An American-Muslim comedian on being typecast as a terrorist


Should I say anything? “Ahmed Ahmed take one?” Boo! I played a terrorist in the movie “Executive Decision.” [“Executive Decision” clip] I played a terrorist on the sitcom “Roseanne.” [Clip:] “Nothing you can do will make me talk!” [Clip:] “Oh, really?” [Clip:] [Scream] In a film called “Steel Sharks,” I played this evil, Persian submarine commander. All my lines were like “I’ll kill you in the name of Allah!” You know, or like “Off with their head!” [Clip:] “Your time has come, American.” You always see the same guys at every audition. You can hear the actor in the audition room with the door shut. You know “I’ll kill you in the name of Allah! I’ll kill you!” [Muffled] And the door opens up, and the guy’s like “Thank you very much for having me in.” “Hope to get the part, see you on set!” Yah know. There was never the Arab friend. Never the Arab doctor on “ER.” They never had like the guy like me. I’m about as American as you come. I called my agent one day and I said, “Don’t call me for these terrorist parts anymore.” And the phone stopped ringing. I started waiting tables at a restaurant. The restaurant I worked at didn’t serve great food. So I had to make people laugh in order to get the tips that I was trying to get. That’s when I made the decision that I can be a stand up comedian. “The very funny, Ahmed Ahmed!” [Ahmed Clip:] “And my parents are practicing Muslims, so they pray five times a day.” [Ahmed Clip:] “and my American friends always walk into my house when my parents are in mid-prayer.” [Ahmed Clip:] “Like, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Ahmed, what’d you lose?” [Ahmed Clip:] “‘What’s going on over there?'” [Ahmed Clip:] “What’re you looking for?” Slowly but surely, you start picking up tricks of the trade. I spent a lot of time in the comedy clubs, sitting in the back of the room til’ two in the morning. Just watching and studying comics. I became friends with Mitzi Shore who owns the little famous Comedy Store. She became almost like a mentor, grandmother. And then September 11th happened. Right after September 11th, a lot of hate crimes were happening. Mitzi said, “I’m gonna open the club this Friday, you have to go on and talk about being Arab.” and my opening joke was, “My name really is Ahmed Ahmed.” “I had nothing to do with it.” “Just telling you so you don’t follow me out to my car after the show.” [Ahmed Clip:] “I got to the airport, man, I checked my bags and the guys said,” [Ahmed Clip:] “Are these your bags?’ I said ‘Yes.'” [Ahmed Clip:] “He says ‘Did you pack them yourself?’ I said, ‘Yes.'” [Ahmed Clip:] “And they arrested me.” [Ahmed Clip:] [Laughter] I worked with a couple other comedians, Arab and Middle Eastern guys. We started touring around. We went all over America, we ended up going to the Middle East. Selling out 20,000 tickets, in five countries, in thirty days. We were the first ever Middle Eastern comedy show on Comedy Central. [Ahmed Clip:] “If you think about it, both Jews and Muslims have more in common than any other religion ever.” [Ahmed Clip:] “Both Jews and Muslims don’t eat pork, we don’t celebrate Christmas,” [Ahmed Clip:] “We both yell on the phone when there’s no emergency.” [Ahmed Clip:] [Laughs] Stand-up comedy allowed me to have a voice to talk about being Muslim in a funny way, without having it be imposing or threatening. I had a woman come up to me one night after a show and said, “Are you really a Muslim?” I said “Yeah,” she said “You’re wearing a nice suit and you have a smile on your face.” I was like… [laughs] The impressions that America is getting, the negative impressions of Muslims, it’s not good. I get profiled all the time. If you Google my name, “Ahmed Ahmed,” there’s a guy from Egypt who pops up, who’s a terrorist, who kinda looks like me. He’s a lot shorter with a mustache, he looks like a porn star actually. But he has all these aliases he goes by, and the first two are “Ahmed Ahmed” and “Ahmed the Egyptian.” I’m like… I gotta find this guy, cause he’s ruining my life. They all think that I’m him. And then it dawned on me, maybe he’s in the Middle East googling me like, “Hey bro, look! There is this this comedian in America, who’s using my name.” Like random Arabs walk up to him. “Bro, you’re so funny! I saw you on YouTube, tell me a joke.” He’s like “I’m not a comedian!”

100 Replies to “An American-Muslim comedian on being typecast as a terrorist”

  1. Ahmed Ahmed is incredibly funny! i saw him at a comedy show in the Middle East and i could so relate to so much he talked about …. Thank you Ahmed Ahmed for de-mystifying Muslims & Arabs in a comedic way that bridges language barriers and cultures!

  2. What people misunderstand and mix up and criticism of islam from the right is this. at its current form it doesn't mix well with western values. People like to generalize of say any criticism of Islam is islamophobia, while this sounds fair to the left. its only hurting Muslims by ignoring the horrendous wrongs that go on in Muslim majority country's. The basic rights of women, minorities, gays and those of other religions is taken away everyday. Things like child mirage and genital mutilation are seen a right. While thought of leaving leaving or insulting the religion deserves nothing less of death is an idea held by majority of "peaceful Muslims". While everyone defends Islam like this things don't happen and invite more Muslims to the west, they fail to see that in its current form Islam does not want to be shaped by western ideas but rather take over it. Islam needs a revolution like one Christianity faced so it can change for the better and adhere to western beliefs of free speech, freedom of religion, gender equality, tolerance etc.

  3. Muslims shouldn't be judged but Islam definitely should be. Islam should be mocked, criticized and satirized just like Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or any other ideology. It's high time people realize that criticizing Islam is not "racist".

  4. Reza Aslan was the executive producer…well that sucks. Can't stand that lying bastard but Ahmed Ahmed seems pretty cool. I wish him well with his stand up career

  5. Just saying, when I think of Muslim characters in the media, I think of Sayid from Lost. Way to go, Naveen Andrews!

  6. 30% of muslims in the US think Sharia law is appropriate. Alot of them think stoning women is an appropriate punishment.
    This guy is obviously a stand up dude, but he is the minority, people.

  7. Talking about representation is super important, and your voice is heard now by hundreds of thousands of people. Thank you for sharing your story; I'm looking forward to the rest of these videos.

  8. Whilst Islam is a terrible religion, I sympathize with what Muslims had to go through after 9/11.
    And of course being a Muslim doesn't automatically mean you're a bad person, but if you're a "good" Muslim, you don't completely understand your religion. If only every single Muslim was like this guy!

  9. this is why we need a world without religion, so individuals can pay for their own crimes instead of blaming a whole culture for the acts of the few.

  10. Vox should make more videos like this and stop talking about the presidential election because it just makes people salty

  11. seeing an arab friend or an arab doctor in a movie/show would be really cool ! not just for the representation but I think it would be really interesting

  12. If someone said that we should have a complete shut down of Christians entering the United States (thanks to the KKK) or a complete shut down of Irish entering the United States (thanks to the IRA) that would be met with complete out rage. How did Trump do it?

  13. Islam is a religion founded by a genocidal peadophilic slave-trading warmonger. The fact that we in the Western world still pander to this vile death cult is incredible to me.

  14. Actors like him are the cancer to their communities! He was making a living out of making negative stereotypes about his own people shame on you!

  15. I just notice that people just notice Islam after 911, they are digging to Islam(mostly finding flows) but while digging they find Treasure. I would like to say that it's seems there's still good even though many died in 911 attack but I really wish it didn't happen. why is it people will just realize something when it's already too late. I have a feeling of gladness and sadness, first of all I feel glad because of this, it really shows who care about Islam and whose not, secondly I feel sad because I wish there's other way things should happen 🙁 , I mean I wish there's no need for the death….
    my questions is that, War is really needed for people to change, like War in the past century that lead to this high tech generation?

  16. This guy should stick to evil parts. Imagine if he played a good guy, it just wouldn't be believable… Muslims in real life are rarely ever good. So, I don't see how that would work ;(

  17. I'm really sorry about his situation in social tension, unnecessary stress. But I really want to picture a terrorists profiled as an American Comedian. It should harbors lots of awkward super wrong conversation.

  18. How is this guy a Muslim if he isn't even practicing?

    again, vox cementing this place in history as nothing but a propaganda outlet.

  19. Still a lot of people in my country (Philippines) with bigoted ideas towards Muslims
    Love this series. I'll keep sharing this.

  20. You should make all the refugees open food stores, restaurants and coffe shops. Have you tried 'real' arab food? its the best.

  21. People should know, by now that you don't kill anybody in the name of God if you are a true Muslim. It's one of the biggest sins to kill someone, whatever reason for behind it.

  22. Quran (2:282) – "And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women."

  23. i love ahmed ahmed and miss him so much, bro wheres your show at? i can't find you anymore, come back, and bring the whole squad with you. i grew up watching your tours on tv with the whole family, one of the few times my mother didn't care about my bedtime was whenever your comedy group aired on tv. love it, thank you <3

  24. Next week I am going to have an operation. It is complicated because the area is full of scar tissue from another operation. My female doctor is doing the operation because she is the best at this type of procedure.

    She is Iranian……no hijab. Very educated of course. I look at her and know that all Muslim fathers are not the same…he educated his daughter…she has obviously never been abused as is the stereoype for Muslim women. But there are others not as fortunate…Yemen is the Muslim country voted the worse place in the world a girl can be born. Vety different fathers there.

    Ahmed Ahmed is likable and makes cute jokes as the old Jewish comedians use to do. Of course Muslims are humans with the same good and bad characteristics as the rest of us.
    But…..I can't laugh at the ideology of his parents who are interrupted from praying to a God like Allah five times a day. Where does Ahmed stand? Is he a practicing Muslim…..????

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