KUMAIL, ISMAEL, KHALID…AND JOE

Kumail SNL

After doing a rather serious blog post about suicide, depression, and loneliness, I thought it best to do a blog post to uplift the spirits. In that regard please find below 21 minutes of glorious stand up comedy, all with a slightly Islamic stance. As usual, I have tried to transcribe some of my favourite moments. I do hope you enjoy!


Kumail Nanjiani

In his stand up monologue on the legendary TV show Saturday Night Live, aired on 14th October 2017, Kumail tackled the ever prevalent disease of Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is really on the rise right now. It never really went away but it’s really having a moment right now. Islamophobia is kind of like “Will & Grace”, it was huge a while ago and then we thought it was gone and done and now it’s back and bigger than ever. Thursdays on NBC! They make me say that.

I saw a guy be like “Of course all Muslims are sexist. The Qur’an says women can’t drive.” Yeah, I’m pretty sure the Qur’an never said that. Because if the Qur’an had said women can’t drive cars 1400 years ago, I would be at the mosque right now. And so would all of you. Because that would mean the Quran predicted cars. If 1400 years ago the Qur’an was like “Some day there will be a metallic box that will carry you wherever you want, and it will have four wheels, and you’ll have to put gasoline in it, and it’ll have a little speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, and it’ll have a Bluetooth connection, and women shouldn’t drive it,” I would be like “I know two things for sure: Islam is the only true religion, and women shouldn’t drive.”

I am so glad you laughed at that, because otherwise it sounds like I’m just giving a very divisive speech. “Islam is the only true religion! Women shouldn’t drive!” That would definitely be the quote on the internet tomorrow.

Sikh people get attacked all the time for being Muslim. Spoiler alert, they’re not. But they’re brown and they were turbans so people attack them for being Muslim, which must put them in such an awkward position, because they’re like “I’m not Muslim. Not that you should attack Muslims, but if you’re looking to attack Muslims, which you shouldn’t, I’m not one. There is a Muslim right over there. Don’t attack him. Unless somebody’s definitely getting attacked, in which case get it right, which is wrong.”

Which brings me to my problem with most racism. Here’s my problem with most racism. It’s the inaccuracy, that’s what bugs me. I’m like “Do the research! Put in the work! You will see the benefits!” I’ll give you an example. If someone yells at me “Go back to India” I’d be like “That guy’s an idiot.” But if someone was like “Go back to Pakistan, which was part of India until 1947 and is now home to the world’s oldest salt mine” I would be like “That guy seems to know what he’s saying. I’ll pack my bags.” Just because you’re racist doesn’t mean you have to be ignorant. An informed racist is a better racist.

 – Kumail Nanjiani, 14 Oct 2017, from Saturday Night live


Ismael Loutfi

Here is Ismael Loutfi making his TV debut on the world famous American TV chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live!

I’m a Muslim. That hasn’t been fun. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. Last 16 years have been pretty stressful for us. I can’t watch the news, just the way they talk about us is so demeaning. The buzzwords they use, they’re always talking about moderate Muslims. That’s their go-to. They’re always like “Hey, I want to see one moderate Muslim. Show me one moderate Muslim denounce terror. I wanna see what it’s like…” Screw you dude! First of all, who came up with that term moderate Muslim? What an objectifying label to give to a billion and a half people. It’s like “Well, you got your moderate Muslims, your mild Muslims, your sweet-and-sour Muslims, you got your lemon pepper, your teriyaki.”

And also, we do denounce terror all the time but nobody puts a camera on that. Nobody wants to see people be moderate, that’s boring. You want to see people jump up and down and be crazy, that’s the whole point of the news system is just to sensationalize everything. It makes me so mad. I just want to blow some stuff up. I just want to…I get so angry! Anybody else have that instinct in their blood? I don’t know. I don’t know what that is. Probably nothing to worry about.

 – Ismael Loutfi, Oct 2017, from Jimmy Kimmel Live!


Khalid Rahmaan

A talented American comedian on the double meaning of the word Chad.

Do you guys think it’s weird that Chad is the whitest name ever, and the blackest place on the planet? No one in Chad has a friend named Chad. Being from Chad, West Africa is like being from Mohammed, Wisconsin.

My full name is Khalid Abdul Rahmaan. So obviously this is my going-away show.

My parents converted to Islam back in the 60s, because just being black people in the 60s wasn’t difficult enough. They had to get that negro extra credit.

I shouldn’t complain. It is tough being black and Muslim but I shouldn’t complain. My younger brother is black, gay, and Muslim. The day after the election I called him up and I said “Hey bro, you might want to drop one of those.”

 – Khalid Rahmaan


Joe Lycett

Currently one of the best British stand ups around, here is the always brilliant Joe Lycett, a non Muslim who understands and explains so eloquently the fine line between ‘terrorist’ and ‘knobhead’.

I want to talk about Birmingham because I am from Birmingham. I was watching Fox News the other week, the reputable news source that is Fox News! And they described Birmingham as “100% Muslim”. As-salaam-Alaikum. “Wa-laikum-Salaam” is what you say back, but don’t worry, we’ll work it out.

I was interested in that because they said “100% Muslim”. It is a sort of truth. There are a lot of Muslims in Birmingham. There are a lot of all cultures there. We are known for being multicultural. We are quite good at it. One of the most famous Muslims in Birmingham is Malala Yousafzai. I don’t know if people are familiar with her? Yes, she’s brilliant. If you don’t know who she is, she’s an 18-year-old schoolgirl who was shot at by the Taliban for wanting to be educated. She now goes to Edgbaston High School for Girls. It is a private school. I don’t think she pays the fees! I personally would hate to go to school with Malala Yousafzai. Can you imagine Show and Tell Day with Malala?

“OK, class, what have you brought in? Sally, let’s start with you.”

And Sally goes, “I’ve brought in a papier mache cat that I made”.

“OK, anyone else bring anything in? Malala, did you bring anything in?”

“This Nobel Peace Prize.”

“Sally…You’re a piece of shit.”

I’d hate to be a teacher, as well. You’re not going to tell Malala off for anything.

“What are you doing with that phone Malala?”

“Texting Barack Obama, actually, so…”

“Oh, sorry. Um, Sally…you’re a piece of shit.”

Poor Sally. No, I made her up. I was annoyed about that. I was annoyed when they said we were 100% Muslim, because when they say things like that, there is a subtext to that. What they are saying is that we should be worried about that, that there is something terrifying, frightening about Muslims. I think we have got a problem. I think we are using the word “Muslim” far too quickly to describe people doing atrocities, when they do not represent Muslims any more than I do. I think we should be using a more accurate word for those people, which I am going to argue is “knobhead”. It’s a political rally now.

There would be levels of knobhead. You would have a moderate knobhead, all the way up to fundamental knobhead. And if we all did it, the news would have to catch up. They would have to go, “Today, two knobheads bombed a car.” They would have to do it…No, I don’t have a problem with Muslims in Birmingham, at all. Happy to have them. I think they add to our city and to our culture.

– Joe Lycett, from the BBC TV show Live At The Apollo

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RUSSELL BRAND AND THE DRUG OF CONNECTION

Not The Only One

I have always found Russell Brand to be an interesting sort of fellow. He is in a similar vein to the likes of Frankie Boyle and Charlie Brooker, satirists who think well beyond normal conventions, shining a much needed harsh light on our modern consumerist societies and our stagnant politicians. I have read his books My Booky Wook, Booky Wook 2, and Revolution, all strongly recommended.

Recovery

Brand has a new book out that I am looking forward to reading, Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions. As part of the promotional tour Brand did for this book, he appeared on the TV show Real Time With Bill Maher. He had the host, the guests, and the audience in fits of laughter as well providing deep insights into his own personal life:

In the interview Brand touches on subjects such as addiction and depression. These topics, along with the topics of loneliness, mental health, and suicide, are all unfortunately spread prominently across the news spectrum right now. With regards to all this, Richard Carlton-Crabtree, director of services with Insight Healthcare, provided the following stark reality of where society is right now:

The reality of it is that one in four adults will experience a mental illness at some point each year in the UK. Something we never hear is that we only expect to help 15 per cent of them…one in four of the UK’s adult population is roughly 13 million people. – Richard Carlton-Crabtree

It does really seem that these issues are everywhere right now…

Tuesday 10th October 2017 was World Mental Health Day.

Princes William and Harry, along with Kate Middleton, have been heavily involved in raising aware around mental health by promoting the Heads Together mental health campaign, the London Marathon’s charity of the year.

Recently the singer Sinead O’Connor posted a video online that offered raw insights into her daily battle to control her inner demons. Filmed in her hotel room in New Jersey, the weeping singer sobbed to the camera: “My entire life is revolving around not dying, and that’s not living.”

Other celebrities have also spoken about these issues, such as singer Selena Gomez, comedian Roseanne Barr, author Ruby Wax, boxer Frank Bruno, footballer Chris Kirkland, and actor David Harewood.

We also have continuous newspaper headlines such as British Teenagers Among Least Satisfied In Western World, Loneliness Is Harming Our Society. Your Kindness Is The Best Cure, and Man Down: Why Do So Many Suffer Depression In Silence? You need not search for too long to find such articles, especially in the age of Trump.

We have also seen the suicides of celebrities such as Robin Williams from a few years ago, to more recently Chris Cornell (lead vocalist for the rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave) and Chester Bennington (lead vocalist for the rock band Linkin Park). I find it interesting that certain celebrities, including Kurt Cobain from over 20 years ago, were living their dreams, yet it seems the reality of that dream coming true did not fulfill expectations. Speaking about Bennington’s death, the journalist Richard Taylor said:

When you’re mentally ill, “normality” becomes meaningless and the world reflects the distorted and warped version of reality you project through bloodshot eyes…Suicide is the biggest killer of men in Britain between the ages of 20 and 50, but we seem only to talk about it when famous men die. – Richard Taylor

Aside from all this, it is the thoughts of Russell Brand that I find most interesting. Here is someone who has suffered from depression, anxiety, addiction, loneliness, and suicidal tendencies. Here is someone who has tried to find meaning and happiness in copious amounts of drugs, sex, money, and fame. None of these things fulfilled him in ways that made long lasting sense. Instead Brand has decided to focus on connecting with people through real emotions, “the drug of connection” as he describes it, something that seems to have worked for him.

Here are some short videos from Brand exploring in more detail some of the topics touched upon in this blog. Each video is interesting in its own right, but collectively they shed much needed sanitized light on ‘we’ as a society. Not sure if they are therefore enjoyable, but they are certainly enlightening…


Chris Cornell: Suicide Epidemic – Why?

Chester Bennington: What Does The Suicide Epidemic Say About Our Culture?

Sinead O’Connor: Do We Live In A Mentally Ill System?

Addiction Epidemic – Why Is The World In Pain?

Why Are Mental Health Issues Increasing?

The GOAT Will Always FLABSLAB

 

Ali Fist

Early October 2017 saw the release of the book Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig. The publishers, Simon And Schuster, describe the book as:

The most comprehensive and definitive biography of Muhammad Ali that has ever been published, based on more than 500 interviews with those who knew him best, with many dramatic new discoveries about his life and career…a ground-breaking biography…a stunning portrait of one of the most significant personalities of the second half of the twentieth century…An epic tale of a fighter who became the world’s most famous pacifist…does full justice to an extraordinary man. – publishers Simon And Schuster describing the book Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig

The book certainly looks impressive and has definitely made it to my must-read-bucket-list. Seeing the book reminded me that I was hoping to do a blog post based on the memorial service of the great man himself. I know it is more than a year overdue, but here goes…


2016 was a year that saw the passing of of many celebrities and VIPs. In these 12 months the world lost Prince, George Michael, Dame Zaha Hadid, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Fidel Castro, and many more. Arguably the most famous loss was that of Muhammad Ali.

It has been well over a year now since the great Muhammad Ali passed away. Shortly after his passing I wrote a blog post as a tribute to the Greatest, followed by a blog post of quotes from his moving funeral service. Ever since I have wanted to do a blog post about his amazing and uplifting memorial service.

On June 10th 2016 the town of Louisville, in the American state of Kentucky, held a memorial service for one of its own. Muhammad Ali, the towns most famous resident, had passed away some 7 days earlier on June 3rd in Scottsdale, Arizona, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Now it was time for the world to come together at his memorial service, to celebrate the life and mourn the loss of the greatest sports personality the world will ever know.

His status as a 20th century icon is in no doubt, alongside the likes of Elvis, Sinatra, Brando, JFK, and Michael Jackson. After all, he was named the athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. Just how prominent his stature was and still is could be seen by the luminaries attending his memorial service. Just some of those in attendance included:

Former President Bill Clinton, King Abdullah II of Jordan, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Reverend Jesse Jackson, comedian and actor Billy Crystal, actor Will Smith, actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, boxing promoter Don King, former NFL player Jim Brown, former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muslim scholar Imam Zaid Shakir, comedian Dave Chappelle, actor Whoopi Goldberg, director Spike Lee, Muslim scholar Sherman Jackson, leader of the Nation of Islam Louis Farrakhan, rapper Common, singer and song writer Yusuf Islam, musician and actor Kris Kristofferson, and former boxing champions Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, and Bernard Hopkins.

With such a vast array of celebrities in attendance, the award winning journalist and author Jim Dwyer made the following point:

Ali was eulogized in a grand sports arena by, among others, a priest and an imam, a rabbi and a monk, a former United States president and a famous comedian. Protégées and daughters and his wife remembered him. As they spoke, all stood beneath the flags of the United States and the Olympic Games, symbols of a man who saw himself as a citizen of America and of the world. – Jim Dwyer

The memorial services began in Louisville on June 9th 2016, during the holy Islamic month of Ramadhaan, with an Islamic Janazah prayer service at Freedom Hall on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center. The following day included a public funeral procession that saw Ali’s body carried through downtown Louisville, along the same streets as the homecoming parade that celebrated his 1960 Olympic gold medal win, back when he returned home from the Rome Olympics to a city that greeted him as a hero but still remained divided on racial lines.

Ali Procession Smith

After this procession there was a public memorial service held for Ali at downtown Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center in the afternoon, with more than 15,000 in attendance. The day would end with the funeral procession arriving at Cave Hill Cemetery, where the boxing legend was interred during a private ceremony alongside Union and Confederate soldiers, and President Abraham Lincoln’s law partner, among others. His grave is marked with a simple granite marker that bears only his name.

Ali’s funeral had been pre-planned by himself and others for several years prior to his actual death. Ali and his innermost circle started a document years ago that grew so thick they began calling it “The Book.” In the pages the boxing great planned in exacting detail how he wished to say goodbye to the world. “The message that we’ll be sending out is not our message, this was really designed by The Champ himself,” said Timothy Gianotti, an Islamic studies scholar who for years helped plan the services. The 74-year-old three-time heavyweight champion wanted the memorial service in an arena as he wanted multiple religions to have a voice. He also wanted ordinary fans to attend, not just VIPs.

Ali also wanted his memorial service to honour his Islamic faith, which is why the very first words spoken at his service were in Arabic and from the Qur’an. The American Muslim scholar Imam Zaid Shakir said, in translation, “In the name of God, most Compassionate, most Merciful.” The service ended some 3 hours later, again with Imam Zaid Shakir, saying “God bless, and blessings and peace upon Muhammad. Good evening.” One would assume he meant Muhammad Ali and not the Prophet Muhammad, or perhaps even both.

In between these first and last words the service saw many amazing heartfelt eulogies, eulogies that took place before the world was dragged kicking and screaming into the era of the heartless Trump presidency, eulogies that somehow seem to have more resonance today than they did when they were originally delivered.

Whilst the full 3 hour plus memorial service can be seen here, presented below are my favourite moments. With so many to choose from I have tried to pick those that I found funny or uplifting or insightful. So, in honour of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Times) who will always FLABSLAB (Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee) I really do hope you enjoy!

Ali Procession


Reverend Doctor Kevin Cosby

Before James Brown said “I’m black and I’m proud” Muhammad Ali said “I’m black and I’m pretty.”


Rabbi Michael Lerner

The way to honour Muhammad Ali is to be Muhammad Ali today.


Rabbi Joe Rapport

The living, breathing embodiment of the greatest that we could be.


Imam Zaid Shakir

I witnessed the power of sainthood.


Ambassador Attallah Shabazz (eldest daughter of Malcolm X)

When you believe in God, you should believe all people are part of one family.


President Obama (statement read by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett)

Ali was a radical even in a radical’s time; a loud, proud, unabashedly black voice in a Jim Crow world.


Lonnie Ali (wife of Muhammad Ali)

Muhammad Ali wants us to see the face of his religion, al-Islam, true Islam, as the face of love…It was his religion that caused him to turn away from war and violence. For his religion he was prepared to sacrifice all that he had, and all that he was, to protect his soul, and follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.


Natasha Mundkur

I am the disturbance in the sea of your complacency, and I will never stop shaking your waves.


John Ramsey

To me, he is the finest example of a great human being that I have ever seen.


Billy Crystal

It’s very hard to describe how much he meant to me; you had to live in his time. It’s great to look at clips and it’s amazing that we have them, but to live in his time, watching his fights, experiencing the genius of his talent, was absolutely extraordinary…He never lost his sense of humour, even as he lost everything else.


Bryant Gumbel

What does it say of a man, any man, that he can go from being viewed as one of his countries most polarising figures to arguably its most beloved? And to do so without changing his nature or for a second compromising his principles?


Bill Clinton

I think he decided very young to write his own life story. I think he decided, before he could possibly have worked it all out, and before fate and time could work their will on him, he decided that he would not be ever disempowered.


Imam Zaid Shakir

If reindeer could box, he would have fought Donner and Blitzen.

If presidents could fight, he would have fought Richard Nixon.

If Only Stephen Paddock Were A Muslim

Vegas Spent

Because of the media drenched age in which we live, where we float around in our biased digital bubbles, whenever an incident such as the shooting in Las Vegas occurs we are inundated with opinions, facts, and alternative facts. Ignoring all the idiotic conspiracy theories that abound whenever something like this occurs (such as Alex Jones and his claims of a ‘deep state’ cover up), it can be hard to find nuanced points of view that shed light on the madness that just occurred.

This particular tragedy is made even harder to digest because the shooter was a white, middle aged, retired, multi millionaire, former accountant, not on any watch list, and with no prior inclinations of such atrocities. In other words, he does not fit any known profile. No beard, no brown skin, no calls for jihad, and therefore no established narratives to politicize. Queue the usual discussions of why white skin equals lone wolf with mental health issues, whereas brown skin equals terrorist:

In my quest to find answers, to find solace, I came across two articles that really made sense. Journalist Jennifer Williams wrote an article explaining why in America white American men are more of a threat than Muslims:

White American men are a bigger domestic terrorist threat than Muslim foreigners…in the eight months since Trump took office, more Americans have been killed in attacks by white American men with no connection to Islam than by Muslim terrorists or foreigners…In fact, between 2001 and 2015, more Americans were killed by homegrown right-wing extremists than by Islamist terrorists, according to a study by New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC…The average American is more likely to die from their own clothing or a toddler with a gun than an immigrant terrorist. But we’re not banning guns and T-shirts from coming into the country. – Jennifer Williams, 02 Oct 2017, from an article at vox.com

The article gives at least five examples of horrific attacks that have occurred in America in 2017 that did not involve Muslims. Well worth a read. Another article well worth reading is from the Pulitzer prize winning journalist and author Thomas L Friedman. Friedman wrote an article in the New York Times controversially entitled If Only Stephen Paddock Were A Muslim. The article begins with this bold and daring proclamation:

If only Stephen Paddock had been a Muslim…If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas…If only he had been a member of ISIS…If only we had a picture of him posing with a Quran in one hand and his semiautomatic rifle in another…If all of that had happened, no one would be telling us not to dishonor the victims and “politicize” Paddock’s mass murder by talking about preventive remedies. – Thomas L Friedman, 03 Oct 2017, from an article at nytimes.com

The article only gets more daring after this, with Friedman pointing out the blatant hypocrisies of the American governments approaches to ISIS and the NRA:

On crushing ISIS, our president and his party are all in. On asking the N.R.A. for even the tiniest moderation, they are AWOL. No matter how many innocents are fatally shot — no matter even that one of their own congressional leaders was critically wounded playing baseball — it’s never time to discuss any serious policy measures to mitigate gun violence. – Thomas L Friedman, 03 Oct 2017, from an article at nytimes.com

Vegas Steps

This cycle of violence that America has just experienced is nothing new. We have unfortunately been here too many times before. To try and make some sense of it all, not only do I read from well established journalists, I also find myself increasingly turning away from politicians and instead turning to our comedians and satirists, to see what their take is on events. The reason for this is simply put thusly:

Our problem is our leaders are clowns and our ‘clowns’ (Frankie Boyle, Russell Brand, etc) should be our leaders! It’s just too tragic to be comedy. – YouTube comment from grassfuse3

In this light please find below 9 short videos that I found illuminating and moving, with personal comments from the biggest names in American TV talk shows. Real Americans (apart from James Corden), real voices, real emotions, all trying to bring some sort of hope into and make some sort of sense out of the tragic events of Las Vegas. As much as one can in these troubled times, enjoy…


Ellen DeGeneres

Jimmy Kimmel

Stephen Colbert

James Corden

Conan O’Brien

Seth Meyers

Trevor Noah

HUMOUR IS THE MAIN MEASURE OF SANITY

Time Rohingya

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – opening lines from the book A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens wrote these words nearly 160 years ago, way back in 1859. They seemed appropriate for the time, a time of great poverty in Britain and of the French in full revolution. They also seem more than appropriate for our time today because, as always, we seem to be living in a world of massive contradictions.

For some the future is so bright they feel compelled to wear their designer sunglasses inside. The stock market in the States is at an all time high, and companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google continue to increase in financial value and cultural influence. The price of football players also seems to be rising and rising, no matter what the economic climate.

For others however this world is a living hell. As we speak some half a million Rohingya Muslims are on the run for their lives, fleeing from religious persecution perpetrated by Buddhists. We have also recently experienced terrifying hurricanes sweeping across the Atlantic, as well as earthquakes shattering buildings and lives in Mexico. Not to mention the imminent threat of nuclear war between Fat Man in America and Little Boy over in North Korea.

For those who are genuinely suffering, the entirety of my heart goes out to you. May you find some comfort soon. For the rest of us, it is difficult to know what to do and how to feel. It is harder still to know how to keep sane. In the barrage of information and news that we face it can feel overwhelming, not knowing how we came to this, not knowing how you alone can possibly make any positive impact at all.

Overloaded

It is at these crucial times that I believe it is imperative to keep ones sanity. For me the best way to do this is via the occasional dose of comedy and humour. This does not in any way belittle the horrors being faced by many all over the world, but it does allow people to try and function as best they can, considering all they know about the world. If you lose your sense of humour then surely madness is just around the corner:

A sense of humour is the main measure of sanity. – Hunter S Thompson

With this in mind please find below 18 quotes centered around the topic of faith. As best as one can in these best-worst times, enjoy…


Ain’t no pickpocket trying to steal my suitcase. It could be an expensive laptop computer or it could be the end of their life. It’s too much of a gamble. – Imran Yusuf

Barack Obama is not a radical brown-skinned anti-war socialist who gives away free health care. You’re thinking of Jesus. – John Fugelsang

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

Giles Fraser, the former priest, in the Guardian, he said that “Jesus would welcome in the migrants.” And I thought well that’s all very well for Jesus, his father’s house has many rooms. – Stewart Lee

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 have thought about this long and hard. I don’t think I could be a terrorist. It’s my stance. I don’t think I could do it. I think I would come to America and think “Wow! This place is awesome!” And then I would call back home and say “Guys…I think we should let women read…Maybe it’s us.” That’s had to have happened. I have to believe in the goodness of humanity, and believe that that’s had to have happened, where some guy came to America, and he was going to do all this terrorist stuff, and when the day came nothing happened. And he gets the call. “Hey, what happened?” And he was like “I was totally going to do it, but I went to this place called Hooters last week. WOW! I love America. This place is amazing.” – Fariaz Rabbani

I thought about being a Muslim once, but you’ve got to know geography. Which way is Mecca? I got lost in the way here! Plus they have that whole concept of 72 virgins when you go to paradise. It sounds nice but really I’m just looking for a little peace and quiet at that point. Where do you even find 72 virgins without committing a felony? I don’t think it’s possible. Even if it was, it would be like spending eternity at a Hannah Montana concert. That is not paradise, believe me. – Bart Tangredi

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 would respect religious people more if they didn’t spend so much time trying to kill other religious people who weren’t the same type of religion that they are. – Bart Tangredi

If we’re all God’s children, what’s so special about Jesus? – Jimmy Carr

I’m not a religious guy, but I’m still paranoid about all the stuff going on in America with the National Security Agency. That’s why when I’m on the phone I say “I love America” as much as I can. I’m serious. As often as I can. “Hello, how are you?…I’m fine. I love America!…Yeah, I saw Breaking Bad. It was great. Just like freedom. Just like it!” – Fariaz Rabbani

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

Jesus was a radical nonviolent revolutionary who hung around with lepers, hookers and crooks; wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer (M 6:5); but was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a copay; and was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut-shaming, Middle Eastern Jew. – John Fugelsang

My best friend is Jewish. I asked him what do you like most about being Jewish. He said he never thought about that before. I said just give me something off the top of your head. So he gave me his yamaka. I’m just kidding. He sold it to me. – Sammy Obeid

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

People always ask me if I’m Muslim. I’m not Muslim. I don’t have a problem with Muslims. I love Muslims. I wouldn’t fly with them. Maybe go for a bike ride or something instead. – Sammy Obeid

So I’m at the Wailing Wall, standing there, like a moron, with my harpoon. – Emo Philips

Terrorists have ruined the lives of Muslims forever. Maybe not forever, but for at least 200 years. They have shattered dreams. Do you know what my childhood dream was? I wanted to be a pilot. Done! This is what happens to you when dreams are deferred: stand up comedy. – Fariaz Rabbani

GRUESOMELY FUNNY COMEDY

I do like a witty, uproarious one-liner. Take this one from satirist Karl Sharro, commenting on hurricanes Harvey and Irma hitting the United States in August and September of 2017:

They should call hurricanes names like Mohammed or Fatima, would make it much harder for them to enter the US. – Karl Sharro, tweet from Sep 2017

Understandably there were many who were not amused as it was maybe too soon, and perhaps due to the sheer number of unfortunate people caught up in these disasters. Having said that, it is still a funny line. Another place where I find many a funny line is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Established in 1947, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the world’s largest arts festival and it takes place annually in Edinburgh in bonnie Scotland in the month of August. Last year, 2016, the festival featured 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 venues, all taking place over a schedule packed 25 days.

Many of these performances include stand up comedy shows featuring comedians from all over the world. For several years now an official list is produced of the funniest jokes from that years festival. Last year the winning joke was:

My dad has suggested that I register for a donor card. He’s a man after my own heart. – Masai Graham

Good one Masai. This year, 2017, the funniest joke at the festival was:

I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change. – Ken Cheng

Again, good one Ken. Whilst this is rather funny and clever, it is the runner up joke that was for me far superior:

Trump’s nothing like Hitler. There’s no way he could write a book. – Frankie Boyle

This savage put down is taken from Frankie Boyle’s recent Edinburgh Festival show, Prometheus Volume One. The Guardian review of the show was itself rather interesting:

The cackling peddler of brutal jokes is not for the faint-hearted, but his new standup show is relentlessly funny. This is an hour of terrifically brutal material but it’s wickedly funny. Joke for joke, and assuming you have a dark sense of humour, this is one of the most relentlessly funny shows around. Sick, cynical, alarmist and bleakly amused, it makes for gruesomely funny comedy. – Brian Logan

Feel free to listen to the entire show yourself. The audio download, just under an hour long, is available for free at from Frankie’s official website. It is also available on YouTube:

I must warn you though, this show, like all shows by Frankie Boyle, is strictly for adults with hardened sensibilities. Despite that, it is still worth listening to in full, just to watch a master craftsman at work, just to hear Boyle move effortlessly from making a disgustingly crude remark to making a devilishly clever political comment.

To add to the Trump/Hitler line above, I have transcribed some of the best moments from this rather superb stand up comedy performance. I could quite easily have transcribed the entire show, but I have instead tried my best to narrow it down to my favourite jokes, which have been cleaned up somewhat. And, yes, regular readers of this blog (surely there must be one or two of you out there by now) will have read some of the quotes before in previous blog posts, but they are repeated again nonetheless as they are rather brilliant. Enjoy!


Frankie Boyle Ticket

I am from Glasgow, a city where people think that hepatitis B is a vitamin.

There was a study of the worlds happiest cities. Glasgow was right up near the top. What we can learn from that is that researchers do not understand sarcasm.

Why do they call the Queen ‘Her Majesty’? Is she majestic? Really? I think of an eagle as being majestic, not a shuffling old woman who hasn’t cracked a smile since Diana died.

The Queen has two birthdays a year, one each for her human and lizard forms.

I want the Queen to live a long life because the longer she lives the more days we get off on holiday when she dies. At the moment she is a long weekend, God bless her. If she makes it to a hundred, we’re going to get a week off.

I understand there are two points of view. There are people who say the Royals are a good thing, they bring in tourists. Then there’s my point of view, which is maybe if we concentrated on having a country worth visiting we wouldn’t have to parade the products of incest around the West End of London to try and sell fridge magnets.

Prince William and Prince Harry have been fronting a campaign urging people to talk more about their mental health. It’s been very well received. Everybody thinks that this is a great idea. I wonder if Prince Harry ever spares a thought for the mental health of the families of the various shepherds that he gunned down from his 20 million pound death helicopter in Afghanistan. I wonder how he justifies that to himself. “I pictured Dodi’s face on every shepherd I killed. Every Arab we shot serves my mother in hell. I know that Afghans aren’t Arabs but I, Prince Harry, in this joke, believe that they are.” That’s Britain, exporting peace and democracy to the world, and what says peace and democracy more than being shot dead from a helicopter by a prince.

The Tories hate coming second, which is why they only fuck kids.

Theresa May is the first Nazi in history who can’t get the trains to run on time.

When Ian Brady died Theresa May didn’t move on the list of Britain’s ten worst people, whereas I went up one.

I don’t trust the Democratic Unionist Party. I don’t trust anyone who has got the word ‘democratic’ in their name. Isn’t that a given? What’s that doing in there? It’s like calling yourself a non-rapist hypnotist.

I don’t really watch telly, I tend to watch YouTube, which has been ruined by adverts. Apparently there’s something about me spending 5 hours watching pensioners falling over that suggests that I am in the market for a brand new Lexus.

Frankie Boyle Prometheus

Do you know a real problem for comedians? And it never really gets mentioned. Most people don’t have a sense of humor. Most people. I can remember when I first realized this. I was 13, I was at school, we were doing a class on stereotypes and the teacher was a really good guy, he was just talking about how stupid stereotypes are. And he was talking about a stereotype that day that’s so old-fashioned, that’s so Scottish, unless you’re my age and you’re from here, you won’t have heard this. Have you ever heard the stereotype that deaf people are really strong? That was a genuine thing when I was growing up. Deaf people, and particularly deaf and dumb people, for some reason were believed to be really strong. And the teacher said “Think how stupid that is. You ever seen a deaf contender for the heavyweight championship of the world?” And me, age 13, I put my hand up and I went “There was one sir, but he was disqualified for punching after the bell.” And nobody laughed, and I knew right then that life was going to feel pretty long.

The only way you can really tell if you’ve done your job properly as a comedian is: are you silenced by the security services? That’s the test. Are you silenced by the security services? So if you ever open up your morning newspaper and see that I’ve been found hanged on the back of a hotel room door with an orange in my mouth, at least you’ll know the security services didn’t get to me.

I think people get the wrong idea about me and they think I’m depressed or something. I’m not depressed. I don’t wish that I was dead. I wish…that YOU were all dead.

America is getting scary, isn’t it? Like properly scary. Donald Trump to me looks like someone playing a president in a porno. Would you bother with the hair if you looked like him? If you had the face like a novelty jug that was made in a secure unit pottery class? Surely the hair is like putting 26-inch rims on a wheelie bin. Do you remember when you thought that George Bush was the bottom? Remember that? That’s the bottom, a guy that is so stupid he can’t really speak. Turns out there’s a whole thing underneath that, it goes all the way down to a guy who looks like a melted action figure of He-Man. He doesn’t really have policies, they’re more the sort of things a drunk would shout on a bus when he gets shaken awake by a pothole. “Build a wall!”

I got my next-door neighbor to build a wall and pay for it and all it cost me was the price of a thong to sunbathe in.

That American election, that might turn out to be the biggest decision since the Second World War. I don’t know about you but any time I hear that there’s a big decision to be taken, I often think to myself “I hope no Americans are involved in taking that decision. I hope no one from a country that made eight Fast And The Furious movies gets any say in this. I hope nobody who finds James Corden funny…”

Americans were fucked whoever they voted for. Hillary Clinton was a murderous psychopath. The whole election was a bit like watching the Elephant Man trying to decide which side to part his hair.

I had two problems with Hillary Clinton’s attitude. The first one was her brand of feminism. She didn’t agree with female genital mutilation, unless it had been performed by an American drone. And I can’t get behind that because I struggle to find the clitoris at the best of times, without having to paw through the rubble of Kandahar.

That’s relationships. “Oh, you seem nice.” “Yeah, that’s because I’m trying to seem nice. Wait till you move in and find out I’ve got the mood swings of a Vietnam vet.” I think we’re in relationships because we don’t want to die alone, which is why I’ve always planned on taking quite a few people with me.

Trump’s so stupid he’ll change what the word ‘presidential’ means. I think in a couple of years time people will be going “My uncle fell over and banged his head on a kerb. He’s been rendered completely presidential.”

Trump, on the first day of the FBI investigation, genuinely said “Every time I pick up a phone I feel like someone is listening.”

Trump went to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip. Melania saw how women were being treated in Saudi Arabia and tried to claim asylum.

I don’t trust our Brexit negotiating team. I think out Brexit negotiating team would end up paying full price on a DFS sofa.

I think the funniest thing about Brexit is that UKIP have had to reposition themselves, because they got what they wanted, they got out of the EU. Nobody gives a fuck about their other positions. It’s like hearing ISIS’s position on wheelie bins. So they have had to reinvent themselves as the party of Islamophobia, and they are doing that by expressing solidarity for groups that they think Islam discriminates against. So now they talk about women’s rights and gay rights and all this kind of stuff. Imagine that? Imagine you are in UKIP, you’re basically a BNP member who can afford van insurance, and you’ve suddenly got to pretend that you care about gay rights. “You know what the problem is in Britain Steve? It’s that I can’t suck your cock because of Sharia law. I’m going to suck it mate, it’s not a gay thing, it’s purely an act of political protest.”

Do you know what UKIP are saying is their reason they want to ban the burka now? They’re saying they are worried those women aren’t getting enough vitamin D. “Yeah, because you need really strong bones for fucking off back where you came from.”

I think Britain is racist because it doesn’t understand it’s own history. Two thirds of British people think the Empire was a good thing. Not only was it an evil thing, it wasn’t even a rational thing. The Victorians were all on cocaine. All of them. Queen Victoria was on cocaine, and not the shit you take. You’ve never done a line and gone “Let’s invade India.”

Americans do need to worry about refugees, because a refugee in America might get involved in a mass shooting, just to try to fit in.

I honestly think there will be peace in the Middle East once the oil runs out, although knowing their luck someone will invent a replacement that involves mixing sand with falafel.

I think the way Britain works is that we minimize what we do to other countries and we maximize terrorist threats to us, because people are easier to control when they’re a bit frightened…We minimize what we do to other people. We say we have these precision-guided bombing missions, we have laser-guided precision bombs. You can’t be precise if what you’re delivering is high explosives…There’s no point finding the clitoris if what you’re finding it with is an uppercut.

My uncle always said “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” He did heroin.

My uncle died recently surrounded by his friends and family. We knew he was claustrophobic and we all hated him.

I don’t like celebrity atheists. I think religions have done some good things. The Quakers fought against the Vietnam war. Liberation theology in central America, they all got killed just for standing up for poor people. And what is their reward? To be looked down on by Ricky Gervais. I don’t need Ricky Gervais to tell me that God doesn’t exist when I watched Derek get recommissioned. Twice.

I was walking down the street the other day and I saw a homeless guy. I went to give him some money and I realized that I only had a 20 pound note. And I thought do I really want this money being spent on drugs? And I decided that I didn’t, so I gave it to the homeless guy.

HONESTLY, ISLAM IS NOT THE BOGEYMAN

Munira Ahmed
The Munira Ahmed poster by Shepard Fairey, used in many an anti-Trump rally.

Say what you dislike about Trump but the guy does keep his options open, especially when it comes to choosing an enemy. He has got so many: Wiretapping Obama, Crooked Hillary, the mainstream media, North Korea, left-leaning Republicans, all Democrats, most Mexicans, women he finds unattractive, inner city residents (i.e. black people), immigrants, the alt-left, and of course Muslims. Under Trump Islamophobia is definitely on the rise. Unfortunately under Trump hatred, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and all types of bigotry are also on the rise.

There are brief moments, however, when America does seem to come together, where a united sense of humanity shines through. The recent natural disasters have brought out the best in many locals who have been hailed as heroes, including many who are likely to be affected by Trumps recent retractment of the Dreamers program, which looks set to deport some 800,000 young immigrants.

Another moment of ephemeral unity was during the recent eclipse that spectacularly arced across America. All the unnatural man made divisions were overshadowed, literally and metaphorically, by a once in a lifetime natural event. However, as soon as the the eclipse passed the divisions returned.

eclipse

Likewise, just when you think there is a temporary feeling of collective order, Trump is sure to come along and destroy it. Take his reaction to the Charlottesville Nazi march. Denouncing Nazis should be presidential 101, but Trump clearly had other ideas, as noted quite scarily by Trevor Noah:

Seven months into his term—41 months to go, by the way—and the president of the United States has officially legitimized white supremacists. Basically saying we need to see things from the Nazis’ point of view. You know, march a mile in their boots…Here’s the thing: if so many of Trump’s supporters are willing to give Nazis the benefit of the doubt, then clearly anything goes. There is no line that they won’t cross and, clearly, no cross that they won’t burn. – Trevor Noah, 21 Aug 2017

An anti-fascist protester was killed during this rally by a Nazi sympathiser. 32 year old Heather Heyer was killed when a car drove into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville. One of her Facebook posts, written last year, read simply: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” The comment went viral after being shared on social media in her honour.

Heather Heyer

The former president, Barak Obama, responded somewhat differently to Trump. Obama tweeted a quote from Nelson Mandela, a tweet that, at the time of writing, is the most liked ever.

The full quote is:

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. – Nelson Mandela, from the book Long Walk To Freedom

Another relevant quote related to Charlottesville came in the form of a sign held by an anti-fascist protester. The sign quoted Martin Luther King Jr:

MLK Burden

I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. – Martin Luther King Jr

As I have blogged many times before hate comes in many shapes, sizes, colours, and forms. In Newcastle hate is Pakistani Muslim men who groom young white girls. In parts of India hate is Hindu mobs killing Muslims suspected of eating beef. In Burma hate is the army committing genocide against Rohingya Muslims. In Minnesota hate is the bombing of a mosque (Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared the mosque bombing an act of terrorism, even if the President was deafeningly silent on the matter). In Yemen hate is cholera and starvation caused by the military actions of Saudi Arabia against civilians.

This list of hate unfortunately goes on and on. All of this makes it so hard to make any sense of the divided, dysfunctional state of our world. What people like Trump need to understand is that Islam is not the bogeyman, something that I believe he knows, but something that he uses to get what he wants. In pre-election times Islam was the bogeyman that Trump used to get him in power, as noted by crime fiction writer Ausma Zehanat Khan:

The rhetoric that ramps up in the United States during an election cycle has certainly affected me. As an election approaches there’s this search for bogeymen to invoke fear and rally people around a cause. I see a great deal of anti-Muslim rhetoric, to the point of anti-Muslim racism; a tremendous amount of bigotry fueled by demagogic statements by presidential candidates. Those statements score political points—they rally the base or an extreme section of it—and they also have very real consequences for the lived realities of Muslims in the United States. – Ausma Zehanat Khan, 02 Feb 2016, from an interview with macleans.ca

Now that Trump is in power, he needs hate, he needs enemies, he needs bogeymen to help him stay on in power. Not only are there political gains to be made in such ways, but financial ones too. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf historically delves into this concept a little further:

Duncan MacDonald [an American Orientalist] said that the three great civilizations on this planet are the Sinic, the Islamic, and the Christian. Until they find a way of living together harmoniously, we’re always going to be faced with the threat of these civilizations clashing. He wrote that in 1906, I think. We’ve been clashing for a long time. I think partly there are forces working on the world that don’t mind those clashes because they make a lot of money out of them. We have a huge armaments industry, the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned this country about. I think they need bogeymen to scare people into having half their taxes going to military budgets. I’m as cynical as believing that they really don’t mind. I think they have some sociopathic tendencies that human suffering doesn’t seem to bother them a whole lot. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from an interview in The Cairo Review, Number 19, Fall 2015

Delving even further, the brilliant journalist Ramzy Baroud wrote an excellent article in which he clearly laid out the logical reasons as to why Muslims are not the enemy America thinks they are:

Anti-Arab and Muslim sentiments in the US have been around for generations, but it has risen sharply in the last two decades. Arabs and Muslims have become an easy scapegoat for all of America’s failed wars and counter-violence. Terrorist threats have been exaggerated beyond belief to manipulate a frightened, but also a growing impoverished population. The threat level was assigned colors, and each time the color vacillated towards the red, the nation drops all of its grievances, fights for equality, jobs and health care and unites in hating Muslims, people they never met…Blaming Muslims for the decline of the American empire is as ineffective as it is dishonest…Americans, Muslims are not your enemy. They never have been. Conformity is. – Ramzy Baroud, 13 Jul 2017, counterpunch.org, from an article entitled Fighting The Wrong Enemy: Why Americans Hate Muslims

Islam Hill

Muslims pray during the Islam On Capitol Hill 2009 event at the West Front Lawn of the US Capitol in Washington, 25 Sep 2009.

Another journalist, Jennifer Williams, shares similar sentiments in a detailed article on the history of Islam in America, where she too warns of the growing negative views Muslims face in the States:

Islam’s roots in America go back to the Founding Fathers…Despite their long and rich history as an integral part of American society going all the way back to the founding of our nation, many Muslim Americans in 2017 continue to be treated as unwelcome foreigners. That is not a universal sentiment, to be sure, but neither is it a tiny fringe belief. – Jennifer Williams, 29 Jan 2017, vox.com, from an article entitled A Brief History Of Islam In America

I am hoping this blog post somewhat convinces certain people that the hate they feel for all things Islamic and for all Muslims is deliberately manufactured by some for a specific reason and, even when you think the hate is real, it is grossly misplaced. If further convincing is still needed then I leave you with this 16 minute film about Muslims living in Dearborn, Michigan. The people of this community embody what it means to be a Muslim in the USA today, and the film honestly captures their daily fears and their hopes for a better future: