Desi Comedy Fest

Event has passed (Thu Aug 10, 2017 - Sun Aug 20, 2017)
Marines Memorial Theatre
7pm - 10pm
$25 - $30


The 4th Annual Desi Comedy Fest

The largest South Asian Comedy Festival in the U.S.

11 days: August 10-20, 2017

9 Northern California cities: San Francisco, Berkeley, Mill Valley, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Union City, Livermore, Alameda, and Mountain View


Facebook event page:
Twitter: @desicomedyfest

Bay Area-based Indian-born comedians, Samson Koletkar and Abhay Nadkarni, present The 4 th Annual Desi Comedy Fest, an 11-day South Asian stand up comedy extravaganza touring comedy clubs and theaters in 9 cities throughout Northern California: San Francisco, Berkeley, Mill Valley, Santa Clara, Union City, Alameda, Livermore, Santa Cruz, and Mountain View. The festival, the largest of its kind in the US, runs August 10-20 and features 40 South Asian comedians from all over the US, India and South Africa with diverse ethnic (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Afghani, Sri Lankan, Iranian, Filipino, and African American) and religious backgrounds (Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, and Catholic). Last year’s festival boasted attendance of 2100: up from 1200 in 2015 and 700 in 2014.

[Desi (pronounced “THEY-see”) is a term for the cultures and products of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and their diaspora, derived from the Ancient Sanskrit (deshi), meaning Land or Country. Desi countries include India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Maldives.]

Abhay Nadkarni, festival co-producer, observes, “2017 has been a great year for South Asian comics. Aziz Ansari hosted Saturday Night Live; Hasan Minhaj hosted The White House Correspondents Dinner; Kumail Nanjiani is back with a new season of Silicon Valley; and Aditi Mittal got her own Netflix special, just to name a few.“

Festival co-producer Samson Koletkar notes, “In the current political climate, it’s important to provide a platform for South Asian voices; breaking stereotypes with humor is an effective way to do so.”

The idea for the festival was born on August 14 and 15, 2013, Pakistani and Indian Independence Days, respectively, when Koletkar produced a few comedy shows that featured Pakistani and Indian comedians. The positive response to the shows planted the seed for something larger: The Desi Comedy Fest. Koletkar and fellow Indian comedian, Abhay Nadkarni, talked about the cultural zeitgeist in the South Asian community: usually introverted South Asians are taking to the stage to openly talk about their cultural characteristics while also addressing immigration, race, and other personal experiences of the South Asian diaspora. That discussion spawned the idea for the festival, which they launched the following year in 2014. Koletkar adds, “Where else can you find Indians and Pakistanis sitting together and laughing?”

What’s new this year? The festival features 40 comedians this year: half are returning comics, and half are new to the festival. One of those new to the festival, Azhar Usman, featured in CNN’s America's Funniest Muslim, was scheduled to perform at last year’s festival, but he got hit by an SUV while crossing the street, and unfortunately couldn’t attend. Nadkarni quips, “Hopefully he doesn’t get hit by the travel ban this time!”

Comics to watch for this year also include:

* New York City-based, Indian-American, Alingon Mitra, who has written for The Daily Show and been on numerous late night talk shows (Conan O’Brien, Colbert, and Craig Ferguson),

* Irish Catholic / Pakistani-Indian- Burmese-Muslim comedian, Ahmed Bharoocha featured on Conan and Comedy Central and named one of Ten Comedians to Watch in 2017 by Esquire Magazine

* The fastest growing young female comic hailing from South Africa, Karmen Naidoo

Comedians traveling from abroad include:

• Saad Haroon - First comedian to tour Pakistan; Karachi, Pakistan.
Shows: Santa Clara and Berkeley, August 12-13

• Srinivasan - Bangalore, India.
Shows: Berkeley and SF, August 13-14.

• Karmen Naidoo - South Africa.
Shows: Santa Clara and Berkeley, August 12-13

• Sorabh Pant - Mumbai, India. Founder of East India Comedy, one of India's biggest comedy collectives voted one of Top 10 comedians in India by Times of India.
Shows: Santa Clara and Berkeley, August 12-13

• Reyhaneh Rajabzadeh (Muslim Iranian American comedian, based in Shanghai.
Shows: Santa Cruz and Livermore, August 17 and 19



  1. Freight & Salvage 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA
  2. Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts 500 Castro St, Mountain View, CA
  3. Marines Memorial Theatre 609 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA
  4. Cobb's Comedy Club 915 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA
  5. 142 Throckmorton Theatre 142 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, CA
  6. Santa Clara Convention Center 5001 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA
  7. Kuumbwa Jazz Center 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA
  8. Bankhead Theater 2400 First Street, Livermore, CA
  9. Rhythmix Cultural Works 2513 Blanding Avenue, Alameda, CA
  10. Doc's Lab 124 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA
  11. James Logan Center for Performing Arts 1800 H Street, Union City, CA