Muslim Artists Perform to Break Stereotypes

November 12, 2013

 

For decades, Arab actors have been successful in Hollywood. Among the most successful are Omar Sharif, Tony Shalhoub, and F. Murray Abraham; the latter won an Academy Award for his role in Mozart. However Muslims, openly proclaiming their religion, are a minority in the U.S. population and an even smaller minority in the U.S. entertainment industry. Those who are breaking in are trying to use their talent to discredit negative stereotypes. Several showcased their work at a recent gathering of predominantly American Muslims in Los Angeles.

Dean Obeidallah is not just an American comedian.

“My ethnicity and my faith make me a little different than many other comedians,” said Obeidallah.

He is a Muslim with Palestinian roots, and says his identity has not created barriers for him. However, he also says that stereotypes of what he represents do exist in the U.S.

Obeidallah uses comedy to talk about misconceptions and about what it means to be Muslim. He has co-directed a comedy documentary on this theme called, The Muslims Are Coming! Obeidallah said he has received positive reviews from both Muslims and non-Muslims, but sometimes non-Muslims don’t know how to respond to his jokes.

American Muslim poet Amir Sulaiman points out that some Muslims feel uncomfortable listening to him perform.

“Some people they feel nervous. Some things I say are not politically correct. They’re not fashioned and perfected in a political kind of way. Some people will say we don’t want you to say this; we don’t want you to say that as a Muslim person. When you are an artist or a public figure, many times you automatically become a spokesperson for millions of people. All these people have different points of view and different way that they want to be portrayed, but every artist can’t be responsible for everyone,” said Sulaiman.

 

Voice of America: http://www.voanews.com/content/muslim-artists-perform-break-stereotypes/1789097.html

Will Islamic Stand-Up Play in Peoria? ‘The Muslims are Coming!,’ a Docu-comedy

“Every single solitary Butterball turkey in the United States of America has been sacrificed to Allah,” a conservative commentator says of halal meat in the montage that opens “The Muslims Are Coming!” Directed by the comedians Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah, the documentary begins strongly with this collection of absurd hatemongering, cobbled from television clips. Unfortunately, the film peaks in those first few minutes.

The movie follows a group of Muslim-American comedians (who include Ms. Farsad and Mr. Obeidallah, documenting themselves) on a peace tour across the country to promote awareness. They travel in two cars to small towns and large cities to perform stand-up and also to stage goofy stunts — for instance, setting up an “Ask a Muslim” booth or holding a “Hug a Muslim” sign. Interspersed are interviews with the comedians and with better-known figures like Jon Stewart, David Cross and Rachel Maddow.

US Arab-Muslim comedy community grows, pushes beyond funny talk in post-9/11 world

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Arab-Muslim stand-up comedy is flourishing more than a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. While comics like Obeidallah, Ahmed Ahmed and Amer Zahr differ on approach — and there are disagreements among some— they’re all trying to do more than just lampoon themselves or their people for easy laughs.

The comedian who made his name on the “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour” made one thing clear when he opened a recent set at Michigan State University: “Tonight, it’s not Islam 101.”

For every joke Dean Obeidallah made about his Arabic heritage or Muslim faith, there were others about student loans, Asian-American basketball phenom Jeremy Lin, the presidential race and full-body scans at airports.