by Azhar Usman
#9 IT IS THE FIRST EVER ONE-HOUR STANDUP SPECIAL BY AN ARAB-AMERICAN COMEDIAN. EVER.
No joke. There are many comedians of Arab background working now in the United States, Canada, Europe, and of course, the Middle East. Indeed, Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid’s “Arab-American Comedy Festival” in NYC has been operating every year for a decade. And yet, there is still not a single Arab-American comic who has released his or her very own solo, one-hour standup special. Mo Amer––universally regarded by his peers to be a truly original voice in comedy, and a total beast on stage––is doing just that. The event is undoubtedly historic in nature. Don’t miss it!
#8 LIVE NATION CALLS MO AMER “THE FUNNIEST MOHAMMED IN THE WORLD”
We all know how crazy our world is today. We see it on the news every day. And from the ISIS hysteria, to the recurring cartoon-inspired madness, the name “Mohammed” is rarely––if ever––associated with something fun, let alone funny. The very name that all Muslims revere and love, which means “the most praised,” is mostly just derided and used to fuel controversy in the news media. Instead, here we have a guy named “Mohammed” who is regarded as not just funny, but downright hilarious. Come see for yourself! Let Mo explain to you how “Mohammed is the most popular name in the world,” and yet, he adds: “I went to Disneyland three weeks ago––not one keychain with my name on it.” (Nailed it!)
#7 THE SHOW’S LINEUP INCLUDES RISING STARS WHO ARE RAPIDLY BLOWING UP
Sorry, you knew that horrible pun would be in this “Top 9” list somewhere. (You can blame Buzzfeed for inspiring this lame, hacky format, by the way. But hey, you’re reading this right now, so…yeah…blame yourself…). The other acts on the show on Sunday, May 3rd include the following:
Hasan Minhaj from The Daily Show. Check him out: https://vimeo.com/124463185
Brother Ali, the underground, indie, Albino rapper from Minneapolis, who has appeared on Conan, and has collaborated with rap legends, including Mr. Chuck D from Public Enemy, Mos Def, and Questlove. Check him out:
Ramy Youssef, who is a young but uber-talented comedian from LA. Younger fans may recognize him from “See Dad Run” on Nick at Night. Check him out:
Azhar Usman. Well, that would be awkward for there to be hype about this guy in this article, written by him. (Lots of third person, self-referential prose right there.) Check out http://www.azhar.com.
#6 VETERAN STANDUP COMEDY PRODUCER/DIRECTOR JAY CHAPMAN IS, WELL, PRODUCING AND DIRECTING THE SPECIAL
Jay has been making standup specials for many years. He has worked with some of the biggest names in standup comedy, including Jim Gaffigan, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, and many others. Just check out his IMDb credits, but be careful, your head might hurt afterwards: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0152401/
The point is: with Jay at the helm, you know it’s going to be a top-flight, well-produced, super professional production. Again, come see for yourself!
#5 “LEGALLY HOMELESS” IS THE HILARIOUS AND HEARTENING TALE OF A PALESTINIAN REFUGEE
Activism about immigrant rights, refugee rights, and the plight of the Palestinian people is all great and important work. This, however, is art that highlights many of the same, heavy, pressing, and profound political questions about social justice and the dynamics of oppression (artivism?)––but from the standpoint of a standup comic, told through funny stories and jokes. And not just any comic, the top Palestinian-American comedian in the world! Find out how Mo toured over 20 countries, WITHOUT A PASSPORT!! How he performed for US troops in Iraq and Kuwait, and had Bradley Cooper (unintentionally) rescue him from a sticky situation. How he eventually obtained his US citizenship, after nearly 20 years of getting the immigration runaround. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll experience every emotion in between. (Okay, maybe there’s some hyperbole right there, but honestly, not that much…)
#4 BASSEM YOUSSEF (THE SO-CALLED “JON STEWART OF THE MIDDLE EAST”) WILL PERFORM AND INTRODUCE MO AMER
Bassem has traveled to many countries and met dozens of Arab comedians all over the world. His favorite Arab-American standup? MO AMER. In fact, during his run on Middle Eastern television, as host of the instantly legendary satirical news show “El-Bernameg with Bassem Youssef,” he only invited two American comedians on the show. The first was Mo Amer. The second? Jon Stewart. Bassem will be performing comedy at the show on Sunday, May 3rd, and he will also be introducing Mo that night. It promises to be a very special and historic moment. (And in case you don’t know what a big deal Bassem Youssef is, check this out: http://time100.time.com/2013/04/18/time-100/slide/bassem-youssef/
#3 THIS IS A COMEDY SHOW STARRING ACTUAL STANDUP COMEDIANS
Everyone knows that Hollywood wants to make more entertainment content starring Arab and Muslim characters. Heck, Variety even published a piece about this recently:
This obvious opportunity has invited all sorts of creatives into the foray, from actors and screenwriters, to directors and producers. However––as everyone who actually works in the industry knows (and really everyone in general, if you think about it)––comedy is best done by real comedians. And Muslim-themed comedy is best done by actual Muslim comedians. Everyone on the bill on this show has paid their dues, toured for years, and has a legit standup act. This is not amateur hour, nor does it star the politely-worded “up-and-comers”; these are real standups who command the respect of their peers, are professional comedians, and have polished material to share, on a legendary stage. Please come out and show your love and support!
#2 WHAT YOU WILL WITNESS IS ACTUALLY FROM THE IMAGINATION OF DAVE CHAPPELLE
So here’s the story behind how this event came about. Mo Amer was touring with Dave Chappelle back in December 2014, as his feature act. Backstage in Dallas one night, Dave approached Mo and suggested that he consider taping one of his standup bits as a sketch. Mo replied: “Here’s the thing, Dave, I have been thinking about doing that, but not just that one bit, maybe a larger piece, like a movie or a short film…” Dave’s imagination sparked an idea, which he shared, in that magical way that only he can: “Short film! Here’s what you do: Put together a one-hour special. It opens with a short film, maybe 5-7 minutes, based on your standup bits, and that basically gives the audience your backstory and tells people who you are. Then you have roughly 50 minutes of live standup, a few minutes of closing credits, and there ya go––that’s your first solo one-hour special!” Mo was captivated. Chappelle added, as a deliberated afterthought: “Man, if you do this right, this special could win an Emmy.” Mo Amer (with yours truly) has basically been working on making this vision a reality everyday since. On Sunday, May 3rd, we will be filming the standup portion. So, there ya go. Now you know…“and knowing is half the battle…G.I. Joe…” (Sorry if you didn’t get that reference. It’s really not worth Googling. Ok, if you’re THAT curious, go for it…
#1 ONE DAY YOU WILL BE TELLING YOUR FRIENDS: “I WAS THERE”
The point has already been made above, but this standup special has effectively been years in the making. Every Arab-American, American Muslim, and decent, fair-minded, American liberal in general (of all backgrounds!) has been secretly (and subconsciously?) waiting for a break-out comedy star to appear on the scene. Someone who is likable, and funny, and refreshingly honest…to offer a fresh perspective and contribute an insightful voice into the public discourse. Global pop culture is missing this voice. This incredibly important perspective. And finally, at long last, the lightning is about to strike. Once this standup special drops, everyone will be wondering: “Who is this guy? How come I never heard of him before?” Decades from now, after the copycats, and the second and third and fourth generations of Arab-American comics have carried the torch forward, all of those people who attended the actual live show where “LEGALLY HOMELESS” was taped, inside the Warner Theater, on Sunday, May 3rd, will be telling their friends and family: “I was there.” Be there. Buy your tickets and please join us for what promises to be a super fun night, and an inspiring act of courage and artistry. We hope and pray that we can count on you for your continued support.
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!
WHAT: MO AMER LIVE TAPING OF “LEGALLY HOMELESS”
WHEN: SUNDAY MAY 3RD, 2015 (Doors 6pm)
WHERE: WARNER THEATRE, WASHINGTON DC
513 13th STREET NW
WASHINGTON, DC 20004