Comedian Hari Kondabolu On Netflix’s Influence On Stand-Up

Hari Kondabolu performs at Center Stage Friday and at the 40 Watt in Athens on Saturday.
CREDIT COURTESY OF HARI KONDOBOLU

Hari Kondobolu’s Twitter bio, after identifying his home as Brooklyn and plugging his Netflix special, points out that he has great hair. He also has a fantastic wit. Atlanta audiences will be able to see that great hair in person and enjoy his whip-smart humor this week as his tour comes through town.

Kondabolu released a special through Netflix in 2018, titled “Warn Your Relatives” and is now working out material for his next special. He tells “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes that response to “..Relatives” has been positive.

“There’s always that worry that you’ve put a couple years of work into building a special,” he says, “and you have all these people that love it at live shows, but will it translate to a broader audience? And that’s what a place like Netflix gives you, an audience all over the country and all over the world now.”

The streaming service has been producing more and more original comedy specials and shorter, episodic stand-up series. Their release of Hannah Gadsby’s special “Nanette” in 2018 (which Kondabolu calls “a revelation”) generated both critical praise and seemed to launch a thousand think-pieces on the very nature and purpose of stand-up comedy. Hari says that this increase and visibility of specials is a boon to comics.

“[It’s] helped comics in terms of drawing their own fan bases,” he says. “I can make the base of people who like me happy but I can also find all these new people. And that increases the audience and leads to stronger audiences.”

“I also think it leads to smarter audiences,” he says, “because you’re hearing a broad range of styles. Comedy isn’t just one thing. So if you’re somebody who watches Hannah Gadsby, you’re seeing a completely different way of doing the art form, and that makes you have a different set of expectations. That leads to better audiences.”

“I like audiences that can deal with silence, I like audiences that have patience,” Kondabolu says, “and I feel like this is what this boom has created. It’s not just a handful of similar voices, it’s a broad range, and that’s helps all of us.”

Hari Kondabolu performs at Center Stage Friday and at the 40 Watt in Athens on Saturday.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on WABE.org.

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