Kumail Nanjiani

Beta Male: Live at the Moody Theater in Austin, TX

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With a set that's solid and an ability to ad lib with either charm or spite (whichever is required), comedian Kumail Nanjiani under-promises and over-delivers on his debut album, Beta Male. Born in Pakistan but a grade-A U.S. slacker ever since college, Nanjiani opens with the easy device of contrasting his hometown Karachi and the hipster haven of Brooklyn, and while it seems for a minute that he's a simple post-millennium Bronson Pinchot, the brilliant "Elephant Man" explores what happens when a kid approaches David Lynch's disturbing masterpiece thinking it a superhero movie. This break from the usual is followed by the excellent and off-kilter "Birthday Party," where a mongoose meets a snake at a child's celebration, which the comedian paints as a soul-sucking and strange Pakistani tradition or something akin to the U.S. tradition of birthday party clowns. Creative street drug combinations ("Cheese"), the video game Hard Rain ("Video Games"), and stray cats that now run pizza delivery businesses ("Meowminos," where everything is "30 meownutes or less") inspire some the best bits, while the comedian's homeland comes into focus on the great "VCR," where a Pakistani power outage leads to the universal problem of how to keep mom from finding the porn. A slow start leaves room for improvement, but otherwise, Beta Male is a hilarious debut.

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