The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4", African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian - W. Kamau Bell

Date Published: May 2, 2017

Format: Print

Source: Library

Date Read: July 29th - August 3rd

Read for BL-opoly



You may know W. Kamau Bell from his hit show on CNN. Or maybe you've read about him in The New York Times or The New Yorker, about his intersectional progressivism gimmick: 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 evergreen issues, such as race relations; fatherhood; the state of law enforcement today; comedians and superheroes; right-wing politics; failure; his interracial marriage; his upbringing by very strong-willed, race-conscious, yet ideologically opposite parents; his early days struggling to find his comedic voice, then his later days struggling to find his comedic voice; why he never seemed to fit in with the Black comedy scene . . . or the white comedy scene; how he was a Black nerd way before that became a thing; how it took his wife and an East Bay lesbian to teach him that racism and sexism often walk hand in hand; and much, much more.




I knew of Bell from his FX tv show Totally Biased and his two podcasts (Kamau Now! from a local NPR radio station in the Bay Area and Politically Re-Active). He won an Emmy for his CNN show United Shades of America, which admittedly I have never watched. Side note: Bell and the sci-fi/fantasy author N.K. Jeminson are cousins and have a close relationship both as children growing up in Alabama (for Bell it was half in Alabama, half in a number of major cities) and as adults.


I really enjoyed this memoir, both the personal life as well as his professional trajectory. Bell uses humor to defuse situations in the moment, but afterword he does reflect deeply on the emotions and the sociological aspects of the situations and how we need to do better. My favorite part is his loud love proclamation for Doc McStuffins - my daughter loved Doc too and he hit every point I made to other moms in the hopes they would let their kids watch it too. I wanted him to go into more about the processes and backstage to his now ended podcasts, which is where I think he shines professionally. 


Highly Recommend.