Stand-up Kumail Nanjiani turns horror movies and real-life horrors into terrific laughs in new special
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
Kumail Nanjiani, a gifted stand-up comedian who has several years experience as a performer, has gotten a showcase for his talent in a new Comedy Central special, which first aired July 20 and will be released in a CD/DVD package with extra features on July 23.
Nanjiani’s material in “Beta Male” resonates as being the type of incidents that definitely could have happened to many of us in the same generational age range – like getting a porn tape stuck in the VCR when we were teenagers. In a piece around the middle of his one-hour performance, Nanjiani strikes gold with this premise.
Nanjiani writes material with a sense of wonder, whimsy, and a good dose of fears inspired by horror movies, as well as the unusual and surreal things that happened in his youth in Karachi, Pakistan. For example, parents who thought staging a fight between a snake and mongoose was appropriate birthday party entertainment for kids under the age of 10. And Kumail’s mom’s cluelessness that the somber and dramatic movie “The Elephant Man” was not exactly an amusing superhero flick for kids to watch.
He puts it this way – when he might get upset about cartoon violence, Kumail’s mom might reassure him it wasn’t real, but after “The Elephant Man,” she plainly told him that the story of that movie did really happen.
Nanjiani delivers his material with an amused nonplussed tone that effectively matches the material he writes and the imagination in his stand-up pieces. With “Beta Male,” he’s fully realized the potential spotted on this site back in December 2008, in a performance opening for Zach Galifianakis in New York (scroll to bottom of this review).
One last note – if one was to consume “Beta Male” in MP3 form and had to pick a few best tracks of the special to buy individually, I’d recommend “Elephant Man,” “Meowminos,” “Porn Stories” and “VCR” (these 2 flow together), “Coney Island,” and Nanjiani’s closer “Haunted House.”
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