Five things I learned at Kumail Nanjiani's NYCF show

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Kumail Nanjiani

Kumail Nanjiani

Opening comic Mike Lawrence isn't just a crank. Yes, he's awfully disgruntled (he equated working at McDonald's for seven years with serving in Vietnam) and completely nerdy (he seems to pepper most of his life stories with superhero references). Still, there's something lovable about the way he recounts miserable experiences onstage.

A lot can happen in six years. The last time I caught Nanjiani live was at an open-mike night in Chicago in 2005. Back then, he told short, amusing anecdotes. These days, he can expertly stretch a single story to the ten-minute mark. His show's title, Just Me Talking, proved totally apropos; after seeing it, I'd honestly cough up 15 bucks just to hear him riff on true-life tales at a bar.

The current Los Angelino longs to live in Brooklyn again. Or does he? "I miss it so much," Nanjiani said early on in his set, to much applause. Cut to a few minutes later, when the subject of being a Brooklynite popped up again: "It was fucking terrible," he laughed. "And I grew up in Pakistan."

You can mock an audience member without coming off like a dick. After an obviously-made-up story that ended with him putting down a cat, Nanjiani made fun of a girl who let loose a loud "awww." Somehow, he still seemed completely charming.

Dancing monkeys are an integral part of Pakistani kids' birthday parties. And if a monkey's not available, somebody better pony up for a snake and a mongoose. So they can fight. To the death. In front of children.

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