There was a big MuslimFest in Mississauga recently, and their biggest draw was the comedy show. Unfortunately, though we took on other stuff from the festival, the comedy show was sold out. Few months back I had attended another Muslim comedy night at Yuk Yuk's, called Allah Made Me Funny. I had a hard time sleeping that night as my stomach was still aching from too much laughing.
There is this guy. He plays off his Taliban-style looks and deadpans, "Everywhere I go people look at me as if I am responsible for 9/11. I had nothing to do with 9/11 ... 7/11 maybe, but not 9/11."
There were a lot of families at these events, mainly because it was 'Muslim' comedy. That meant no fart, sex, blonde jokes, and no expletives. Which implied the lines had to be really funny to be effective.
I really liked the British girl, Shazia Mirza.
"My name is Shazia Mirza. At least that's what it says on my pilot's licence."
"I went to Mecca. In front of the holy black stone, where you repent your sins, someone pinched my bum ... Clearly, my prayers had been answered."
There was Preacher Moss, a black Muslim convert.
"When I was young and they caught a criminal I would pray it wasn't a black person." He says honestly. "And now when they catch a terrorist I pray it's not a Muslim. And then came the DC sniper!!! A black AND a Muslim!!! I was like, whaaaaat!"
Comedy had a long history in Muslim times before disappearing until recently. It started with the Messenger of God himself. Once an old pious lady came to him and asked him if she was going to heaven after death. With a straight face he told her that no old women were going to heaven.
The Prophet said to those nearby: "Tell her that no woman goes into heaven as an old woman." He then read the Quranic verses: "We shall have brought them into being in a life renewed ... " (56: 35-36), meaning heaven-goers were going to heaven as they were in their prime.
There there was Mullah Nasiruddin, a famous character of folklore in the ancient Muslim world.
A friend asked the Mullah how old he was.
Forty, he replied.
But you said the same thing last year and the year before that, the friend objected.
Yes, The Mullah replied, A true Muslim always stands by what he said!
And many more.
Why was there a dearth of Muslim comic until recently?
I think it is because coloniasm and imperialism. Hear me out!
Until the 17th century most Muslims were in Muslim lands and masters of their own destiny. Suddenly much of that was under Christian forces. Therefore it became an us-versus-them attitude and no one made fun of themselves any more. After the colonies became free, the departing colonists installed their own puppet dictators who stifled freedom of speech. So in many countries these people still cannot say what they want.
So no matter that much Muslim comedians are now coming from Muslims in the West, who enjoy freedom of speech, religion, dress etc. It is also now catching up in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and many African countries. Long may it continue.