Spinning Platters Interview: Aparna Nancherla & Eliza Skinner

by OJ Patterson on April 23, 2014

Good comedy is hard to find. I mean, it’s easy to find , but with thousands of voices permeating the ether, it’s hard to see the stars within the galaxies. How does anybody, especially comedy nerds, expect to stay up to date when there’s so many choices and unanswered questions: Do I want to have a good time? Do I want to be challenged? Who will champion the comedy I want to hear, excuse me, need to hear? Well, Aparna Nancherla and Eliza Skinner, of course.

One is acerbically imaginative, the other keenly effervescent, both are delightfully different with incredible style and substance. The duo worked on the gone-too-soon “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” (aka the “OMG, Kamau has a show! OMG, they canceled it! Whyyyyyyyy!?” Show), together they’ve toured with the regal Janine Brito, and both are performing THIS SATURDAY—two shows—at our favorite indie comedy haunt, Lost Weekend Video (aka the Cynic Cave). It’s a highly-recommended happening of extremely special circumstance!

In this exclusive interview we discuss Disney, earthquake preparedness, and their biggest fear for the weekend.

 Spinning Platters: What are you excited about in comedy right now? 

Eliza Skinner: Aparna. She is so different, and such a delightful comic to watch. She’s smart, whimsical, dark and vulnerable all at the same time – it’s a pretty delicate concoction of comedy in a tiny package.

Aparna Nancherla: The noise a zipper makes combined with the face of heartburn. That and rhetoric disarming the status quo, and you’ve got me doubled over into the person sitting in front of me’s hair.

Eliza: In a larger sense, I am really excited about all the women kicking ass in comedy now.

How was your East Coast tour with the Bay’s adopted golden child Janine Brito?


Aparna: Sheer delight. Imagine a footpath of chewy chocolate chip cookies leading to an ice cream sundae with a microphone sticking out of it. Horrible metaphor, but that was the tour with Eliza and Janine.

Eliza: We traveled with a helium balloon that said “aloha” in the car, set off fireworks on the beach in South Carolina, and got to spend two days in Disneyworld. So, you tell me. IT WAS THE BEST.

Aparna: Also, red wine was an unofficial sponsor, and may or may not have factored.

Eliza: My only regret is that we made Janine do way too much of the driving, but she’s really good at driving.

Disneyworld or Disneyland?

Eliza: Wow, ok. This is a very complicated question. Disneyland is the original, and it has almost all the same rides in a much smaller area—most of them in one park (and adding a trip to California Adventure is super easy since it’s only feet away)—and it’s totally adorable.

BUT, Disneyworld has bigger, newer everything, and you get to ride a ferryboat or monorail there. Plus, Disneyworld is TECHNICALLY four different parks, while Disneyland is one. Epcot is awful, but I love it passionately. If I could do anything in the world it would be revamp Epcot—I’ve got a lot of big ideas for robot Main Street OF THE FUTURE.

Aparna: It’s breathtaking how many people decide an appropriate first date spot is Paris in Epcot Center.

Eliza: Bottom line, you’re going to cry at either park, so just go to whatever is closest. Oh, and you can drink at Disneyworld (I mean, it is Florida.)

Is there any silver lining to the cancellation of Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell? 

Aparna: Yes, more time to choreograph flash mobs at protest rallies.

Eliza: I got to come back to California, which was a huge relief for me. After living in New York for 12 years, I have had my fill.

What’s your worst fear for your shows this weekend?

Aparna: That most of the audience will be baby lemurs and I will be forced to perform in front of a group I consider Godlike.

Eliza: That everyone will laugh so hard [that] their butts will explode and I will somehow be at fault, legally.

What’s in your earthquake preparedness kit?

Aparna: A well-worn copy of The Artist’s Way, a caftan, and taco seasoning mix. It’s a first draft.

Eliza: Mine is actually a store bought kit that my boyfriend got me for Valentines Day. It is very romantic to not want your girlfriend to die in an earthquake, but being given a bucket with a toilet seat lid is kind of odd.

Being this is a (mostly) music publication, what was the last album that changed your life? 

Eliza: Probably I Am… Sasha Fierce. Can you believe it’s been 11 years since Dangerously In Love? Crazy.

Comedians distill their jokes to a single word in their set list. What’s the word that indicates your favorite joke at the moment? 

Aparna: Hate.

How do you feel about “Adele Dazeem”?

Eliza: I’m ready to let it go.

What would be your ideal job in a bank heist?

Aparna: Cryptkeeper or layabout. Preferably both.

What would your platform be if you ran for public office?

Eliza: It would be illegal to be rich over a certain amount, and I would revamp Epcot.

[Note : Avoid service fees and possible sellouts by buying tickets in advance at the checkout counter of Lost Weekend Video, one of the region’s best rental stores. Mention “Spinning Platters” for absolutely no monetary discount.]

OJ Patterson

OJ Patterson is a Bay Area Native, who grew up on a diet of scathing satire and absurd surrealism. He is a comedy writer, performer and promoter. He has the best laugh in the room and loves you very much. Serving Size = 1.

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