Saturday Rec: Hari Kondabolu

Hari Kondabolu’s Netflix Comedy Special “Warn Your Relatives”

Pairs well with: a copy of Edward Said’s Orientalism, the long forbidden episode of the Simpsons where they go to the World Trade Center, and mangoes

Picture of Hari Kondabolu head and shoulders with his tongue sticking out, eyes wide open to the camera

There are a lot of good, politically savvy stand-up specials on Netflix right now. This one was my favorite so far. In part because Kondabolu opens with a 9/11 joke, “in order to show the audience that he means business!” (The joke is hilarious even though I’ve just given away part of the punchline.)

You should watch this special if you really need comic relief right now. (If you don’t need comic relief right now, what kind of monster are you and why are you reading my blog?) You should try watching this special if you don’t think you will like it. Maybe you will. Or maybe you will at least learn something. A perspective like Kondabolu’s is rare on TV and in comedy, and it’s refreshing and eye opening. I felt like an ocean breeze was suddenly bursting through my windows and filling my lungs with air listening to Kondabolu’s direct and political jokes. I can only imagine what South Asian American friends felt like seeing themselves represented in any way on screen. At any rate, warn your relatives. Whiteness makes for a pretty funny joke.

Saturday Rec: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin

Pairs well with: summer, popcorn, resting up before and after organizing around migration issues

Photo with four characters from show walking in Target store: Xo looks determined, Jane is smiling, Rafael seems unhappy and has baby Mateo strapped to him, and Alba is smiling and playing with the baby.

This is a light-hearted show with shockingly good feminist and racial politics. I never feel guilty after watching it (although one downside is that there is a cop  who is a “good guy” character). The show actually has amazing immigration politics, including a plotline that basically showcased Lisa Sun-Hee Park’s research.  Some of the other things I appreciate about it are that one character never speaks English; Jane’s mom is unapologetically sex positive although Jane has a more conservative (titular) approach; the family and show is based in Miami but they are Venezuelan, not Cuban; feminism is sometimes an explicit topic of the show; and it is simply very nice to watch a show that is led by a POC cast and not full of white people. Plus, it’s a very funny show with some smart jokes.