Comedian Salma Hindy Opens Up on ‘True Dating Stories,’ Growing Her Audience on Social Media, and Finding Representation

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salma hindy true dating stories interview

What better gossip than juicy stories from dates gone horribly wrong? Some of us love to cringe-watch The Bachelor or 90 Day Fiancé for all the comedic reasons and that’s why we’re glad the CBC Gem’s True Dating Stories is back for a third season this weekend.

One of the new stories featured this season is from Comedian Salma Hindy, who shares what it was like having her strict father accompany her on a date with a potential suitor who was anything but “progressive,” and that he might be more of a perfect match for her father instead.

The TV Watercooler had the chance to speak with rising stand up comic Salma Hindy to reflect back on this date gone wrong as well as the success she’s currently experiencing having opened recently for Ramy Youssef and preparing to open for Chelsea Handler in the coming months.

Neeky Dalir, Sammy Farid and Basel Daoud star in Salma Hindy’s episode of “True Dating Stories”

It must have been strange seeing some other people come in to play you and your dad! Did you have a hand in the casting?

We wanted it to make it as true to life as possible, so we were trying to find actors in the industry who were Arab, especially because a large part of what happened in is Arabic.

I kind of suggested every Arab actor I knew, and while they somehow all made it into the episode, we still had to cast me and my dad! They put up a larger casting call and were able to finally cast them – and they were all just incredible in how they were able to bring to life this story.

Honestly, I was a little alarmed at how effortless it was for the men to be misogynistic…if that makes any sense?

Oh, it does…

Like, excuse me! I was like, “Why did this come so naturally for you?”

I was helping my friend do a self-tape and he was objectifying women [so easily]. It made him look so awful. Has this been here this whole time? [Laughs]

How did this project come about for you? You recently did CBC Gem’s New Wave of Stand Up. Is that when they asked you if you had any dating stories you’d like to share?

Yeah, it was so wild. I honestly think I was a very last addition. [Laughs] I think some other stories fell through and they were like “Who do we know?”

I had just finished a comedy show called Comedy on the River, and the following day, they were like “By the way, do you have any dating stories?” I as like, “I do! Have you even seen my Instagram? Literally, all I do is go through these situations and then report back!”

They ended up connecting me with Allison Johnson (This Hour Has 22 Minutes), who directed my episode.

Some of it is very GTA-specific, even if you aren’t Arab. I totally understood how easier it would have been for you to get to the Panera in Oakville than the one by Square One from Downtown Toronto.

Right? How annoying.

So much easier to just stay on the QEW.

Exactly. I’m still mad about this. That’s how petty I am.

Spoiler alert, but you’re still single. That date did not work out.

Yes, I am. I feel like dating looks a bit different for me now, without giving too much away. There’s probably less characters involved.

Especially during a pandemic. How did you navigate that? With dating apps?

It’s interesting because at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was turning to dating apps because they were like, “I hate this. I want companionship and I don’t want to feel alone.” Whereas, I had the complete opposite reaction and I thought, “This is disgusting. I can’t even [think about dating]because my mental health is not well right now. How is anybody dating? I just to get some other things under control.”

So yeah, I didn’t think about it at first and thought that maybe once the weather starts to get better and stuff, I’d start.

I’d get messages from people on Instagram who would try to set me up. “We know someone who knows someone,” and it would be like this circle where I’ll meet them, but I don’t think it’s really labelled as a date. We’d just hang out and see if there’s something there. Maybe then, it’ll be a date?

I feel like that happens a lot more with me now being in the public eye because I feel like I have access to a lot more people than usual.

Okay, so you haven’t had to try Hinge or Bumble.

No, I have! I find Bumble stressful! We didn’t give guys enough credit. I actually find it hard sliding into the DMs.

Thank you for your honesty.

You gotta be creative, but also personal and it’s a little hard. So, I’m like, “Forget it!”

So, you do understand that sometimes all you break the ice with is “Hey! How as your weekend?”

Exactly.

Not only has the pandemic made us rely on dating apps, but you’ve also had to rely on social media apps like Instagram and Tik Tok to build an audience as comedy clubs and venues are closed. What’s that been like?

Yes, definitely in the beginning [of the pandemic]when everyone was really isolated and working from home and would just all be on their phones and stuff. I was like, “OK – now is the time!” I kept thinking about [growing]my online presence. Even now, sometimes I feel like I’m falling behind with it. But it’s literally me not living up to my own standard.

We’re often a lot harder on ourselves.

Yes, of course! Nobody else is imposing these expectations on me. As soon as the pandemic started, I feel like a lot of other people took it as a break or a time where they could catch their breath, but I saw it as the perfect time to start making videos.

I was cooped up at home, so I channelled this limitless social energy into creating some videos. I felt like one of my stories in particular got a lot of attention and then people were really interesting in knowing more about me dating and ate all that up!

It’s funny because the story was about me meeting some guy on like the Muslim version of Tinder, which I’ve actually performed on stage and literally nobody cared [then]and the people were like “OK, welcome to dating. Grow up.”  But then when I made it into a video, all these Muslim girls found it and they were like, “Oh my God, this is genius.” I thought that this was the best thing ever and it was so interesting for me to see the difference in how it was received from an audience that can just relate to me a whole lot more.

I felt that I was able to build a strong young Muslim female following [online]but now I feel like things have started to shift a little bit because I’m not wearing the hijab anymore. I think I lost of lot followers because I think I started to disappoint people. So, maybe that’s why I’ve pulled back a little bit on social media.

I feel like I want to get through this [transition]privately. I feel like I can process this a lot better privately. The longer I can do that, I guess the more assured I will be in whatever decision, I’ve made.

Thank you for sharing that. I’m glad that you brought it up and were comfortable enough to speak about it. You definitely present yourself as a strong and confidant woman. Not wearing a hijab has been your decision and one that you’ve made for yourself.

Right?

It’s unfortunate that you’d lose some followers. Hopefully they’ll come around. Either way, it’s a story that will inspire others and catch their attention.

Yeah, and you know the people who are following me now are more genuine supporters, so it’s kind of a good thing that people are filtering themselves out. I totally understand that people are transactional on who they follow on social media.

Think about yourself and who you are following. If you follow someone for certain things and then they aren’t delivering on that anymore, you’ll unfollow, right? You absolutely have the right at any moment to change your mind.

And I do understand where they are coming from. I also had very similar experiences growing up where I would see “famous” influencers take off the hijab and I felt like it was such a betrayal. “We’ve lost one!”

You’ve also transitioned into doing comedy full time now. You got your degree in biomedical engineering. A lot of first and second generation of immigrants go through that, where they feel like they need to get a degree in something first and then maybe follow their artistic pursuits. Was that the case for you?

It all goes back to representation and what I would have fathomed was possible for a Muslim woman growing up. I just never knew that. I loved comedy growing up. I loved watching Saturday Night Live and Whose Line Is It Anyway? in high school. I thought, “We’re just as funny or we could be funnier.” But everyone I saw as white. Then when I saw Mindy Kaling – it was huge for me. She had a similar humour as mine, especially back then. It was very self-deprecating. I was so inspired by her, but I still couldn’t see myself in her because she has a lot of sexual roles and I wasn’t allowed to do that. And I thought that if wasn’t able to do that, then maybe no one would want to work with me.

Growing up, I was really good at math and even won a competition in Grade 11. I was also good in the sciences, but I also wrote many plays in high school. I wanted to do everything, but nobody cared about the artistic side of me. So pursuing that seemed unrealistic.

If you’re good at both the arts and sciences and come from an immigrant background like I did, it just makes mor sense that you’ll go into the sciences because you [already]know people who work in it. Everyone you know is in that industry, so it’s all just loud out for you. I had a lot of engineers in my family, so it was just practical.

I knew where I was going to apply and had it all mapped out, “So, I’m going to work at IBM for an internship and they’ll I know where I’ll go next,” whereas something like going to Hollywood – how do I even start? How do I get there?”

So, for me, starting out in comedy has been exciting but also very isolating. I feel like it’s this underground world experience. I didn’t know anybody in it. If I had known a lot of Muslims who were in this industry when I was growing, I’m sure that would have changed a lot.”

But you did make your way to the Second City. What advice would you give to kids in a similar situation that you were in growing up and want to do something artistic?

I think the best thing is to see other people who are succeeding [in it]. You can make it a living in it and there are some good groups that have come about like the Silk Road Comedy Festival. I felt like I didn’t have that growing up, so I recommend checking out places like that which promote artistic storytelling.

I also recommend doing drop-in improv classes. Take them with your friends if you can. I have a friend who did sketch comedy and does stand up. We’re going to put together a workshop in the next month or so to encourage BIPIC creators to learn how to enter the industry.

What are you watching right now? Any shows that you’ve binge watched recently?

I just started Arrested Development, which is so embarrassing because it’s a million years old and something that my brother told me to watch. But it’s so funny. Oh my God, it’s so good. All the actors are insane.

I’ve also been told to watch Stath Lets Flats, which is a British sitcom.

Yes, we’ve got it on CBC Gem here in Canada.

Okay, that’s amazing! Another big recommendation I’ve received is The Righteous Gemstones. I want to watch both of these!

The third season of True Dating Stories premiered on Jan. 28 on CBC Gem. Season 3 will premiere in the U.S. on Fuse and Fuse+ on Feb. 2 at 11 p.m. ET.

You can also follow Salma Hindy on Instagram and TikTok. Salma will open for Chelsea Handler’s Horny and Vaccinated Tour’s Canadian dates (some earlier dates are being rescheduled).

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About Author

Jeevan Brar is a digital content producer and freelance entertainment writer based in Toronto. Jeevan has managed The TV Watercooler since 2008, the Canadian blog has focused on daytime soaps, primetime hits and reality TV guilty pleasures. The blog has also connected Canadian soap fans with exclusive interviews with the cast of enduring daytime dramas The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful. 'Like' The TV Watercooler on Facebook. You can also follow Jeevan on Twitter and Google+.

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