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Sapna Kumar chases dreams to Hollywood
by Charlsie Dewey
2014-04-09

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Stand-up comic, actor and longtime Chicago resident Sapna Kumar ( a former Windy City Times 30 Under 30 honoree ) has chased her dreams to Hollywood.

The out performer, who has appeared on LOGO TV's One Night Stand-Up and NBC's Last Comic Standing 4, as well as in indie films Promise Land and Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together, moved to Los Angeles this past October and said, so far, things are going well.

"I've been doing a lot of standup and I'm also part of an acting program here, and my ultimate goal is to do sitcoms," she said.

She just booked two projects that, once completed, will provide her with the option of getting her Screen Actors Guild card, though she's not sure if that's the route she'll take.

Kumar said she can't talk about either of the projects other than to say they are both new media and that one will be released in April and the other in May.

Although she's been going on auditions on a weekly basis, she is hoping to get a TV and film agent soon to help her establish herself in her new home.

When she is not busy auditioning, she is performing in clubs around L.A.

She mentioned that she recently did an eight-minute act for The Ice House ( which creates online comedy videos ), all of which made it to the club's online channel.

"They can use none of the footage or they might use one clip of the footage, but I was lucky enough that they divided it up into three different clips and they used all of it," she said.

Each of the clips received between 1,400-1,500 views in the initial weeks after being posted.

Kumar began standup comedy when she was 19 years old and still in college, performing at coffee shops around her school. She later landed some tour dates and eventually relocated to Chicago where her career really began taking off.

She said her routine for a long time focused on her family's trials and tribulations as Indian immigrants living in Indiana and her own difficulty finding acceptance within her family.

"I have a very unique act that was about my coming out experience, being a daughter of these Indian parents and that was a huge thing that was my own experience and my identity in my family," she said.

She also regularly pokes fun at her hyper-responsible older sister and her laid back, fun loving brother.

"They are really supportive and it took a long time to get the support from my family in general and now I think they are more supportive than any other time in my life, that I have the support of both my siblings, which I did not have before," she said.

In more recent years she's also begun including a lot of material based on the recession, the terrible economy and her more current experiences.

"I think I tend to gravitate to the topics that are more universal in general for the mainstream population, and any population because we are all people and that is what I gravitate towards," she said.

While it's often said that female comics face a lot of discrimination in the world of standup comedy, Kumar said she prefers not to think about her triple minority status too much and to just focus on her act.

"I think every woman has felt it over the years—being that lone woman in the club in the back of the room with the guy that gets on stage and says some things that [make you say,] 'Oh my God. I can't believe they just said that about women or gays or whatever,'" she said.

However, she noted that the atmosphere in comedy clubs has changed a lot since she first started performing, becoming more similar to the audience she faced while performing in improv troupes.

"I think we have to thank the alt comedy movement for that, because they brought a different style of comedy to the clubs," she said. "It's a little bit more intelligent, it gets people to think and it's also, as a result, brought a different audience out to standup clubs."

She also thinks that the lesbian community has really helped support a lot of the lesbian comics doing standup today.

"I think the support that comes from the community is a lot of what bolstered a lot of those comics careers," she said. "They wouldn't have been able to even say there act 10 or 20 years ago. They wouldn't have been able to do those acts if it wasn't for those women centered events where they found an audience for their voice. … These were voices that were not going to be heard by the mainstream and these are communities that are going to support it, and it's continued through time and I think that's great."

In fact, it was support from the LGBT community that ultimately helped Kumar decide to pack up and head West.

"I did the Olivia Cruise's 40th anniversary in Dominican Republic in 2013, and just going on that cruise and finding the fact that there was this audience out there, because people come from all over the world to go to those cruise lines, and I discovered that there is an audience out there for my act, that really likes this act, that is from everywhere," she said.

Visit sapna-kumar.com .


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