Meet the Palestinian American who is using comedy to unite America

Meet the Palestinian American who is using comedy to unite America



Originally published in Palestine in America’s third print issue. Subscribe for free here.

The old adage that laughter is the best medicine has been well-proven throughout time–there have even been scientific studies to back up the claim. Comedy is not only a relief in tough times, but it’s also an effective way to get one’s point across in a way that is both fun and informative, according to Palestinian-American comedian Abu Ali.

Abu Ali, who was born to a Palestinian father and American mother from Kentucky, says growing up in a diverse household and being exposed to different cultures and traditions helped him develop his unique style of comedy. Talking about his life growing up, Abu Ali says, “We would often visit our family in Palestine and travel the Middle East and also visit our Mother’s side of the family in the country. It almost feels like you are living a double life where one side of your family all voted for Trump while the other just got banned from entering the country.”

His big breakthrough came at the age of 25 when he took the advice of friends and family and started doing stand-up comedy. There he found that he truly had a talent for it and has not stopped making audiences laugh since then. He told PiA, “When I finally did it, I felt very comfortable on stage. You either have it or you don’t and you won’t know unless you try.” PiA sat down with Abu Ali to discuss how he uses his comedic talent to share ideas and spark conversations.

Palestine in America (PiA): How did you develop your specific style of comedy? Do you think your background gives you an advantage getting through different audiences?

Abu Ali (AA): I feel like my specific style of comedy comes from the specific type of person I am. Each person has a specific view on certain things. Some people are able to express themselves a certain way, while others don’t care to express themselves at all. I like to say what’s on my mind and not have to worry about people judging me or getting angry because they have a different belief about certain matters or think that certain things I say may be inappropriate. At the end of the day, what I speak about at a live show or on a video is my opinion and my view. Millions of people find it amusing and millions of people may find it offensive. Although my goal is not to offend anyone, I speak about what I want and what I think my fans will like to hear.

PiA: How do you think comedy or maybe how do you use comedy to have the really hard conversation our country needs right now?

AA: I feel like when a conversation is funny or when you speak about something in a funny way, It is much easier to get your point across. Also people tend to listen better because they are waiting for the punch line. When the punch line is true,you get a laugh and also may open your mind about a certain situation or cause. To me, laughter is a universal language and if we can all laugh together we can all live together.

PiA: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

AA: Career-wise I would hope to have a position where I can actually make a difference in the world in regards to our culture and our people in the states and all over the world. I want to eliminate the stereotypes that have been making life so difficult for us here in the states and across the globe.

PiA: Do you have any advice for young comedians starting out?

AA: Be yourself never let anyone or anything change the way you speak or think. People will either love you or hate you, but in order for you to succeed you must believe in yourself and your message. Stay humble keep trying and never give up on your dream.

Abu Ali recently performed at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago on Sept. 2. For information on future shows, visit Abu Ali’s Facebook page.

Carlos Khalil Guzman

Carlos Khalil Guzman is a photographer, writer and organizer based in NYC. He has been involved in Palestine solidarity organizing for the past 5 years primarily with Students for Justice in Palestine both locally and nationally. He is currently working on a photo essay that focuses on the growing and incredibly diverse Muslim communities in the United States.

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