Originally born in Karachi, Pakistan, Kumail Nanjiani moved to the US in the mid-1990s when he was 18 to attend school at the Grinnell College, located in Iowa. When he came to the US, he started watching comedians on television, particularly David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld. After seeing a classmate of his perform stand-up comedy in college, Nanjiani decided to try his hand at it.
After graduating, Nanjiani moved to Chicago, performing stand-up and eventually getting spots on The Late Show with David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien’s late-night program on TBS. Subsequently, Nanjiani landed staff writing gigs on hit comedy shows like The Colbert Report, and Michael and Michael Have Issues, a short-lived Comedy Central Show about two friends named Michael.
In 2009, the comedy channel named Nanjiani as one of the year’s breakout comedians, alongside fellow desi comedian Aziz Ansari, for whom Nanjiani has opened at various stand-up comedy venues. Since then, Nanjiani has gone on to feature in increasingly bigger roles on both television and film, usually in guest roles.
He featured in HBO’s hit comedy Veep, starring Seinfeld co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the US Vice-President. His biggest role to date came in the TNT legal farce Franklin & Bash, on which he played Pindar Singh, a science-fiction nerd who works with the title characters.
In late June 2013, Comedy Central announced the pickup of a show The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail hosted by Jonah Ray and Nanjiani. The show, featuring Nerd Melt comedy regulars and various comedians, began airing in July 2014. In Silicon Valley, Nanjiani played one of five characters who come up with an idea for an IT product and start a company.
In 2017, Nanjiani wrote the semi-autobiographical romantic comedy film The Big Sick with his wife Emily V. Gordon. They couple was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards. Nanjiani also starred in the film.
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