Women's History Month Profile: Nasim Pedrad

March 19, 2010

There's not a lot to talk about yet, with Nasim Pedrad. Saturday Night Live's newest cast member is pretty accomplished for her age. But since that age is 28, her bios tend to be short.

Here are the relevant bullet points:

  • Born in Tehran, Iran, on Nov 18, 1981
  • Relocated to the US in 1984 and raised in Irvine, California.
  • Has one sister, speaks fluent "Persian" (did they mean Farsi?)
  • Received her degree from UCLA's School of Theater in 2003.
  • Performed with the Groundlings, Improv Olympics, and the Upright Citizens Brigade improv comedy troupe in Los Angeles.
  • Her first one-woman show "Me, Myself & Iran" was selected for the 2007 HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas and has been performed in Los Angeles and New York.
  • Has had a recurring role in ER as nurse Suri.

Still, I was pretty excited to see her join Saturday Night Live's cast this past fall. Although I'm one of those naysayers who thinks SNL hasn't been funny since Eddie Murphy left (back when I was still an adolescent with a poorly formed sense of humor), I do acknowledge the leading role SNL plays in our mainstream culture.

So to have an Iranian American woman comic as one of the (few) women on the cast is important ... and heartening, at a time when the Iranian American community is coming into its own as a political force both at home and in Iran.

And she is pretty funny. Getting real power out of playing shrill (as Mrs. Ahmedinejad above) or hysterical (as a sexually confused roomate here) or friendly-mousish (as Jimmy Fallon's new assistant here) (ETA: apparently the actress in this clip is Jenny Slate, not Pedrad. Hm.) is a neat trick for a young woman comic on shows overwhelmed with older (white) men of longer tenure. She holds her own against Fred Armisen's silent, grinning Ahmedinejad, far and away Armisen's best character, and even against Jimmy Fallon's aggressively innocent manchild.

Sadly, "Me, Myself, and Iran" used to be on YouTube but was removed. And there aren't many video clips of her SNL performances on the web right now. Here's hoping that changes soon, as she gains momentum and overtakes Amy Poehler, or even Tina Fey (one can dream, right?)




Fallon's assistant in that video is Jenny Slate, the other new SNL female. Confusing these two is fairly common, and I'm not sure why: one looks like the princess from Aladdin, the other looks like she's from Jersey. Nice to see Nasim (and Jenny) recognized though. She (they) is (are) very funny.

thanks for the tip, matt! to be honest, I couldn't really tell if it was her or not. I actually puzzled over it for a while, but went and trusted the blog post that pointed me to it. I guess I got what I deserved. ;P

Hey Claire,

Farsi and Persian are interchangable as the same language for the most part. It depends on who you talk to.

Good to know. Thanks!