You may like this PBS special airing Sunday night about the rise of
Middle Eastern-American comedy. It was shot over 3 years and they
profile 5 of us in it.
It airs nationally this Sunday at 10:00 PM on PBS in NYC, LA, and DC
and different times in other markets.
Hope you are well!
Also if you missed my appearance on ABC's "The View" last week
promoting the special, here is the link to see it on Youtube:
Breaking down stereotypes one joke at a time
It's an age-old American tradition: immigrant groups take up comedy
to fight against discrimination. One path to understanding is to make
people laugh. Now Muslim-Americans have come forward to help dismantle
the stereotypes and hatred that have surged since September 11, 2001.
STAND UP: Muslim American Comics Come of Age is the story of five
comedians: Ahmed Ahmed, Tissa Hami, Dean Obeidallah, Azhar Usman and
Tissa Hami performs part of
her comedy routine in the
traditional Muslim hijab
Each of these artists felt the aftershock of 9/11 personally. At a
time when people of Middle Eastern origin were advised to lay low,
they all chose to stand up - and tell jokes. This film explores how
they are responding to 9/11, each in a different way, but all using
humor to define who they are.
STAND UP is the story of Ahmed's battle to get beyond playing
"Terrorist No. 4." It's about Obeidallah's journey to discover his
Arab heritage. It's about Zayid's resolve to turn being "a
Palestinian Muslim woman virgin with cerebral palsy from New Jersey"
into a career asset. It's about Usman's quest to become the Muslim
comedy role model he himself never found. It's about Hami's
determination to challenge American conceptions about Muslim women.
"We can't define who we are on a serious note because nobody will
The only way to do it is to be funny about it."
- Ahmed Ahmed
From false arrests to death threats, these comics face challenges
from both mainstream America and within the Muslim community. All are
at critical points in their careers, each evolving differently as a
comic. But they are all striving for one thing: to break through the
typecasting and achieve mainstream comedy success.
Following in the footsteps of comics such as Lenny Bruce, Richard
Pryor, George Lopez, and Margaret Cho, they are using stand-up comedy
to make the case for Arab and Muslim inclusion in the American "public
Above all, STAND UP: Muslim American Comics Come of Age is an
American story. Which means almost anything is fair game for a laugh.