Congressman Mike Honda gets around so I told him I was looking for a good story to feature for my next AsianWeek profile – which runs the last Wednesday of every month. Without a breath he said “you need to meet Dan Nainan! He’s hilarious and 100% clean…doesn’t curse.” I found that to be an oxymoron: a “Cuss-Free Comedian.” Soon I was intrigued and laughing out loud at his YouTube Video which can be uncomfortable at 5 am at a surprisingly quiet LAX. Obviously, I’m a late comer to the party…President Obama claims “Dan is hilarious!” Want-to-be-comedian-in-another life Steve Wozniak would hire Dan to open for him and the prickly Donald Trump said “Nice job” (versus “You’re Fired.”)
Dan was a high tech executive with a high profile job giving presentations all over the world with Chairman Andy Grove at Intel Corporation. He took a comedy class to get over his fear of public speaking and found his calling. He started initially performing at Intel events and finally had the courage to pursue standup comedy full time. Since then, he has opened for famous comedians, performed for famous luminaries and at high profile events around the globe, appeared in TV commercials and had a small role in “The Last Airbender” alongside “Slumdog Millionaire” starring Dev Patel (who does a great job in the entertaining new TV series “Newsroom.”)
Besides his comedic talent, Dan is also a gifted musician who took piano lessons at age 2 and played classical piano until his rebellious rock and roll phase where he found his “inner Eddie Van Halen” and eventually toured with rock bands playing guitar, keyboards and sang background vocals. You can learn more about him at www.nainan.com and what’s impressive is his contact phone and email is his personal cell number and email which differentiates him from the other 99% in the entertainment industry today.
Thinking about being a comedian? Dan just published a how-to guide to breaking into the business: The Best Book on How to Become a Full-time Stand-up Comedian. Dan is a modern day Renaissance Man living the American dream. I had a chance to interview Dan. Go Dan!
How did your parents meet?
I get this question quite often – “Your dad is from India, your mom is from Japan – where did they possibly meet?” I say, “Indiana, duh!” which always makes them laugh! They met at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where I was born. My father came to America to study nuclear physics, and my mother came to study early childhood development. Obviously, she must have failed LOL. This is the honest truth – I was born seven months after my parents were married. All these years they’ve been trying to convince me I was premature, when in fact I think it was my father that was premature.
Do you practice your jokes on your parents?
Quite the opposite – they have unwittingly written a lot of my jokes for me! A lot of jokes come from things my parents have done or said that are really funny. Here’s an example – we’re driving to Dulles Airport in DC. We see these cows, grazing, in a field. My father says “Now there is a word that can have a lot of different meanings – graze – for example, cows can graze” and then I say “Or, you can be grazed by a bullet” and no kidding, my mom says “Or, it’s a kind of a doughnut!”
Are they proud of what you do? (or like my parents, wishing I was a partner of an accounting firm versus a politician)
My parents are extremely proud of what I do. With Asian parents, pretty much anything you do that makes a lot of money makes them proud. I suppose if I were a starving comedian, they would be a lot less proud. Last year I performed at the Kennedy Center, and two thousand of my closest friends showed up, and my parents were positively beaming. I didn’t quite put them in the very front row, however, because sometimes my mother will try to explain some of the jokes out loud – how many comedians do you know that have been heckled by their own mother?!
Dan Nainan Performs for 4500 People! by danfanclub
What do you love about NY? (I grew up there too in Chinatown and then Great Neck, Long Island)
New York is absolutely fantastic. I know it’s a great cliché, but it’s really a place where you can come and pursue your dreams no matter what your chosen profession. For comedy, of course it’s absolutely fantastic. If one is serious about comedy, one really needs to live in New York or Los Angeles, and there’s really no other choice (except perhaps London).
For me the best part of New York is that I have finally, finally been able to have my dream car, which is no car at all! The other day I went to the dry cleaner, the hardware store, FedEx Kinko’s, Best Buy, the grocery store and the library, and I never had to walk more than 923 feet from my apartment building (I measured it on Google Earth). There aren’t many places in the world where one can do that.
What’s on your Bucket List?
As far as my bucket list for the future, I want to get some national television exposure, and one day I want to perform for 100,000 people (but as a musician, because not many comedians will ever do that). I also want to open the country’s first 100% clean comedy club, where people of all ages can go without having to listen to vulgarity and profanity, and without worrying about being picked on if they sit in the front row.