I’m an Arab girl that loves to laugh. So it’s no surprise that I was stoked to hear of a stand-up comedy tour with Arab-American and Middle Eastern comedians a couple of years back. I was even more stoked to find out that two of the comedians were Palestinian-American (Dean Obeidallah and Aron Kader). Of course, the show I’m talking about is the Axis of Evil comedy tour (it unfortunately ended it’s run this year). I was fortunate enough to attend the show twice; once in Philadelphia (with Norma) and once in DC. Both shows were sold out. A program special of the same name also aired on Comedy Central last year. It goes to show that there’s an audience here in the US that’s willing to hear comedy from a Middle Eastern perspective. I guess you could say it’s a positive thing that came as a result of 9/11.
But there’s also an audience in the Arab world for stand-up comedy; something which is relatively new to the region. Last year the Axis of Evil comedy tour had shows in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and UAE. The shows were a huge success. Recent stand-up comedy shows in Beirut and Cairo had audiences in the thousands. Due to this enormous interest in stand-up comedy, the first ever Amman Stand Up Comedy Festival was born. And it’s taking place this week. The festival is executive produced by Dean Obeidallah who is also the co-creator and co-producer of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. The goal, according to the mayor of Amman, is “to create the first stand up comedy festival ever in the Middle East to showcase comedic talent from around the world, to encourage more Jordanians to get involved in comedy and to show the world that Arabs love to laugh.”
Hats off to Dean and all the other Arab and Arab-American comedians out there who not only want to put on a good show, but as Dean puts it, “want to change people’s perceptions about Arabs and even show Arabs themselves that they can be funny.” You see, that’s why I was, and still am, thrilled to see Arab-American comedians do their thing and be successful at it. It’s not only great that they make us laugh at ourselves but they also help show the world that we’re no different from anybody else; we can and do laugh our asses off all the time. Here’s hoping this Arab funny business continues to gain momentum.
Dean wrote an article about this in the Huffington Post today. Check it out: Middle East Sees “Explosion” Of Comedy, First Stand Up Festival In Arab World