Review: Aliya Kanani: Where You From, From?

Charming and confident debut hour from the Canada-based comedian

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Aliya Kanani
Photo by Monica Pronk
Published 05 Aug 2022

Aliya Kanani is really good at lying – or storytelling, as she prefers to call it. It’s a skill that comes naturally when you’re continually questioned about your background, and then questioned again when the first answer you give isn’t quite enough. The title of Kanani’s show may be a nod to this awkward line of cross-examination, but it’s also a reference to her own feelings of not necessarily fitting in anywhere. 

In her debut hour, the Canada-based comedian ruminates on what it means to belong, engaging with universal themes like race, sexuality and gender to highlight why and how it becomes such a loaded question. Her explicit, confident delivery makes light of the notion of sticking out, but there is some poignancy here too, especially when she explains how she almost quit comedy due to being tokenised, only to find herself back within its grasp.

Some of the material around not-so-random airport security checks and her time as a flight attendant travelling the world feel overly drawn out. But throughout, there are nuggets of gold, ranging from her nickname at school (it rhymes with Kanani) to the rap about putting a dick in a blender. Instead of pandering to what might be expected of her as a brown woman doing comedy, Kanani plays with those assumptions to take up the space she rightfully deserves.