Saturday, 30 May 2009

Robert Baer on Iran and America, their joint futures

Robert Baer is a respected former CIA case officer turned author. In this video below he gives a frank account of Iran's grip on America's future. Recorded in November 2008, the video shows Baer describing Shia significance and Iranian influence in the Middle East, why Iran is a powerful and necessary player in the region and how the USA can and must engage with Iran.

It's a lucid and realistic analysis.

Iranian comedian - Ali Mafi

Openly gay, Muslim and very funny, Ali Mafi was keeping a blog/vlog of his stand-up performances, but it hasn't been updated since the middle of last year. YouTube has some more recent performances...

Performing at SF Comedy College

SF Comedy College (part 2)

Friday, 29 May 2009

Iranian comedian - K-von

K-Von has an Iranian Muslim father and Scottish-American Presbyterian mother and he's toured with Maz Jobrani on the "Brown and Friendly" comedy tour. He holds a weekly show at the Laugh Factory.

K-von's standup material touches on everything from being raised in a Las Vegas based multi-cultural family to some of his more absurd observations regarding the perils of internet dating.  A comic who is prepared to perform in any venue and often works with children in the audience, K-von makes an extra effort to keep his comedy clean with a little edge to it.

K-Von's website list upcoming shows, video clips and more info. He's also a fitness and swimming coach, and K-Von has a blog!

From Comics Without Borders

Talking about his dad

Persian men


Thursday, 28 May 2009

Has there been a change of course in US-Iran relations?

Two years ago two former high-ranking American policy experts argued that the US had secretly been preparing for war with Iran. That war hasn't happened yet and the Obama administration has been publicly, and no doubt privately, trying to construct a way for meaningful dialogue with the US. The hawkish Republican officials are gone, but does their planning remain?

Iranian comedian - Eslam Anthony Shams

Eslam Anthony Shams is an Iranian-American comedian and successful actor. His comedy routine switches between English and Farsi and he's got some harsh words for those Iranians in America who go to his shows and don't enjoy the 40% of it that's in English. Here's an interview with him.


More of Eslam Anthony Shams

Iranian comedian - Peter Shahriari

Better known as Peter the Persian, Peter Shahriari is one of the most established Iranian comedians in America. Born in Tehran, he's been performing around Los Angeles for over 10 years. He's a regular at the Comedy Store there and is no stranger to improv and just getting onstage to do his thing. He studied political science and law at UCLA and as a self-described comediologist he brings a great deal of insight and intelligence to his onstage act. He was also a part of the Sultans of Satire comic relief project. He's also a practicing attorney!

Taking on stereotypes at USC

An interview with Voice of America

In Persian with some English.

More stand-up

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Pardis Parker

Pardis Parker has an Iranian father and a Sri Lankan mother, so he makes it onto the list. He's a quick-witted, sharp stand-up comedian, actor and music video director. He's had nationwide exposure on several all-black comedy jams and will be touring his native Canada in 2009.

His stand-up routine focuses less on his ethnic make-up and culture and more on general observation, the problems with fitting into society caused by his unique personality and you can tell by his big smile in the last video that he's just riffing and enjoying himself onstage.

His handicapped friend

His lack of social skills

Pardis Parker onstage

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Iranain comedian - Ali Sadooqi

Ali Sadooqi is a Persian comedian who does stand-up, comedy songs and more. All videos below are in Persian.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Matthew Nouriel

Matthew Nouriel was born in London, England to Iranian parents. In his teenage years he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he lives to this day. Matthew has worked in television, film, and theatre, and more recently, been performing stand-up comedy. His Iranian heritage, along with his British sensibilities and American influences result in a unique point of view in life, and ultimately result in very funny comedy. Matthew Nouriel is on MySpace and has his own YouTube channel.

Live at the Comedy Store

Talking about hair, manicure and machismo

Back at the Comedy Store

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Yashar Kafi

Yashar Kafi is an Iranian import to the US, speaks Persian as his first language and studied at Oregon University. Yashar Kafi has his own YouTube channel with all his videos. And he's on MySpace. He's a great stand-up comedian who's just starting out and has already become a regular at places like the Comedy Store. His act focuses on stereotypes, perception and the comedy of politics and necessity. He's particularly sharp when it comes to the clash between political ideology and reality, showing how politics can make for great comedy.

Talking about employment and terrorism

More stand-up from Yashar Kafi

Most recent stand-up video

The loneliest cupcake

Yashar Kafi also stars in this very odd short video...

Tehran bazaar, what's changed?

This photo from LIFE magazine's Flickr archive shows that in the last fifty years, something have changed very little. Stepping into the Bazaar-e Bozorg/Grand Bazaar in Tehran today would be like stepping into this photograph. Some of the vendors would have changed and the products, but the hustle and bustle and influence of the bazaaris on Iranian life would still be the same.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Iranian comedienne - Negin Farsad

Negin Farsad is a critically acclaimed director, writer, actor and producer who helped bring MC Frontalot to the world's attention. She's also a stand-up comedienne and . Her successful comedy tour 'Bootleg Islam' was:

... a comedy about a California-raised Iranian-American girl gallivanting around the streets of Tehran, Iran. She travels to this Middle-Eastern hotbed for a cousin’s wedding and discovers how ridiculous oppression can be, how delicious the third world has become and how hard it is to keep a chador on.

Her website is full of info about all her projects, upcoming events, links so you can follow her on Twitter, etc.

On visiting Iran

Talking about her film Nerdcore Rising

On Ahmadinejad's visit to Colombia University

Here's Negin Farsad interviewing lots of people who can't even pronounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's name without having to think about it for 2 minutes. Whether or not Ahmadinejad should have been invited to speak at a prestigious American university the people who want to protest against it could have at least had a clue who he was, his politics, etc. You can't just answer the call from a political action committee, go out there, get interview and sound like a dolt.

Appearing in "Don't call me that!"

Negin Farsad has her own channel on YouTube (currently only 2 videos on there), which includes this short documentary about a bakery helping immigrant women in New York.

Karim Sadjadpour on Iran, politics the nuclear issue

Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, is always lucid and insightful. In this 2006 video he looks at:

  • US-Iranian relations
  • the two "ticking bombs" of the nuclear programme in Iran and regime change
  • changes in US policy
  • internal conflicts in Iran
  • why Ahmadinejad provokes Israel and how it benefits from Israel's response
  • the prospects for a richer democracy in Iran

Friday, 22 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Max Amini

Max Amini was one of the "Iranian guys" in the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. He's also had a bit part as a taxi driver in Heroes. His physical, facial stand-up comedy routine is a laugh a minute and his comedy sketches for TV are also great. His website is up to date with all his upcoming performances, video clips and sketches, stand-up clips and more.

There an interview with Max Amini on from last year where he talks about his upbringing, comedy and career.

From the Axis of Evil tour

Just after Obama's election victory

Talking about clubs in LA

On Maryland

Latinos and Persians

Getting attacked by a dog

Clips from the House of Blues

Bad dancing and Riverside, CA

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Reza Peyk

How to describe Canadian Iranian stand-up comedian Reza Peyk? Reza Peyk is badass. He's young, hip, edgy, vulgar and incredibly funny. Born in Tehran in 1982 to a former colonel and housewife, his family emigrated to Canada. He's relatively new to the comedy circuit, but he's working hard to get himself established and is constantly pushing boundaries and breaking taboos with his comedy taking his audience out of their world and into his own. He's recently been on tour with Maz Jobrani and will be out promoting his new DVD a lot in the summer.

He's got his own website and a new DVD out. He's also got lots more videos on his site.

Early stand-up video

Recent video

More Reza Peyk

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Trita Parsi videos on Iran, Israel and their conflicting interests

Nobody interested in Iran could be surprised that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provoked outrage with his comments at the UN anti-racism summit. Nor would they be surprised that most Iranians find such outbursts embarrassing and out of touch with their own views. What's surprising is that Ahmadinejad keeps doing it. A typical response from Israel is Binyamin Netanyahu's:

Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said that while Israel would be commemorating 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, "in Switzerland the guest of honour is a racist and a Holocaust denier who doesn't conceal his intention to wipe Israel off the face of this Earth".

If Trita Parsi is to be believed, both Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad represent the rejectionist, anti-conciliation wings of their own domestic political scenes. Where both countries were once perilously close to reaching an understanding (based on being pariah states in the Middle East and the need for mutual security) they have since moved much farther apart in the past fifteen years.

There are a few reasons why Ahmadinejad continues to provoke Israel:

  • it plays well on the "Arab street"
  • it gives the Iranians credibility in the Middle East to be seen as a staunch opponent of Israel and defender of the Palestinian cause
  • it shows up those Middle Eastern regimes and leaders that ally themselves with Israel
  • it offers a way for the Iranians to disguise their otherness in a homogenous region (being non-Arab and non-Sunni)

Trita Parsi on Iran-Israel relations

In this video Trita Parsi gives an insight into the relationship and vying for power between Iran and Israel. Essentially both countries have conflicting interests in the Middle East, both want a close relationship with the US in order to avoid being shut out of power in the Middle East, but at the moment: Iran is on the outside, Israel is on the inside. He also covers the Israeli relationship with the Kurds and how that gives Iran's genuine enemies of Israel power within the Iranian domestic political scene.

Trita Parsi and Barbara Slavin

In this video Trita Parsi and Barbara Slavin discuss how the Iran-Israel tensions affect the internal political dynamic in Iran (strengthening radicals and weakening moderates), the suppression of civil society in Iran, how the US policy to Iran could be improved and provide an insight into internal politics in Iran.

Ali Khamanei - his politics and influence in Iran

With the Iranian elections coming up very shorly, it's a good time to look at the role of the Supreme Leader and the politics of the man who currently occupies that role. Ali Khamanei, as Supreme Leader, is the most powerful person in Iran. However, he relies on a complex network of patronage and influence, and is himself constrained by other powerful interests. Little of known of his personal politics outside of Iran and Karim Sadjadpour, in this video, outlines some consistent themes from his speeches and actions.

Khameini, a fairly low-ranking cleric, got the job of Supreme Leader over other more qualified choices. Ayatollah Montazeri was often considered Khomeini's successor, but in the end Khameini was chosen. That much everyone knows. But how did Khameini get there and how has he kept his influence? Sadjadpour gives some insight into that.

Update: Mehdi Khalaji looks at Khameini's history and his role in the 2009 Iranian presidential elections.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

America's obsession with Iran

Seymour Hersh has an interesting article about America's obsession with Iran. The article covers the possible moves towards peace between Syria and Israel but constantly comes back to Iran. Peace between Syria and Israel is, for both the United States and Israel, a way to either break Syria off from Iran (and reduce the influence of a combined Syrian-Iranian support network for Hizbullah and Hamas) or a way to open a dialogue between Iran and the West. The best quote in the article, for comedy value, must be from the Syrian Vice-President in explaining why minority-governed secular Syria could become allied with religious revolutionary Iran:

Farouk al-Shara, the Vice-President of Syria, was, as Foreign Minister, his nation’s chief negotiator at Shepherdstown. When he was asked whether Syria’s relationship with Iran would change if the Golan Heights issue was resolved, he said, “Do you think a man only goes to bed with a woman he deeply loves?” Shara laughed, and added, “That’s my answer to your question about Iran.”

Monday, 18 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Maz Jobrani

Maz Jobrani is probably the best-known Iranian American stand-up comedian and actor. He appears on TV in the US regularly and tours the nation's comedy clubs on his own or as part of a large troupe. His stand-up is really diverse from talking about the small, hidden aspects of Persian culture, international affairs and politics, through to staples of American life and stand-up. Maz is regularly credited with working hard to break down stereotypes and encouraging inter-cultural dialogue.


Persians vs. Arabs

Iran and the Axis of Evil

Iran calls America

Maz Jobrani's life

Maz Jobrani on Al Jazeera

American torture

With no sense of shame, American politicians and the political pundits close to them, have sought to exculpate themselves from the torture of prisoners of war, suspected terrorists and "enemy combatants". The evidence is stark (thanks to the tireless work of the ACLU and others):

  • members of the administration actively sought ways to avoid the United State's obligations under international law, the Geneva Convention, etc. and George Bush's public and personal promise to prosecute torturers
  • in practice, those people torturing detainees and suspected terrorists went further than the criminal guidance they had already been given
  • Colin Powell and William Taft understood the necessity of keeping to the rules of the Geneva Convention, but were ignored - realising that once America abandoned those rules, they put their own people at risk
  • the FBI were against it and complained about it

Despite the fact that Japanese torturers were executed at the end of the Second World War for the very crimes that have been permitted and committed;

  • blowhards claim either "water-boarding isn't torture..." (which is clearly is - visit any European museum of torture and you can see the same devices that were being used hundreds of years ago)
  • or by revealing these memos the United States' enemies will know the limits of what the US will do (which should have already been clear from treaties signed, the Constitution and what the President has said to the world)

Why has Barack Obama said he won't prosecute the people who have violated so many laws? Because he is weak and unwilling? Or because he does not feel any public pressure to prosecute these people? The recent example of Somali pirate hostage-takers being killed ought to offer a counter-balance. With safety and security for detainees, POWs and prisoners and a strong stance against torture the US ought to be able to say to its enemies, those interfering with American citizens abroad, etc. "If you fight us, you will be killed. If you surrender, you will not be harmed."

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Iranian comedienne - Elham Jazab

Born in Shiraz, Tehran, but now living in America Elham Jazab is a bug-eyed, big-haired Iranian standup comedienne. Her comedy revolves around the American culture and her experiences in it. She used to be an actress, but now she's working on her stand-up.

Eyebrows, husbands and students

Hairy Persians

And we're talking about people, not cats!

At the movies with Elham Jazab

Hijab and casting, being mistaken for a Mexican

Iranian comedian - Matt Kazam

Matt Kazam has an Iranian father and a Jewish mother from New York. But, as he says, he came out Puerto Rican. He's a hilariously funny stand-up comedian who's totally at home onstage and in front of a live audience. He's been on Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, has worked as an MC for Fortune 500 companies and regularly performs in America's top comedy clubs. He's a veteran of the US comedy circuit with almost 20 years in the business. His act covers every aspect of his life, his heritage and American life - Walmart, sex toys, American cities, kids, Denny's and much more. He's quick, funny and comes across as a really nice guy.

From his website you can get onto his Facebook, MySpace and YouTube sites. You can also buy his stand-up CD featuring two of his live routines.

Life begins at 40

Suburban gangstas

On being Jewish and Iranian

What are you waiting for? Subscribe to Matt Kazam's YouTube channel already!

Tehran 2008

Tehran 2008 photos by Kamshots on Flickr.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Marvin Kharrazi

Marvin "Krazy" Kharrazi is a Iranian-American Jew who (I'm not making this up) quit law school to follow his dream of being a stand-up comedian. His act goes through his identity as a Jew, an Iranian, his religion and it's history, plus lots of sex jokes.

An article from Forward back in 2005 talks about and interviews Dan Ahdoot and Marvin Kharrazi. Marvin is interviewed as "the other Iranian Jewish comedian" in a Jewish Journal piece.

Krazy Kharrazi has his own YouTube channel. And he's on Facebook.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Carry on watching... Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8.

Short dirty jokes

Matzah and Passover

Friday, 15 May 2009

Tehran 2006

Tehran 2006 photos by Kamshots on Flickr.

Iranian comedian - Peyvand Khorsandi

Brother of Shappi Khorsandi, son of Hadi Khorsandi and comedian in his own right. His comedy is high-brow, but with a smattering of accents and misunderstandings.

Three kings visit Jesus

Talking about Andre Agassi

On Persian culture (or not)

Bit of an awkward interview about Persian/Farsi, Iranian/Persian. Not very funny, either! You have to feel a bit sorry for the guy interviewing him.

On 300

Iranians in an elevator

Peyvand Khorsandi is on Facebook and he contributes regularly at

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Iranian comedienne - Shappi Khorsandi

Daughter of the famous, exiled Iranian satirist Hadi Khorsandi, Shappi Khorsandi is a popular and frequent guest on the BBC. She regularly appears on Newsnight, radio panel games and standup shows. There is an indepth profile on the Times website.

Discussing political correctness

Live at the Apollo

On parenthood and pregnancy

(Note - it's Shappi not Shappy, Chappy or Shapi the Iranian comedienne.)

What's happened to Afghanistan?

Some interesting pictures from Afghanistan.

Fred Halliday once wrote about the Left being on the wrong side of internationalism. He was criticising the Western Left for backing the mujahadeen (and allying themselves with the CIA in the process) against the (Soviet-backed) Afghan government. Looking at the destruction wrought on that country since the fall of the government, the Afghan civil war, Soviet invasion and defeat, rise and fall of the Taliban and subsequent rise of the Northern Alliance (containing many Wahhabi-influenced leaders with views similar to the Taliban) you may be inclined to agree with Halliday.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Sean Tahmasebi

Shahram "Sean" Tahmasebi (or Tamasebi) is a Persian American bi-lingual comedian who seems at ease, and funny, in both Persian and English. He regularly appears in TV in the US and at the nation's top standup comedy locations.

Follow Sean Tahmasebi on Facebook.

NBC's Matt Lauer in Iran

Turns out Rick Steves isn't the only American to report from Iran over the past few years. Matt Lauer of American news network NBC reported from Iran a couple of years ago. Here are his video clips...

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Jody Kamali

Jody Kamali is a half-English, half-Iranian British standup comedian from Bristol, England. He's just getting started in his career, but has a few characters and hopefully that my take him down the Paul Calf/Steve Coogan route.

He's on MySpace and Twitter and denies any rivalry with Omid Djalili in this interview.

Ahmadinejad's presidency

Jon Lee Anderson sheds some light onto Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's politics and life in his Letter from Tehran. People living outside of the Islamic Republic are unlikely to ever see one of Ahmadinejad's presidential campaign videos, but Anderson details their contents:

The signature videos for his 2005 Presidential campaign were two thirty-minute productions that expertly portrayed him as a man of the people. In one scene, Ahmadinejad is in line for lunch at a self-service canteen; in another, he walks among the poor. The videos were aired on television repeatedly. The campaign tagline was “It’s doable—and we can do it.”

Part of Ahmadinejad's presidential schtick has been his man-of-the-people-ness and simplicity. Whilst he has a personal history that includes many of the key events in the history of the Islamic Republic, he is still to some extent an outsider, frowned upon by the likes of Rafsanjani and the political mullahs:

A European diplomat said that a senior Iranian official had confided to him that before Ahmadinejad became President he was the sort of man whom the official would have kept waiting for thirty minutes outside his office, just to put him in his place.

The complete article that appeared in the New Yorker discusses the upcoming presidential elections in Iran, the different factions and their prospects.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Understanding the differences between Shi'ite and Sunni Islam

Vali Nasr's The Shia Revival: How conflicts within Islam will shape the future is a fast-paced and readable account of the history and current state of Shi'ite Islam. He covers the original schism between the followers of Ali (Muhammed's cousin) and the ruling Caliphs - a schism which may appear to be about religion now, but was essentially a power struggle. Most importantly, Nasr explains what the differences and animosities are now.

Shi'ites believe that the 12 Imams were able to extract an esoteric understanding of Islam that Sunnis don't believe exists. Sunnis insist that religious sources must be read literally and that the 12 Imams didn't have any deeper understanding than can be achieved by laymen.

Sunnis believe that worldly power, order and control embody a government with legitimacy, whereas Shi'ites believe legitimacy stems from being the best of Muslims (hence their support for Ali as the true Caliph and opposition to the Umyyad and Abbasid monarchies). Being in power and the Imams' failure to take power is taken by Sunnis as evidence against the right of the Imams to rule.

Sunnis don't believe that the Imam's have any better/deeper/esoteric or more insightful knowledge of Islam and don't believe in an intermediary between man and God. Sunnis also believe that the Shi'ite reverence for the Imams and other members of the Prophet Mohammed's family is heretical. For some Sunnis, even the Prophet Mohammed is not to be exhalted above any other Muslim. The Qu'ran is the only direct link to God.

Shia theologians reasoned that the [Twelth] imam's withdrawal must mean that in the interim before his return, political authority could never escape imperfection. Until the end of occultation, there could be no true Islamic rule, and anyone who claimed to be setting up such a regime would by definition be a pretender. Their goal from then on was to keep faith until the imam's return. Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival: How conflicts within Islam will shape the future

Henry Corbin characterised Shi'ism as Islam iraniene. My Iranian friend Kamran explained it to me thus: in order for Islam to consolidate itself as the state religion, it had become "Persianised" rather than the Persians becoming "Arabised". Appealing aspects of Zoroastrianism, rather than being left behind, were incorporated into Persian Islamic thought and practice. Islam colonised Persia and supplanted Zoroastrianism, but Zoroastrianism's revenge has been to fundamentally alter those parts of Islam is came into contact with.

The Islamic conquest of Persia and led to the demise of Zoroastrianism and the rise of Islam in Persia, but Shi'ism only really established itself in Persia when the Abbasid dynasty establish Shi'ite Islam as the state religion.

That is much like Christianity's encounters with animist local religions in Africa and South America, where attempts to completely displace the local gods and religious power-structure were not always successful. Either the missionaries themselves co-opted the local gods to their cause or they allowed the congregationists to take a lunch-buffet approach to their religion: snack on the interesting/meaty bits and leave the religious celery (bland, of no real use) for someone else. Or the Hare Krishna movement in the West (where Krishna has, for all intents and purposes, become nothing more than a blue Jesus).

There are still those aruging that Shi'ites aren't Muslim or wishing "Death to the Shi'ites!".

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Matin Sabzehroo

Matin Sabzehroo is an Iranian-American actor, standup comedian and er... rapper? Wikipedia certainly seems to know quite a bit about him. Although there doesn't seem to be much beyond this comedy routine.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Iranian comedian - Patrick Monahan

Patrick Monahan is a Irish-Iranian comedian. He appears regularly in minor roles on British TV and in comedy clubs nationwide. He has a chatty, story-telling standup routine.

At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2008

Visit his website: and watch his showreel.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

We can't let the Taliban have the final say

It is always disturbing to be reminded of the atrocities and brutality of the Taliban (warning: contains images of horrific violence and brutality) in Afghanistan. With the ever-changing allegiances of the different factions and leaders and no discernible difference between the politics and religious views of the Taliban, Northern Alliance and Hamid Karzi's religious extremist bed-fellows, there is no solution to the dismal human rights situation and abject poverty (in material and spirit) in Afghanistan.

Karzi's acquiescence to religious extremism (seen most recently the "Family Code" which disinherits women, legalises spousal rape, child marriage, etc.) shows that groups like RAWA that are fighting for freedom, peace and human rights are firmly shut out of formal politics and still face life-threatening risks.

It is important that the innocent and defenseless victims of the Taliban and other religious fanatics in Afghanistan be remembered. Their stories should be told and kept from being blown away with the dust of history.

Who was this woman murdered by the Taliban on the dirt of a football pitch? How will she be remembered and by whom? What was she like? Was she funny and outgoing or shy? Did she tell jokes? What was her laugh like? What colour were her eyes? What was her favourite flavour of ice-cream? Was she kind to her sisters and brothers? Did she like reading and telling stories? Was she clumsy and apologetic when she knocked over a glass of tea? Did she like cooking or was she lazy but sly and quick to convince her sister that she was a terrible cook who would only ruin an evening meal?

How long did she have to wait, trembling and crying knowing her death was inevitable? Or was she calm and resigned? Did she hope someone would notice? Did she fear that nobody would ever know what happened to her? What "crime" had she committed before having her memories, dreams and fears shot out of the back of her head by a hate-fuelled fanatic? Did she know her killers? Her accuser? Did she have children or elderly parents she had to care for? Who betrayed her and let the Taliban take her? Was she loved? Is she missed?

What was her name?

Maybe her's is a story that can never be told but there must be others and they must be.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Iranian comedienne - Tissa Hami

Take one look at Tissa Hami and you think Iranian!. And you're right. But she's a fiercely funny Iranian American standup comedienne...

Tissa Hami is one of the world’s few female Muslim stand-up comics. Her unique act and fresh perspective on life as an Iranian-American woman leave audiences in shock and awe. From Islamic fundamentalists to white liberals to good old-fashioned racists, no one is safe from Tissa’s sharp wit. (source)

After the 9/11 attacks on America, Hami felt the need to get active in promoting another view of Muslims in America to the one constantly being shown in the media. Since starting as a standup comic she's worked around the US and taken part in the Randomly Selected and Coexists? comedy tours and featured on a PBS documentary.

A Muslim comedienne and wearing a hijab automatically makes me think of Shazia Mirza from the UK. Their comedy is very different though. Tissa Hami fits in closely with the American standups around the Axis of Evil comedy tour, whereas Sharia Mirza's comedy is more awkward and crude. Shazia Mirza no longer wears a hijab, and for Hami it's part of her act (similar to Omid Djalili starting in mock Persian broken English). Hami has come to be seen as something of a novelty, like Matisyahu (the Hassidic reggae star), in a setting where you'd least expect to find a Muslim woman. In this Australian documentary she talks about what motivates her.

With Dean Obiedallah

Tissa Hami on Mid-West Travel

Standup : American Muslim Comedians Come of Age

Find out more about Tissa Hami on her website:

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Today's empires, tomorrow's ashes

A gallery of photos of lost cities. The tragedy of civilisation is that for a new one to rise, another must be displaced.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Iranian comedienne - Sheila Vossough

Onstage Sheila Vossough looks like your average college age American woman wearing a baggy shirt and jeans giving off a Roseanne Barr kind of vibe. But she's a great Iranian American comedienne as the videos below show...

During her stand-up routine, Vossough had a warning for Iranian women wanting to come to America: "Women of Iran, please stop trying to get the hell out. Where do you think you're going? If any of these stories about your nightlives are true, stay. I swear to God, when you set foot in the States, all this attention from men stops. Men here are not as horny as you're used to." (source)

The internet doesn't seem to know much about Sheila Vossough at the moment, even though she's apprently had her own TV show and been a moderately successful stage actress.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Middle Eastern graffiti and street art and design

Cities like New York, London and Tokyo are famous for their street art and ever-changing graffiti. It's also popular in the Middle East. Flickr has a photo pool devoted to collecting pictures of street art in the Middle East.

There's also the gorgeous Arabeque book about graphic design with the Arabic script (both Arabic and Persian). The website has a great gallery of photos of Cairo and the contents of the book.