Aparna Nancherla Comedy Bar, Toronto ON, April 6

Aparna NancherlaComedy Bar, Toronto ON, April 6
Aparna Nancherla
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Aparna Nancherla's lifelong anxiety has inadvertently given her a comedic superpower: the ability to overanalyze anything until its components are rearranged into something absurdly unrecognizable. From her reinterpretation of catcalling as an awful unrecognized art form to her comparison of calling representatives to leaving sad voicemails for an ex after a breakup, Nancherla's hour was wonderfully offbeat and original.
 
Sara Starkman opened for Nancherla with an astute line about how parking and TTC fare inspectors are just people who are bitter because they didn't get to be police officers, then she launched into some comedy about finding out her likelihood of getting cancer, and working out. Her observation about how the cancer risk quiz dubbed anyone who has slept with more than two people as being "high risk" was straightforwardly funny, but her material about exercise was forgettable.
 
After Starkman, Todd Graham began his set with a long silent pause, then jokingly thanked the audience for keeping the energy going. His set was filled with cerebral jokes that somehow hit hard despite how niche they were. His bit about Marshall McLuhan's hot media killed with the people in the crowd who majored in communications, and his witticism involving the phrase "Pardon Me Gov'ner" was brilliant once he let the punchline sunk in. Additionally, his broader chunk about naming his plastic bags was also hilarious.
 
Up-and-coming comedian Candice Gregoris finished up the start of the show with her material about giving up on her marriage for lent, and her proposal for making Canada a destination for "abortion tourism" during the Trump presidency. The first joke was standard and a keen eye could spot that her movements on stage were planned in a way that felt a little too deliberate, but her topical closing joke was as edgy as it was funny.
 
Nancherla's surreal opening bit based on overhearing someone say "I like what you did with the flight" to a pilot was dazzlingly brilliant and hysterical, but most of her other material didn't quite reach the exceptional standard she set with that joke. Her bit about baggy sweaters was deeply relatable, but her comedy about models was old and familiar to her fans, and the anti-climactic end to her Powerpoint presentation cancelled out some of the great highs that it reached.