Comedian Dan Nainan – From Last Comic Standing & The White House!
Dan Nainan is a world-renowned top-notch stand-up comedian. He has performed for an American President, dignitaries, and respected people from all over the world. Dan mixes intelligence and culture with humor, a feat that many have attempted but few have achieved.
Dan was once a senior engineer with Intel Corporation. He had a fear of public speaking at the time, so he decided to take a comedy workshop class to overcome his phobia. The biggest test of the workshop was a stand-up performance at the famed Punch Line Comedy Club in San Francisco California. As a first timer, his performance earned a great deal of positive feedback. This led to his Intel associates asking him to perform at a company event, which included a dinner for 200 employees at The Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Nevada. After that show, the sky was truly the limit for Dan Nainan, a comedian born of Indian and Asian descent who has done just about everything: from performing in front of President Barack Obama and competing as a contestant on Last Comic Standing to appearing on Comedy Central and Apple Commercials.
A 100% clean, Christian comedian, Dan is hilarious, and he has a website loaded with credentials from famed comics and fans worldwide who love him. To catch a show or book Dan for a corporate event, check out his site here. Dan is also the author of The Best Book On How To Become A Full Time Stand-up Comedian, with another book in the works, and he performed in the popular Thou Shalt Laugh DVD series.
And he is just as funny to interview as he is on stage:
Your father is a nuclear physicist and your mother is a child psychiatrist and, before pursuing comedy, I understand you were an engineer. What made you decide to pursue comedy?
I worked at Intel Corporation as a senior engineer. My job was to design highly technical demonstrations and present them on stage with Andy Grove, the chairman/CEO at events all over the world. Since I’m Indian and Japanese, of course the technical part was easy, but the terrifying part was the public speaking. Sometimes I would be on stage in front of thousands of people, or millions on television. I decided I had to do something to get over my fear – after all, as the saying goes, do what you fear, and the death of fear is certain, so I decided to take a comedy class, which changed my life.
Is it true you opened up your own comedy club?
I did open my own comedy club. I wanted to have only clean comedy, and of course people were wondering how I would find enough comedians. Believe it or not, there are enough clean comedians that I could have had a clean headliner every week and not repeat the same comedian for a year. However, once I got the doors open, I was presented with an unanticipated bill for $80,000 to bring the building to code. I had only invested $8,000 at that point, so I thought it was best not to proceed. At the same time, I was just starting to get booked all over the US and all over the world. We were only open one weekend. I’m still trying to open another clean comedy club sometime in the future.
You are a Christian, does your faith have an impact on your comedy style and writing?
Most definitely. I don’t feel it would look good for a Christian comedian to get up and use a lot of foul language and do a lot of blue material that many comedians seem to be doing nowadays. I just don’t think it fits my persona, and I don’t think it would look good in the eyes of God.
Also, I never pick on people in the audience. So many comedians do that, to the point where people are terrified of sitting in the front row. My philosophy is this – if someone is paying to be entertained, why should they be picked on and humiliated? I think it is possible to be funny without having to resort to that. Also, as someone who was brutally bullied in school, I wouldn’t feel right about turning around and bullying people in the audience.
I see you have a book out called The Best Book on How To Become A Stand-up Comedian. Would you recommend it for people interested in becoming comedians?
Most definitely. It’s a different kind of how-to comedy book. It doesn’t focus as much on writing, but more on the business end of the comedy business, as well as taking advantage of technology.
You are a ‘teetotaler’ what is that?
It means somebody who doesn’t drink alcohol. I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, never have. I don’t even drink coffee. I’m not making a judgment against people who do, I just find that it’s just not right for me. I think it’s a tremendous advantage. A lot of comedians feel that they need to get high or drunk to get on stage, but I think that’s a bit of a cop-out. I also think that going up on stage without one’s brain at 100 percent definitely negatively affects the performance of those comedians.
You have performed at many cool venues for very interesting people, do you ever get nervous?
I don’t really get nervous about performing anymore. What gets me nervous is when something in the situation with the event is not right. For example, if the client tries to put me up during dinner, that won’t work, because people cannot laugh when they have food in their mouths. Or if I’m asked to do comedy in a room with a bunch of people standing – no comedian can do well in that situation because the natural inclination when people are standing is to talk to each other.
Did you enjoy your experience on Last Comic Standing?
Last Comic Standing was be quite an experience. To be truthful, it could’ve been organized a lot better, but you could just tell that the producers want it to be really disorganized so that it looks like a mob scene, which of course looks good for the cameras. It was an incredible experience, to say the least. I slept on a piece of cardboard in the rain overnight for the audition. But it was definitely well worth it!
What is your favorite bible quote?
From the Book of Job – “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward”
President Obama said you were “hilarious” how did that make you feel?
Performing for and meeting the president was one of the greatest experiences of my comedy career, and of my life. He was very nice to me; he wasn’t acting snobbish or presidential at all, just like a regular guy who happens to be president. I’m being considered to perform at the White House in November at the annual Diwali (Indian Festival) event. That would be amazing to perform for the President and the First Lady.
Just FYI, I’m politically in the middle – an independent, neither Republican nor Democrat. In addition to President Obama, I’ve also performed for Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, and a host of both Democratic and Republican congressmen, senators and governors. The way I look at it is this: why take one side of the coin, instead of the coin itself?
Who are you favorite comedians and who influenced your stand-up style?
My all-time favorite is Jerry Seinfeld. I like him because he does clean, intelligent humor, which is how I like to characterize my humor. I’ve read his biography, and he never got into the drinking/drugs thing, and he was also very serious and focused, writing four hours a day. He would also show up at the club early in the day, around noon, and people were shocked, because most comedians sleep late in the afternoon.