AceShowbiz - Kumail Nanjiani used to consider stand-up comedy to be a "necessary evil" in his life. The 44-year-old star started performing stand-up comedy at open-mic events after moving to Chicago - but he admits it was a "miserable" experience for him.
"I only got into stand-up because I wanted to write jokes. It was a necessary evil. I hardly performed before 9/11 and afterwards things suddenly shifted; I found being on stage miserable. People felt OK yelling racist stuff at me and it kept throwing me. I had to pre-write specific comebacks to take control so I wouldn't lose the rest of the audience," shared Kumail - who was born in Karachi in Pakistan.
Kumail performed his stand-up routine on nights and at weekends while he worked at the University of Chicago. And, at the time, Kumail didn't feel he had any alternative. He told the Guardian newspaper, "It would take a lot of effort to not run away before every show but I felt I had no choice. There was nothing else that I loved that I also felt I could be good at, if I was given the chance."
The Hollywood star eventually quit his job and ultimately found it easier to be himself on stage. Kumail said, "If you're on stage being yourself and you don't do well, the audience is rejecting you and your personal story, whereas if you're playing a character, they're just rejecting your persona. It took a long time for me to open up to that scrutiny in talking about myself. Just talking about a movie I liked took years."
Kumail's parents were initially angered by his decision to quit his job at the University of Chicago. But they're now huge fans of his movies. The actor - whose film credits include "The Big Sick" and "Eternals" - said, "My parents watch everything I do. Thankfully, they get a kick out of it and they're really proud. Once I started getting recognition, they stopped worrying about this being my career."