Bhai, Bhai, Bhai

I finally got to see Hari Kondabolu perform a couple of weeks ago when Laughter Against the Machine brought him through Oakland. It was my first time watching him live, and I couldn’t help but notice how even though our table of brown folks was laughing hysterically, there were definitely a few jokes on our racist society where the white folks in the room were squirming uncomfortably. He took it there, and then some.

Since I can’t take you there, I’m going to take you here.

In this clip, Hari and his brother Ashok i.e. Dapwell (“Dap” of Das Racist) do a read outloud of the infamous Joel Stein article “My Own Private India” (can we call it “Stein-gate”?). We had quite an active week when that article came out (Anna’s response here) and though Kalpen Modi’s article in the Huffington Post my favorite response, The Kondabolu’s response comes in a close second. The Untitled Kondabolu Brothers Project, which is basically what you get when these two hit the stage together, perform in NYC about once a month.

We’ve been doing our show for a little over a year now. It’s a loosely structured talk show. I need structure, but Ashok doesn’t like that so much, so we have set pieces with jokes I’ve written but enough room for him to go off on tangents. Watching Ashok roam is the spectacle. Whether it’s funny or not, it’s always interesting….People seem to love the dynamic between two brothers arguing and discussing pretty much anything in the World. The show is very natural to us and it really ends up being a conversation we could have anywhere. [mtviggy]

If your in NYC, check their next set of antics on September 15th at 7:30 pm at The Tank (354 West 45th Street). I’m sure you’ll laugh. 99%.

This entry was posted in Humor, Identity, Video by Taz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

22 thoughts on “Bhai, Bhai, Bhai

  1. Nice, I like these guys. I think we need people like them who are not afraid to “take it there” as you say. It makes people think and question themselves and society and shakes them up a little. A good thing, in my opinion.

    One thing has been bugging me about this Joel Stein article, though. Now Joel Stein is obviously Jewish. I would think that he, and other Jewish people, would be very concerned about racism and being racist given their history in Europe and even discrimination they probably faced in America. I would have expected a little more solidarity from a minority such as themselves who are aware of what it is like to be discriminated against.

    Another thing that has been bugging me is that if this article was written by a non-Jewish American about Jews, well there would be absolute uproar. In fact, I doubt it would even be published. Yet, somehow, it is OK to do it to Indians? There is something not quite right about that. Is it our own fault for not protesting violently enough?

  2. “Is it our own fault for not protesting violently enough?”

    Its not about violent protest Nice its about clout. Jews have more clout in the US than Desis. Desis don’t have the media presence to defend themselves like jews. And don’t get it twisted a shymalan, kal penn or a kaling here and there does not even make a ripple. I’m talking about Lew Wasserman, Ari Emmanuel, David Geffen power.

  3. Has violent protesting ever gained anyone anything besides exposure to tear gas and truncheons to the head? Non-violent protesting is where it’s not. Violent protesting just makes people think you’re an asshole. Even if you get what you want it’s just because nobody cares enough about it and just wants to shut you up. Where’s the honor in being a whiny baby?

  4. “Even if you get what you want it’s just because nobody cares enough about it and just wants to shut you up. Where’s the honor in being a whiny baby?”

    In our ego&greed driven age, getting your way is good enough. That’s why people sue so readily. Violent protests seem to work just fine for Shiv Sena and similar quack outfits (Egyptian Brotherhood, damn near any chasids in Jerusalem, etc.).

  5. I actually didn’t literally mean violent protesting. A better phrase would have been “vehemently enough”. I am certainly not condoning violent protest at all.

    • I seek out brown things. When I can’t post on SM, I usually tweet about it – so best bet would be to follow me there. Time is crunched as I’m working on a campaign, but I’ll holler at you and send out the Sepia Mutiny Bat signal for sure next time there’s some place you gotta be at!!

  6. Next time, Hari should do Stein the way Captain Kirk did Palin: beatnick style, cool and ironic with a cello and bongos for atmosphere. Its hard to teabag after getting worked over like that.

  7. ” I would think that he, and other Jewish people, would be very concerned about racism and being racist given their history in Europe and even discrimination they probably faced in America. I would have expected a little more solidarity from a minority such as themselves who are aware of what it is like to be discriminated against.” . Yeah, maybe. But I always wondered why blacks seemed to be anti-semitic. Farakhan and Malcolm X to name two well-known examples. I worked with several well-educated African-Americans who felt that way and I couldn’t figure out why until someone pointed out some reasons, avoiding the obviously anti-semitic sources and just looking at the historical facts, a lot of them from Jewish historians who wrote freely about it before it became taboo in the late 20th century. Jews were involved big time in the trans-Atlantic slave trade as well as the Arab slave trade, and in North American slave-states, forty percent of Jews owned slaves as compared to 5% of the non-Jews. Of course this was probably an economic class thing also. The first synagogue in the U.S. was built in the late 1700s, in Providence, Rhode Island, a major counting house for the slave trade in the 18th century.So it’s complicated. I was astonished at the long list of slave ships owned by British and European Jews. The Jews of today are not the slave-traders of 200 years ago and they are no more “guilty” than the Christians or Muslims of today, but they were not always innocents historically. It’s taboo now to talk about this now, but the WAPO, back in the 90s, printed an essay that pretty much admitted that Jewish involvement was way beyond what their numbers would have anticipated, beginning with Brazil. Still, they didn’t put a gun to anybody’s Christian head forcing them to trade slaves. Jews are basically like everybody else, with their share of opportunists, altruists, etc. Most people are just out for themselves.

  8. Stein channels Thomas Edison as being the quintessential American ideal. However, Thomas Edison hated Jews.

    In the past, however, Joel Stein wrote very funny articles. One that was quite self-effacing about his family’s immigration to the USA. This guy comes from a history of people who are not so attached to their country, and they seem stateless. One of his female ancestors about a hundred years ago on a country-of-origin question on their arrival to the USA put down “Austria” down but only after scratching out “Poland”. Joel, in his self-effacing article about his family’s immigration to the USA, pointed out that Poland and Austria don’t even touch. My point in bringing this up is that his ancestors are NOT attached to their host country (same as George Soros [whos surname was Anglicized from the Magyar "Shorosh", and this was Magyarized from the Germanic "Schwartzmann"]), and he seems to be trying to shape us into adopting these same traits.

  9. @B.Mahesh

    I read at least one other article by Joel Stein regarding Jewish movie executives in Hollywood and their power grab. He did not mince any words or try to hide or justify their behavior. After reading that I came to realize he did not hold any malice towards Indians. He is an equal opportuinity commentor and humorist. Your mention of name change by George Soros is interesting. Hope this is not too much of a shock to some commentors on Sepia Mutiny who got their panties twisted because some guy calls himself Bobby, a not infrequent name in India.

  10. boston_mahesh,

    Yes, perhaps that is true, but I don’t think it is his place for him to try and shape us, is it? Even if it were, there are other ways of doing it, which are not so offensive or racist in their content and tone.

    hoipolloi,

    Do you have a link to that article?

    I think one problem that desis have with Bobby Jindal is that he converted to Catholicism. People may feel that he has turned his back on his roots in order to further his political career. I don’t think anyone really cares that he calls himself Bobby. As you correctly say, many Indians do have that nickname.

  11. Hmm, that article is not in any way derogatory about Jews at all. It is simply pointing out how powerful they are in the media, with a strong degree of pride, actually. I’m not sure how you got what you said earlier from that article.

    The article about Indians was very different in content and tone. I think that is obvious to anyone who reads both articles.

    Of course, there is also the obvious point that a person commenting on their own ethnic group might be allowed some leeway in their opinions, given that they form part of that ethnic group and thus are commenting on themselves. A person outside the ethnic group who comments on them might face a little more resistance to their views, and justifiably so, especially if they have an offensive tone.

  12. “Another thing that has been bugging me is that if this article was written by a non-Jewish American about Jews, well there would be absolute uproar. In fact, I doubt it would even be published”

    Groundbreaking news: There’s a Jewish presence in the print media.

  13. an hour drive is right…where is the love for the NW side of town? Having missed the meet-ups at every other city that I was in at the right time, will do my best to make it down.