Photo by: Mindy Tucker
Even though Nimesh Patel doesn’t consider himself funny, as an emerging stand-up comic gaining momentum on the New York comedy scene, he knows he’s got a good thing going.
“To me it’s just the way I think about things,” Patel tells BTR about his general style. “I have an open mind about everything. And a lot of people don’t have an opinion, but I have an opinion.”
What began as a love for all-things Chris Rock has evolved into a creative career move for Patel, who first got up on stage in August 2009 and has made it a goal ever since to stay there. The up-and-coming comic is working the New York comedy circuit with cutting wit and determination, performing a weekly show at Bar Matchless in Brooklyn called “Brooklyn Comedy,” and hitting open mics across the city any other given day. Most impressively, he can frequently be seen at theaters like Carolines on Broadway, where many of humor’s finest have and continue to spit jokes every day.
For Patel, the whole deal begins with a love of the artistry first, and a make-it-or-break-it career endeavor, second. His hope is that getting on stage, writing sketches and making the right alliances will one day allot him the chance to create for television or something of a larger realm. If he can achieve such a grand scale, he’ll be able to get on stage anywhere, anytime he wants. And that, for this funnyman, is the ultimate goal.
“I just want to be funny on stage and see what happens,” he explains.
Many comics tank their first year or so on the circuit, but Patel’s experience seems to have been surprisingly positive. When he didn’t bomb his first attempt – an open mic night in New Jersey – the young comedian says he gained a quick confidence to continue embarking down the path, managing to work the crowds without a “chip on his shoulder.” Though admittedly, he may have skewed the results of his debut.
“Two days before, I’d written five minutes of material about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton,” he remembers. “I told my entire family to come – I have a huge family, lots of cousins – and they all showed up… It was an open mic, but it was a packed house because you had to bring people to get on stage… It went great. It was a lot of fun, and there were a lot of people laughing.”
Now, three years later, he seems to have found a good place to test his routine and a growing repertoire to engage diverse audiences. He doesn’t please everyone, of course, but his sets tend to stand tall on their own. While no topic is off limits, Patel says he prefers to refrain from any jokes involving his family. Rather, he’s heavy into politics and racial issues, having moved on from the observational comedy and pop culture references he started out with to subjects with more substance.
“There’s a lot interesting and depressing aspects to the political conversation these days,” Patel observes. “How Mitt Romney is even a viable candidate… and how much he’s flip flopped… How conservative Republican women exist is beyond me. It shouldn’t happen. There shouldn’t be any women voting for the Republican Party.”
Patel finds the fallacies and paradox of human nature particularly striking, and he’s not afraid to call it out loud and clear, even to the distaste of his audience. He recalls a time recently following his show at Stand Up New York when, after “talking shit about Romney,” he was lectured by a woman who disagreed with his position. Another, perhaps more troubling experience, was an occasion when he got on stage after drinking a few cocktails, something he usually avoids.
“Six months ago, I left a happy hour event to perform, and I was really drunk,” Patel explains. “I got in a cab to go to the show, and I said to myself, ‘Oh shit I should not go on stage.’ There were these heckler women I went off on in the front row – not in a nice way – I was really mean, and I offended the entire room. The host was like, ‘Alright, you gotta go.’”
And like that, it was onto the next one; Patel doesn’t mind too much.
Along with Rock, the hopeful protégé admires the work of comics like Larry David, who he feels always stays true to character, and the late Patrice O’Neal, a source of “constant laughter” and insight. Patel has also had the chance to meet fellow Indian comedian Aziz Ansari, who he jokes made his own material redundant, but also created a breakthrough for his work.
“I respect Aziz; I used to watch Human Giant religiously,” says Patel. “Here’s a guy that looks like me and doesn’t have to speak in an Indian accent to be funny.”
Clearly, Patel sees a wealthy world of ideas before him, and uses those reflections of life throughout his acts. As his spotlight grows bigger, his main concern nonetheless remains the same – make sure people are laughing. Whatever comes with that is a perk.
“I AM NIMESH PATEL,” he writes on his website. “If you Google me, I am the first result. And most every other Nimesh Patel is a doctor. Which means if my parents Google me, they get their son, and then a list of everything they wanted their son to be.”
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