It’s been a long time since I saw a comedy set as bold and brave as this on a late-night TV talk show. Solomon Georgio, a beloved young fixture of the Los Angeles comedy scene, made his TV debut on Conan last night. Now, I know this kid a little bit and I figured he’d do a great job. But I didn’t expect to see what I saw. Watch it all the way through and see what I’m talking about.
It started a bit slow, and I’ll admit I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go. But then he launches into material about the Italian occupation of Ethiopia; provides a brutal and poignant image from his mother’s childhood; and gives material about his sexuality, the Holocaust, the genocide of Native Americans, sexual assault, and more — all while being funny. I’ll be honest, folks: I admire this dude and have always enjoyed his stuff, but I really didn’t expect this from a late-night set. Imagine the balls it takes to say to yourself, “You know what? I’m not going to do cute, safe pop-culture material about, say, Kanye West and Beyonce on my late-night debut. I’m going to do heavy-hitting stuff about a fucking famine.”
My hat is also off to whoever booked him, because that person is brave and excellent and obviously cares about comedy as a true artistic and sociopolitical force, not just ha-ha yuks.
Congratulations to Solomon Georgio for getting four applause breaks in five minutes from an audience full of tourists in Burbank, CA — and for blowing my mind before I even finished my morning coffee.
This is why I love comedy.
Sara Benincasa is a comedian and the author of Great and Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom. She tweets @sarajbenincasa and is currently on tour: dates are at SaraBenincasa.com/shows.