When it comes to comedy, the exemplary impression is that we Arabs aren’t exactly hilarious. Who can blame us with the current turmoil in almost the entire Middle Eastern area? Fortunately, there are quite a few outstanding individuals who have managed to speak of politics, democracy and several social issues in the MENA region using the stand-up comedy stage.
These are 6 Arab comedians that will make you reconsider your judgement of humor and stand-up comedy as a whole:
1. Dean Obeidallah
Yes, you read that correctly. The Dean of Comedy is actually of Palestinian origins. He co-directed and co-produced “The Muslims Are Coming!”, and co-created Comedy Central’s Internet series “The Watch List”. He also starred in the comedy TV show “The Axis of Evil”, which was probably what launched his fame as a well-recognized Arab-American comedian.
2. Amer Zahr
Also of Palestinian origins, Amer has dedicated his career in comedy to discussing how Arabs are viewed in the Western world. He has an upcoming documentary titled “We’re not White” that’s yet to come, but should be interesting. His book, Being Palestinian Makes Me Smile, is available on Amazon and contains most of his experiences and blog posts relating to a Palestinian living in the USA, and how it was like growing up.
3. Nemr Abou Nassar
Nemr is definitely one of my favorite comedians of all time! He has a charisma that will woo everyone in the audience. Although his comedy usually specifically targets Lebanese social issues and is less politically-oriented, he has performed internationally and currently has a very popular Youtube channel.
4. Rajae Qawwas
Rajae is the only one on the list who actually performs in Arabic. As a Jordanian comedian, Rajae usually criticizes people in Jordan and the new trends that seem to evolve around town everyday. He currently works for Kharabeesh, a Jordanian entertainment and production company. He gained a lot of popularity in the last few years around Jordan, especially with a TV show he co-starred with Tima Shomali called Female. His latest video got over 100,000 views in just 2 days!
5. Maysoon Zayid
Having spoken at events like TEDWomen, Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian-American comedian that struggles with cerebral palsy but never lets it slow her down. She’s an actress and has co-starred several comedy shows on Comedy Central. She also co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival – you can check out their website here.
6. Ahmed Ahmed
Ahmed is an actor and comedian, and what will shock you is this: he appeared in Iron Man back in 2008! Although he grew up in the states, Ahmed was born in Egypt. He took part in The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, TEDxDoha and many more TV shows and films. His website has all his latest updates and where he’ll be performing next!
Who’s your favorite Arab comedian?