Exclusive Interview: THE INDOOR KIDS’ Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon at NYCC ’13
I met comedian, Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, outside of the College Humor Live! Panel. Kumail and Emily are the hosts of the video game podcast, The Indoor Kids. You can also see Kumail on Franklin and Bash, Portlandia, Veep, and in the films Hell Baby and Kings of Summer. This spring, Kumail and Emily will bring their live show The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail from the stage at Meltdown Comics in L.A. to Comedy Central.
After fighting through the cosplaying crowds, we gathered in a somewhat quiet corner of The Javits Center for a discussion about video games, their new show on Comedy Central, and the fate of fellow comedian and co-host of The Meltdown, Jonah Ray.
ME: What did you think of the giant Pete Holmes when you first walked in? (A 30 foot tall poster advertising comedian, Pete Holmes’ new show on TBS adorned the foyer of The Javits Center).
EMILY: That was insane right?
EMILY: We took pictures of it.
KUMAIL: I don’t think his body can do that. (Pete is on his toes, bending over backwards, holding a martini). He’s doing a weird bendy thing.
EMILY: I think he has back trouble. He couldn’t do that.
KUMAIL: Yeah, it’s all photoshopped.
ME: Does he even drink martinis?
EMILY: He doesn’t drink martinis.
ME: So are you spending the whole weekend here at Comic Con?
KUMAIL: We got in late last night (Thursday), so we walked around all day. But that’s it. Today’s the only day.
EMILY: We’re going to see Kumail’s parents tomorrow.
KUMAIL: It’s so hard to get into the panels. You walk around the floor for three or four hours and you kinda get it. I would love to be here for the X-Files one on Sunday, but we leave Sunday. You know, Duchovny and Anderson? Gillian?
EMILY: Gillian. I think a Thor panel would be really cool.
KUMAIL: Tom Hiddleston.
EMILY: Tom Hiddleston just knocks it out of the park every single time, so I would love to be there for that.
ME: What was the coolest thing you saw today?
KUMAIL: We saw the South Park game, Stick of Truth. That was cool. The cosplay is pretty unbelievable. I was looking for like, action “fingers” to buy.
EMILY: Kumail’s been saying action “fingers” all day. And he’s trying to slip it in like it’s normal. Don’t let him do that.
KUMAIL: (Laughing) I’m not doing anything. I didn’t find any action “fingers” I really wanted.
EMILY: I don’t wanna point “fingers”, but I think you’re wrong.
KUMAIL: (Laughing) I don’t want to point “figures”.
KUMAIL: So we didn’t buy anything. I wanted to buy stuff.
EMILY: The cosplay has been really really great. The toys have been cool this year. There’s been a lot of fun art. We saw some gorgeous Darksiders…which was not even that big of a game…Darksiders 2.
EMILY: Yeah, statues. Like, $900 statues for a game that I don’t think 900 people bought. It’s a great game—
KUMAIL: Great game.
ME: Speaking of which, I’m sure you guys will buy both, but what are you most excited for, Xbox One or PS4?
KUMAIL: It’s about the games. The game I’m most excited about…it’s hard, but Watchdogs seems to be the one that everyone’s been talking about. But that’s gonna be on both systems. I think Dead Rising 3 looks pretty fuckin’ awesome.
EMILY: We got to see a long version of Dead Rising 3.
KUMAIL: Like a half hour in San Diego (Comic Con).
EMILY: And that might be why I’m more excited about it than any other game.
KUMAIL: And that’s Xbox One.
EMILY: And we were actually just talking about our PS3 and Xbox 360. We couldn’t remember the last time we turned on the Playstation. And that’s a sign.
KUMAIL: But the next generation…the slate is clean.
EMILY: (Surprised) Oh, is the slate clean?
KUMAIL: Yes, the slate is clean.
EMILY: We start over?
KUMAIL: Yes, we start over.
ME: I recently talked to Ben Garant and Tom Lennon at the Friar’s Club. We spent maybe 6 or 7 minutes of the 10 minute interview talking about your scene in Hell Baby.
KUMAIL: That’s about how long the scene is. Yeah, those guys are great and the scene came out really funny.
EMILY: Such a good movie. Hell Baby, video on demand! Get into it.
ME: So, I’ve never been to L.A. and unfortunately I’ve never seen The Meltdown live. What should we expect from the new show?
EMILY: Um, expect the unexpected (laughs). Here’s the thing, when you see stand-up on television, it’s very slick, very glossy. There’s smoke machines, people are in suits. This is just a stand-up show and you happen to be there for it with cameras. So, you get to see backstage, you get to see what’s happening backstage right before the comics go on, you get to see the bits they’re doing with each other, and you get to see them doing loose, kinda fun sets in a real stand-up show that’s happening every single week.
KUMAIL: It feels like a show that you’re actually watching there, instead of something, as Emily said, is slickly produced. What we tried to capture is the experience of being at a show. We’re going to have the funniest people in the world. Tom Lennon, who we were just talking about, was in the pilot and hopefully he’ll do the series. Hopefully Ben (Garant) will do it, we’ve talked to him about it. It’s going to be a lot of our funniest friends.
EMILY: Just hanging out and doing whatever they want.
KUMAIL: Every set you see on T.V. has been vetted…
EMILY: Gone through like a panel of human beings…
KUMAIL: Yeah, the studio looks at it and they like approve or disapprove all this stuff. With us, we’re just going to get the funniest people we know and be like, ‘do whatever you wanna do’. We’re not gonna look at the sets. The first time we see the sets is when it’s on stage and we’ll just let them do whatever they want to do and trust that they’ll come up with something great.
EMILY: With the way that podcasts and things are now everybody wants to see comedians not in these very strict settings where they’re on television, but just kind of hanging out and being loose. Our show is a very very loose show. During the pilot, Nick Kroll, almost his entire set was crowd work. He just got up and started doing crowd work. And that’s exactly the kind of thing you can get from our show.
ME: I’m not one for spoilers, but how soon are you guys gonna kill off Jonah Ray?
KUMAIL: Ummm, It’s gonna be like…
KUMAIL: …Psycho, you know. It’ll be the first episode. It’ll be a huge surprise.
EMILY: It’ll be me just rocking back and forth in a rocking chair with Jonah’s hair, maybe. (Laughs).
EMILY: The three of us are a wonderful team. We could not do it without him, for sure.
ME: Is there anything else we should expect from you guys?
KUMAIL: Well The Indoor Kids (podcast) on the Nerdist Network is great.
EMILY: Kumail is shooting a show on HBO starting in a couple of weeks.
KUMAIL: A Mike Judge show. It’s really funny. I’m guessing it’s gonna come out around March. That’ll be the big, next thing that you’ll see me in.
ME: And of course Kings of Summer.
KUMAIL: Kings of Summer. Bad Milo is on video on demand. Ken Marino is in it who’s also a former The State member.
EMILY: I was trying to think of “The Flower Deranger”. We have fake TV shows that I’m in, to go along with Kumail’s real TV shows. “The Flower Deranger” is the TV Show that I’m in.
KUMAIL: It’s a serial killer who works at a florist.
Kumail then took the stage after Brooklyn comedian Adam Conover (also check him out). Kumail was able to weave semi-antagonistic crowd work with unique observations about the unique difference between our tweets and the works of Shakespeare and Dostoevsky. After finding some particularly defensive Pokemon fanboys and a kid who apparently loves Adventure Time (and cosplayed as Fin) but doesn’t know who Prismo (voiced by Kumail) is, Kumail was able to bring the crowd back to his side. This is the work of an immensely talented comedian. Anyone can pander. It takes guts to put yourself into the lion’s den. Kumail’s true spirit as a nerd shone through as he affably described the various shouts of “DRM!” and “Last of Us or GTAV?” as the weirdest heckling ever.
Make sure to check out Kumail’s stand up special, Beta Male (available on ccdirect.comedycentral.com. I downloaded it and guys, it’s seriously hilarious and only five dollars. Do it! And while you’re at it, download episodes of The Indoor Kids podcast. FREE! Episodes are released every Monday. If you love video games, be sure to check it out. You’d be crazy not to.
Follow them on Twitter
Kumail is @kumailn
Emily is @thegynomite