We posted a clip some months ago of the comedian’s doing stand up on FX’s Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. If you remember he had somethings to say about Columbus Day and the rise in Indian-Americans. But we haven’t really highlighted anything about the comedian himself. Recently he sat down for an interview with the blog for South Asian American Digital Archive to discuss growing up South Asian, white privilege and next steps in his professional career. Hit the jump for more.
Margaret Cho had a special where she was in a leather body suit — an hour special, I think — and I remember watching that a ton when I was a kid. It was the first time I saw someone who wasn’t White, Black, or Latino doing stand up.
When you grow up South Asian, especially 20 or 30 years ago, you’re seen as a freak in a way. Me and my brother a little less so because we grew up in Queens.
There’s an interview where he talked to the producers of The Simpsons and said something like, “I don’t really do a good Indian accent. Mine’s kind of a stereotype.” They said, “Oh, it doesn’t really matter.”
Because it didn’t! That’s the point. We didn’t matter. We were non-entities. But there’s a generation of us who grew up watching that, and we can talk for ourselves now. We can say that we were haunted by that, to a certain degree. We were called “Apu.” We had to hear that impression. And they didn’t expect to hear from us who’d grown up here and have a stake in this and who have identities that are more complicated. Now we can say, yeah, Apu is a racial stereotype. It’s minstrelsy.
The interview is pretty good and in-depth, click here to read it all.