(Editor’s Note: Here’s how to write something you end up hating, but still post anyway. First, come up with a topic that is loosely tied to something else you had mentioned. Next, start writing something based on this premise. Halfway through, determine that this premise is uninteresting. Realize that you have sunk too much time in the concept, then forge ahead. Set aside for a bit to see if it gets better with a little air. Realize it does not. Remember that you haven’t posted in a long time. Question your work ethic and morals. Decide to post this shit, it’s a free website, so what if the content occasionally sucks, right? That’s basically how this post was conceived.)
I was a little concerned that my characterization of an Indian classmate in the Welcome to Business School post would come across as harsh. I wasn’t trying to make any broad generalization – I’m an enlightened white guy, for Christ’s sake. It’s just that my personal experience with Indian females in a work/school environment has been that they talk practically nonstop and have little-to-no internal filter. That doesn’t make me a racist misogynist asshole, it probably just suggests that my sample set is pretty small. (One of my buddies just got engaged to an Indian gal, and she is lovely, but my experience with former colleagues carried more weight for that particular post.) The day I wrote that post, I ended up playing some ping pong (at Spin – no, I didn’t see Susan Sarandon) with an ex-colleague who happens to be Indian, and he kicked my ass, five sets to zero (moral victory: I was all over the highlight reel).
Stream of consciousness being what it is, what with all the “Indians” and “five” and “stereotypes” and how they all fit together, I realized there are several Indian actors with prime comedic roles on television these days. And they are funny for being funny, not for being convenience store workers (with a notable exception), taxi drivers or call center drones – which is basically the only roles Indian actors ever used to get. (NBC Thursday nights are apparently progressive.) Anyway, times, they are a changin.
Five Funny Indians (Well, People of Indian Descent, They Are Mostly American, But You Get The Idea)
5. Kunnal Nayar, The Big Bang Theory
I don’t really love the material he’s given to work with, but any character who needs alcohol as a crutch to talk to women is a friend of mine. Nayar does portray a classic television archetype, but it is that of the uber-shy lonely nerd. I’d say he’s a solid #2 in the ensemble, behind the aspergy Jim Parsons.
Fun fact: Has a business degree from the University of Portland (not as good as PhD from Caltech, but still)
4. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, The Simpsons
Arguably should not count because he is, in fact, the proprietor of a convenience store, the lowest rung of Indian stereotype purgatory. But Apu has generally been portrayed as a source of wisdom and a good friend – the Kwik-E-Mart gags generally poke fun at Apu and the customers about evenly.
Fun fact: Apu is apparently not real, and is voiced by some actor who is not Indian, so definitely should not count. But still – it’s Apu, he’s in there.
3. Mindy Kaling, The Office
Kelly is simply a talkative, nonsensical valley girl stuck in Scranton. Her Indian heritage is only used when the writers want to shoot an episode outside the office. The character is pretty close to my experience with Indian women in her age group, but you’d have to multiply the neuroses x100, subtract 80% of the fawning over Ryan and change her interest in “celebrity gossip” to “career accomplishments.”
Fun fact: Is actually 6′ 3″. The director has to use camera tricks when she shares a scene with BJ Novak (4’11”).
2. Danny Pudi, Community
His character is pretty gimmicky, like Raj’s; sometimes the pop culture shtick can be forced and wear thin. That’s not Pudi’s fault though, he generally kills. His Don Draper impersonation was superb (bonus points for trying the routine on Annie, who also plays Trudie on Mad Men. I’m pretty sure Draper will be banging Trudie in season four.)
Fun fact: Pudi went to school Marquette. Marquette knocked off hated Kentucky in the 1994 NCAA tournament. Jim Mcilvane was on that Marquette team, and went on to make way more money than he deserved in the NBA. Arkansas won the NCAA tourney that year. It was a good year.
1. Aziz Ansari, Parks and Recreation
Tom Haverford rules: he’s simultaneously insecure and overconfident, loyal to his colleagues and dismissive of his station, happy and melancholy. Equally comfortable humiliating others or being the butt of a joke. And he changes clothes frequently and has a carefully manicured beard.
Fun fact: He’s, unsurprisingly, a hilarious stand up.
Bonus: Two Indians (Actual One American and One South African of Indian Descent) That Aren’t Funny
2. Sendhil Ramamurthy, Heroes
Sure Heroes isn’t a comedy, but Mohinder really sucks. Or sucked, I haven’t watched that shit in years. He deserves special recognition for that suckiness.
Fun fact: Sendil’s cousin is Jay Chandrasekhar, of Broken Lizard and Super Troopers fame. Sendil even had a small role in the recent Lizard offering, The Slammin Salmon. He again failed to be anything but horrendous. Let me reiterate: Mohinder sucks.
1. Adhir Kalyan, Rules of Engagement
This addition probably begs the question: “rather than try to find another absurdly high-paying job on Wall Street, you choose to spend your time watching fucking Rules of Engagement?” Fair question. But actually, RoE isn’t that bad, with the exception of every second that David Spade and this fucking guy are on screen. It’s got David- fucking-Puddy in it, how can it not be at least pretty good? (Seriously, Patrick Warburton is a genius.) They added Adhir as Spade’s assistant last season, and now he gets to act disgusted as he’s forced to aid his boss in trying-to-get-laid hijinks.
Fun fact: Timmy blows. Also, his character’s name is Timmy. Hit the road, Timmy.
(Not my finest effort, but I’ve been up since 5:30. Things are not that hilarious this early)