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  • I was one of the founding members

  • of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour.

  • The other founding members included Ahmed Ahmed,

  • who is an Egyptian-American,

  • who actually had the idea to go to the Middle East and try it out.

  • Before we went out as a tour,

  • he went out solo and did it first.

  • Then there was Aron Kader, who was the Palestinian-American.

  • And then there was me, the Iranian-American of the group.

  • Now, being Iranian-American

  • presents its own set of problems, as you know.

  • Those two countries aren't getting along these days.

  • So it causes a lot of inner conflict, you know,

  • like part of me likes me, part of me hates me.

  • Part of me thinks I should have a nuclear program,

  • the other part thinks I can't be trusted with one.

  • These are dilemmas I have every day.

  • But I was born in Iran; I'm now an American citizen,

  • which means I have the American passport,

  • which means I can travel.

  • Because if you only have the Iranian passport,

  • you're kind of limited to the countries you can go to

  • with open arms, you know --

  • Syria, Venezuela, North Korea.

  • (Laughter)

  • So anyone who's gotten their passport in America

  • will tell you, when you get your passport,

  • it still says what country you were born in.

  • So I remember getting my American passport.

  • I was like, "Woohoo! I'm going to travel."

  • And I opened it up, it said, "Born in Iran." I'm like, "Oh, come on, man."

  • (Laughter)

  • "I'm trying to go places."

  • But what's interesting is, I've never had trouble

  • traveling in any other Western countries with my American passport,

  • even though it says, "Born in Iran." No problems.

  • Where I've had some problems is some of the Arab countries,

  • because I guess some of the Arab countries aren't getting along with Iran either.

  • And so I was in Kuwait recently,

  • doing a comedy show with some other American comedians.

  • They all went through, and then the border patrol saw my American passport.

  • "Ah ha! American, great."

  • Then he opened it up. "Born in Iran? Wait."

  • (Laughter)

  • And he started asking me questions.

  • He said, "What is your father's name?"

  • I said, "Well, he's passed away, but his name was Khosro."

  • He goes, "What is your grandfather's name?"

  • I said, "He passed away a long time ago.

  • His name was Jabbar."

  • He says, "You wait. I'll be back," and he walked away.

  • And I started freaking out,

  • because I don't know what kind of crap my grandfather was into.

  • (Laughter)

  • Thought the guy was going to come back and be like,

  • "We've been looking for you for 200 years."

  • (Laughter)

  • "Your grandfather has a parking violation. It's way overdue.

  • You owe us two billion dollars."

  • But as you can see, when I talk,

  • I speak with an American accent, which you would think

  • as an Iranian-American actor,

  • I should be able to play any part, good, bad, what have you.

  • But a lot of times in Hollywood,

  • when casting directors find out you're of Middle Eastern descent,

  • they go, "Oh, you're Iranian. Great.

  • Can you say 'I will kill you in the name of Allah?'"

  • "I could say that, but what if I were to say,

  • 'Hello. I'm your doctor?'"

  • They go, "Great. And then you hijack the hospital."

  • (Laughter)

  • Like I think you're missing the point here.

  • Don't get me wrong, I don't mind playing bad guys.

  • I want to play a bad guy. I want to rob a bank.

  • I want to rob a bank in a film. I want to rob a bank in a film,

  • but do it with a gun, with a gun, not with a bomb strapped around me, right.

  • (Laughter)

  • Because I imagine the director: "Maz, I think your character

  • would rob the bank with a bomb around him."

  • "Why would I do that?

  • If I want the money, why would I kill myself?"

  • (Laughter)

  • Right.

  • (Applause)

  • "Gimme all your money, or I'll blow myself up."

  • (Laughter)

  • "Well, then blow yourself up.

  • Just do it outside, please."

  • (Laughter)

  • But the fact is, there's good people everywhere.

  • That's what I try and show in my stand-up. There's good people everywhere.

  • All it takes in one person to mess it up.

  • Like a couple months ago in Times Square in New York,

  • there was this Pakistani Muslim guy who tried to blow up a car bomb.

  • Now, I happened to be in Times Square that night

  • doing a comedy show.

  • And a few months before that, there was a white American guy in Austin, Texas

  • who flew his airplane into the IRS building,

  • and I happened to be in Austin that day

  • doing a stand-up comedy show.

  • Now I'll tell you, as a Middle Eastern male,

  • when you show up around a lot of these activities,

  • you start feeling guilty at one point.

  • I was watching the news. I'm like, "Am I involved in this crap?"

  • (Laughter)

  • "I didn't get the memo. What's going on?"

  • (Laughter)

  • But what was interesting was, the Pakistani Muslim guy --

  • see he gives a bad name to Muslims

  • and Middle Easterners and Pakistanis from all over the world.

  • And one thing that happened there was also the Pakistani Taliban

  • took credit for that failed car bombing.

  • My question is: why would you take credit

  • for a failed car bombing?

  • "We just wanted to say

  • we tried."

  • (Laughter)

  • "And furthermore,

  • it is the thought that counts."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • "And in conclusion, win some, lose some."

  • (Laughter)

  • But what happened was, when the white guy flew his plane into the building,

  • I know all my Middle Eastern and Muslim friends in the States

  • were watching TV, going, "Please, don't be Middle Eastern.

  • Don't be Hassan. Don't be Hussein."

  • And the name came out Jack. I'm like, "Woooo!

  • That's not one of us."

  • But I kept watching the news in case they came back,

  • they were like, "Before he did it, he converted to Islam."

  • "Damn it! Why Jack? Why?"

  • But the fact is, I've been lucky

  • to get a chance to perform all over the world,

  • and I did a lot of shows in the Middle East.

  • I just did a seven-country solo tour.

  • I was in Oman, and I was in Saudi Arabia.

  • I was in Dubai.

  • And it's great, there's good people everywhere.

  • And you learn great things about these places.

  • I encourage people always to go visit these places.

  • For example, Dubai -- cool place.

  • They're obsessed with having the biggest, tallest, longest, as we all know.

  • They have a mall there, the Dubai Mall.

  • It is so big, they have taxis in the mall.

  • I was walking. I heard "Beep, beep."

  • I'm like, "What are you doing here?"

  • He goes, "I'm going to the Zara store. It's three miles away.

  • Out of my way. Out of my way. Out of my way."

  • And what's crazy -- there's a recession going on, even in Dubai,

  • but you wouldn't know by the prices.

  • Like in the Dubai Mall,

  • they sell frozen yogurt by the gram.

  • It's like a drug deal.

  • I was walking by. The guy goes, "Psst. Habibi, my friend."

  • (Laughter)

  • "You want some frozen yogurt?

  • Come here. Come here. Come here.

  • I have one gram, five gram, 10 gram. How many gram do you want?"

  • (Laughter)

  • I bought five grams. 10 dollars. 10 dollars! I said, "What's in this?"

  • He's like, "Good stuff, man. Columbian. Top of the line. Top of the line."

  • The other thing you learn sometimes

  • when you travel to these countries in the Middle East,

  • sometimes in Latin American countries, South American countries --

  • a lot of times when they build stuff,

  • there's no rules and regulations.

  • For example, I took my two year-old son to the playground at the Dubai Mall.

  • And I've taken my two year-old son to playgrounds all over the United States.

  • And when you put your two year-old on a slide in the United States,

  • they put something on the slide

  • to slow the kid down as he comes down the slide.

  • Not in the Middle East.

  • (Laughter)

  • I put my two year-old on the slide; he went frrmrmm! He took off.

  • I went down. I go, "Where's my son?"

  • "On the third floor, sir. On the third floor."

  • (Laughter)

  • "You take a taxi. You go to Zara. Make a left."

  • (Laughter)

  • "Try the yogurt. It's very good. Little expensive."

  • But one of the things I try to do with my stand-up is to break stereotypes.

  • And I've been guilty of stereotyping as well.

  • I was in Dubai. And there's a lot of Indians who work in Dubai.

  • And they don't get paid that well.

  • And I got it in my head that all the Indians there must be workers.

  • And I forgot there's obviously successful Indians in Dubai as well.

  • I was doing a show,

  • and they said, "We're going to send a driver to pick you up."

  • So I went down to the lobby, and I saw this Indian guy.

  • I go, "He's got to be my driver."

  • Because he was standing there in like a cheap suit, thin mustache, staring at me.

  • So I went over, "Excuse me, sir, are you my driver?"

  • He goes, "No, sir. I own the hotel."

  • (Laughter)

  • I go, "I'm sorry. Then why were you staring at me?"

  • He goes, "I thought you were my driver."

  • (Applause)

  • (Laughter)

  • I'll leave you guys with this: I try, with my stand-up, to break stereotypes,

  • present Middle Easterners in a positive light -- Muslims in a positive light --

  • and I hope that in the coming years,

  • more film and television programs come out of Hollywood

  • presenting us in a positive light.

  • Who knows, maybe one day we'll even have our own James Bond, right.

  • "My name is Bond, Jamal Bond."

  • (Laughter)

  • Til then, I'll keep telling jokes. I hope you keep laughing.

  • Have a good day. Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I was one of the founding members

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【TED】Maz Jobrani: Did you hear the one about the Iranian-American? (Did you hear the one about the Iranian-American? | Maz Jobrani)

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    Max Lin posted on 2016/02/09
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