Yours Sincerely, Kanan Gill Review: A decent comeback that could have been a lot more
A little over the half-way mark, the influx of laughter-evoking humour diminishes along with the magnitude of claps from the audience
Between the funny and the not, there is a whole spectrum of stand-up comedians. Some specialise in self-deprecating comedy, while others resort to toilet humour. Some kindle your love for nostalgia, while others end up comically delivering sermons. Then, there's Kanan Gill, whose humour is a medley of these worlds and his latest stand up special, Yours sincerely, Kanan Gill, is a testament to this.
Created by: Kanan Gill
Streaming on: Netflix
After his Pretentious Movie Reviews back in 2014 and his previous special on Amazon Prime, Keep It Real, where he... keeps it real and grounded, Kanan tries to go all guns blazing in the new Netflix special. After all, it's not every day you see a performer start a show by saying the national sport of the USA is getting coffee. In Yours sincerely, Kanan Gill, he goes through a letter with a list of goals he had written when he was 15 so that the future him (the current him now) can evaluate how successful he has turned out to be. Hence, the title. In this little-over-an-hour special, that could have also been titled Kanan Gill: Into the Kanan-Verse, thanks to all those versions he impersonates, Kanan assiduously breaks down the components of that letter in his style that includes theatrics — he even reads the letter in his scrawny adolescent voice.
Keeping that desi vibe intact, Kanan, who is returning to the stand-up scene after a year, starts with how the concept of small talk is almost nonexistent in India and how aunties ask you for your yearly salary the minute they see you. As he jumps to the next set where he explains the concept of 'timepass' in India, which is different from pastime, he begins lacing his jokes with elements that calls back later in the show — something which can be called his forte. Sketches about Fight Club, Julius Caesar and his famous last words, Grand Theft Auto, dead languages such as Sanskrit, and PJs (poor jokes) are referenced many times over the act. It's like Chekhov's gun, but for jokes.
Before even getting into the contents of the letter, Kanan goes on a lengthy monologue on how letters are of two types - formal and informal - and how which side of the letter the date is mentioned is important. The applause that begins then reaches a crescendo when he enacts how he had to jump around to place his testicles on the palm of a doctor who would not move his hand around while checking for a hernia. This is easily the best part of his performance where he mixes humour with his trademark actions.
But a little over the half-way mark, the influx of laughter-evoking humour diminishes along with the magnitude of claps from the audience. This is where Kanan jumps from one point to another in the letter, which, unfortunately, pushes him towards familiar lines. Relationship, sex, friendship, insecurities, depression, and the Indian way of doing things, the analogies give us a strong been-there-done-that vibe. We've heard better jokes on these topics. And considering the current climate, jokes on depression and suicides don't really hit the spot.
Compared to his previous specials, Kanan feels too rigid on stage. The Kanan here is a far cry from the energetic person who employs a lot of body language that we are accustomed to. Unlike Keep It Real, where the jokes were simple, more relatable, and to the point, Yours sincerely, Kanan Gill lacks consistency and is insipid. Thus making it, in his own words, just 'time pass'.