Starting tomorrow, three Indian-American comedians will be in India with the help of a grant from the United States as part of a global exchange program. According to a spokesperson in the State Department, the trip was developed in order to help spread the important message of religious tolerance within the country.
Visiting seven cities through out India, the “Make Chai, Not War” tour will feature comedians Rajiv Satyal, Azhar Usman (the co-founders of the tour) and Hari Kondabolu. While their humor may not always specifically focus on religion, all three are known for bringing a message of tolerance and breaking down stereotypes through laughs. This does not mean, however, they do not find jokes at the expense of others.
“I am a believing, practicing Muslim,” Usman says. “This, to me, means that I won’t do sacrilegious, blasphemous, or heretical material. I will however, make fun of human stupidity, narrow-mindedness, and religious fundamentalism.”
In addition to their shows on the tour, the group will be holding discussions and workshops to interact with their audiences. Satyal and Usman created the “Make Chai, Not War” show nearly five years ago but this is the first time they will be taking their showcase outside of the United States.
“I have the same goal with shows on this tour as I do with shows anywhere,” Kondabolu tells Laughspin. “I want to make people laugh as much as I can and in the most thoughtful way possible given whatever conditions are present. I mean, there are definitely inherent challenges in that this is not an audience I know, as someone born and raised in the U.S., and whose trips to India have been to visit family. I have never performed in India and most of the laughs I get there are unintentional. They generally involve me not properly speaking my parents’ native tongue Telugu and relatives laughing at me because of it.”
You can check out a clip of Kondabolu below: