It is not easy to make people smile or laugh. It requires great effort and most importantly skill and talent to make people with all sorts of troubles feel better. We must therefore acknowledge those who engage in this art and below are a few popular comedians from the Muslim world.
1. Aasif Hakim
An Indian-American actor and comedian born March 5, 1966. He is professionally known as Aasif Mandvi. After graduating from the University of South Florida with a degree in Theatre, he worked at Walt Disney World Resort as a performer. Mandvi appeared in many movies including revival of Oklahoma! , Homeboy/Kabul, On the Razzle, Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom. He also played the lead role in a drama by Ayad Akhtar which portrayed a Pakistani American lawyer struggling with his identity and Islam. The drama won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Mandvi has also appeared in ER, Jericho, Sex and the City, CSI, Oz, Ed, The Bedford Diaries, Sleeper Cell, Law and Order, Criminal Intent, Special victims and so many other films and TV shows. Mandvi is also involved in charity organizations and events such as Relief 4 Pakistan, Stand up for Religious Freedom.
2. Ahmed Ahmed
An Egyptian born American actor and comedian born June 27, 1970. Ahmed has appeared in many Hollywood movies and TV shows including Executive Decision, Swingers, Tracey Takes On, Roseanne, JAG, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn on Comedy Central, and MTV’s Punk’d with Ashton Kutcher. He has also made appearances on CNN, The View and National Public Radio and a series called STAND UP: Muslim American Comics Come of Age. Additionally, Ahmed was the first winner of the Richard Pryor annual Award for ethnic comedy.
3. Azhar Muhammad Usman
An American comedian, actor, writer and film producer, born December 23, 1975.He is popularly referred to as “Ayatollah of Comedy” and “Bin Laughing”, and one of three comedy trio “Allah made me funny”. He has been featured in many television shows and has even special episodes about him on ABC Nightline (MUSLIM COMIC), CNN’S Turkish affiliate (AMERICA’S FUNNIEST MUSLIM). He was listed as one of The 500 most influential Muslims.
4. David Khari Webber “Dave” Chappelle
An actor, screenwriter, producer and stand- up comedian born in Washington on August 24, 1973. His first stage performance was at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre. As the years went by, Chappelle began making appearances on television shows and movies; Bowl of Pork, Getting in, ABC’s sitcom Home Improvement, The Nutty Professor, Con Air to mention a few. Chappelle also hosted his own comic chows including Dave Chappelle: For what it’s Worth airing on Showtime and Chappelle’s Show aired on Comedy Central. He converted to Islam in 1998.
5. Dean Obeidallah
An American comedian of Palestinian- Italian descent born December 17, 1969. He received the first “Spirit of Bill Hicks” award and is the co-founder of the New York Arab- American Comedy Festival. Obeidallah has appeared on several television shows including ABC’s The View and NBC’s Rock of Evil. Additionally he has featured in publications and radio.
6. Maysoon Zayid
A Palestinian American actress and comedian. She is known as America’s first Muslim female comedian as well as the first to ever perform stand up in Palestine and Jordan. She began her career by appearing on As the World Turns, Law & Order, NBC Nightly News and ABC’s 20/20. In 2003, Zayid co-founded the New York Arab-American Festival.
7. Maziyar “Maz” Jobrani
An Iranian-American comedian and actor, also known as Persian Pink Panther. He has made numerous appearances on television shows and movies such as NPR’s news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell me, All things Comedy, Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Talkshow with Spike Feresten. He is one of Axis of evil comedy group.
In their own little way, most of these comedians use their talent to try and combat islamophobia. They make jokes in order to make people understand that Muslims are like everyone else and Islam is a peaceful religion.