On being hip in his 40s:
“We are the age of the current culture. Every record store you walk into is playing '90s music. The '90s are currently what everybody’s into. Once it becomes like Brittany Spears, that’s when we’re done.”
On interviewing his nearly 80-year-old mom about her sex life for the parenting podcast "The Longest Shortest Time"
“I mean, it made me blush. There’s a couple points where I was like, that’s enough, where I cut her off. You’re not supposed to do that in an interview. But it was my mom. It’s funny, a lot of the work I do, people sort of talk about it as something I’m doing for the world, or maybe for my community. It’s really all pretty selfish.
"I wanted to have that conversation with my mom for a long time because I didn’t know what was going on. We were really close, and there was this one aspect of her life that we hadn’t talked about, her dating life. I sort of had this narrative in my head that my mom was this lonely person.”
On being a dad to two mixed-race daughters with different complexions:
“While they’re clearly sisters, our youngest daughter is much lighter, her hair is much thinner, it’s not as kinky as her sister's. And we’re like, 'Oh, they’re going to have very different experiences.' My wife is #woke. She’s like, ‘Juno’s going to pass.’ And it’s just like wow. There’s two things there. Sami will probably be exotified by some people. And Juno may not be exotified, but she will be able to get into spaces that Sami won’t be able to get into and hear. We’ll have to have two different manuals [for raising our kids.]”
On staying funny when performing for people with post-election political depression:
“I have to make sure that the jokes that I’m telling are taking that perspective in, like I’m not talking at you, I’m like, 'I know, I know where we’re all at.'
"I was also heartbroken by the election, so I wasn’t different from the audience. I was actually right there with them. Laughter can sort of help motivate. I don’t want you to be sad. I also know how serious the consequences are. If you stay sad, then we’re not going to win. So, let’s get happy.”
On interviewing a fully hooded member of the Ku Klux Klan in the woods for his show “United Shades of America" with a mostly white TV crew:
“I kept having to sort of advocate for ‘I need help here,’ that’s a different kind of help than just like, 'What do you need, water?' It’s not that the producers and crew didn’t have my back. They had my physical back but they didn’t have my racial back. Nobody knew how to reach out. Eventually I formed a very deep friendship with them, and now we’re all waking up together. Now they realize, Kamau is actually feeling all this stuff, he’s having a real experience.”
“The guy who runs the show now [in the second season] is a black guy who has a Ph.D. in psychology. And there’s more black and brown faces on the crew. So when we do things that sometimes seem crazy, we have each other’s back physically and emotionally. It’s great to have a crew that you can immediately get into the van when you drive away from the scene and be like, ‘That was crazy!’ ”
On making a podcast called "Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time, Period.” With 118 episodes!