Named one of Variety’s “Top Ten Comics to Watch 2016,” Aparna Nancherla has been a writer/performer for Late Night with Seth Meyers and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. She’s also made memorable appearances on Conan, Inside Amy Schumer, and Judd Apatow’s Love to name a few.
Her debut comedy album Just Putting It Out There was the first release from Tig Notaro’s Bentzen Ball Records label. Ahead of her appearance at Moontower in April, Aparna shares some insight into her comedy influences, her joke writing process and her love of migas tacos.
On Comedic Inspiration: I discovered comedy a little later than most (roughly ’78, according to amateur historians), so when I was really little, my carefully cultivated humor preferences ranged from Sesame Street to Weekend at Bernie’s 2. When I was in high school, I discovered SNL and Late Night with Conan O’Brian, and really gravitated toward the sillier stuff. I didn’t know much about stand-up besides seeing Ellen once on TV and then maybe Seinfeld another time, also on TV. I definitely didn’t think stand-up was something anyone could do. I thought it was like the circus and you had to be born into the trade.
The first stand-up I really remember getting into was Mitch Hedberg. My friend gave me two of his CDs. Then after that I think came Jim Gaffigan, Paul F. Tompkins, Jen Kirkman, and Maria Bamford. Now I am constantly inspired by my peers and up-and-coming comics, just off the top of my head–Nick Vatterott, Joel Kim Booster, John Early, Naomi Ekperigin, Emily Heller, Kyle Mizono, Julio Torres, and Ana Fabrega. I love people who play with the form. There are so many amazing minds, it changes any given week who I’m dazzled by.
On joke writing: I usually see something or think of something and then I jot down the idea in my phone or notebook, or even more likely, I’ll tweet about it. If it feels like it could be a longer thing or something with a few more beats like a story, I will then write down a rough version of it, or just free write around it. Then when it has any rough coherence, I will try it out onstage. And if I don’t throw it out immediately, it will start to morph and ooze into the champion rhythmic gymnast it always was!
On social media: Twitter is frequent for me. It has helped me with job opportunities, meeting people I look up to, and getting a teensy bit better at joke editing. There was a period where I could only think in short bursts and couldn’t write anything longer than a tweet, and that was horrifying. But now I’ve tried to regain a balance in terms of how much space I allow it in my brain. And it’s more of an exercise for me everyday to get some ideas out there.
On Austin: I love migas tacos! And there are so many great Austin comics to watch and hang with. So hopefully some combination of those two.