Dean Obeidallah

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Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah.jpg
Born 1969 (age 46–47)
Lodi, New Jersey, United States
Medium Stand-up, Television, Theatre
Nationality American
Years active 1990s–present
Genres Satire/Political satire,
Observational comedy
Subject(s) American politics, American culture, current events, Middle East, Islamophobia, Islamic humour
Influences Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks,
George Carlin

Dean Obeidallah (born December 17, 1969; Arabic: دين عبيدالله‎) is an American comedian of Palestinian-Italian descent.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Lodi, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Paramus.[1] His father was born in Battir, Palestine]] prior to the creation of the State of Israel; his mother's parents were born in Sicily.

Obeidallah received a J.D. from Fordham Law School and practiced law from 1993-1998 with the firm of Beattie Padovano. He then left the practice of law and was accepted into the prestigious NBC Page program in 1998. Thereafter from October 1999 through May 2007 he was a rights and clearance researcher for Saturday Night Live.[2]


Obeidallah is part of a small but growing number of Arab-American comedians who have increasingly received media attention in the past few years, as they use comedy to both retain and dispel negative stereotypes of Arab-Americans and Muslims.

He and other Arab-American comics have been compared to the groundbreaking minority comedians of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s who have used comedy to raise political and social issues in an effort to change them as noted by The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik:

"Just as comic Lenny Bruce battled the stifling conformity of the 1950s or Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor challenged racism in the '60s and '70s, these performers now are challenging mainstream notions about their ethnic, religious and racial groups."[3]

In 2005, Obeidallah received the first "Spirit of Bill Hicks" award, named in honor of comedian Bill Hicks for "thought provoking comedy" from the NY Underground Comedy Festival and the Hicks’ family. He co-produced with the Emmy Award winning comedy writer and best-selling author Max Brooks a new show entitled The Watch List for Comedy Central's Internet channel. This was the first show ever produced by a major American entertainment company to showcase all Arab-American performers. Obeidallah has also appeared on Comedy Central on the critically acclaimed "Axis of Evil" Comedy special.[4]

Dean is the founder and editor of the blog The Dean Report which addresses topics of the day.

He is also the co-founder of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. This highly acclaimed, first of its kind festival has received national and international media coverage. It is held annually in New York City and showcases Arab-American comics, actors, playwrights and filmmakers. The 9th annual Festival will be held October 18–20, 2012.[5]

Obeidallah is the co-creator of Stand up for Peace which he performs across the country with Jewish-American comedian Scott Blakeman. Stand Up for Peace brings Arab-Americans, Muslims and Jews together through comedy in the hopes of fostering understanding and supporting a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Dean has also been featured on numerous national and international television programs including Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil" special and The Watch List, ABC's The View, NBC's "Rock Center," Current TV's "Young Turks," MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes," "Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen," PBS' Newshour with Jim Lehrer, ABC's 20/20, CNN's "Inside the Middle East" and Japan's NHK. He can also be seen in the PBS' documentary, "Stand Up: Muslim American Comics Come of Age"PBS Programs. Dean can also be seen in the bonus feature of the DVD version of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" in the section entitled: Arab-American comedians. He has also been featured in various publications and radio networks including The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, "The Washington Post," The Los Angeles Times, NPR, BBC, Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, and The Associated Press.

Dean served as the Executive Producer of the Amman Stand up Comedy Festival held in Amman, Jordan from December 2–6, 2008.[6] This was the first stand up comedy festival in the history of the Middle East outside of Israel. The third annual Festival was held December 4 to 10, 2010.

He co-directed/co-produced the award winning documentary with comedian/filmmaker Negin Farsad entitled The Muslims Are Coming! focusing on freedom of religion for all Americans. The film focuses on a free stand up comedy tour by American-Muslim comedians across the South and West. It also features celebrity interviews with a wide range of people including The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Ali Velshi, Congressman Keith Ellison, comedians Lewis Black, David Cross, Colin Quinn, Lizz Winstead and others. The film was released in September 2013.

In addition to appearing at hundreds of comedy clubs and colleges across the United States, Obeidallah has performed stand-up comedy in Canada and in the Middle East in Amman, Dubai,[7] Beirut, Cairo, Haifa, Oman, Sharm El Sheikh and Ramallah.


Obeidallah appeared on the December 28, 2013 episode of MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry show. On a "photos of the year" segment of that program, Obeidallah and a panel of comedians made several jokes about a family picture featuring former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's family, including his adopted black grandson, joking that the photo represented the diversity of the Republican Party. Outrage was sparked when conservatives demanded that Obeidallah be politically correct with his jokes. Obeidallah later apologized to the Romneys ("but not the wingnuts") for the remarks.[8][9][10]


  1. ^ Shih, Evelyn. "Tour uses humor to fight racism", The Record (Bergen County), October 12, 2007. Accessed October 14, 2007. "Half Italian and half Taliban, Obeidallah had an interesting childhood in Lodi and Paramus."
  2. ^ Linkedin
  3. ^ David Zurawik. Just a little innocent comedy, The Baltimore Sun, March 4, 2007.
  4. ^ The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour (Ahmed Ahmed, Aron Kader, Maz Jobrani, and Dean Obeidallah) (2006)
  5. ^ Arab Comedy
  6. ^ Greater Amman Municipality Amman Stand-up Comedy Festival
  7. ^ Radsch, Courtney (Feb 16, 2009). "Stand-up comedy takes the Arab world by storm". Al Arabiya ( Retrieved February 16, 2009. 
  8. ^ Obeidallah, Dean (2013-12-31). "Confessions of a Romney Baby Bully". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2014-12-21. 
  9. ^ Peter Grier (2013-12-31). "Melissa Harris-Perry Apologizes for Romney Grandchild Jokes". CS Monitor. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  10. ^ LoGiurato, Brett (2014-01-02). "Here's Melissa Harris-Perry's Tearful Apology For The Controversial Segment On The Romneys' Black Grandchild". San Francisco, CA: SFGate. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 

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