Comedy Foot Soldiers – Aparna Nancherla

by Dustin D'Addato on March 18, 2009

Aparna Nancherla has been rocking the D.C. comedy scene since 2006 and after just one year of doing stand-up she was a finalist in NBC’s 2007 Stand Up for Diversity.  You may have also seen her on Last Comic Standing, the first Hysterical Festival, and the DC Comedy Fest.  I recently saw her perform here in New York at Greenpoint’s indy comedy show Too Cool For School and I can tell you she is going to be big.  Here is what she had to say when we sat her down to answer our Comedy Foot Soldier questions:

What’s the most important thing you learned since you started doing comedy?
I have learned that even if you can’t laugh at yourself, you should be still be allowed to laugh at other people.  I have also learned (from my parents) that I should really start thinking about going to graduate school any day now…

photo by Quincy Ledbetter

photo by Quincy Ledbetter

How did you know you were meant to be a comedian?
My foot fell asleep and I thought it was a sign. Turns out I’m bad at reading signs, but hey, here I am. The real story is actually even less exciting.

What’s been your brightest moment as a comedian?
Sometimes when you have a good set, and not even necessarily at a big show but just at an open mic, and your friends are there and you’ve found a groove, those are my favorite nights. I also love organic moments more than I love organic vegetables. You heard it here first.

What’s been your darkest moment as a comedian?

There is quite a selection. But once after I got off stage, the headliner after me said, “How about that last comic? She was small and brown…(wait for it)…just like my penis!”  Oh wait, maybe that was my brightest moment. It was both.  I also hate when you do a new joke and it goes great, but then you can never recreate it quite the right way ever again, and it’s more or less lost forever…

What is your favorite thing going on in comedy right now?
I like this storytelling movement where people can just get onstage and talk and be real and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a show-show like a tap shoes and white gloves deal. But there are real moments of connection and hilarity on all kinds of Donkey Kong levels.  I also love people who do a lot with a little, which is to say that they take mundane topics and they turn them on their heads and then wear them as masks maybe, and the whole time this is happening the audience is just going “o wao.”

What is the scariest thing going on in comedy right now?
Probably the fact that everyone has a web site. That’s kind of terrifying. And Twitter is also an extreme exercise in self-love. It’s like, get a (chat)room already! Of course, as I’m typing this with one hand, I’m Twittering that I’m typing it with the other so that’s where I’m at right now.

Who do you think is today’s most underappreciated comedian/comedy actor?
I am excited to see more of the brilliance that is Jackie Clarke and Julie Klausner! But I’m also hoping they don’t feel underappreciated. I’m hoping they gets mad love from their fans besides this paltry shout out.

What’s the best advice you ever received as a comedian?
Silence is the most cerebral form of laughter. Also, keep going.

What’s the worst advice you ever received as a comedian?
Tell more Indian jokes. But it’s always said with my best interests in mind. It comes straight from the racist heart.

What is your craziest show experience?
Once, this venue (that I happened to personally dislike quite a bit) was closing and so it was the last show there, and something snapped in me and I completely raged out onstage and knocked down the stool and dropped the mic at the end. Basically the opposite of what is actually my act.  It was like I was outside of my body watching myself the whole time going, I want my money back! Just who does she think she is! Good thing this is a free show! Show me your boobs!

photo by Kevin Thom

photo by Kevin Thom

What is the biggest source of your comedy?
My brain.

How would you describe your comedy?
Dry. Wry. Sly. Can I use a non-three-letter word? No? Ok.

Quick Hitters
I would like to be known for…my personality’s looks.

Shoot me if I ever…become a loud person.

I think most comedians are…painfully self-aware. I know I am as I’m writing this even!

The one thing I have never seen a comedian do, but would love to is…fly (organically).

My favorite comedy bit that I was not involved in is…apparently a victim of the limits of my long-term memory. But trust that there have been many!

My favorite comedy bit that I was involved in is…my life.

People often say they are attracted to a sense of humor. I think that is…a huge relief.

I would like to plug…in my Glade terrycloth-towel-scented room-freshening wick. To clear up the musty scent of baggage I brought into this interview.

Check her out her blog, follow her on twitter, watch her on youtube, friend her facebook or myspace and check her on out on

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