Need a Laugh? (Netflix Comedy Specials)

The Standups

S1: Fortune Feimster 

If you’re seen Chelsea Lately, you MAY have come across this unique comedian (Southern-raised, tall/plus-size, & lesbian). Feimster (who has MANY years as a stand-up_ parodied WH Press Sec. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on several eps of Chelsea Handler’s (Netflix) talk show. She has a V strong stage presence, her life stories are fresh (yet also east to relate to), and her delivery is confident. 

S2: Gina Yashere & Aparna Nancherla

Yashere (though now living w/ her partner in Brooklyn) is a proud British-Nigerian immigrant woman; she worked for MANY yrs as an engineer before becoming an actress/comedian. You may have seen her on some eps of Comedy Central’s At Midnight. “Hollywood didn’t know what to do w/ me,” the comic (now in her mid-40s) says at the opening of this V funny/smart set. FYI: Yashere lived in LA for a time several yrs ago; this could be seen as a comeback for her career. Her delivery is V strong and confident; she knows who she is and doesn’t pretend to be otherwise (which is probably why mainstream/Hollywood comedies wouldn’t suit). I think this comedian is TOO good for MOST of the roles out there for black women; Yashere knows it, too. On the stage, she is a MUST-SEE; maybe I can see her live one day! 

Nancherla MAY be familiar to some Gen X/Y-ers in the DMV area; she grew up in NoVA and started her career at open mics in DC (incl. SubDrift- I’ve been going in the last 3 yrs or so). I haven’t seen her in person, though have several acquaintances and pals who have; they are V proud of her success. Nancherla (who is in her mid-30s, BUT looks younger) might be best known as the ramen blogger on S2 of Master of None; she also wrote (along w/ Hari Kondabolu) for the TBS show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Nancherla’s style and delivery are unique; she calls herself an introvert, awkward, and anxious. In the the last section of her routine, she utilizes PowerPoint (it’s V funny though). Unlike Kondabolu, her Indian heritage is NOT part of her comedy; this could be seen as a plus to some, a minus to others. Her comedy is V smart and unexpected, at times, making her a must-see!  

The Comedy Lineup

Ep. 1: Michelle Buteau

I’ve heard some (hilarious) interviews w/ Buteau on several podcasts over the last 2 yrs. She recently turned 40 and talks re: aging, relationships, and many universal topics. Some of the humor comes from her marriage to a Swedish (white) man, who sometimes doesn’t get the nuances of (black) American life. 

Ep. 5: Phil Wang

I’d NEVER heard of this 25 y.o. British-Chinese comedian before, BUT was V impressed by his routine! The big glasses are NOT for show- this guy is quite smart, observant, and socially aware.  I esp. liked his quick, self-deprecating delivery. An outsider in many nations, he uses a BIT of Mandarin (to poke fun at himself). Wang’s British (white) anthropologist mother traveled for work to Indonesia, where she learned that life could be a BIT rough. She decided to learn martial arts; her teacher was Chinese (Wang’s father). 

Ep. 6: Sabrina Jalees 

I’ve been following this Pakistani-Canadian actress/comedian for several yrs on social media (Twitter & YouTube). She is settled in NYC w/ her partner and their young baby (who she talks about in this routine). After she came out, Jalees was ostracized by some relatives on her Pakistani father’s side; however, things mended quickly (b/c they missed having her in the family). She is more confident, bold, and sure in her comedy (than what I recall from before). I hope to see more of her in the future; I think she has a LOT of potential. Jalees (who is in her early 30s) also dances and writes, aside from stand-up. 

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Blindspotting (2018) starring Daveed Diggs

Daveed Diggs was one of the actors in the ensemble of Hamilton; he played BOTH the Frenchman Marquis de Lafayette and founding father Thomas Jefferson. He also recently played Jonah Johnson, the younger brother of Rainbow on the ABC family comedy Black-ish. With this funny, smart, and VERY thoughtful indie film, he carves out a new space for himself-  leading man (as well as writer, poet and shrewd social commentator). Diggs (who is biracial and raised Jewish) is tall, muscular, w/ large expressive eyes- assets to ANY male actor. However, unlike the men of typical Summer action films, he’s NOT afraid to show (messy) emotions. 

Blindspotting, co-written by Diggs and his long-time friend, Rafael Casal (a white Hispanic poet), is about working-class best friends in Oakland, CA. Urban life has rarely been shown like this; it has layers and depth that reflect reality. Diggs is Collin, a young-ish black man working as a mover, living in a halfway house, and waiting for his probation period to end. He has ONLY three days to go when the film starts; he is cautiously hopeful, BUT also somewhat anxious/nervous about what lies ahead. Casal is Miles, Collin’s mouthy/hot-headed white best friend/co-worker who is known for getting into trouble. Collin and Miles have always had each other’s backs, or so it seems; we learn more as the story goes on. Miles (who can be charming) lives w/ his long-time girlfriend- Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones)- and their biracial/pre-school age son, Sean. Ashley desperately wants to send Sean to a better school, BUT she needs a BIT more money each month. Miles, w/ Collin in town, sets out to work his hustle (being quite good w/ words). 

Police (and the quickly gentrifying community) do NOT see Miles and Collin in the same way. Though Miles is deeply loyal to his Oakland roots (w/ MANY tattoos as proof), he’s still a white man. In one of the early scenes, Miles finds a gun in a friend’s car and plays w/ it, laughing and joking. Collin (who is more of a thinker/quieter than Miles) can’t believe Miles’ nonchalant attitude. While driving the moving van home late one night, Collin witnesses a shooting. This event alters his life in ways that he never expected, BUT he has to stay out of trouble, and NOT give into anger. Miles doesn’t make things easy, though. Collin’s wise mother and his concerned ex-girlfriend/psychology student Val (Janine Gavankar- hailing from a prominent Indian film family) tell him to distance himself from his friend. Tensions brim w/in the community and between the two men, who come to realize that there are limits to even the tightest bonds.  Watch the trailer below! 

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal’s 10-Year Journey to Get Sundance Opener ‘Blindspotting’ to Big Screen