Trying to Seattle down...
Seattle has been a great place to do standup comedy. There is an exciting comedy scene here that is growing rapidly and is full of young comedians who are willing to take risks and challenge themselves. This city is also an excellent place to develop interesting material because the audiences tend to be educated and understand more complicated, challenging subject matter.
All this being said, this does not mean I don’t have my share of “people doing/ saying stupid things to me because I’m Indian” stories. So here we go…
1) The most common annoyance I have at comedy shows are MCs or hosts (always White comics…I’m in Seattle) introducing me to the stage with a corny joke about me being “Indian.” You see, Columbus went looking for India, found what we now call “America,” but refused to admit he was wrong…now two groups of people get called “Indian.” (This is old terrain which I feel I covered fairly well in my October 10, 2005 entry, These donuts taste familiar.) Yet, for some reason, many white comics feel this is new ground and continue to introduce me with jokes like:
“Ladies and Gentleman straight off the reservation...”
“Let’s hear it for our favorite Cherokee comedian!”
“Our next comedian is Indian…DOTS NOT FEATHERS!”
You get the picture. Hack. Straight-up hack.
I generally smile and move on with my set. Sometimes, however, I’m just not in the mood for the bullshit. For example, several months ago after an intro similar to the ones listed above, I came on stage and uttered this line:
“Thanks Tom for that wonderful introduction. Ladies and Gentleman, let’s give it up for the BISCUIT…oh…I meant, the CRACKER… sorry, I get those two things confused as well.”
2) Another time, I was asked to bring in some entrance music to be played before my set. I spent a half-hour going through my cds before I found a couple of songs I thought best represented my personality and my material for the night. However, when I got to the venue, the young lady who was running the DJ booth said she already picked out music for me. She had apparently googled me before the show, saw my picture, and picked out the music she thought would best represent me.
I probably should've been more annoyed, but she was remarkably sweet. I didn’t say anything and just let the inevitable happen. I walked on stage to…the sounds of SITARS.
Nothing against sitar music. I just don’t listen to it. And honestly, the Pixies “Debaser” or 764-Hero’s “Terrified of Flight” just made more sense.
3) My first week performing in Seattle, an older comic came up to me after a set I had done at the Comedy Underground. He said he liked my stuff, especially a joke I did about my father and Santa Claus. He then suggested that the next time I do that joke I wear a shirt with a Nehru collar. In addition, when I did the impression of my Dad, he added that I slip on a traditional Nehru styled hat.
I tried explaining to him how ridiculous this was to me. You see, my father does not wear Nehru hats or collars. In fact, I have never seen my father wearing a hat before…EVER. In addition, he has made his feelings known to my family that he is a giant fan of the v-neck style of undershirt. V-neck undershirts and dress shirts with Nehru collars don’t make any sense! Most importantly, it's 2006 not 1946, and my father looks NOTHING like former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
I suppose I was foolish to try rationalizing with this gentleman. I’m not sure if he even listened to any of the logic that came out of my mouth. He probably only sensed my disapproval. After I finished saying my piece, he explained to me that this was comedy and the bottom line was being funny…and this was apparently funny.
Don’t tell me what’s funny, you ignorant fuck. If we had it your way, we’d still be watching Amos and Andy.
Hari Kondabolu dances for no one.
Hmm…maybe I’m overreacting.