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October 10, 2003 - Image 76

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-10

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Arts Life

Lo t y ur
then call Mickey

Flooring Warehouse,

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Two years after 9-11 and three years into the Arab
intifada against Israel, comedians mine the humor
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ey, didja hear the one
about the Mideast terrorist
who decided to become a
stand-up comic but
bombed on stage?
Or maybe you know why it is that
Iranian weathermen have only one
forecast: Rain of terror.
Then there was the suspicious-look-
ing Palestinian who expressed surprise
at being pulled over by Israelis at a
checkpoint just because he was brag-
ging, "I'm off to see my Auntie Fadah;
she's about to pass a stone."
Ready for terrorist jokes?
They seem to be play-
ing out just fine on TV
these days as Whoopi, the
new NBC Tuesday-night
sitcom starring Whoopi
Goldberg as a bed-and- .-n
bored hotelier, raises the
ante with jokes about the E:
Mideast quagmire.
In the middle of it all is
a Mideastern character:
her handyman Nasim
(Omid Djalili), an
And just how did he get Whoopi as Mavis Rae and Omid Djalili as Nasim on
to the States? "I ran," he
"Whoopi": "We called my first show 'Th7 a Short, Fat
Kebab Shop Owner's Son, "'jokes Djalili.
Billed as "Britain's only
Iranian standup comedi-
— would attempt such humor.
an and actor," Djalili is never more
"The bottom line," says the Oscar-
than a stone's throw away from a
winning star, who is also her show's co-
"Being the voice of the Middle East," executive producer, "is people are con-
cerned about terrorism," and all the
he kibitzes, it is important "that my
is doing is talking about a topic
character say very clearly how we felt
been ineffably absent on the
very supported by George W Bush
when he said that [the attack on Iraq] is
"More than anything, these things
not a war on Islam itself or the country
happen in our lives; it's part of what I
of Islamia."
can comment on. It's part of the world
This may very well be the first time a
we live in."
Mideast character has had such a high
It's also Ahmed Ahmed's world, and
prime-time punchline profile — and
to it. The Egyptian-born,
Djalili knows it.
comedian is doubly
"I'm very grateful to Whoopi,
popular, with both Arab and non-Arab
because mostly my characters [in the
audiences, when he takes his show- on
past] have come and gone in a couple
the road all over America.
of seconds, dragged away shouting, 'It
"As far as audiences go, well, there
wasn't me who stole the grain!"'



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Taking Djalili's comments with a
grain of salt is no problem; he's got a
great sense of humor — and irony.
"We called my first show Dn a Short,
Fat Kebab Shop Owner's Son, because we
felt Omid Djalili was too difficult for
people to remember," he quips.
British audiences can't forget him. "A
lot of the issues that I bring up [on
Whoops] are things that I've explored
through my standup for the last seven
or eight years," he says. "The atmos-
phere is very ripe everywhere I've
Only the iconoclastic Goldberg —
although she prefers thinking of herself
as "just someone who's got a TV show"

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