Twitter hero Aparna “@aparnapkin” Nancherla’s been a regular on the stand-up scene for 10 years now — but her career is only really taking off in the latest iteration of social platforms like Twitter and Youtube, which reward her subtle, nearly humble observational approach with their illusion of intimacy, a tool more and more comedians are using to their advantage.
Nancherla tricks you with her seeming earnestness, leading you likably enough down rabbit holes that generally end with shocks ranging from mild to severe: That’s the recipe for every good tweet and video blog, so it makes sense that she’s finally getting the attention she deserves with the increasing attention we pay those media.
Comedy Central mainstay “The Half Hour” is having one of its best seasons, in part because the walled garden of stand-up has begun to dilute itself across our entertainment. Sarah Silverman, Natasha Leggero, Amy Schumer and most intriguingly Maria Bamford have all stretched beyond the secret world of the touring comic, and they’re not alone: Louis C.K. has turned his act into a franchise hit — both “Atlanta” and “Better Things” wear their common DNA proudly — and Tig Notaro’s semi-autobiographical “One Mississippi” made its long-awaited debut on Amazon Prime Sept. 9.
The Seinfeld jump from stage to screen seems, increasingly, to be running the opposite direction. Thanks to advances in video filming/upload and social media outreach, great comedy now makes itself known online first: Bo Burnham isn’t the only YouTuber to retrofit himself into more standard measures of “success,” although he might be the youngest — and in any case, he’s inspired geniuses across the world to try their hand at comedy.
What this means for a talent like Nancherla is that being female, petite and a woman of color are no longer the obstacles to success that they once were: Twitter especially allows her voice to come through first and foremost, arising from her experience rather than seeming to symbolize it.
Older comics may have had it tougher in certain ways — or in all ways, and at all times, according to them — it’s worth thinking about that the other way, too: How many great talents were derailed before we ever heard of them, simply because of dumb arbitrary obstructions, random vestigial society bullshit, that the connected age is helping us all heal over?
In celebration of our shared journey toward one day automatically treating other people like human beings, then, please enjoy some of our favorite Aparna appearances and get yourself riled up for her “Half Hour” on Friday, Sept. 9.
A solid set from 2001
A personal interview
Every one of these Refinery29 videos Aparna made with comedian Jo Firestone is amazing, fresh, and weird — but these two in particular are a great place to start: