Monday, October 13, 2008

Seven in Twelve

It feels strange not to have a show this week. I've had 7 in the past 12 days and 5 of those were with The Coexist? Comedy Tour.

We hit Sunnyvale, Fairfield, San Diego, LA and Stockton. Thanks to everyone who came out to laugh with us. We had a great time at each of the shows and I really enjoyed performing with our special guest Bryan Malow, one funny Jew.

We've had some great articles written about us and my favorite was written by Aaron Davis for 209 Vibe. Here it is:

The five members of the “Coexist?” Comedy Tour hadn’t previously discussed the possibility of a group field trip to go see Bill Maher’s new world religion documentary “Religulous.”

I suggested the idea. They loved it. And that was the end of my contribution to the conversation when I joined “The Christian,” “The Hindu,” and “The Atheist” at Peet’s Coffee in Midtown Sacramento last week. The rest of the interview was the three of them keeping me in stitches for 40 minutes.

With help from two other religion reps, the three form the “Coexist?” Comedy Tour, which started with small performances in Sacramento and has since become a religion-jabbing sensation.

The five members of “Coexist?” perform at the Empire Theatre on Saturday, October 11. The Empire is at 1825 Pacific Ave on the Miracle Mile. The show gets rolling at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20. For info, call (209) 943-SHOW or log on to www.brownpapertickets.com.

“It wasn’t like, ‘let’s tackle the challenge of seeing if we can get along, let’s do something with the fact that we do get along,’” said Keith “The Atheist” Lowell Jensen. “But people getting along doesn’t make the news, people fighting makes the news. So, we added an element to the getting along; we get along, and we’re funny.”

What began as a series of local performances at Midtown’s Geery Theatre quickly turned into a local craze when these five comics of different religions began taking jabs at each other with gut-busting results.

Oh, and by the way, it’s not an “act” and the comedians aren’t playing characters; they actually are of their respective religions.

“When we saw (the popularity of the shows), we realized we were on to something,” said Tapan “The Hindu” Trivedi. “You can’t really do a lot of religious material at an open mic, it just doesn’t resonate, and you don’t have that confidence where it’s going to work every time.”

“I struggled with that as well,” said John “The Christian” Ross. “When we first did the Geery shows, they were awesome and the crowd was ready to hear God stuff, so you start thinking you’re a really great comic. Then you go to a bar and people aren’t even sure what they’re going to hear.”

Throw Tissa “The Muslim” Hami and Sammy “The Buddhist” Obeid into the mix, and it creates a safe forum for the five to take swipes at each other’s system of beliefs. The five will frequently check each other on the accuracy of their individual material, and live and die by the criteria that, quite simply, it all has to be funny.

“We’re not saying ‘everybody is right, we can all get along because we can all be right,’” Jensen said. “No! It’s written into the religions that you don’t believe they’re all right; there is no God but God. Our point is, you don’t have to water down your own beliefs to get along.

“If you laugh at something with someone, nothing connects you more with each other than that.”

“That’s why it’s ‘Coexist,’” Trivedi said. “We accept you for who you are, we just want to coexist with you. We don’t want to change you, we just want you to see where we are coming from.”

“At the same time, I feel like it gives me a safe place to question and be honest with my fragile religion,” Ross said. “I can see sometimes how ridiculous some things with Christianity are as well, and I have a safe place to do that.”

“Even my family has said you better be careful, don’t get sucked in,” Ross added. “But, we’re five comics, we’re not the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

“That’s because we haven’t gotten horses yet,” said Jensen. “I get to be Pestilence!”

“If five comics are supposed to bring about the end of the world,” Trivedi said, “then it’s a good way to go.”

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