Review: W. Kamau Bell “Private School Negro” on Netflix

A decade ago, W. Kamau Bell promised to end racism in an hour, titling his touring one-man show that to bring the audience in and leave them laughing.

We’re not laughing so much now in 2018, when racism remains an American problem by its own birth and historical circumstances.

Nevertheless, Bell has done an admirable job with his Emmy-winning CNN series, using his charm to bring our various subcultures together, or at the very least, allow them to co-exist and share their thoughts and ideals with one another. As a stand-up comedian, Bell may be neither Chris Rock (who did mentor Bell and pushed him into TV as a late-night talk-show host) nor Dave Chappelle (whom Bell does laughingly contrast this special with in a self-aware moment).

But even without reaching those comedy heights, or if he didn’t even have his TV series, Bell still would have his comedy fingers on the pulse of what’s happening now, and find a way to frame the discussion so we all could get along and laugh while doing so. As I wrote in my review of Private School Negro for Decider:

The 45-year-old from the Bay Area, married with two daughters and a third on the way as of February, also can relate to the very topical racial and political headlines of June 2018. Both of the white women (BBQ Becky and Permit Patty for you meme followers) who called police on innocent black people barbecuing and selling water this spring happened to live in San Francisco and Oakland. And whereas White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant last week for her political beliefs, Bell once got kicked out of a Berkeley cafe just for talking to his wife — because his wife is white, and the cafe couldn’t seem to figure that out.

Read my full review on

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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