I had so many expectations. I really did. I’m one of those people who became a fan of Kanan Gill ever since his first Pretentious Movie Review dropped in 2013–and I still watch those reviews to this day. So when Netflix announced that there was a Kanan Gill comedy special coming out, I was all set with my popcorn and my headphones, ready to laugh out the stress of this surreal pandemic time we live in.
But all that I could give were a couple of snorts here and there, an accidental giggle, and the one chuckle that came out at the end of the show.
Basically, it was not funny.
Let’s talk about the beginning: Gill came on stage and right away jumped into a bit about airports, which itself felt unnatural and forceful. It didn’t feel like the natural start to a comedy special; more like “hey, I’m going to tell you a joke now.” But it did progress into jokes flowing into one another, and topics were well written to form a seamless, coherent thread.
Unfortunately, the jokes were not very funny and the topics were not dealt with in a very engaging manner. He begins with a blackboard on stage, explaining that it’s there to manipulate Indian audiences into paying attention–a result of our education system. Yet, I found myself dozing off and fast-forwarding at times. What was interesting was that he didn’t cover basic shit like dating, sex, Indian stereotypes. He actually spoke about fresh things, like Caesar’s eloquent last words, ‘Et tu, Brute?’, the violence of ‘birthday bumps,’ iPhones conditioning us to drink water, and the absurdity of those ‘formal letters’ we had to write in school.
Which was the central narrative of the show: a letter that younger Kanan wrote to himself, to read when he’s older. Signed off ‘Yours Sincerely, Kanan,’ this letter had a list of goals that he would have liked his future self to have achieved. Did he achieve those goals? Not exactly. But did he use that letter to extract really comical material that would be worth an entire hour in my very free schedule? Nope.
There was a lack of energy in his performance that couldn’t hold my attention. It was, in totality, a rather dull affair; a reading of a list of goals with a couple of jokes attached to each of them. Things like be healthy, find love, try to become an athlete, etc. It is a very interesting concept, but perhaps the point of it got a little lost in some jokes that dragged on for too long. Some of the jokes were a little punny and WhatsApp uncle-ish, leaving me confused about whether he was being intentionally ironice. Turns out, he was not. At the start of the special, he very rightly points out how the Indian phrase “time pass” is both an activity and an insult, and by the end, he proved that that’s what his comedy special felt like.
What was cool about the show was the fact that Gill used this letter of his to talk about depression. He very openly notes that he was sad back then, when he wrote the letter at 15, and he has struggled with depression recently, too. Which is cool. And relevant. And he did it without making the audience uncomfortable, and in a lighthearted manner.
All in all, I wish there was more spunk to the show, and some of the jokes were a bit shorter. We trust Gill’s comedy generally, and will always give him the benefit of the doubt.
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