Review by Tommy Langra
It was late the night before when my editor, Kerrie Pacholli asked if I could take two tickets and write a short review for Aliya Kanani show at Coopers Inn which is part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2019. As I am never one to turn down tickets to a free show, I happily said yes. Without any knowledge of who i may be seeing, or what may be involved, i approached the show with no small amount of trepidation, worried that the title ‘So where are you from, from?’ may leave me in a lurch about some deep political ‘comedy’.
Arriving at the Coopers Inn didn’t inspire an overt amount of hope, as after work city people crowded the blue stone sports bar which had on its main screen the American baseball, which, if nothing else, let everyone know they were in for something a bit different.
Aliya, however, was exuberant and… well… funny. A fresh view on the world through – what she termed – a feminine, slightly narcissistic, chronic liar’s interpretation which left scope for a large amount of audience interaction. Those from the passenger seating that volunteered.
The show covers everything from high school to travels in Indonesia, touching on the importance of spirituality for some local tribal members, yet doesn’t avert from some important message of the interconnectedness of people, no matter their race or creed. Aliya stated after the show that she was “concerned with the value of the question of where we are from, instead of asking ‘who’ we are?”
This coupled with the message in the show of rising above challenges, through the use of comedy, and a spare dose of secondary trauma.
Yet don’t despair if you think this sounds like too much material from foreign escapades, exotic places, and the one time Brazilian Aliya, she quite seamlessly approaches the local climate and context of Melbourne itself, and the value of learning Australian as a second language (in her case, seventh).
An important part of the show and something not to overlook is the improvisation of audience participation, an excellent display of Aliya’s capacity to think quickly on her feet, proving her capacity to talk herself out of any situation… leaving us smiling as she does so.