Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Kumail Nanjiani’s Coronavirus Dreams Are Just Mash-Ups of Movies He’s Seen

Difficulty: 0

-Our first guest tonight is an Oscar-nominated writer

and Emmy-nominated actor you know from "The Big Sick"

and "Silicon Valley." He stars in "The Lovebirds"

which is available on Netflix Friday.

Please welcome back to the show our friend Kumail Nanjiani.

Welcome back to the show, Kumail. How are you?

-I'm fine. How are you?

-I'm doing very -- as well as can be expected.

It's a little trite now,

but I do have to ask how your quarantine's going,

and are you staying active?

-My quarantine's, you know --

You know back when you used to have good and bad days?

-Yeah. -Now I feel like

I have all kinds of days every single day.

-Yeah. That's a nice way of thinking about it.

It's all your days.

-All the days are all the days.

It's like, you know --

Well, you're from Chicago, where people'll be like,

"If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes."

That's how I feel about my mood now.

-Yeah, that's a good --

It's Chicago weather all the time.

Have you picked up any new skills in your time at home?

-Yeah, I've been noodling on my guitar a little bit.

You see the --

-That's really nice, man.

That's a good one. I don't know a ton about guitars,

but that looks like a real good one.

-Yeah, it's a really -- You know, I just --

I thought, you know, I would get, like, a --

You know, learn a new skill, pick something up.

[ Both laugh ]

No, I have defiantly made a decision

not to learn anything new or attempt to learn anything new.

I feel like a lot of people are like,

"I'm going to learn to play the guitar,

or I'm going to lose weight," or whatever it is.

And I've really been like,

I don't want to, like, suck at something new.

I just want to stay in my wheelhouse.

I want to do stuff that makes me feel confident.

I am not trying anything new.

I've not even tried any new, like, recipes.

You? Are you -- -I don't think that's terrible.

I don't think that's a terrible idea.

And, yeah, I will say the only thing I tried to learn

is how to make a better meatball,

and I'm doing pretty good.

But I think that's a very low bar.

-What are you --

I will say that when you say meatball, in my head, I'm like,

that seems pretty easy. You take the meat, make a ball.

Like, how hard could it be?

So what tricks have you learned?

What did you not know that you now know?

-We had some guys from the Meatball Shop,

which is a very good meatball restaurant in New York City,

on our show once, and they gave me a meatball cookbook

that I never once even thought about looking at.

And then this happened, and I opened it up,

and it turns out there's a lot of different --

You know, lamb meatballs, and meat --

Obviously, I don't need to tell you that. You're a smart guy.

Chicken meatballs. -You mean like beef balls.

-Yeah, like, beef balls, the classic.

-Yeah, your classic beef ball.

-There's the classic beef balls.

But, you know, a lot of different sauces, you know,

putting eggs and breadcrumb in there,

and, you know, it's been nice.

And it's nice to have a good, like, under-an-hour task.

I think that's a good window. -Right.

Right. I will say I started to make pancakes,

and I didn't really used to make pancakes,

and now I've gotten so good that it's like too quick now.


-I need something that takes a little bit longer.

-[ Laughs ] Yeah, that's true, right? Once you --

Mastering pancakes, like, when this is over,

nobody's going to want to hear you bragging

about how you mastered pancakes.

-Yeah, exactly. They'll be like,

"You didn't know how to do pancakes before the quarantine?"

[ Both laugh ]

-Now, I know you and your wife Emily,

you guys collaborate a great deal.

Has it been nice, obviously, to be stuck with a collaborator?

Have you guys been efficient in working through this time?

-Honestly, you know, again, it sort of varies.

In the beginning, it was, like, really, really good.

I felt like, you know, I had, like, stuff

that I'd been meaning to write

that suddenly I had time to write.

I mean, honestly, there was a lot of anxiety and worry.

But I felt, like, privileged enough that I was in a position

where I could be like, okay, I can just stay at home and write.

And then it's gotten a little bit harder since then.

You know what's hard is writing, like, silly stuff. You know?

So, like, when you're writing,

the story stuff, all that stuff, it's fine.

It's just when like, "I need to think of something silly,"

and you're like -- All I can think of is, like,

"Hey, how about a global pandemic?"

You're like, "No, that doesn't feel silly enough."

-Right. -Yeah, yeah.

-It is amazing how much I underestimated just what you --

Just by being out in the world,

the threads of ideas you pick up,

not even realizing it.

And then when you don't have the world to sort of echo ideas off,

like, you just get stuck in a loop to some degree, creatively.

-That's exactly right. And it also has --

I've noticed it in my dreams.

My dreams now are just amalgamations

of movies I've watched, not real-life stuff.

-[ Laughs ] -It's just, like, whatever --

It'll be, like, a scene from this show

or a scene from this movie.

And then I'm in it. Like, my brain is really --

The subconscious is really phoning it in

when it comes to dreams.

-Well, you do -- Emily was a therapist for years.

Is it helpful in this time

to have a live-in therapist you trust?

-It is very helpful.

It is, because I certainly have, like, a lot of,

you know, stuff going on that I never had going on.

We all do. So it's really good.

She really has, like, good strategies for it.

But then sometimes it's a little --

Like, I'll get upset at people who -- not to get too political,

but people who think that this scientific disease is a hoax,

not real. -Sure, sure.

-So I'll be railing against them, and she'll be like,

"But look at things from their perspective. Maybe it's --"

And I'm like, "I don't want to --"

It's, like, infuriating how empathetic she is.

I'm like, "Just let me demonize these people.

Let me have this."

She's like, "No, really, it's fear.

Like, how do you wrap your head around it?"

I'm like, "Okay, just stop it."

-See, that's the thing, because you're not an actual client,

she's not dependent

on you actually paying for her therapy skills,

that she can actually just be fully honest

and tell you you have to think about other people.

-I'll tell you,

you know how things are a blessing and a curse?

It's a curse and a curse.

-[ Laughs ] Classic double curse.

-Classic double curse.

The Description of Kumail Nanjiani’s Coronavirus Dreams Are Just Mash-Ups of Movies He’s Seen