"People [won't] go for jokes about midgets having sex in wheelchairs."

(By Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chevy Chase native Dan Nainan has toured with Jerry Seinfeld and Garry Shandling, but his biggest bragging rights come from being "quite possibly the only half-Indian, half-Japanese comedian in the world." Last week the former Intel engineer opened his own place, the Bethesda Comedy Club, on Bethesda Avenue.

-- Monica Hesse

You play to a lot of multiethnic groups. Do you get different reactions from different crowds?

I did an all-Japanese show and started off with, "Hey, who here is from Japan?!" I thought everyone would be like, "Wooooo!" but instead they all did this: [He meekly raises his hand]. It was dead silent. . . . I've done one or two shows where white people will say, "That's kind of racist." The same joke at Indian shows brings the house down.

So, this club you're opening -- is Bethesda in dire need of comedy?

I think they're in need of clean comedy. This area is very upscale, maybe a little more conservative. The people are not going to go for jokes about midgets having sex in wheelchairs.

And you're working to make the club green?

We're not going to allow anyone to send in tapes or DVDs or anything on paper. In 2008 it's just so anachronistic. So anyone who wants to work at the club has to send an online clip and an e-mail. . . . I also want to reward people who choose public transportation. Show me your Metro transfer and you get a free drink or something.

Your dad was a nuclear physicist and your mom was a child psychologist. Pressure, much?

Actually, a lot of lines I do come straight from my dad. Like, one morning we were talking and I said: "I hate making my bed. Why do I have to make my bed when it's just going to get messy again?" He said, "Well, why should you wipe your bottom?"

My parents are pretty conservative Asian people, though. My goal is for them to be able to come to the club and say, "I really enjoyed that."


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