‘Awkwafina is Nora from Queens’ lets its star shine



Comedy Central’s newest series focuses on Nora, a girl from Queens who is still living at home and trying to get her life together in her 30s.

Brian Connors, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Awkwafina is the moment. The comedienne rose to prominence after hilarious features in “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Ocean’s 8.” A standout performance in the critically acclaimed “The Farewell” showcased her range as an actress as well as earned her the distinction of being the first Asian actress to win in a leading acting category at the Golden Globes.

Despite Oscar buzz, Awkwafina, born Nora Lum, failed to secure an Academy Award nomination. The Academy’s loss is our gain because Awkwafina is going back to her unfiltered, crazy self in a new Comedy Central series, “Awkwafina is Nora from Queens”.

The half-hour comedy stars Awkwafina as a fictionalized version of herself, an Asian American woman cruising through life, hoarding everything in sight and still living with her father and grandmother. After a hilarious yet pathetic interaction with her teenage next-door neighbor, Nora decides she must move-out.

As with past Comedy Central shows like “Broad City,” the show’s simple premise is elevated by the overwhelming amount of charisma captured by its star. Awkwafina is spectacular as Nora. Her goofy nature combined with hysterical dialogue was entertaining as hell. Every gag delivered and even throwaway lines were smile-inducing.

The show’s pilot opens with a hilariously brilliant dream sequence involving Nora having a one-on-one conversation with God, voiced by the amazing Laverne Cox. Other memorable moments from the first two episodes include Nora’s vaginal farts becoming a SoundCloud rapper’s muse, Nora almost setting a friend’s apartment ablaze and Nora driving various people around in an Uber-like app called Commute. The latter ends with a gag that had me erupting with laughter.

Rounding out the cast is Lori Tan Chinn as Nora’s grandmother and BD Wong as her father. Both make the most of their screen time and offer subtle, yet funny performances. I am so happy the show is giving Lori Tan Chinn a vehicle to show how funny she is. The serious premise of “Orange Is the New Black” limited Chinn’s performance to brief comic relief. In the world of Awkwafina, Chinn truly gets to be absurd and hilarious. I am excited to see more!

Other notable guest stars over the first two episodes include SNL’s Bowen Yang as Nora’s snobby cousin and Ming Na Wen as Nora’s free-spirited, commune-living aunt.

“Awkwafina is Nora from Queens” is a brilliant use of Awkwafina’s talents and from the looks of it has a bright future ahead of it. The show thrives off the charisma of its star, and luckily, Awkwafina has charisma in spades. Forget the Oscars, let’s get this girl an Emmy!