Verified Stand-Up is a comedy show featuring ten comedians in total, performed at Webster Hall in New York City. Netflix may be the only platform that is encouraging stand-up specials to this extent, and it has opened up a lot of discussion on the art form. The first episode of Verified Stand-Up had five comedians, who were Asif Ali, Sabrina Wu, Gianmarco Soresi, Rosebud Baker, and Dulce Sloan. It may be more appropriate to call them The Indian, The Transwoman, The Jew, The Pregnant Woman, and The Original One, because that is exactly how their stand-up sets went. To be fair, Sabrina Wu’s set went a little beyond her identity, but she and Asif Ali had a particular hyper-nervous energy that made it look like they were seeking some form of validation, which shouldn’t be the case when you are making jokes about who you are. That is why Dulce Sloan was the clear winner in this episode. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a competition, but she knew what she was doing; she was confident, and she genuinely brought something different to the table.
1. Asif Ali
Let us start with Asif Ali. He was the first in the lineup and easily the most disappointing in Verified Stand-Up Episode 1. We haven’t seen any of his work before, though his acting credits look impressive. But his choice of jokes for the set doesn’t. Don’t get us wrong; we are not offended, but we are simply not feeling anything. Is it compulsory that every Indian comedian on stage talk only about the trappings of the immigrant identity? And if they must do that, can the jokes at least be original instead of borrowed and so uninspired? There wasn’t one original joke in Asif Ali’s set, and so many times, it felt like the audience was laughing out of politeness, out of respect for the energy he was exuding. Why didn’t he put that effort into his writing?
2. Sabrina Wu
Admittedly, Sabrina Wu had some crisp one-liners about growing up trans in an Asian household. Secondly, her insights about Asian fathers should be on a podcast with far more details. Finally, we love her set about her jealousy. It was funny because it was sad for her, and the audience was laughing at her pain. In India, there is a phenomenon called ‘Sharma Ji ka beta,’ which translates to ‘Sharma’s son.’ The meaning is the kid who you are constantly compared to during your childhood. This kid could be someone in the neighborhood, someone among your relatives, or even a classmate, but they will haunt you throughout your life. Sabrina Wu essentially spoke about a ‘Sharma’s daughter’ of her own creation, and we felt seen for the second or third time during her set.
3. Gianmarco Soresi
Coming to the third comedian of Verified Stand-Up Episode 1, Gianmarco Soresi, he was undoubtedly funny and the first one to make us genuinely laugh during the hour-long runtime of the episode. He addressed anti-Semitism and, in his own clever way, addressed the difference between him making jokes about Jews and the community being targeted by others. We also came to know that he starred in ‘Wolf of Wall Street,’ where he played Leonardo de Caprio’s waiter. But that is not his only gig, and he has found lots of success with his stand-up sets and podcasts while receiving a nod of approval and acknowledgment from some esteemed names in the industry. But he was the third comedian of the night to start off his set with jokes on identity, and it had started feeling a little repetitive by then. If he had a whole one-hour special to himself, maybe he could have bought something genuinely different for the table, or perhaps the Jew jokes wouldn’t have felt so tiring, but this time, he was a little let down by the set-up. Yet, he remains the first good stand-up set of the night.
4. Rosebud Baker
When it comes to Rosebud Baker, ‘underwhelming’ is the only word that comes to mind. Asif Ali was at least annoying; Rosebud Baker could not even manage that. She is pregnant, and it is visible, but is it really funny? How many people before her have made jokes about this being a difficult thing to do? Can the jokes really not extend beyond the difficulties of that time, or how gross it gets then? And if that is all there is, then Ali Wong really set the standard long back with her two sets, ‘Hard Knock Wife’ and ‘Baby Cobra.’ Once you see that, everything else pales in comparison. Rosebud Baker may have had a moment where she showed everyone what she was given to wear by the doctors, but while it had a certain shock value, it still wasn’t funny. On that note, if anybody says that we should be lenient towards pregnant women, allow us to clarify and confirm that we are criticizing her jokes, not her pregnancy.
5. Dulce Sloan
Finally, there is Dulce Sloan in all of her fabulousness. Let us start by acknowledging that her energy was the best of the lot. She wasn’t the funniest, but she was the most comfortable, and that made such a difference to her performance. Granted, there were a few minutes in between when even her jokes were not up to the mark, but her confidence and charm on stage held our attention. Jokes on dating will probably never get old, but understanding math can be a nice surprise sometimes, especially coming from someone who has just bought a house and a car (she said that). We related it to when she spoke about not knowing what the fraction was a part of because there is similar trouble with distances. If you say something is a kilometer (1 mile for people using the other system), what are we supposed to understand? Isn’t it more practical to just say how long it takes to get somewhere? Dulce Sloan saved the first episode of Verified Stand-Up, along with Gianmarco Soresi. Sabrina Wu could have used a little more polish, and the others were simply forgettable.