Stand-up comic and television show host W. Kamau Bell will perform at Trinity University on Monday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. in Laurie Auditorium. He will be performing his one-man show titled “The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About An Hour.”
“I’m really looking forward to learning more about him and just getting to hear whatever he has to say because he’s hilarious,” said Elena Souris, a senior political science major.
Elena first found out about Bell through his guest appearance on another podcast. For a portion of his visit on the show, he explained the concept of race to a group of young children.
“What I find really interesting about him is how he can discuss these extremely serious topics in such a fun, simple, lighthearted and easy-to-follow style,” Souris said. “I like seeing how he presents things and argues his points because I think it’s pretty unique.”
Students and faculty alike are interested in seeing how Bell interacts with difficult issues such as race in his upcoming talk. Bell has already addressed some of these topics in podcasts and his television show “United Shades of America,” which began airing on CNN in April 2016.
“He does a lot of stand-up comedy centered around issues of race and diversity, so I’m really looking forward to how he talks about issues like that,” said Katie Welch, a junior communication major. “I think it’s important to talk about diversity and race. I know a lot of people think it’s an uncomfortable topic of conversation, but I think it’s a necessary one for producing real change and I think a college campus is a perfect place for that.”
Welch is one of several students enrolled in Aaron Delwiche’s Propaganda class. She is helping to promote Bell and other speakers, such as Erin Saltman, through various forms of propaganda, such as PR and social media outlets. These lectures are presented as components of the Lennox Seminar Series on Propaganda and Political Persuasion.
“Topics like this can be somewhat controversial for some people and I think it’s great that Trinity doesn’t shy away from discussing issues like this, especially because it produces a lot of constructive dialogue,” Welch said.
Students are looking forward to Bell’s visit and are grateful that Trinity has the resources to bring him on campus to speak, perform and share his thoughts on various current issues of varying political and historical significance, Souris said.
“To me, it means that Trinity is extremely current and also very in-tune to what students care about right now,” Souris said.
On his website, Bell describes himself as a socio-political comedian and dad, but he is also acknowledged as a journalist with a strong background in media entertainment.
“I like the fact that he’s coming from a perspective in the media industry and that he can talk about issues like racism within the industry,” Welch said. “I think him bringing that as an insider is really interesting. The fact that he can tie in comedy is also a unique approach that can be helpful for a lot of students.”
In each episode of “United Shades of America,” Bell deals with a difficult, often controversial, subject. In the first episode, Bell visits the Ku Klux Klan and interacts with various members of the Klan across the states.
“What was amazing to me was the humanity with which he approaches these important topics, his sense of humor in talking about really difficult, painful things and his ability to make people think,” said Aaron Delwiche, professor of communication. “I think he talks about issues like race, gender, sexuality and class in ways that are inclusive but don’t let people off the hook.”
Delwiche has shown clips of Bell to students, staff members and other peers in hopes of familiarizing people to his humor and various thoughts. These videos are usually met with positive responses from those he shares them with, further proving that the decision to book him for a performance on campus was a good idea, he said.
“Every single person I have shown any of his clips to, whether it’s other professors, my parents or students, started laughing in the first minute and very heavily after five minutes, but also have been thinking,” Delwiche said.
Bell’s work in the political community has allowed him to earn several accolades and honors. He is currently the Ambassador of Racial Justice for the American Civil Liberties Union. He was also recently nominated for an Emmy award for his work on his series “United Shades of America.”
“Since his career is taking off, this is an amazing opportunity to see him right at the beginning of it,” Delwiche said.
Bell’s lecture is one of the four lectures presented as a part of the Lennox Seminar Series, which is made possible by the Martha, David and Bagby Lennox Foundation. This is a yearly series that offers opportunities for learning outside the class.
“All four of these lectures are intended to get students and members of the community to think about the power of communication, propaganda and media coverage,” Delwiche said. “I think his visit is valuable because it’s going to continue an ongoing conversation about race in our culture and because it demonstrates that a sense of humor and empathy can be part of that conversation. I’ll be excited to see him reflect on his method as well as his topic.”
- Kamau Bell’s show is free and is open to the public. Members of the Trinity and San Antonio communities are highly encouraged to attend.