by Amber Hemmerle
Posted In: Comedy
at 10:38 AM | Permalink
Comedian brings his No Man's Land tour to the Aronoff Center Saturday
Comedian Rajiv Satyal was born and
bred in Cincinnati — Fairfield to be exact. He’s gone from being an intern on
Capitol Hill to brand manager at Procter & Gamble to full-time comedian
living in Los Angeles. Satyal has worked with Dave Chappelle, Kevin James, Tim
(the tool man) Allen, Kevin Nealon and Russell Peters. Heard of the University
of Cincinnati’s Bearcast? He named the school’s radio station-turned-media
group. He runs a consulting business called StandPoint Agency and is a regular
at all the L.A. comedy clubs, but he got his start at Montgomery’s Go Bananas.
Satyal’s unique way of viewing the world continually draws in more fans. He
refers to himself as the funny Indian, but he’s really just a funny — and nice
— dude from Ohio. Satyal performs his first one-man show No Man’s
Land Saturday to a sold-out audience at the Aronoff Center, and he
squeezed CityBeat into his schedule for a quick
rundown of all things Rajiv.
CityBeat: Since you’re from Cincinnati I have to ask, what high school did you
Rajiv Satyal: Totally
fine, a very Cincinnati question, but I went to Fairfield High School and I got
an undergrad at the University of Cincinnati in materials engineering.
CB: I read that you worked on Capitol Hill, what did you do there?
RS: I was at the
University of Cincinnati at the time and I went out to Capitol Hill to be an
intern for a representative, Steve Chabot. So I just worked in the office and
it was for fun, I got to live in DC and explore that town and did whatever
tasks around the office, but it was mostly getting the feel of Washington.
CB: Do you have a funny family or what sparked your interest in comedy?
RS: Actually I have
two brothers and, well, two parents, and everybody has a sense of humor. It was
a super fun household to grow up in. We were all pretty positively reinforced,
we weren’t really a tough crowd, like, we definitely encouraged each other to
say funny things and we laughed a lot. I know a lot of comedians’ families
would be like, you know, “boo” or whatever when they told a joke and were a
tough crowd, but we were a really good crowd for each other and just kind of
encouraged each other to be funny. My brothers and I never really fought a lot
growing up, which is so strange, but we all got a long and we had a good time.
(Check out Rajiv’s dad going
Bollywood last Monday on The Bob & Tom Show here.)
CB: Does Cincinnati or growing up here inspire any of your stand-ups?
RS: Oh, definitely. I
feel like growing up in Ohio, it made me kind of more of an everyman being able
to relate to people in the heartland of the country and people who grew up on
the coast. I think people on the coast have their own sensibility, but it’s
hard to know what works inland. A lot of comedians are like hurricanes; they knock
it out on the coast, but when they come inland they die. I feel like being from
the Midwest gives me an advantage.
CB: What inspired you to pursue comedy seriously?
RS: When I turned 30
I really flipped out, I was like, ‘Man, I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life and I need
to do something different.’ So I left Procter & Gamble and moved to Los
Angeles, I was a brand manager at P&G Water for only about 3 months and
then I jumped shipped and went into it [comedy] full-time. I guess I felt like
I really enjoyed speaking in front of people and I love being funny and those
two things lend themselves well to being a famous comic, ya know.
CB: So basically just turning 30 did it for you?
RS: Yeah, I felt like
life’s too short and, you know, why do something you don’t want to do? Why not
go for it. I guess I thought when I turned 30 I felt like, “Man, I don’t want
to turn 40 and watch TV and go, ‘Man I could have done that.’” I think given
all the privileges, if I don’t try it…I’m born in the United States, I’m
American, I have all these opportunities, it’s the land of opportunity, you got
to self-actualize, man, go for it.
CB: How has your comedy evolved from where you first started to now?
RS: I would say that
just getting deeper. As comedians do it longer and longer you start to go from
jokes to more of a point of view. You start to realize what makes you funny.
You have these weird beliefs and you stand out a little bit. You don’t really
have to do jokes anymore, you just tell people what you think and they think
it’s funny because they are like, ‘Wow, that’s a weird way to look at it.’
Being able to make people laugh at the way you look at the world, I think
that’s kind of cool.
CB: Do you have any stories about opening up for or working with various
RS: I actually opened
up Dave Chappelle’s very first show when he came back from Africa in 2005, so
that was really cool. I had opened up for him at the University of Cincinnati
in 2000 before I even started doing stand-up — I started doing stand-up in
2002. So people in the student senate and student government and programming
board at UC were like, ‘Hey, you’re a funny guy, you’ve done a little bit of
stand-up, would you want to do?’ So I opened for Dave Chappelle at UC and got
booed off the stage in front of all these people. Then five years later I
opened Dave Chappelle’s first show when he comes back from Africa and I did
really well, I killed and it was really redeeming.
CB: Did he remember you from 2000?
RS: Yeah, he did
actually, that’s what’s crazy about it — that he remembered that. It’s funny.
He was really encouraging and complimentary. I talked to him for two hours by
myself that night in 2005, after we were done, just he and I were in the room
and for two hours we were just talking about politics and religion and the
world…I know that he was happy that I stuck with it and everything.
CB: Who would you like to work with in the future that you haven’t worked
RS: I would like to
work with Bill Burr. He is not an extremely well-known person, but he is a
genius and he is from Boston. I think it would be awesome to work with Louis C.
K., of course, he is like the biggest guy in comedy right now. I mean, I don’t
know, I think Jerry Seinfeld would be pretty awesome. I love Ricky Gervais, I’m
a big fan of Ricky Gervais, a guy from England. Chris Rock, I love Chris Rock.
I actually met Chris Rock when he performed at Ohio State and I told him
someday I am going to open for him and he goes, ‘That would be something man,
you never know.’ So I have to make good of my promise. I told him one day I was
going to open for him, so I better do.
CB: What kind of topics or themes can audiences expect from No
RS: It’s mostly about
dating and relationships. The central questions of the show are: Why am I
single and how would you define manhood in modern society? So I’m a single, 38-year-old
man out there trying to figure out the evolution of manhood and what does it
mean now, how does the definition of manhood change and I try to define it.
It’s not a show about men versus women, it’s a show about men versus guys.
CB: What do you miss most about living in Cincinnati?
RS: Well my family,
obviously, my family and my friends. I have a really good friend who lives in
Seattle, but he is thinking about moving back here and the only reason is his
family; it’s not for the weather, it’s not for a better job and it’s not for
anything else other than the fact that his family is here. I think family is a
CB: I feel like if I moved away I would miss three-ways too much.
RS: I do miss
Cincinnati food. I love LaRosa’s, I love Graeters’, I love Skyline and I do
love Cincinnati food. You know, there is something about the Midwest. The
people are super nice and, you know, just walking down the street you can say
hi and the person will say hi back or the person will initiate or whatever — that
doesn’t really happen in L.A. as much, at all, and people are not as nearly as
friendly as they are here.
CB: What advice do you have for people who are trying to break into the
RS: I think they
should just start. They need to start…The Internet is such an opportunity to
reach the people you want to reach. I think it’s possible more than ever to go
down to the local comedy club and enter the open mic night and start. Get to
know the people and get up and do it. Write material, start a group up that
supports each other. It is difficult, but you know there is a way in. Comedy is
more accessible than ever.
Get a glimpse of some of Satyal’s
funny stuff here.
Comedian Kevin Nealon's act gets more personal
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 3, 2009
In addition to the popular Showtime series 'Weeds,' comedian/actor Kevin Nealon is probably most widely known for his work on 'Saturday Night Live,' where he anchored the "Weekend Update" segment for so many years. While he skillfully parodied current events on that program, these days his outlook is more domestic, and that's reflected in his stand-up set.