Maz Jobrani: Just Iranian-American | A Kennedy Center Digital Stage Original

Maz Jobrani: Just Iranian-American | A Kennedy Center Digital Stage Original


[Maz Jobrani]: What’s your name Lebanese man? What’s
your name? Khalid, I love it Khalid. Way to go. And is your wife also- is it wife, girlfriend? What do we- what are you guys->>Wife of 20 years.>>Wife of 20 years! Congratulations
way to go guys and are you also Lebanese? Just American- that’s fine. She’s so sweet
she goes no I’m just American, just- That’s a good thing for us- that’s-
yeah, yeah you you make this legal I mean it’s- [laughter] you you make us feel a lot more
secure you know? [laughter] Anything goes wrong, ‘oh we have- she’s just American she’s with us’ [laughter]>>Mr. Maz- Jobrani! [applause] [music] I’m Jason Rezaian, an opinions writer for
The Washington Post. Like most Iranians in the Diaspora, Maz Jobrani is my
favorite Iranian American comedian. Maz and I grew up in the same area in
California [music] Recently, I picked up Maz at the airport,
and we sat down for a kebab dinner before his Kennedy Center performance in
Washington, DC. [music] [applause] There was so much to discuss I wanted to discuss with him.>>Hello DC! Hey hello DC!>>About his comedy
and our shared experiences as Iranian Americans Americans [applause]>>Goodnight thank you. No- [laughter] Let’s face it Persian food is probably the best food.>>You know I try not to get
too nationalistic about these things.>>Well the food you gotta-
>>We got some pretty great food.>>I’ve never seen something like this before.>>I haven’t either.>>Are you taking a
picture?>>Yeah my wife does that a lot>>My wife does it every chance she gets.
>>Wow I love that who would’ve- I wouldn’t have thought of this. Good huh?
>>Very good.>>Very good top of the line. Guys this is amazing I love being back in DC
and first of all where’s my I know my Persians where’s my Persians where’s my
Iranians- yes thank you yes thank you for coming thank you thank you for yes I
knew you would be here it’s part of the citizenship program every year and a
half you got to come to a module Ronnie show we check your paperwork and you
keep going. You’re all legal.>>How long did it take you to feel like you were
assimilating especially with the language?>>In Iran I was in an
international school so we would do half the English half day Persian so I come
to America but I still you know you speak English but but you’re not as not
as well as everybody else and I think part of it was just trying to blend in
with the kids and I had sports to help me so I was I was playing soccer in the
streets of Iran so in America I could play sports I did the kickball
all that stuff was pretty athletic I used to go shopping with my mom and she
would get a cart full of stuff for the house and I would get a cart full of
candy right I just had a sweet tooth and back then it was like Twinkies and Ho
Hos and all that stuff I seems to do a bit about how Twinkies were so great I
mean that was like that was my entry into America where you were like oh my
god I’m gonna eat the topping and then lick that cream middle oh my god so I
would take this stuff so I would go to school with a bunch of candy and I would
give it to guys and I realized that that was me bribing friendships at a young
age That’s probably where I also
started finding a sense of humor because your humor, sports, and candy. That’s
how I made friends.>>Yeah. Pretty good recipe. [music] [music ends] I rebelled against my father to become a
comedian okay? I rebelled against my father my mother I rebelled against the Iranian
community when I started 20 years ago nobody thought we should be doing comedy
I sort of got back then when I started comedy I think the whole community was
really felt bad for us they were like ‘oh did you hear about Jobrani son? [laughter] ‘He’s almost a drug dealer.’ [laughter] Imagine if tomorrow you had to get up and move to – I don’t know Portugal or Brazil where you don’t speak the language at all and you go,
here I am! And I’ve got this money here that
I’ve brought that whatever I’ve been able to save.>>Now I gotta figure it out.>>Now I got to figure it out and I’m 40 whatever 46. Immigrant parents don’t
spend time with anybody. [laughter] Once immigrant parents get you to
America they feel their job is done [laughter] I don’t remember seeing my parents from
the moment I landed to the time I graduated we got here my parents ready…
go! You’re on your own! We’ll see you at graduation! Since I came to America I
never felt American enough and I never felt Iranian enough. I remember the hostage
stuff then I remember the Iran-contra happening and in a way I was like
god we’re always in the news like can’t we just lay low for a minute and then it
was the movie ‘Not Without My Daughter’ Anybody who was of that generation,
especially women I think, really thought this is how all Iranian men are. My dad came with a lot of money he was a successful businessman in Iran he had I
he had an electric company and I would say a lot of Iranians I don’t think
realize that revolution was gonna happen they thought that the Shah was gonna
quash it and so my dad sent from my mom to bring my sister and I during our
winter break in late ’78 to come just to spend a couple weeks in New York and in
America and I always say we packed for two weeks we stayed for 40 years. Just American. [laughter] This is 40 years ago in America nobody
liked Iran. Still- nobody likes Iran! My contact with Iranians would come
through my parents because they would go to these you know parties and then they’d
take me along and I’d meet someone’s kid I’d be like oh okay that’s cool but then I go to school it was mostly just American dudes.>>Yeah. I got bullied when I came to America a lot of Iranians know when we first came to America we were fleeing we were leaving for the
revolution coming to America from from a revolution we got here
they took hostages and then America started beating us up yeah and thank God
I didn’t get beaten up but I got called F–kin Iranian. I did there was a sixth
grader who called me f–kin Iranian when I was in the fourth grade he called me f–kin Iranian and I didn’t know what what to say back like what am I gonna be like oh
yeah you’re a f–kin American at that point was just telling each other what we were
from. [laughter] I always felt kind of embarrassed of my parents right, in terms of like their
loudness and their language and their you know- I love them yeah but
you know when you were around your American friends you’d be like don’t be
so loud you know I remember my dad embarrassing me a couple of times like
we went to an ice cream store and Tiburon and there was this girl behind
the counter and I was like I’m not maybe I’m ten at the time and the girl is
probably like 13 or something I remember my dad just like really only you know
like ‘you want to marry my son?’ you know like joking-joking with her but I’m like
dad shut up! Don’t ask if she wants to marry me what are you talking about.>>So I had issues with with with you know the the lack of a gender pronoun in Farsi
you know so we’d go places and I was a round kid with big eyes and you know
very neat full eyelashes and a lot of bushy hair at all and you know people
would be like oh you know your child is so cute and my dad would be like “this is
Jason, she is my son.” You know? Like… [laughter]>>She is my son. That’s awesome. [music] [music ends] I’ve always been supportive of the
underdog because I feel- why do human beings pick on people that are less
fortunate than them? I was an immigrant when I came to America I’m an immigrant! I came to America I got to stand up for immigrants because immigrants love
America we come here to make America a better place. Look at all the people here
and we come here we I think we contribute to America and we do a lot of
good things for America. I think that the American spirit still exists like that
and I just think it’s getting past the fears and and finding those
people that are willing to lend a hand and bring these people you know.>>For me it’s that kind of buffet of opportunities of connecting with people
from different cultures it’s like the best thing about living in this place!
>>Yeah What other nationalities are here
tonight? What other national- what? Germany! Welcome Germany!
Thank you for coming are you with an Iranian or who you with? Yes! A German and
an Iranian yes! Fantastic! Germany you were in the original axis of evil now
we’re an axis of evil [laughter] You were the enemy now we’re the enemy we
have so much in common Germany. Where’s my non-Middle Easterners by applause where
are you? There you go Yes Where? Where? Armenia there you go
you’re kind of Middle Eastern that’s okay. Armenians are trying to separate
no Armenia we’re also I am also in stuff no I’m just American as well I’m just
American I’m just American from the Armenian side just-
you’re our neighbors take it easy. Everyone wants to back out of the Middle
East these days [laughter] Armenia is more like Europe it’s more
Europe more Armenia has more Kardashian you know Kardashian but over here by
Kardashians… We’re gonna call you just Armenian. [laughter] When you choose to be generous
then I think you live with less stress in your life. If
you’re not gonna be generous then you’re just your whole you holding on to
everything everything like I feel good if I’m able to you
know tip or help somebody it makes me feel good but again I think that’s a
cultural thing that we got. Feels great You know the whole Zoroastrian
thing you know good thoughts good words good deeds so simple bro.>>Totally. Hold on a second this person’s gonna come up and you get to tell a joke or
sing a song or something would have some fun with you in a minute
whoever you are you I hope you’re not up there. Uh, Tyson Manker. Manker? Manker? Are you over there?>>I do appreciate everything that
Maz offers in everything that he stands for and quite frankly if it wasn’t for
his humor the chance that a Kurdish girl and a boy from Illinois would get
together [applause] Right? Thank you Maz thank you Maz! [applause] Now I have
to ask- Helen, would you allow me to tell the world that you are going to be Mrs. Manker? [applause] [music] [applause]>>Hey you’re a natural!>>Thank you so much!>>Have fun guys!>>Thank you so much! Live show- love you- stay strong Kennedy
Center best theater in the world. Love em. Bye!

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