Mahatma Moses Comedy Tour Heads to Atlanta, 10/23

By: Sep. 23, 2010
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It's kosher. It's curry. It's Confederate.

The Mahatma Moses Comedy Tour, starring the world's only Indian Jewish comedian and the only Vietnamese Jewish comedian, is coming to Andrews Upstairs in Atlanta for two shows on Saturday, October 23.

One of the most diverse shows of its kind in America, the Mahatma Moses Comedy Tour features comedians from different religious and ethnic backgrounds-including Southern-offering their unique perspectives on politics, pop culture and people. And they do so brilliantly without resorting to coarse or profane language. Indeed, Mahatma Moses is a show for adults, but it is not "adult-only."

"We touch on a lot of sensitive issues-race, immigration, religion-but our goal is not to offend or shock people; it's to make them think," said Samson Koletkar, the show's creator and the world's only Indian Jewish comic. "Some comedians curse and swear because it seems easier and natural. Our conscious effort is to push ourselves beyond what comes easily and instinctively."

Koletkar has never believed in taking the easy route. Born and raised in Mumbai, India, he immigrated to San Francisco to work as an IT consultant, before switching to comedy. In his first year on the stage, Koletkar was a finalist in the Rooster T Feathers amateur comedy competition. The following year, he won the Halloween Comedy Contest in Pleasanton, California. He has since toured with "Pundits with Punchlines" and "Make Chai Not War." He has also performed at clubs, colleges, corporations and fundraisers in New York, D.C., Virginia, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Washington state, California, Toronto and Mumbai. Since 2009, he has produced the popular weekly show "Comedy Off Broadway Oakland" in Oakland, California.

Joining Koletkar are two other comedians of Southeast Asian ancestry as well as Southern heritage-Joe Nguyen and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. Dhaya, an Indian Hindu, moved to the Atlanta suburb of Roswell, after spending her early childhood in Alabama.

"Where I grew up, not a lot of people had seen Indians before," she said. "That provided the set-up for a great deal of entertaining questions. The South is the only place I have ever seen a Klan Rally. It is also the only place a skinhead ever asked me out on a date. I guess it gets lonely being racist."

An MIT mathematics graduate, Dhaya is a self-described nerd, who takes an intellectual approach to comedy. She has toured nationally as one of "Five Funny Females," and won first place in the 2007 "Battle of the Bay" competition. Although she now lives in San Francisco, Dhaya still incorporates her memories of Georgia and Alabama into her act.

"There are things I miss about the South, like the rodeo, fried okra, grits, sweet tea, good manners, and love of family," she said. "Things I don't miss are wearing makeup and hot-rolling your hair just to go to the Piggly Wiggly."

Another Southerner who is a regular with the Mahatma Moses Comedy Tour is Joe Nguyen (pronounced "hwenn"). Born to a Vietnamese immigrant and a Caucasian Jew from the Dominican Republic, Nguyen was raised in the Atlanta suburb of Chamblee, where he attended Chamblee High School. It was in his senior year that he started thinking about becoming a comedian.

"I read to my English class an essay about my ex-girlfriend," Nguyen said. "She was really upset, because at the end of the story she was portrayed rather negatively. In retrospect, that wasn't cool, but it was really funny, and I think that was the first time I got a laugh from a crowd."

Like his comedic partners, Nguyen is now based in San Francisco where he was the winner of the 2009 Russian River Comedy Competition. However, he has not forgotten his Southern roots.

"Occasionally, I would get made fun of for being Asian or Jewish, but it was school, where everyone finds something about other people to make fun of," he said. "I'm very excited to be performing in my hometown."

The Mahatma Moses Comedy Tour will take place on Saturday, October 23 at Andrews Upstairs, 56 E. Andrews Dr. NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30305. Show times are 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20. Tickets are available at or by calling 404-869-1132.


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