Local comedian Katie-Ellen Humphries opened for Aparna Nancherla at the Biltmore last night, yet another example of planning perfection in matching comics at JFL NorthWest this year. Humphries has the 30s crisis act down to a T, her set spanning the price of pregnancy tests, online dating, and the ridiculousness of gender reveal parties. Her comedy is consistent and shows years of honing to perfection and her approachable nature always comes across. She even manages to pull back the curtain and call out gender inequality in comedy without being heavy-handed. This, among other reasons, makes her come across just as likeable and accessible as the headliner.
Aparna Nancherla touches on the darkness of life with a kind of adorable, good-natured comedy. She began her set contemplating flight etiquette and examining the traditional values of Eminem before challenging women's magazines and catcalling and smile violations. Reversing the roles, she questioned how ladies could catcall men — "a series of bulges, pick your favourite!"
Despite the heated political climate, Nancherla held off on her Trump material until halfway through her set, sharing how she confronts and processes the heavy reality through her comedy. She was open and vulnerable about her mental health, rallying the professional life-long depressive and anxious and reminding us that "this is what we trained for!" and welcomed all the new people to the depression neighbourhood. She asked questions we were all thinking and tackled history's weirdly positive PR campaign, wondering if this time in history will be given the same treatment. The audience was particularly supportive through this material, with scattered applause and affirmative laughs throughout. What makes Aparna different is the lack of anger in her humour regarding these issues, giving a refreshing change of pace while keeping her set still prescient.
Wrapping up her act, Nancherla took a risky route with a slideshow. Media can go horribly awry but she killed it, somehow breathing new life into material about emojis that should be tired. She's an excellent writer, from television to Twitter, and several 140 character jokes made an appearance in her set last night. She also presented and examined bizarre internet comments, texts from her parents, Yelp reviews and personal introspection, finishing strong and winning over even the most sceptical in the crowd. Aparna is someone to watch, whether through her Comedy Central special or in person, she's a genuine crowd-pleaser.