Top 10 API American Comics of 2017
By Martin Tran
As another colonial calendar year comes to a close, I find myself reading listicle after listicle of the Top 10 _____s of 2017. And as I sit at work conjuring up ways to look busy, I thought to myself, “I should write my own listicle.” But what listicle could I write that I haven’t already read?
So here we are.
A few things to consider before we dive into the Top 10 API American Comics of 2017.
- Only comics, aka stand-up comedians, aka people who stand on a stage and tell jokes for a living, were considered for this list. And they had to have been actively performing stand-up this past year. So comics who weren’t actively touring were not considered. Neither were comedic actors, improv players, or social media comedy stars.
- This is a numbered list, not a ranking. If you want to be an Asian parent about it and compare these outstanding individuals against one another, do you boo boo. But for the purposes of this list, I don’t consider #1 any better than #10, though I do consider them all to be superior to #4.
- These opinions are mine and mine alone, and don’t reflect the views of the entire SAAFF staff. But then why am I posting it on the SAAFF website? Cuz it’s been awhile since we posted a blog playa. Let it go.
Without further ado, here’s my list.
He kills it as a correspondent on the Daily Show. He killed his first Netflix special, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King. And he straight murdered the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, aka the roast of Agent Orange. Few comics had a year quite as meteoric, hilarious, truthful, and heart-wrenching as this comic from Davis, California. Hasan Minhaj is extra af, and I love him for it.
Depressed much? Don’t worry bout it, because Aparna Nancherla is right there with you. Except she’ll reflect and alleviate your depression with a Twitter account that’s funnier and smarter than the Twitterverse deserves. A comic, writer, and actress (she starred in the short film Ms. Bula Banerjee which screened at SAAFF last year), Aparna will follow up her 2016 comedy album Just Putting It Out There with a Comedy Central special coming out in 2018.
Side Note: Through a mutual friend, I once had the chance to meet and hang out with Aparna after one of her shows. But because life is cruel and unpredictable, through circumstances outside of my control, I wasn’t able to meet up with them that night. So I DID NOT get to meet one of my heroes that night, but I DID get to cry myself to sleep.
Joel Kim Booster
A frequent guest on Conan, Joel Kim Booster hits you with the unexpected, making you say, “This guy!” through your laughter. Or maybe that’s just me. Comedy Central recently aired Joel’s first half hour special, and I wished it was an hour. A fresh voice on the scene, Joel mines his intersecting identities and unique upbringing for all it’s worth.
- You kidding? I ain’t listing anyone at this unlucky number. I want to celebrate these comics, not curse them. Actually…on that note? Louis C.K..
Ronny Chieng brought his outrageously hilarious outrage across the Pacific to be a correspondent on the Daily Show in 2015. In addition to his work on the Daily Show, he continues to perform stand-up, is the creator/writer/star of the Australian sitcom Ronny Chieng: International Student, and will also star in the highly anticipated film Crazy Rich Asians which hits theaters in 2018. He is already a force on the stage, the small screen, and the big screen, and he’s just getting started.
Hari Kondabolu is the hero we deserve. The originator of #BobbyJindalIsSoWhite, a champion of trying to save net neutrality by appealing to Ajit Pai’s parents, and the producer and star of the documentary film The Problem with Apu, Hari fights the good fight with depth and bite. Whenever Hari comes through Seattle (he recently taped a special here), we show him as much love as he shows us. In 2016 he released his second comedy album Mainstream American Comic, and that ironic title is becoming true. It’s about damn time.
Side Note: I was once introduced to Hari at Eastern Cafe in the C-ID. I told him I had seen one of his scratch shows, which is when comics work out the kinks in brand new material. He asked me if it was a rough one, and I was like, “Ummmm…”. Sorry my guy. I meant to follow that by saying I was crazy impressed at how he riffed and saved his new bits, and wowed by what those bits morphed into by the time he recorded them for his album. But alas the conversation veered elsewhere, and a year later I’m here saying, “My bad”, in a blog post he’ll never read. 🙂
I know she’s not API, but I love her. So to get her on this list, for this one time and one time only, “I don’t see color.”
Kumail Nanjiani is everywhere. He’s the star and co-writer of the indie hit film The Big Sick, a star of HBO’s Silicon Valley, former co-host of The Indoor Kids podcast and The Meltdown stand-up showcase, and is still touring the country as a comic. This self-proclaimed “Beta Male” has taken his comedic talents to all corners of entertainment, and his wit and sensitivity is exactly what we need right now.
Born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, Jo Koy returned to the Pacific Northwest to film his first Netflix special, Jo Koy: Live from Seattle in 2017. Now 23 years into his career in stand-up, he completely owns the stage like few others. When he’s telling a story you feel like you’re right there with him, laughing your ting ting off.
Side Note: I once ran into Jo Koy at the old War Room on Cap Hill, and bought him a drink cuz I love his comedy so much. Without prompting homie hooked me up with 2 comp tix for his show the next night. He is as kind as he is funny, and me and my brother had a great time at his show.
What you think, I’d forget about Ali Wong? This boss didn’t tour as much in 2017, and you wouldn’t either if you were a star of the ABC sitcom American Housewife in addition to carrying your second child. An “overnight” sensation after her 2016 Netflix special Baby Cobra killed the world, Ali Wong has another special coming to Netflix in 2018. What can I say about Ali Wong that you don’t already know? She straight owns the stage, always taking her audiences on a hilarious and unexpected ride.
Some of y’all who are good at math may have noticed that my Top 10 list is actually a Top 8 list. It’s all good. Keeping it at a lucky 8 hopefully makes this list most auspicious.
Happy non-Lunar New Year everybody!