The Funny Indian Newsletter, Vol. CLXXI

December 2020: Hindsight


As the year closes, I recap my 2020 highlights. And then it’s a recap of December. And if you love trivia, don’t forget to check out the new Stump section below. Enjoy.


Much like 2016, this year didn’t have a crowning achievement for me, but if any year deserves an asterisk, it was this one. And after surviving the last several months, we all deserve to brag. Here goes:

  1. Helped Joe Biden win the Presidency.  I mean, OK. I don’t like martyrs, but I was all over the place, single-handedly preventing some major events from clashing with each other. What I’d worked for most of my life — to achieve change at scale — truly seemed to come to fruition. I delivered talent to lineups, entertained thousands of people, headlined phone banks, spearheaded the When We All Vote — South Asians video, and released my Why Biden A-Z series. Oh, and my three-year-old Biden+Harris prediction came true.

  2. Sold out the two New York debut performances of Back to School, my second two-person show, with Melanie Chandra.

  3. Conceived and delivered the Spreading Cheer, Not Corona video, featuring 50 prominent Indians.  

  4. Narrated Indian Matchmaking on Netflix.

  5. Stayed on TV as my Toyota ad continued to run for another season.  

  6. Shared screens with Stacey Abrams, Indra Nooyi, Preet Bharara, Nik Dodani, Vanitha Gupta, Ravi Patel, Tiya Sircar, and Karan Soni.  

  7. Interviewed actor Kal Penn for a show, journalist Aarti Shahani for the stage, and actress Richa Moorjani for my podcast.

  8. Got published in Travel & Leisure Magazine.

  9. Appeared on the cover of Khabar Magazine.

  10. Released three comedy “specials”:  The Coronavirus ChroniclesThe Coronavirus Chronicles Part IIA Comedian’s Take on Indian Matchmaking.

  11. Collaborated on The GQ India Minute with the Funny Indian.

  12. Hosted and gave a talk on personal branding to an 800-person (non-Indian!) audience in Warsaw, Poland

  13. Did my 14th gig for P&G

  14. Performed my second solo show, The Man in The Middle, in Skokie, IL.  

  15. Got my Michael Jordan story syndicated on Medium.  

  16. Booked nearly 70 Gandhi gigs on Cameo.

  17. Got selected and performed for the Burbank Comedy Festival.  

  18. Received thousands of retweets on the I AM INDIAN video - six years later.

  19. Became a Million Miler on Delta

  20. Got to celebrate my birthday in the real world on the last free 2020 weekend (March 7) by raising money for charity.

  21. Got an Instagram comment from Freida Pinto.

  22. Flew home to watch my Mom recover from Covid.  The best gift of all.


I’m finally getting a chance to release this amazing onstage interview with author and NPR journalist Aarti Shahani.


I appeared on some fun podcasts: The Approach Shot. The A|Decibel Podcast. The PorAss Podcast.


12/05: Concord Temple Gala

12/15: Votella GA

12/16: Humor That Works

12/17:  Indiaspora Comedy Night

12/18:  GOTV Rally

12/20: Story Worthy Hour of Power (Flappers Comedy Club)


Honored that American Kahani ran my piece.


Which movie would be hard for you to watch again?

I finally saw Requiem for a Dream. It was a tough watch, but it wasn't THAT tough. I'm rarely affected by expectations: I can set them aside and take stuff at face value. Perhaps it's because the film is 20 years old.

It'd be hard for me to watch again:

- The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Ring because they're so scary.

- Schindler's List because it was so tragic.

- Mystic River because it was such a punch in the gut (though I actually have seen it three times). I might place Million Dollar Baby here, too.

- Nacho Libre because it was so unfunny.

- Phantom Thread & Looper because they were so boring.

- Reservoir Dogs because of "the scene." Incidentally, I might put Swimming with Sharks in this category, because it's hard for me to watch torture—justified or not.

- Interview with the Vampire because I almost passed out. I can't watch people being bitten. Strangely, it's probably the only movie I couldn't finish; I got up 15 minutes in. And yes, I get the irony, given my favorite all-time is The Silence of the Lambs. And that we can indeed pass out from giving blood.

But ya gotta love any list that includes both Schindler's List and Nacho Libre.

What about you? NO SPOILERS, PLEASE. Thanks!


It's Official: Electoral College more reliable than Trump University.

Jeena Yahan mRNA Yahan...


If we’re gonna use pronouns, let’s have a laugh…


Which TV shows had good endings? Which ones had great endings?

Here’s a great compilation, based on your replies.

We finished How I Met Your Mother (only 6 years late). Did you like the ending?


Refreshing my Christmas playlist. What are some of your favorite Holiday songs?


Where were you when you found out John Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980? 2020 marks a sad anniversary: John Lennon has been gone for as many years as he was here.


Which comedy sequels are good? (Even if they're not great, you're glad they exist.


We watched Hillbilly Elegy last night; I read the book in 2017*. What'd y'all think?


Name the 2 Indian states that begin and end with the same letter (when spelled in English).

Name the 3 films to sweep the top 5 awards at the Oscars — Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, & Screenplay.

Name the 4 alliterative U.S. state capitals.

Name the 5 things Alanis Morissette's other hand is doing in "One Hand in My Pocket."


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. What a great story from Weird Al Yankovic. My friend, Laura Biancke, wrote me a note in 5th grade, telling me to go into entertainment. I still have it.


3. Ah… I love Tom Cruise. This took place… Far & Away.

2. Kudos to my brother for having another tweet go viral: No one is writing the wrong year on their checks this January I can effing tell you that.

1. A bit long and better towards the front, but still a strong impression.


THANK YOU to all of you for your support. You are my true core of fans — I couldn't do this without you. If you think this may spark joy for your friends during this difficult time, please feel free to forward it along...

I’ll leave you with some philosophy and a couple of quips.

You know what I’m sick of? Terrible events happen & people decide they should count their blessings. Here’s an idea: just live gratefully. You shouldn’t need awful stuff to happen for you to appreciate life. Try this: once in the morning, once in the afternoon, & once in the evening, take three deep breaths and acknowledge what you have. It’s really not that hard, dude.

All I want for Christmas is the year 2022.

- Rajiv

PS -

I feel like we’re in a Sesame Street episode. The year 2020 was brought to you by the letter Q... Quarantine. QAnon. Anthony Q. Warner. Queue for food and vaccine. Quackery on all sides. Q finally ventured out on its own without u. Qurious to see what 2021 brings...