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6Qs with Comedian Baha Khalil //

11.22.09
bySeif Al-Din

BahaKhalilAlthough Baha Khalil never intended to become a comedian, it’s clear he was made for the stage. From his grade school days of earning “big red Fs in behavior” to his debut performance at the 2009 New York Arab-American Comedy Festival, he’s been making making rooms of people laugh out loud with his natural wit and pungent delivery. We caught up with Baha for a few laughs, some inside info and thoughtful conversation.

STATS:
ice cream or frozen yogurt:
Ice Cream
favorite toy as a kid:
Nintendo-Zelda
favorite comedian:
Dave Chappelle


1. More fun to make fun of: Uggs or kids on leashes?

I really hate Uggs so I’d probably want to make fun of those. I just cant stand seeing people wearing them. There’s NOTHING that looks good with those Uggs.

2. You had the entire room at the Arab-American Comedy Festival laughing out loud your FIRST time on stage – what took you so long to try comedy?
I just wanted to make sure the first time i got up there I did a good job, so I just waited for the right moment to attack, and I did. I selected the best material I thought I had and auditioned. I always wanted to be in the Arab Festival, so fortunately I got chosen. It was a momentous occasion.

I always liked comedy ’cause I was always the class clown – I got a big red F in behavior all the time, but my grades were good so my teachers didn’t know what to do. I remember in my 8th grade class signature book, my teacher wrote, “you’re a very funny guy, you should pursue comedy in the future.” I don’t think that had any effect on me, but I guess other people saw it.

3. What’s the funniest movie you’ve EVER seen? Why?
I like Office Space, because I can relate to it working in an office day to day. Plus, it was based on a comic about the Milton character, which was basically inspired by my all-time favorite: Dilbert. They never made a Dilbert movie, so I can’t say that’s my favorite.

4. Who do you practice jokes on?
I never really practice them. When I’m around my friends and we say something funny and everyone starts laughing, I’ll write it down. I think jokes are of the moment – creating and practicing them doesn’t work for me.

5. Are you ready to take on a mainstream crowd?
I think I can do it, but I’m not ready at this point because I feel like I’ll sell myself short. I find making fun of [Arabs] with people that understand more enjoyable than with people that don’t, because they end up laughing at instead of with me, and I don’t want that to happen. I want to make sure that when I go to the non-Arab world people can relate.

6. Do you think comedy can actually solve problems, or does it just make us forget about them momentarily?
(He pauses). I don’t think it’ll solve problems, I think it’ll allow people to open up their eyes a little bit. You can bring up a lot of stereotypes within comedy and start to water them down. And over the years people will start to realize that what they think is just silly. For example, the idea of a guy wearing a turban is now funny, not scary to everyone. I think it’s something you can inject into society over time.

I just like to make people laugh, I’m not trying to save the world or anything. Hopefully it can have that positive effect on people, that would be great.

Check out this video of his debut performance at the 6th annual New York Arab American Comedy Festival.



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