Some people are born funny. Others take time to hone their comedic skills. Stand-up comedian and actor Rajiv Satyal points to the third grade as his breakthrough year. “I had a good friend named Ryan Price who told me I was never going to make him laugh,” says Satyal. “He was funny, and I wanted to be like him. One day I made him laugh. He said ‘Congratulations, you’re funny.’ It was a big turning point.”
That may partly explain why Satyal, a former winner of the “Funniest Person in Cincinnati” contest, chucked a career at Procter & Gamble in 2006 to take his shot at yukking it up in the entertainment world. But to get a clearer picture, you have to venture back to the seventh-grade debate that convinced Satyal of his own leadership skills.
“Making people laugh is a subset of leadership ability. I’ve come to the conclusion I can get a roomful of people to do whatever I want them to do.”
So far, it’s working. Satyal, a former MBA student, is now based in Los Angeles, where he has performed at some of the city’s most prestigious comedy clubs. He has also worked selected clubs nationally, been cast in several commercials for Cox Communications, and is featured on a compilation DVD, “Indian Invasion Comedy—Civilizing the West,” available through his web site, www.funnyindian.com.
While quick to admit his career path is not an easy one, Satyal feels momentum building. “I feel really good about it. I feel like I’ve found my life’s work—to make as many people laugh and think as I can. I feel like that’s kind of cool.”