Day 21: Mo Amer

Day 21. I’m sharing comedy sets I like each day this month, since if you like my material, chances are you’ll like these too. Today’s set is a recent Fallon appearance by Mo Amer, and here’s a few reasons I’m laughing at it:

• LIKEABILITY. If you get me to like you, I’m inclined to laugh at your jokes. And if I don’t like you, I immediately stick your jokes in the grave. The same is true on stage, where Mo gets me liking him immediately. Opening with a self-deprecating DJ Khaled reference, explaining he’s a refugee, and smiling between jokes all get me rooting for him. The Cosby joke (or even pretending to be an enemy soldier) could have flopped with a smug delivery, but Mo delivers it with the charm of a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The result: I laugh at a topic that’s generally out of bounds.

• VOCAL ENERGY. Mo captivates me in this set by bringing a lot of energy, particularly with his voice, where he’ll often turn up the dial on a punchline (“Am I being roasted right now?” “The British Flag is inside of your flag!” “Who is this?!” “That’s where my family fled from!” ) These exclamations match his incredulity, so they’re not just out of the blue, but they’re larger-than-life reactions that at once get me laughing and keep me engaged.

• ACCENTS. Mo runs the gamut of world characters here, from Japanese to British to Australian to Middle Eastern. Just as unique gestures and facial expressions can, Mo’s accents help distinguish his characters, underscoring the comedic contrast between him and his international counterparts. And rather than poking fun of the accents, Mo creates scenes instead where he and these characters can engage in funny ways, ultimately twisting it to where his character is himself not just speaking in an accent but a different language entirely.

For more Mo, check out his Netflix special “the VAGABOND” and follow on Instagram: @realmoamer