Maz Jobrani Uses Comedy to Tell the Immigrant Story

Why Donald Trump is bad for comedy and what makes a good joke.

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Maz Jobrani
Actor, Writer and Comedian Maz Jobrani. Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

For this episode of The Scene, my guest is actor, writer and comedian Maz Jobrani. Jobrani was a founding member of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour in 2005, and since then has released three other comedy specials on Showtime, including Brown and Friendly, I Come In Peace and I’m Not a Terrorist, But I’ve Played One On TV. His latest comedy special, Immigrant, was recorded at the Kennedy Center in 2017 and is available as a Netflix Original. He has performed at the White House, where he introduced Michelle Obama, and was a regular on CBS’s recent sitcom Superior Donuts. Other film and TV credits include The Interpreter, Disney’s The Descendants, Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero, Everything Must ChangeGrey’s Anatomy, Curb Your Enthusiasm, True Blood and many others.

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Jobrani’s humor draws heavily on his experiences as an Iranian American, and in this podcast episode he talks about how media stereotypes lead to misconceptions and racism toward Middle Eastern and Arab people — a racism that often has significant geopolitical consequences. (For more on this subject, listeners can look to the work of Jack Shaheen and his documentary Reel Bad Arabs.) Jobrani also describes how Donald Trump is bad for comedy, his interest in political science and psychology, and what makes a good joke. His observations are intelligent and far-ranging, so whether you’re interested in politics, comedy or both, give this episode a listen and reflect on the issues he raises. (I’ll also acknowledge that, while we couldn’t get a perfect phone connection, it shouldn’t affect your ability to hear the full interview.) A sample clip from Immigrant is below, and you can watch the full special on Netflix.

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