Comedians not laughing at Apu character in 'The Simpsons'

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 05:30:06 AM. Hari Kondabolu, whose stand-up and podcasts have a socially conscious focus, is now fighting back with the documentary 'The Problem With Apu,' airing on truTV.
Growing up in New York in the 1980s, comedian Hari Kondabolu was like many young people. He watched and he adored "The Simpsons." There was just one thing that bothered him about it. Amid the fictional Springfield barflies, incompetent doctors, clowns and crazy eggheads was a truly cartoonish character — Apu, the Kwik-E-Mart clerk who sold expired food, ripped off customers and delivered the sing-songy slogan "Thank you, come again." To Kondabolu and plenty of other people of South Asian heritage, the pot-bellied, heavily accented Apu led to real world bullying, self-loathing and embarrassment. Apu was one of the only Indian immigrants portrayed in popular culture and yet he was a buffoon. "This character — the only representation that we have — led a lot of kids who were born and raised here to feel non-American," said Kondabolu. "If you don't nip racism in the bud from the beginning, it mutates and finds other ways of surviving." Kondabolu, whose stand-up and podcasts have a socially conscious focus, is now fighting back with the documentary "The Problem With Apu," airing on truTV on Sunday at 10 p.m. EST. He hopes the film is as funny as it is illuminating — an important thing if you're going to war with one of TVs most beloved animated institutions. "As a comedian, if you're going to kill joy, you better kill it with joy," he said. The documentary features interviews with other performers of South Asian heritage, including Kal Penn, Aziz Ansari, Aasif Mandvi and Hasan...Read more
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