Nasim Pedrad Starts 2nd Season at ‘SNL’

Nasim Pedrad begins her second season at “Saturday Night Live” tonight, quite a mean feat for the show’s first Iranian-born cast member; not everybody who was invitd to join last year lasted (Jenny Slate, to whom she is often confused).

Penrad made her mark with some key impersonations of Kim Kardashian and Sonia Sotomayor.

Owing to her Persian pedigree, she’s also played Christiane Amanpour and the wife of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Azam Farahi.

But her biggest comedy moment may be as a character she brought to the show,  Bedilia, truly an odd teenager, who’ rather hang around her parents who she admires way too much.

She was about the only “SNL” cast member to make it to the NBC party at Press Tour, and she spent most of the time in a corner talking to a friend. But I stopped to talk to her a little bit at a time when there had been no call backs for the upcoming season and things seemed up in the air (except that, well, she was at the NBC party).

She talked about some of the part she’d played like Sotomayor  – “The timing worked in my favor,” she said. As for Barbara Walters,  a target for “SNL” for most of its 35 seasons, “I didn’t know how to do it.”

Belinda, a creation she brought from Upright Citizens Brigade, would seem to join the ranks of characters like Gilda Radner’s Lisa Loopner. But how often can it be used? Its two sketches last season came when Tina Fey was her mom and Alec Baldwin was her dad. “I like being the love child of those two,” she says.

But she’s glad she had one of her own characters break out.

“You like to test stuff out your first year,” Penrad says. “A lot of your first year the other writers are getting to know to know the range of your voice.”

Another challenge is that “you’re part of this big cast. Everybody brings something different to the table. I look up to everybody there. It’s such a great cast to observe, so professional, and so kind and good at what they do.”

And what happens in initial seasons is that it’s hard to be on every show.

Because all performers also write – and have to pitch their ideas “it’s intimidating,” she says.

Even so she graduated from UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television in 2003 and performed with sketch comedy troupes in L.A after that. Her one woman play “Me Myself & Iran” was selected to be perfrmed at the 2007 HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas.

Growing up in Irvine, Calif., Pedrad says she was inspired watching “I Love Lucy” one day when she was sick at home.

That kind of writing and performing comedy genius is something she sees now in  Tina Fey. “I’m so admiring of everything she did.”

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