How female Muslim comedians in America are using humor to combat negative stereotypes and challenge perceptions about their faith.
by Omar Bilal Akhtar.
Negin Farsad held the microphone with both her hands, clutching it close to her chest. She wore a black sleeveless dress, bright red lipstick and large round silver earrings, her short, black hair parted to the side. It’s a look that stood out amongst the often drab and colorless wardrobe of New York City comics. It also gave the 33-year-old comedian a coquettish, little-girl vibe. Her colorful presence was in stark contrast to the rust brick wall that served as the backdrop to the stage at Standup New York, an Upper West Side comedy club.
Against this background, Farsad looked tiny, her high-pitched voice adding to her diminutive stature. With a slight quiver, she began her set, telling the audience she was now going to discuss her “areas.”
“I recently had to get an STD test because …I was a raging slut for a period of my life…that ended last week.” said Farsad. Her punchlines rolled out deliberately after every pause, each revelation raunchier than the last.
As the crowd responded with a mixture of gasps and guffaws, Farsad continued, “The good news is that my vagina is closed and disease free, until marriage! Or you know…until someone takes me out to dinner at a restaurant with a Zagat rating of at least eight out of 30.”
That kind of raunchy humor might be standard fare in the New York comedy scene. But the person performing it doesn’t fit the mold at all. Negin Farsad is an Iranian-American woman who identifies herself as a Muslim. She is, in her words, “totally screwed.” Continue reading