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October 10, 2003 - Image 76

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

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Arts Life

Lo t y ur
then call Mickey

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Two years after 9-11 and three years into the Arab
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757400

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
pwik
Iranian.
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
quips.
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-
joke.
"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
show
is doing is talking about a topic
character say very clearly how we felt
that
has
been ineffably absent on the
very supported by George W Bush
air.
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
welcome
to it. The Egyptian-born,
Djalili knows it.
American-raised
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
gone."
Only the iconoclastic Goldberg —
although she prefers thinking of herself
as "just someone who's got a TV show"

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