mazjobrani.comThe Mob chats with Maz Jobrani Nick Farah Comedy, Interviews Maz Jobrani is an American Iranian stand-up. He has five stand-up specials under his belt and keeps a very healthy IMDB — most recently starring on CBS’s Superior Donuts. Maz just finished a busy JFL, hosting the Ethnic Show and performing at various shows including the Howie Mandel gala. We had a chance to pick Maz’s brain while he was in town. Mobtreal: Welcome back to Montreal, Maz. You’ve been here a bunch, This isn’t your first time here, how would you describe your relationship with the city? Maz: We used to date each other. I’m told I’ve been here doing the Ethnic Show for five out of the ten years it’s been on. My first time here was 2008. I don’t think I was doing Ethnic Show, maybe New Faces. I honestly don’t remember, it all blends in. Mobtreal: You started standup in the 90’s, right? Maz: Yeah 1998, so this is my 20th year. I was telling my wife the other day — the Bush election was 18 years ago, in 2000 — it feels like yesterday. The Hanging Chad! Mobtreal: How was it finding your voice in that climate? Were you always political? Maz: Yeah, you know what happened was, I started comedy in 98. I took a standup comedy class, and the teacher said: “Talk about what makes you different.” I was the only Iranian American in the class, and I started talking about growing up Iranian in America. A lot of it was jokes that weren’t too political but more social commentary, about what it was like to be different in America. One of the early jokes I did, and it was a silly joke: “Growing up Iranian in America is hard. Parents won’t let their kids spend the night at our house because they think we’re gonna hold them hostage.” A silly joke, but then suddenly September 11th happened, which the Bush administration used as an excuse to attack Iraq. You’re looking at the TV and you’re like — wait a minute, how did that happen? Like, the attackers were Saudis and Egyptians, and Bin Laden is in Afghanistan, and you’re going to attack Iraq? So as a comedian I see there are a lot of serious issues I can talk about through comedy and make fun of what’s going on and try to also have a serious message underneath it. So yeah, I think I became political pretty fast. I will be honest with you too. In 2008 – it just so happened my son was born and Obama went into power. Politically speaking, I just didn’t find a lot of comedy there, but more importantly, as a comedian, I started to do a lot of kid material. Even then, I continued to talk about a lot of the discrimination that was happening against middle easterners, I made fun of the media and their coverage of people from that part of the world. So, I think the political undertone has always existed for me. Mobtreal: How do you decide when to deliver a serious message, versus making a punchline? Maz: You know, I would love to find a punchline in everything. I think it’s okay to take a moment to say something serious and I did, I took a moment in my Netflix special, Immigrant. I spoke about how Trump needs to take responsibility for his words, and how he never takes responsibility for his words, and how a lot of his supporters excuse his words and say “Oh he’s just saying things, nobody is going take him seriously,” and I go “Well, here is an example where people taking him seriously.” In 2016, there was a guy in Kansas at a bar who saw these two Indian guys, and he went to his car, got a gun and he came back and shot them. He then escaped, went to another bar and says he just shot some Iranians. One of those guys died. I personally think that Trump’s rhetoric is responsible for a guy having the audaciousness to go – for no reason, these guys didn’t do anything – to go to try to just kill these guys because of their background. So, I took that moment in my special to actually talk about that, and then I went back into telling jokes. I think sometimes there is no punchline. It’s OK to remind people that we are living in this anti-immigrant climate and that they should be uncomfortable about it, and they should do something about it as well. They should check themselves as well. A lot of time people make excuses for some of the anti-immigrant stuff out there and I don’t accept that, I don’t think that’s acceptable Mobtreal: Do you feel a responsibility to educate with the work you’re doing as well? Maz: You know, I don’t set out to either educate or be political just to do that. My goal is to be funny. Now, if in being funny I can throw out some sort of joke that also has an educational aspect to it, then that’s great. I mean, I’ll be the first one to admit that I feel undereducated in many aspects of many things. So when I do crowd work in my audience sometimes, if somebody is from a country I don’t know anything about, I’ll probably spout something stupid. If somebody says they’re Columbian, I might say “Oh, Shakira.” I mean, it’s stupid but fun and it gets people to laugh at how little I know how Columbia — besides Shakira, Sofia Vergara, and Pablo Escobar. That’s an American education for you. If there’s some learning aspect to the show, then even better. Again in my special, I went to the audience and we started going around learning how to say the word “balls” in different languages. So, I’m not Neil Degrasse Tyson. Mobtreal: Thanks for your time, Maz. What’s in store for you, looking forward? Maz: I have a TV show on CBS that just got canceled. I’m currently pitching three or four different shows, so I really hope to be on something pretty soon. Meanwhile, I just keep touring and people can always find my tour dates at mazjobrani.com or follow me on socials @mazjobrani. I’ll let you guys know when I’m back in Montreal again. It’s a great city. Thanks for having me. Maz Jabroni will be performing next in LA August 19th. Buy your tickets here. (This interview has been edited for clarity and length) Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.