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6Qs with Comedian Ahmed Ahmed //

byMarwa Helal

World famous Egyptian-American comedian and actor Ahmed Ahmed doesn’t need a long introduction, but we’ll give him one anyway. An actor and comedian who has appeared in Iron Man, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Vince Vaughn’s “Wild West Comedy Show,” “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Axis of Evil” Comedy Tour, Swingers, “Roseanne,” MTV’s “PUNK’D,” Comedy Central and Showtime is now headlining FUNATICAL: Taking Comedy to the Extreme’s “We Come in Peace Tour” on Thursday, April 14 and Saturday, April 16 in the Washington D.C. metro area. FEN got these 6Qs in with the notable comedian…

Favorite Book: The Fountainhead
Favorite Drink: Orange Juice
Favorite Venue: I love them all but the Middle East is my favorite region.

1. Are any of your jokes “lost in translation” when you perform in the Middle East?
Not really… almost everything I do in the U.S., I can do in the Middle East. The only exceptions are a couple “local” references. The Internet has really opened up the Middle East to Western humor.

2. How have you used your success as a stand-up comedian to pursue new projects that mean a lot to you?
Well, I recently directed my first documentary-film about our 2009 comedy tour that takes place in Dubai, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt titled Just Like Us. The film proves that Arabs, Middle Easterners, and Muslims laugh just like us. We recently secured U.S. distribution and are in the process of securing Canadian, UK, Scandinavian and Central American distribution.

3. How was the experience of making your first documentary Just Like Us?
It was amazing! We are in post production with a sequel too. I surrounded myself with people smarter than me and we did it. I’m grateful to everyone who participated and supported this project.

4. What role did your parents play in your becoming one of the leading Arab-American comedians?
My parents became very supportive after I made a little name for myself. They were not very supportive in the beginning. All Middle Eastern parents have dreams of their kids being a doctor, lawyer or engineer. They are incredible people though and I’m blessed to have them in my life. They’re in my film too!

5. Of all the Arab-American comedians we’ve seen so far, you seem to be the one who enjoys playing off the audience most. What is the funniest bit that’s transpired as a result of starting up a conversation with an audience member?
Good observation! Yes, I take pride and joy in improvising, being in the moment and trying to create something from nothing. Its a challenge for me. It either works well or fails miserably. The best time was in 2002 at the DC Improv of all places. There was a Jew and a Muslim sitting side by side laughing and I said something like, ‘if anyone can make peace in the Middle East it’s these two guys.’ It got a big laugh and applause break.

Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

6. Tell us about your role in FUNATICAL and what we can look forward to from this production.
It’s a big honor to be working on this project. It’s a very professional team that is using comedy for tolerance and understanding. It’s my first time back to the D.C. area in a while, so I’m excited to return. Most of my material these days is about turning 40 years old, dating, Facebook, and stuff like that.

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