As someone who is trying to be a ‘practicing Muslim’ my natural allies should be fellow Muslims and non-Muslim Islamophiles. My natural enemies should be all those Islamophobes, atheists, and anti-theists, people like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Ricky Gervais, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Bill Maher. But the problem I face is that occasionally these natural enemies of mine come up with words of truth that I fully agree with.
One such example of this occurred with the always controversial anti-theist weed smoking comedian Bill Maher. On a recent edition of his show Real Time With Bill Maher (the one first aired on the 9th of March 2018) he was discussing the concepts of comedy and free speech with the even more controversial comedian Kathy Griffin. Maher made the rather poignant point that:
We need comedians. I know that sounds like a pat on the back because I am one of them, but we really do, especially in this era, and in any era, to sometimes go over the lines so we know where the lines are. And also to establish that we do indeed live in a country with free speech. – Bill Maher
Later in the same discussion Kathy added her thoughts, saying to Maher that:
You and I do the kind of comedy that pushes boundaries, and to do that you have to move them, and then cross them, and push them again, and see what works. And I’m finding that, and I know you’re on the road as well, I’m finding that people are wanting that kind of comedy. We are in such intense times that people don’t want dog-and-cat jokes. They want the real deal. – Kathy Griffin
Whether I should or I should not, I find myself fully agreeing with Maher and Griffin. We definitely need humour, comedy, and satire, in all forms, especially in these troubled and divisive times. We need them not just to explain what is going on all around us in a more humanistic manner, but also to help us stay grounded, to give us a voice, no matter how small and impactless that voice may be, a voice that stops us feeling like redundant cogs in a machine. As George Orwell wrote, “Every joke is a tiny revolution.”
So, in the hope that I too can somehow give people the right kind of comedy, of the non dog-and-cat variety, please find below several comedy clips (or several tiny revolutions) that will hopefully generate simultaneous amounts of laughter and thought. As always, I have transcribed where appropriate. Enjoy!
Omid Djalili on how easy it is to establish a controversial fact…
There is a story of a Palestinian delegate at the United Nations who got up and said “Before I make my point I would just like to tell you a little story.”
She goes “Hundreds of years ago in Palestine Moses was walking through the desert. He came across a rock and he banged the rock with a stone, and a fountain of water came out and created a pool. So Moses took off his clothes and he bathed in the water, but when he got out of the water he realized that his clothes were gone. Because they were stolen by a thieving Jew.”
At which point the Palestinian delegation was interrupted by the Israeli delegation who said “Objection! At that time in Palestine there were no Jews there at all.”
At which point the Palestinian delegate said “Well, now that that fact has been established I’d now like to start my speech…”
Andrew Ryan on why ISIS should not go to Belfast…
I go to Belfast. I love Belfast. If you’ve not been, go. I said to my friend “I’m going to Belfast.” My friend looked at me and went “Oh! Be careful. Be careful in Belfast.”
I go “Listen, it’s 2017. Belfast is a lovely place. The people are very nice.”
She goes “No, no, what I mean is…ISIS.”
I said “Woah, say that again.”
She said “ISIS could come to Belfast. ISIS are ‘doing the rounds’ at the moment.”
And I said “What, are they on shift work or something?”
I said “Really?! ISIS in Belfast? Do you really think ISIS have the fucking balls to turn up in Belfast?”
Can you imagine ISIS in their man cave somewhere, going through all the cities that they’ve attacked. “Right, we’ve done Manchester, we’ve London, we’ve done Paris a couple times. Do you know what? Do you know where I think we should go? We should go somewhere where they’re not expecting us. So I think we should go where they don’t think we’ll ever turn up and attack. How about, I recommend that we should go next, guys, we should go to Belfast.”
“Mate, we’re terrorists. We’re not fucking mental.”
Can you imagine ISIS on the streets of Belfast? It would be the funniest thing you’ll ever see in your life. They turn up with their suicide vests and they come out and they go “Death to the west!”
All the Belfast people will just come out and they would just be staring at them, going “Ha ha ha! You call that terrorism? We’ll fecking show you terrorism.”
One fellow comes out playing the flute, the other fellow with a hurley. “There’ll be no foreign terrorism in this land. We support our own home grown terrorism.”
No way, it’s not happening.
Chris Kehoe on sitting next to spiders with rucksacks…
Let’s lighten the mood. Let’s talk about Islamophobia. I’m from a place called Bolton. Yeah, that’s always met with disinterested silence. That’s fine. And round our way it’s not civilized and sophisticated like a big city like Liverpool. And we’ve got these people called Islamophobes. Have you heard of these people? Have you got them around here? You know who they are. You will have seen them in the pub and in the shop, and places like that. And in the park maybe, if it’s a nice day, in their natural environment.
I’ve got a theory about Islamophobes, and my theory is this. You know how lots of homophobic people turn out to be secretly gay? Well I reckon the same is true for Islamophobic people, they’re secretly Muslims but they’re just too embarrassed to come out in case their friends take the piss out of them. They’ll be like, “You heard about Steve?”
“No, what about him?”
“Well, apparently he’s a bit…you know…[whistles]”
“How can I put it? He leans to the east. He’s very comfortable in bare feet. He’s of a Sunni disposition.”
“Oh no, not Steve…”
It was just a pun at the end of it all. That was a waste of time, really, that. I did that bit at my local pub recently and fuck me that went down well. And one of the guys came over to me, I think he’s the vice president of the local Islamophobic Society. At least that’s what his badge said anyway. And he walks over and he said “That bit you did about Islamophobia is bollocks mate.”
I said “No it wasn’t, I wrote it.”
And he went “No it is. I’m telling you now, it bollocks because everybody’s a bit Islamophobic.”
I said “I’m not.”
He said “You are.”
I said “Well, how do you work that out?”
He said “Everyone is because there’s no evolutionary value in not being frightened of things that are different. And Islam is ‘other’ to us so therefore you will be, on a subconscious level, a little bit Islamophobic.”
And I was like, oh fucking hell, that sounds vaguely scientific. I’ve got to think about this now, and I thought am I Islamophobic under those terms? Am I? I thought maybe I am. Maybe I am. Only in the same way that I’m arachnophobic, in that I’ve got nothing against spiders, I’m not frightened of them. Some of my friends are spiders but, and I’m not proud of this, I would notice if one of them sat next to me on the train wearing a rucksack. I would. I couldn’t help but notice that. That’s not the spiders fault, is it? He’s probably just going about his daily business, feeling very self-conscious about it all, thinking “I bet they’re all looking at me again.”
And it’s not really my fault either, is it? I’m just a product of my environment. No, it’s the media’s fault because spiders get a terrible time in the press, don’t they? When was the last good news story you heard about a spider in the press? It’s fucking none, isn’t it? If there are stories about spiders in the press they’re all stories about spiders coming over here, pretending to be bruises on bananas, just waiting to rise up.
And if it’s not anything about that, it’s stories about false widow spiders. False widow spiders, for those of you who don’t know, are spiders that were born in this country but their grandparents are foreign or something. They’re sleeper cell spiders, that’s why they are. If you compare the press that spiders get to a decent British animal like a dog, it’s completely different. A dog kills a toddler, happens fairly regularly, we don’t blame all dogs, instead we say that’s a bad dog, it’s a lone wolf attack, isn’t it?…Spiders do something though and it’s all part of the wider global arachnid agenda, no doubt orchestrated by some shadowy clandestine movement called something like, I don’t know, Al-Spaeda. Yes!
Do Muslims and skinheads share a common cause…?
A very funny clip from the satirical TV show The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret (Series 3 Episode 6)…
Kevan “K-Von” Moezzi says once you go Persian…
You know how they say “Once you go black, you never go back?” Well “Once you go Persian, there’s no other version!”
In fact, so famous is this little catch phrase that you can even get it on a t-shirt.
Khaled Khalafalla on seeing the glory of God…
There’s this turn of phrase in Arabic, “Sub-haan-Allah”, it means the glory of God. You say it when you see something so beautiful, so amazing, that you think only God could have created this. And my mum says this all the time. We’ll be walking down the street and she’ll see some birds, I’ll be on my phone or whatever, and she’ll just shout “SUB-HAAN-ALLAH!”
And I’ll be like “Fuck! What is it?”
And she’ll be like “How?”
And I’ll say “How what?”
“How do these birds fly like this? How?”
And I’ll be like “I don’t know. I didn’t fucking do it.”
And she’ll say “Only God…only God can do this…Sub-haan-Allah…Sub-haan-Allah…say it!”
And I’ll be like “Sub-haan-Allah.”
We’ll be watching TV and the Niagara Falls will come on and David Attenborough will be like “…the absolute beauty of…”
And my mum would just go “SUB-HAAN-ALLAH!”
And I’ll be like “Yes, I’m on your side.”
“Who what? I think it’s David Attenborough.”
“No. Who did this?”
“Only God can do this!”
One time we were walking down the street, we were driving, and she points out the window, some people were walking down the street, and she says “SUB-HAAN-ALLAH! SUB-HAAN-ALLAH!
And I’m like “What the fuck is going on?” And I look outside and it’s just a group of Asian kids, and she’s like “SUB-HAAN-ALLAH!”
And I’m like “Where is the glory?”
And she’s like “How…how do they see?”