Earlier this week, comedian/actor Kumail Nanjiani was on late-night TV show Conan. He talked to host Conan O’Brien about confidence and crapping his pants. He also talked about his Muslim wedding ceremony with wife Emily V. Gordon, story shared in the video clip below (transcript below the video mostly via TeamCoco.com).
Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and writer-producer Gordon (Super You) have written a comedy script together for The Big Sick. The Judd Apatow-produced film follows a couple experiencing cultural differences as their relationship develops, and it’s based on true events in the lives of Nanjiani and Gordon, starring Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan as Emily, and Adeel Akhtar as his brother.
CONAN: You married outside of your family’s faith, is that correct?
KUMAIL: Yeah, so we’re Muslim and she’s not Muslim and so — but my family was very understanding, very welcoming so we had this like Muslim ceremony at my parents’ house.
CONAN: And your wife was OK with that? That she marry sort of in a Muslim ceremony? She was cool with it?
KUMAIL: Yeah, she was cool with it. We did both. We did the Muslim one and then we did the wrong one.
[laughter] KUMAIL: Sorry. What is happening today? So I — we’re all there and we’re going to — her family is there and my family is there, and the Muslim priest guy comes in and he’s like what’s the name of the guy and they go Kumail and he’s like that’s a beautiful name. And he goes what’s the name of the woman? And they go Emily and he goes I’m not going to marry someone named Emily.
KUMAIL: Yep, very intense.
CONAN: How was he dressed by the way? Was he hardcore?
KUMAIL: This is what he looked like. Pretend you’re a racist and then imagine a Muslim.
[applause] CONAN: Got it, got it.
KUMAIL: He looked like a Muslim on the news, you know. He checked all the boxes. So my mom freaks out and she comes to Emily and she’s like hey, can we change your name just for today? And Emily is very nice. She’s like sure. We changed her name to Iman just for the day. In Muslim ceremonies, the men and women sit separately. It’s me, I’m sitting next to this guy and up the stairs is Emily within ear shot, and I hate this guy.
CONAN: The person who performed the service?
KUMAIL: Yeah, I hate it because he was so closed minded. I’m just sitting there like I wish it was someone else marrying me. Not someone else marrying me as the wife —
CONAN: A different cleric.
KUMAIL: Half way through the ceremony in the room Beyoncé’s “Naughty Girl” starts playing. Just the chorus — “I’m a naughty girl. I’m a naughty girl. I’m a naughty girl.” I’m looking around like, oh, my god, who has this as their ringtone? I swear, I swear, this Muslim cleric reaches into his pocket, pulls out a glowing cell phone, flips it open to see who is calling — because that’s just his general ring tone for everyone. That’s not like, oh “naughty girl” Zubeyda must be calling. And he doesn’t turn it off and he puts it down and for another 20 seconds, Beyoncé and the Quran harmonize together.
CONAN: It’s amazing. This guy won’t perform a service for Emily but that’s what he’s listening to.
KUMAIL: But you know, Beyoncé transcends all faiths.
More Kumail: For more late-night humor from Nanjiani check out his previous Conan appearances at TeamCoco.com and his clip below from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In case you missed it, read his Mother Jones interview from earlier this year: ‘Kumail Nanjiani Can Totally Relate to His “Silicon Valley” Character’.
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