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Popular Mideast comics bring Americans to understand Arab world

By Heather Yamour WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (KUNA) -- Like satirical construction workers, American comedians of Middle East origin, calling themselves the "Axis of Evil," have helped build a bridge here between Americans and Middle Easterners through comedic acts.
They have sold out venues across the country, ranging from small comedy clubs to massive auditoriums and now readying to tour the Arab World.
The trio, made up of Egyptian-American Ahmed Ahmed, along with Palestinian-American Aron Kader, Iranian-American and Maz Jobrani, told KUNA Saturday they have teamed up with Showtime Arabia to take their show across the Arab World. The group banded together seven years ago, in Hollywood California originally under the name "Arabian Nights," but changed to the "Axis of Evil" in 2005, based on a concept introduced by President George W. Bush, comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea. The group said that they were looking for a funny North Korean comedian, but could not find any.
Weeks after the September 11th attacks and the tensions facing Americans of Middle Eastern descent at an all time high, they picked up their routine, with trepidation, but found a groundswell of support from the audience. "People started wanting to hear Middle Eastern comedy and point of view. The American public was curious 'What's so funny about Middle Eastern people? "said Ahmed, born in Helwan, Egypt and emigrated with his family to the US when he was a month old.
Up on stage, each of the members discuss a myriad of topics to get the laughs but they do address politics, the nuanced and nonviolent parts of Middle East culture, and making light of their own experiences in the U.S.
"Whenever I get on a plane I always know who the air marshal is. He is the one reading the People magazine upside down staring straight at me," said Ahmed, who unfortunately shares the same name as another Egyptian listed on the FBI's Most Wanted List. Most of the audience at the Axis of Evil comedy shows, said the comics represented 60 percent of Middle Easterners while the other 40 percent American. The group is readying to embark on the first tour in the Middle East.
Their middle east tour is expected to blend both sides of the East-West divide, and according to the trio, they expect to censor some parts of their material, namely religious, relationship jokes, while on tour but are overall excited to embark on their unprecedented journey.
Plans are in the making to produce a documentary film on their two-month tour expected to begin in November, performing in cities like Beirut, Cairo, and Dubai. (End) hy.gta KUNA 010952 Sep 07NNNN