On a recent episode of Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show," the faux anchorman reported on the story of Bollywood film legend Shah Rukh Khan, who had been detained and questioned for two hours at Newark Liberty (N.J.) International Airport before being released by immigration authorities. After a small riff on the story, Stewart moved on to other news. But "Daily Show" correspondent Aasif Mandvi popped up in mock outrage that he hadn't been called on to cover the story. "I'm, Indian, I'm Muslim," he complained. "I should've been all over this!"
On stage, screen, and TV, Mandvi has been drawing on his ethnicity and faith for years to fuel his humor. The Mumbai-born actor, who later emigrated to England (and recalls his early years at an all-boys school as his first impetus to explore issues of ethnic pride versus integration), got his first big break in his 1998 one-man show, "Sakina's Restaurant," which was based on his family's immigrant experience. Following 9/11, the funnyman parlayed his experiences into political humor while still playing small roles on film and television (including "Spider-Man 2" and "Freedomland"). He was seen recently in "The Proposal," with Sandra Bullock. But it's probably on "The Daily Show" that Mandvi has come into his own, uproariously tapping his ethnicity and faith to color his brand of Middle East reporting.