Aasif Mandvi knows how to get a laugh. Throughout his seven years (and counting) as a correspondent on TV's "The Daily Show," he has skewered politicians, celebrities and the media with a combination of incisive cultural commentary and goofball antics.
Boasting mock expertise in a wide variety of fields, Mandvi has posed as the show's Middle Eastern affairs correspondent, senior financial analyst, Baghdad bureau chief, senior medical correspondent and whatever else the day's humor calls for.
The big-screen comedy "The Internship" features him in a less familiar role: the straight man.
The film, opening June 7, reunites "Wedding Crashers" stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as a pair of fast-talking but outmoded salesmen who finagle internships at Google in the hopes of reinvigorating their foundering careers. With the multicolored wonderland of the Google campus as their playground, Vaughn and Wilson get into plenty of high jinks while navigating the foreign world of tech culture, faking computer literacy and indulging in cushy job perks.
Keeping a watchful eye over them is Mandvi as Roger Chetty, the stern head of the search giant's internship program. Taking his cues from the archetype of the disciplinarian school principal or the tough-as-nails drill sergeant, Mandvi functions as a comic foil, setting up punch lines rather than delivering them.
"Even though a lot of people know me from 'The Daily Show' and think of me primarily in terms of comedy, I don't actually think of myself as a comedian," Mandvi said on the phone from his apartment in New York City. "I'm an actor, and so for me Chetty was the guy that you need in a film like this where you've got these two outrageous characters that Vince and Owen play. You need a baseline against that. You need the guy who actually is looking at them like they're idiots."
Mandvi is no stranger to seriousness, having played numerous dramatic roles on TV, film and stage. He's also not above turning his droll wit on himself.
Reflecting on his résumé, which includes more than a few doctor roles (a tidbit he has joked about on "The Daily Show") and now a Google executive, Mandvi quipped, "All the characters I play are much smarter than me now."
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