By Noah Foster-Koth /// Staff Writer
Comedian and former “Daily Show” correspondent Aasif Mandvi performed at Lewis & Clark on Feb. 6th, in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel. Mandvi won laughs from the audience by reading passages from his autobiography, “No Land’s Man.” After reading two excerpts from his book, Mandvi sat down with LC president Barry Glassner and Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) president Daniela Lopez to answer questions from the audience.
Mandvi began the conversation by describing his early career as an actor, recalling how few parts there were for Indian actors like himself when he first moved to New York in the early 1990s.
“The business still considers white to be normal,” explained Mandvi, “But there’s definitely more roles now than there used to be. For a while, it was, like, all those roles were terrorists, but now it’s evolving a little bit.”
Mandvi also described being hired as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”. “‘The Daily Show’ was one of those jobs I never expected to have in my life. I was not pursuing being a fake journalist.” When Mandvi got the call, he was “in a funk” because his ex-girlfriend had gotten engaged, and he was reluctant to audition for the part.
“They had written this piece for Middle East correspondents, and they didn’t have one. So they were like, ‘we need to find one by four o’clock.’” Mandvi auditioned for the role, was hired, and performed his first broadcast, all in the same afternoon. “Jobs never happen like that,” Mandvi laughed, “I was crying because my girlfriend was getting engaged, and now I’m a Daily Show correspondent! So you never know, people.”
When asked about the future of multiculturalism in comedy, Mandvi predicted “there will be more people telling stories from more diverse perspectives. I don’t think that’s just in comedy, I think it’s everywhere. And it needs to happen even more.”
“People start looking at things through a lens of themselves,” Mandvi continued, “So if everybody creating the content is a white man, then they’re gonna automatically think that stories about white men are the most interesting stories. And they can’t help it, because it’s what they relate to. But if you start having African Americans, Asians, people from different cultures, women — then you have a diversity of stories”
Recently, Mandvi wrote and starred in an HBO series called “The Brink”, and will appear in the film “Mother’s Day” alongside Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts.