Zarna Garg Life And Laughs | MomCave LIVE
Zarna Garg Laughs Through Life’s Crazy
The #momlife can be stressful, but today we’re bringing the laughs with comedienne Zarna Garg. Listen as we talk (and laugh!) about screen time, dating kids, and (yes, we go there, mothers-in-law.)
Jen: Welcome to Mom Cave Live where we may have lost our minds, but we haven’t lost our senses of humor. I’m Jen and my guest this week is Zarna Garg.
I’m so excited to talk to you, Zarna. Hey!
Zarna Garg: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here. And I’m so happy that I’m not the only one struggling til the last minute. And why don’t Facebook and Instagram work together? What is the deal there?
Jen: Who knows? And I don’t have time to figure that out. And, like five seconds before we’re supposed to go live, my husband’s upstairs working on his computer. It won’t turn on. So he’s like, “Help!” And then my son is home sick from school and he wants to log into Amazon Prime to watch a TV show and he can’t log in. And we’re doing like… the enter the codes and all. Finally, I was like, “You know what, you guys, I got to go talk to Zarna. When I’m done, I’ll deal with you!” This has a time. We made a time.
Zarna Garg: So this you know what? And haven’t we learned that if we don’t say I have to go, their needs will never end? They’re like my mother-in-law. There’s something new every minute.
Jen: Totally. That’s what I’ve learned. So. I want to introduce you and give you a proper introduction, but it’s so hard because you make me feel like an underachiever with all the things. So let me give it a try, okay
OK, so Zarna was originally a lawyer. And she is an Indian immigrant to the United States with three children.
Zarna Garg: Yes, that’s right.
Zara Garg on MomCave LIVE
Jen: Children, ex-lawyer. And then you became a standup comedian and an award-winning screenwriter.
Zarna Garg: Yes and yes. That’s all right.
Jen: Those are all the things…
Zarna Garg: That’s the face of desperation, that that’s not an achievement. That’s like when you’re so desperate to get something done. That’s what that looks like.
Jen: Right. You try all the things. I understand.
Zarna Garg: And I don’t highlight my failures on Instagram. Maybe I should so people know how much I failed before they can read this little list.
Jen: Well, really, to gain any level of success, you have to have failed a bazillion times. This is what I keep telling myself.
Zarna Garg: Oh, and it’s completely true. And I’m telling you, I failed more than a bazillion times. So many times I’ve lost track.
Jen: Right. So I feel like I failed enough times that I’m…
Zarna Garg: It’s hard for people to see that it’s because also I don’t show it. So there’s that.
Jen: Also, you’ve learned to be all like, yeah, you have the great “facade of success.” Anyway, so yesterday I listened to a standup set that you had online, I think it was at Caroline’s on Broadway. And the only time I ever get to listen to anything is when I’m driving alone.
Yeah. Because if someone’s in the car with me, they have to listen to their thing or they’re talking to me. So I had my twenty-minute drive to go pick up the kids from school. And I listened to you do your set.
I knew nothing about you. And I should preface this by saying that my husband says I have a German humor because he says that I never laugh out loud. So we’ll be watching the most hilarious thing. And I’ll be like, “That’s funny.” Just a statement. And he’s like falling off his chair, laughing. He’s like, “Why aren’t you laughing?? And I say, “I get it. Like intellectually, it’s really funny.”
I actually laughed out loud three times in my car at your set and had to pull over.
So I told my husband that as soon as I got home and I was like, “I’ve discovered somebody that made me laugh out loud. And I’m going to interview her tomorrow!” So I’m going to have everyone laughing.
Zarna Garg: Listen, I think we should end the interview right here. I’m not topping this. This is amazing. I know exactly what you’re saying. I laugh out loud, but Indian people, in general, are very reserved with their laughs.
So I have to work really hard, extra hard. And, you know, I know how to get people now. It’s been a process, but I am so happy that I made you laugh.
It’s everything right now with the kind of life we’re all dealing with and all the complications. If I can make you laugh, especially a mom who is dealing with all the mom stresses, my job is done, honestly.
So excited to hear that.
Jen: So tell me, like, when did you make this transition from lawyer to an entertainer?
Zarna Garg: I am a lawyer. I was a practicing lawyer before I had my first kid. Honestly, I quit law when I was about to deliver my first kid. I couldn’t figure it out. I’ll be honest with you, I couldn’t figure out how to have a corporate job in New York and have a kid and have a husband. A very demanding situation, and run a household all by myself. We have no family in New York. I mean, for the first time, I was like, I should have gotten an arranged marriage in India! What’s wrong with me? Right. Why did I make it so hard for myself?
Jen: You could have got somebody to pick you out a rich husband. We don’t have that. I was just stupid enough not to pick a rich husband.
Zarna Garg: Yeah, it’s stupid enough to fall in love. What?
Jen: I know. Yeah, I know. Crazy.
It Takes A Village
Zarna Garg: I mean, motherhood hit me like like like an express train. It really was the first time it hit me that you’re alone in this. Like, honestly, I feel like every mother is alone. And I know in America they say like it takes a village. I don’t think that person’s ever been to a real village.
Jen: Right. No, no, no. I don’t think we have villages in America.
Zarna Garg: I was like, where are the villages?
Jen: Yeah. I want to be able to hand this baby off whenever, however. To trust the person and be like, “I got to get the hell out of here” or even “I just have to take a shit.” We need that.
Zarna Garg: Exactly. So I spent many months, in the beginning, thinking I’m in the wrong village. I need to find me the right village.
Jen: Well, are you in Greenwich Village?
Zarna Garg: And is it West Village? Where is it?
Jen: No, no. That village doesn’t exist. So.
Respecting The Moms
Zarna Garg: So I know it was harsh… I quit law when I realized, like, really, I’m going to bring this baby home and it’s me and her. Yeah. So and then for sixteen years, I was a stay-at-home mom that couldn’t figure it out.
I’d be like, I’ll tell you, I tip my hat to all the women in America who figured it out. It is hard, hard, hard to be a working mom and to be a mom and to be, in my case, would have been a wife.
You know, I just couldn’t work for six years. I was living under a rock and all I did was mom stuff.
Jen: Oh, my God.
Zarna Garg: But I’ll be honest with you, I was dying inside. I was just dying and couldn’t wait to do something for myself. It seemed like I was doing everything for everybody. But like inside me, I was not happy.
And this is nothing. Do not take anything away from stay-at-home moms because I have nothing but respect for that job. But it’s lonely.
Jen: It’s the hardest job. I’ve done both. And I think staying at home is the hardest because there’s no break. There’s no lunch hour or clock out. Or just when you go to the bathroom in an office, people don’t follow you and talk to you. And need you. That part of it.
Zarna Garg: And I think as a stay-at-home mom when you do get a few moments alone, you’re so desperate for it that you’re doing all. I mean, I remember listening to people “When you have time, do yoga.” “Yoga?!” I haven’t watched The Bachelor. It would be great to watch TV, too. You know, I mean, I’ve done watching Teletubbies. I want to watch something. I want to take a nap. For me, not for the kid and the other kid… So even when you’re like full-on mom mode with little kids, every minute that you get for yourself, you’re thinking of every bad thing. I was saying, I want to drink wine and eat cake and watch TV and binge everything in five minutes all at the same time, right?
Jen: Yeah. And yet you’re supposed to be doing things like self-care, whatever the hell that is. Yeah. Meditating, cleaning your house. No.
Zarna Garg: And then, you know, I’ll tell you that a lot of mom blogs will be like, oh, women in India. I’m like rolling my eyes. “All women in India meditate.” Yeah, I don’t know who you’re talking to.
Jen: They’re not all like enlightened in India with the yoga and the meditation?
Zarna Garg: No. And they’re not breastfeeding like it’s their job. Like, I don’t know who they’re talking about. It’s all imaginary stuff for the most part. Women in India are going through the same hassles and trying to just transition to formula A.S.A.P. so they can…
Jen: Give me my life back. Yeah. Yeah, I think that American women have a tendency to–what’s the word?–romanticize other cultures because they’re, like, ours isn’t working. So the other ones must be idyllic.
Zarna Garg: Yeah.
Jen: And I think motherhood is just never quite idyllic.
Zarna Garg: No, I think, look, the challenges are different, but there are challenges there, too, as here, like, you know, there you’re not so starved for help. It’s plenty of help. But the system itself is designed to not help women. Overall, a mom is never going to come out ahead. So either way, there are going to be challenges. And I found that here people tend to, I agree with you, romanticize it. And I used to just laugh when I used to see those things. But like many women in India, no, no, no, no, no, no. They’re sleeping, they’re taking a nap, they’re drinking wine, and they’re doing the same stuff for different reasons.
Jen: Yes. Yes. One of the things in your standup routine that made me laugh was when you said about you were talking about yoga, you had several funny jokes about yoga. You said, “If you are rushing to get to yoga, you’re doing it wrong!”
Zarna Garg: Right. Right. But you know how it is life. Listen, I get it. I’m rushing to do everything all the time. But it is, by definition, supposed to be like to help you dial it down. Help me find a way to squeeze in 30 minutes of yoga and squeeze in 20 minutes of meditation.
And I don’t know. It’s just these are all funny observations. You got to do what works, right?
Jen: Yeah. I haven’t mastered not feeling rushed. Every single thing I do is rushed. And I just got used to doing that. So even the other day, I actually shouldn’t have been rushed. It was a Saturday morning. My husband said, “I’m going to go play with the kids for a while.” And I’m in the shower and I’m rushing. And I realized I’m like, why am I rushing? Like, no, there’s no reason for me to be shaving my legs like that. I’m just used to rushing. I feel like there’s never enough time. I can never get enough done.
Zarna Garg: Exactly. Ain’t that the truth. And I think after a while, you just get used to rushing, like you said, you don’t even know why you’re rushing anymore, because you’ve been running on the on the ten-level setting for so long that you don’t even know you have a lower setting.
Jen: Yeah. I don’t know. It just feels wrong to sit down and do nothing because there are so many other things that you could or should be doing.
Zarna Garg: Right.
Mother-In-Law Laughs with Zarna Garg
Jen: You have some great material about your mother-in-law.
And we all, I’m sure, have material about our mothers-in-law. There’s like the stereotype of the Indian mother-in-law, which I’m sure a lot of people have seen. And you play into that very well. But the fact that you are able to make fun of this mother-in-law, and yet you’re still here and you’re still married, as far as I know. How did you make that work. Did you get her permission?
Zarna Garg: Yeah. Yeah. I wouldn’t go after her like that. I mean, she is totally on board. My husband’s on board. It’s all fun and games. I’ve been part of the family for too long and they know how I really feel.
And she, you know, listen, I wouldn’t shock me if she comes out with a standup set of her own, about me as a daughter-in-law. At this point, I put nothing past her because she you know, she couldn’t speak a lot of English. This is a true story… Until last year. I mean, on my birthday, I would get like a balloon emoji on WhatsApp, you know? And this year she texted me. She’s like, “I have an agent.” Yeah, because she’s, like, “You’re going to need me. You’re doing so much material about me, you’re going to need…” So, listen, it’s all fun and games. And she’s totally on board. We have an excellent relationship. And, you know, that’s the only way I could have done that.
That’s the truth, you know, I love her. She’s somebody I deeply respect. She raised two boys in India in very hard conditions. So, you know, I have tremendous respect, but I don’t believe that anything is off-limits.
See, our culture has not done family humor ever. Yeah, it exists as a genre in America. It does not exist in India. So I wanted to be the person that takes us into that new space and enjoy that world with my people and invite them to make their jokes.
And, you know, they would also be living at the end of the joke. No one’s going to die from it.
Jen: No. And I mean, everybody has things we can make fun of them about. So we yeah. We all just have to loosen up.
Zarna Garg: You know, so it’s all good, you know, and I’m still here.
Jen: I’m glad we’re still here. You’re right. I’m just going to pop over and say hello over on Instagram. Someone saying there’s no noise. I don’t know if they can hear us. I wish that someone watching this one day would be like, “Oh, here’s how you do all of this. I’ll be your tech person. “Soon, I think maybe my one of my kids could.
Zarna Garg: Yeah, the kids do know, I mean, I used to have my kids help me and then frigging school came along. That was the best part of the shutdown for me.
Jen: How old are your kids?
Zarna Garg: So I have an 18-year-old, a 15-year-old, and a nine-year-old. My nine-year-old is the tech guru. Yeah, he knows. He’s like after a year and a half of remote learning, he literally figured it all out.
That is so easy. I used to have three tech support people floating around and now, they have to be in school.
Jen: Oh, school. They have to go learn. I don’t know. Thank God for school. Because if my kids weren’t in. It was tough when they weren’t in school.
Zarna Garg: How old are your kids, Jen?
Jen: So I have an 11-year-old and a six-year-old, and the six-year-old is very, very spirited. She’s one of those little girls they write the memes about. Like she’s driving me to drink, but she’s going to be fierce when she’s an adult.
I just wish she’d stop being fierce with ME. Yeah. But my 11-year-old is like your nine-year-old with the technology. And it’s so funny because he hasn’t had as much technology as most kids his age.
My kids both go to a Waldorf school, which has a no-screens policy, which sadly we’re breaking a lot, but a lot less than most. And yet he still has figured out how to do the things and like grab a phone out of my hand and fix the thing.
Zarna Garg: It’s completely intuitive to how the kids work. The thing is that these things are designed to collaborate with how their brains are originally wired because they don’t need like….. like I don’t know where is the button.
We look for that stuff. They’re not even looking for them. Their fingers fly on these things they know.
Jen: So if they can invent technology that works like that with their brains, why can’t they invent an app to discipline them? I’m not because I feel like I don’t know what to do.
Zarna Garg: Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s called the shutdown mode.
Jen: The shutdown mode?
Zarna Garg: That’s the only thing that scares that was like shut the thing down. That’s the only thing my kids are a little fearful of if I shut everything down. And by that, I mean literally I have to shut the family wi-fi down. Right. Because I’ve lost track of all the devices, I’ll be honest with you. But so I just have I fly down and act like we’re all Mormon. Sit around the candlelight.
Jen: From Hindi to Mormon.
Zarna Garg: Yeah.
Jen: I don’t know. Do Mormons meditate? I don’t know that much about Mormons.
Zarna Garg: They must do something. I mean, how much can you do without electricity?
Jen: That’s not Mormons. Mormons have electricity. You’re thinking of Amish. Amish don’t have electricity.
“Friends” And Romance
OK. So back to the role of mother-in-law. I don’t know. My sister actually married an Indian man, and we knew nothing about this culture. She moved to New York City and I was helping her find an apartment. And we happened to find an apartment in guess which neighborhood? In Jackson Heights. It was a basement apartment of a house. And in the house lived a young man and his mom. And this I mean, it could be a sitcom.
I swear it was like the biggest clash of cultures because my sister is like this blonde, kind of ditzy, silly girl from the south who didn’t even know… Not even close. So anyway, she falls in love with her landlord. As we’re moving in, I’m like “Your landlord’s kind of cute,” you know, and she falls in love. And they had the whole, like, they had to hide their dating from his mom and to us, it was so…
Zarna Garg: So we wait…for real? She fell in love or you’re just saying like fall in love?
Jen: No, this is true. My sister married her landlord. Now this southern girl from the south marries this man of Indian descent. He had moved from Tanzania. So Indians that lived in Tanzania and moved to America and I know that in your culture, you can’t show public displays of affection as easily and you talk about that some with your husband, how you don’t tell people you love them. There were years of my sister and this guy, like NOT holding hands until they were two blocks away and figuring the whole thing out.
So when you came into this American culture of crazy people who show too much emotion, what was your impression? And have you changed in the way that you interact with your husband?
Zarna Garg: No, I’m not changing how I interact with my husband. That wiring goes too deep. I know he’s also very comfortable where we are with that. When I first came here, and through my years of being here, I made a lot of observations about how people show love here.
I thought the show “Friends,” the TV show “Friends,” was horrifying. That show was horrifying to me. And it is, you know, to a lot of immigrants. They may not know this because it was like every episode was you know, he loves her. No, he loves her. No, they’re not together. They are together. They broke up. It was a break. Oh, my God.
Jen: It was so much drama.
Zarna Garg: Like our world is like my mom said, “I have to love you.” That was the end of it.
Jen: I’m going use that on my kids now.
Zarna Garg: Yeah, exactly. I honestly, I actually still say to. me kids, “I have to love you because I think it’s the law in America.” Mm hmm. Yes. So, you know, it’s a lot of my jokes come from that space because love is such a big word in this culture and it’s practically non-existent… And it’s not just India.
I’ll have you know this. That’s really the big discovery of my comedic journey has been how many cultures outside America relate to that? In my shows, I’ll have like South American people, people from all over and say, “Hey, we don’t say I love you, too.” This is an American thing. And, you know, listen, I’ll tell you this, though. I have said I love you once and really meant it and totally spontaneous. This is how I know I’ve become American.
I said it to an Amazon customer service rep. And my daughter overheard. And she said, yeah, she’s like, “Mom, you just said, ‘I love you’ to Amazon. You’ve never said I love you to me!” And I told her, I said, “So you never help me find a missing package. We don’t have that relationship.”
Jen: Yeah. Like, give me all the things that I want within two days at a reasonable price.
Zarna Garg: Or sooner at a discount. And I’ll love you even more.
Kids And Dating
Jen: Are any of your kids dating yet?
Zarna Garg: Yes. Yes, both of my older ones. But my daughter was dating and now she’s in college and he’s at a different college. So it’s complicated, let’s just say.
Jen: Yeah. And are they on a break?
Zarna Garg: Yeah. I don’t know.
Listen, I’ve stopped asking because my simple brain cannot process it. I mean, just tell me when you want to get married, because I’m, you know, because it’s too much for me, you know, and then everything I do becomes meddling, which of course I want to.
Jen: Tell her, “I made you; I made I brought you into this world. I’m going to meddle in your life.”
Zarna Garg: And you don’t know what you’re doing. You think you do, but you don’t know. I mean, these kids, you’ll see when they get older, you know, the bigger kids, bigger problems or whatever. That saying is completely true.
Like you pine for the days when all you had to do was put them in a playpen.
Zarna Garg: Yeah. And then he can do it. My son, now he drives a city bike, or rides, a city bike all around. That is scary AF. But he wants to be cool and the girls like seeing cool rides and he needs to get places and it’s a thing.
Jen: I love that. A cool ride is a city bike??
Zarna Garg: It is in New York. It is a cool ride. Like I’m not even kidding. Like downtown, like, “Oh, you have your bike? I have my bike.” And we live in a city with a big subway system. The whole reason.
But, you know, now they all want to ride bikes.
Jen: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, yeah, yeah. My kids are not old enough to date yet, but my son is just getting in that thing where like he and his friends don’t know it, but we’re overhearing them talk about girls.
And you want to jump in. Oh, my God. I heard them saying “so-and-so is hot. She’s the hottest girl in the class.” Man, you’re in fifth grade, her hotness in fifth grade? They should be like, “She has the coolest Xbox.”
But, you know, not that she’s hot.
Zarna Garg: I don’t think they even fully know what hot is at that age. I don’t think you know what I mean. Like what? I don’t even know what hot is. I think they just it’s part of the lingo they get.
They go with the flow. I don’t think I mean, I think at that age, a date anyway is going to get a cupcake. So I think, I don’t know. I hope, at least in my imagination, that’s what’s happening,
Jen: I just want to say like, “Stop worrying about who’s hot. I think I wasted so much time on that kind of stuff. And then I married your father, who… I did not marry him because he was hot. I married him for other better reasons. And we’re still together like 20 some years later. So forget the hot. Hot guys are trouble.”
Zarna Garg: Yes, but they have to discover it themselves. Mom saying it is not going to happen. You know, you are watching them make the mistakes.
Yeah, you have to be playing the other side for a while. Like my when my daughter went out with the guy who was completely wrong, I would be like, “No, this is amazing. Yes. “It’s not some cool kid. Why not? See, you know what I mean? “Ruin your life and see where it goes.” This is scaring the shit out of my daughter. “You’ll end up like, let’s get some images of people who’ve done drugs. Like, let’s look… like I’m sure they look amazing.”
Jen: Yeah. Tell her, you care so much about your skin and your teeth… You don’t want to do drugs.
Zarna Garg: It’s all that yoga.
Jen: Mhm. Yoga can not compete with cocaine.
Zarna Garg: But you do have to let them discover a little bit themselves. I learned that because if you just tell them it means nothing.
Jen: No, I think, in fact, they’ll just do the opposite. Yeah, I’m very concerned. My husband is very one way politically, and I’m concerned that my child is going to become extreme in the other direction. And so every time I’m like “Just don’t let them know how strongly you feel about that because they just rebel!”
Kids Are Too Smart
Zarna Garg: I know these kids are too smart. You can’t keep them. You know, they know everything anywhere. Listen, if we learned one thing in the last year and a half is that you can’t control anything. Honestly, that’s my big lesson of 2020 and 2021 as a mom, like, how many years did we-you and me both as moms-spend keeping the kids away from the screens?
Jen: Oh, my. I’ve worked so hard.
Zarna Garg: And then 2020 happened. You don’t know how to log in. Where’s your password? You haven’t really reset the password. We were we literally went a full 180 in a day.
Jen: Why didn’t I teach? I couldn’t. So, the first day that we logged in on a Zoom for Distance Learning. To have what was a third-grade Waldorf teacher on Zoom, and anybody who knows about Waldorf schools, they literally really do have a no-screen policy. They expect you not to NEVER have your kids use screens.
The kids learn to knit. They do woodworking. You know, it’s very holistic. And then this one day, all of a sudden they’re like, “Log in on Zoom.” And these kids had never seen this. They were just looking at each other and anyway, it was crazy.
It’s A Wrap
I do these MomCave Live interviews once a week with funny moms. And I always try to keep them, you know, below like 20 minutes. But I’ve already gone over several minutes because I’m having fun and I just want to talk to you.
But I don’t know if everyone in the world wants to keep watching us talk. I definitely want to do this again. And I would love it if you could, I don’t know, do some funny things for the MomCavers at some point where we can talk about that.
And before we sign off, tell everybody about your next live show. How they can see it, where they can see it. Oh, I think I have a picture. Hold on. Watch. I’m going to get fancy.
Zarna Garg: Oh, yes. That’s it. Wow. So fancy, Jen. I know. Yes. So this is my show. It is part of the esteemed New York Comedy Festival. It’s going to be happening on November 12th at West Side Comedy Club in Manhattan.
I would love to invite all your viewers, all my viewers, Instagram, Facebook, everywhere to join us. This particular show is going to be a night of female empowerment. Sorry, guys.
Jen: Guys can come, but you’re going to be made fun of.
Zarna Garg: Probably. Come for that. You know what? Come for that. But it’s going to be a really fun night of female empowerment. And my fellow winner of Ladies of LAUGHTER 21 is going to be doing a set and I’m going to be headlining.
So I’ll be doing my full set, forty-five minutes. And I would love to see everybody there. I have had a lot more material to work with because my mother-in-law has said a lot more crazy things to me.
Jen: Oh, great. And I hear that they’ve opened up the airports now. So your mother-in-law could be coming at any moment?
Zarna Garg: Yes. Thank you, Biden, for that. Not.
Jen: Yeah. And only if only all of the airports could keep away the annoying mothers-in-law.
Zarna Garg: Yeah. I mean, I wish we could selectively give them a list of no-fly people. That would help.
Jen: Yes. They should be on the no-fly list. Yeah. Yeah. Unless we have just had a baby and we need them to come and help us.
Zarna Garg: OK, that’s a different matter. Then we take them off the list.
Jen: The selective village. Thank you, everybody, so much for watching. You can find Zarna on all of the platforms. Pretty much. You’re at Zarna Garg, right? Yes, that’s right. TikTok is huge. I’m going to go and watch some check some of your TikToks tonight and go down that rabbit hole.
I want to talk to you more. I’m still thinking of all of the funny things that I heard you say in your set. And I wish I could just play that right now, but that would be crazy.
So go check her out, look at her videos, and let’s do this again soon. I hope that you have an awesome show at the New York Comedy Festival. And thank you. Thank you for being here and laughing with me.
Zarna Garg: Thank you. Thank you for having me. This was such a fun job. Thank you for inviting me to your community. Namaste. Everybody have an amazing day.
Jen: And I must say, I’m not going to go meditate, OK?
Zarna: I know.