Nazeem Hussain

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Nazeem Hussain
Nazeem Hussain.jpg
Born (1986-04-21) 21 April 1986 (age 33)
Melbourne, Victoria
MediumStand-up, television, radio, film
NationalityAustralian
Years active2007–present
GenresObservational comedy, satire, character comedy, sketch comedy, improvisational comedy, hidden camera, practical joke
Subject(s)Racism, racism in Australia, political humour, race relations, islamic humour, islamophobia, protest, social commentary, character comedy
Influences
Bill Hicks, Dave Chappelle, Allah Made Me Funny, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Margaret Cho, Gary Foley
Spouse
Shaheeda Abdulla (m. 2015)
Children1
Notable works and rolesSalam Café, Legally Brown, Orange is the New Brown

Nazeem Hussain (born 21 April 1986) is an Australian comedian, actor, television and radio presenter of Sri-Lankan descent. He is best known as creator and star of both television comedy shows Legally Brown and Orange is the New Brown. His Netflix special 'Nazeem Hussain: Public Frenemy' began streaming worldwide in 2019. He was also one half of the comedy duo Fear of a Brown Planet, along with Aamer Rahman.

Early life[edit]

Hussain's Muslim parents grew up in Sri Lanka.[1] After his parents got married, they moved to Australia in the 1970s.[2] At the time, his mother, Mumtaz Hamid, had never left Sri Lanka before.[3]

Hussain was born and brought up in Burwood, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia[4][5][6][7] in a Muslim family.[8] Hussain is the second child of three children; he has two sisters.[2][9] Hussain's younger sister Azmeena Hussain (born 1987), is a lawyer and an associate at a law firm.[10][4][11]

In March 2015, Hussain told Confidential that former A Current Affair host Jana Wendt visited his family home unannounced to do an interview in 1993 when Hussain was six years old, during height of conflict in Iraq with dictator Saddam Hussein at the helm. Her target was Nazeem's father, Shereen, and the angle was that his name was listed as S. Hussain in the phone book.[12] Hussain attended Melbourne High School. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws at Deakin University.[13]

Hussain started off performing comedy informally in his mid-teens.[14]

Stand-up career[edit]

2004–2009[edit]

In 2004, Hussain met Aamer Rahman as a result of their support for asylum seekers and for anti-racism activism.[15] They became friends and did youth work together in Melbourne.[16]

In 2006, Hussain hosted the Allah Made Me Funny Official Muslim Comedy Tour featuring American comics Azhar Usman and Preacher Moss,[13] which was then touring in Australia. After watching the show he realised that he could use comedy to speak about experiences that were specific to his Muslim identity.[2]

In 2007, Hussain entered Triple J's Raw Comedy Award open mic competition at the Melbourne Comedy Festival[17][18] After seeing Hussain compete, Rahman also decided to enter.[16] They beat hundreds of other hopefuls to reach the Victorian State final together. Hussain reached the Victorian final.[19] Rahman won the state final and went onto the national finals where he was voted the runner-up in a performance that was screened on ABC Television.[13][20]

Due to the success of Raw Comedy they decided to develop their five-minute stand-up routines into a one-hour show together.[18] In five years, they established their own stage show Fear of a Brown Planet and sold out around Australia.[15] Their name plays on the Public Enemy LP, Fear of a Black Planet.[17][20]

Hussain and Rahman performed their first show in 2007 and their second show in 2008. They were then given a network development deal for a year and a half.[21] In April 2008,[22] Hussain and Rahman first performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Rahman and Hussain first performed Fear of a Brown Planet at Melbourne Fringe Festival.[20]

In 2009, Hussain and Rahman were among ten writers selected for an exclusive script-writing workshop hosted by UK indie film company Warp X, Screen Australia and Madman Entertainment.[13]

2010–present[edit]

In 2010, Hussain and Rahman performed their follow up show,[13] Fear of a Brown Planet Returns[23][24] at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Sydney Comedy Festival, and the Adelaide Fringe Festival. In the same year, Nazeem performed in the Cracker Night of the Sydney Comedy Festival Gala, televised on The Comedy Channel, whilst Rahman performed in the Oxfam Comedy Gala televised on Channel Ten.[25] In October 2010, took part in a one-off concert with Azhar Usman, Preacher Moss and Mo Amer (Allah Made Me Funny) at the Athenaeum Theatre in Paris.[5][26] In the same year, Hussain performed at the Falls Music and Arts Festival[27] and Southbound.[3]

During 2011, Hussain and Rahman performed their new show, Fear of a Brown Planet Attacks.[28] In August 2011, they performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.[29][30][31] On the way home from Edinburgh they performed an impromptu show in London,[3] after a friend of theirs organised a show in Brixton[32] with two days notice.[33]

On 31 August 2011,[34] Fear of a Brown Planet Returns DVD and Blu-ray was released, which was recorded at the Chapel Off Chapel in Melbourne[35] on 15 January 2013.[36] It features the "best of" material from their 2010 sell-out festival show, also entitled Fear of a Brown Planet Returns, as well content from their debut shows.[37][38] In December 2011[39] and December 2012, they performed on ABC2.[40]

In April 2012, Hussain and Rahman played at the second show of the Melbourne Comedy Festival.[41] In September 2012,[33] they toured the United Kingdom,[42][43][44] where they performed in cities including Manchester, Bradford, London, Birmingham and Cardiff.[33]

In 2013, Hussain performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival[2][45] All Star Gala on Channel Ten and the Sydney Comedy Festival Gala – broadcast on The Comedy Channel. He also performed at the annual Falls Music and Arts Festival and Southbound[35] and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow across New South Wales and Queensland, as well as in Hong Kong and Singapore.[46] In October and November 2013, Hussain and Rahman performed at the Sydney Opera House, the Atheneum Theatre in Melbourne, as well as the Darwin Festival and the Brisbane Fringe Festival.[47]

In April 2015, he performed at the Sydney Comedy Festival in his first solo stand-up tour.[48][49][50][51]

Television career[edit]

Hussain is currently appearing in the SBS2 comedy series "Live at Bella Union" which is airing in Australia from 9 March 2014. Hussain has performed at the Oxfam Comedy Gala, broadcast on Network Ten.[52]

Hussain has written and performed for television[53] From 2005–2008 Hussain co-wrote and co-hosted Salam Cafe both during its time on C31 Melbourne produced by RMITV which won 4 Antenna Awards between 2005–2007 and then again on SBS TV in 2008,[54] which was nominated for a Logie Award in 2009.[36] This included his character "Uncle Sam", an unamusing "fanatical imam".[55]

Hussain's television appearances include ABC's Sleuth 101 and Q&A,[35] Network 10's The Project, Celebrity Name Game and Hughesy, We Have a Problem.

In 2011, Australian Story broadcast a documentary on the ABC about Hussain's and Rahman's lives in Australia as well as their debut performances in Edinburgh and London.[32]

From 2011 to 2012, Hussain appeared on The Comedy Channel's Balls of Steel Australia as Calvin Khan the Very Foreign Correspondent.[43][56] His self-created character, saw his episodes achieve the highest ratings of the season and he returned in season two.[45]

In May and June 2012, Hussain was part of a panel for NSW Reconciliation Council and Sydney Ideas forum in Sydney to discuss the topic "I'm Not Racist But…" along with Steve Cannane, Jennifer Wong, Benson Saulo and Helen Szoke.[57][58][59]

In 2013, Hussain guest starred in the ABC1 comedy series It's a Date as Ashraf.[60] He also starred and co-wrote the 10 part comedy sketch show Legally Brown broadcast across Australia on Monday nights on SBS,[61][62][63] which included his characters "Uncle Sam", "The Prince of Mumbai", "Imran Farouq" – the fake guru and "The Hollywood Arab".[64]

In January 2017, Hussain was revealed as a celebrity contestant on the third season of Network Ten's Australian reality series I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!.[65] On 12 March 2017, Hussain was the 11th celebrity eliminated from the series after 45 days in the jungle coming in 4th place.[66]

Starting in April 2017 he is a correspondent on the Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World.[67]

Radio career[edit]

Hussain is a radio presenter for Triple J[68][69][70] and has also regularly featured on Nova 100, ABC Radio, 3AW, 2UE,[36] Radio Adelaide,[71] and others radio stations.[36]

In May 2015, he was interviewed by Tommy Sandhu on BBC Asian Network.[72]

Other activities[edit]

Hussain is also an outreach[73] youth worker,[13][35] he works in a law firm[74] he works as a tax consultant,[61][75] and in community service.[3] Since 2006,[9] he has been the director,[5][35] volunteer[73] treasurer and an executive of the Islamic Council of Victoria – the peak representative body for Muslims living in Victoria.[76]

Hussain is also a patron of RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees – the only refugee organisation in Australia that is run and governed by refugees and ex-detainees.[14]

Awards[edit]

In 2008, Hussain Rahman were a recipients of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Best Newcomer Award for their debut show Fear of a Brown Planet.[13][25][77]

In September 2010, Hussain received the 2010 Victorian Multicultural Commission Ambassador Award by the Governor and Premier of Victoria for showing an exemplary demonstration of leadership in the promotion of Victoria's diversity.[76] In 2008, he was awarded the Young Australian Muslim of the Year Award.[3]

Views[edit]

In December 2014, The Age incorrectly printed a photo of Hussain in its entertainment column with the caption: 'Waleed Aly joins The Project'. After the previous week's announcement that Aly secured a new role as the new co-host of news program The Project. Hussain responded on Twitter saying: "Well, we are kinda the same person..."[78] In May 2015, TV Week and NW magazine tagged a photo of Hussain at the Logie Awards as Waleed Aly.[79][80] Hussain picked up The Age's mistake, posting it on his Facebook page and captioned the picture simply with: "LOL!!!"[81]

Personal life[edit]

Hussain is a Muslim,[18][82] he can speak broken Tamil and can understand Sinhalese.[14] In 2014, he moved out of the parental home[4][83] in Burwood, Victoria.[6][7] Hussain is a fan of Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs rugby league club[citation needed] and has said that he has never drunk alcohol.[4] Hussain lives in Melbourne.

In September 2014, Hussain prank-called a man from Eight Mile Plains, Brisbane after he posted an advertisement on Gumtree Australia for a housemate, requesting "no backpackers, Indians or Muslims".[84]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]