Comedian Nimesh Patel shares journey from Chris Rock to ‘SNL’ en route to DC’s Warner Theatre

Hear our full chat on my podcast “Beyond the Fame with Jason Fraley.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Nimesh Patel at Warner Theatre (Part 1)
Nimesh Patel is coming to Warner Theatre in D.C. (Mindy Tucker)

Comedian Nimesh Patel is ready to crack up the nation’s capital.

His “Fast and Loose” standup comedy tour arrives at Warner Theatre in D.C. next week for two nights on Nov. 10-11.

“This will be my third time playing Warner Theatre, my second time headlining,” Patel told WTOP. “I’m very excited. D.C. is my favorite place to do comedy. Y’all know everything. If ignorance is bliss, D.C. is the saddest place in the world. Those are the type of people that need a laugh or two. … I love giving it to them.”

Born to Indian immigrants in New Jersey in 1986, Patel grew up loving comedy movies and TV shows.

“I grew up with 16 first cousins, so that was the comedy, all of us yelling at each other,” Patel said. “As we grew up, Chris Rock was one of the first comedians I saw as a special, but we were also run-of-the-mill Americans watching ‘Saved By the Bell,’ ‘Family Matters,’ ‘Wayans Bros.’ and everything that was on ABC and WB at the time. In terms of movies, Sandler was king at the time … As we got older, movies and TV shows gave way to music, DMX, all that.”

After initially studying premed in New York City, Patel graduated college with a degree in finance, but he quickly shifted to comedy in 2009. By 2011, he had started the NYC Broken Comedy show with his friends Mike Denny and Michael Che, which helped him to be discovered by Chris Rock during a Brooklyn comedy gig in 2015.

“It had become the hottest independent standup show in New York,” Patel said. “Once I got wind that Chris was coming, I was like, ‘I’m going up.’ … Chris saw me, I had one of these blackout sets where I did great but I do not remember the set at all. … Afterward, Chris told me he thought I was funny and I was just in shock. A few months later, I got an email saying he wanted me to be on the writing team for the Oscars he was hosting in 2016.”

Indeed, Patel flew out to the West Coast to craft material for the 88th annual Academy Awards.

“That was a whirlwind experience,” Patel said. “My finance job was in flux and I was interviewing at a bunch of other places, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. … There was like no gap between my finance job ending and my writing job starting. January my finance job ended, February I was in Los Angeles writing for Chris Rock for the Oscars. It was crazy. That was the year of #OscarsSoWhite. … One of the top comedy experiences I’ve ever had.”

After placing as a finalist in Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Network Pitch Panel, Patel helped write Hasan Minhaj’s White House Correspondents Association Dinner speech in 2017 roasting the Trump administration.

“Right after the Oscars, Hasan hosted the Congressional Correspondents Dinner before that — and that was myself and two or three other people — that’s like the warmup for the White House Correspondents Dinner,” Patel said. “I wrote the viral gun bit that he did. … That was such a crazy team effort, there were like 10 of us shooting jokes out, I don’t remember a single one of them minus the Steve Bannon Nazi joke, which David Angelo wrote.”

In 2017, Patel became the first-ever Indian American writer on “Saturday Night Live.” The gig only lasted one season, primarily writing for “Weekend Update,” but together, the “SNL” team earned an Emmy nomination.

“To even be a small part of that was an honor,” Patel said. “My favorite part outside of the writing and stuff was that my parents got to meet Kenan [Thompson], the nicest, funniest person to ever exist. … My parents weren’t super schooled on comedy, but growing up, I would watch ‘All That’ and ‘Kenan & Kel,’ so my parents knew who Kenan was. … ‘We’ve seen you since you were a child, too!’ That was an incredible moment that I won’t forget.”

Listen to the full conversation on my podcast below:

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Nimesh Patel at Warner Theatre (Part 2)
Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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