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Fear played for laughs inside this `Axis of Evil'

March 09, 2007|Ashraf Khalil | Times Staff Writer

What does it take to be a Middle Eastern American today? Thick skin and a sense of humor.

To let everyone in on the joke, Comedy Central is presenting a showcase of Middle Eastern American comedians. "The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour" premieres at 11 Saturday night, featuring performances by Ahmed Ahmed, Maz Jobrani, Dean Obeidallah and Aron Kader.

Touted as a TV first and taped last fall in the Orange County Pavilion, the show features the quartet riffing on modern politics and the challenges faced by Americans of Middle Eastern descent.

Ahmed, a Riverside native, describes having to arrive at the airport weeks before his flight and wearing only shorts to accommodate all the extra security procedures; Jobrani, born in Tehran and raised in Marin County, speculates about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad crank-calling threats to the White House while high on opium.

Ahmed, Jobrani and Kader have performed together steadily since 2000 when the Comedy Store's Mitzi Shore teamed them for a series of shows called "The Arabian Nights." The shows grew into a successful road tour and eventually incorporated other Arab comics such as the New York-based Obeidallah, co-founder of the Arab-American Comedy Festival in New York.

The four, along with several other Middle Eastern American comedians, can be seen on "The Watch List" -- a series of skits and vignettes on the Comedy Central website, www.comedycentral.com.

For information on future tour dates, go to www.axisofevilcomedy.com.

ashraf.khalil@latimes.com

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