The Funny Indian Newsletter, Vol. 197
February 2023: Blow Out
Welcome to The Funny Indian Newsletter!
Two big announcements, thanks to two big Indian comedians…
Breaking News: I’m finally recording a standup special! Dry Bar Comedy is all the rage in the comedy world. After a lot of deliberation and checking in with fellow comics, I decided that Dry Bar is the perfect hybrid. On the one hand, a Netflix one-hour could obviously be rad, but if they don’t promote it, you get lost in the mix. On the other hand, a lot of big-name comics are releasing their sets directly on YouTube. Since Dry Bar places its videos on YouTube, this has both the reach of the world’s largest video platform and the cachet of a release by the gatekeepers. The trend has moved away from one-hours and back to the ol’ half-hour format. As such, I’ll be taping a 25-min special on Friday, May 12, in Provo, Utah. You’re welcome to come catch me in action. How’d this come about? Whilst the lovely Hari Kondabolu and I were on the same show (and in the same house) last month at Sundance, our rideshare driver brought up Dry Bar, since it’s a clean comedy outfit based in Utah. Hari said it’d be great for me, called the booker to vouch, and voilà. This origin story is also the perfect hybrid of what everyone says about Hollywood: it’s dumb luck and smart connections — whether that’s comedians or Uber drivers.
My old roommate is hosting the Independent Spirit Awards, so I got the hook-up to conduct interviews on the red carpet this Saturday… much appreciated, Hasan Minhaj!
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Just a note to my fellow Punjabi, Nimrata Nikki Haley, who claimed "America is not a racist country"...
I grew up in a small Ohio town half an hour north of one of the most conservative cities in America in the 1980s. And I experienced very, very little racism.
That said, ALL countries are racist. That's literally why countries exist. It's a bunch of people getting together and drawing a line in the sand — figuratively and often literally with a wall or a fence — and going, "OK, soooo.... let's keep THESE PEOPLE in and THOSE PEOPLE out."
"These people" are almost always of the same ethnic group or religion. (If it's the latter, we could say "creedist" instead of "racist," but it's debatable whether that's an actual word.)
I'm not making the case that nations shouldn't defend their borders: they should, and strongly. I agree with very, very little of what Donald J. Trump has stated, but even Chris Matthews on MSNBC concurred with one of his declarations: "If you don't have borders, then you don't have a country."
Perhaps the most fundamental challenge Americans currently face is that we've lost our sense of a shared narrative:
American exceptionalism can refer to the fact that she was built with multiculturalism in mind, that her superpower (pun intended) is her ability to welcome and integrate immigrants, and if they work hard, they can get ahead.
America's original sin was two-fold: genocide of Native Americans and slavery of Africans.
Steve Jobs loved what writer F. Scott Fitzgerald said (or probably wrote)…
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
As such, I firmly believe both of those story arcs about the USA. They're both true. It's possible to love yourself and still think you have a long way to go. In fact, that's the ideal state of mental health.
Nikki Haley is potentially a formidable candidate. But to win over enough centrists, she's almost gonna have to address this.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley could possibly make the claim that the US is less racist than other countries (and it very well might be), but that's a complex argument that requires addressing systemic prejudice and systematic discrimination, and a deep comparative analysis of competing nations. I don't expect that anytime soon. I started by talking about a fellow Indian but I'll finish with a fellow comic, the conservative Dennis Miller...
"Did a few gigs in the DEEP South. To be frank, I find these people anything but deep."
Absolutely blown away by the movie, Joyland.
Logline: "The youngest son in a traditional Pakistani family takes a job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque, and he quickly becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman who runs the show."
In many ways, it's difficult to watch, which is precisely what makes it so powerful. Thanks to my friend Vyjayanthi's taking me as her guest, I got to ask the producers during the Q&A: "How in the world did this film not get nominated for Best International Feature Film, like WTF?" Since I'm a comic, I have to tell you it got a big laugh. More importantly, though, they gave the answer I figured…
Running a nomination campaign for a film is akin to running a political campaign: it takes a lot of money and, well, politics. Pakistan's independent movie industry is rather nascent.
Naturally, the other reason could very well be the subject matter itself: it was banned in many states in Pakistan, including my native Punjab. (Of course, my Dad was born in "Undivided India.")
I mean, it's about a married Muslim man who falls in love with a trans woman in Pakistan.
As Larry David once exclaimed in the premiere episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm: "Gay Jew in Nazi Germany? Wow! What a combo!"
After the Q&A, I invoked my straight cis male privilege and cut to the front of the line to say a brief hello to Producer Apoorva Charan.
KIDDING. She actually turned to me as she somehow knew me as "Anisha's friend." (Thanks, Anisha!)
Wish we would’ve gotten some better pics, but it’s not exactly the kind of film after which you start snapping selfies.
Since the film is as close to a 10 as I've seen in recent years, I highly recommend it — and wish it well with its nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards on March Forth! (I’ll be there.)
Who’s Gonna Stop 200 Balloons?
Ironically, Zoomers didn’t notice the Chinese balloon in the sky as they were too busy looking down at the Chinese app, TikTok. #DontLookUp
Why couldn't the CIA just skyhook that Chinese balloon like in The Dark Knight?
Wonder why there are so many? Well, if Chinese balloons are anything like their meals, as soon as you’re finished with one, it’s time for another.
03/08: Corporate Event (San Francisco, CA)
03/10: The She-Suite Summit (Virtual)
05/12: Dry Bar Taping (Provo, UT)
02/19: The Letdown (Los Feliz, CA)
02/21: Jay Davis Comedy (Hollywood, CA) (pic)
02/23: The Stand Up Comedy Club (Bellflower, CA)
It was a thrill interviewing comedian Paul Reiser (Mad About You, Stranger Things, Beverly Hills Cop) for one of my upcoming podcasts! More soon…
22 POINTS TO CHEER UP BENGALS FANS
In my inevitable post-AFC Championship depression after a sad Cincinnati Bengals loss, I thought of a bunch of things. Some might make you feel better, some might make you feel worse. I’m calling it as fairly as I can, which is more than we can say for those NFL refs. Hey, Now! If any of my points does pour salt in the wounds, let’s try to find a way to improve. I know it sucks. And I know sometimes this can feel like we’re deluding ourselves. But overall, my intent is to cheer us all up, so if something resonates with you, hang onto it like a Ja’Marr Chase catch. Here goes…
Yes, you can’t replace a Super Bowl victory. But this is entertainment. And we’ve lost three Super Bowls by 5 points, 4 points, and 3 points.
[Click here to finish reading: On Substack. On Facebook.]
12 POST-SUPER BOWL WILD THOUGHTS
1. As a performer, if you don't do well, you're supposed to root for the other comics on the bill. After all, your focus should be on always ensuring the crowd gets a great show since your craft is your life. Newsflash: no comedian does. If I went down in flames, I want all other performers to follow suit. The worst sound in the world is laughter for other comics once you've bombed….
[Click here to finish reading on Facebook.]
Loved Humble the Poet’s message on using our privilege to help instead of bitch.
Thanks to Christine Blackburn for featuring me on her podcast, “My Life in 3 Songs.”
Per my original post, my initial list was 25 songs long.
I got it down to: “It Takes Two.” “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” “Here Comes the Sun.”
The show isn’t about your 3 favorite songs. So why these? Take a listen.
Comedian Rajiv Satyal talks about growing up in Cincinnati and discovering hip-hop with the brilliance of "It Takes Two" by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock.
Then in 7th grade, Rajiv tries to impress a girl in school by knowing all the lyrics to the rock anthem, “We Didn’t Start The Fire," by Billy Joel. It didn’t work.
And finally, when Rajiv and his wife discover they were having a baby (a girl he did somehow impress), they decide to send out the baby shower invitations with the pun, “Here Comes The Son.” When the baby was born, "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles and written by the extraordinary George Harrison, was the first song they chose for the baby to hear.
[Click here to listen on Spotify.]
Well, I not only asked, but also I guess I asked for it. This one struck a nerve… and maybe I keep it to myself on Saturday:
Wow, we really did not enjoy Everything Everywhere All At Once. Anyone else?
[Click here for some great answers on Facebook.]
Since this is a FUNNY Indian Newsletter, I present here the 5 funny things that I saw, heard, wrote, or remembered for the last month... otherwise known as FIVE - Funny Indian's V Events.
5. First time for everything. The LA Lakers’ Patrick Beverley gets a technical foul for being right. Guess that T stands for Truth.
4. Points to anyone who can name the first video ever played on MTV.
3. Shout-out to my Raymond House 3rd Floor friends, John & Joe & Beavis, who played this game incessantly at Case Western.
2. Super impressive wordplay and larger meaning.
1. The upside? Maybe the baby will forever avoid partying with white powder.
THANK YOU to all of you for your support. You are my true core of fans — I couldn't do this without you.
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