(Photo credit: Doha Comedy Festival)
By Ashlee Starratt
The Doha Comedy Festival (DCF) is back to the bring the laughs at QNCC on Sunday, Sept 3, 2017, capping off this year’s edition of the Qatar Summer Festival! Brought to you by The Social Studio, the show will see five internationally-renowned stand-up comics take the stage – including Palestinian-American Mo Amer, Iranian-American Maz Jobrani, ‘Lebanon’s Kind of Comedy’ Nemr, Indian-American Vir Das, and Qatar’s own Hamad Al-Amari!
The summer edition of DCF comes on the heels of its winter installment back in February that saw The Daily Show host Trevor Noah make his Doha début, alongside British ventriloquist Paul Zerdin.
We’re giving away 2 VIP tickets for the September 3 performance to 1 of our lucky followers below – but first check out our exclusive interview with the iconic Maz Jobrani!
(Photo credit: The Social Studio)
ILQ: You were a founding member of the ‘Axis of Evil’ Comedy Tour when it began back in 2005 alongside Ahmed Ahmed and Aron Kader – which was ground-breaking for its time during the Iraq War, having an all-Middle Eastern line-up of comedians. What was the vibe and audience reaction like on those early days of the tour?
MJ: The ‘Axis of Evil’ Comedy Tour was the right tour at the right time. There was the Bush administration and the Iraq War. When we started touring, our audiences came out in droves. It felt like there was an audience who had just been waiting for us to show up. When we first came to the Middle East in 2007 I think we did something like 27 sold-out shows in 30 days. We felt like rock stars. It was a magical time.
ILQ: With comedy specials such as ‘Brown And Friendly, I Come In Peace’, and ‘I’m Not A Terrorist, But Played One On TV’, you’ve never shied away from using humour as a means to confront racism. Has it worked?
MJ: I don't know if it's worked and to what degree. I do get people reaching out from time to time on social media saying things like, "I never knew your people laughed." That's a good sign. Sometimes I get comments like "Go back to your country." So that's a bad sign. I guess you can say my comedy fights racism 50% of the time.
ILQ: What topics are hot on your mind just now that audiences in Qatar can look forward to during your performance at the upcoming Doha Comedy Festival?
MJ: I have a lot of Trump material, as well as material about my kids. My new Netflix special Immigrant just came out and I’ll be doing a lot of jokes covered in that special.
ILQ: Is it fair to say that in recent years audiences worldwide have become a lot more sensitive and less receptive to political humour? Have you ever felt like you had to self-censor or alter your jokes and the kind of commentary you make in order to be politically correct?
MJ: I'd say with Trump it's become easier to do political material since everyone is aware of his Tweets and foibles. I've become more emboldened to do political material given how appalled I am by him. Sure, there are those who get easily offended and may write you a note criticizing something you said – but you have to keep expressing your personal thoughts. Otherwise you're just a jukebox taking requests and trying to please everyone.
(Photo credit: CBS.com)
ILQ: This isn’t your first, or even your second, visit to Qatar as a performer. How has the landscape of comedy in the MENA region shifted or evolved since the Arab Spring in 2010? What were people in the region laughing at before, and what are they laughing at now?
MJ: Hmmm. I haven't lived in the region to be able to tell the difference. Perhaps a local comedian would know better. However, as someone who has visited Qatar and other countries in the region since 2007 I can say that I’m truly impressed with the growth and acceptance of stand-up comedy in the entire region. I'm not sure if the Arab Spring expedited any of this, but stand-up comedy in the region seems to have a bright future.
ILQ: Considering that the platforms on which we consume media have changed over the years – Ex: Netflix, YouTube, Snapchat etc. In what ways, if any, have you had to change the delivery of your message to reach your target audience?
MJ: I continue to build towards one-hour specials and put those out every other year. However, I’ve also started to take the older specials and put them out in short clips on my YouTube channel. This way people who don't have Netflix, etc. can still view it. Then you have to chop it up to even shorter clips for Instagram.
ILQ: Your fans can now catch you on CBS’ newest comedy series Superior Donuts. Tell us a bit about your role on the show and what drew you to being a part of the series? Also, any new comedy specials or tours coming up?
MJ: We’re now taping Season 2 of Superior Donuts. I describe it as Cheers in a donut shop. It's a great cast with Judd Hirsch from Taxi, Katey Sagal from Married With Children, David Koechner from Anchorman, Jermaine Fowler, and Rell Battle. I play an Iraqi businessman and get to say some pretty outlandish stuff. It's a fun part to play and we’re trying to send some positive messages through the show. As for specials, my first Netflix original special just came out August 1. It's calledImmigrant and people can stream it anytime.
(Photo credit: www.mazjobrani.com)
Enter to win 2 VIP tickets to the Doha Comedy Festival on September 3 at QNCC by clicking HERE!
Enter soon as we’ll be announcing the winner on Moday, August 21!
Good luck! May the odds be in your favour!
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