Comedian Alonzo Bodden is coming to Philly this week to hit the stage at Helium Comedy Club from April 18 to 20 (check the club’s official site for times). Bodden is known for his no-holds-barred social commentary, hilarious viewpoint and overall bold outlook on the world today. But Bodden isn’t in the comedy game to shove his viewpoints down anyone’s throat or to try to butcher anyone’s opinions. The New York native simply wants to highlight how comical the world is despite the hate and negativity that surround the news today. Bodden sat down with Metro to talk about his career, how his act is always evolving and what to expect from his show.
Alonzo Bodden is bringing his hilariously evolved comedy show to Philly
How would you describe your comedy to someone who has maybe never seen or heard you?
Topical, snarky, commonsense and a truth-teller.
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You’re known for your social and political commentary. Does your stand-up involve that as well?
Oh yes, that’s my favorite thing about stand-up, talking about the issues and talking about what’s going on. I think Carlin was the greatest ever at social commentary, and I was once described as the spawn of Carlin, which I took as a pretty high compliment.
You have had quite the career so far. You’ve worked for Trevor Noah, NPR, Jay Leno and you host your own podcast. What would you say have been some high points of your career and, on the flip side, some low points?
Well, highlights include being a part of the Montreal Comedy Festival, which is the biggest in the world, and winning “Last Comic Standing.” I’ve worked with so many legends in comedy as well, including Don Rickles, George Wallace, Jay Leno, George Carlin. Those would be highlights, working with people like that. You know, there aren’t too many lowlights onstage. I don’t even know if it’s a lowlight or it’s just really funny, but I grew up in New York and I started my career in L.A. I went back to New York and I actually performed in a little club in my old neighborhood where I grew up, and I got booed off the stage. It was early in my career, and I didn’t just get booed off the stage, I actually got booed out the door and onto the street. Yeah, it was not good. I liken it to me opening up for a Trump rally after giving them my NPR credits.
You’re traveling a lot this year with your stand-up. What do you like the most about bringing your comedy on the road?
I get to see the people, and I get to talk to people. My comedy is all about interaction. Plus, I get to see so many parts of the country. We have truly become two countries, one red and one blue. It’s funny, in L.A. I used to tell people [that] as much as California loves Barack Obama, that’s how much Alabama can’t stand Barack Obama. Now it’s the opposite. When Trump says something that is utterly ridiculous, I remind people, you know millions of people believe what he just said. We are in a different era now. We are in an era of fabrication and ridiculousness and so on. So that’s what I get to see in my national travel. My international travel, well, when you get to go to different countries it gives you such a great perspective on the world. I mean, having been through the Middle East, from Iraq to Kuwait to Egypt to Jordan to Israel and so on, you see the relationships and you see the people and you realize, oh wait, these people don’t spend all day hating each other and trying to kill each other. They go to work and try to feed their kids, pretty much like humans. You see things like that and it’s fascinating. Or seeing the history of the world. Those are the big benefits of travel. Then sometimes I go places where I never would expect, like Pakistan. Not high on the tourist list but I got to see them, so it’s pretty cool.
You talked a little bit about the sensitive social climate the country is in today. Does that ever come into play with your comedy when you travel to different states?
Rarely do I adjust for a club show. If I’m doing a corporate event or if they hired me to do something, then I’m probably not going to get too political. But when I’m in a club, I speak my truth. What happens is, they’ll be some that get angry and they’ll be some people that leave, which means I’m doing it right. But quite often people are like, “I don’t agree with you but I think you’re really funny.” I don’t encounter as much as other comics because, let’s face it, I’m a black comic and they kind of know where I stand regarding racism and right-wing politics. They don’t walk into shows thinking, now this guy should be really pro-Trump.
When you first started your career, were you interested in comedy and then figured it fit with the social and political climate, or were you more interested in politics and then the comedy just was birthed from there?
I started out doing more personal material, telling stories about my life, my dating and my family. It was really during “Last Comic Standing” and after the show that I became more topical. It became more fun to joke about what happened [that] week. I began to find politics and social issues funnier than my life. So I would definitely say it changed after the show. But now I’m actually starting to try and look back into my personal stuff and trying to bring more of that out.
Do you have anything else coming up that fans can look out for?
Yes, I have a special coming out on Amazon. I recorded it at the end of 2018 and it will be released this year. The only thing about being a topical comic and doing specials and CDs is, time moves so fast. I could be talking about something from six months ago and it seems like a lifetime. In the time it takes to produce it, you’re just like, wow, the narrative has changed again. You have to keep up. My show is continuously evolving.
Overall, what would you tell Philly audiences to expect from your show?
Expect a topical update. Expect anything. It can be as ridiculous as the news. It’s gonna be funny, it’s gonna be my opinion and you might be surprised at what you laugh at.