The “East Meets Midwest” a comedy show is ready to enlighten the atmosphere across the country in late March. The tour features four Indian-American comedians Nikki Chawla, Rishi Mathur, Raghu Adibhatla, and Prateek Srivastava.
Nikki Chawla, a New York-based comedian and actress and a Performing Arts High School teacher, holds an MFA from The Actors Studio Drama School. She has been seen on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” commercial parodies, and “Aaja,” a music video by Swet Shop Boys. She performs regularly in New York City and all over the country. She brings her satirical and sometimes controversial humor to the stage sharing her life story. Chawla is a New Yorker, born to a Sikh, orthodox family, followed all the rules until one day she broke them! A former kindergarten teacher with two masters degrees, turned stand-up comic and actress even though her family thinks she’s crazy!
Prateek Srivastava is a nationally touring comedian based in Chicago. In addition to being a two-time finalist for NBC’s Diversity Talent Search, Prateek has performed at countless clubs and colleges, including the Laugh Factory, and Northwestern University. Prateek’s tireless work ethic has landed him on NPR and various comedy festivals including the NBC Break Out Festival at Second City, Zee Tv’s Desi Comedy Festival, and San Francisco Sketchfest. Prateek is also a writer and cast member for P.O.V. a sketch comedy show at Chicago’s famed Improv Olympic directed by Michael McCarthy (SNL)
“I am extremely honored to be touring alongside these comedians. We represent a perspective that differs from most South Asian comedy today and we will be performing on shows with lineups you will not find anywhere else. I met Nikki a few years ago at a show in Chicago and I thought to myself, who is this woman? I was blown away by her performance. She is committed to this craft and goes above and beyond to give her best. No challenge stands in her way. “
Rishi Mathur is a New York-based comedian who has performed all over the country and internationally. He regularly performs at Stress Factory, West Side Comedy club, Carolines on Broadway, Village Lantern and Grisley Pear.
“Nikki is not only an insanely brilliant comedian, she is essentially my voice of reason. Constantly helping guide me in this comedy journey.”
“I started doing stand up in 2010 and have been performing all over Chicago.The thing I love most about performing stand up is being able to make people laugh and bring smiles on their faces, regardless of everything going on around us. It makes them feel good and makes me feel good doing it.”
Raghu Adibhatla has been performing stand-up comedy since 2010. He regularly performs all over Chicago at various showcases and comedy clubs. Most notably, he has performed at the Laugh Factory, Zanies and The Comedy Shrine.
Urban Asian got up close and personal with Chawla in a heart to heart where she gave us insight on her journey to laughter.
What else do you do besides being a comedian?
I am an actor, a model, a writer, and a high-school performing arts teacher. Regardless of how many years I have been a teacher, I know, I will always be a student. A student of life.
Was it easy to be accepted as a comedian especially a Sikh woman entering comedy?
It is very challenging being a woman in the entertainment industry. Now, being a Sikh woman doing stand-up comedy is very unique. When I started standup comedy, I stood out as a Sikh woman. I educated my audience on being Sikh.
My family still has a hard time accepting the fact that I turned out to be an artist. A part of me is the artist that does standup comedy and the other is at home where I am the good daughter.
Would you want to share a funny memory or a joke with us?
(Laughs) Every time I have a show, I tell my mother I’m going to computer class. Ten years later, I’m still not very good on the computer. I guess you can say I’m not technologically savvy for a South Asian.
Who are your favorite comedians?
I grew up watching Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett reruns. They were female pioneers in the comedy industry.There are many comedians I admire, to name a few; Richard Pryor, Ellen Degeneres, Leslie Jones, Russell Peters, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Dave Chappelle, George Lopez, Chris Rock.
Would you like to add anything else about the tour?
We made it a point to include more female comedians, such as Yamaneika Saunders, Peaches Rodriguez, Penny Oswin, Katie Meiners, and Reena Calm. I am honored along with my tour mates to make these comedy lineups more inclusive for women.
How and when did you find you were funny?
Aa child, I would have pretend tea parties with imaginary guests in my bedroom. As an adult, I would sit in the park and people-watch while I sip my coffee and learn about human behavior. We are all characters!
Nikki Chawla alongside Prateek Srivastava, Raghu Adibhatla, and Rishi Mathur will kick off the “East meets Midwest Comedy tour” in Chicago on March 30th at Emerald City Uptown and conclude at Carolines on Broadway on April 5th in NYC.
To reserve your NY ticket: http://www.carolines.com/comedian/the-east-meets-midwest-comedy-tour/
Promo code: FUNNY