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« Blerds Show! | Main | What's Up, Tiger Lily? »
Monday
Jan192009

Kumail Nanjiani at Tiger Lily, Taking over LA

Speaking of Tiger Lily, they've got a great line-up tonight, including our friend Kumail Nanjiani. He's actually going to be all over LA this week, so to get you excited we snagged an interview with the man himself. Let's dive in!

Kumail NanjianiYou've been featured on both of our sister sites, The Apiary and the now defunct Bastion, so we'll try not to rehash too much.

Sounds good.

You're coming out to LA for some awesome show dates*, have you ever been out to the west coast before?

Oh, I visited a couple years ago, I think we did a Blerds show at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater.

So you still like New York? No chance of stealing you out our way?

Nah, I'm just coming for a week, do a bunch of shows, see a bunch of shows, see how things are, definitely hang out with some Blerds guys... I haven't seen them in a while so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

So let's go way back to the beginning... you graduated from Iowa, moved to Chicago, and met up with Blerds how?
All these guys that we knew did stand-up together in Chicago, and someone came up with the idea to collaborate together. We had all known each other for about two years at that point so when someone thought of collaborating we all just sort of jumped on it.

Any talk of a Blerds reunion or intercoastal podcast?
We started Blerds at a time when we were all sort of ready to make the big move out of Chicago. It's just hard to collaborate when we're all over the country.

But you personally are still doing lots of stand-up and still hosting a video game comedy show at UCB, correct?
Yeah, I do a lot of work for the monthly video game show. I've been really busy; I toured with Zach Galifianakis in mid 2007, then a Stella mid-West tour in December, then opened for Zach after that. I'll be going to Boston in a month with Eugene Mirman, and I'm always playing in clubs in NYC.

Over at The Bastion they had asked about your career goals and you had said "I wanna have congregations of people, couple thousand mayhaps, reciting my bits for hours on end. And then I want them to mail me a royalty fee. That way I get paid for shows I don't even show up to." Are you still mostly stand-up/congregation oriented? Any TV/movie aspirations?
I'll always be doing stand-up just because that's what I want to be doing, but I'm also working on developing TV shows, movies, the video game show at UCB, and a whole new one man show. Unpronounceable [my previous one man show] had some more serious parts in it, the new one should be a little lighter, a little goofier. There's no title yet, because that was the hardest part with Unpronounceable, but the show itself is starting to come together. Zach Galifiniakis is always doing new things, he just does just what he wants to do and is one of the best stand-ups I've ever seen. He's always doing new and weird stuff, he has so many short videos online. I really want to do that, keep doing stand-up and focus on other weird little projects.

The video game show we're pitching to TV already, and it's been running about five or six months now. We sort of used the live show to hone our pitch for television, and I think now we've gotten into a format we really like. It's me and Thomas Middleditch who's fantastic and we're just doing what we want to do. Aside from that I'm just trying not to put all my eggs in one basket.

This may sound stupid, but do you feel like the recession has effected live comedy?
I haven't really noticed anything. In Chicago it was much harder to get audiences to come out to a stand-up show, it really skewed more sort of sketch. Shows in New York have a built-in stand-up audience and every show I've done has been really well attended, and they're really well-produced but cheap to attend shows with big names like Mike Birbiglia, Michael Showalter, and Eugene Mirman.

What are your thoughts on state of comedy in general? There seems to bea trend towards more off the wall comedy like Tim and Eric or Neil Hamburger, as opposed to more "normal" comedy. Any thoughts on that?
I really like it. There are really creative people in New York, and they are finding success without having to compromise. Eugene Mirman is a good example, or Kristen Schaal. It's just really, really weird stuff that people are getting success from. It's a new movement that I don't think is going to take over but it broadens people's horizon and that's always good for the community.

Any final thoughts or sage advice you've picked up from all the big names you're performing with now?

I've found that the best comedians I've seen, the people I've watched growing up, they all seem to be having fun on stage. To me that's eye opening; if you're having fun it's going to be a good show.

*If you're looking down here for show dates and times, you're in luck. Also check Kumail's MySpace Page to stay up to date on his shows.

Jan 19 2009 8:00P What’s up, Tigerlily?
Jan 20 2009 8:30P Comedy Death Ray @ UCB LA
Jan 21 2009 7:00P Punk House @ Westside Eclectic
Jan 22 2009 9:30P One Man Show @ UCB LA
Jan 23 2009 8:00P Hollywood Improv

Thanks to Kumail and all you wonderful readers, and look forward to more up and coming comedians in the future.

Reader Comments (2)

Kumail is great!! I've seen him perform many times; his material is always fresh and hilarious. And the videogame show is very fun too. I saw the very first one, so I will need to see how they have progressed.

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August 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergoldabrock

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