October 21, 2020

Abby Govindan On The Complex Relationship Between Immigration, Diaspora, And Comedy

When this entire shit storm blows over, whenever that is, whats next for you?
TV writing is perfect. Im applying to a whole bunch of TELEVISION shows to be an author, so getting staffed is preferably the next step. I ended up one pilot, Im dealing with another pilot. Im trying to sell a feature script concept. Im presently developing a podcast with Dana Donnelly. The property is men employ and pitch us their podcast, and after that we talk them out of making it. Its called No New Podcast: The Podcast. We have a number of actually cool production companies who are certainly purchased the idea, so thats amazing.
Any recommendations for books, podcasts, TV shows, movies for people to remain sane throughout quarantine?
I am not a podcast individual, however Scam Goddess by Laci Mosley is so excellent. She has the coolest comedians on.
Thanks To Abby Govindan
TV shows, oh, I have a lot of. I see American Dad practically every night. I always said that it was ahead of its time and aged very well, however then somebody advised me that it came out in the Bush age, and its perhaps much more relevant now. I have actually viewed Nathan For You many times, The Eric Andre Show through twice. When I first viewed those shows back in 2018 I was just a standup comic, and watching those shows was when I resembled, “Oh my God, theres a lot more to funny than what I believed it was.” The Orville, by Seth MacFarlane. Its a homage to Star Trek and they utilize it as a lorry for social commentary too. I really like Umbrella Academy. It has one of the most, if not the most varied cast Ive seen. They have a South Asian person, an Asian person, a Hispanic person, a Black individual, someone who is LGBTQ, someone who handles addiction. And for the a lot of part, their races do not play anything into their stories. It was simply so rejuvenating to see individuals who appeared like me and my pals and household simply belong of this crazy sci-fi story without caveats.
Who have I been listening to? Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion again. Shes been killing it. “Savage” was currently too effective of a tune, and then she simply randomly dropped the remix with Beyonce. I practically passed away. I could not handle it. Doja Cat, 100 Gecs, Chloe X Halle just launched an album and its so good. Their voices are angelic.
Tik Tok has actually been a real source of sanity for myself and so lots of other people. Im thankful that Trump is not banning it. That most likely wouldve incited world war three. The 15 year olds would have gone insane.
Do you have anything that you wished to shamelessly plug?
Yeah! I am dealing with this podcast with Dana Donnelly, as I pointed out. She is so funny. So watch out for No New Podcasts: The Podcast. Also, just follow me on social media. Im constantly developing actually cool concepts and asking my fans for help creating certain storylines, and doing fundraisers and other cool stuff.

For those who do not know you yet, I desire to enter into your origin story. How did you start with comedy? When did you begin?
I had a really Marvelous Mrs. Maisel story where I took up stand-up comedy, as simply a pastime to get my mind off things, however ended up doing well. I got to satisfy other individuals in colleges who were my age, who had faith in me, who really invested in me early on. People were so good to me about it and so supportive.
Courtesy of Abby Govindan
Quickly after I took up stand up, I studied abroad in Ireland. I had a friend in Ireland who had 1000 fans on Twitter and he declined to follow me back. He was like, “Your Twitter is dry. Im not going to follow you until you prove your worth to me.” So thats in fact the reason I started utilizing Twitter more. Then as I was leaving, actually on the airplane from Ireland back to Houston, some tweet [ of mine] blew up on Irish Twitter, and overnight I got 2000 fans. Which looking back isnt that much, but was actually cool to me at the time. Later on that summertime in 2018, another tweet blew up and I got 10,000 followers over night. And its only been up from there!
Ive gotten to fulfill a lot of individuals, including my heroes. I got to satisfy federal political leaders, I worked as a volunteer influencer with Julian Castro who has been one of my preferred political leaders considering that I was in high school, because I grew up in Texas.
Something you yap about in your standup sets in addition to on Twitter, whether its jokingly or seriously, is being and having immigrant parents Indian-American. Whats that like taking up area in such a white, and male, controlled market?
I like this concern. I was 20 when I began stand-up and being a young Indian lady was definitely challenging because people did not take me seriously. Every time I had imposter syndrome, I would simply look at these men who I was performing together with who d been doing this for 10, 11 years who could not even get one or 2 laughs.
Often it gets aggravating, and I do fail. At the end of the day, the things that I state on stage, Im truly happy of. I attempt to be extremely intentional with what I do, I do not want to ever punch down.
My parents migration is an aspect of my identity, however it was never ever the core.
Twitter following proves that people do have vested interest in diverse stories. People desire alternative perspectives. Ive been proving that investing in not just me, however people whose stories you wouldnt hear or normally see on screen is worth it.
A year ago my moms and dads discovered my Narcan, which is a drug that you inject individuals with who are experiencing an opioid overdose. The opioid crisis disproportionately affects low income and homeless individuals who wouldnt otherwise have access to Narcan, so in New York City they were providing it away for free. I shared it online, and immediately all these individuals, mostly South Asian kids were like, “Shes making enjoyable of her moms and dads broken English.
Thats another thing about being Indian [in this market], since theres such a lack of representation, the couple of people that do represent these communities have more pressure to reflect all the experiences of these communities.
A great deal of people have an interest in what I have to state and the stories that I need to inform, but then a lot of individuals likewise do anticipate my stories to be one method or the other.
And for a lot of people that is their story; their moms and dads didnt truly know the language, they came here with little to no assistance system, whichs so legitimate, however that was never ever me. My moms and dads immigration is an element of my identity, however it was never ever the core. I have a great deal of injuries, but immigration trauma isnt among them.
Ill remain in conferences and Ill pitch an Indian character simply living her life, and [individuals in the meeting] will be like, “Yeah, however where is she from? What is the story on how she got here?”
I feel like a lot of individuals do anticipate immigrants to have migration trauma and also expect that to be their whole identity. I d much rather be directly up sincere about it, and resemble, “I grew up privileged,” as opposed to understanding at trauma straws to make my story more palatable, or to elicit sympathy for myself, because I think that does a great injustice to people who really did battle when they came to America.
A lot of people are interested in what I have to say and the stories that I have to tell, however then a lot of people likewise do anticipate my stories to be one method or the other– and South Asian kids are just as guilty of it as non-South Asian kids. All parents text unusual, however since Im Indian, both Indian and non-Indian individuals were lecturing me.

It sounds like youre not just assisting to lead the way in the wider sense of being a girl of color in funny, but then likewise broadening that niche of not having immigrant trauma and being able to inform those stories. Thats a cool information within what youre doing.
Thank you. Another example of this would be Mindy Kalings Never Have I Ever. It was an excellent program. It played with a great deal of Indian stereotypes, it played into a few of them, and after that it swayed versus some of them in manner ins which I thought was very nuanced. Obviously, the South Asian neighborhood was split. People either enjoyed it or hated it. Among the problems was Mindy Kaling wrote the character a white love interest. I understand the disappointment of not seeing yourself as a preferable love interest on screen, however Mindy Kaling composes to her own experiences. If shes making use of her experiences dating white men and thats the story she wishes to inform, then thats her option. Anyone who doesnt concur is welcome to tell their own stories.
Thats the very best we can ask people to do, tell your own story.
Immigration stories are very required to inform, however thats not the only thing that immigrants need to provide.
A couple of weeks later I tweeted, “Hey, I desire to write an Indian woman with an Indian love interest. Lots of individuals from India, who live in India, were like, “This girl is attempting to write an Indian woman with an Indian love interest, so corny, so cheesy. A lot of diaspora Indians, which is the term that we utilize for immigrants and kids of immigrants, were pretty much saying the same things, “Oh, youre attempting too tough to be Indian.
Ive spoken to other prominent South Asian comedians and writers and they were like, “Yes, this is a really relatable concern. At very first I felt alone, however after talking to people I felt … not better, but validated. I figured out the difficult method that Im never ever going to please everybody or make every single South Asian individual proud, and thats all right.
I believe that changing those individualss minds is going to include rubbing them the wrong method and doing the things that youre doing, because the more exposure individuals within, and outside of, your own community need to various experiences, the more people will concern find out that this is excellent. Different stories are good.
Yeah, exactly. I suggest, migration stories are very necessary to tell since it assists individuals understand and have compassion, however thats not the only thing that immigrants need to offer.
Completely. On the subject of other prominent South Asian folks in the industry, who are your preferred comics, or authors, or actors, whom everybody should be aware of or who affected your journey?
Russell Peters (left) and Mindy Kaling (best) Screenshot from Netflix|IMDb
I think I can even go as far as to state that Russell Peters is quite much the reason any Indian comedian was able to find success. He began standing up in 1989 when a working class Indian guy doing standup was actually unheard of.
Mindy Kaling, I saw Mindy Kaling on The Office when I was 16, and there was that one Diwali episode and it wasnt contrived, it wasnt over done. They didnt punch down. They didnt make enjoyable of anybody for being Indian, it was just a funny episode in its own.
Hari Kondabolu (left) and Aamer Rahman (right) IMDb|Screenshot from YouTube
Hari Kondabolu and Aamer Rahman, I believe theyre the very first stand-up comedians that I saw who were South Asian, aside from Russell Peters. Here is what its like to be a South Asian man in America and Australia, respectively.”
He paved the way for Indian individuals in late night. Actually went from zero Indian late night hosts to 3 over the course of a couple years.
Hasan Minhaj (left) Aparna Nancherla (center) and Danny Pudi (best) Screenshots from Netflix
Theres a lot of psychological labor that goes into the stand-up composing process. When shes on phase, it actually just feels like youre talking to somebody.
I viewed Community when I was in high school and Abed is Palestinian in the program, however in real life Danny Pudis Indian. And seeing him … I felt so verified.
Thank you. Thats a great list. Whats whatever been like for you in quarantine? Did you have any work plans or goals or anything that were kiboshed by COVID? How have you been doing? I wished to transfer to LA by June, so that didnt actually end up working out, but its likewise really great since Ive had more time with my family. As much as they drive me insane, I know that when I get a full-time job or a TELEVISION writing profession, when Im able to earn a living off of stand-up totally, Im only going to see them twice a year for vacations. Im really attempting to maximize the time that I invest with my family right now.

Abby Govindan is a 23-year-old comedian, writer, and social networks character from Houston, Texas. She spoke with Funny Or Die over Zoom to discuss her journey in funny so far, the importance of telling varied stories, and what its like browsing Twitter, funny, and creative areas as an Indian-American woman.
This interview has actually been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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I was 20 when I began stand-up and being a young Indian female was definitely complicated due to the fact that people did not take me seriously. A lot of individuals are interested in what I have to state and the stories that I have to inform, however then a lot of people likewise do expect my stories to be one way or the other– and South Asian kids are simply as guilty of it as non-South Asian kids. All moms and dads text odd, however due to the fact that Im Indian, both Non-Indian and indian people were lecturing me.

Lots of people from India, who live in India, were like, “This woman is trying to write an Indian girl with an Indian love interest, so corny, so tacky. He paved the way for Indian individuals in late night.