Laughter is the Best Medicine

TEDxEast – Dean Obeidalla – Using Stand Up Comedy to Counter Islamaphobia

Translator: Mary Kay
Reviewer: Denise RQ Thank you very much. Good morning, my name
is Dean Obeidalla, I’m actually a comedian, I have
no idea why I’m in this session. All these smart people, there are
doctors, well-known authors, and I tell mediocre jokes. So, I’m glad to be here though. This is the earliest I’ve ever told
any kind of comedy in my entire life. (Laughter) These people are just waking up
the ones going to my show. I like living in New York City,
it’s a true melting pot, it’s also, for some people
that are out of town, the most stressful city in the world. This actually happened,
this sums it up to me, the example of living in New York. I’m on a bus, a guy
in a suit and a tie boards, it’s taking too long to pay the bus fare. At this moment, a homeless guy
on the bus yells out in disgust, “Come on, I got things to do!” (Laughter) This is New York, this is our city. And moving here, anyone who’s moved here recently,
or thinking of moving in here, that’s not making you a New Yorker,
what does, is seeing the world as one. It took me two years. This is my moment I became a New Yorker. I’m on the subway platform
– this really happened – there’s a pregnant woman
on her cell phone crying, it’s packed, she yells
in front of everyone: “I can’t believe you’d leave us
when I’m pregnant. I can’t believe you’d do this.” The thought is,
“Oh, my God, that’s horrible.” But all I can think of is,
“How does she have cell phone reception?” (Laughter) I felt bad, though. I wanted to hug her and let it out, “Who’s your provider?
Who’s your provider?” (Laughter) Although the reason I’m asked to be here
– and I’m very honored to be here – I don’t have any slides,
I’m just a comedian– Some of my heritage
is little unique for a comedian. I have a mixed heritage
and New York is a melting pot, so I fit in well here. My mom is Italian
– which is not that unique – and my father is Palestinian and Muslim. And I grew up in North Jersey,
in a placed called Lodi, where there were two ethnic groups, you’re either Italian
or you were my father. (Laughter) That was the town. And I’m not making this up, in third grade my teacher asked me
to bring my father – who is an immigrant – to school, for show and tell. (Laughter) Which is actually a great thing. Think about it: to expose
students to other cultures. And people say to me,
“Were the kids afraid?’ I didn’t bring him in a sheet and a cage
and went, “Behold, the Arab man!” (Laughter) My mom who’s Italian, she’s Sicilian,
which is a very unique type of Italian. And when I was a kid
I remember people would ask me, “Does your father has more
than one wife because he’s Muslim?” “What part of Sicilian mother
don’t you understand?” (Laughter) My father, “Honey, I was thinking
about a second wife, what do you think?” “Sure, someone to help me
bury your body.” (Laughter) But I think for me
and many in my community in America, of Arab-Americans and Muslims, our world changed,
like all of your worlds, on 9/11, but for us it was
a little bit more personal. For me, and I tell people, on September 10, 2001,
I went to sleep a white American, on September 11th I woke up
an Arab, I woke up an outsider. And people viewed me differently,
for the first time in my life. And it was the comments people said to me
after 9/11 which woke me up to this. Little things, not all bad,
sometimes people says nice things, “Oh, you’re Arab!
You know, I love hummus!” (Laughter) I like those comments. I have heard people saying, “Actually, you’re Arab,
but you look so normal.” (Laughter) I’m not kidding. I was on Fox Radio
with Brian Kilmeade who is a jackass. (Laughter) And in the middle of the interview
he said to me – I swear – “So, you’re Arab and Muslim,
how many terrorists are there?” That’s what he asked me. I said 83, I just threw him
a number at random. (Laughter) I’ve heard people say things,
– I’m not even sure why – “So, you’re Arab; I love Indian food!” (Laughter) Thank you for sharing,
we are not the same. (Laughter) And because, and you don’t have
to be Arab to relate to this, I do not look like
what a typical Arab should look like. Even though I’m mixed heritage, my Palestinian cousins
have the same skin color as me, but since I don’t look Arab,
people have not qualm saying negative things to my face
about my own heritage. This really happened. I’m at a laundromat, NYC, – because my career is going great –
I’m washing my clothes and there’s a TV on
and, I swear to God, this guy goes, “Hey buddy,
see these freaking Arabs on TV?” – which is not the conversation starter
you’re ever looking for – and I go, “Yes.” He goes, “I have an idea,
let’s kill them all. Let God sort out
the good and bad ones.” I’m like,”Sir, that’s not nice, I’m Arab.” “Well, you don’t freakin’ look it.” “Well, that just makes it easy for me
to achieve the goals of my mission.” (Laughter) It’s my goals of comedy. Thanks the doctor
for the botulism tip, though. (Laughter) Now we know we can weaponize
that stuff, pretty good to know. (Laughter) I’m kidding obviously, all right? (Laughter) I’m not white any longer; I don’t mean that as any racial term;
I look like a white person. I view the world now as a minority.
Proudly as a minority. Now I’m proud to be
a minority. I’m happy. But it makes me watch
the news differently. Minorities, this is
how we are watching the news: if this is a story about a criminal
who’s been arrested, he’s committed a heinous crime,
and no one knows his identity, when I was white,
“Well, I’m glad they caught him,” when you are a minority, all you think is, “I hope he’s not from
our group, Arab or Muslim,” because we suffer for the worst sins,
we suffer it as a backlash. That’s what it means
to be a minority in America. Remember the plane that landed
a couple of years ago on the Hudson River? Like geese brought it down. All I could think, sincerely, was “Please,
don’t let Al-Qaeda be training geese.” Geese of mass destruction. Few weeks ago, remember
that five white guys got arrested in Ohio trying to blow up a bridge? I got cocky, “Hey, white people,
you get to get your crap together, this is [inaudible]. (Laughter) But there’s benefits in it,
I’m a comedian, I look at the positive. I could be more challenging,
for Arabs and Muslims in America. They can give hurricanes Muslim names,
that one will help us. Turn on the news,
“Hurricane Mahmoud is coming.” “Run for your life,
Mahmoud it’s a killer.” And also, there’s a benefit. If you have a Muslim name,
like I do, and many others, you are probably immune to identity theft. (Laughter) Criminals don’t want names
that get attention. They want names
like John Reynolds or Bob Smith. They don’t want names
like Abdul Musa Rahman Abdullah. (Laughter) I have a friend, born in America,
his first name is Osama. He can leave his driving license
and credit card in a crack house. (Laughter) No one was going to pretend
to be Osama anything. And if you look
at the identity theft commercials, they are usually
a white kid singing a song or a white lady saying, “I’m Sally Johns
and someone’s pretending to be me. They went on vacation
and later bought things as me.” You are never going to see this,
“My name is Abdul Musa Rahman Abdullah. Someone is pretending to be me,
they went on vacation, and they are buying pork and alcohol,
and nobody is asking questions.” (Laughter) Thank you. I travel a lot for shows,
and I had the good fortune of actually, perform
a great deal in the Middle East, In the Arab world, stand-up comedy
is very, very popular now. I produced a Festival
in Jordan for three years. And all the American chains are there.
That’s bringing the world together. Not only the Internet,
but KFCs, McDonald’s, Starbucks. The only American chain
not in the Arab world, – I think is actually good
it’s not there – Target. (Laughter) Because nobody wants a bull’s eye
and the word “Target” at the front of their store. (Laughter) There was a guy in Al-Qaeda,
“What do we suppose to blow up today? Oh, my gosh! Look at this! (Laughter) “That’s a supertarget.
We get promotion I think Mazik habib.” (Laughter) But as challenging as America might be,
for Arabs and Muslims at different times, it’s still the place where Arabs
and Muslims want to come to. My own girlfriend is from Middle East.
She came here a few years ago. And she’s an actress and doing well;
she was in few TV series last year. She didn’t play a terrorist,
which was great, she played the wife of a terrorist,
but still, it’s baby steps… (Laughter) But there’s one place,
I’m going to be honest, that’s discrimination,
and she will not get hired, and she’ll never have the chance
in America to do this. Anybody ever listened to relaxation tapes? The calm music, very soothing voice over,
it’s like, “Breathe in, breathe out. You’ve nothing to worry about.
Everything is going fine.” That’s relaxing.
But she has an Arabic accent. And Americans won’t relax hearing,
“Breathe in. Breathe out. You’ve nothing to worry about.”(Laughter) “Everything is going according to plan.” (Laughter) Because we are all
a little racists, aren’t we? Well, thank you very much,
thank you for having me on TEDx, it was really an honor to be here. Thank you. (Applause)

77 thoughts on “TEDxEast – Dean Obeidalla – Using Stand Up Comedy to Counter Islamaphobia

  1. He said Brian Kilmead asked him "How many terrorists are there?" I know he doesn't like Fox News, hell I don't like the Fox and Friends show, but come on, after he said that I immediately discounted the rest of his words, because it was a BALD FACED LIE. I wish you luck.

  2. man I love Dean so much. he is a great Comedian. If you wanna see some of his work then please watch:

    The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour

  3. He's arab race, but was he raised in US/western countries or in Arab country? If raised and educated in US, obviously Arab Americans are different from Arab from Arabian countries… try getting yourself (referring the speaker) raised in Arab and we'll see whether you turn up normal ("normal" as he mentioned in this speech). You would be mentally and culturally and morally backward if you were raised in middle eastern countries or any islamic countries today.

  4. Why use the term Islamophobia for this bit? Why not just call this anti-arab bigotry? Even anti-Muslim bigotry is a much more descriptive term than Islamophobia. Islamophobia really makes no sense.

  5. Islamophobia is a made up term designed to shut down discussion of the reasonable criticisms of Islam. Bigotry against people for race and religion is wrong and should be called out. But Islam is a belief system that should be open to criticism, as well as mockery. We can and should criticize Mormonism (note the most popular show on Broadway the past few years) – and it is not called Mormonophobia. Muslims appear to be too sensitive as well as they conflate a reasoned critique of the the doctrine with prejudice.

  6. After reading some of his Tweets about the Sam Harris/Maajid Nawaz interaction I had pretty damn low expectations about this talk but I have to admit it was pretty solid and not as condescending and regressive as I thought it would be.
    You gotta be able to laugh at yourself which he demonstrate.

  7. This guys is as funny as Islam is loving. And we have all seen how loving the islamic religion is.
    This is enough to boycott TED talks if they approve of this crap and Islamic Terrorism.

  8. Unfunny. The laughing had to either be overdubbed afterwards or done by plants on the audience. How sad that Ted Talks would associate themselves with such a vile person.

  9. Breitbart London reported that a hit and run on a Muslim women in Molenbeek this weekend, blamed on ‘far right’ anti-Islam demonstrators and Dean Obeidalla, was in fact perpetrated by an
    allegedly drunk local youth named “Mohamed”.
    How appropriate to respond to Dean in kind to his Tweet "here's my apology: go fuck urself"".
    FUCK YOU Dean.

  10. what about the open persecution of christians, gays, other faiths in the middle east? Not to mention the anti women attitude. Dean you better do some house cleaning before talking about so called Islamophobia.

  11. I wonder if Dean blamed the people in Orlando for "forcing" a Muslim into killing them? Or did he say something like "it wasn't the religion"? The Muslim apologizing dilemma that must have been.

  12. The term "Islamophobia"is a brain numbing cliche deigned to shut down discussion of Islam. Arabs are a minority in Islam. Islam is a theocratic .supremacist,facistic system totally incompatible with western values of democracy and respect for human (including womens rights) rights. Checkout the clips here on youtube -under "Farkhunda" a woman beaten to death in Kabul by a mob over allegations of burning a Koran. This comedian should do a tour of Saudi Arabia and tell jokes about Muhommed and the Koran and see how he gets on!

  13. He is playing the victim card, rather than discussing the issue in an articulate way, he is just trying to get sympathy and comments obscures the issue. If we could differentiate based on Islamic school between people who believe sharia and don't it would be easy. The problem is that it is baked in most schools.

  14. Muslims like any other ethnicity be it indian, mexican gets discriminated in the West. Christians, Jesids, even muslims like Sufi Muslims and gays are heavily discriminated in the muslim world

  15. Speaking the truth about Islam is not Islamophobia. Truth: All Muslims deny Jesus' death and resurrection but will continue to say that they love Jesus. I'm sure this comedian, Dean Obeidallah, would say he loves Jesus. But the Jesus of Islam (Isa) is not "the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth." (Acts 4:10) This man is a liar along with the billion plus Muslims living today. That is sad.

    Indeed, Islam is a crime against humanity. The crime: Denying Jesus' death and resurrection for our sins. Countless souls (i.e. billions of Muslims) throughout the centuries have denied Jesus' love for the world so sinners can be reconciled to God. All Muslims have denied Him. In fact, Muslims call Jesus a liar. Ask a Muslim and listen to what he says. Oh, they say they love Jesus; and they even say they love Jesus more than Christians, yet, the Muslim will deny that Jesus is "the Lamb of God who [took] away the sin of the world."(John 1:29) Jesus is pure and holy. Islam is dirty because it calls Jesus a liar.

  16. I was reading some comments and I could see a lot of Hate comments. These people with hate are brain washed by the Right Wing Hate machine. Just try to learn about Islam from other sources than the right wing Propaganda because they are just Wrong

  17. Nice CNN article, idiot. Obvious sarcasm Incredible how you can accuse Milo Yiannapoulos of being a white supremacist in the FIRST sentence, and you didn't bother to research that he has personally said that white supremacy is not the answer to anything. Keep writing trendy progressive hit pieces though. You'll always spread misinformation, but you'll probably also be very successful in the media.

  18. Dean is neither funny nor informative because his ideologies block him from being able to criticize himself or the devout who mindlessly follow Mohammed's word n behavior. The best comedians can self reflect and communicate it funny, Dean is incapable and begs is he a dumb robot? or does he have an agenda? high level taquiyya mage…

  19. Smile, Loving, Caring, Sharing, Terrific, Awesome, Remarkable, Decent, Brave, Courage, Patient, Humility, Humble, Forgiving, Outstanding, Brilliant. Dignity, Beautiful, Sincere, ……

  20. Islamophobia doesn't exist. Fear of Islam is rational.

    And it appears TedX will literally let anyone speak, up to and including an Islamist propagandist.

  21. Some people need to use their brains instead of allowing themselves to get brainwashed by the media. Those terrorists on the news which people wrongly refer to as isis…. (and i say wrongly because they are not islamic in any way), were made and helped by governments which will never confess to this, to try and draw people away from islam. Don't think those people high in government actually get sad when attacks happen. They will feel joy that people are portraying true muslims in a wrong horrible way. I am muslim and i believe that god does not resemble his creations. Everything in islam is accepted by the intellectual mind. For instance we say god exists without a place. God is the creator of all places and he existed before creating the places. He does not need anything. The one who is in a place needs that place in order for his state to be residing in it and the one who is in need is weak!!! And the one who is weak does not deserve to be worshipped and cannot be god. Everything i just wrote is logic. It cannot be contradicted by any means. You must accept this now and become a muslim by saying i testify that no one is god except allah and that muhammad is the messenger of allah. I can try to guide people to the safe path even after all that is happening in the media. Do not let arrogance lead you to everlasting torture after you die by not accepting this logical and intellectual proof. Save yourselfs and know that any sane mind would agree to this statement. This is just 1 of the intellectual proofs that i wrote. There are many more that i can teach you. Just send me a message .

  22. True, it has nothing to do with his politics, but as a comedian the guy just isn't very funny. Sounds more like he'd make a better talk show host.

  23. I was a bit embarrassed by this guy, he really needs to put some work into his comedy. I think I smiled at one of his jokes, and that was it. He should avoid playing the victim as a muslim, it really gets old pretty quick.

  24. Thank you for bringing this nice video , I enjoy always watching Dean Obeidallah, I really I appreciate him bringing this subject, I am Egyptian American, I was accused of being a terrorist while I was travelling just because my name and dark skin and for walking to the bathroom. God bless you.

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