Last night, I went to see the always-sharp Hari Kondabolu at Comedy Underground. He was fucking hilarious, as usual, but this was a special treat. Hari told the audience he was working on new material and took his time, threading through new and old jokes, commenting on his performance (and ours) as he went.
I always enjoy watching Hari's way of rocking back and forth in a set, delivering a few challenging jokes (he gently berated last night's audience for not getting a punch line that depended on a working knowledge of Alex Haley's Roots), then throwing out a literally fool-proof crowd-pleaser to reel everyone back in. It's like watching a good teacher who knows just how far to push a student—to the bending point, but never the breaking point—before giving out an attaboy and a lollipop.
Last night provided the added bonus of a peek into his joke-writing brain: scenarios, setups, punch lines, segues, callbacks, patter, the whole thing. If you care about intelligent comedy, and how intelligent comedians make jokes happen, get down to the Comedy Underground tonight.
Hari will perform through Saturday, but said last night and tonight are his test-flight performances. Those are the ones you want to see.