A memoir and manifesto from the comedian, hit podcast host, and star of United Shades of America
You may know W. Kamau Bell from his critically acclaimed hit show on CNN United Shades of America. Or maybe you've read about him in the New York Times, which called him "the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years." Or maybe in the New Yorker, fawning over his brand of humor, writing, "Bell's gimmick is intersectional progressivism: he treats racial, gay, and women's issues as inseparable."
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell is a humorous, well-informed take on the world today, tackling a wide range of current and evergreen issues such as the 2016 election, race relations, fatherhood, the state of law enforcement today, comedians and superheroes, right-wing politics, failure, his interracial marriage, his upbringing by divorced and very strong-willed, race-conscious parents, his early days struggling to find his comedic voice, why he never felt at home in Black comedy circles, what it means to be a Black nerd, the balance between racism and feminism, and much, much more.
About the Author
W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian who is the host of the hit, Emmy Award nominated, hit CNN docu-series, United Shades of America. Before United Shades, Kamau was best known for his critically acclaimed, but criminally short-lived, FX comedy series Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. The series was nominated for both a NAACP Award and a GLAAD Award. Kamau is also the host of Kamau Right Now!, a public radio talk show that airs on NPR radio station KALW in San Francisco, and a co-host of the podcasts Politically Re-Active and the memorably-named Denzel Washington is The Greatest Actor of All Time Period.
Before pursuing a career in stand-up comedy, Kamau and his mom lived all over the country. He was born in Palo Alto, California then moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, then Boston, Massachusetts, then Chicago, Illinois, with several extended visits to his dad's in Mobile, Alabama mixed in for good measure. Today he lives in Berkeley, CA with his wife and family.
"Bell... tackles everything from racism to his life growing up as a Blerd (Black nerd) to his struggles to find his comedic voice in this illuminating memoir." —Entertainment Weekly
“With insight and aplomb, stand-up comedian Bell recounts his career arc...Those unfamiliar with Bell’s work or expecting a lighthearted read from a popular comedian will be surprised by the book’s breadth and depth...This informative read will be illuminating and worthwhile for aspiring comedians and general readers.”—Publishers Weekly
“At times funny, at times somber, this debut will be enjoyed by fans of United Shades, Issa Rae’s TV series Insecure, and anyone who enjoys comedy with a personal touch.”—Library Journal
“A funny, heartfelt tête-à-tête with a down-to-earth star.”—Boston Magazine
“At turns sarcastic, poetic and enraged, Bell's language is potent. His own realization of how racism intersects with other forms of discrimination, like sexism, broadens his platform and embraces a wide audience. Awkward Thoughts is definitely entertaining, but it also invites readers to look through different eyes. And those who aren't inspired to take action will at least have considered a new view. As Bell says, ‘that's progress.’”—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“A comprehensive look at what gave rise to Bell’s insightful, critical eye and his hilarious comedy.”—Booklist
“A unique perspective of the development of identity comedy in the 21st century.”—Kirkus Reviews