A week ago you might have caught Aasif Mandvi on television, in one of his regular appearances on The Daily Show, waggishly offering post-debate closing arguments for the Romney campaign. Mandvi has been a regular "correspondent" for the popular Comedy Central program since 2006, filling reports as "White House Correspondent," "Senior Asian Correspondent," and "Senior Muslim Correspondent." You'll get to see a very different aspect of the actor comedian on stage in Disgraced, a provocative new play currently at the Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Center.
Mandvi was born in India, spent his early childhood in England, and in the early 1980s, when he was in his teens, immigrated with his family to Tampa, Florida. He subsequently moved to New York in 1991 to pursue a career as an actor. Faced with a dearth of roles for actors of South-Asian descent, he wrote and starred in Sakina's Restaurant, a 1999 Obie Award-winning solo work that explored the Indian immigrant experience, in which he played several roles, both male and female. The play served as inspiration for the 2009 movie Today's Special, which Mandvi co-wrote and starred in, playing the role of a Manhattan chef.
The play Disgraced, written by Pakistani-American novelist and actor Ayad Akhtar, takes place in the tastefully appointed Upper East Side apartment shared by Amir, a successful Pakistani-American lawyer, and his Caucasian artist wife, Emily. Mandvi talked to us recently about the play and his role as the lawyer.