In case you missed her a couple nights ago on Conan — and I’m sad to say I did — comedienne and staff writer of FX’s Totally Biased Aparna Nancherla performed a quick set. It was brilliantly awkward, it was sharp, it left me wanting more:
But mostly, I couldn’t help but observe how effortlessly Nancherla utilizes her own Indian upbringing in her humor — in a way that doesn’t come off as over-the-top, self-loathing, or other-ing. Her performance struck a jarring contrast with Mindy Kaling’s recent interview with Parade — where the most notable soundbite ended up being, “There are little Indian girls out there who look up to me, and I never want to belittle the honor of being an inspiration to them. But while I’m talking about why I’m so different, white male show runners get to talk about their art.”
Kaling’s a pioneer and that, unfortunately, comes with the unsavory turf of fielding icky questions about race and identity. America wants to know and Nancherla’s Conan segment shows that if Kaling continues to bristle when probed about her ethnicity, instead of finding a way to respond through her comedy at the least, then someone like Nancherla could, perhaps too-easily, swoop in and steal her thunder.