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Laramie Movie Scope:
Allah Made Me Funny

Three Muslims perform individually live stand-up comedy

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2008) Demonstrating their moxie in a movie, directed by Andrea Kalin, three Muslim comedians - Mohammed Amer ("I'm more Jewish than you"), Azhar Usman, and Preacher Moss - perform individually live stand-up comedy in front of a mixed audience. All three acts are provocative, inciting laughter without resorting to vulgarities.

Mo', a Palestinian-American ("We have no home") from Houston riffs on his mother's disappointment at his wanting to become a comedian: "No money." She urged him not to talk about politics 'cause they'll send us back. "We don't go to a doctor," he says of his family's avoidance of professional medical attention: everything is treated at home with olive oil.

In Wal-mart with his seven-year-old nephew, he doesn't dare call out the boy's name Osama after the kid runs off. Recently married, he says he's discovered he has "no decision-making in the whole process," in which everyday life is like a game of chess (obviously invented by a woman) where the all-powerful queen keeps the king in check. "I'm pregnant" is checkmate.

Women in Muslim homes are terrorists, agrees Azhar, the son of a "hilarious" (though unaware of it) Indian father and Indian-Pakistani mother. Pointing out the name of a Pakistani restaurant in Chicago, Usmania, he says he likes it for being his own name and for "U.S. mania."

He comments on George W. Bush's inability to correctly pronounce "terrorist" with the word coming sounding like "terrace." Having long hair and a bushy beard, he says he finds relief in traveling outside the US where instead of being feared for being Muslim (other passengers on the flight certain the plane will be hi-jacked and crashed into a building) he's despised for being an American.

Muslim holidays (fasting for month during Ramadan) for kids can't compete with America's Christmas or Halloween. "V"s and "W"s are problematic for Indians: "Bollyvood," "Vest Wirigina," "Wolksvagen." Why with rap music's putting on a mean, street-gangsta exterior, do the performers pick such wimpy names for themselves: Ice-Tea, MandM, 50 Cent?

When Preacher Moss, an African American, tried telling his mother the reason he'd given up alcohol and chasing girls while hanging out with guys more often was because he'd converted to Islam, she'd already figured he was gay. With most Americans scared of black people and Muslims: "I got the best of both worlds."

Demonstrating the Somali smile (not something to be trifled with), he says regretfully that Muslims lack a theme song. The reason "terrorist" has been broadly applied to Muslims by those hateful of others who practice the Islamic faith is because "Indian," "Mexican," and "nigger" were already used.

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Copyright © 2011 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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