Hey all, this same piece is posted at my blog, Good Reason News, but there you get a hilarious video as a bonus for visiting. As always, I'm happy to discuss, explain or correct anything. Thanks for reading.

Actor Jason Alexander, Seinfeld's 'George Costanza,' is pushing a program he created, called Imagine: 2018, in which Israeli and Palestinian high school students are asked to write stories about their vision of a world 10 years after a hypothetical Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. I assume he means a functioning one. But in a recent article he provided some interesting insight.

"Jewish humor is self-deprecating humor," said Alexander, who is Jewish. "Nothing makes a Jew laugh more than jokes about Jewishness. It's purely speculation, but my guess is that's probably not as true for the Arab world."

Alexander's not making any statements about Arabs, other than revealing his and most people's perceptions. And who can disagree? Hardline Islamic stances on music, dancing, and sports give the religion such a joyless face.

So it may come as a surprise to him, as it did to me, that there seems to be a small uprising of Muslims trying to connect with the rest of the world through comedy. Here's an even better piece from NPR on some of the same comedians. Look, there was even an Ara-American Comedy Festival in New York last month, featuring several Muslim performers.

I remember on 9/11 my dad and I having a talk about how could these cultures ever come together, and we both arrived at comedy and music. Yesterday I talked about 'Christian quiet' as a measure of suppression. In Muslim culture suppression is achieved chiefly through isolation.

So this Muslim comedy movement is a huge step. It's an example of Muslims symbolically throwing off their own Burqas, without anyone tearing them off. Their dipping their toes into the cool waters of secular society and simultaneously, bridging the gap.

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Comment by Billy Deaton on June 29, 2009 at 11:18am
Méabh, good point. I think what I didn't make clear was that the "Allah made me funny" show the two previous links address were to play that festival (along with the Axis Of Evil Comedy tour). But it was Arab-American and I did call it Muslim. Whoops.
Comment by Little Name Atheist on June 29, 2009 at 2:42am
Billyist, that was an Arab-American comedy festival. I didn't see anything on the site that indicated it was Muslim-only performers. That may have been a slip of the brain and fingers, and you are probably already aware that not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs.

I'm surprised a comedian (Jason Alexander) who has ties to the Middle-East doesn't know any better.

felch wrote: These people can do more to try and undo the madness than any number of Imams, secret policemen or precision guided missiles.


The "Axis of Evil Comedy Tour" first aired on Comedy Central in 2005. It was a hoot! I wasn't able to find anything on the Comedy Central website with complete videos of each performance, but I did find
some videos for Maz Jobrani, the only Persian on the tour. Too bad the intro for his Happy Birthday Bellydance is missing.

More videos of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour.
Comment by Billy Deaton on June 29, 2009 at 12:07am
"I see humour as the antithesis of barbarism."

Yes! exactly. And yes Daniel, humor will persist. I am optimistic enough to believe that humanity will one day beat religion everywhere, even if religion still exists, the most oppressive and violent aspects of it will be phased out. I think a lot of people are currently taking the next step and letting it go altogether. Humor is a big part of that. Because funny things are transparent.

It's like that Simpson's line: "It's funny cause it's true" Inversely, one may say truth is funny. I think when a religion or sect bans comedy, it's because they've realized the connection.

And that Danish cartoon is a huge part of it. But the times are changing quickly. I wonder if in ten years a thing like that would illicit as much vitriol as it did in '05 or whatever year that was.

thanks for the video and that link felch.



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