This Iranian American comic is facing down some of her toughest critics: Fellow Muslims | KUOW News and Information

This Iranian American comic is facing down some of her toughest critics: Fellow Muslims

Jun 2, 2016

Iranian American comic Negin Farsad doesn't always feel the love when she's doing her stand-up routine. And some of the toughest reactions to her comedy have come from fellow Muslims.

In her new book, "How To Make White People Laugh," she describes performing before an audience of several hundred people in Tuscon, Arizona, when a group of Middle Eastern women dressed in hijabs rose from their seats and walked out in protest. She says they'd found her jokes about dating and sexuality "shameful." 

"They wanted to hurt me, you know, and I was hurt by it," she explains. "That kind of thing really sucks. I'm not gonna lie."

But as Farsad explains in her memoir, those female audience members had stayed put in their seats when the male comic before her had talked about looking at pornography as a teenager. 

"It was a great bit and no one in the audience left," she writes. "It wouldn't be surprising to me if these Muslims felt that jokes were best served with a side of penis." 

Farsad admits in a chapter entitled "My Own People Don't Like Me Very Much" that her most heartbreaking opposition has come "from my own people."

But she seems to have come to grips with those who find her humor inappropriate. She doesn't flinch when she describes how an Iranian woman in another audience called her "a whore." It's all rich fodder for her insightful comedy. 

"It's sort of giving us a chance to reflect on how we're treating each other within the Muslim community, as well as how we are being treated as Muslims," she says. 

And she isn't letting it get her down. 

"You can't assume support just because you share a background," she writes. "After every instance of my own people not liking me very much — the folks that call me a whore, the hate mail, the death threats, the walkouts — I pick myself up, dust myself off, and re-apply some moisturizer." 

Read an excerpt below from "How to Make White People Laugh."

 


From PRI's The World ©2016 PRI