Rajiv Satyal performs comedy routine today


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When Rajiv Satyal was in third grade, the 9-year-old and his friend Ryan were in the library, which was covered with pictures of tyrannosaurs for adinosaur-theme day. Satyal was continually cracking jokes, but Ryan wouldn’t laugh, so he resorted to what he thought was a less funny joke.

“Die, die die-nosaur,” Satyal said. “But I don’t want to die.”

Ryan not only smiled, he laughed. Satyal’s confidence in his comedy was boosted, and the now-34-year-old has been producing laughs since.

Satyal will perform at 10 p.m. today in the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St. The Campus Activities Board event is free.

Satyal’s friend Ryan wasn’t the only one who influenced him to become involved in the comedy world — his uncle did, too. Satyal said his uncle is an outgoing, fun, and loving guy who is always spouting jokes and flirting with women, something Satyal always laughed at.

With the love of comedy in mind, he went to college to study engineering. He dabbled in everything from politics to comedy and spent many late nights in long lines waiting to get into comedy clubs.

One night, he waited three to four hours to enter his name into a hat at an open-mike night — and he won. The self-proclaimed “funny fun-sized Indian” performed only around 10 times before becoming a professional comedian in 2002. One of those times was by luck, and he was discovered by people who liked his material; his name got around after that.

“You have to be willing to start anywhere,” Satyal said.

His performances are conversational, logical, and nerdy. Pop-cultural references and analogies are included among other material. As long as he has a pencil or pen to write it down, he is can create routines.

“[My jokes] reflect the variety of experiences of my life,” he said.

Fred Anderson, Satyal’s publicist, enjoys working with the comedian’s mellow personality, which makes daily interaction with him fun.

“[Satyal] certainly isn’t the first Indian comedian in this part of the world,” Anderson said. “But I think he is one of the best.”

Satyal enjoys performing his routines all over the country and in such places as Switzerland, Canada, and New Zealand. People laugh at his jokes in big cities and small towns, but he favors the small-town feeling.

The comedian has opened for Dave Chappelle, Kevin James, Kevin Nealon, and Russell Peters. He said it was nice to be respected by them and build relationships.

In the future, Satyal hopes to be a talk-show host, and his type of standup works well to help him achieve that. He said allowing audience members to relax and enjoy his shows makes him proud and happy, and he sees it as providing a service.

“It’s one of the best feelings in the world,” he said.

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