Axis of Evil Comedy Tour
The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour is a comedy tour featuring four Middle Eastern comedians and special guest comedians. The tour's name is derived from a speech by US President George W. Bush which designated Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the "axis of evil". The tour started on 11 November 2005. The group jokes about their culture along with being Middle-Eastern in America. All of the comedians state that their lives changed considerably with 9/11, with one member, Egyptian-American Ahmed Ahmed, whose name matches the alias used by an Osama bin Laden henchman, noting that he is frequently stopped by airport immigration officials on suspicion of terrorism – including a 12-hour stint in a jail in Las Vegas. On 10 March 2007 they were given their own Comedy Central Special. The group broke up in 2011.
The group's current events sense of humor has attracted media attention. They have been interviewed by CNN, NPR, The New York Times and Time among others. They toured in several Mid-East countries with Showtime Arabia. King Abdullah II of Jordan has attended their show in Jordan and has conveyed his appreciation of their work.
The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour was founded by standup comedian Ahmed Ahmed, in order to wield jokes as weapons and combat post 9/11 prejudice in the United States. Along with Ahmed, the featuring comedians (Maz Jobrani and Aron Kader) had their own personal accounts of racist experiences that they have undergone within the United States, and used these stories as material for the comedy tour. Ahmed Ahmed, the Egyptian-American and founder of the group, believed that post 9/11 standup material should be tested in the Middle East before traveling anywhere else. Before the group had even been formed, Ahmed Ahmed had been hired to perform a private show in Dubai, in order to fundraise and put Palestinian kids through medical school. This led to the tour he called "The Axis of Evil Tour," in which he featured comics Maz Jobrani, Aron Kader, and himself to travel the United States with the aim to stop stereotyping and prejudice towards Middle Easterners through a comedic approach.
Jamil Abu-Wardeh, the producer of the Axis of Evil, was the one who brought the tour back to its origin, The Middle East. It was there that the comedy tour gained two additional members, Nemr Abou Nassar and Wonho Chung. Wonho was known especially for his ability to present the material in Arabic, despite having a Korean descent. His ability to speak in Arabic and other languages as well as his charisma made him a vital addition of the tour. As for Nemr, he performed in five sold-out shows, during each of which his performance received a standing ovation. The tour featured performances in Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon, Bahrain as well as other Arab countries. According to The New York Times, the end result was a success, the selling out of numerous performances from the first one at Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University.
|National origin||Name||Nationality group|
|Egypt||Ahmed Ahmed||Egyptian American|
|Iran||Maz Jobrani||Iranian American|
|Palestine||Aron Kader||Palestinian American|
|Palestine||Dean Obeidallah||Palestinian American|
|National origin||Name||Nationality group|
|Korea||Won Ho Chung||Korean Jordanian|
|Cuba||Carlos Leon||Cuban American|
|Lebanon||Nick Youssef||Lebanese American|
|Syria||Helen Maalik||Syrian American|
After airing on Comedy Central, the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour was released on DVD as a studio special by Image Entertainment on 3 April 2007. It was directed by Primetime Emmy nominee Michael Simon and featured the tour's four main comedians Ahmed Ahmed, Aron Kader, Maz Jobrani, and Dean Obeidallah as well as fellow actress and stand-up comedian Loni Love as Airport Security. The unrated DVD has a run time of 86 minutes and includes special features like outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. The DVD was also released in Sweden on 15 November 2008.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 83%, based on 490 reviews, averaging at 3.9/5. IMDb, another review aggregator which assigns a weighted mean rating, calculated an average score of 7.9/10, based on 397 reviews.
- In March 2007, Time magazine featured an interview report praising the group's activity as "warfare by humorous means."
- In June 2007, CNN reported that the group's video on YouTube has recorded over 200,000 views and that it enjoyed a special slot on Comedy Central in March of the same year.
- In February 2008, Syrian Forward praised the group's effort with an article entitled "Stand-up Diplomacy" and reported that three major Arab networks have vied for broadcast rights of their performance at the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival.
- Fuller, Jaime (25 January 2014). "The 4th best State of the Union address: "Axis of evil"". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- Dougherty, Jill (1 July 2007). "'Axis of Evil' inspires laughs". CNN. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- Lee, Felicia R. (10 March 2007). "Comedians as Activists, Challenging Prejudice". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- Davila, Florangela. "Florangela Davila's TV Picks". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour". Amazon.com. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "Michael Simon Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour (2008)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour". Netflix. Netflix. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
Poniewozik, James (8 March 2007). "Culture Complex: Stand-Up Diplomacy". Time. Archived from the original on 16 March 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
Stand-up is warfare by humorous means.
Dougherty, Jill (30 June 2007). "'Axis of Evil' inspires laughs". CNN. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
The comics' videos on YouTube have been viewed more than 200,000 times, they recently had a one-hour special on Comedy Central and they currently are on a 15-city tour with packed crowds.
Salama, Vivian (1 February 2008). "Stand-up Diplomacy!". Forward. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
The tour was such a hit, in fact, that three major Arab networks have been vying for the rights to air excerpts from the festival.
- Stand-up Diplomacy!, Forward, February 2008
- "'Axis of Evil' inspires laughs", CNN.com
- "Stand-Up Diplomacy", Time
- Interview at NPR's All Things Considered
- NPR article
- Axis of Evil at MySpace
- Video of CNN's interview with Axis of Evil
- Ahmed Ahmed talks about racial profiling on Axis of Evil tour
- Nemr Abou Nassar