Earlier in her career, she was a flight attendant, scratching a travel itch and gathering anecdotes about just how quirky and annoying passengers can be. Eventually, she cashed in a Groupon and took a comedy writing course.
Her comedy career is now itself in full flight: she played Just for Laughs and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2019, and is on her way to the Edinburgh Fringe later this summer after this Toronto Fringe Festival run. She’s also had success as a film actor, nominated for Best Actress by the Canadian Screen Awards for her role as the empathetic teacher Ms. Hina in the film drama “Scarborough.”
The central theme of this show is her experience as a Muslim woman. She starts out with some well-observed material about how secondary airport searches may not be as random as claimed — “Eeny, meeny, miny, Mo… hammed?” — and moves on to the titular question that’s frequently asked of her.
She doesn’t outright say that asking multiple questions about a person of colour’s origins is racist; her game’s subtler than that. Rather, with a winning smile and a funny-quizzical face scrunch, she talks about the inventive strategies she’s been using since childhood to deflect such queries (basically, she rebranded herself as a citizen of the world).
The middle portion of the show focuses on dating and sex — it’s fun and pretty raunchy — and she brings it around again at the end to her experiences as a brown woman on the comedy scene, dropping some powerful truth bombs while never losing that charming smile. Kanani’s combination of self-confidence and self-deprecation enchanted her Monday evening audience, many of whom stayed afterwards to chat with her.
She and this show are a treat.
To view the list of the Star’s top picks from the 2022 Toronto Fringe Festival, click here.
Aliya Kanani: Where Are You From, From?
Written and performed by Aliya Kanani. Tarragon Theatre Extraspace, 30 Bridgman Ave. Runs through July 16. fringetoronto.com and 416-966-1062 for tickets.
Credit belongs to : www.thestar.com