‘Laughs’ as tolerance

Written by | October 27, 2011

Middle East Studies Center to host stand-up comedians Amer Zahr and Max Amini

Expect a witty combination of laughter and displays of tolerance at “An Evening of Laughs,” a stand-up comedy show co-sponsored by the PSU Middle East Studies Center and the Arab Persian Student Organization.

Are you ready to laugh? Amer Zahr, on Arab-American comedian, will perform Saturday with Max Amini, of Iranian heritage, in the Smith Memorial Student Union.

Are you ready to laugh? Amer Zahr, on Arab-American comedian, will perform Saturday with Max Amini, of Iranian heritage, in the Smith Memorial Student Union.

The event will feature two accomplished comedians: Arab-American Amer Zahr and Max Amini, who is of Iranian heritage.

“Max and Amer are two amazing Middle Eastern comedians. They have done
numerous shows around the world, and I am thrilled to have them perform at
PSU,” said Emon Ghassemi, president of the Arab Persian Student Organization. “They both do a great job of bringing people of all cultures together.”

The Middle East Studies Center promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. Amer Zahr hopes that the event will do just that.

“Comedy is a fun way to get to know Middle Eastern culture,” Zahr said. “It humanizes each other and makes people see that Arab-Americans have humanistic, real qualities other than what you see on the news.”

Zahr, who has worked in the comedy business for seven years, is originally from Palestine. He attended law school in Michigan, where he was introduced to stand-up.

“The school brought in an outside group and asked if someone wanted to talk for awhile,” Zahr continued. “So I got out there and told a couple of stories and jokes, and people were actually laughing, and that’s when I caught the bug. Then I started going to comedy clubs from there.”

Amer Zahr has performed in festivals and has produced and headlined in two of his own shows, 1001 Laughs Comedy Tour and We’re Not White! He has appeared on radio and television, and is outspoken on Middle Eastern political and social affairs.

“People listen when they laugh,” Zahr said. “People need to learn more about us and our deep contributions to the American community. What people see on the news is so distorting that it is hard to look at us without a suspicious eye. That’s why I do what I do.”

Sharing the stage with Zahr will be Max Amini, a UCLA graduate who’s worked as a comedian for nearly 10 years. Amini was born in Tucson, Ariz., grew up in Washington, D.C., and currently lives in Los Angeles.

“Why did I decide to do the show?” Amini chuckled. “It’s what I do. I’m a comedian.”

Amini graduated from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television in 2004. He was chosen as one of the finalists for NBC’s Diversity Showcase in 2009 and has performed all over the world.

“During a summer at UCLA, I took a workshop in comedy and fell in love with the art form and stayed with it,” Amini said.

Comedy is certainly an art form worth falling for. “An Evening of Laughs” promises to be a fun, educational and hilarious showcase.

The event takes place on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom. Tickets are required, but they are free and can be obtained at the box office in SMSU.

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