Kumail Nanjiani Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto ON, September 27
Published Sep 28, 2016After establishing that some fans in the audience had roots in his hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, Kumail Nanjiani looked into the darkness and, presumably jokingly, asked, "Is anyone here related to me?"
Surprisingly and hilariously the answer was "Yes, your cousin from Dallas." Nanjiani instantly became so self-conscious about all of the filthy things he'd said already, he admitted, "I'm actually spiralling right now."
Since Comedy Central released 2013's Beta Male, his first hour-long standup special, Nanjiani has been terribly busy as a writer, podcast presence, and actor, most notably as one of the stars of HBO's Silicon Valley. It's understandable that he's been a bit too preoccupied to get that followup special done, but it's not because he doesn't have stellar new material. Just maybe not enough of it.
His bit about an awkward encounter with an infant and a grown man at a urinal, and another about the painful summer he discovered masturbation (that one, awkwardly, involved some of his cousins and, with one of them present, he censored it slightly) are among the best he's done. He scored just as easily talking about his parents and their varied engagement and assessment of his career and a "Twitter or Literature" bit with a kid named Max and Max's dad from the audience went over amazingly.
But the striking amount of crowd work in this hour was telling. He leaned on audience questions for fodder for close to half the show and while the results were almost always inspired, it's clear Nanjiani is three or four bits shy of releasing another special. The stuff he had was A+ and drew huge bursts of sustained laughter. Here's hoping there's more of it coming.