Pakistani- American comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani’s addressed racism during his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live.
The 39-year-old who appeared in the film The Big Sick was inspired by the true story of his real-wife’s Emily V. Nanjiani grew up in Pakistan, was raised as a Muslim, and came to the US at age 18 to attend college. This is his first time hosting the NBC sketch comedy series.
In his monologue, he said,
“I came to America, fell in love with a white woman and made a movie about it,” before talking about racism he faced over the years.
He added, some of the reviewers disliked the film’s “race-mixing” — in a film about an interracial relationship. “First of all, nobody good ever uses the phrase ‘race-mixing,” he said. “Even if someone was like, ‘I’m pro-race-mixing,’ I’d be like, ‘Why are you talking like that?’”
His monologue also included his negative Twitter mentions about The Big Sick that dealt with his race. “A lot of people were like, ‘Go back to India,’” he remarked. “I’ve never been to India. Are you just hoping I’ll have an awesome vacation soon?” Nanjiani told the audience that it’s remarks like that irritate him the most. “My problem with most racism is the inaccuracy,” he added.
“Do the research, put in the work. You will see the benefits. For example, if a guy tells me to ‘Go back to India,’ that guy is an idiot. But if someone tells me to ‘Go back to Pakistan, which was part of India until 1947 and is now home to the world’s oldest salt mine, then I’d back my bags.”
He also talked about the rise of Islamophobia. “Islamophobia is on the rise. It’s like Will & Grace,” Nanjiani joked in reference to the sitcom making a return on SNL’s home network. “It was huge awhile ago, we thought it was gone and done forever and now it’s back! Thursday night on NBC. . .they made me say that.”
Watch the monologue for yourself,