Comedy could be a powerful double-edged sword in the hands of an expert and witty comic. From Nageeb El Rihany to Johnny Carson, it was proved that the art of joking was not only a form of entertainment, but also a way of making a statement.
In the American stand-up scene, a group of Middle-Easterners have been all the rage, and their name is: the Axis of Evil. Axis of Evil, derived from President Bush’s dubbing of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, is a group comprised of four comedians: Egyptian-American Ahmed Ahmed, Palestinian-Americans Aron Kader and Dean Obeidallah, and Iranian-American Maz Jobrani. For these funnymen, no topic is off-limits; they joke about politics, religion, and everything in-between. Perhaps that is part of their appeal to Westerners, who view Arabs as walking bombs that could blow-off at any second. After 9/11 Western society’s interest in Arabs has quadrupled, to say the least—and not in a good way. The persistent stereotype of Middle Easterners is that they are all terrorists. It is a rare thing nowadays to find a Hollywood action movie that doesn’t have an olive-skinned, heavy-accented bad guy in it. Jobrani said it best when he joked that he wished the media would once in a while show Arabs doing something positive, like “baking a cookie or something”.
Ahmed Ahmed: “Whenever I get on a plane, I always know who the air marshal is; He’s the guy holding the PEOPLE magazine upside down, staring right at me.”
Maz Jobrani: “I am Persian. Okay, we have a nuclear program, but it is a peaceful nuclear program. Peaceful; we blow you up and we hug you.”
Another reason for their groundbreaking success dwells in their ability to raise a mirror to themselves and criticize what they see. This here becomes a case, not of pointing fingers to the wrongs of others while being blind to our own, but of equally and fairly passing judgment on the faults and flaws of both parties.
Aron Kader: “Arabs love to cuss in English. They cuss their heads off in English, but they won’t do it in Arabic, because then God could hear them.”
With the media attention the quartet has been garnering, from interviews in TIME magazine, and on CNN, among others, their voice has been resonant on the mistreatment of Arabs in the U.S., and the rising hatred against them.
This is a link to one of their shows on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTM9AuFzpsI