Open Notebook: back in room 5 with Steve Almond (and Hari Kondabolu, in spirit)

“I don’t tell jokes. That’s a popular misconception. Do you know what I do? I send out little vehicles of truth.”—Hari Kondabolu as Manoj in Manoji.

notes from Funny is the New Deep

During yesterday’s Grub Street workshop Funny is the New Deep, Steve Almond shared some thought-provoking insights on comedy. Many of them reminded me of Hari Kondabolu‘s comedy, especially these points about the comedic mode/impulse:

  • Comedy allows us to dwell in the awkward, shameful places we would rather not be in at all.
  • Comedy can arise directly from the attempt to contend with tragedy.
  • Comedy allows us to recognize our sins and make progress.

All that and more is manifested in Waiting for 2042, the album Hari just released. I think it’s fantastic, making many important points of its own, but the language can be really strong.

Steve Almond’s perspectives on the relationship between humor and conflict also resonated with a recent Weekend Edition interview with Dr. Scott Weems, author of Ha! The science of when we laugh and why.

In case it’s of interest, here are my notes from Funny is the New Deep taken in Popplet.

And here’s Hari’s recent appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.