Ameya Pawar
Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar attends a fundraiser for Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2014. Credit: Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO (Diya TV) — Ameya Pawar, an alderman for Chicago’s 47th ward and Illinois gubernatorial candidate, took to the stage of the city’s iO Theatre on Tuesday night to introduce himself to comedy fans and potential voters.

“Hi, I’m Bobby Jindal and I’m running for governor,” he said jokingly. “I didn’t know how that would go,” he added as the laughter from the crowd of around 100 calmed.

At the ripe age of 36, Pawar is well aware of the risks and chances he’ll need to take if he’s going to stand out in an Illinois Democratic gubernatorial primary that most observers expect to be dominated by billionaire J.B. Pritzker and another wealthy contender with strong name recognition, Chris Kennedy.

Pawar appeared to enjoy playing comedian for the night, he wrote the material himself. He even found time to poke some fun at some other successful Indian politicians from across the country.

“I’ll be the first normal Indian governor,” he joked, in a quip directed at both Jindal and Nikki Haley, two Indian-Americans who previously served as governors of Louisiana and South Carolina. Haley now serves as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after being appointed to the post by President Donald Trump.

Mostly, Pawar kept it serious, focusing his attacks on Gov. Bruce Rauner and the governor’s donor, who is also the richest man in the state of Illinois, Ken Griffin. “I don’t think wealth is bad but I don’t think wealth is synonymous with success, either,” he said, calling for changes to the tax code to support the middle class and describing it as “kind of annoying to listen to all these crusty old white men making all the decisions.”

He took a few moments to reveal some striking revelations of the sort of governor he’d be — Pawar said he would work to legalize marijuana — and that he was driven to a life in politics in part by former first lady Barbara Bush’s insensitive remarks about Hurricane Katrina. Pawar, whose wife, Charna, is Jewish, joked that the work of the evening’s other performing comedians “made this Hin-Jew very proud.”

Asked what made him laugh, he gave a two word answer: “Talladega Nights.”

And speaking after the show was over, he told Chicago Inc. he’d encourage his primary rivals to give comedy a go, if they dare.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously,” he said. “Most people don’t.”

Pawar’s campaign staff say his future onstage commitments include being levitated, by a magician.