Even though his jokes are about politics, Jobrani says he feels a boost because of what he describes as all the material – and chaos – of the Trump presidency.
Dubai: For Iranian-American Maz Jobrani, a stand-up in Dubai marked the first time he has been in front of a large audience abroad since the start of the coronavirus pandemic – and he’s feeling it.
“Doing stand-up comedy is a bit like going to the gym – you have to take the stage five, 10 times a week,” said Jobrani, sitting in a Dubai hotel overlooking the Burj Khalifa, the most tall building in the world. “You have to keep going or the muscles are going to rust.”
Jobrani had a calm demeanor during a recent interview with The Associated Press. It was a far cry from the exaggerated expressions and dancing he is known for in his performance.
Taking the stage at the recent Dubai Comedy Festival, Jobrani burst into an Iranian dance routine to one of Dua Lipa’s hit pop songs, eliciting laughs from audiences eager to be the coronavirus The pandemic still rages across much of the world. The UAE has one of the highest per capita vaccination rates in the world and its economy has largely reopened.
Being on stage has become a luxury for comedians, Jobrani said, with some unable to perform for more than a year. After the sites closed last year, additional creativity was needed. First, Jobrani started doing shows on Instagram, letting his fans know what he did on a daily basis during the lockdown, or doing workouts using random items.
Then he tried drive-ins, which posed the same problem for stand-up comedy as online video calls: “You can’t hear their laughter,” he said. “You have to remind them, ‘If you like what I’m saying, if you like the joke, please honk your horn,'” he recounted. “So people would honk you, you were telling a joke (and) they would honk you.”
In some states in the United States, he has performed in outdoor venues to audiences of limited capacity. At others, he played indoors. In Arizona and Florida, he performed in comedy clubs, where he said he felt nervous because it was before the vaccine rolled out.
“Comedians need interaction – we’re better off in a room, with an audience, laughing, talking,” he said. “And this far-off world took that away from us, but again, I think we have adjusted, a lot of people have adjusted.”
Jobrani, originally from Iran, moved to California at the age of 6 with his family. Like many Iranians, they fled the 1979 Islamic revolution in the country. He grew up in the San Francisco area.
His acting credits begin right after the 9/11 attacks with a major role in the American action series 24, in which he plays a member of an Afghan militant group hoping to detonate a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles.
Later he stopped playing such roles, but still played with the theme, setting up the Axis of evil comic tour. He wrote a book called I’m not a terrorist, but I played one on TV. His comedy is largely fueled by this and his past. During Donald Trump’s tenure, he focused on the US president.
“You know, for the last four years I’ve been very political, constantly with the Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump stuff,” he said. “You know the ban on Muslims, you know the children in cages, you know the mismanagement of coronavirus . “
Jobrani’s visit to Dubai came at a critical time for the wider Middle East. Tensions still remain high between his native Iran and the United States as negotiations continue over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers as a hard-line supporter appears poised to take the presidency.
On the day of its set, Israel and the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip agreed to a truce after an 11-day war killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians in Gaza, and caused heavy disruption. destruction in impoverished coastal territory.
While Jobrani discussed the conflict and the politics of the region in an interview with the AP, he didn’t mention it in his set.
“It’s interesting because what you do as a comedian, you know, your job is to make people laugh,” Jobrani said. “If I lived here and… felt there was an injustice and really wanted to talk about it, I would probably find the right way to do it in this society.
The UAE just last year struck a diplomatic recognition deal with Israel and signed the White House deals with Trump – but Jobrani believes Trump shouldn’t be praised for the deal.
“There was no will to solve this problem, the Israeli-Palestinian problem,” he said. “I feel again that maybe governments, especially America, have not prioritized it, even under Obama and especially under Trump.”
“It was laughable that a lot of conservatives in America were like, ‘Well, Trump made peace in the Middle East,’” he said. “I said, ‘They weren’t at war, what are you talking about?’ “
Life doesn’t seem to be slowing down for the actor. He continues his tour by creating his podcast Back to school with Maz Jobrani, spending time with his wife and two children, and caring for a dog they adopted during the pandemic.
But even though his jokes are about politics, he says he feels a whiplash of what he has described as all the material – and chaos – of the Trump presidency.
“I’ll say I’m almost exhausted, it’s almost we’ve had PTSD for four years,” Jobrani said. “But the problem is, what I feel is the injustice in the world has not stopped,” he continues. So sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I have to go back on this roller coaster.’ “