A Desi Family in Hollywood

By Raajeev Aggerwhil

My eldest son wants to be a filmmaker. I tried to steer him towards the family business, tech support. I told him, “Son, film editors need tech support." I was concerned how he would be able to make any money. I said, “Make sure you don't make any porn … without a plot. 50 shades of gray did good. Billion shades of brown will be even better."

I love doing comedy. One of the hardest parts is that every time you do a comedy show, you have to take out all the jokes that didn't work. Before one of my shows, my son told me, “What are you going to do? Just stand there for five minutes?"

Because of my love for comedy, I even tried getting my younger two kids into comedy. They would fight all the time at dinner. “Dad, if I wrote the premise, and he wrote the punch line, who's joke is it?" I said, “Why don't both of you try the joke. And if it gets a laugh, the joke is mine. If it doesn't get a laugh, it's your mom's."

My kids don't like doing comedy. It's weird, they will do the opposite of what I tell them. I push them towards comedy and their grades suddenly improve. “Dad, I don't want to write jokes now. I have to study for my pre-calculus exam." I reply, “Before you go to the library, give me a tight 5. Revise your 5-minute set and make the punchlines funnier. You can work on your Physics thesis, once you make your punchlines funnier."

My son is in acting classes but apparently, I am not supportive enough. Every day he comes home and says, “Dad, all these other kids had a painful childhood to draw from for their characters. Why did you have to be a good dad and fulfill all my wishes? Why couldn't you be like a real American dad and just run away?"

My son has been acting for six years, has a top agent and I am really proud of him. Suddenly he came to me and said, “Dad, I don't want to do acting any more. My heart is not in it." It's hard for me because I want to be a good father and I want to support him. But he is so … brown … and that look is so in right now. I said, “Why else did Kamala Auntie run for election? It was for us. Our time has come. You may get cast in a movie. You can become rich and famous."

My wife said, “Let him do what he wants. He wants to help people. He wants to be a doctor." I told her, “He can help people take their mind off their miseries as he walks the red carpet. Nothing will make people feel better than seeing him hold an Oscar." She was not convinced. “Who wants their kid to be a doctor? You don't win any awards for being a doctor." There is no Emmys for doctors. No doctor will come home and say, “Listen, I didn't get a Golden Globe, but I got this appendix!"

I don't want my son to become a doctor because I care. Most doctors are overworked, grumpy and miserable. And overworked, grumpy, miserable people forget to pay for their parents' condo. Besides having to work with the insurance companies would just make him miserable. That's our job.

I told him, “You can be rich and famous. He said, “I don't want to be rich and famous. I want to help people." “OK, then help people. Start with your parents. Send the money to us. We are simple people with simple needs. Your mother needs to know she is financially secure in her golden years. And I know I am secure by buying a Maserati."


Los Angeles-based comedian Raajeev Aggerwhil has starred in Nickelodeon's TV show 100 Things to Do Before High School and also acted in the film based on the television series. See his videos at www.youtube.com/channel/UCG8qILCj3j3DOqisy2zfUDA