The Bay Area has a long and proud tradition of producing some of the biggest names in comedy; from Robin Williams and Dana Carvey, to Margaret Cho and Ali Wong. But none have made more of a cultural impact over the past several years than W. Kamau Bell. Before becoming one of the faces of CNN with his show United Shades of America, and before his multiple Netflix specials and Emmy awards, Kamau was struggling to get his message out, performing locally in tiny black box theaters in between spots at the Punchline in San Francisco. Kamau now stands as one of the most sought after voices in both comedy and politics due his ability to bridge the two together and help us learn about our cultural landscape through laughter.
Kamau stopped by for a conversation about his time coming up through the comedy ranks in the San Francisco, how he caught the eye of Chris Rock and landed his first TV show, and what he’s learned about the current political climate by interviewing people all over the country on United Shades of America. Kamau and I also get into a discussion about where we are headed as Americans, and his thoughts on the Supreme Court and ICE.
You can catch Kamau every Sunday night on CNN as host of United Shades of America, and his new special Private School Negro is currently streaming on Netflix.