With accomplishments like his critically acclaimed late-night comedy series Totally Biased, praise from The New York Times and Salon.com naming him one of 2012’s sexiest men, it’s no wonder W. Kamau Bell has officially kicked off his Oh, Everything! tour.
Known as a socio-political comedian, the American Civil Liberties Union named Bell an Ambassador of Racial Justice.
“I think the whole idea for this tour is there’s a lot of people who like the idea of comedy, it’s a little more in the moment and it can break us apart and bind us together,” Bell said. “What I’ve found through the tour is that I draw a diverse audience. It’s cool to go out to all of these places and see diverse groups of people coming together just to laugh.”
Already halfway through his tour, Bell will be stopping at the Triangle’s DSI Comedy Theatre in Chapel Hill April 6 at 9 p.m.
“With the first leg already done it’s been a lot of fun,” Bell said. “After doing the show Totally Biased for over a year, I’m really excited to get back into live performances and stand-up comedy.”
Preforming live and doing stand-up is completely different from what he was doing on his show Totally Bi ased,according to Bell.
“Even though you’re doing a lot of the same material and everything, it changes based on who shows up and who’s in the audience it’s all about how we interact,” Bell said. “The fact that you don’t have things like ‘you can’t say this’ or ‘don’t say that’ or ‘you have to stay in one place,’ it’s a lot more freeing. You can talk to the audience and they can talk back to you, you can all have your indi vidual experiences.”
Bell said his performance at DSI will be his first time both perform ing in and visiting North Carolina.
“I think that’s sort of the nature of being a stand-up comic, performing in places you’ve never been before and not knowing what to expect,” Bell said. “I have to go in with the mindset of, ‘Alright, let’s see what happens’. I’ve had great shows in places that didn’t look like they were going to be great, and I’ve had hor rible shows in beautiful venues and everything in between.”
Comedy, Bell said, has always been something he’s enjoyed.
“I think growing up, there were just three jobs I wanted to have: superhero, Bruce Lee and stand-up comedian,” Bell said. “Being a su perhero isn’t really a job, the job of Bruce Lee had already been filled, very well, by Bruce Lee, but there was room in stand-up comedy. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always liked stand-up comedy.”
However, being a comedian isn’t always an easy job, especially when it comes to paying the rent, accord ing to Bell.
“It can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a very stressful way, especially when you first start, to try and make a liv ing,” Bell said. “I have a wife and a 2 [and a half] year-old daughter so it certainly can be a lot of fun, but also there are more secure ways to pay your rent. It’s a little bit crazy, but you have to go for it.”
Bell said he feels it takes someone having something “broken” inside of them to want to be a comedian.
“I say that for someone to be a stand-up comic there’s something broken inside of them, because if we weren’t broken, we would just be the funny guy at the office,” Bell said. “You could also look at it like, a lot of comedians are that guy that people look at weird in the office and always gets called into HR where they say, ‘Hey, could you not say that kind of stuff?’”
Though he’s had great accom plishments in his career, he still has more to go. Bell said, after working with Chris Rock on Totally Biased, he realized that, as in any business, there will always be people ahead of him.
“I’m still trying to figure it out and get it,” Bell said. “To paraphrase Drake: ‘I started from the bottom, now I’m sort of in the middle.’”
Claiming that it’s a good era for comedy, Bell said no matter what there’s nothing like performing for a live audience.
“It’s about being able to take a mo ment away,” Bell said. “Especially if you live in places where you don’t see a lot of people like you, where if you come out to see someone like me you’ll probably see a lot of people like you.
By Kaitlin Montgomery, The Technician Online