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Kumail Nanjiani Quotes

Kumail Nanjiani Silicon Valley

Kumail Nanjiani quotes: on being funny, failing, how the U.S. compares to Pakistan, and more.

“You can go slow.  Allow your dreams and goals to change, but live an intentional life.”

“Being a fish out of water is tough, but that’s how you evolve.”

“You really need to have that discipline.  It’s not even discipline.  I just put down these rules.  It’s not like a vague, ‘Motivate yourself!’ and do something.  It’s specific hours set aside every day for certain things.”

“We only hear success stories.  You don’t hear about the hundreds and hundreds – the overwhelming majority that don’t go anywhere.  This is a more realistic portrayal of what happens in startups.”

“You think of the word startup, and you think of, you know, selling to Microsoft for three billion dollars, but that’s not the norm.  The norm is they couldn’t get the money together, or the VCs weren’t interested, or whatever it is.  It’s interesting to see how there’s a lot of money in Silicon Valley, but not a lot of people have that money.  There’s these VCs that control it, and then there’s these startups trying to sort of get at that money.”

“Most people don’t really do too many things because they’re afraid they’ll fail.  There are people failing all the time, all around you.  And nobody is going to notice your failure.  Your failure is not going to be so spectacular that people write news stories about it.  Your failure will be boring.”

“Nobody really knows what they’re doing.  Some are just better at pretending like they do.”

“Populate your life with people different from you.  Once you leave school, you get to choose the kinds of people you’re going to be around rather than being forced to be around them.”

“I’ve found that the common humanity of people is the most relatable thing, and even if your stories are very specific about a different place, if you have a relatable core of humanity, people will go along with it.”

“I was extremely shy and had a terrible fear of public speaking.  But I had fallen in love with stand-up.”

“I think being funny had something to do with feeling like an outsider, not feeling cool – insecurity.”

“Because of the internet, you’re sort of forced to deal with people from very different backgrounds and beliefs.  It’s a great challenge of our time, and depending on when you ask me, I feel optimistic or pessimistic about it.”

“I’m from a family of doctors, and I think they really wanted me to be a doctor.  I even sort of assumed I would be a doctor.”

“I was on this path to becoming a computer-science guy, but I didn’t like it.  I got no joy from it.  It was very, very scary.  It was suffocating to think that I was just going to do this thing for the rest of my life.”

“The plan was always to come to America, because Pakistan’s a scary place.  They don’t have religious freedom.  It’s very poor, and there’s a lot of violence and corruption.”

“I thought of America as this crazy, happy, exciting place where everybody’s rich and there’s stuff everywhere.  Compared to Pakistan, it’s not untrue.”

“It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I decided to make a conscious effort to be myself.”

“I never decided I wanted to be an actor.  I just started doing stand-up because I love stand-up.  Everything else has sort of been these tiny steps leading to this.”

“But even when it wasn’t easy, I loved it.  I just loved doing it.  And this is the part where I’m supposed to give you advice on what to do with your life, and I truly do not know what to tell you.  I can tell you what worked for me.  What worked for me was finding something that I liked doing, but more than liked, something that satisfied me.  Finding something that satisfied me… and doing it.”

“Think, ‘Am I doing what I want to be doing every day?’  And, be okay with failing.  That’s what I learned getting rejected at all these auditions.  Nobody is paying attention to your failure.  The world is full of people failing.  People are failing all around you.  Only you will remember your failure.  Unless you’re the person that made the Samsung Galaxy X7.  Those are the phones that literally explode.  Everyone knows that person’s failure.”

“I am a very nerdy guy.  I understand that it’s easier to cast me as a nerdy guy than an action star – although I would love to be an action star!”

“I’ve always played some version of a nerdy guy or something like that.  I mean, one of my story lines on Silicon Valley is that I am very bad with women!”

“On stage I just have to be myself.  In acting you have to be so many other people.”

“Stand-up is successful if they laugh.  It’s unsuccessful if they don’t laugh.”

“I didn’t know if I could be funny on stage or write a joke.  But I saw that there are no rules.  If you’re funny off stage, you can figure out a way to be funny on stage.”

“I think, you know, a lot of the business of comedy is taking your personal experiences and making them relatable to other people.”

“I would say I try to make my comedy really personal.  I try to tell stories that happened to me, experiences from my life.”

“I know what is funny coming out of my mouth and what is not funny coming out of my mouth.  You have to figure out, ‘What is the joke that I can do that nobody else can do?'”

“Philosophy is problem-solving.  There’s a philosophical problem, and then you try to solve it by approaching it from different angles and seeing what way works.  That’s what comedy is: you have a topic and you try to just hit it as many different ways as you can.”

“I love constructive criticism.  I love getting notes when I’m acting.  I love them telling me what to do.  I don’t always agree with it, but I really need it.”

“I thought, from watching TV and stuff, that America was one place.  They only show you L.A. and New York.  They don’t warn you about Iowa.”

“Ultimately, we are all much more similar than we are different.  That is what I learned in the Iowa I loved.  Our shared humanity.  We’re all just looking for food, and love, and meaning.”

“So take the lessons you learned in Iowa, and in Grinnell, and get out there.  Engage with people.  Challenge their beliefs and challenge your own.  Engage, care, be passionate.  Because each other is all we have.  This is all we got, this is all we have.  And it may not be heaven, but it can be Iowa.”

“To all the dreamers out there, we stand with you.”

Cory Johnson: your momma’s neighbor’s side chick’s last Uber Eats delivery guy’s third-favorite blogger. Here’s how he makes millions of dollars blogging without being bothered.