The Indian American

on in the world as it is," he says. "Because they're smart, they're willing to laugh at a lot more stuff, because they're open to ideas." Patel's parents, howev- er, weren't so open to his idea of ditching a finance career for stand-up come- dy eight years ago. "The stereotype of Indian parents wanting their kid to be a doctor or finance person was true, for me at least," says Patel, who grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey. "Comedy wasn't even a thing they thought could be a real job." Patel graduated with a finance degree in 2008 but then quickly got bored at work. "I've never had a fear of being onstage, so in August 2009 I started stand-up and caught the bug." He found jobs in the city that allowed him to gig at night. After Chris Rock caught a set in 2015, the comedian hired Patel to help write jokes for Rock's Oscar-hosting gig in 2016 - Patel's first writing job. "Once I got the Oscars job, my parents were like, 'OK, this could be some- thing that's real,'" Patel says. Looking back, he under- stands why his folks were initially so resistant: "There wasn't a lot of visi- bility for brown comics for my parents' generation when they got here, or even now." Now, he says, "People like Hari Kondabolu, Aziz (Ansari), Hasan Minhaj, Mindy Kaling, Akaash Singh - and probably tons more that I don't know about - are making inroads, and becoming visible faces and names for future comedy writers below us. "If some little Nimesh or somebody else in Parsippany, New Jersey, is having an argument with his mom and says, 'Mom, I don't want to be a doc- tor, I want to be a writer!' and his mom is like, 'No Indian comic has ever been a writer,' he can say, 'What are you talking about?' " Patel says. "I think it's very cool to be part of that gang." -Special To The Washington Post 38 THE INDIAN AMERICAN APRIL-JUNE 2018

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