Kamau Bell: Race In America

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 17: Comedian Kamau Bell attends CNN Heroes 2015 – Red Carpet Arrivals at American Museum of Natural History on November 17, 2015 in New York City. 25619_022 (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN)

CNN has sanctioned socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell as the new host of the upcoming United Shades of America, a cultural and travel show with a focus on racial stereotypes and the various other things that keep us divided in America.

Kamau may be best known for his critically-acclaimed, but criminally short-lived FX comedy series, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell (executive produced by Chris Rock). And Kamau is also proud to be the ACLU’s Ambassador of Racial Justice.

Kamau’s debut one-hour comedy special, directed by Morgan Spurlock, is due to premiere in 2016.

He has appeared on @midnight, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Conan, WTF with Marc Maron, The Rachel Maddow Show, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and This American Life, among others. Kamau’s writing has appeared on VanityFair.com, Salon, Buzzfeed, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Essence Magazine listed the podcast at number two on its list of “Ten Podcasts Every Black Woman Should Hear.”

Kamau also has a weekly podcast with fellow comedian (and Last Week Tonight writer) Kevin Avery entitled Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period.

The New York Times called Kamau “the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years.” The New Yorker said, “Bell’s gimmick is intersectional progressivism: he treats racial, gay, and women’s issues as inseparable.” Robin Williams called Kamau “ferociously funny.” The SF Weekly called Kamau “smart, stylish, and very much in the mold of politically-outspoken comedians like Dave Chappelle”; though he was more excited that they called him “handsome.”

1. How did this show originate?
A production company pitched the idea to CNN, and CNN knew that I needed a job after my show Totally Biased was off the air. And then the production company let me put my own spin on their idea. It was a true collaboration.

2. What would you like to achieve with the show? 
World peace and that Congressman-level of health insurance for my family.

3. At times, were you nervous about certain topics?
I was pretty much nervous about all of them. In fact, when I wasn’t nervous I felt like we weren’t doing something that was absolutely necessary.

4. Were there any responses that completely shocked you, good or bad?
I went on a ride along with police in Camden, New Jersey. Camden is a truly great city that is on the rise; but like many cities with large African-American populations, it fell on hard times and has been neglected by many of its past public officials. At one point on the ride along I was looking around at how devastated one home was in particular, and I started to cry. It wasn’t funny, but it was real, so we kept it in the show.

5. What area or region confirmed stereotypes?
The Ku Klux Klan is still the Ku Klux Klan. And sadly that confirms most people’s stereotype about the South. The Klan is still no friend to Black people and still hiding behind the Bible. But many, many people in the South are doing everything they can to stop them from spreading their nonsense further.

6. What region needs to enter the 21stcentury?
I was amazed at how many areas of this country have bad Wi-Fi. You can be as backwoods or as country or as off the grid as you want to be, but please let me have four bars on my phone at all times. As a Black man in America, I get nervous if I can’t quickly let my people know where I’m at.[/fusion_text][/one_full]