Koletkar and fellow Indian American comedian Abhay Nadkarni produced the show – billed as the largest South Asian comedy fest in America – which features a rotating line-up of 56 comedians from across the U.S., India, Pakistan and the Middle East. Koletkar and Nadkarni conceived of the show in 2013 after noticing there were more South Asian Americans doing stand-up comedy, and produced the first Desi Comedy Fest in August 2014, with four shows in four cities.
“The first year we did this show, my mom was here from India, Abhay’s mom was here from Fremont – same thing. They both laughed their asses off without understanding a word of English. I knew we were on to something,” said Koletkar onstage opening night.
A long line snaked around the block outside Cobbs Comedy Club as people waited to be admitted to the sold-out show. Inside the club, a dozen performers took the stage as the audience watched, laughed and drank at candle-lit tables.
“There’s no such thing as an Indian terrorist,” remarked comic Kabir “Kabeezy” Singh. “You have to be on time,” he observed, noting the Indian lapse of punctuality.
Singh also made a passing thump at Trump, the Republican presidential nominee. “Why are we building a wall to keep Mexicans out? Ever seen a Mexican without a ladder?”
The San Francisco native also talked about being broke. “I got a letter called ‘Final Notice.’ I’m like ‘thank god I don’t have to deal with this anymore,” he said, as the audience erupted in laughter.
Fellow San Franciscan Richard Sarvate – who dubbed the evening a “Bollywood movie length comedy show” – discussed his failures in dating. “The only woman I’ve been spending a lot of time with lately is the GPS lady. She’s strong and confident. I love that,” he said, throwing out an app idea: a GPS for insecure men. “If he makes a wrong turn, she says: ‘let’s explore, you’re so spontaneous.’”
Nadkarni recalled his car getting broken into, by a thief – apparently a voracious reader – who stole all of his books. Ironically, the criminal stole Nadkarni’s copy of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
The evening also featured Momrok, a female comedienne from Los Angeles, Calif. “I’m here to talk about white people. Deepak Chopra can afford Chanel sunglasses because of you,” she stated to a few white people sitting in the front row.
“Lazy Indians don’t do yoga,” Momrok observed, noting that classes were always led by some “white chick named Sheeba, who went to India to find herself.”
“Why are we holding white people’s souls in our country?” she queried, as the audience erupted in laughter.
Another San Franciscan, Priyanka Wali, talked about getting Lasik eye surgery and immediately dumping her boyfriend afterwards. “I could finally see him for the crappy person he was,” she stated.
Sundeep Rao, a partially-blind comedian from Bangalore, noted his constant conflicts at airports. “They’re trying to get me to sit in a wheel-chair, I’m trying to get them to sit in first class,” he said, adding that it was unseemly to look happy while sitting in a wheelchair.
Venues and tickets for the five remaining shows can be viewed at: http://www.desicomedyfest.com/shows-2016/.