“You go through this background clearance [and] one of the questions was, ‘Have you ever been fired from a job?’ And I said yes. ‘For what?’ For not being funny enough. I got fired from a sitcom 10 years ago.”
— Kal Penn on the oddity of being a Hollywood star going through the standard clearance process for getting hired into a high-level federal post, as he did when he joined the Obama White House staff. The actor told Rolling Stone in a new interview he understood that “that question is really [about] if you embezzled money or something.” After two stints working at the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, under his real name Kalpen Modi, he’s back in showbiz hosting Discovery’s new competition series The Big Brain Theory.