WW: Hello! How are ya?
Hari Kondabolu: I am lying on a mattress in my friend's attic in Seattle. My friends have a thing they call the Hari Kondabolu presidential suite, which is this mattress in the attic. I sleep on the mattress and remember my humble beginnings.
Do you spend a lot of time in Seattle?
Seattle is the default. I get booked here a fair bit, whether it's at colleges in the area or me booking a theater or a club. I didn't need to come up to Seattle this trip—the plan was Portland, then a school in Austin and then home. But if I come up to Seattle I can set up some shows here and work out new material, and this city will forgive me for it. They've heard all my other stuff, and for me it's practical just to get work out of my mouth. I can do that here better than anywhere else. When you connect with an audience and it's a real connection, it feels like you're hanging out with friends, even though you don't know them. In Seattle it's that, plus I have real friends here. It's creatively where I get the most done.
The show in Portland won't be so loose. I mean, it'll be loose, but hopefully with less ranting. I don't think you need to pay to see another man do what you can do at home. In Portland I'm planning to do a more polished set with some new stuff. New material gives [a set] some life. You're trying to find that inspiration that originally made an idea funny, and the new stuff brings it back to life. I'll have some days-old stuff with some older stuff that the Portland audience has maybe heard before, and some stuff that they haven't heard but I've been doing for a few months. It'll be more structured than the shows in Seattle, but if people leave thinking, that was a well-structured comedy show, I suppose I would be disappointed. Funny is important, too.
There was too much killing last night. Way too much killing. It's a lot of the same kind of punch lines about 1-percenters getting killed in this situation, and rich housewives having their husbands killed in this situation. That's kind of odd for me. I'm in many ways a Ghandian, I've never thrown a punch, and I can understand the need for violence to effect social change but I'm not the one who's going to do it. I'm like, God, Hari—These words are coming out of my mouth, and I suppose there is a release from saying it, in the way that when you are frustrated with another human you might for a moment imagine punching them in the face. There will be a little less of that in Portland, perhaps. I'll space out those jokes.
I hear you've been working on a pilot?
I was working on something that W. Kamau Bell has shot in LA. I was writing on that. Hopefully something will happen with it. It's fantastic. It has his voice—lots of discussions of race and politics. What I love about Kamau is that he doesn't compromise. We're friends in part because we share that philosophy. Work on a pilot's hard, but I couldn't imagine a more ideal person work for.
We shot it last week. We'll see what happens with it—at a certain point it's beyond your control. You do the work, you write, you perform, and you hope that it gets edited the way you want and that people are interested.
I'll also be inn London to shoot a pilot in December for the BBC. Or the hope is that if it got picked up would get picked up for the BBC.
If I may be topical, what do you make of the Occupy thing?
Do you, for the sake of comedy, have a favorite in the Republican primary?