For the three Muslim-American stand-up comics showcased in the concert film Allah Made Me Funny, terror is something more than stage fright. Mohammed Mo Amer and Azhar Usman make fun of themselvestheir wife and mother jokes are universal; much of their ethnic shtick could be Jewish or Italianand their situation. Amer bounds onstage expressing incredulity: This is a lot of room for a Palestinian! The heavily bearded Usman starts immediately with bin Laden jokes. Usman is less cautious than Amera good vaudevillian, he rags on Jews and Catholics as well as South Asiansbut he still stops well short of any irreverence. And Allah-Made-Me-Funny is a relative concept: Its obvious that Amer and Usman labor under the burden of making humor at once insider-cool and outsider-friendly. And its hard to finesse offensive from a defensive crouch. The most skilled comic of the three is the nation of Islam convert Bryant Preacher Moss, who not only evokes Saddam Hussein but goes on to imagine him as a black man in court, arguing with the judge. The U.S. is scared by two things, Moss riffs. I got the best of both worlds. Hes completely self-referential. Perhaps self-satirizing his faith will be next.
Oct. 7-9, 2008