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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Kal Penn: You Can’t Be Serious

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0432
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$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
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Actor and writer Kal Penn, best known for his roles in the Harold and Kumar films and the hit TV show “House,” was a skinny kid with a funny name who grew up to help another skinny kid with a funny name become president of the United States.  

Penn resisted his Indian family’s pressure to become a doctor or engineer and instead followed his passion for the arts. That goal was made more difficult by an entertainment industry that complimented him on both his acting skills and his “very good English,” with casting directors and producers asking, “Where’s your turban?” and “Which country is that accent from?” (Spoiler: New Jersey.) Undaunted, Penn spent a decade and a half of fighting for and enjoying success in Hollywood.

After a castmate invited him to a campaign event for then-Senator Barack Obama, Penn began to balance show business with a role on Obama’s presidential campaign. He ultimately took a sabbatical from his entertainment career to serve as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement as a liaison to young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the arts community.

After his hiatus in politics, Penn returned to acting, writing, and producing, appearing in shows such as “How I Met Your Mother” and “Designated Survivor,” most recently starring in the CBS drama “Clarice” and Disney Junior’s animated “Mira, Royal Detective.”

Join him as he draws from his new memoir You Can’t Be Serious to talk about his journey from Hollywood to the White House and back again, as well as why your life can have more stories and more choices than you thought.

Copies of You Can’t Be Serious (Gallery Books) are available for purchase.

Book Sale Information

  • Purchase your copy of You Can’t Be Serious by Kal Penn here.
  • SPECIAL NOTE: Politics and Prose is offering a 10% discount to Smithsonian Associates ticket-holders. To claim your discount, enter the code SPECIAL10 (no space between letters and numbers) in the “Coupon discount” section on Politics and Prose's check-out page.

Patron Information

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.