Surprise! Comedian Hari Kondabolu has just released a new album, but it’s not like all of the week’s other big debuts — exclusively availably on Kondabolu’s Bandcamp, his latest, Hari Kondabolu’s New Material Night: Volume 1 is a rare bootleg of a 2013 bar show.
Recorded on an iPhone at San Francisco’s Dark Room, Volume 1 is a 14-track set of Kondabolu working out new material. “Expect unpolished jokes, unexpected twists and turns and tons of raw, nervous energy,” the comic promised on his site.
Preview (and purchase) the album below, and read the full letter Kondabolu posted to accompany the release of Hari Kondabolu’s New Material Night: Volume 1.
Sick of the short sets I was doing in New York City that made it hard to develop new material quickly, I started doing “New Material Nights,” or “Scratch Nights” at Seattle’s Eclectic Theater in 2012. I started doing comedy in Seattle & I’m lucky to have fans who are so patient & loving & who will put up with this shit because they love my art… or maybe they just had nothing better to do. I wanted to develop as much material as possible in a short period of time, so I do a run of 4 shows with a mostly new hour of material. I leave my notebook out and share new jokes & stories or even try to riff naturally from some rough ideas & bullet points in hopes it will magically turn into something funny…or at least, coherent. Needless to say, the end of a run is more consistently funny than the beginning of the run. I would come to the latter shows, unless you like seeing public desperation.
This particular recording comes from a New Material show I did in San Francisco. This show followed 4 New Material Shows in Seattle, so there was slightly more polish on some of these bits. I love Bay Area crowds and had recorded my debut album “Waiting for 2042” earlier that year at The New Parish in Oakland in front of a raucous, excited crowd that made that first record sound like a protest or rally. I was trying to start over & re-build my act and now had time to do just that since the show I was writing for, FX’s “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” had been canceled a few weeks earlier. My girlfriend (at the time) was attending a TED conference, so we decided to make it a shared work trip/ vacation. I did not expect her to attend the show…a key detail that will come into play during the recording.
This album gives you a little insight on how my jokes get worked out. This is not my most polished material and many of these jokes are either things you’ll never hear again from me or ideas I still might try again (although, unlikely) and early drafts of jokes that would be featured on my 2nd Album “Mainstream American Comic.” I recorded this show for myself in order to document my new bits & had no intention of putting this out. However, I knew the set was special as I was on stage and enjoyed listening to the recording time and time again. I had great energy that night & was very loose on stage. The material was fine, but my improvisation is what makes this special. This is what I always want my shows to sound like.
I hope you enjoy this show as much as I did.