The Daily Show calling card has always been exposing the ridiculousness of politics and world events with laugh-out-loud humor. For years, Aasif Mandvi was one of the main players in that mission as a correspondent, but after leaving the show in 2015 he’s expanded his comedic persona to talk about larger issues around immigrant culture, #MeToo and more. He earned a Peabody for his web series Halal in the Family and revived his award-winning one-man show in New York, Sakina’s Restaurant, in October and recorded it as an audiobook on Audible, as well as writing and acting in TV shows and movies. Mandvi returns to NoVA this month for a performance at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Here, he gives us the scoop on his socially-aware stand-up. // Dec. 14 and 15; arlingtondrafthouse.com; tickets $25
What impact did The Daily Show have on your career?
I was fortunate enough to get to work with some of the most talented and funny people in the business, and that was great. It also gave me a political voice. It gave me a voice in terms of something about what I wanted to say in the culture. It gave me a platform through which to say that. And then beyond The Daily Show, I feel like it has continued to give me that platform to be able to tell stories.
How does your stand-up differ from other work?
The show at Arlington Drafthouse is a show that I have been developing for a while and I’m putting together, and for a lack of a better term, people will call it a stand-up show. But for me, it’s a storytelling show. It’s a show where I use stand-up and humor and satire as a way to tell stories. And those stories still have to do with the same thing that I have been talking about in all of my other writing, which is identity and the immigrant experience, being Muslim. In the Arlington show, in the work I am doing there, I’m also venturing into talking about relationships a little bit more and intimacy, and also something that’s very prevalent in our society now, which is toxic masculinity.
What do you like about performing in NoVA?
The Arlington Drafthouse is a great venue and I like the audience there. It feels like it’s a smart audience. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way to anywhere else, but I feel like just the kind of conversation around what’s going on politically in our world and in terms of even satire around social and political issues, I feel like it’s a smart, sort of well-versed audience. You don’t have to be smart to come to this show. If you’re reading this article and you’re a dumb person, or you’re not a very well-versed person, please feel like you can come to the show. There’s enough toilet, potty humor and very like base humor to satisfy you.