24 Quotes From Muslim Comedians

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I am taking a quick break from ISIS related attacks in Barcelona, white racist related attacks in Charlottesville, continued chaos in the very White House, depressing BBC documentaries about the partition of India, and the prevailing dust in my house thanks to the awesome extension my wife has embarked upon (very much a solo endeavor on her glorious part).

So, before I catch my breath back, here are 24 quotes on a range of subjects from Muslim comedians, along with an eight minute video from up and coming journalist Aymann Ismail on the touchy and complex subject of Muslims and jokes. As always, enjoy!


Muslims Can’t Take A Joke About Islam? Don’t Tell That To These Muslim Comedians…


9/11 was a tragedy because we lost 19 of our best guys. – Kumail Nanjiani, from his movie The Big Sick (2017)

Aziz Ansari Composite

Being Muslim American already carries a decent amount of baggage. In our culture, when people think “Muslim,” the picture in their heads is not usually of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or the kid who left the boy band One Direction. It’s of a scary terrorist character from “Homeland” or some monster from the news. – Aziz Ansari

Bigots hate all of sorts of groups. So if you say you are Muslim, in a way you are also gay, you are also Mexican, you are also Asian, you are also vegan. It literally does not matter what you are to those who hate. You turn the dial and you are that thing to whoever is hating, because bigotry is not super nuanced. So it is patently absurd when we don’t fight other peoples fights. It is just absurd. – Negin Farsad

For the moderate Muslim it is very easy to scare the living shit out of everybody now…It’s because we don’t have a lot of representation, that’s why people are scared. We don’t see a lot of Muslims on television. You’ve got Fareed Zakaria, Dave Chappelle, Barack Obama. That’s about it. – Aasif Mandvi

For those of you who don’t know much about us Muslims, you’ll recognise us from that hit TV show, the news. We have been on that one a lot this series, haven’t we? We’ve got recurring characters. It’s on at prime time. We’ve smashed that show. – Tez Ilyas

Here’s the big secret I’ve learned in the last few years. Nobody knows what they’re doing. Nobody does. Everyone’s winging it out there. Some people are just better at pretending to be confident. Because nobody, nobody’s done. Nobody’s cooked. People are constantly growing and evolving and changing. When I was a kid, I thought of my parents as these superheroes who knew everything, and that they were already the people they would always be. And as a grown-up, I realize they have the same struggles I do, that everybody does. They uprooted their lives and moved to America in their 50s, started over. In the last ten years, I’ve seen them change in ways I never thought possible. – Kumail Nanjiani, May 2017, from the Grinnell College Commencement Address in Iowa

I am an immigrant. I am an Indian, and also a Muslim, but I lead with the Indian part just because the Muslim part is a little controversial sometimes. – Aasif Mandvi

I asked my mate Chris about his wedding. I asked him “Chris, what’s it going to be like? What can I expect? Is it going to be a big wedding? How many days do I need to take off?” And this lunatic said “One.” One day! How do you fit it all in mate? I said “Alright, one day. That’s mental!” I then said “Alright, but it is going to be a big wedding?” He said “Massive mate. Massive wedding mate.” I said “Cool. How many people are going to be there?” This guy goes “A hundred.” And I’m like “Bruv, I have a hundred people over at Sunday roast in my family.” A hundred people! This guy’s bragging about his big wedding. Now, I went there, I had an amazing time, it was wonderful. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a white persons wedding before. It was really, really nice and well organised. And that’s not even a dig, I’m just saying it is, they are. Just the people invited, only they turn up, it’s crazy, it’s insane. – Tez Ilyas

I censored myself after the Manchester attack. It just felt too raw going on stage and talking about terrorism. As a comedian you have to understand the climate you’re performing in. There’s a time and a place to do that material. I was hurting too – I grew up half an hour away from Manchester. Also, audiences can be a bit drunk at a club night and what you’re saying can get lost sometimes. There are times when I’ve made a point of not censoring myself, like after the Paris attacks. I wanted to show that Muslims are not those people who committed those atrocities and so wilfully kept my material the same. – Tez Ilyas

I did kiss my boyfriend’s many times…via text message. – Sakdiyah Maruf

Ramy Youssef

I feel something in my heart when I pray. I really do. The connection is there. But I also really feel something in my heart when I get a Tinder match at 2 in the morning. And I don’t know how to deal with that. Do I drive over? Do I pray Fajr? I do both. – Ramy Youssef

I grew up in an Indian Muslim family. A lot of Americans can’t understand how Indian and Muslim goes together. It doesn’t compute for them. It’s sort of like seeing a construction worker eat a sorbet. They’re like how do these two things go together? But it was tough growing up in a Muslim home because I didn’t have a lot of things that my western friends had, like the Easter bunny, and bacon bits, and I never got to see my mother’s face. Things like that…[Waits for audience to laugh] That’s wrong. That’s wrong. Fuck you all for laughing at that. You’re all racists. – Aasif Mandvi

I love being British. If you are not British, you are missing out. Frankly, that is my conclusion, because there are so many benefits to being British. Literally. There are so many benefits. Just learn how to fill out a form, and it is brilliant. I don’t call them benefits, obviously, I call them reparations, but never the less they are great. – Tez Ilyas

I never feel that I need to worry about a fundamentalist reaction to my stand up because I live in America. That’s why I think being Muslim in America is the best place to do stand up. Yes, okay, there is all this stuff, there’s bans, there is this, that, or whatever, and all this politics. But I think we get to be ourselves in a way that we can’t anywhere else. And I think that’s why our parents came here, because they want to be Americans because they feel like that is the thing that will allow them to be Muslim. – Ramy Youssef

I recently learned that being in the vegan club is the exact opposite of being in fight club. In that, the first rule of vegan club is: tell everyone about vegan club; and the second rule of vegan club is: tell everyone about vegan club; and then the third rule is: don’t eat meat, et cetera. – Tez Ilyas

I went to this Catholic church…and I did notice that it was a bit cold in there because they don’t have central heating in there like we do in mosques. I’m not showing off, I’m just saying, you know. We haven’t got as much money as they have, but we don’t spend it on stupid things…like ruby slippers…and all that compensation. – Imran Yusuf

I’m not good with my feelings, which is why I try and deflect people using my bad jokes. – Kumail Nanjiani

It is hard to be Muslim in America. It is difficult, because we are Muslim and we want to believe, but we also want to do what everyone is doing. And the hardest day is Friday, because there is Friday prayers, and then there is Friday night. Sometimes you see the same people in both places. – Ramy Youssef

It’s an interesting time being Muslim at the moment because a lot of people have written and said a lot of things about us over recent weeks, months, even years. Like some people, you know, the ones out there, the ones with access to the internet, they think being Muslim is only about animal cruelty, oppressing women, and claiming benefits. That’s what they think it is, and what those people haven’t realized is there are downsides as well. It’s not all summer camps and Nandos up here! Have you tried looking after four wives in today’s economy? It’s expensive. It’s expensive. – Tez Ilyas

My mother wears the burqa, mainly because she doesn’t want to be seen with my dad. – Shazia Mirza

Never in my wildest dream did I aspire to become a stand up comic. In fact dreams and aspirations are luxuries for women living in my community. – Sakdiyah Maruf

We are all human. And I guess that is what comedy is all about. Comedy is not about me. Comedy is about you and me. It is about us. It is about us celebrating our humanity, acknowledging that we are all human and, by extension, that we are all flawed. And that we do not have the right to feel that we are the rightest of the right or the truest of the truth. We’re just human. We are flawed. – Sakdiyah Maruf

Why is it that when Alex grows a beard he’s a sexy lumberjack, but when Tez grows a beard we gotta ask him questions? – Tez Ilyas

Citizen Khan

Comedy has the ability to humanise communities, as you are constantly looking for common traits, you are looking for universality. So when you are writing a comedy, I think, especially on BBC One, if you can get to the point where people can connect with a British Muslim Pakistani father, that’s a good thing, so that you in a sense laugh at the same things, the same concerns. – Adil Ray, creator and star of the BBC sitcom Citizen Khan

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