Maysoon Zayid

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Maysoon Zayid
Born 1974 (age 40–41)
New Jersey, United States
Medium Stand-up, Television, Film
Nationality American
Years active 2000s–present
Genres Observational comedy, Self-deprecation
Subject(s) Arab culture, Marriage

Maysoon Zayid (Arabic: ميسون زايد‎) is an American actress, comedian and advocate who is of Palestinian descent. She was born in New Jersey in 1974.[1] She described herself in a BBC interview as "a Palestinian Muslim virgin with cerebral palsy, from New Jersey, who is an actress, comedian and activist".[2] Zayid has been a resident of Cliffside Park, New Jersey.[3] She is considered one of America's first Muslim women comedians and the first person ever to perform standup in Palestine and Jordan.[1]

Acting career[edit]

Zayid earned her BFA in acting from Arizona State University. She started her acting career by appearing on the popular soap opera As the World Turns for two years, as well as guest appearances on Law & Order, NBC Nightly News and ABC's 20/20.[4] Zayid also had a role in the 2008 Adam Sandler film, You Don't Mess with the Zohan.

In the fall of 2006, Maysoon debuted her one-woman show Little American Whore (LAW) at Los Angeles's Comedy Central stage; it was produced and directed by Kathy Najimy. In 2008, LAW's screenplay was chosen for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Production began with Maysoon as the lead in the fall of 2009.

Comedy and activism[edit]

During her early acting experiences, she found her disability and ethnicity repeatedly limiting to her advancement.[1] Zayid then turned to stand-up and began appearing at New York's top clubs, including Caroline's, Gotham, and Stand Up NY, where she takes on serious topics such as terrorism and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

She co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival in 2003 with comedian Dean Obeidallah.[5] It is held annually in New York City and showcases Arab-American comics, actors, playwrights and filmmakers.

She usually tours by herself or as a special guest on the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. She also co-hosts the radio show Fann Majnoon (Arabic: فن مجنون‎) (Crazy Art) with Obeidallah.

Maysoon can also be seen in documentary The Muslims Are Coming!, which features a group of Muslim American stand up comedians touring the United States in an effort to counter Islamophobia. The film also features various celebrities including Jon Stewart, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo and Rachel Maddow.

She appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann several times and on the Melissa Harris-Perry on December 30, as part of a panel of comedian commentators. She has also presented at the TED annual conference.[6]

Charity work[edit]

Zayid spends three months a year in the Palestinian territories, running an arts program for disabled and orphaned children in refugee camps. She helps the children use art to deal with trauma and bridge the gap between disabled and non-disabled children. Eighty percent of the funding for the camps comes from her comedy work.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Maysoon Zayid: Actor and comedian". Institute for Middle East Understanding. 
  2. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Jerusalem Diary: Monday 7 July
  3. ^ Heydarpour, Roja (November 21, 2006). "The Comic Is Palestinian, the Jokes Bawdy". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2011. Ms. Zayid, who has a home in Cliffside Park, N.J., recently returned from Hollywood, where she lived while working on developing her one-woman show. 
  4. ^ "Producers". New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. 
  5. ^ New York Arab-American Comedy Festival
  6. ^ Maysoon Zayid: I got 99 problems... palsy is just one at TED

External links[edit]