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Rajiv Satyal

Rajiv Satyal Comedy Videos

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Rajiv Satyal Biography

From the "Indian Invasion Comedy" DVD starring Rajiv Satyal

From Rajiv Satyal's Website

Short Bio

Rajiv Satyal is the small, bespectacled Indian guy from Ohio whose witty, universal, and TV-clean act resonates with Middle America by covering everything from racial issues to soap bottles to his favorite topic – himself.

Rajiv Satyal - Indian Stand Up Comedian - Highbrow fun-size comedian

This former engineer and P&G marketer has repeatedly opened for Dave Chappelle, Kevin Nealon, and also for Russell Peters in sold-out auditoriums across the U.S.A. Peters recently named Rajiv as 1 of only 2 Indian American “comics to watch.”

This LA-based pocket pundit challenges people to see a new point-of-view. And to explain that Indians were not involved in 9-11 – just 7-11. Finally, he talks about what it’s like to be Rajiv.

And we all have some Rajiv in us, even if we don’t want to admit it.

You can find Rajiv acting in commercials, doing improv, on Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes?, XM and Sirius Satellite Radio, co-headlining the Hindu-Muslim comedy tour “Make Chai Not War."

Long Bio

Rajiv Satyal and Kevin Nealon

Your High-Brow, Fun-Size Comedian

Rajiv Satyal is the small, bespectacled Indian guy from Ohio whose witty, universal, and TV-clean act resonates with Middle America by covering everything from racial issues to soap bottles to his favorite topic – himself.

Rajiv was born and raised near Cincinnati, Ohio. Unlike most comics for whom tragedy + time = comedy, he’s just a little guy with a lot to say. His childhood was a blast, given his fun-loving parents and his hysterical brothers. He became funny in 3rd grade, influenced by his uncle and a friend who insisted he’d never make laugh. His interest in entertainment was likely subliminally influenced by the hobbies of his family: his Mom, a singer; his Dad, a DJ, one brother a singer, writer, and actor; the other a sportsman and speaker; his aunt, a painter and poet; not to mention his Dad’s family’s making of Bollywood films.

Despite sprouting a moustache in elementary school and not breaking 100 pounds till his senior year in high school, he somehow glided through childhood without being picked-on. A friend would later comment, “Sounds like God picked on you enough.” Rajiv wanted to be Class Clown, but the guy who won was on the 5-year high school plan, so he had to settle for being Class President. A dork who managed to have cool friends, his 11-year Perfect Attendance record was solely driven by not wanting to miss out on a day’s worth of stories.

Rajiv went to college and noticed, for Indians, the part of the form that allows you to choose your major was grayed-out to “pre-med.” He finally graduated in Materials Engineering, which he figured was good for, well, material. While in college, Rajiv dabbled in everything from politics (interning on Capitol Hill in 1999) to comedy (winning The Funniest Person in Cincinnati amateur contest). Rajiv ironically “got serious about comedy” in 2002. In June 2005, he won The Funniest Person in Cincinnati contest in the semipro/professional division on his first try.
Upon graduation, he worked at the world headquarters of Procter & Gamble, in the purchasing, media, and marketing departments. He performed (and still does) at many P&G and other corporate events and had his own column in P&G’s Home Made Simple newsletter, which reached 15 million US households. Occasionally, Rajiv was seen doing actual P&G work.

He has since opened for many nationally-renowned comics, including Dave Chappelle, Kevin James, and Kevin Nealon. Rajiv has opened for Russell Peters in sold-out auditoriums across the U.S.A. In fact, in December 2006, an Indian newspaper asked Russell to name “comics to watch” – he named only two in the States; Rajiv was one of them.

Rajiv was often heard on various Cincinnati radio stations, seen in many local newspapers and magazines, and found onstage regularly as an MC and a Feature act at Midwest comedy clubs and colleges. Rajiv turned 30 in March 2006, at which point he freaked out, realizing that while he had done all he could do to gain unique experiences in Ohio – from selling knives to telemarketing to being a tennis ball boy – he had still lived in OHIO his whole life. So, he packed up and moved to LA and is now a full-time comic. Rajiv is in the rare position of hoping he makes it in entertainment so he doesn’t have to go back to that six-figure gig with health benefits and job security.

This pocket pundit is a comedian who stands on the fringe of what is acceptable and challenges people to see a new point-of-view. You certainly don’t come to Rajiv’s shows to escape – you come to experience. Because he was raised when the anthem of the time for minorities was assimilation, the Indian influence had very little impact on his life. Now, he is trying to get in-touch with his roots, if for no other reason than to deliver for the Indians and non-Indians who expect him to be more “Indian” – even though he’s really just an Ohioan. And to be able to explain that Indians were not involved in 9-11 – just 7-11.

The act takes the audience on a journey, while conveying a key message of diversity, which helps to break down stereotypes: We’re all different and we’re all the same. Rajiv thinks that with each person who learns to assume the best about others, we can make the world a better place. Sound lofty? It is. Can he do it? We’ll see. And in case you’re wondering, he did make that 3rd grade friend laugh. So, Rajiv thinks he can do anything. At the end of the day, he talks about what it’s like to be Rajiv. And we all have some Rajiv in us, even if we don’t want to admit it.

Interview with Rajiv Satyal

When you found out you were on the Desiclub Top 50 Coolest Desis list for 2007, I heard you fainted from the excitement and needed medical care. Have you recovered yet and what happened to you?

Rajiv Satyal: Funny you mention that. I always wanted to be a doctor. In fact, when any Desi (South Asian) selects a major, all other options are grayed-out. I actually got into med school but didn't go. I think it's because I always cited as my reason the fact that I wanted to help people. But then it occurred to me - I don't even LIKE people. Why would I want to help them?

Now that we got the very important investigative reporting aspect to this interview out of the way, tell me, where did you grow up and how was it like for you being an Indian in America back in the 80's? What is your Indian background? Guju? Punjabi or what?

Rajiv Satyal: Yes, your journalistic skills are formidable. I grew up in Cincinnati, OH. Well, I'm still 5'6" so let's say that I grew older there. I actually have to give much love, big ups, mad love, and respec' to Ohio because I didn't experience racism - yes, even in the '80s. My family has always had good experiences with the white folk, as it were... which is good, because there are lots of 'em in Ohio. As far as my Desi background, I call myself the Punjabi with the Puns and the Jabs. Thank you. Thank you. Clear to see why I get paid for this.

"...I'm sure with Hollywood demanding skinny people, the higher your talent:mass ratio, the better you'll do..."

When did you believe that it was time to give up your position at Procter & Gamble to pursue what you wanted as a comedian?

Rajiv Satyal and Melanie Kannokada

Rajiv Satyal: Who said that was my decision? Ha. I was pleasantly shocked, if that's a term, at how supportive P&G was - and is - of my comedy career. I welcomed all of the incoming interns and co-ops during the summers... mostly to meet the new chicks, but hey, I did it, at least. I wrote for the Home Made Simple website, the newsletter which went to 15 million consumers. The Funny Indian was actually set up as a vendor in the system... which really only meant that it took 6 months for me to get paid. Anyone who has dealt with Corporate America knows what I mean. I hosted several P&G events - and in fact, the company still calls on me to do so. I can't believe that a company founded in 1837 could be this progressive. I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise, though - P&G invented the soap opera. That's why they're called "soap operas." Fast fact for ya. I guess in the end, the company was TOO supportive - I got enough traction to go do comedy full-time. That or maybe
they found out my Dad used to work at Hindustan Lever.

How did you come up with the term FunnyIndian? What makes you such a Funny Indian?

Rajiv Satyal: A friend actually came up with the name. But I won't reveal whom - I'm into loyalties but not royalties. What makes me funny? I'm hilarious - but looks aren't everything.

How much of your comedy deals with being Indian and Desi experiences?

Rajiv Satyal: I'd say the Indian/Desi part of my material is about 30%. When I do South Asian gigs, it's about 90%. But when I do general market (alright - let's call 'em Black, White, and Latino), it's more like 30%. I actually didn't write any (Desi comedy) for the first 2 years. I started to later, partly influenced by the very first person for whom I ever did my act - at the time, the #1 tennis player in the world, Mr. Pete Sampras. That's a different story for a different day - after all, I want you to feature me again. DVD torrent, free dvd download.

You're aware that many youngsters want to pursue a career in comedy and showbiz in general. So tell us, is it harder for a Desi to succeed in these areas and how well do you think you've done up until now? Did your family help in achieving your goals? What do they think of your career?

Rajiv Satyal: I hear every week of a new Desi entering the field. I think it's great that we're branching out into new arenas. Many people think "it's about time." It IS time, but we're not late to the game. It's but natural for an emerging community to go into established - or as my Dad would call them "sure shot" fields... gosh, now I'm reminded of the "foundation" conversations he had with me just about everyday... "Beta, these are the building blocks for the house..." I can't wait till the day my Dad no longer gives me advice - I hear it happens on or around your 70th birthday. Anyway, I don't think it's any harder for a Desi to succeed... in fact, I'd argue it's easier... the community has been tremendously supportive by giving me opportunities to host events, parties, etc. - both private and corporate. I'm very happy with my progress so far. A long way to go but I've been very fortunate and I feel the momentum building. I give a lot of speeches to high school and college kids... I would love to wax more philosophical about this topic as it's near and dear to my heart... but in the spirit of keeping this readable, I'll give you one tidbit: To succeed in anything, you need three things: Talent, Desire, and Drive. Talent is self-explanatory but you really have to be honest with yourself as to whether you really are talented enough to make it. Desire and Drive are two different things. The former speaks more to the fire within to achieve something great, but the latter is the motivation to get out of bed everyday and actually DO something about it. My family is the greatest in the world. Indeed, I couldn't do this without the love and support of family and friends. Phenomenally supportive, but they know when to employ tough love, too. My first time onstage actually went extremely well. But something like the 2nd or 3rd time I absolutely bombed. My Mom pulled me aside, put her arm around me, and said in
this deceptively sweet voice, "Rajiv, we really wanted to laugh, but the stuff you were saying just wasn't funny." Thanks a lot, Mom. So, I think it's important for your family and friends to be honest with you so you get better. And for those of you out there who don't think I'm funny - both of you - sorry... maybe my family should've been even more harsh.

I've seen some of your video clips, where you do parodies and such, and you have a ton of on-screen talent, are you actively working on getting movie roles or being on network TV? If so, what?

Rajiv Satyal: You're too kind. I don't know about a ton. That's 2000 pounds and I only weigh 120 (let's round). That's pretty much a 17:1 ratio of talent to mass. I'm not sure where that gets us but I'm an Indian - I saw an opportunity to do math and I took it. Perhaps there is something here, though - I'm sure with Hollywood demanding skinny people, the higher your talent:mass ratio, the better you'll do. ANYway, yes, I would very much like to get on TV. I've hosted AVS a couple of times, which has been great. I'm well past the point where I should at least have done a Live at Gotham or an appearance on Kimmel or Ferguson. I have always seen myself as one of those "talking heads" on MTV or VH1 or a VJ or something. However, I was watching "History of the Joke" recently on the History Channel and what I noticed, though, is that pretty much everybody you see on those shows has been doing comedy for 10+ years. I'm at 6 - and not even really that - because I'm at 1.5
years full-time. So, it's early. Still, if you know anybody, hook me up, dawg! Interestingly, the History Channel had actually asked me to come in to audition to host a show. It came down to another guy and me - he got it. I couldn't have been too disappointed, though, right? I didn't even know of the opportunity till a fortnight before. As a result, the agency that submits me for commercials (I've been fortunate to book a couple.) is now considering me for TV hosting, which is cool. I haven't auditioned for movies, though I would like to. Is now the right time to plug the show I'm producing with another one of your Top 50 Desis list? I think it is. Check out the first episode of "That's What's Up," a several-period-of-days' news & entertainment program that Miss India 2006 - '07 Melanie Kannokada and I made.

Nice plug Rajiv! Let me just add that she is also our 2008 Swimsuit calendar cover model. Now, back to the interview... what would your most ideal TV gig be? Describe it for us.

Rajiv Satyal: Host the Oscars. Simply put, that's it. Or, as most comics say, "network sitcom." There are many definitions, but that's what most would define as "making it." I would love that, but more immediately, it'd be great to just appear on different shows as the Funny Indian - really develop that brand as an on-air personality so that I'm a kind of go-to guy for questions & input on things... whether that's bridging the gap between Hollywood and Bollywood... social commentary... political thoughts... anything. It'd be really cool to just appear on those VH1 or MTV or Bravo or E! shows as a guest, guest host, etc.

I'm gonna get you booked! What do you think of Russell Peters' comedy? Do you think he's funny? And what do you think of his success? You can be honest, Russell is a big pussycat. free comedy video downloads

Rajiv Satyal: Every single Desi comic owes a huge debt of gratitude to Russell Peters. He's the trailblazer. He singlehandedly created demand for Desi comedy where there was none before. As John Lennon said, "Before Elvis, there was nothing." He's our Elvis - maybe minus the gyrating hips and lip curl. Just think of the courage it took to jump in back in 1989 - that's 19 years ago, when the mere mention of becoming anything other than a doctor or engineer would be met with a parental slap. It also helps that he's amazingly talented - he can box, DJ, dance, do pretty much any accent out there. And his comedy happens to be hilarious. So, yes, I think he's funny and yes, he deserves all of the success he has enjoyed. Above all that, he's a nice guy. He has had me open for him 15 times all over the States, put in a word for me at major comedy clubs in LA, and has just been there to hang out and chill.

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