“MANOJ” Explores Race in Comedy with Humor and Good Taste
Comedy as a field is infamous among some for the intensity of the pushback comedians give against critics perceived as outsiders, especially when the critic is perceived as somehow controlling the speech of comedians. That makes skillfully delivered internal criticism that much more valuable. MANOJ is a collaboration between director Zia Mohajerjasbi and writer Hari Kondabolu that explores the path a rising Indian-American comic takes in using his ethnic background to make largely white audiences laugh that’s nowhere near as heavy-handed as you might expect. Kondabolu and Mohajerjasbi represent the competing influences that shape the titular character’s career choice with rare grace and sensitivity. Check it.