Comedian Aasif Mandvi revives his award-winning show under darker political context


Twenty years later, actor, comedian and former correspondent on “The Daily Show” Aasif Mandvi is finding new context in his one-man play “Sakina’s Restaurant,” now on a revival run at New York’s Minetta Lane Theatre and soon available worldwide in audio format as an Audible Original production.

On “Salon Talks” with Dean Obeidallah, Mandvi revealed that when he originally wrote and performed the Obie Award-winning play about a Muslim immigrant family two decades ago, he had no idea it would later turn into a political act. “Sakina’s Restaurant,” Mandvi says, has become contextualized under the Trump administration where a Muslim ban and anti-immigrant rhetoric are the new normal.

“When we did it 20 years ago, it was lighter. The country felt lighter. It’s weird, and I hate to say this, as somebody who values every laugh that I get, I felt like it was funnier back then. And now it’s funny and more heavier and heartbreaking in a way,” Mandvi explained to SalonTV’s Obeidallah.

The show, which centers on a family of Indian immigrants and their restaurant, and features Mandvi in all seven roles, was created partly because Mandvi was hungry for roles that told a version of his family’s story.

Today, according to Mandvi, the play brings forth “this idea that, ‘Oh you think you’re accepted? You’re not accepted. This country belongs to white people.’” Watch the interview above to hear Mandvi explain how Trump would react if Jon Stewart was still hosting “The Daily Show” and decided to poke at him more.


Photography by Jill Greenberg. Watch Jill's TedxTalk on the Female Lens and the problem with only seeing the world from a man's perspective. And find out more about Jill's initiative Alreadymade., a mission to hire more female photographers and content creators.


This Salon Talks interview is hosted by Dean Obeidallah. Dean is the host of the daily national SiriusXM radio program, "The Dean Obeidallah Show" on the network's progressive political channel. Dean is also a columnist for The Daily Beast and contributor to CNN.com Opinion. He co-directed the comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" that uses humor to counter anti-Muslim bigotry and is the co-creator of the annual New York Arab American Comedy Festival. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


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