Photo Credits: Channon Hodge/The New York Times and Aaron Byrd/The New York Times
The New York Times is taking an in depth look at those who are using stand-up comedy as a way to address how race – subtle and obvious – is being played out in America today. Off Color is a new online series that profiles four comedians of different ethnic backgrounds who are using their craft to confront and challenge stereotypes that they have dealt their entire lives. There has always been a connection between comedy and the social issues of the day. These four performers confront those connections head on.
The series premiered yesterday. The first two artists to participate are comedians Hari Kondabolu and Kristina Wong.
Hari has appeared on Letterman, Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and SiriusXM’s Ron and Fez Show. He was a featured performer on the FX series, ‘Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell’ and has a sharp outlook on politics and social issues. In his segment, the times uses clips from Hari’s stand up sets and interviews with Hari to tell his story. W. Kamau Bell makes an appearance as well. He talks about being race conscious, growing up in Queens, and using his anger to find comedy. Hari talks about Richard Pyror influenced his comedy
Performance artist Kristina Wong, whose solo show ‘Wong Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest explored the high suicide rates among Asian American women. Wong also writes extensively for Playgirl Magazine and also appeared on the first AsianAmerican reality series, “I’m Asian-American and…”. In her segment she talks about using performance art- like dressing up as a vagina, and marrying herself, — to hold a mirror up to those perpetuate stereotypes. Her show takes on the issues of depression and suicide, but it isn’t autobiographical. It’s a fight to change oppression– but without anger.
Upcoming segments this week will include Issa Rae, the online star of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and Mexican-American cartoonist and comic Lalo Alcaraz, whose comic strip, ‘La Cucaracha’ was the first nationally syndicated political Latino-themed comic strip.
Each episode offers a unique window in the minds of each comic, the experiences that fuel their work and offers a peek into future projects. Off Color is a series that looks locally but thinks globally and is worth checking out.
Off Color is available exclusively on the New York Times website, www.nytimes.com