I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One on TV

I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One on TV by Maz Jobrani

Book: I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One on TV by Maz Jobrani Read Free Book Online
Authors: Maz Jobrani
canceled. Again, the comedy gods had smiled upon me by taking me out of a situation in which I would have been scarred for life. I dodged getting shanked once, and now I was dodging getting booed offstage at a black comedy competition.
    I Used to Wash Toilets
    My comedy dreams took some time to marinate, about five years. A fresh dropout from UCLA working the advertising gig, I decided I had to get serious about this comedy thing, so I enrolled in a stand-up class. The first thing they teach you is to write what you know and what makes you unique. In a class filled with guys, girls, straight people, gay people, short people, tall people, Asians, and even an Arab, I was the only Iranian. I’m guessing that’s because most other Iranians were in law school or medical school, making their mothers happy and my mother jealous. The teacher told me to write about the struggles of being Iranian in America. This was easy, because Iranians had been vilified for so long. They say comedy comes from tragedy, and being Iranian in America from 1979 on had been quite tragic. I’d had some struggles myself, but in stand-up comedy I was able to take the reality and exaggerate it. Sometimes it would come across a bit cheesy, but the audience still laughed. Some of my earliest material was about my family life and how difficult it was to invite other kids overto spend the night because their parents were concerned we were going to take the kids hostage. I know, rimshot. But it worked.
    We honed our material over the course of seven weeks and ended with a showcase at the Melrose Improv, where we were told big-time managers and agents would be in the audience to discover us and send us on the road to fame. A lot of acting and comedy classes in Los Angeles use these showcases to lure students in and get you to pay five hundred dollars to train with them. You’re actually convinced that after less than two months of doing stand-up, someone will see you and put you on Saturday Night Live . The reality is much different. Now that I’ve been a stand-up for seventeen years, I know there is never one big night when everything comes together. It is a series of big nights and many years of hard work that, if you’re lucky, will eventually pay off. If you ever take an acting or comedy class and after only two months a big agent wants to sign you, chances are he’s trying to get in your pants. The night of my big showcase, there were no agents or managers, but someone much more important did attend: my mother.
    I was a bit wary, because my mother had attended a play I had done a few years before called Belind Date . (Basically Blind Date , said with a Persian accent.) It was a comedy about a Persian guy who’s a big bullshit artist and who goes on a blind date with a Persian girl who’s a gold digger. It turned out to be a huge hit. At the time I was still living at home with my mom and I needed the ego boost. I came offstage and people were congratulating me and buying me drinks. I was getting a big head as I waved and shook hands with my hordes of new fans. I found my mom and escorted her to the valet line so that she could get her car and head home. Even as we waited in line, people congratulated me and I thought that she would finally realize what a star I was. That’s when my mom chimed in.
    â€œYou vere good.”
    â€œThanks, Mom.”
    She got in her car and started to drive off, but not before pulling down her window and blurting out one last thing.
    â€œJust remember, funny man, dat tomorrow is your turn to vash the bathrooms.”
    This was said loud enough so that my fans could hear, bringing me back down to Earth. Head back to normal. Mission accomplished.
    So when my mother appeared at the stand-up comedy showcase it made me nervous. I knew how high her standards were. If it didn’t go well, she would never let me hear the end of it. Even if it went well, she would probably still embarrass me

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