MMXLII Recommends: the Laugh Factory’s Comedy Bazaar

Last night we headed down to the Laugh Factory in Hollywood to catch their “Comedy Bazaar” a show the Laugh Factory website bills as “an eclectic assortment of the best and brightest up and comers as well as legendary comedians with a splash of Middle Eastern flavor.” As you might guess, given our focus on diversity, we were there as much for the splash of Middle Eastern flavor as we were for the comedy. We’ve always been interested in how comedians use humor to talk about issues of race and diversity (see our recent interviews with comedian/rapper/YouTube star Timothy DeLaGhetto) and so we were excited to see how that Middle Eastern flavor played out in the jokes.
 
What may have been most striking was not how race was discussed, but how often it wasn’t. The show is hosted by comedian Tehran SoParvaz, who every week brings a collections of “rockstars and superstars” to the stage. As promised by that online description, there’s a clear theme in the selection of the performers. Tehran himself is of Persian and African American descent, and the comedians he brought to last night’s performance included several fellow Persians and an Afghan American.
 
Yet, as promised, the Middle Eastern flavor really does feel like “just a splash.” Many of the comics touched on their heritage in their material, but not all of them, and none of them relied on it exclusively. It was a pleasing sign of the times. In the mid-00s, “The Axis of Evil,” got laughs and made headlines as a comedy group made up of Arab Americans, addressing stereotypes about Arab Americans. Their politically referential name suggests the bent of much of their comedy – they started a Comedy Central Special by walking through a metal detector, and much of their material played off of post-9/11 stereotypes. We’re big fans of the Axis (the comedy group, not the totalitarian governments condemned by President Bush) and we love their brand of humor. It is, however, nice to see that in 2013 a comedian of color can connect with audiences without having to play to the limiting type of the ethnic comedian.
 
Beyond lofty proclamations about what it all means for the state of race relations in America, we would also describe the even as very, very funny. Taste in comedy is a fickle thing, so we won’t make promises, but if you’re in Los Angeles on a Monday night looking for something to do, know that the Comedy Bazaar comes with MMXLII’s recommendation. The show is every Monday night at ten, at the Hollywood Laugh Factory.
 
Photo from the Laugh Factory Facebook.

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