Zarna Garg Tictok Comedy Sensation Breaking The Internet
Zarna Garg is an award-winning screenwriter and stand-up comedian, and headlines a monthly show at Caroline’s on Broadway called “My American Dream.” Zarna has produced and performed in multiple sold-out comedy shows in top comedy clubs across NYC including the groundbreaking HinJews shows. She has expanded into online comedy shows across multiple time zones, a move that was recently covered in the New York Times and Rukus Avenue Radio.
Her debut romantic comedy screenplay ‘Rearranged’ won the Best Comedy Screenplay Award (placing #1 out of 11,000 scripts) at the Austin Film Festival and was also a 2019 Academy Nicholl Fellowships Semi-Finalist. The script has been optioned by Marginal Mediaworks.
She is currently providing comedy shows to first responders and their patients, as well as interviewing them on her Instagram Live to find out whether they are single.
Zarna you are a TikTok star and you are damn funny. Tell us about your background.
Where are you from?
I was pre-heated in India and baked in America. I moved here when I was 16.
You are a comedian. Tell us where did this all start?
I finished my first romantic comedy screenplay and thought, “How on Earth will anyone find this?” I’m just a mom trying to make sure my kids’ shoes are tied. I could wave my arms in the street and shout at people, or I could try stand-up comedy…you make more money doing the former.
Also, I was frustrated that the brown comedy scene is dominated by 2nd generation kids whining about their parents. It was time for a parent to respond! Enough already with kids complaining about parents forcing them to learn math and science. Boohoo, we make them win spelling bees and chess tournaments.
How did you get your first break as a stage performer and where was it?
I may have blacked out from nerves during and after, but apparently I went to my first open mic in April 2019. I honestly could not believe what I was doing. Stand-up comedy? As a job and/or hobby? The last time I felt so white, I was doing hot yoga.
Even more shocking, people laughed.
Felicia Madison from West Side Comedy Club helped me figure out the next steps and gave me the confidence that I could do it.
What was the biggest struggle you had to face after moving to the USA? As a person and
as a comedian.
I dreamed of coming to America but somehow had always imagined I’d still have my normal universe of friends and family around me. But I was alone. Leaving a full life behind in difficult circumstances stunts your heart in some way.
Being an immigrant and a mom was challenging in all the ways you expect—but embarking on a show business career has thrown me curveballs I just didn’t know existed.
Did you know that in the film industry no one wants to read your script? Even if you pay them to read it? Even if you win the top prize at the most prestigious screenwriting festival?
It was a wild ride figuring out the steps to getting the story closer to production. Luckily, my romantic comedy script won a few high-profile screenwriting awards and was optioned by incredible producers. I have high hopes.
Regarding my comedy struggles, I’ve read that in one’s first year as a stand-up comedian, it’s par for the course to face a global pandemic with every single performance space shut down—even the subway!
How else can you really decide if comedy is for you than by experiencing some minor setbacks, like not being allowed to be in a room with an audience? Fortunately, or unfortunately, comedy is all I want to do—I had to find a way to survive.
I was skeptical of Zoom shows at first; then delighted at the demand, the intimacy with audience members very far away, and the chance to try out new jokes multiple times a day. I started with friends and family and within a few weeks, I MC-ed a virtual charity gala introducing big celebrities from all over the world!
I also stumbled upon TikTok while confiscating my 14-year-old son’s phone. He now does my subtitles. In one month, I’ve racked up 6 million views. I think this means my children respect me now.
Where do you find your humor from?
Daily life and family life can be kind of absurd if you think about it. I’ve always been aware of it—but now it’s my job to point it out!
Were you always funny? Tell us about your childhood.
I am the youngest of four kids, so I was dragged to a lot of adult events (this was pre-cell phone, Netflix, and almost pre-pencils). Boredom is one of the best sources of comedy. I learned to entertain myself by thinking funny thoughts—many of which are my punchlines today.
I became the outspoken kid asking crazy questions like, “What if people want to downgrade their caste?” And, “What if cow urine turns out not to be the amazing vitamin supplement we all think it is.”
What is a regular day for you between kids and entertaining people on TikTok?
I often become a vegan, give up, organize the house, then secretly record my family members for TikTok.
I spend hours writing and working on my comedy career.
I’ve always been interested in business and I know that you can’t sell tickets without making sure you create a product that is in demand.
My kids and husband are obviously a huge part of my comedic inspiration. I have to keep telling them that I love them so that I can sell them out some more.
Honestly, we’ve only grown closer since I embarked on my comedy career. I’ve learned that working hard, being brave, and following your dreams can be a gift to your kids. They see you being true to yourself and now that’s their future too. No more doctors and lawyers under my roof! Get a real job!
What your kids think about you being a TikTok sensation?
They’ve been in the comedy clubs with me since day one and watched the audience reactions, so to us TikTok is the digital version of the wonderful response we’ve been seeing in clubs.
I want to be humble and pretend that they are shocked and so am I. But deep inside my heart, I know, and they know that my material is resonating in a big way.
Now I humbly thank Ganesh for his blessings.
What is your daytime job?
Day and night, comedy is my only job for now.
What is your goal for the next few years?
I want to focus and establish myself as a global stand-up comedian and make the whole world laugh, especially in the aftermath of this impossible year. It’s incredibly important to me that brown women are projected as happy, funny, smart, leaders.
I would love to work with Ellen DeGeneres, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Russell Peters, Jessica Kirson, and so many more. Performing at the Comedy Cellar in NYC is on my wish list for the near future, and also the Gotham Comedy Club.
I want to find more creative outlets for my comedic voice and I want to collaborate with really cool people who are doing really cool things (not to be confused with famous people).
Professionally, this is the dream.
Personally, my number one goal is to take better care of myself. I need to find my inner balance or just proper medication. Show business is a roller coaster I’m still learning not to scream on.
Also, eventually, arrange all my kids’ weddings. Left to their own devices, they’re going to fall for dumb stuff like, ‘he’s nice” or “she’s real”—who needs nice? We need rich!
Do you have any events coming up in the next few months?
I’m thrilled to announce exclusively here on Urban Asian an upcoming Zoom charity comedy show I’m doing called “Zarna Garg’s 2020 Halftime Show.” All proceeds will go to benefit the NYC Public School System.
A few special guests and I will celebrate the fact that we’ve at least made it through half of this spectacularly terrible year.
I hope you’ll join me on Wednesday, July 22 at 8pm ET – you can get your tickets here.
ALSO, I have a show at Caroline’s on Broadway in September, and a slot in the New York Comedy Festival in November—but, of course, all of this is dependent on the pandemic.
AND I’m actively booking Zoom private comedy parties/ private events/ charity functions at ZarnaGarg.com
FINALLY, watch my socials for funny content. Follow me on TikTok and Instagram at @zarnagarg.
Fans can also sign up for my newsletter here to get news, show updates, and to follow me on this wild ride.
Some words for your fans…
Thank you for allowing me into your lives and hearts.
Thank you for laughing along with me.
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to live my dream, and thank you for believing I’m worthy of your time.
I entered this business with a lot of trepidation, but your love has empowered me and put me on a rocket ship to deliver my life’s purpose.
I am honored and thrilled to be the funny brown mom for so many of you.