W. Kamau Bell lives a busy life. Most folks know him thanks to his CNN Show, United Shades of America
, which, as he explained to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show
last week: “is a black guy goes places you wouldn’t expect him to go, or he absolutely shouldn’t go.” Those places have, so far, included meeting members of the KKK.
So while United Shades
’ second season just premiered last weekend and his book The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell
came out on May 2, he also has four ongoing podcasts to caretake in addition to his stand-up comedy tour, which will bring him to our own Fine Arts Center on Wednesday, May 10.
“The challenge,” he says, “is how to maintain being a healthy person while you’re also trying to ‘make the world a better place for you kids.’”
A socio-political comedian by trade, Bell’s routines — and the rest of his work — bring a comedic element to issues at play across our national landscape. “I think engaging with people is important in our political climate,” he says, “so I’m using comedy to do that.”
What he wants, he says, isn’t to change people’s minds, but to make them think and, if all goes well, make them laugh in the process. After a show in Portland once, he overheard two friends disagreeing about his set. One called it the best stand-up comedy he’d ever heard and the other called it the worst. “That’s the best reaction I’ve ever heard,” Bell says. “Two friends having a real, interesting conversation on their way home.”
When Bell started doing stand-up, he never expected or set out to do the kind of work he’s doing now. It came about naturally based on the conversations he had in his household growing up and the nature of his life as it is now.
“As you get older and have kids and you get married and all these things, I think you have a bigger stake in the world. Every comedian gets funnier when their life changes. I’ve had some big life changes in the last few years.”
So while his scope has widened, what it comes back to is the conversation he has with his audience — a conversation that changes based on where he performs, but remains just as valuable. “I’m really looking forward to coming to Colorado Springs,” he says. “The whole conservative/liberal thing is such — to me feels like such an old model. Are there people there? Then I’m good.”
Wednesday, May 10, 7 p.m., Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St., tickets start at $27, csfineartscenter.org.