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Kumail Nanjiani says Silicon Valley creator John Altshuler gave him the biggest compliment of his life

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When Kumail Nanjiani first auditioned for the HBO series Silicon Valley, he received some pretty bad news at first. On the Fly on the Wall podcast, he detailed what the show’s creators told him: “We really like you, we don’t think you’re right for either role.” with the creators’ plans to develop another role just for Nanjiani.

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This role was to be the overly sarcastic/dry coding wizard Dinesh Chugtai. And as Nanjiani recalls, it was at the start of the series that co-creator John Altshuler gave him a compliment that would stay with Nanjiani as his career progressed. Altshuler told him, “You know, you can make a joke and make it sound like you’re not kidding.” Nanjiani knew this observation was something every comedic performer hoped to get one day. “I thought, wow. I thought it was really wonderful to hear, especially with stand-ups, you know,” he continued. “Sometimes you see them play and you can see they’re trying to make a joke.”

This skill, obviously unique enough for the creator of Silicon Valley to underscore, certainly helped Nanjiani get the comedic moment perfect. “And the key to me,” he said, “you have to laugh, you have to laugh, but it can’t sound like you’re delivering a punch line.” This compliment, along with all the other skills Nanjiani has developed over the years, has undoubtedly contributed to all the impressive work he has done throughout his career, which now includes a starring role in the new Hulu series Welcome to Chippendale.

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