Comedian Nasim Pedrad introduces us to her jarringly awkward 14-year-old Chad.
No, Chad isn’t Pedrad’s son.
But he is her baby, as she’s the creator, writer, showrunner, executive producer and star of the cringey, funny comedy Chad debuting on TBS April 6 (Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c). Pedrad, who gave us many memorable parodies as Kim Kardashian and Arianna Huffington on her five-year run on Saturday Night Live, spent the past five years developing the character of Chad.
“Well, it’s been quite a journey,” she tells us. “I do feel somewhat like I’ve been pregnant for five years, and the birth is finally around the corner. … I thought it would be really cool to tell a coming-of-age story centered around a teenager, where the teenager was played by an adult who’s in on the joke.”
Of course, the adult is Pedrad, who disappears easily into her character Chad, a 14-year-old pubescent Persian boy who is awkwardly, and horribly, navigating his first year of high school.
“At this point, it’s been so many years of my life, it feels quite like second nature. I mean, Chad feels at times at the core of my human spirit, even more than I do,” she laughs. “I’m comfortable playing Chad. Maybe it’s because I’ve done it for so many months now, but it’s really fun. My happiest moments are just being on set, dicking around and improvising in character and trying to make my costars laugh.”
Chad’s got a lot of issues as he tries desperately to fit in, one being his delusional sense of confidence and the other his cultural identity as an Iranian American.
“This show is so personal to me. It’s very much inspired by my own adolescence and the paralyzing fear I had of being different. I think that’s a relatable thing for any teenager. So in writing the show, I certainly drew from my own insecurities at that age,” she shares. “You’re just so desperate to fit in that standing out and having a unique name and bringing ethnic cuisine to your American school lunch can be a little terrifying. It’s not exactly something you want to lean into at that age. … And now, of course, I love embracing that side of my upbringing, the fact that I speak another language and was born in another country and had this beautiful culture that is also such a part of my identity.”
Chad is almost like watching a car accident in slow motion. You so hope he can pivot around the obstacle in front of him, yet you know he’s going to crash hard.
“He gets in his own way more than anyone. He’s his own worst enemy, albeit unintentionally,” Pedrad agrees. “But you do want him to just hang in there and just know that it does get better. He has this almost delusional sense of confidence while simultaneously being so desperate and thirsty. And there’s kind of like this ineffable joy that comes with watching him not lose hope. Even though in every episode he gets his ass handed to him, he doesn’t lose hope that tomorrow could be different.”
And that’s what we love about Chad.