She’s totally fine mocking relatives or discussing how Indian food is too gassy.
“Guess who totally bombed my vacation and showed up? My mother in law,” Zarna Garg says in a TikTok video, as a lizard scampers beneath a chaise lounge by a pool while on vacation this month in Aruba.
Garg addresses those topics and more in her TikTok videos, which already have more than 12 million likes along with more than 500,000 followers.
This weekend she will perform standup for the first time in Naples, with three shows at Off The Hook Comedy Club (more details in info box at end of the story).
“Without TikTok, how would people know me? I just did five soldout shows in New Jersey,” Garg said in a recent interview.
“Because my fans from TikTok come out, they know my work, they know what I do. That has opened up opportunities that I don’t think without TikTok I would have. The amount of exposure, at least what I got, is beyond anything I could have imagined.”
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She describes her comedy as family-oriented, as she talks about her husband, mother in law, teen and tween children.
“Basically my life,” Zarg said. “If you watch ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ it’s in a similar vein.”
She also delves into her experiences as an immigrant in the United States, her home for the nearly 30 years.
From stay-at-home mom to comedian
Zarg moved to Ohio and eventually earned her law degree, handling civil litigation for clients while being a stay-at-home mom. She jokes in her comedy that she was so terrible at being a lawyer that she had to become a comedian, but notes that she actually was a good attorney.
She eventually tried standup during an open mic night and was hooked.
“I can’t explain, there was an inner calling inside me,” Zarg explained. “I had something to say but I didn’t know how to get it out. Then the minute I set foot on a comedy stage, I never looked back from that day. It took me a long time to refine it.
“Indian people, we’re not used to being funny. I don’t see myself as funny. It was a process of learning and we got there.”
Her videos focus on her family, interactions with her three children ages 19, 16 and 10. She also pokes fun a Indian culture, and sometimes audience members react.
“The worst hecklers are Indian people, for me,” she said, mentioning what happened during a wedding where she was performing.
“The groom’s dad heckled me and was saying, ‘Go back to where you came from. And I said, ‘Manhattan?’ I didn’t want to be responsible for blowing up someone’s wedding event. I had to handle it delicately and we had a wonderful time in the end.”
Some Indian people do not understand how a woman is allowed to make fun of men.
“In America, standup comedy is advanced and developed, such unique perspective,” Zarg said.
“Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, the things they say is unfathomable to me. You could go to jail for trashing your president or saying something bad about the prime minister.”
The Naples shows are her only ones in Florida on her current tour and she hopes to reach more cities in the state. When not touring, she’s often performing at various clubs in New York, opening for actor and comedian Ray Romano at the Comedy Cellar.
It was Romano’s TV show that she enjoyed watching in India, along with the shows created by Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen DeGeneres.
“I grew up watching them like everybody in America,” she added.
Off The Hook owner Brien Spina said he’s looking forward to Zarg performing this weekend.
“Zarna has crested such a big and loyal fan base across the world,” he said.
“She became a must-see act. We can’t wait to see her perform for Naples and what the future stardom of her massive social media audience will bring.”
Zarg wants people to leave her shows understanding her culture even more.
“A lot of non-Indians tell me they feel like they went to India for an hour,” she said.
“We all have shared experiences. If you’re a mother, you’re a couple, we have experiences the same. It’s my job to find the funny in that perspective, to make it understanble to audiences.”
Dave Osborn is the regional features editor of the Naples Daily News and News-Press. Follow him on Instagram @lacrossewriter and on Twitter @NDN_dosborn
When: 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday, July 23; and 6 p.m. Sunday, July 24
Where: Off The Hook Comedy Club, 2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road, No. 1100
Cost: $25 general admission, plus a fee
More: offthehookcomedy.com or 239-389-6901