There are so many reasons to love Kumail Nanjiani. His knack for calling out awkwardly funny moments in everyday situations early on earned the stand-up comic a widespread fan base. After the multiple awards and nominations he garnered for “The Big Sick” further distinguished him in the world of comedy, 2017 proved to be pretty good year for the artist.
Longtime fans, of course, know Nanjiani from HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” Season 5 is gearing up to premiere on March 25, and while we may see some changes, it’s clear one thing remains the same - the comedy is just as brilliant as ever.
Nanjiani joined fellow cast members Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, Zach Woods and Amanda Crew, along with executive producers Alec Berg and Mike Judge, in their first-ever PaleyFest appearance on March 18, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Lucky fans were there to get some insight on the show and some good news, as co-creator Mike Judge revealed, it’s likely “Silicon Valley” will live on to see more than five seasons.
“We’re all really close and we’re all really good friends,” Nanjiani says about the dynamic of the cast. “I think you can read that on screen. Even if the characters have a fight or disagreement or something, you can feel that we’re all very close behind the scenes. I love working with everyone, they’re so talented. It’s just a joy and an honor.”
Starr added to that, saying it’s the love they have for each other that elevates everything they do on screen. “The fact that we all really trust and support each other allows the comedy and the performances to really shine in a way that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”
Executive producers Alec Berg and Mike Judge play a big part in that as well. Berg is known for “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the upcoming series “Barry.” While, without Judge, the world would never have known pop culture favorites like “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “King of the Hill,” “Office Space” or “Idiocracy.”
“Five years working on this show. Mike and Alec both have taught me so much,” Nanjiani tells AXS. “You know, the biggest thing I’ve learned [from them] is how to improvise in a way that works with the story and character; how to do usable improv, rather than just being funny. I used to think improv was just being funny, but on a narrative show, it’s not going to be used unless it advances the plot or the character relationship, or shows something about the character.”
So, just how does Nanjiani continue to walk the line between comedy and drama so well? “I think you just have to play it real, you know? My character is never trying to be funny. You just have to play the reality of the situation and trust that the writing is funny enough.”
Now that we’re a few months into 2018 and anticipating Nanjiani’s return to television, everyone wants to know what’s on deck for the comedian. When asked about dream projects, the Oscar nominee didn’t skip a beat. “I would love to do a superhero movie,” he answered with a smile. “I love superhero movies, I love comic book movies. I would love to do something like that.”
As Middleditch pointed out, not unlike a good superhero story, failure is part of what makes a comedy so successful. “That’s what the show really looks to do and it makes smaller victories that much sweeter when it happens,” he told AXS.
The good news is, although the characters on the show may be awaiting success, the show itself certainly is not.
While we may have to wait a bit longer until we get to see Nanjiani save the day on the big screen, fans can rest easy knowing he will soon return with rest of the cast as the comedy champions of “Silicon Valley.”
Tune in to catch an all new season starting March 25 on HBO.