Kumail Nanjiani: Beta Male

  • 07/20/2013
  • views: 12,441

Many things completely terrify Kumail Nanjiani -- join him as he relives a Pakistani cobra-mongoose fight, a jammed adult videotape incident and the scary noises in his attic. (41:35)

I live in Californiaand I moved

to a new house,and the woman--

the woman who used to livein the house I moved into

had two indoor cats,

like, two pet catsthat just stayed inside.

And when she moved,

she just leftthe cats outside

and just moved away.

[audience groans]

Yeah, and one of the catswent feral right away,

like, a little too quickly,you know?

Like it could not wait.

It was like,"This is where I belong!"

And just fucking ran off.

Like a kidon a school trip

who just takesall his clothes off,

runs into the forest,"Fuck everything!

Tomorrow's not coming!"


We see her far awayon rooftops

silhouettedagainst the night sky,

murder in her mouth.

Lost cause.

The other cat is this reallysweet and friendly male cat,

and he's just tryingto get back into the house.

[audience aws]

Yeah, and he'sreally confused.

He looks at us like, "No, no,no, you don't understand.

"I live here.

Who are youfucking people?"

But after a couple weeks,

he starts trying, like,different tactics, you know?

Like, sometimes he'll hidebehind a car,

and we open the door,he'll, like, try to, like,

run right by us.

Some days he'll act, like,real nonchalant like,

"Thanks for gettingthe door for me."

One time he showed up in,like, a pizza guy outfit.

We're like, "Why wouldwe let the pizza guy

into the house?"

Tiny brains.

He was like, "Meowmino's."

He said, "Meowmino's."

No pants.Just a shirt.

Tiny pizza.

To us, just a cheese cookie,you know?

"30 meownutes or less,"that's what he said.

So we had him put down.

[audience groans]

I like the peoplethat groaned.

What point did you believethat story till?

Meowmino's made sense,Austin?

I'll tell you apet peeve of mine.

So I just boughta new color printer, right?

New color printer.

And it has--You don't--

People are "whoo"ingfor that.

You guys are too nice.

But I buythis color printer.

So it has, you know, it hasthe one black ink cartridge,

and then it has the threecolored ink cartridges, right?

And it ran out of just oneof the three colors,

and it stopped

printingeven the black.

Even though I haveenough black ink,

it wouldn't printjust black.

That's fucking bullshit,right?

- Yes!

[cheers and applause]

- Ugh.

I was so angry.

I dealt with it the mostdirect way I could think of.

I tweeted about it,

which is just one step above

if I'd just goneto my balcony and been like,

"My printer won't print!"

All right, should be workingpretty soon now.

The problem is handled.

But I was so angry,

I was yelling at--

I'm yellingat the printer,

which is nota living thing.

I'm literally like,"You have enough black ink!"

It was just out of cyan.

Which begs the question:

How the fuck did I evenrun out of cyan?

I'm not going to, like,

and just printingthe background.

Plus, how the fuckdoes cyan

get to be oneof the three printer colors?

Who had ever heardof cyan before?

Now it's oneof the three printer--

That's a pretty big get forthe cyan PR people, you know?

Cyan's agents musthave called him like,

"Are you sitting down, Cyan?

"We have amazing news.

"You're going to be oneof the three printer colors.

You're gonna be workingwith magenta and yellow."


"Yellow'sbeen around forever!

"Yellow's a fucking legend!

"I loved yellow's workon bananas

"and egg yolks

and cowardice."

I used to livein New York, in Brooklyn.

[scattered cheering]

Oh, really?

That was not my reaction.

I was fucking terrified.

Scariest placeI've ever been in,

and I grew upin fucking Pakistan.

[scattered cheers]

Really, "whoos" for Pakistan?

All right.

That's new.

Pakistan's in the house.

Usually we try and keepa low prof.


I'm a huge asshole.

But what the thingabout Brooklyn was--

'cause it wasn'tjust violent scary.

It was, like, weird sc--

Like, unpredictable scary.

Like, the week I moved there,I swear,

I left my house,there was a guy on my street

in front of--just a guy on my street

catching pigeonswith his bare hands

and stuffing theminto his pockets.

Like some sortof horrible reverse magician.

And I was the only onestaring at him.

Rest of Brooklynis just walking by,

like, "Mm, there'sold Pigeon Pockets,

doing what he do."

"That's his jam."

You guys know that thingwhere they try and sneak in,

like, creepy stuff,dark stuff into kids' movies?

You knowwhat I'm talking about?

Like, they try and, like,sneak in grown-up stuff.

Like in Lion King, they say in the sandstorm,

you can read the word "sex."

- Yeah.- Yeah?

Or, like, in Wizard of Oz,

they say in the corner,you can see somebody hanging.

- Yeah.

- I wish sometimes it wouldhappen the other way around.

You know, like,it would be like,

"Did you guys seethat movie Hostel?

"You know that scene where theycut the guy's Achilles tendon,

"and he's bleeding everywhere,and he can't walk?

"In the corner,you can see

"a kid tasting cotton candyfor the first time.

"It is so beautiful,you guys.

- I was raised, like,very religious Muslim.

We were told,

this is true,

we were--when we were little kids,

we were told that staringat a woman with a lustful gaze

was the same sin

as stabbingthe prophet's nephew

in the back

while he's praying.

Look at a girl,stab the prophet's nephew

in the backwhile he's praying.


So I was terrifiedof women, you know?

And then I saw,I was around ten I remember.

Do you guys rememberthat Cindy Crawford

Diet Pepsi commercialwhere she's wearing

the tight, white tank top

and those hip-hugging jeans,

and she's in the convertible,her hair in the breeze?

Then she gets out, and she walksover to the vending machine,

and she puts in the quarter.

She picks her drink.

Then she pops her--the tab.

And she puts the cylinderto her lips.

I remember thinking,

I am stabbing the fuck

out of the prophet's nephewright now.

At that age though,I didn't know what sex was.

Like, I would not even

know what I would do if I wasin a room alone with Cindy.

Just, like, squeeze her mole,you know, like--

That soundsawesome today actually.

But then all that,

uh, innocence disappearswhen my cousin

gives me a videotape.

Yeah, and I'm like,

"Oh, that's whatI would do to her."

It's a porn.I don't know if you guys--

And it was too earlyfor me to see porn.

Like, my bodywasn't ready.

I put it in.I watched it for 30 seconds.

I pulled it out.

I had a feverfor three days.

I promised GodI would never watch it again.

And thena couple weeks later,

I got curious.

I was like, "Well, I didn'treally give it a chance,

"did I?

What is the motivationof these characters?"

And then I put it back in,

and then you couldn'tfucking stop me.

Which iswhere I still am today.

All right. Here's a weirdside note to that story.

We've known each other,it gets weird

for a little bit,so we're okay with that?

Getting weird for a second?[cheers and applause]

All right.

So it's a regular porn,you know,

beginning to end,men, women.

You know what a porn is.

But the preview before--

There's a two-minute previewfor a different porn before it.

And I don't knowhow else to say it,

but it's for a previewfor a porn

where the peopledefecate on each other.

- Yeah!


- Uh, security,can we, uh--

There is a monsterin the room.

Other than you,everybody was very awkward,

and then you yelled,

and then everybodywas even more awkward.

I--'Cause, like,I was ten, you know?

It was too earlyfor me to see porn.

But it was definitely

way too early for meto realize that

people like her existed,you know?


My favorite part though

is that it's a regular porn,

but that's the preview.

Like, they're like,"Do you like sex?

"Well, then you mightlike shitting on people.

"Do you likedriving a car?

"Well, then maybe you wantto drown in a submarine

that's on fire."

But I saw it so early

that now I thinkabout it a lot.

Not in, like,a sexual way.

But I think some synapsein my brain formed,

and now it's justa reference that comes up

in my life a lot.

Like, I'll see somebodyrun a red light,

and I'll be like,"He ran a red light,

but what do I know, sometimespeople shit on each other."

With red towelsin the background.

They had red towels.

'Cause they'rein the bathroom.

Even though they're not usingany of the facilities,

they're stillin the bath--

Like, we're stilla fucking civilization.

We're not horrific beasts.

Like I said,I used to live in Brooklyn,

and I went to this partof Brooklyn called Coney Island.


Which is--Yeah, it's likea theme park area.

It's cool.

And I rodethis roller coaster

called The Cyclone.[scattered applause]

Again, that wasnot my reaction.

I hated it thoroughly.

When I got off, I had,like, bruises everywhere.

I had, like, eight bruises,

one for every dollarI spent.

Terrible deal.

They should've said, "You'regonna hurt on this ride."

But when I got done,I found out

that The Cyclone is the oldestfunctional roller coaster

in the world.

Yeah, I wishI'd known that

before I risked my life.

Do you know what yearThe Cyclone was--

This roller coaster,The Cyclone, was made

in the year 1927.

"Holy shit" is right.

They should change the nameof that ride to "1927"

'cause that factis way scarier than cyclones.


We didn't know anythingback then, by the way.

We thought cigaretteswere good for us.

Those are the people make--

To give you some perspective,this is true.

This is a fact.You can go home and Google this.

Sliced breadcame on the market

in 1928.

So when people describesomething as,

you know when they're like,

"Oh, it's the greatest thingsince sliced bread,"

they meanit's the greatest thing

in an unimaginably long time.

This was made the yearbefore that.

The year before the standardfor a long time ago.

The whole thingis made of wood.


You know,that indestructible substance

that NASA usesfor its space shuttles.

I think if they wantthe ride to be really scary

when you're strapped in

and goingon that first big climb,

they should just haveall these facts going by.


Like, click, click,click, click.

This ride was made in 1927.

Click, click.

Of materialthat termites eat.

Click, click.

By people who thoughtcigarettes were nutritious.

Click.Bam, here's a bruise.


Steep droponce you know the facts.

Whenever I talkabout The Cyclone in New York,

The other weird post-scriptto that story is

when I got to be,like, 14, I got so--

You know how you could,like, hook up two VCRs

and copy stuff over?

I started copyingmy favorite porn scenes

onto the middleof other kids' movies

I owned.

Yeah, I was makingboner jams at 14.

Like an utter scumbag.


And then I would lendthese videos to my friends.

I was their porn supplier.

Yeah, like a scumbag.

'Cause it was awesomefor them.

It was the middleof other movies.

They didn't even have to, like,sneak them into the house.

They were just like,"It's just Jurassic Park, Mom."

And then they just goand, you know,

act two was awesome.


But here's the weird--

Okay, here's...

the best thing I did.

This is the culminationof that story.

Okay, so you guysremember the movie Mask?

[scattered cheers]

I don't mean Jim Carreywith the green face.

[scattered groans]

I mean, like, Cher

with the kidwith the big face,

you know?

I gave my friendthe movie Mask

with porn in the middle.

Let me rephrase that.

I gave him the movie Mask

and told himthere was porn in the middle.

But there was no porn!It was a prank!

So he becamethe first guy in history

to watch the entirety of Mask with an erection.

No porn.

Just a disfigured kid

touching livesand slowly dying,

at probably the same ratethat his boner was deflating.

He called me afterwards,and he was like,

"I'm not even angry.That was great."

Another weird postscriptto that story

is that I left Pakistan,

and then after I left,my mom sold all of my VHSes.

So there's some little kidwatching Dick Tracy like,

"This movie makes me wantto pee really bad."

It's just biology, Austin.

I'll tell you another, moreabout myself.

I was raised Muslim.

[quiet cheer]

Oh, really?

That has neverhappened before.

I was raised Muslim.


"All right,we're not all doing that?

"Just me?


"My shoe hurt.


Who did "whoo"?Who was it?


Are you from Pakistan?

We would have fuckingnoticed you.

Oh, your friend is.

Hi.You're from Pakistan?

- Yeah, I'm from Karachi.- What's your name?

- Hoor.- Hoor?

Story checks out.

That is a deep OG name.

That's not, "Apu!I'm an asshole."


Hoor, it means "angel."

And I'm surewith that name here,

you get calledsomething else.

- This is the last storyI'll tell.

I don't know why I likehorror movies and stuff

'cause in real life,I'm a coward, like, I'm not good

in real lifescary situations.

I'll give you an example.

A few years ago,I lived in Chicago.

And, uh--- Whoo!

- Yeah, it is pretty fancy.

I like the guy that "whoo"edwas like, "Whoo."

Like, you had that, like,"What am I doing?"

Sir, you did it.

There's no stringsgoing up to the ceiling.

You were like, "Whoo!Come on!

"What the fuck?

Making me looklike an asshole."

I look up,there's Julie Andrews.

That is a Sound of Music reference.

[cheers and applause]

I lived in Chicago,

and I had three roommates,me, a guy,

two girls.

This is about scary shit.

And we had rentedthe whole house.

So we have the whole--We have the basement,

the regular floor,the ground floor,

and then the attic.

And the attic is empty.It's unfinished.

Nobody's up there.Nobody ever goes up there.

It's empty, you know?

One of my roommates, Katie,does not have a job.

Whenever we come home from work,Katie's like,

"Uh, whenever you guysleave the house,

I can hear someone walkingaround our attic."


And we go,"Shut the fuck up.

"Get a job.

Lies don't pay the rent."

For weeks, she says this.We dismiss her.

One day I'm at home,

and Katie comes into my room,and she's like,

"Hey, come here right now.Come into my room."

I go into Katie's room,and I hear

someone walkingaround my attic.

Like, deliberate, human,scary, hobo footsteps.

And I immediatelystart freaking out.

Like, immediately at 100,you know?

Just freaking out.

And we start doing that yelling,whispering thing, you know?

Like, "What are we gonna do?

What are we gonna do?"

And then I'm like,"If there is somebody up there,

"he's gonna know we're inthe house, but we're whispering.

"He's gonna knowwe're onto him.

He's gonna come downand kill us all."

So we decide to have, like,parallel conversations,

like, a fakedecoy conversation

just to throw him off,you know?

Like we're like,"What are we gonna do?"

"We should bake a cake!"

"I am freaking outright now."

"I like chocolate!"

So if thereis somebody there,

all he hearsis silence broken

by, "Chocolate cake!"

Just, like, panicked criesof, "Chocolate cake!"

What could bemore suspicious?

He's gonna murderall of us.

So I'm freaking out.I don't know what to do.

I'm a beta male.

We're all betas.

This is a house of betas,you know?

So we have one friend.He's an alpha male.

His name's Joey.He lives in Alaska.

He hunts bear, and thenhe makes jerky out of it.

Alpha as fuck.

So we call Joey,

and Joey goes,"Go up there and check."

Yeah, which hadn't evenoccurred to us.

Our entire strategywas to talk about fake cake

until the leaseran out...

and then just move,you know?

Never speak of this again.

Somebody has to go up thereand check, and we nominate me

'cause fuck everythingat this point.

So I have to go up and check,and I am so scared.

And the only wayup the attic--

So the roof is, like,12 feet high.

The only wayup to the attic,

there's a little, like, door.

We need a stepladderto get up there.

House of betas,we don't have a stepladder.

So I go into my room,and I push a chest of drawers

from my room under there,

like I'm gonna climb over itand get up there.

And then my roommatesgive me a flashlight.

And I'm like,"What am I going

"to do with this

if there is somebody there?"

So then they alsohand me a butcher knife.

'Cause if somebody's there,I'm just going to murder them.

It's gonna be like,"Chocolate cake!"

Stab, stab, stab, slit.

"Guys, there was somebody there,but I've killed him.

"I'm gonna go take a shower

"and pack my bags.

Give me 30 minutesbefore you call the police."

And then I spendthe rest of my life

riding the railsand using pay phones.

Whenever I try and sleep,

I see the lightleave a hobo's face, you know?

You don't forget that.

Somebody goes living to deadby your hand.

And then I'm like, if thereis somebody up there,

And then, I'm like,

if there is somebody up there

he's up there,he's just hanging out,

regular floor for him,and then a thing opens,

and just my headpops up.

Very vulnerable positionfor me.

He's just goingto Whac-A-Mole me on the head

with a baseball bat,

and I'm gonna die.

This is how I die.

So my roommates are like,"We have to find you a helmet."

House of betas,we don't have a helmet.

So I go into the kitchen,and I get a cooking pot,

and I put thaton my head.

None of this is lies.

I put a fucking cooking poton my head,

but it comes down to here,so I can't see anything.

So then I gota colander instead,

and I put thaton my head.

Which, if somebodybaseball bats me on the head

with a colander,I'm still going to die.

My roommates just haveto buy a new colander

or feel really horrible anytimethey make pasta, you know?

"Isn't this the colanderthat Kumail died in?"

That's a very strange sentenceto say out loud.

"Isn't this the colanderthat Kumail died in?"

I swear right before I getup there Katie's friends

from out of town show up,

and I'm there

climbingover a chest of drawers,

flashlight in one hand,butcher knife in the other,

colander on my head.

I look like somebodywhose parents couldn't afford

a Halloween costume.

You're a spaghetti head.

He also has a butcher knife.

So I get up there,and I am so scared, you guys.

It's like,I can't see anything.

It's super dark.

You know,the flashlight is weak.

I'm looking at the worldthrough holes big enough

to let water throughbut not spaghetti.


Very small.

I get up there, shaking.

I don't see anything.

I don't see anyone.

But there's one areaaround the corner,

like, behind a cornerlike that

that I can't seefrom where I'm standing.

And I'm like, "Fuuuck."

So I work up my courage.I grip the knife tighter.

I put the colanderdeeper into my head.

I walk over,

and I see...


Never found anything.

But right after that,the noises stopped.

What the fuck?

And I knowit's super disappointing

that therewas nothing there.

But if there wassomebody there,

that would have beenthe first thing

I would've mentionedwhen I came out.

I would have been like,"Fuck Ugly Duckling.

Three years ago,I murdered a hobo."

But my parents, they would letme watch like,

the weirdest stuff.

Like, when I was eight,I swear I was eight,

I went to the video storewith my dad,

and he let me rent The Elephant Man.

I thought it wasa superhero movie.

You know, like Batman, Iron Man, Elephant Man.

He has the strengthof 20 men.

No, he doesn't.

He has the sadnessof 20 men.

Do you guys knowthat movie?

The guywith the fucking face.

They're trying to getthe girl to kiss him

just to fuck with him,and he's like,

"I'm not an animal."

Devastating.I was eight.

That movie took somethingfrom me.

Like, I'm sure I lostthe ability to smell rain

during that movie.

I turned to my mom,and I was like,

"Thank God moviesare fake, huh?"

And she's like, "Actually,no, this one is real."

"That is an actual diseaseanybody could get

at any time.

Good night."

I had other scary stuff happento me

Like, this happened--I was ten.My brother was six.

You know how your parentsmake you do shit

you don't wanna do?

My dad's friend's kidwas having a birthday,

and we did notwant to go.

This kid was annoying.He was a bully.

We didn't want to go,and my dad's like,

"Bad news,you have to go."

And we were like,"F--"

That's as far as we got.

So we have to go.

So we get thereto this birthday,

and the birthdayis in Pakistan,

and, I mean,we're all in Pakistan.

I don't knowwhy I said it like that.

That would have been horribleif we weren't and he was like,

"Bad news number two,the birthday's in Pakistan.

"Here's your ticket there.Make your own way back.

See you again never.Never see you again."

So we getto this birthday,

and for some reasonon the stereo,

they were playinga knock-off Pakistani version

of the birthday song.

And the song goes exactly

like this, I swear.

The song goes...

♪ Happy birthday

♪ Thank you very much

♪ Happy birthday

♪ Thank you very much

♪ Happy birthday

Those are the only lyrics.

Over and over.

That's it.

And you thinkit's a horrible duet, you know,

with two people.

One guy being like,"Happy birthday."

"Oh, thank you very much."

But it's one voice.

So it's one crazy guy

alone in a room,

wishing himselfa happy birthday

into a mirror

and then thanking himself

as if he's surprisedevery time.

"Happy birthday.Thank you very much.

"I'm gladsomeone remembered.

Let's go kill everybody."

Most birthday's in Pakistan,

a monkey shows up.

All right.

The factthat you just accepted that

is racist.

[cheers and applause]

But it also does happen.

But the factthat it makes sense to you,

the fact that you guyswere like,

"Oh, yeah, in Pakistan, theyhave monkeys at their birthdays.

That's how they do things."


You guys areaccurate racists.

But this is true,

most birthdays in Pakistan,the entertainment

is that a monkey shows upwith, like, his trainer guy.

Yeah, he doesn't just, like,show up on his--

He doesn't just drive over.

We have laws.

Monkey shows upwith his trainer guy,

and they put ona little show.

And it is a fuckinggreat show, you guys.

It is such a good show.

The monkey has, like,

a little monkey bikethat he monkey rides.

Just, like,a little monkey--

his butt wiggles'cause he's like,

"I have to keep the tailout of the spokes."

It has learnedthrough experience.

Just like a little monkeyon a bike.

He has, like, a little hatthat he wears.

The monkey has a hatthat he wears,

and he walks aroundlike a proper gentleman.

Like, he walks around like,like that.

Kicks his legs out,just a hat--

Yeah, and if he sees a woman,he's like,

"Oh, hello, lady."

He recognizes women!

Just like, "Oh, hello."

Which I'm surehe was taught to do

through a lot of violence.

You can't just convincea monkey to walk like that.

You have to hit it

if it walks any other way,and then it knows,

"This ishow I must walk

so that the paindoesn't come."

Great show.

Worth all the monkey torture.

And I've seen the showmany times,

you know,many diff--

Yeah, it's not justone awesome monkey.

This iswhat we're good at, you know?

Many shows,many different monkeys,

but for some reason,the monkey's name

was always Alumaster,

which translatesto "master of potatoes."

Which is not, like,a Pakistani saying.

We're not going aroundcalling each other that like,

"Dude, you aresuch a master of potatoes.

"This guy's a player.Hide the women.

I'm kidding.Drinks on you."

We don't have drinks.

We're at this birthday,

and no monkeyshows up,

and we're all complaining,

"What kind of birthdayis this?

There's not evena monkey?"

We've all thought that,right?


"What kind of birthday is this?Not even a monkey?"

"Happy birthday.

"Thank you very much.

Happy birthday.Thank you very much."

Playing over and over,burrowing into our skulls.

"Happy birthday.Thank you very much.

Happy birthday."

And then suddenlythe music stops,

and this guy shows up.

And in one hand,he's got a sack,

and he pulls out a cobra.

In the other hand,he's got a cage,

and he pulls outa mongoose,

which is likea giant ferret.

And he says,"These two are going to fight

for you."

And we're like,"Fuck yes, they are!"

"Yes, they are!

This is the best birthdayof all time!"

We all get in a circle.

Who's gonna win,the snake, the mongoose?

Who cares?We win, high five.

We get in a circle.

By the way,there is no fence

between usand the combatants.

So whatever winsis coming for us next.

We don't even consider that.

To us, it's like Street Fighter, you know?

He's gonna Hadokenthe one guy,

we go three rounds,we eat cake.

What a day.

We get in a circle.

We're all cheering

at the top of our lungs.

One hand birthday cake,one hand in the air,

cheering,top of our lungs.

Imagine little Pakistani kidslosing their minds.

The fight starts.

Like, 40 seconds in,it becomes very clear

that this cobra'sgonna lose.

The fightlasts 15 minutes,

as parts of the snakeare ripped off

by the mongoose's teeth.


In the beginning,we're all cheering.

The last ten minutes,everybody just watches

completely silently

as the snakeis ripped to shreds.

There's a two-year-old kidwatching,

and he's not even crying.

I bet he didn't cryfor a year after that.

There's blood everywhere.

Nobody's makingeye contact.

I'm like, "Alumasterwould never allow this

to happen."

Even the grown-upsare walking around like,

"We've madea huge mistake."

After 15--

After 15 of the longest minutesof my life,

just like the rubber bandfrom the hat

is, like, cuttinginto our throats,

we're just, like, watch--

15 of the longest minutesof my life.

The mongoose

rips the snake'swhole head off.

Yeah, which I'm like,if you had that move,

that should have beenmove number one.

Why are you takingso long?

Our souls are shrinking.

Rips the snake'swhole head off,

and that's when the snakestops fighting back.

And it lays therecompletely still,

headless,covered in blood.

And I rememberfor the first time in my life,

I remember thinking,this guy

just had his birthday.

He's getting older.

The snake just died.

Someday I'm gonna die.

Worst fucking birthday.

♪ Happy birthday

♪ Thank you very much


[cheers and applause]

- But backto the regular porn.

I'm sorry, I knowit's very disappointing.

Ah, regular porn,I would watch it

whenever my parentswere out of the house.

You know,it was go time.

Followed each time

by the inevitable,guilt-ridden shower.

But you can'tshampoo away sin,

which iswhat I thought it was.

But this happensfor three months.

Whenever my parentswere out of the house,

I would watch it,

feel awful.

And, okay, so this wasa VHS tape.

This was in Pakistan,

which isa third-world country,

and sometimesin Pakistan,

the electricity goes.

And whenthe electricity goes,

you don't knowif it's gone for five minutes

or if it's gonefor five days.

One day I'm at home.

My mom'sout for an errand.

I'm almost donebut not quite.

The electricity goes.

And I am fucked

'cause I can't getthe tape out of the VCR.

And I'm like, "Well,I'm gonna have to run away."

I'm gonna pack my bagsand walk the earth,

which sucks,'cause I love my parents,

and I'm 12 years old.

What am I gonna dofor money,

just, like,go town to town,

"Any work needs doing?

I can beat Marioand draw a Ninja Turtle."

That's my whole skill set.

I rememberspecifically thinking

I should bringmy dad's suit with me.

That way,I can grow into it

and then goon job interviews.

So my whole planis to ride out

the next ten yearsof my life

on the streets of Karachi,

which CNN once dubbed"the city of terror."

That is true.

BBC was much kinder.

They called us"city of nightmares."

Which at least impliesthat we have dreams, you know?

[cheers and applause]

And the electricity comes back,

I swear,before my mom gets home.

And the VCR works,but it's never

quite the same.

It's got this look in its eyeslike it's been through a war,

you know, like, "You haven'tseen the things I've seen."

The fast-forwarddoesn't always work.

It makes this weirdclicking sound all the time.

You have to turn the TV up,so you don't hear the clicking.

A couple weeks later,my mom's like,

"I'm gonna goto get it fixed."

And I'm like,"No, no, no, no, no, no.

"I'll take itto get it fixed.

Mom, don't, just stay home.I'll take it to get it fixed."

So I go,

and I goto the video store,

and I give itto the guy.

I put it on the counter,and he plugs it in,

and it starts makingthat clicking sound.

And it's a soundhe's heard before.

And he looks at me,and he leans in, and he says,

"Next time you get a tape stuckin there, bring it to me.

I won't tell your parents."

[laughter and applause]


I thoughtof all the clicking sounds

in all the houseswhere Pakistani boys

had ripped tapesout of VCRs.

He knew exactlywhat had happened.

There was no lyingto this man.

And I'm like, alright, that'sridiculous

I can't do that."

So I get this idea,brilliant idea.

I'm gonna getmy dad's tool kit.

I'm gonna open up the VCR

and just get the tape out,right?

So I open it--I lift the cover off,

and the tape is buriedunder layers

and layer--I don't knowwhat I was expecting.

Like I'd just be ableto get the tape right out.

There would be, like,

a little, like,snowman like,

"Here's the tapeyou wanted."

Like, "Mm, thank you,this has been wonderful.

Here's your hat."

The tape is--There's no snowman.

The tape,layers and layers of parts,

none bigger than that.

But I'm like,

"I have to get the tape."

So I just start unscrewing.

I startunscrewing tiny parts,

just tossing themover my shoulder.

'Cause I'm like,"I'll be able to put this

back together."

It's not like

engineersmade this thing,

which is, turns out,exactly who was making this.

So I get all the parts out.

I get to the tape.

Just the panicked confidenceof a ten-year-old, you know?

I get to the tape,I rip it out,

and I look behind me,

and the entire flooris covered

in, like, tiny gadgetsand gizmos and, dude,

all the same color.

I have no ideahow they go back in,

but I'm like, "I haveto get everything back in."

So I start puttingstuff back in.

I'm doing the bestI can do.

I'm like--It's like--It's hard.

It's likea satanic jigsaw puzzle

in 3-D,you know?

I'm sweatinginto the VCR,

which is, like,only the second worst thing

that's happened to itthat day.

Wait, are you guys thinkingI'm fucking the VCR?

That's not happening.

I feel like that was the vibeI got from you.

I'm not an idiot.

I'm not just, like,watching the screen and,

"This ishow I do it, right?

Just fuck the VCRwhile I watch the screen?"


Come on.

I'm not an idiot.

I finally gotall the parts back in.

I put the cover back on.I screw it back on.

Success, I did it.

And then I look behind me,

and there are two little partsjust sitting there.

I have no ideawhere they go.

So I go and I hide themin my room.

'Cause in my head,I think if my dad

sees them,he's gonna know

exactly what happened.

He's gonna be like,

"Isn't that the transmogrifierfor the VCR?

"And that'sthe flux capacitor.

You've been watching porn."

I'll tell youabout the first time

I remember crying, okay?

[scattered laughter]

Why are you laughingalready?

You just pictureda little Pakistani boy crying,

and that washumorous to you.

We're not at the--All right.

I was--the first timeI remember crying,

I was five years old.

It's notthe first time I cried.

That would have been fuckingterrifying for my parents,

if I hadn't cried

till I was five.

People would ask my parents,like, "Oh, How's Kumail?"

"Oh, he's great.He's four.

"He hasn't cried yet.

"Pretty surehe can't feel sadness.

"That's someserial killer shit, right?

"He just sits there like,'Where is the cat?

Bring me the cat."

First memory of crying,

I was watching Ugly Duckling.

Oh, yeah,all these pretty ducklings

are so meanto this one ugly duck,

and I felt like an ugly ducklingas a kid, you know?

I remember just,like, bawling,

like, just cryingtears down my face,

just, like, hiccuppingfrom crying.

Went to my mom for comfort.

And to make me feel better,my mom

didn't say, you know,

"Beauty on the outsidedoes not matter, Kumail.

It's beauty on the insidethat makes a person."

She didn't say that.

To make me feel better,my mom was like,

"Ducks can't talk."

"Also, these ducksdon't even exist.

"Look at that.

"Someone clearlyjust drew that, Kumail.

Stop crying.They're not real."

Awful way to handle that.

- You guysinto video games at all?

[cheers and applause]

Yeah, oh, my God.

I play Call of--

You know, my issuewith Call of Duty,

those games, is that they'rebased on, like, real wars.

Like, World War II and shit,which feels weird to me,

'cause, like,real people died,

and now I haveto kill them all over again.

So I have a moral problem.

I'm like,"Boycott those games!"

But the new one came out,and it looked so good.

I was like, "All right,I wanna try it."

Then I found outthat one of the levels

in the new Call of Dutyis called "Karachi."

Yep, the cityI grew up in.

They're basically like,"Your hometown

"is now a battlefield.

How many pointscan you get, Kumail?"

But even with that,I was able to convince myself,

you know, like,I was like,

"I would have an advantageover everybody."

I would knowall the places.

I would be like, "Hey, we couldhide in there, guys.

"I used to rent moviesat this place.

"Mr. Siddiquiwill give us shelter.

He once fixed my VCRfor free."

[cheers and applause]

"He didn't judge."

So I was gonnago get it again.

Then I found out--

Okay, so the language theyspeak in Pakistan is Urdu.

That's the nameof the language you speak, Urdu.

But all the street signsin "Karachi" in Call of Duty

are in Arabic.

Yeah, it's a completelydifferent language.

And I know it does notseem like a big deal,

but this gametook three years to make.

If you look at it,the graphics are perfect.

You can see individual hairon people's heads.

When they run,they sweat.

When they run,their shoelaces bounce.

All they had to do was Google"Pakistan, language."

They were literally like,

"What language do theyspeak in Pakistan?"

"I don't care.

I can't gethis sideburns even."

But it was on sale,and I bought it.

It's so good!

Totally worthselling out my people for.