Ahmed Ahmed’s Just Like Us //
Ahmed Ahmed’s directorial debut Just Like Us is hilarious and will keep you laughing as some of the most well-known international comedians perform from one city to the next. The film, which recently premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, surveys the culture of comedy in a handful of Arab cities and takes a pragmatic approach to revealing the nuances that can get you a standing ovation in one country and banned in another.
The film features an impressive roster of comedians, including Iranian-American Maz Jobrani, African-American Tommy Davidson, German-Welsh-American Whitney Cummings and Egyptian-American Eman Morgan, among others. With such a diverse set of perspectives and backgrounds, the jokes not only keep you laughing, but will keep you curious as to how each audience will react. For instance, Beirut, Lebanon was open to just about any joke about any topic, while in Dubai — politics, the royal family and religion are off limits.
Along with the footage from performances and interviews with the comedians, the film also gives us a personal look at Ahmed’s life and career. I won’t reveal too much, but his father alone is worth spending the time to watch the film.
We are left with a sense that comedy is pushing boundaries in the Middle East and allowing for otherwise uncomfortable conversations to take place. Together with its informative documentary structure, graphics, cinematography, and beautiful still imagery, Just Like Us is definitely a satisfying film to see.
About the Author: Negin is a producer and fundraiser dedicated to using art and media to engage, interact, and influence broader change. Currently, she is focused on the production and distribution of film about and from the Middle East.