W. Kamau Bell was named the Frank Sinatra Chair in the Performing Arts at Santa Clara University for 2017-18. Hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences Center for the Arts and Humanities, Bell will kick off his residency with a program November 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis B. Mayer Theatre on campus. Tickets are free and will be available starting October 9.
Bell is a critically acclaimed sociopolitical comedian and host of the Emmy Award-winning hit CNN documentary series "United Shades of America." With a post-modern perspective, Bell delivers provocative commentary on our country's biggest challenges, from race relations to cultural divides.
The New York Times called Bell "the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years" and Laughspin.com said he is "one of our nation's most adept racial commentators." His first television show, "Totally Biased" on FX, was produced by Chris Rock and called revolutionary for its diversity by Salon.com.
In addition to his work on television, Bell hosts the public radio show "Kamau Right Now!" on KALW in San Francisco and co-hosts two podcasts: "Denzel Washington is The Greatest Actor of All Time Period" and "Politically Re-Active."
As Sinatra Artist-in-Residence, Bell will mentor and engage with students, faculty, and the Santa Clara University community. He will also continue his professional work, such as producing podcasts, on campus. In addition to his program in the fall, Bell will be in residence the weeks of February 12, 2018 and April 30, 2018.
Dennis Gordon, professor of political science and director of the Center for the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University, said Bell will challenge students' thinking but also help them tackle difficult topics with boldness and sensitivity.
"W. Kamau Bell is a force to be reckoned with," Gordon says. "As students struggle with their own identities and to understand why our nation is divided along so many lines, he offers a greater understanding of the dangers that racism, sexism, homophobia, income inequality, and the dumbing-down of our political discourse present."
Bell recently released his third comedy album, Semi-Prominent Negro, which is the audio from his Morgan Spurlock-produced comedy special of the same name. His first book, 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, came out in May.
(From Santa Clara University)