Review by Noe Kamelamela
(Cambridge) Improv Boston is well known in Cambridge as a place where improv, stand-up and sketch comedy gets taught and performed. Improv Boston Presents regularly brings acts from outside of the area to give local audiences a taste of what is out beyond the Hub. In the case of straight shooter Hari Kondabolu, I can only hope there are more stand-up comedians outside of the Boston area who are willing to talk about current events.
The local warm-ups were solid, but couldn’t hold a candle to the talented Liz Miele. Her delivery was deadpan with excellent timing. Her stories are witty and informed by her own experiences. Both she and Hari shared a willingness to dissect how the show was going, and both were very open to discussing audience reactions with the audience.
Hari Kondabolu is not a genius. He is passionate about justice, and he came off as sincere. I felt that he believed everything he said onstage. His earnest frustration with where we are as a nation that touts itself as “connected” and “hipper than thou” was greeted with hoots and hollers by an overwhelmingly positive audience. His set rolled longer than usual because of our feedback, but he connected his jokes strongly to both his earlier material and to his willingness to speak truth to power. I overheard a few strangers say that they find some of his and Liz Miele’s jokes to be vulgar or personally offensive. I’m more offended by actual ignorance and violence than a little adult language and opinions that differ from mine.
Improv Boston Presents doesn’t have another show planned for the near future, but Improv Boston is active via social media so you can easily rally for the types of comedy you’d want to see. Given that both back-to-back shows were sold out, there is hope that Hari Kondabolu would be willing to come back to Boston, maybe even at a bigger venue.