W. Kamau Bell said he aspired to be either a superhero or a comedian when he was a child. As he stood onstage and humorously discussed societal issues in the Grant Gymnasium on Monday, Oct. 1, it was obvious he chose the latter.
Bell performed his comedy show “The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour” for an audience of approximately 280 people at Webster University. The show touched on several issues such as race, pop culture, sex and politics.
Bell was planning to do a “Bell Curve” tour when the FX network picked up his show, “Totally Biased,” for more episodes. This prompted him to cancel most of the tour, which consisted mostly of presentations at colleges and universities, except for his stop at Webster.
“I heard that you guys were excited to have me so I like to go to places where people are excited about me,” Bell said.
When asked about how he felt about being called one of the fastest rising socio-political comics in the U.S., Bell said he doesn’t focus too much on what other people say, whether it is good or bad.
“I mean, I appreciate it,” Bell said. “Anytime people say good things I appreciate it, but in the current era, people say so many bad things that I just try not to listen to a lot of it.”
Comedian Chris Rock saw Bell performing a solo show in New York. Rock came backstage to tell Bell that he thought he was funny. A few months later, Rock called Bell and told him he wanted to do a show with him.
Bell said that he, Rock and another producer tried to come up with titles for his show. Bell said it took bad title after bad title until they came up with “Totally Biased.”
“I wanted to make sure we had a title that had some sort of opinion behind it,” Bell said. “I wanted to make sure that title was interesting.”
Colette Cummings, director of the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA), thought having Bell here was a perfect opportunity to get students ready for the upcoming election.
“I think [having Bell at Webster] helped our students get ready for these next days before the election,” Cummings said. “To start it off on a good note, and show people that politics can be funny and that you can talk about the issues in a way that won’t offend people, but will bring the point home.”
Bell stressed the importance of having conversations centered around controversial topics, whether they be awkward or weird. To Bell, it’s all about starting the conversation. He said he hoped people would leave the show talking about the things he discussed, even if they don’t agree with them.
Since being a superhero didn’t pan out for Bell, he hoped that the new success of his show will help accomplish the things he has wanted to achieve.
“I will always be a live performer,” Bell said. “Nobody can take that away from me, but I hope the future holds more and more seasons of ‘Totally Biased’ because that will just help everything else grow.”
The first six-week season of “Totally Biased” premiered Aug. 9.
All new episodes of “Totally Biased” will premier Oct. 11 and will air Thursday on the FX network.