Day: April 23, 2010

Ahmed Ahmed shows Arabs have a sense of humor in documentary, “Just Like Us,” debuting at Tribeca

A few years ago, Ahmed Ahmed toured the United States and the world as part of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour in a self-deprecating knock on the stereotypes against Arabs and Arab comedians. Now the Egyptian-born stand-up comedian wants to flip the axis and show Americans that Arab people have a sense of humor, too, documenting a comedy tour through the Middle East in his new film, Just Like Us. Just Like Us has its world premiere April 24 at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's the trailer: "A lot of people think the Middle East is all bunched up like one country," Ahmed told me in an interview earlier this week. "The countries are definitely distinct." In Dubai in the U.A.E., the comedians worry about crossing the lines on religion or sex onstage, because as Ahmed says in the film, he had been banned from performing there for a year previously after poking fun at his own background. In Lebanon, meanwhile, the party atmosphere of Beirut seems to suggest anything and everything goes. In Saudi Arabia, where the government forbids public entertainment, the tour is forced to work underground channels. And in Egypt, we see that every citizen seems to have a larger-than-life sense of humor. At one point in the film, Ahmed says the point of it all is this: "Laugh at ourselves, and the rest of...

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Mike DeStefano talks tough about his life and show business on the eve of his Comedy Central Presents

There's a lot going on in Mike DeStefano's comedy career this spring, and the debut of his half-hour Comedy Central Presents tonight is just one of those things. We talked about as much of it as we could earlier this week. But first, here's a clip from his special: Have you seen your Comedy Central special yet to see how they edited it or bleeped it? "No, I haven't seen it. I cut out cursing. I think I might've gotten bleeped one or two times. Everybody is shocked that I can work without cursing. I curse because that's how I talk in real life. I didn't become a comedian because I want to change the way I speak or talk." Speaking of becoming a comedian, your personal backstory has quite a lot of trauma to it, with not just drug addiction but also great personal loss. Did you do not do any stand-up comedy before that? "The first thirty years of my life was a nightmare. I shoulda been a serial killer and not a comedian." What changed the path for you so you didn't become a serial killer instead? "I don't know really. I did it. I tried it out at an open mic. I was suicidal and I remember getting a laugh at an open mic." Was that here in New York or down in Florida? "That...

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