Comedy can light up our dark hours during winter, and recently, we featured comedian Julie Kim in these pages. Now, Zarna Garg of TikTok fame is coming to Tacoma, and will perform five shows from February 2 to 4 at the Tacoma Comedy Club. In contrast to Kim’s brash style, Garg focuses on “clean family-friendly” comedy and wears her traditional garb from India to highlight what’s fascinating about life in America.
Audience members at the Tacoma shows are in for an exclusive treat. “Tacoma will be one of the last times I perform my show One in a Billion live before it releases worldwide on a major streaming service,” Garg shared.
She approaches even her show’s location with a comic’s perspective. “I feel like a deep void in my set right now,” she said. “I’m missing jokes about glass and lovers of glass and museums about glass, and glass art in general. In the interests of authenticity, where better to get inspiration than Tacoma?”
Comedy was a late discovery for Garg, who didn’t know what this genre was until adulthood. “Growing up in India, I don’t think I saw anybody perform until I became a comedian in America myself,” she said. “I had seen Seinfeld but I had thought Jerry’s stand-up bits were just some surreal add-on part of the show.”
Initially, she found the whole enterprise amazing. “When I saw my first live comedy show at the age of 44,” she quipped, “my first thought was, ‘White people do this?’”
Prior to becoming a comedian, Garg had attended law school. “Basically, my kids dared me to do stand-up comedy and to save face, I couldn’t back down,” she recalled. “Their plan worked. I’m out of the house on nights and weekends.”
The touring lifestyle of a comedian can be a big challenge. “Nights and weekends are not conducive to being a mom,” she admitted. “But luckily, I hate being a mom, so it’s not really a problem.”
Clearly, Garg finds the humor in every moment, every conversation. “It’s rewarding because it turns out that the world needs more laughter, and you’re doing something that the world needs,” she said. “I mean, how many Indian doctors are we going to put out in the world?”
And she doubles down on mocking that stereotype. “Somebody do something else,” she said. “I mean, I feel like I’m doing the heavy lifting, to be honest.”
Perhaps that’s because Garg’s creative process keeps her writing constantly. “Life keeps presenting stuff and then you get inspired by it and then you write it,” she recounted. “I create a premise that I’m interested in, then I tease it out at open mics and with friends.”
She tests some material on social media. “If I feel like it’s getting some reaction, then I start building the details around it and start thinking about what exactly I want to say about this premise,” she said. “It’s an ongoing thing.”
In addition to her active career in comedy, Garg is also a writer and producer in TV and film, and says she has no trouble balancing these two aspects of her work. “It’s easy. No one in TV and film does anything,” she bantered. “Things move at a glacial speed.”
All kidding aside, it’s motherhood that does give Garg a run for her money. “My biggest challenge while touring is what to do with my kids when I’m on the road,” she wisecracked. “I just leave a lot of green bananas and hope for the best.”
But her most important lesson has been figuring out how to generate ticket sales. “If you don’t have ticket sales, you can be the funniest person on earth, none of it matters,” she said. “I know, because I’m the funniest person on earth, but nothing mattered until I started selling tickets.”
Now, Garg has her sights on much more than ticket sales. “My ultimate career goal is to brand everything,” she said. “You can’t leave your house without my brand somewhere on your person. You can’t even be in your house without seeing my name.”
Traveling to Tacoma is a long distance for Garg, who resides in New York City, so we asked if she had any final comments ahead of her show. “If I share any more with your readers, they’re going to want to marry me,” she jested, “so I’ll just go easy on them for now.”
Zarna Garg performs from February 2 to 4 at the Tacoma Comedy Club, 933 Market Street, Tacoma.