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December 6, 2018

Stay Tuned: Live from LA (with Kumail Nanjiani)

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Comedian Kumail Nanjiani is the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “The Big Sick,” and stars in “Silicon Valley”. He speaks with Preet about immigrating from Pakistan, getting political on Twitter, and who he’d play in a movie about the Trump administration.

Plus, Preet’s take on jail time for Michael Flynn.

Do you have a question for Preet? Tweet them to @PreetBharara with the hashtag #askpreet, email [email protected], or call 669-247-7338 and leave a voicemail.

Live from Los Angeles (with Kumail Nanjiani)

Air date: 12/6/18

Preet Bharara:

I think we’re going to see a lot more from Kumail Nanjiani.

Preet Bharara:

Hi?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Hey, how’s it going?

Preet Bharara:

So I was telling you backstage before we came out that it was really fun to prepare for this interview. Because sometimes I have a guest on the podcast and they’ve written books, which you have to read. To prepare for this I got to … basically my wife was upstairs. I’m in the office I have in the basement laughing hysterically, because I’m watching all your clips. So thank you for making this-

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh, thank you.

Preet Bharara:

… an easy prep.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yeah, no, I promise you I will never write a book. I’m joking, I hope to.

Preet Bharara:

Somebody should have told me how hard that was a year and a half ago.

Kumail Nanjiani:

It’s hard, right?

Preet Bharara:

It’s very, very hard.

Kumail Nanjiani:

I give up on books. I’m like, I trust that it ends. I can write a lot of words but having them make sense one after the other for like an extended period of time, that’s the challenge.

Preet Bharara:

So I was going to start with a joke. The first live show I did was with the Hasan Minhaj, and I began my interview with him by congratulating him on his excellent new movie, The Big Sick. And then I was going to start with you and congratulate you on your new Netflix show Patriot Act, but then I read that kind of pisses you off when you get confused with other South Asian comedians and actors.

Kumail Nanjiani:

No, but if it’s coming from a South Asian person, that’s fine.

Preet Bharara:

So I could have-

Kumail Nanjiani:

If you were a white guy telling me I’m great on Big Bang Theory, I’d be fucking angry. This happens to me. I was just thinking about this, there’s that moment of dread, when someone comes up to you and is like, “Hey, I’m such a fan. You’re so good on” … and as always, for me a moment of dread where I’m like, “They’re going to say the wrong thing. And then it’s going to be my job to make them not feel horrible about it.” And two years ago, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to take on that awkwardness. I was just going to be like … Like, for instance, there was a famous actor who came up to me and and I was like, “Hey, I’m a big fan of yours.” He’s like, “Oh yeah, we work together. I did Big Bang Theory.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s not me. That’s the other one.” That’s what I always say now. “That’s the other one.” And then he felt really awful. And I was like, “It’s not my job to make you feel better about this. Remember how this feels and then fix your shit.”

Preet Bharara:

So you were born in Pakistan, correct? That has been established.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Preet Bharara:

And then you moved from Pakistan at age 18 to Iowa. Were you planning to run for the presidency was it because of the caucuses?

Kumail Nanjiani:

I knew that not being born in America … You have to be either born in America or Kenya to be president. Otherwise you can’t be President. I went to Iowa because I didn’t know how big America was and how many different places there are here.

Preet Bharara:

It’s not all like LA.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Well, that’s the thing. It’s only known America from movie settings in New York or LA when I landed in Iowa was like this … See, I hadn’t seen Field of Dreams. So I didn’t know-

Preet Bharara:

Didn’t know.

Kumail Nanjiani:

… the one movie that would have prepped me for that.

Preet Bharara:

So you went to … So I find this fascinating about your resume. So you go to college in Iowa, and your father was a doctor?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Is, yeah.

Preet Bharara:

Is a doctor, and you major in computer science, awesome for them, and philosophy. And I kind of of think like I … So my dad’s a doctor, deeply disappointed that I didn’t go to medical school, my brother didn’t go to medical school, was briefly rejoicing that I had a huge position. And now once again is like his son is a podcaster, so the deep disappointment has returned.

Kumail Nanjiani:

You took the longest route to podcasting.

Preet Bharara:

I know.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Most people will just do a couple open mics and get right into it.

Preet Bharara:

It’s me and Bill O’Reilly. Different route he took just for the record. But I feel like it’s like if I had decided to please my parents and then do my own thing. And like dad, “Hey, I’m majoring in biochem and interpretive dance.” Like how that would have been received in my house. Was there any thinking about what your parents views might be in deciding how you planned your career and your education?

Kumail Nanjiani:

In taking computer science? For sure. Yeah, I didn’t really … obviously, my parents weren’t like, oh, hopefully our son grows up to be a philosophy major from a liberal arts school. That was not the path that they wanted for their son. But it really was. I was in college in the, you know, late 90s, early 2000s, and that was when the tech boom was. My last couple years of college is when the first tech bubble burst. And I’d taken computer science hoping that I’d be able to get a job here and get a visa here and all that.

Kumail Nanjiani:

So, that was definitely the practical choice. And then I chose philosophy because that’s what I really, really enjoyed reading and talking about, and they’re actually not that different.

Preet Bharara:

So, you did stand-up, you also began to act. And one of the challenges you have is that you’re not run of the mill white guy.

Kumail Nanjiani:

What?

Preet Bharara:

So there are-

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh, no, this explains so much.

Preet Bharara:

So you have to make a decision about working on the one hand and work as hard I’m told, in this town, and also taking roles that you believed in. And I read that you somewhere once said, that you made a decision, which is noble and great decision, but seems to be not so easy decision to make if you’re just starting out, that you would never take roles that were caricatures of a Pakistani man or a Muslim man. How hard was that to stick with?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yeah, well, I decided that I would never do … I did so many auditions where they would want me to do the accent. Like there would be like, Hey, could you do it? But could you do it a little more funnier. And I knew what they were saying. And it’s all … Harry’s talked about this a lot, but it’s all based on the Apu accent, which is a white guy doing a brown guy. It really fucked us for so long. And I just-

Preet Bharara:

Is it okay, if I do it, like if a brown guy does it? It’s okay?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yeah, we could do whatever we want. We’re at the bottom of the totem pole right now we can make fun of every race. Try. And I did that and I made that decision pretty early on actually. I’ve only done one thing where I did play up my accent and it was one of the first things I ever did. And I just felt so bad. And my parents also … and my parents have been, we talked about them a little bit. They’ve been ultimately very, very supportive, and they always trusted me enough to do … They just trusted that I would make the right decisions, even if they didn’t agree with them. And they did say that they didn’t agree with them. But they also said that they trusted me.

Kumail Nanjiani:

And so was one of the first jobs I got was me, I played up my accent, and I’ve only done it that one time, and my parents didn’t say it, but I could tell that they were a little disappointed at that. And I think right after that, I decided I wasn’t going to do that. It wasn’t a noble thing, it just made me feel bad. It wasn’t that I thought that it would be bad for our people or representation or diversity or anything. It just made me feel bad to do it. So I decided I wouldn’t do it.

Preet Bharara:

You one time speaking of being confused for other people maybe more than ones, were asked the question, “Hey, Kumar, where’s Harold?”

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yes.

Preet Bharara:

And it struck me because … this might come as a surprise to you because I’m not in that world. When I was a line assistant, career prosecutor when I was young, I did a lot of cases with a friend of mine, organized crime cases on the ninth floor in the office in Manhattan, who was Korean American. And there was literally an agent for a federal law enforcement agency, who called us Harold and Kumar.

Preet Bharara:

And then later, I became the US Attorney. And then June, my friend became the deputy US Attorney. So it was like, “Ha, ha, last laugh’s on you.” But I don’t think the person meant an insult by it. What do you think of people who come up to you and say things like, “Hey, Kumar, where’s Harold?”

Kumail Nanjiani:

Well, it sort of depends on the intent. First of all, I don’t think it’s ever really right for someone … If someone came up to me even if I thought they were making a joke, and they were like, “Hey, Kumar, where’s Harold?” You can do it, and the lights are low, but I would imagine most of these people can’t do it.

Preet Bharara:

Yep.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Story checks out. I feel like not all of it comes from bad intent. I think a lot of it comes from trying to connect with the person or trying to find some degree of common ground. I think we all make judgments on people based on how they look. Snap judgments, right? And I think race is a big way that people make those decisions too. And I think people who look like you and me have not really been a big part of American popular culture for that long, at least not a big, positive part of it. The intent isn’t always bad, but I do think the result almost always is bad. Which is that you’re reducing people to the race, even if you don’t intend to.

Kumail Nanjiani:

For me, the hard thing about racism for me has been I’m a very well adjusted adult. I’m successful, I’m very happy. But when someone is racist to me, it does make me feel bad. And I understand intellectually that it’s their fault. The problem is with them, I haven’t done anything wrong, but it does make me feel bad. It does make me feel flattened. And it makes me feel like there isn’t that much to me.

Preet Bharara:

You have this, [inaudible 00:35:37] this little fantasy about how you will respond to racists.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Well, I always have a sentence that … it’s kind of the only point in my life where I have something that I know to sort of go to. Do you have some?

Preet Bharara:

Should we test it?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yeah. Say something racist to me.

Preet Bharara:

Say something racist.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Go ahead, you, ma’am.

Preet Bharara:

And then first state your name.

Kumail Nanjiani:

You get a pass right now. Yeah, what’s your first and last name? And your home address?

Preet Bharara:

Go.

Kumail Nanjiani:

And then, yeah.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah, we talked about Harold and Kumar. I had this weird experience. And maybe it doesn’t make sense. But in thinking about you and listening to you, I realize that other people have had the same experience. They’re not that many South Asians, other many Asian Americans, generally who are in film, who you see on the screen. And you see people who are not like you, and you get used to it now I grew up watching Happy Days and other shows and [inaudible 00:36:32] tried to be like me. And when you did, it was a caricature. It was like a Apu from the Simpsons. Or was Jawaharlal from Head of the Class and it was always some either like a cab driver, which is a stereotype. The only good one is Dopinder in Deadpool, controversial statement.

Kumail Nanjiani:

By the way people have come up to me and told me I was great in Deadpool. I swear to God.

Preet Bharara:

So it’s either you run a 711 or you’re a cab driver or you’re a doctor. And when Harold and Kumar came out to me that was a watershed.

Kumail Nanjiani:

I watched it-

Preet Bharara:

So Kal Penn plays a guy who basically is a pothead. I had never seen an Indian American South Asian actor, talk like that and be kind of cool like that and be like bad like that. I really thought that was a big deal.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh, I thought Harold and Kumar was a huge deal. I’ve never actually met Kal, but we’ve corresponded online and I’ve told him, I really think that him playing like sort of a stoner slacker guy was huge for us, because that was so different from any of the stereotypes. And he actually … the reason I responded to him was that he said that somebody told him that he was really good on Silicon Valley. That’s how[inaudible 00:37:53].

Kumail Nanjiani:

The other thing that’s great is, is that I’ve become friends with John Cho. And so now I really want someone to be like, “Hey, Kumar, where’s Harold?” So I could be like, “He’s right there.” Because one thing I want to say-

Preet Bharara:

Yeah, please.

Kumail Nanjiani:

The one thing that I have noticed in the last few years that I really want to fight is the tyranny of the positive portrayal. I feel like that some people think that diversity means representing a group of people in a positive light. And I think that that’s reductive. I think my job is not to present people, is not to present brown people as good people. I think my job is to represent brown people as people, as complex real people with all the problems and lack of problems that white people have.

Kumail Nanjiani:

It’s not my job to portray people as being good necessarily or bad necessarily. It’s just as being people. I think that’s the biggest victory.

Preet Bharara:

So The Big Sick. Well, I said it once, I’ll say it again. Unbelievable movie.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh, thank you.

Preet Bharara:

Be very proud of it. One of the themes in the film, because it’s based on truth of your relationship with your wife, how you met your wife, Emily, and the relationship with her parents and her illness. And it’s very, both funny, moving, smart, thoughtful, unexpected.

Preet Bharara:

One of the themes of any immigrants’ life, including yours, and mine, is how you maintain some identity of where you’re from, whether it’s the language or the music, or the food, or the religion, and the other hand becoming American. And a lot of those themes and people talk about that and they write essays. You do it in the film, in a way that’s accessible and relatable, which I think helps a lot of people to understand that predicament. How do you think about it in your life, having … I came to the country when I was a year old, but I have sort of old fashioned and very connected to India parents, which is wonderful.

Preet Bharara:

So for you, coming here at 18, and having a whole life of being brought up in Pakistan, how do you think about what you keep and what you don’t keep?

Kumail Nanjiani:

What I think about a lot is my identity. Like, what group do I belong to. And I don’t feel fully American because a big part of your membership in a group is based on the other members of the group thinking you belong in that group. And I think that there’s a big chunk of America that doesn’t see me as American. And similarly, I think there’s a big chunk of Pakistan that doesn’t see me as Pakistani.

Kumail Nanjiani:

The project is to forge an identity that combines the right things from both those places, but there’s nobody to look to for me. You know, there’s nobody I can look at and be like, “Well, that was a Pakistani American person who figured out themselves and they have an identity that’s very definable.”

Preet Bharara:

Have you heard from people from fans that you were like that for other people?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Terrifying. People have come up to me and said that but the thing is I don’t really have any answers if anybody has answers, DM me.

Preet Bharara:

There’s some institutions though that are there … One I want to talk about because it’s fascinating to me because I grew up with it. In my home, your parents had, I presume, an arranged marriage.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yes.

Preet Bharara:

My parents had arranged marriage. Everyone in my family have of the older generation had an arranged marriage. I know people understand, many of you look what that means. It’s the way Hasan Minhaj describes it, I think is basically like it’s Tinder for South Asian people and your parents swipe for you.

Preet Bharara:

And it was always expected. So my parents, obviously they undertook a great enterprise, my dad left India when he was a relatively young man, 29 years old. Didn’t know anyone in America, but he kept expecting that we would all grow up and be a particular way that we wouldn’t eat beef, and we would be religious in a particular way. And we would have arranged marriages. The famous phrase that we all discuss when we were young in the Indian American community was how strict they were, and you could never date.

Preet Bharara:

And one time one of the auntie said sort of misspeaking, in a way that, “No dating until after you’re married.”

Kumail Nanjiani:

That’s a great line.

Preet Bharara:

She misspoke a little … I remember once-

Kumail Nanjiani:

She’s like the Yogi Berra of the south Asian community.

Preet Bharara:

I remember once being with an uncle of mine, when I was a teenager, who was going to India to get married, and he was real estate agent, and one of his colleagues was in the car and my uncle was saying, “I’m leaving for India on the weekend. I’m going to get married.” He’s like, “Oh, great! Where you’re getting married?” He’s like, “Outside of Delhi.” He said, “What’s her name?” And my uncle said, “I don’t know yet.” That’s not that abnormal a story.

Kumail Nanjiani:

No, sometimes you know what the menu is, but not who the person you’re marrying is. I feel like here, obviously, that sounds very unusual. And it’s not unusual where we’re from, but to me, it’s not so much crazier than knowing someone and being like, “All right, let’s spend the rest of our life together.” And that’s what I did. I’d known Emily’s slightly over a year and I was like, “Let’s do this. Let’s spend the rest of our lives together. I really love you and need a green card.” I’m just being serious.

Kumail Nanjiani:

But to me, it’s not so crazy. I think all of this is crazy. We’re just trying to sort of create meaning. There was a sun that supernovad and some particle stayed somewhere and then gases revolved around it and then it made the earth and now here you are doing a fucking podcast. Like, all of this is a miracle.

Preet Bharara:

[crosstalk 00:44:11] say it like that.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Let’s all do the best we can.

Preet Bharara:

What was it like when you became a citizen?

Kumail Nanjiani:

It was very exciting. It was a very exciting day. I’ve thought about this, I became a citizen, I think it was like 2011, 2012 so I got to vote for that election, 2012 election. My guy lost but still, worked out okay. No, I did vote for Obama. And it was really … it was at the LA Convention Center. And there were like, 6,000 people. Obama comes on and welcomes you to being an American. And I’ve thought that now it’s not Obama anymore. It’s gonna be individual one, right?

Preet Bharara:

Also known as president T.

Kumail Nanjiani:

I don’t like to take the P word.

Preet Bharara:

Guy.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Individually one.

Preet Bharara:

So you talk about politics, but you’re a comedian and an actress. Like, what do you say to people … Because I think it’s great. What do you say to people when they say, “Stay in your lane? Why are you talking about this stuff”?

Kumail Nanjiani:

This is what’s crazy to me is that politics is something that truly affects all of us. That’s the one thing that we all get to have an opinion on the day that I get like, a fucking palace floating in the clouds. You know what, that day I’ll stay in my lane. I won’t talk about what’s happening on planet Earth, because it doesn’t affect me anymore. But until that day, it affects me. It affects my parents. This is our lane.

Preet Bharara:

You’re not going to get invited to be on the Laura Ingraham show anytime.

Kumail Nanjiani:

That’s fine. Do you know her?

Preet Bharara:

I do not. I mean personally, no.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Okay. You just know her on quote.

Preet Bharara:

I know of.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yeah, I know of too.

Preet Bharara:

You’re more outspoken than a lot of folks. You’re on Twitter a bunch. I follow you. You should follow Kumail if you don’t already. You say a lot of things, how come?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh my God! I think it was because I decided it was a long time ago. I was like, oh, Twitter’s just going to be … My work is my work and I put a lot of thought and work into it and intentionality. And I was like Twitter’s the fun thing that I can have that I could just say whatever’s on my mind. And it became the what’s in mind the last couple of years has been this stuff.

Preet Bharara:

And does anyone ever tell you … my dad from time to time … Bringing my dad again well sometimes just texts me in the morning, “You need to stop.”

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yeah, well funny enough. The person who texts me the most to stop tweeting is your dad. And he got me to shave my beard too. I did have a beard until a couple days ago.

Preet Bharara:

You look very good in a beard.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Thank you.

Preet Bharara:

So you said a thing, here’s what you said on a tweet. So tweet, Twitter is supposed to be kind of fun, maybe snarky, maybe you post a photo of your cat. You once tweeted this in the summer, a lot of levity in this tweet, “I have always believed that there is no inherent sense of right and wrong within people. That morality comes from a just society. An unjust society leads to immoral people. It’s how mass atrocities happen. What is happening in this country right now makes me believe this more.” What did you mean by that?

Kumail Nanjiani:

What I mean is I think and this is a controversial position, I want to say I’m a very very … people who know me know me as a very optimistic, happy person, I’m a very positive person. But part of how I see the world, I do think that human beings don’t have an inherent sense of goodness in them. We’re animals like everything else. I don’t think that we’re born with any innate sense of morality.

Kumail Nanjiani:

I think a sense of right and wrong comes from our shared relationships with other people. But that is not. I don’t think of it as like any kind of anarchic thought or anything. I think it’s beautiful. I think we’ve created this meaning and morality, and we’ve created community.

Kumail Nanjiani:

And just because we’ve created it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value that it doesn’t have meaning. I think that’s the most important thing. I think people will sometimes ask like, if someone’s not religious, how do you have a sense of goodness? It’s like, “Well, I get a sense of goodness from the people around me.” And I think that that’s wonderful. We all in some ways create our own meaning and just because we created ourselves doesn’t mean it’s not the most important thing in the world.

Preet Bharara:

So you talk about community. And we talked a little bit about being an immigrant. There’s a lot of anti immigrant feeling in the country. And some people like to say, it’s anti illegal immigrant. And you and I both know, there’s an anti immigrant feeling and certain kinds of immigrants, say, if you’re not from Norway, on the part of some folks whose names I won’t mention Stephen Miller. And so you communicate with people, you bring people together, you act, you talk, you make people laugh, and you’re an immigrant yourself and you face these things. What is your thought on how you can create a community in which there are people who are not like you understand that you actually are like them in the most fundamental important ways?

Kumail Nanjiani:

I think, ultimately, and I don’t know if this answers your question, but I thought about this a lot the last couple of years. I think ultimately saying directly to people. I am a human being with value or these immigrants are human beings with value. I think ultimately, it doesn’t really work. I think if I talk to someone who is anti Syrian immigrants, there’s nothing I can say to them. I learned there’s no picture I can show them.

Kumail Nanjiani:

That was to me … a real wake up call was when people can see pictures of refugees and not see themselves in them. I think that that’s really truly that there is kind of no hope in that approach.

Kumail Nanjiani:

I think my job is not to talk to people directly and try and change their mind. I think my job is to try and do work that some people may watch, and that they can come to that conclusion themselves. And I think that making pop culture, mainstream entertainment, that can humanize all kinds of different people. I think that that’s the approach that I want to at least try and take.

Preet Bharara:

Let’s go through some issues that you care about. And you’ve talked about, the media, and how this president uses the media. You once said something about Sarah Sanders at the intersection of Free Press, and comedy. I think you said something like, we shouldn’t be putting Sarah Sanders in these comedy sketches. She should just fade into oblivion. Explain.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Comedy’s job is tricky, because you could talk about something in a specific way, and you can take it down, or you can talk about something in a different way. And normalize it, make it seem okay. So if Sarah Sanders, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who I think has done a lot of bad stuff. If we put her in his comedy sketch and I was talking specifically about who was Sarah Huckabee Sanders before? Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Preet Bharara:

Sean Spicer.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh, God. See, he faded into oblivion in my head. I did it right. I think that when Sean Spicer was in the comedy sketch and I love Stephen Colbert, I’m a biggest fan of his I really think he’s absolutely amazing. But I do think that that was a misstep. If we take these people who’ve done actual harm, and we present them in these goof … it’s not people playing them, it’s them themselves trying to humanize them. Like, what was wrong with Fallon running his hands through Trump’s hair. That’s exactly what was wrong. Comedy’s job is not to make these people feel normal. Your job is to be like, this is … crazy shit is happening. Not to make them … So, yeah.

Preet Bharara:

Okay, next subject. You’re in a show called Silicon Valley. Bill Gates I think knows something about Silicon Valley once gave a compliment to your show. And said, if you want to understand Silicon Valley, the place, watch Silicon Valley. And I don’t know if this is a function of, you’re feeling some obligation to have an opinion on the culture of the place that’s being depicted in the show. But you’ve been critical about the ethics and morality of tech companies and whether or not they’re thinking about ethics in the way they should. Where are we going?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh, man, this is what’s so fucking crazy about Silicon Valley, is that since we’ve been making movies, we’ve been making movies about AI and robots killing us. So many movies since the fucking 50s. And then later, obviously the matrix but Terminator and all this, and still, we’re still heading in that direction. It’s crazy to me, that we’ve known for decades, oh, yeah, computers are going to destroy us. Anyway, this new one knows where your face is. It listens to everything you say, but it’s not going to do anything bad. It’s so crazy.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Honestly, it’s the opposite of what you said, it wasn’t that I felt obliged to have an opinion on Silicon Valley because I was on a show about Silicon Valley, it was the opposite. I was like, “Oh, I’m on this show. My job is just to be on the show.” This is not really an issue that I care about. The effect that technology has on our lives was not really something I thought about that much. But it was because of the show we would have these opportunities to go to these tech companies, big tech companies, and you go to these conventions and you just see the tech that people are working on. And the lack of any thought about ethics that goes into development of this tech.

Kumail Nanjiani:

I think there’s this whole thing in Silicon Valley where they think like, tech itself is not moral or immoral. It’s the way people use it. But that’s exactly what the gun companies say. You’re making stuff, knowing how it can be misused or not even it is your job to think about it. Like, if you make something like Facebook, you can’t say, “Well, we didn’t think that fake news would be” … If you make something it is your job to think about all the negative ways that it can be used, right?

Preet Bharara:

Yeah.

Kumail Nanjiani:

You’re obviously talking about the positive ways it can be used. It is your job to think about the consequences.

Preet Bharara:

Maybe that’s your calling and occurs to me that maybe somebody who has had a double major in computer science and philosophy is very well suited to reforming the tech industry. But look, keep telling your jokes. That’s fine. That’s just as important as the death of society by robots and AI.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh my God, you sound just like my dad. You know what, I was talking to my friend about this, we are the only generation that got to grow up, without really technology in our lives to that extent without the internet. And then we got to see the good parts of the internet and only the good parts, having our phones and all that stuff and having all this knowledge at your fingertips. And then we got to see it, and now it’s destroying us. So we really are in a way, the one generation that got to see that whole arc happen.

Preet Bharara:

Yes. Very philosophical. I want to end with a couple of things that maybe are a little bit more philosophical also, that you said when you gave the commencement address at your alma mater, at Grinnell in Iowa. And one of the things you said by way of advice to the graduating class in 2017, because we don’t do enough of this is, “Populate your life with people different from you.” And then you further said this, which is not said so frequently, you said, “Understand the pain behind an opinion, such as our jobs are being stolen, and try to empathize with it.” And then you also say, “Believe me, it is not easy.” What did you mean by that? And why is that important?

Kumail Nanjiani:

It’s not easy. What is anti immigrant sentiment come from? It comes from, suppose you’re someone who can’t find a job and you have a family and it’s hard to support your family and you feel that that’s your duty to do that. And to some extent, obviously, it is. And then you’re like, “Why can’t I find a job? Why can’t this happen? Whose fault is it.” And then someone’s is there saying, “It’s those people in the caravan. Those kids in diapers who are getting gas, it’s their fault. It’s their fault.” So you can understand where that came from. So that’s what I mean even though it’s really hard. Is to try and see that all the negative sentiment does come from some … ultimately some kind of relatable place.

Preet Bharara:

But so do you think based on something you’ve said before, when people ask the question, how do we make things better? Is it more through art or more through politics and government?

Kumail Nanjiani:

I think different people choose different paths, you’ve sort of bridged that path. I think my way to try and do it is entertainment. And I think some people’s way to do it is through politics and government. So I think you just sort of try and find the way that you think he can best serve the vision in your head and you do that. It can be very hard, but maybe, I don’t know. Maybe there’s all sorts of different ways to … It’s so overwhelming.

Preet Bharara:

Can we end with just a very quick lightning round.

Kumail Nanjiani:

I thought you’re going to be like, can we end with just using it’s also overwhelming. Good night everyone. Drive safe. It is overwhelming. But I do believe I think we’re going to be okay.

Preet Bharara:

I think so.

Kumail Nanjiani:

I think so. But you know.

Preet Bharara:

I don’t know.

Kumail Nanjiani:

You know.

Preet Bharara:

I am very optimistic. I believe in optimism. I believe in idealism. I think America is great. I think America has always been great. And the fact … this may sound self serving, but the fact that like 1200 people came through the driving rain in Los Angeles, to see a couple of South Asian guys talking about stuff, gives me great hope for America.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yeah.

Preet Bharara:

Some of them don’t have windshield wipers that they have used in monster years.

Kumail Nanjiani:

True hardship. I thought it was so funny that you quoted me as saying surround yourself with people different from your own. Here I’m on stage with another liberal brown guy.

Preet Bharara:

All right. Who makes you laugh the most?

Kumail Nanjiani:

I really do think the funniest person I know is Emily, my wife. She really is-

Preet Bharara:

That’s nice.

Kumail Nanjiani:

She makes me laugh all the time. And it’s not me being sweet. That’s just completely true. She just makes me laugh all the time, all the time every day.

Preet Bharara:

What’s your favorite Donald Trump lie?

Kumail Nanjiani:

I liked one where he was like … when he was talking about call, where he was like, “This call is going to be so clean. It’s going to be so clean, you won’t believe it. It’s really clean.” And I just want someone to be like, “What does that mean? What do you mean clean call?” Everyday he says stuff that-

Preet Bharara:

I have one. What’s my favorite Trump lie?

Kumail Nanjiani:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Preet Bharara:

Whichever one gets him impeached.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Do you think-

Preet Bharara:

I just wrote that just now like Emily.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Do you really think he’s gonna get impeached?

Preet Bharara:

I think there’s a decent chance that he’ll get impeached, but people forget that doesn’t mean convicted. I think the Senate will never convict him. I think almost against their will, given what’s coming out with the Mueller investigation, given what’s happening with Manafort, given what will likely happen with Roger Stone. What’s going to happen with Jerome Corsi and his own idiotic need to lie publicly, and perhaps in the written questions that people like Jerry Nadler who’s going to take the gavel. They almost will have no choice. But to proceed, I think. I think more than I ever have before that it’s going to be bad for Trump and his folks.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh, wow.

Preet Bharara:

We got to finish

Kumail Nanjiani:

Lightning round, lighting round. Go, go, go.

Preet Bharara:

Say something nice to me in Urdu.

Kumail Nanjiani:

[Urdu 01:01:49].

Preet Bharara:

Can I translate that? Your beard is very beautiful.

Kumail Nanjiani:

When I first saw you today … We’ve met earlier-

Preet Bharara:

You were thinking that? You were thinking that?

Kumail Nanjiani:

I was like, “Oh, his beard looks great.” I swear that was the first thought I had.

Preet Bharara:

That’s not what my dad thought.

Kumail Nanjiani:

No.

Preet Bharara:

If you could play any Trump character in the Trump administration, Manafort, Cohen, whoever, like who would it be?

Kumail Nanjiani:

If I could play any of them?

Preet Bharara:

Yeah, in a movie. Yeah.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Oh my god. Okay, this is actually very exciting. I don’t want to be Manafort. I think Conan is very interesting. Because he’s such a scumbag. I feel like now we kind of want to be like, “Oh, Cohen’s a good guy.” He’s not, he’s so bad. He’s still real bad. Hey, can I play you? I know you’re not in that. But I guess if it’s a movie about Trump, and I’m playing you, I just get fired in the beginning. So-

Preet Bharara:

Right at the beginning.

Kumail Nanjiani:

… they want somebody else.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah, it’s like being the person of color in Star Trek. It’s like, “Oh, we lost that guy on the planet.”

Kumail Nanjiani:

Unless you’re blind. You’re gonna die. That’s a Geordi La Forge. I think it’s the wrong kind of nerds.

Preet Bharara:

These guys need to go get a drink. So I have a couple of minutes to end with. But first, can we have a round of applause for our friend.

Kumail Nanjiani:

Thank you.

STAY TUNED WITH PREET

Stay Tuned: Live from LA (with Kumail Nanjiani)

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