W. Kamau Bell Quotes

As a person of color, you’re in a PhD level racism class, every day. Every day, I’m in a deep racism seminar. And I’m not saying that white people aren’t taking that class, but they don’t show up that often and they’re auditing it.

I’m most biased about how white people have to learn to shut up when the conversation of racism comes up. White people have to learn to listen. Whether they agree with what they’re hearing or not, they have to know to shut up and listen.

I think a lot of people get into stand-up to be the center of attention, which is perfectly legitimate. But I think I got in there to be heard.

You might not agree with something, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to listen to it. White people have to accept that they don’t always know about racism.

The best version of comedy is when you can get to an issue where, at some point, you’re not firmly on one side or the other, and you can see both sides. The more we become about the issues, the more successful we are.

A lot of comics claimed to be political comedians when George W. Bush was in office just by calling him an idiot. For me, Obama is actually more interesting comically, because not everybody can figure it out.

Comedy is like expensive cheese. Well, it’s like cheese, in general. Everybody likes what they like, and everything they don’t like, they think is the worst.

If I could email my jokes to the crowd and get the same immediate response [as during stand-up], I’d do that.

Some things just strike me as funny. The way things play out just makes me laugh sometimes. It drives my wife crazy sometimes because I’ll just be laughing for no reason.

I’m of the opinion that if you step on stage and you’re not a straight white male, you’re automatically making a political statement whether you know it or not.

I feel like you can share as many jokes as you want to because no joke you do on Twitter is ever gonna be so big on Twitter, for the most part, that you can’t say it on stage that same night.

It doesn’t do any good to just be on the side of black people. The funnier comedic position is to be on the side of oppressed people in general.

I’m a dad, and that’s really important to me, and I realize now that I’m a dad that it’s a major part of my identity.

There is a linear way in which black comedians are expected to talk about race by all audiences – black people are like this, white people are like this – and it really is hard to break through that. I never was doing it that way.

Portland is often trumpeted as being one of America’s coolest, hippest cities. I’ve been to Portland many times, and I’m always like, “Yeah it’s cool and hip, but also, where are all the black people? Why is this city so cool and hip, and also keeping the black people away?”

The idea we have of prison is a scary place that also houses crazy people. And, to me, it was like, none of these guys were scary. They may have done things that are violent or scary, but these are not people that I feel nervous being around, and it feels like to me that we’re wasting these men’s lives in prison.

We could do something set in the 21st century, where I travel around to lots of different places and we talk to different ethnicities and lots of different racial and religious minorities, so it’s not just the black-and-white America; it hasn’t been that since the ’90s.

What am I unbiased about? Let’s see. I don’t think about being unbiased, at all. With the entertainment industry, there was a point at which I felt like I had to be not only pro-myself but anti-others.

There’s an elitism that comes out with the entertainment industry. I’ll talk about some shows, but I’m not gonna say that you’re dumb for watching one over the other. I just let it go. I don’t have to declare a fatwa on any of these things. I’ve gotten over some of my elitism.

You pretty much have to be bad at it [stand-up] for several years to get good at it, so there’s no avoiding embarrassing yourself.

When I was a teenager, black pride became newly popular again. Suddenly a lot of black people were wearing the fake kente cloth and red black and green and Bob Marley. That was sort of my window into finding my own identity as a black person.

I think the need to go on stage speaks to some sort of a profound psychological deficit, but something that happened when you were a kid. Or something your parents did.

That’s the nature of my [stand-up] act: black man with a white baby.