Akaash Singh and his case to bring Apu back
He said he was angry in part because “the industry seemed to reward these stories”. He added emphatically that South Asians in America were not oppressed the way blacks or gays were. “It’s a struggle you use to get ahead,” he said of his peers, “but it’s not a real struggle.”
There’s something decidedly old-fashioned about Singh’s argument. He’s a comedian proud to tell you that he doesn’t drink or take drugs and that he waited until he was 30 to have sex with the woman who became his wife. He also said he may have been out of touch, which is why he mentions in his special that he’s from the 1990s. But there’s an audience for this kind of comedic attack on progressive critics, which comedians exploit on stage and in podcasts. Joe Rogan is the most notorious example, but there’s a constellation of popular podcasts around him, including Flagrant 2, with Andrew Schulz and Singh as hosts.
Singh balked when I suggested he was part of an “anti-revival” comedy scene. He described himself as a left-leaning moderate, but admitted he spends more time poking fun at progressives on his podcast. Again, in reaction to Senator Ted Cruz tweeting a link to the Apu special, Singh said “I hate him”, noting that his parents had no running water or heat at the time of the crisis. electricity in Texas when Cruz fled to Cancun. .
Growing up in Dallas, Singh said, and being surrounded by vocal Texas conservatives pushed him to be a liberal; after moving to New York in 2008 to pursue comedy, those on the left pushed him in the opposite direction. When I ask him if he’s ever worried about being just reactive, he brushes it off, saying it’s essential to his comedy. Singh is open about how liberal politics can be a good foil. When he appeared on Rogan’s podcast, he stood up for “woke” people. “Without them,” he asked the host, “what are we?”
Singh said he even ventured into what he described as victimhood in 2018, when he declared he was going bankrupt. “I tried to sell a special that had a bit of that, a little gory story,” he said. “It was about going to India and connecting with my culture. It’s in the same vein of white people saying, ‘It’s so authentic. It didn’t work.
“Bring Back Apu” did. Singh said he recently sold out a 500-seat show at the Irvine Improv in Southern California.