She’s the comedian taking TikTok by storm, and not with a viral dance, like other famous TikTok-ers. Indian-American comedian Zarna Garg is bringing her brand of funny to the video platform, racking up more than 35 million views on her videos so far!
And if you are not yet following Zarna, here’s your chance to get familiar. After all, we are living in bleak times and we need some good belly laughs to get us through the day!
Zarna is an immigrant hailing from India who has had quite an interesting journey, which she often incorporates into her comedy shows. Raised in Bombay and living in multiple countries throughout the world, Zarna made her way to the United States at the age of 16. After losing her mother at 14 and facing the choice of an arranged marriage or leaving, she journeyed to America on her own. Her experience immigrating from India to the U.S fed into her deep love for storytelling.
She builds her career on her passion for having fun while also sharing her life in America from an immigrant’s perspective. After receiving university degrees in finance and law, she began exploring her love for comedy and became a screenwriter. From a lawyer and a mom to award-winning stand-up comedian and screenwriter, Zarna now uses her signature style to highlight the immigrant and American experience.
Her first screenplay, “Rearranged” was the winner of the 2019 Austin Film Festival Best Comedy Award placing #1 out of 11,000 scripts! Zarna recently won the highly esteemed, Ladies of Laughter 2021 Newcomer Award, and was included in the list of New York City’s Top 100 Inspiring Small Businesses during the pandemic. She is also a featured comic on Kevin Hart’s Lyft Comic, a series where comedians tell jokes while disguising themselves as Lyft drivers.
She is best known for her hit shows, “My American Dream” and “Sari, Not Sorry,” and currently performs for sold out audiences all over the country.
Her next “Sari, Not Sorry” show will be on August 15th in New Jersey, which will feature special guests Pranav Behari and Usama Siddiquee. In anticipation of this, we got to speak to everyone’s favorite “funny brown mom” about her immigrant story, and what it’s like to “go viral” on TikTok, as the kids say…
How did you first get into comedy, and creating your own content on social media?
You can blame my daughter, she was the one who really pushed me. She knew I was too scared to try it, so she asked my friends and family to write me notes of encouragement. And when 146 notes tell you that comedy is your calling you really have no choice! So I went to my first open mic and was hooked. Sometimes I still can’t believe this is a thing–getting paid to stand on a stage and tell jokes?
Your journey to America from India is quite the eye-opening and inspiring story. Can you share how this experience shaped the rest of your life?
Yes, I ran away when I was 15 to escape the inevitable, an arranged marriage and the end of my education. While homeless, I had to petition my way to the U.S. Thanks to one Congressman, my sister and her husband, I was able to go to college in Ohio and then on to law school. But the biggest surprise about coming to America is that I got to choose my husband online! If you take anything from my journey, it is that you should NEVER take NO for an ANSWER!
From studying law, to becoming an award-winning comedian, while also raising kids and racking up millions of views on social media, what is your message to people who think they have to stick to one career because of societal pressure?
Once you find something that makes you feel alive like nothing else, the decision is already made for you. Trust me, when you are truly fulfilled, you’ll say “to hell with societal norms!”.
Your hit shows ‘My American Dream’ and ‘Sari, not Sorry’, weave in your experience as an immigrant in America. Can you share why this aspect of your story is important to include in your comedy?
Where are the happy, brown immigrant women? If you ever see a woman who looks like me they are portrayed as suffering, tortured, and miserable! Everyone needs to lighten up. Brown women have so much joy and wisdom to share besides yoga! I’d be a yoga teacher but I hate it. I only do one pose – standup.
What can you tell us about your upcoming Sari Not Sorry show in August?
I am taking SARI, NOT SORRY from Broadway to New Jersey. We are so pumped about this show! I am bringing two hilarious Indian comedians to offer the male perspective, an Indian Dance troupe to greet you, my friend is singing the Indian national anthem and then there’s me, Auntie Z, to make sure your sides hurt from laughing.
We love championing women in comedy, especially women of color and mothers. Traditionally this has been a very male-dominated genre. How do you think the industry is changing?
I am changing it! Every time I get on stage and do what I do I change people’s minds. Because what I deliver is relatable, family-friendly comedy. I talk about my teenagers and the MCATS, my husband, the chess champion, and of course, my nemesis – my mother-in-law.
Can you share more about your work on Kevin Hart’s Lyft Comic series and how this opportunity came about?
Lyft Comics is a show where comedians pretend to be Lyft drivers, and we compete with each other for passenger ratings. I was shocked and thrilled to win this show. As for how they found me? Well, 45 million TikTok views does get people talking!
What message do you have for other women/mothers/immigrants who believe they should be in comedy but don’t know where to begin?
Many comedy clubs offer standup classes! Some of them offer them for women only so you can make a fool of yourself among friends. Most of these classes have a live performance at the end. It’s a good way to dip your toe in the comedy ocean and see how it feels. What are you waiting for? Go now!
Be sure to follow Zarna Garg on TikTok, and if you are in the New Jersery area on August 15th, purchase a ticket to her upcoming show ‘Sari, Not Sorry’ immediately!