guest for the first show will be Makeout, with members Chris Lajoie '04 and Jordan Harrison '04 also performing in the house band.
"The house band is basically made up of a bunch of my friends who are musically-inclined. We've got Chris and Jordan from Makeout, Sam Terry '04 from J.J. and the Fabulous Gentiles, Matt Lajoie '05, and Brian Laurits '05. Together they form a supergroup like Cream, or Temple of the Dog."
When Kondabolu first conceived the idea for this talk show, he intended it to be a live variety show. "But then I thought, 'We have a cable network, why not use it?'" He approached some students involved with BCN early in the year about putting his show on the air and the idea was met with a lot of enthusiasm. "Steve Gogolak '05 said that this will be the biggest thing they've ever tried."
The plans are for the show to be filmed in front of a live studio audience and then replayed at various times on BCN. Kondabolu's friend Matt Sienkiewicz, a former member of Wesleyan's New Teen Force comedy troupe and someone Kondabolu calls, "one of the most creative and talented people I know," will direct the live edit.
The first episode of Laugh Out Loud with Hari Kondabolu will be filmed on Friday, November 7, at 8:00 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Tickets are $1, and all proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Subsequent shows will be filmed in the coming weeks, and Kondabolu hopes that it will be successful enough to continue through next semester.