Kumail Nanjiani ’01 in HBO Series

Thursday, Apr. 10, 2014 10:55 am

The Grinnellian, who has appeared on The Colbert Report, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Franklin & Bash now is lampooning startups on HBO’s new series Silicon Valley.

The cable television series tackles the tech start-up industry and follows the lives of a group of software developers looking to create the next big thing in Silicon Valley.

The new show was created by Mike Judge of Beavis and Butt-head and Office Space. Nanjiani stars as Dinesh, along with Thomas Middleditch as Thomas, T.J. Miller as Erlich, and Zach Woods as Jared Dunn.

Advertising for the eight-episode series showed the crew posed in black turtlenecks with their hands under their chins, mimicking the iconic image of Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs.

The HBO trailer features a geeky Middleditch being punched in the face by a young boy. In another scene, the crew plots their success in a cash-rich industry where the wealth is inequitably divided. The idea for the comedy came from Judge, the series creator, who worked as an engineer in northern California in the 1980s.

Nanjiani ’01, a well-known fixture in the U.S. comedy scene, came to Grinnell from Pakistan. The philosophy and computer science major got his start at Bob’s Underground Café in Grinnell’s Main Residence Hall. After graduating, he spent more than a decade honing his craft in famous comedy clubs in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Montreal.

Dubbed Salon’s Sexiest man of 2013, Nanjiani crafts funny stories about his experiences in his stand-up routines. His childhood as a Muslim in Pakistan is fair game on stage.

In 2010, Nanjiani told Grinnell’s Scarlet & Black that he never expected to become a stand-up comedian but he likes the “quick feedback” he gets from writing material and trying it out on stage that night.

The comedy scene Nanjiani inhabits is home to other famous Grinnellians. Nanjiani has also performed his award winning one-man show “Unpronounceable” in the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, which was co-founded by Ian Roberts ’87.  

Watch the first episode courtesy of HBO's YouTube channel (mature content, viewer discretion advised):