They say comedy is an antidote to the times; if so, the performance of comedian Hari Kondabolu '04 was a fitting end to the fundraising efforts of Asian Week.
After graduating from Bowdoin with a B.A. in comparative politics, Kondabolu has performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, John Oliver's New York Standup Show and at the 2007 HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.
The Seattle Times called Kondabolu "a young man reaching for the hand-scalding torch of confrontational comics like Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor."
"He graduated from Bowdoin in 2004, so he's still quite close to Bowdoin and especially to Professor Henry Laurence," said Angela Kung '11, the event organizer. "He was very happy to come when we contacted him in the fall, and everything has gone very smoothly."
Kondabolu has specialized in combining comedy with confrontational and personal material, making him a perfect candidate to headline Asian Week.
"We wanted to invite Hari to Bowdoin because when he came for Asian Week in 2007, it was a fantastic show and he filled up all of Kresge auditorium," said Kung.
Kondabolu's style of comedy touches on social issues such as race and politics, using personal experience from his employment as a former immigrant rights organizer.
Coming to Bowdoin from his home in Queens, New York was a culture shock for Kondabolu.
"The campus culture was not really my thing," said Kondabolu. "The weekends were about getting trashed and being an athlete was a big deal—so corny!"
"It was the stereotypical American high school experience but in college," Kondabolu said. "I felt like Daniel La Russo in a school full of Cobra Kai."
When revisting Bowdoin, Kondabolu noticed some "important" changes about the campus. Even though Kondabolu felt there was a lack of diversity while attending at Bowdoin, he was looking forward to coming back and performing to a diverse audience.
"As a returning Bowdoin alum, however, the campus feels more diverse and active each time I come back," said Kondabolu. "It appears as though the hard work Admissions put in is paying off."
Kondabolu said he is grateful for the huge amount of love and support he has received from Bowdoin alumni since graduation. However, he is still hopeful that Bowdoin will help and support him with one last endeavor.
"I'm still demanding something be named after me on campus," he said. "Does West Hall still exist? That's not named after anyone, is it? How about 'The Hari Kondabolu Stage at Kresge Auditorium'?"
"Come on, Bowdoin! I got $25 with your name on it," he joked.
Kondabolu was slightly disappointed with the venue of his performance.
"I was initially told I would be performing at Pickard, which I was really excited about since I was never allowed to perform there when I was student because the dance or theater department seemed to have a monopoly on it," said Kondabolu. "And sure enough, the dance department is having an event there that night...so that dream was squashed."
"So then the plan was to move me to Kresge," Kondabolu continued. "Kresge is my favorite venue on campus—just the right size with good acoustics. However, that was apparently booked too."
Kondabolu's show was finally scheduled in Smith Auditorium in Sills Hall, "which was a space well-known to the small film department...and no one else," said Kondabolu. "You've humbled me again, Bowdoin."