Axis of Evil comedian flaunts arsenal of politically charged humour

BY SARAH BERMAN, VANCOUVER SUN

Maz Jobrani: Brown & Friendly

The Commodore Ballroom

Saturday, January 24, 7 p.m.

Tickets $35.50 ($30.50 for students) at LiveNation.com

VANCOUVER – Iranian comedian Maz Jobrani wants the world to know he’s not a terrorist, he’s not hairy, and he certainly doesn’t own an oil rig.

Okay, maybe he is a little hairy. But that won’t stop Jobrani from debunking myriad Middle Eastern stereotypes during his stand-up show at the Commodore Ballroom on Saturday January 24.

Armed with a bold voice and sharp wit, Jobrani doesn’t hesitate to share his opinions about former president George W. “Bush was like the drunk uncle at the party; you just knew he was going to do something stupid like set his barbeque mitt on fire.

“Obama is like the cool uncle you look up to,” he adds. “He hasn’t given us a lot to make fun of yet.”

Saturday’s performance closely follows Barack Obama’s historical inauguration. To mark the occasion, Jobrani has prepared a new set of material, including his colourful interpretation of a congratulatory letter from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But Jobrani isn’t the only comic making light of the Middle East’s poor public image.

In 2005, Jobrani helped form the controversial Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, which sparked the careers of Palestinian comic Aron Kader and Ahmed Ahmed of Egypt. The group’s namesake pokes fun at Bush’s characterization of Iraq, Iran and North Korea during a 2002 State of the Union address.

Although born in Iran, Jobrani grew up in California. As a teenager he was influenced by Eddie Murphy’s provocative stand-up routine. While attending UC Berkeley, he studied Italian and Richard Pryor in equal amounts.

But it wasn’t until he was enrolled at UCLA for a PhD in political science that Jobrani decided to drop out of school to pursue acting and comedy full-time.

Since then, Jobrani has made a name for himself as a supporting actor in films like The Interpreter and Ice Cube’s Friday After Next. Last year he starred in the short-lived ABC television series Knights of Prosperity, where he played an eccentric New York cab driver who tries to rob Mick Jagger.

“That was a lot of fun for me-those scripts were so well written,” he says. Jobrani’s extensive resume also boasts TV appearances on Law & Order, 24, The West Wing and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

While Jobrani’s biting commentary underlines cultural difference, he hopes laughter will unite audiences. “It’s all about laughing and enjoying each other.”

Special to the Sun. Published January 2009.

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1 Comment

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