Muslim Comedian Finds Humor in American Muslim Life

July 22, 2006

Source: Telegram and Gazette

On July 22, 2006 Telegram and Gazette reported, "A devout Muslim, Azhar M. Usman relates easily to Jewish audiences. 'I’ve got a long beard, I went to law school and I keep strictly kosher,' the stand-up comedian says. Mr. Usman is appearing tonight at a fundraiser at the Worcester Islamic Center, a $3.3 million showcase for the region’s Muslim community that opened last year on East Mountain Street. Part of a small but increasingly popular fraternity of American Muslim comics, Mr. Usman is more than a performer. He is a religious believer and Muslim activist who has also been a preacher. Mr. Usman skewers stereotypes and portrays the plight of Muslims who are sometimes 'profiled' as terrorists at airports and shopping malls, investigated by the FBI and locked up without trial in Guantanamo Bay. 'Black Americans always say they can’t get a fair trial. We can’t get any trial,' Mr. Usman quips with his patented political edginess. One of his signature lines used to be: 'I’m not a terrorist. I just play one on TV.' Now he jokes about boarding a plane and the passenger next to him going into shock, pulling out her cell phone and calling a spouse, as if her last hour were at hand, to say: 'Honey, I love you.' Mr. Usman also sometimes lampoons his fellow Muslims with inside jokes about mosque politics... A co-founder of the 'Allah Made Me Funny' Muslim Comedy Tour, Mr. Usman has been featured on 'Nightline' and in The New York Times."