As I reflect on 2013, I cannot help but yearn for the past. The good old days. It was a simpler time, a time when we smoked in hospitals and planes, when pulling out was the only mode of protection in sex, when drinking and driving were the norm. A time when we didn’t childproof our homes or put the kids in car seats. A time when allergies and hypersensitivity did not exist. Those were the good old days for realz.
This won’t work without a confession: Growing up, I was proud to be Muslim for so many reasons. People seemed to be converting to Islam every day. The fact that most of the conversions took place in prison, and that Mike Tyson became Malik Tayson after biting another human’s ear off of his head, were just details. But boy, did I ever pray for Santa Clause to convert to Islam. I mean he already had the beard. Miracles do happen Inshallah.
So I’ve been trying to get into shape since 1993 and it’s not working. Do you know that they fry chocolate bars now? As if the chocolate bar needed alterations to its already irresistible package. I’m never going to be skinny.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Middle East has been imploding (and exploding) for a few years now. One day it’s Arab Spring and we’re all yay! But the next day it’s all civil war and coups and the high price of hummus.
Ok, so how many of us rush to switch radio stations when a French song comes on the radio? A lot of us, I know, as if you’d go deaf if you hear a word sung in French, such an urgency gotta rush and turn that dial.
You’ve heard what’s been booming in lower Westmount? In fact Westmount is now referred to as Upper St-Henri ( I totally made that up). Its the hood to be in right now. I am a proud resident of this ever growing quartier, but that wasn’t the case from the get go. The week I moved here a stabbing took place at the local strip club, then a year or two later someone was murdered at my cross street, and don’t even get me started on the prostitutes running the corners. The fact that not a single car ever slowed down for me is despicable.
I cannot escape it. Everywhere I turn someone is talking about how we should racially profile Muslims, or stop allowing Muslim students into North America, or how Islam teaches hate and violence, or that Arab men are abusive, or that Jesus is so much nicer than Muhammad. The list goes on and on and on.
Madonna aka Madge — where do I begin? I mean, she is royalty in the music world. She sang about her virginity, burned crosses, kissed Britney Spears on national television, made Jean Paul Gauthier’s cones erect, wrote a children’s book…the list is endless and so is her playlist. You either love her or hate her, or even love to hate her. But since her debut in 1984, the woman has had an album or at least a song (I’m sure more than one) that you absolutely adored.
I am proud to tell you my taste in music and film is unanimously disrespected by everyone I know. I am not a music connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I just found out the Rolling Stones are British and not American. Ya, no respect.
No matter what religious affiliation you are, everyone knows Muslims do it the worst. Why is that? It’s math – we invented it. We’re a billion. I love being Muslim for so many reasons. I’m so proud on so many levels. But my favourite? We tan so well. What works against us at the airport is a blessing in the sun.
“Palestinian is that a religion?” “Palestinian? That’s Jewish right?” “You’re really funny for an Arab! Heck you’re even funny for a woman.” These are some of the hilarious comments I get in my career as a stand-up comic. As a Palestinian woman in comedy, I’ve landed some opportunities I didn’t necessarily deserve. I also didn’t get gigs I did deserve. And, what do you know, I’ve gotten gigs just on the merit of being funny.
When my family and I immigrated to Quebec, my siblings and I were forced into French school and boy am I grateful. Without it, I wouldn’t be fluent in three languages (although with an accent making me sound foreign to all three). As a working comic, I travel often to the US and the Middle East. Because of Loi 101, people I meet are totally impressed with mon français. They assume I have some sort of high society education. They obviously a) have never heard the Quebecois accent, and b) don’t know I’m a college dropout – and to be honest I’m in no hurry to tell them.
Telling my parents that I finally found out who I truly am was not a pleasant experience. Their Middle Eastern culture dictated that they wanted a more traditional life for their daughter. But I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t conform to the norm. The path I have chosen to live my life may be unconventional and insecure but I cannot imagine living it any other way. Sorry, Mom and Dad, I’m a comedian.
Montreal is home to Just For Laughs, the most prestigious Comedy Festival on the planet. So you’d think comedy would be huge in this town. Unfortunately, it’s only huge for huge acts. People come out in a pack to see a well-known comic, and that’s great. It’s something to look forward to – but for now can you come and support us while we’re crawling to fame and fortune? I’m hoping to turn you on to something different: the ever under rated Open Mic Night (cue Saw soundtrack).