original article published August 3, 2021 by the Tri-City Voice
Fremont stand up comedian Kabir Singh received a standing ovation during his first audition on America’s Got Talent (AGT) back in June, and now he’s setting his sights on the AGT Live Shows on August 10. If all goes well, Singh is hoping to become the first comic to win it all – one million dollars and a show in Las Vegas, not to mention worldwide fame.
The YouTube video of his AGT audition has over 2 million views, and he’s getting performance requests from around the world, including India, where he spent part of his childhood. Singh admits he would love to go back, even though his memories of his time there are not the most pleasant. “I got my ass beat every day. They didn’t want me there.”
Singh’s father, a Botanical Engineer consultant, traveled constantly for work, bringing the family with him. From Lahore, Pakistan (where his parents met), to Winnipeg, Canada (where his two sisters were born), to Portland, Oregon (where Singh was born), to San Diego, Houston, India, Rochester, New York, and finally ending up in Fremont.
While Singh had ample energy as a little boy (“I was bouncing off the roof”), it wasn’t until India that he discovered his comic brilliance, mainly as a survival instinct. While his dad could have easily placed young Kabir into a private/Christian school, he opted to throw him in with everybody else at a local school, in order to get the true “experience of India”. This meant that many of Singh’s classmates were the children of the servants that serviced his family. “It was complete culture shock to me,” Singh exclaims. “Here I was, this American kid who spoke fluid English and dressed differently. I stuck out like a sore thumb! I got bullied a lot! It was rough. Even the teachers would slap you!”
Singh realized that the only way he was going to survive was to be super funny and outgoing. “I gained a lot of confidence and gained some lifelong friends. The same people who beat me up on Day 1 were crying when I left two years later.” From the ghettos of India to the suburbs of Fremont – for Singh, the worst was behind him. “If you can make it in New Bombay, what’s junior high in Fremont? At that point, I owned my skills. I was hilarious.”
Singh continued to grow his skills, taking improv and drama classes at Horner Middle School and Mission San Jose High School. After a year at Ohlone College, a friend of his (Sammy Obeid, who has also appeared on AGT) invited Singh to watch a comedy competition at Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale. For Singh, who had never experienced stand up comedy before, it opened a door to a whole new world. “That was the day I fell in love with stand up comedy,” he smiles.
After a year on the road with Obeid visiting every comedy club imaginable, Singh returned to Rooster T. Feathers as a competitor and won the competition. “It was an amazing experience!” recalls Singh. “I was addicted. Let’s do this!” Two years later he moved to Los Angeles to try and make it onto the comedy scene. That is where Gabriel Iglesias saw him performing one night at the Hollywood Improv and loved him, which earned Singh a set on Comedy Central’s Stand Up Revolution. This was the big break he was hoping for. “In the comedy world, to get on Comedy Central in the 3rd or 4th year of your career is insane! People don’t usually get breaks like that until year 10 or 12.”
Singh loves traveling and performing and has been to most of the major clubs in the country. His success on AGT has launched him to a new level of stardom, giving him the opportunity to perform at clubs where he previously wouldn’t have gotten booked. “I’m calling it The All of a Sudden Tour,” Singh laughs. He enjoys making comedy accessible to all, making it just as relevant in small towns as it is in places like Las Vegas and New York.
Of course, Fremont is still home. It’s where his mom lives, his biggest fan (sadly his dad, also his biggest fan, passed away in 2010). It’s where he has honed his craft, at places like Tommy T’s Comedy Club and Kirby’s Sports Bar. Says Ricky Rodriguez, co-owner of Kirby’s, “We’re super proud of him! We’ve seen him grow over the past five years here, mastering his craft, refining his jokes. He just keeps getting better!”
While the pandemic was tough on many comics, Singh persevered, performing when he could. He had taken his mom’s advice and started saving up some money before everything shut down. Now, as businesses open up again, Singh is keen on connecting again with his people. “It’s not an easy feat to get people out to comedy clubs,” he says. “There’s usually a 2 drink minimum, plus food, etc. so it can add up. I really appreciate the people who come to see me. I try to put on the best show I can, every time.”
America’s Got Talent Live on NBC
Alameda Comedy Club
2431 Central Ave, Alameda
Kirby’s Sports Bar
42312 Fremont Blvd, Fremont
4 Orinda Theatre Square, Orinda
San Jose Improv
62 South 2nd Street San Jose