This Article is From Dec 29, 2011

'Make Chai Not War': Indian American show spreads harmony

Washington: Three Indian American comedians are heading to India next month on a State Department sponsored seven-city tour to promote better relations among diverse nations and spread religious harmony.

"Make Chai Not War," starring Rajiv Satyal, Azhar Usman and Hari Kondabolu, will perform in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ranchi and Patna from January 4 to 19.

"I have visited India many times, but I am especially excited to be bringing 'Make Chai Not War' to my parents' country," said Satyal aka "The Funny Indian," a Hindu who created the show with his Muslim comedian friend Usman in 2007.

"It's a measure of diplomacy and a message of religious harmony," said Satyal, 35. "We're not even really religious on stage. We might do some religious jokes, but it's more just bringing people together."

The trio has been taking the show that uses comedy to break down prejudices and bring diverse audiences together, to American comedy clubs across for several years. A representative from the State Department saw them perform and invited them to do some shows in India.

"It's cool to be able to go to India because that's where a lot of religious strife has been happening between (Hindus) and Muslims," said Satyal. He said comedy helps bridge those gaps.

The group will also be teaching comedy workshops during the tour.

The upcoming show in India will comprise just Muslim and Hindu comedians because of the historical relationship between those faiths in South Asia, where tensions have sometimes resulted in violence. Usman and Satyal believe that those incidents typically involve more radical factions, whereas the vast majority of Muslims and Hindus have lived together in harmony for centuries.

Satyal hopes to experience some of that harmony, during the upcoming tour. "There would be a lot less trouble in the world if people could learn to not take themselves so seriously," he said.