Kumail Ali Nanjiani (Sindhi: ڪميل نانجيانئي‎ ; pronounced [kʊmeɪl nʌndʒɪjəniː][2]; born 1978) is a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian, actor, podcast host and writer best known for writing and starring in the romantic comedy The Big Sick (2017) and for being a main cast member on HBO's comedy series Silicon Valley (2014–2019). For writing the former with his wife Emily V. Gordon, Nanjiani was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. In 2018, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.[3]

Kumail Nanjiani
Kumail Nanjiani by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Nanjiani at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, promoting The Eternals (film)
Kumail Ali Nanjiani

1978 (age 41–42)[1]
Alma materKarachi Grammar School, Grinnell College
OccupationStand-up comedian, actor, podcast host, writer
Years active2008–present
Known forThe Big Sick, Silicon Valley
Emily V. Gordon (m. 2007)
RelativesShereen Nanjiani
(second cousin)

Nanjiani has also voiced Prismo on the animated series Adventure Time and starred in the TNT series Franklin & Bash and the Adult Swim series Newsreaders. He also co-hosted the Comedy Central show The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail as well as playing various roles in the series Portlandia. In film, he has starred in the action film Stuber (2019) and will play Kingo Sunen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Eternals.

Early lifeEdit

Nanjiani was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, the elder of two boys of Shabana and Aijaz Nanjiani.[4] His brother was born in the summer of 1982. Nanjiani grew up in a religious Sindhi Shia Muslim family.[5] The Scottish radio presenter Shereen Nanjiani is his second cousin.[6][7][8]

During his childhood, Nanjiani lived in Karachi and attended St. Michael's Convent School for his O Levels, and graduated from Karachi Grammar School to complete his A Levels. At 18, he moved to the United States to Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, where he graduated in 2001 with a double major in computer science and philosophy.[9][10][11]


2008–2016: Television workEdit

In July 2011, he and X-Play staffer Ali Baker began hosting a video game-themed podcast, titled The Indoor Kids. In late August of the same year Baker left the show and Nanjiani began hosting with his wife, Emily V. Gordon.[12] Until other commitments took over, he appeared regularly on Dan Harmon's podcast Harmontown, where he played Dungeons & Dragons with Harmon as a character named Chris de Burgh. He played a delivery man in the 2013 film, The Kings of Summer.[13] In addition to guest-starring in various comedy shows like Portlandia, Nanjiani was featured in a supporting role in the TNT series Franklin & Bash. He played the role of Pindar Singh, an agoraphobic fiction nerd working for the title characters.

Nanjiani guest-starred on HBO's Veep as a statistician. He had a recurring role of Amir Larussa on Newsreaders, as well as Prismo on Adventure Time. His Comedy Central special titled Beta Male aired in July 2013.[14] In late June 2013, Comedy Central announced the pickup of a show The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail hosted by Jonah Ray and Nanjiani.[15] The show, featuring Nerd Melt comedy regulars and various comedians, began airing in July 2014.[16] In April 2014, he began playing the character Dinesh in the HBO sitcom Silicon Valley.[11] He voiced Reggie in the video game The Walking Dead: Season Two.[17] In July 2014, Nanjiani hosted a weekly podcast titled The X-Files Files, dedicated to discussion and fond reminiscences about The X-Files. Each episode features him and a guest, including former The X-Files writers, producers, actors and directors, in light-hearted banter about one or two episodes of the series.[18][19] On July 30, 2014, Nanjiani appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor Podcast.TV Guidance Counselor Podcast: TV Guidance Counselor Episode 26: Kumail Nanjiani

In 2015, Nanjiani guest-starred in an episode of Broad City called "In Heat".[20] Starting on March 22, 2015 he provided his voice for the character of Mshak Moradi in the Hunt the Truth audio drama, part of the marketing campaign for Halo 5: Guardians.[21] On May 5, 2015, he appeared on Inside Amy Schumer in the episode "12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer", a parody of 12 Angry Men, as one of the members of the jury.[22] In July 2015, Nanjiani provided guest voices on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero.[23] In November 2015, he starred in an Old Navy TV commercial together with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Snoop Dogg.[24] In April 2016, he starred in another Old Navy advertisement with SNL cast members Jay Pharoah, Cecily Strong, and Nasim Pedrad.

2017–present: Breakthrough in filmEdit

Nanjiani in 2017

In 2017, Nanjiani starred in the romantic comedy film The Big Sick, which he wrote with his wife Emily V. Gordon.[25] The film is about their relationship, with Nanjiani playing himself and Zoe Kazan playing Gordon (renamed Emily Gardner). The film was one of the most acclaimed films of 2017, and was chosen by American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.[26][27] The film was also the third highest grossing independent film released in 2017, grossing over 40 million dollars.[28]

In 2019, Nanjiani headlined the first episode of the CBS All Access revival of the anthology series The Twilight Zone. For his role on The Twilight Zone, Nanjiani received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. In film, Nanjiani voiced the alien Pawny in Men in Black International, which was released on June 14.[29][30][31] Nanjiani has stated "I play an alien so you won’t see my face but you’ll hear my voice, I’m a little alien frog/lizard... thing".[32] Nanjiani also stars in the action-comedy Stuber opposite Dave Bautista, which was released on July 12.[33][34] In 2020, Nanjiani lent his voice to Plimpton, an ostrich, in Dolittle.[35] Nanjiani wrote for and produced the Apple TV+ anthology series Little America, which premiered in January 2020. The series is based on the story collection of the same name from Epic Magazine which focuses on stories from immigrants. To promote the series, Nanjiani appeared at the Apple Event of March 25, 2019.[36][37]

Upcoming projectsEdit

Nanjiani will costar with Issa Rae in The Lovebirds, to be directed by Michael Showalter, who directed The Big Sick, and released by Paramount Pictures.[38] Furthermore, Nanjiani will star in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Eternals with Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Salma Hayek.[39] The Eternals is set to be released on November 6, 2020, with Nanjiani playing Kingo Sunen. In February 2020, Nanjiani signed on to star in The Independent, a political thriller to be directed by Amy Rice.[40]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2007, Nanjiani married Emily V. Gordon, an author, comedy producer, and former couples and family therapist in Chicago City Hall.[41] Gordon was the booker and producer of The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail (2014–2016).[42]

Though raised as a Shia Muslim, Nanjiani is now an atheist.[43]


  Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Life as We Know It Simon
2012 The Five-Year Engagement Pakistani Chef
2013 The Kings of Summer Gary the Delivery Guy
Hell Baby Cable Guy
Bad Milo Bobbi
2014 The Last of the Great Romantics George the Counter Guy
Sex Tape Punit
2015 Loaded Reza
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Brad
Addicted to Fresno Damon
Hello, My Name Is Doris Nasir
Hell and Back Dave the Demon (voice)
Goosebumps Foreman
2016 Central Intelligence Jared the Airport Security Guard Cameo
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Keanu
Brother Nature Riggleman
Flock of Dudes Ro
The Late Bloomer Rich
2017 The Big Sick Kumail Nanjiani Also writer
Fist Fight Officer Mehar
A Happening of Monumental Proportions HR Rep Perry
Funny: The Documentary Himself
The Lego Ninjago Movie Jay (voice)
2018 Duck Butter Jake
2019 Stuber Stu Prasad
Men in Black: International Pawny (voice)
2020 Dolittle Plimpton (voice)
The Lovebirds   Jibran Post-production
The Eternals   Kingo Sunen Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2008 Saturday Night Live Indian Reporter Uncredited
Episode: "James Franco/Kings of Leon"
2009 The Colbert Report Various characters 2 episodes
2009 Michael & Michael Have Issues Kumail 7 episodes
2010 Ugly Americans Neilando Patel (voice) Episode: "Treegasm"
2011 Traffic Light Paul Episode: "Where the Heart Is"
2011 CollegeHumor Originals Vendor Episode: "Batman Chooses His Voice"
2011 Googy Dwayne 6 episodes
2011–2014 Franklin & Bash Pindar Singh 31 episodes
2011–2018 Portlandia Various characters 13 episodes
2012–2016 Adventure Time Prismo (voice) 7 episodes
2013–2015 Newsreaders Amir Larussa 11 episodes
2013 Burning Love Zakir 17 episodes
2013 Veep Statistician Episode: "Midterms"
2013 Drunk History Lakota Chief Episode: "Nashville"
2013 Ghost Ghirls Mr. Mattoo Episode: "I Believe in Mira-ghouls"
2014–2019 Silicon Valley Dinesh Chugtai 53 episodes
2014 Math Bites Showoff Guy Episode: "Math Heads: Do Math in Your Head"
2014 The Pete Holmes Show Dhalsim Episode: "Erin Hamlin and Kate Hansen"
2014–2016 The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail Himself (host) 24 episodes
2014 TripTank Dick Genie (voice) 4 episodes
2014 Garfunkel and Oates Jordan Episode: "Hair Swap"
2014 Key and Peele College Kid #1 Episode: "Scariest Movie Ever"
2014–2015 Bob's Burgers Skip (voice) 2 episodes
2014–2015 Community Custodian Lapari 2 episodes
2015 Broad City Benny Calitri Episode: "In Heat"
2015 Archer Farooq Ashkani (voice) Episode: "Sitting"
2015 Inside Amy Schumer Juror #11 Episode: "12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer"
2015 Scheer-RL Mariah Carey Episode: "Mariah Carey"
2015 Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Cuteling Mayor (voice) Episode: "The Ripple Effect"
2015 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Frylock's bees (voice) Episode: "Sweet C"
2015 The Grinder Prosecutor Leonard 2 episodes
2016 The X-Files Pasha Episode: "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster"
2016 Animals. Rusty (voice) Episode: "Dogs."
2016 31st Independent Spirit Awards Himself (host) Television special
2016–2017 HarmonQuest Eddie Lizard 2 episodes
2017 Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: "Kumail Nanjiani/Pink"
2018 RuPaul's Drag Race Himself (judge) Episode: "Drag Con Panel Extravaganza"
2019 The Twilight Zone Samir Wassan Episode: "The Comedian"[44]
2019 Bless the Harts Jesus Christ (voice) Series regular
2020 Little America Executive producer

Video gamesEdit

Year Title Voice role
2013 The Walking Dead: Season Two Reggie
2017 Mass Effect: Andromeda[45] Jarun Tann
Middle-earth: Shadow of War The Agonizer


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Jake and Amir Kumail 4 episodes
2015 Hunt the Truth Mshak Moradi [46]
2013–2017 Harmontown Himself
2017 Game Grumps 1 episode; on the same episode as Paul Scheer
Movie Fights
2019 Achievement Hunter Himself 1 episode
2019 Gay of Thrones Himself 1 episode; "Gay Of Thrones S8 E4 Recap"
2019 Hot Ones Himself 1 episode

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2017 Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay The Big Sick Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Actor in a Comedy Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
Kanbar Award for Storytelling Won
Gotham Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best First Screenplay Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Silicon Valley Nominated
San Diego International Film Festival Auteur Award Self Won
2019 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series The Twilight Zone Nominated


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External linksEdit