Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 | 8:11 p.m.
Sun Events Calendar
The Las Vegas branch of Friends Of India is presenting the 24th Annual Diwali Celebration Saturday at Cashman Field featuring an unusual headliner for a cultural event: comedian Dan Nainan. A former Intel employee [insert Indian tech support joke here], Nainan turned to comedy to help overcome his fear of public speaking. When he discovered he had a natural talent for making people laugh, he left his IT job to pursue a stand-up career and has since opened for the likes of Bob Saget and Bob Schimmel.
You were a tech guy, how did you transition into comedy?
I had always been in IT and my job with Intel was to travel around the world with the CEO and the chairman and do these technical demonstrations on stage. This was like a nerd’s dream. I had this huge lab where I could put these technical demos together. The technical part was easy. The difficult part was presenting them on stage, speaking in front of thousands of people and sometimes millions of people on TV. It was really terrifying. First I joined a Toastmasters club on campus at Intel. The problem with this was I was basically presenting to a group of other nerds like myself and it wasn’t enough to simulate the environment of speaking in front of thousands. Then I decided to take a comedy class up in San Francisco and I did really well in the class.
You’re known for your clean comedy. Is that a religious choice or just a personal preference?
No no, it’s not religious. I guess my guideline is I don’t want to do any comedy that I can’t do in front of my parents. I appreciate dirty comedy. In fact, I’ve toured with some of the dirtiest comedians out there. Bob Saget is just filthy. He’s a really nice guy but people remember him from those TV shows and expect him to be like that. It’s very, very incongruous.
How did you get the chance to open for Bob Saget?
It was kind of a funny way it happened. I went to see the grand opening of the Laugh Factory and he was the headliner and Artie Lange from The Howard Stern Show was the opener. This was a black tie event and these comedians are very funny and successful in their own right, the only problem is that kind of an audience is not going to appreciate humor about defecating in your pants on the side of the road and leaving it there. When I had gotten to the venue I talked with the owner just to tell him I was a clean comedian and I had toured with Bob Schimmel blah-d-blah and he said, [in an exaggerated Indian accent] “Ok, send me your tape.” When it wasn’t working with those two comedians on stage, I saw him again in the hall and he said, “You clean? You clean? You go up and do five minute.”
What was it like performing on the spot like that?
I performed and they never gave me the light so I kept going and they loved it. Afterwards I got mobbed by all these people in tuxedoes and Saget comes out and said, “I want that guy to open for me for the rest of the weekend.”
How did you get into acting once you began doing comedy?
It seems to be a natural thing that people push you toward, and to me they’re so different. I heard one comedian say that asking a comic, “So you’re a comedian, do you act?” is like saying, “You’re a comedian, do you farm?” They’re so different. I went on a bunch of auditions, had some callbacks but never booked anything. Then I tried out for this Apple commercial with Justin Long, and they said I got it. I feel bad because there are people who have been doing stage and theater and student films for years just trying to land a national commercial. I feel almost a little guilty but at the same time, I’m glad I have that problem.
So are you a Mac user?
I am actually platform agnostic- I use both Macs and PCs. I don’t have an iPhone only because I am married to Sprint but I have an iPod touch and I can’t get off of it. It’s a little known fact that the guy who is plays the PC guy, John Hodgman, is a lifelong Mac user.