Did you hear the one about the Iranian-American? | Maz Jobrani | Summary and Q&A

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August 19, 2010
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Did you hear the one about the Iranian-American? | Maz Jobrani

TL;DR

Maz Jobrani discusses the challenges of being a part of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour and the stereotypes he faces as an Iranian-American comedian.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did Maz Jobrani and his fellow comedians face challenges while touring the Middle East?

Maz Jobrani and his fellow comedians faced challenges touring the Middle East as Arab and Iranian-Americans due to the strained relations between the countries. Maz talks about an incident at the Kuwaiti border where his American passport, indicating his birthplace in Iran, raised suspicion and led to questioning by border patrol.

Q: How does Maz Jobrani confront stereotypes in Hollywood as an Iranian-American comedian?

Maz Jobrani discusses the stereotypes he encounters in Hollywood when casting directors learn of his Middle Eastern descent. He humorously discusses how they often expect him to play a terrorist or a villainous character, and how he advocates for more positive and diverse roles for Middle Eastern actors.

Q: How does Maz Jobrani use his comedy to break stereotypes and present Middle Easterners and Muslims in a positive light?

Maz Jobrani discusses his efforts to break stereotypes through his stand-up comedy by showing the audience that there are good people everywhere and that one person's actions should not represent an entire group. He emphasizes the importance of presenting Middle Easterners and Muslims in a positive light and hopes for more positive representation in the film and television industry.

Q: What experiences and observations did Maz Jobrani share during his travels in the Middle East?

Maz Jobrani shares humorous anecdotes from his travels in the Middle East, such as his experiences in Dubai where they have large malls with taxis inside and sell frozen yogurt by the gram. He also talks about playgrounds in Dubai and how they lack slow-down measures on slides, resulting in his two-year-old son sliding down at high speeds.

Q: How does Maz Jobrani challenge his own stereotypes and assumptions?

Maz Jobrani discusses his own stereotypes and assumptions when he mistook an Indian man in Dubai for his driver, assuming that all Indians in Dubai are workers. He humorously shares how the man turned out to be the owner of the hotel, challenging Maz's own stereotypes and reminding him of the successful Indians in the city.

Q: What examples does Maz Jobrani give of negative portrayals of Middle Easterners in the media?

Maz Jobrani shares examples of negative portrayals of Middle Easterners in Hollywood, such as casting Middle Eastern actors as terrorists or villains. He jokes about how casting directors often ask him to say lines related to terrorism, instead of offering him diverse roles that break from stereotypes.

Q: How does Maz Jobrani express his hope for the future of representation in Hollywood?

Maz Jobrani expresses his hope for the future of positive representation of Middle Easterners and Muslims in Hollywood. He mentions the possibility of having a Middle Eastern James Bond and highlights the importance of presenting diverse and positive characters from different cultures and backgrounds.

Summary

In this video, the speaker, Maz Jobrani shares his experiences as a comedian of Iranian-American descent. He talks about the challenges of being from a country that is seen unfavorably in the international political landscape and how it affects his identity and travel experiences. He also discusses the stereotypes and misconceptions faced by Middle Eastern actors in Hollywood and emphasizes the importance of breaking stereotypes and promoting positive portrayals of Middle Easterners and Muslims.

Questions & Answers

Q: Can you give some background on the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour?

The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour was a stand-up comedy tour that featured Maz Jobrani, Ahmed Ahmed, and Aron Kader. Ahmed Ahmed initially came up with the idea to perform comedy in the Middle East, and after his successful solo shows, they decided to tour together as a group. Maz Jobrani, being Iranian-American, acknowledges the challenges that come with his background due to the current tensions between Iran and some Arab countries.

Q: How does having an Iranian-American background affect Maz Jobrani's identity?

Being Iranian-American presents Maz with a unique set of problems. He humorously points out that part of him likes and dislikes himself due to the ongoing conflict between Iran and the Arab countries. He jokingly mentions that part of him thinks he should have a nuclear program while the other part thinks he can't be trusted with one. These inner conflicts are something he faces almost daily.

Q: How does having an American passport impact Maz Jobrani's ability to travel?

Maz Jobrani mentions that having an American passport allows him to travel more freely compared to someone with only an Iranian passport. He humorously highlights that with an Iranian passport, his travel options are limited to countries like Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea, where he can go with open arms. However, despite having an American passport, he often faces difficulties in some Arab countries due to their strained relations with Iran.

Q: Can you share an example of Maz Jobrani's experience at a border crossing?

During a comedy show in Kuwait, Maz Jobrani shared an incident at the border patrol where he faced difficulties due to his American passport stating that he was born in Iran. The officer asked him questions about his father and grandfather's names and left him waiting to return. Maz humorously expresses his anxiety, jokingly thinking that his grandfather might have been involved in some trouble and that he would be held responsible for it.

Q: How does Maz Jobrani address the issue of stereotypes of Middle Eastern actors in Hollywood?

Maz discusses the stereotypes and misconceptions faced by Middle Eastern actors in Hollywood. He shares his experiences of being asked by casting directors to say lines associated with violence or terrorism. He humorously highlights the absurdity of these requests by pointing out that he could also play positive roles like a doctor but that seems to be overlooked in favor of negative portrayals. Maz emphasizes the importance of breaking stereotypes and promoting positive representations of Middle Easterners and Muslims in film and television.

Q: Can you provide examples of incidents involving terrorism and how it affects Maz Jobrani?

Maz talks about two separate incidents related to terrorism where he happened to be in the vicinity, and it led him to momentarily feel guilty as a Middle Eastern male. One incident involved a Pakistani Muslim man attempting to blow up a car bomb in Times Square while Maz was performing a comedy show there. Another incident involved a white American man flying his plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, while Maz was performing a comedy show in the city. While highlighting these incidents, Maz humorously expresses his relief when the perpetrators did not have Middle Eastern names.

Q: Can you share Maz Jobrani's experience during his travels in the Middle East?

Maz shares his positive experiences during his travels to various Middle Eastern countries, including Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai. He encounters good people everywhere and encourages others to visit these places. Maz humorously describes the extravagance in Dubai, such as the large mall with taxis inside it and the expensive frozen yogurt sold by the gram. He also mentions unique experiences like taking his two-year-old son to a playground in Dubai where the slides are incredibly fast, causing his son to slide down multiple floors.

Q: Can you give an example of Maz Jobrani stereotyping and then realizing his mistake?

Maz mentions an incident in Dubai where he had stereotyped Indians as workers due to the high number of Indian workers in the city. When he was waiting for his driver to pick him up, he assumed an Indian man in the lobby, dressed in a cheap suit, and with a thin mustache, was his driver. However, the man turned out to be the owner of the hotel. Maz acknowledges his mistake and humorously points out that the man was also staring at him, presuming Maz to be the driver.

Q: How does Maz Jobrani hope to change stereotypes through his comedy?

Maz Jobrani aims to break stereotypes and present Middle Easterners and Muslims in a positive light through his stand-up comedy. He wants to challenge the negative perceptions associated with his background and hopes for more film and television programs to portray Middle Easterners in a positive manner. Maz, with his comedy, tries to bring people together and showcase the good in all people, emphasizing that it only takes one person to mess things up. He leaves the audience with the hope that one day there will even be a Middle Eastern James Bond.

Takeaways

Maz Jobrani's comedy highlights the challenges and stereotypes faced by Middle Easterners, specifically Iranian-Americans, in today's society. He uses humor to address topics such as travel restrictions, identity dilemmas, Hollywood stereotypes, and the unfortunate association of terrorism with certain ethnic backgrounds. Maz encourages breaking stereotypes and portraying Middle Easterners and Muslims in a positive light, emphasizing that there are good people everywhere. He hopes that through his comedy, he can challenge misconceptions and foster understanding among different cultures and backgrounds.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Maz Jobrani is a founding member of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, along with Ahmed Ahmed and Aron Kader, and discusses the challenges they faced touring the Middle East as Arab and Iranian-Americans.

  • As an Iranian-American, Maz Jobrani experiences internal conflicts between his Iranian and American identities and the stereotypes associated with Middle Easterners and Muslims in Hollywood.

  • Maz Jobrani highlights the importance of breaking stereotypes through comedy and hopes for more positive representation of Middle Easterners and Muslims in the film and television industry.

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