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Kumail Nanjiani Says Silicon Valley Creator John Altschuler Gave Him The Biggest Compliment Of His Life

Just like plenty of other professions, sometimes it takes one simple comment or observation to send a person's career path onto a much more positive direction. Whether it's a specific note, suggestion, or in Kumail Nanjiani's case, a compliment, that one nugget of information can help someone focus on skills they never knew they had in the first place. With Nanjiani, it was one compliment given by "Silicon Valley" co-creator John Altschuler that opened up a whole new world of confidence and skill when it came to his comedic performances.

Before Nanjiani snagged his role on the HBO series, he had been popping up here and there in different TV shows and films ( via IMDb). However, when Nanjiani spoke to Dana Carvey and David Spade on their "Fly on the Wall" podcast, he explained that his one guest-star role on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' "Veep" got the attention of "Silicon Valley" creators. "That part [in 'Veep'] turned out funny, I ended up having one funny moment in that episode," he said. It was that funny on-screen moment that put Nanjiani on HBO's, Mike Judge's, and Altschuler's radar. And it was Altschuler, who Nanjiani says, gave him what he considers to be the biggest compliment of his life.

Kumail Nanjiani can be funny when it appears like he's doing the opposite

When Kumail Nanjiani first auditioned for the HBO series "Silicon Valley," he initially received some pretty poor news. On the "Fly on the Wall" podcast, he details what the show's creators told him, "We really like you, we don't think you're right for either of the parts," However, that temporary rejection was quickly followed up with the creators' plans to develop another role for just for Nanjiani to play. 

That role was to be the overly sarcastic/dry coding-wizard Dinesh Chugthai. And as Nanjiani recalls, it was at the start of the series when co-creator John Altschuler gave him a compliment that would stay with Nanjiani as his career progressed. Altschuler told him, "You know, you can do a joke and make it sound like you're not doing a joke." Nanjiani knew that this observation was something every comedic performer would hope to one day receive. "I was like, wow. I was like, that is a really wonderful thing to hear, especially with stand-ups, you know," he continued. "Sometimes you see them acting, and you can see they're trying to nail a joke." 

This skill, obviously unique enough for the "Silicon Valley" creator to highlight it, surely helped lock in Nanjiani's perfect comedic timing. "And to me, the key is," he said, "you've got to get the laugh, you have to get the laugh, but it can't sound like you're delivering a punchline." This compliment, along with all the other skills Nanjiani has developed over the years, has surely contributed to all the impressive work he's done throughout his career, which now includes starring in the new Hulu series, "Welcome to Chippendale's."