Allah Made Me Funny

"Good"

Allah Made Me Funny Review


Anyone holding an AARP card surely remembers The Ed Sullivan Show, a Sunday night variety extravaganza wherein each act was introduced by a fish-faced New York gossip columnist with a carriage like a reanimated clothing rack. The variety acts varied in intensity from hotwire rock acts to Broadway musical stars to plate-spinners to Topo Gigio. But there were always comics -- harmless middle-of-the-road stand-ups like Morty Gunty, Alan King, and Jackie Vernon.

In Allah Made Me Funny: Live In Concert, we are back to the old days of the Sullivan show as filtered through a Comedy Channel sensibility. Three comics perform stand-up in front of an adoring crowd (director Andrea Kalin repeatedly cuts to members of the audience with shit-eating grins on their faces, buckling over laughing and wiping back the tears, channeling the cheap audience reaction shots from a Bob Hope comedy special circa 1968). The comics -- Mohammed Amer, Azhar Usman, and Preacher Moss -- all hit on the same traditional comic targets of family, marriage and women. The only difference is that the three comics are Muslim comedians in the shadow of 9/11 trying to prove that they are just as funny as Brad Garrett, Louie Anderson, or Wayne Brady. And they do -- for what that's worth (probably an open-ended gig in Vegas).

Mohammed Amer, a Houston born Palestinian, starts his set with great promise by looking over the small stage and remarking "this is a lot of room for a Palestinian." But soon enough, Amer begins sounding like a Palestinian Myron Cohen. He talks humorously about his family and his mother's lack of acceptance of him as a comic: "I never think my last son will be a loser." He covers marriage, cats, women, and Wal-Mart and gingerly touches upon stereotypes. He does get in a good one when his mother exhorts him, "Don't talk politics or they'll send us back." "We're Palestinians. We're stateless. Where are they going to send us back to?"

Moving on to Azhar Usman, a tall and menacing/cuddly bear of a man with an imposing beard and crazy hair parted in the middle, he is a walking cartoon of a terrorist. But Usman quickly demonstrates that he is possibly John Krasinski in disguise. He begins his act poking fun at Hollywood stereotypes, quickly overturning perceptions by commenting that in Hollywood, Muslim men are depicted as terrorists and Muslim women are shown as being oppressed, but in a Muslim household, it is the opposite -- the women are the terrorists and the men are oppressed. Usman gently kids Muslim holidays like Eid, lapses into Don Rickles ("I knew there was some people from India here. I thought I could smell you.") and ends his act with a great one-liner concerning traveling overseas: "Here I get dirty looks for being a Muslim. Sometimes it's just kind of nice to be hated for just being an American."

Rounding out the pack is Preacher Moss, a converted Muslim with the sly fox demeanor of a young Eddie Murphy; he is the most edgy of the trio. He calls Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein "the only funny Muslims they can put on TV right now." Moss also comments on the white response to asking after 9/11, "Why do they hate our freedom?" "Being black I already know the answer. That's easy because nobody else has any."

Allah Made Me Funny is a pleasant and amusing ode to banality. And it certainly proves that Muslims are "normal people" that shouldn't be feared, which may be a great revelation for Bible Belt conservatives. But for others, eager for some type of satirical flame-throwing in these days of woe, those rare appearances by Mort Sahl must still be like a beacon of hope in the arid wilderness.

Aka Allah Made Me Funny: Life in Concert.



Allah Made Me Funny

Facts and Figures

Run time: 83 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 1st October 2008

Distributed by: Unity Productions Foundation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andrea Kalin

Producer: Bryant Moss, Azhar Usman

Starring: Mohammed Amer as Himself, Bryant Moss as Himself, Azhar Usman as Himself

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