Whether he is describing the efforts of an abandoned cat to get back into its old home or going on a ghost-hunting expedition with a colander on his head for protection, Kumail Nanjiani, Pakistan’s contribution to the American comedy scene, has more than his share of funny material for his Comedy Central standup special Beta Male. And now a CD/DVD Combo of an extended, uncensored version of the July 23 show is available from Comedy Central Records.
Given the stereotype many Americans have of Pakistanis, every Nanjiani performance must be something of a crap shoot. Comedy audiences can be fickle, and hecklers abound. But not the Austin, Texas audience for this set: he had this crowd in the proverbial palm of his hand.
It is to Nanjiani’s credit that while he is willing to have his fun with an assortment of Pakistani practices and customs, he never bows to Western prejudices. He may ridicule the idea of trained monkeys at birthday parties, but he ridicules with a gleam in his eye. And he makes sure to let the American audience know that the ease with which they are willing to accept the idea of monkeys in attendance at birthday parties says as much about them as it does the Pakistanis.
Besides, as much of his set is about life in the States as it is about things Pakistani. There is the pigeon guy in Brooklyn, and the pizza delivery cat. He has something to say about American horror films and the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island. And, noted nerdist himself, he engages the audience on the subject of gaming avatars – beware choosing a name from the Russian novel.
Beta Male arrives at a good time in Kumail’s career. Based in Los Angeles, he has been selected as one of Variety‘s “10 Comics to Watch” and The Hollywood Reporter‘s “10 Rising Comedy Talents.” New York Magazine named him one of “10 Comedians Funny People Find Funny.” He is a regular on TNT’s Franklin and Bash and a recurring character on Portlandia. He will be a regular in HBO’s upcoming series Silicon Valley, and has a new project in the works based on his weekly show with Jonah Ray at Meltdown Comics on Sunset Boulevard.
Unlike most recent CD/DVD Combos from Comedy Central Records, bonus material on this set is sparse. It is limited to a short Q and A which runs for five minutes or so, apparently when the comic returns to the stage after the show. It is pleasant session, but nothing especially noteworthy. Still, for Nanjiani fans the main set will be plenty.