WASHINGTON, DC — The first time we had the pleasure of meeting the Parviz Sayyad of our generation (after-all, he did drop-out of a PhD. program in Political Science from Berkeley), our absolute favorite and wildly-brilliant actor/comedian: Maz Jobrani, it was in 2003 after he had finished his press tour for the movie ‘Maryam‘ (directed by Ramin Serry and co-starring David Ackert) and was making his first appearance at the DC Improv. (However, it must be mentioned that our all-time-favorite-Maz-role-to-date has been: Moly in the movie; ‘Friday After Next’ – his use of the word “buddy” in that film, definitely set off an early trend that’s still around.) His flying success and rightful popularity, as an Iranian comedian, is unprecedented. And the most parallel sensation that remains is that this is all, still, just the beginning of a long journey for him.
Maz Jobrani’s comedic genius has placed him firmly in the hearts, minds, and talking-tongues of Middle Easterners of all origin, as well as the mainstream ”American” crowd. Proving the stretch of his audience and perhaps the result of his many tours, including one in the Mid-East, even a Lebanese friend of ours (who lives in Lebanon most of the year, and saw Maz’s show in Beirut) knows all his lines and imitates him while in hysterics.
Maz’s subtle-but-smart style and flash-wit characterizes Iranians as soft and humours again, as he’s single-handedly summed the Persian manor down to one proclamation: “meow” [Insert come hither motion using paw-like hand gestures] and add: “I am Perrr-zhi-ann,” for the full effect. Repeat.
Maz Jobrani has been really busy the past, um… well, for as long as we’ve known him, but he’s now juggling being a baba too, in addition to all the movie roles, Tv shows, and tours. His new recurring-role on ABC’s comedy series: Better Off Ted, starring Ellen Degeneres’s gorgeous wifey; Portia De Rossi – starts airing on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 on ABC. Check your local listings and be sure to tune in!
Enjoy our exclusive interview with your number-one Iranian comedian, Maz Jobrani as he deliciously lets us in on how life is going for him!
SKS: What’s new in Maz’s world these days?
MJ: ON TOUR WITH MY SOLO TOUR – “MAZ JOBRANI; BROWN AND FRIENDLY.” ACTUALLY, IT’S NOT SOLO AS I’VE GOT A GREAT YOUNG COMEDIAN, K-VON OPENING FOR ME. BUT I GET TO DO AN HOUR TO AN HOUR AND A HALF EVERY NIGHT AND IT’S BEEN GREAT FUN. WE’RE HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME!
How is life as a dad?
BEST THING IN THE WORLD. WHEN YOU GET THOSE LIPS AROUND HIS CHEEKS AND GIVE HIM A BIG KISS THERE’S NO BETTER PLACE IN THE WORLD.
Would you be OK with it, if your son wanted to follow in your footsteps and
become a comedian?
I WILL SUPPORT HIM IN WHATEVER HE CHOOSES TO DO. I’M THINKING IRANIAN/INDIAN – HE’S GOTTA COME UP WITH SOME SORT OF WEBSITE OR SOMETHING, NO? DADDY’S GOTTA RETIRE!
How has touring in the Middle East been for you?
THE MIDDLE EAST HAS BEEN WONDERFUL. IT’S AMAZING HOW SMALL THE WORLD IS THESE DAYS WITH THE INTERNET. WE WOULD TELL JOKES IN EGYPT ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN THE US A DAY OR TWO BEFORE AND THEY WERE TOTALLY ON TOP OF IT. PLACES LIKE JORDAN HAD ALL OUR DVDS AND OTHER HUGE FILMS OUT ON BOOTLEG. A LOT OF GREAT PEOPLE ALL OVER THE MIDDLE EAST.
Did you get culture shock?
NOT REALLY. MANY OF THE COUNTRIES HAVE THAT SMELL OF GASOLINE THAT YOU SMELL WHEN YOU TRAVEL TO IRAN OR MEXICO. JUST DIFFERENT THINGS TO GET USED TO – LIKE NO 7/11 OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY FOR YOU TO GRAB A SNACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.
Where did you go?
SINCE MY FIRST TRIP TO THE REGION IN LATE 2007 I’VE DONE SHOWS IN DUBAI, ABU DHABI, BEIRUT, CAIRO, KUWAIT, AMMAN, DOHA, AND BAHRAIN. ALL BEEN WONDERFUL.
What Mid-East country would you say was most hospitable?
THEY ALL WERE. IT’S PART OF OUR CULTURE. TRY PAYING THE BILL IN ONE OF THESE COUNTRIES. ONE TIME IN
DUBAI I RAN INTO A GUY I’D MET ONCE AT A CAFE. I SAID HELLO AND WENT ON TO EAT MY BREAKFAST WITH MY FRIEND. WHEN THE GUY WAS LEAVING HE STOPPED BY AND SAID GOODBYE. I THOUGHT THAT WAS IT. WHEN MY FRIEND AND I WERE DONE EATING LATER AND ASKED FOR THE BILL THEY SAID THE GUY WHOM I’D MET ONCE HAD ALREADY TAKEN CARE OF OUR BILL. I MEAN COME ON!
Did you guys perform your bits in English while touring the middle east?
ALL IN ENGLISH. I DON’T SPEAK ANY ARABIC SO THERE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN ANY OTHER WAY. IN SOME PLACES THEY SPOKE BETTER ENGLISH THAN YOUR AVERAGE AMERICAN TEENAGER.
Any crazy moments on your mid-east tour you can share?
ALL CRAZY AND FUN. WE WENT ON A SAFARI OUTSIDE OF DUBAI (WHICH IS FUNNY BECAUSE THEY PICK YOU UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT IN AN SUV. IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE AN AUTHENTIC EMERATI EXPERIENCE, BUT THE DRIVER WAS TURKISH, THE FOOD INCLUDED PASTA WHICH IS ITALIAN AND THE BELLY DANCER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT WAS RUSSIAN.) GOOD TIMES!
What is ‘Comics Without Borders’?
THIS IS AN ORGANIZATION STARTED BY A LADY NAMED GHAZALEH TAJBAKSH. SHE’S A WONDERFUL LADY WHO’S BEEN ORGANIZING COMEDY SHOWS FOR CHARITIES OVER THE PAST YEAR IN LA. SHE CAME UP WITH THE NAME AND ROTATES COMICS WHO PERFORM FOR HER.
How has Jimmy Vestvood been doing? Is he staying out of trouble?
JIMMY’S DOING WELL. THE ECONOMY HAS HIM DOWN A BIT. HE HAD 1 SHARE OF APPLE AND NOW IT’S ONLY HALF AN APPLE. BUT HE’S HOLDING ON TO THE SEEDS FROM THE OTHER HALF AND PLANTING THEM. HOPEFULLY ONE DAY HE’LL HAVE AT LEAST 3 APPLES.
How long will ‘Brown and Friendly’ tour for?
WE HAVE DONE ABOUT 10 CITIES SO FAR AND HAVE ANOTHER 4 OR 5 SCHEDULED. WE WILL ADD A FEW MORE. I’VE SHOT THE SPECIAL ALREADY AND WE HOPE TO SELL IT TO COMEDY CENTRAL OR ONE OF THE NETWORKS.
How has the broader audience reacted to your show?
IT’S ALWAYS GREAT TO HAVE A MIXED CROWD. RIGHT NOW I’D SAY IT’S ABOUT 70% PERSIAN AND 30% OTHER. THE OTHERS SEEM TO BE HAVING A GREAT TIME. I THINK TO END UP AT MY SHOW YOU HAVE TO BE OPEN TO OTHER CULTURES, BUT YOU ALSO SEE THAT MY CULTURE IS PARTLY THE AMERICAN CULTURE.
With Obama in office now, and the aroma of reconciliation in the air, do you think you may be able to perform in the motherland someday?
I THINK I’M FAR FROM IT, BUT HOPE THAT DAY COMES.
What are your plans for this Persian New Year?
SABZI POLO MAHI!
As your popularity has grown over the years, have you had issues adjusting with the issues that come along with that?
I’M HANDLING IT FINE. THE ONLY THING I’VE GOT TO LEARN TO DO A BIT IS TO DELEGATE SOME OF THE WORKLOAD. THAT’S THE MAIN THING – REALIZING YOU HAVE MORE THINGS TO DO SO YOU CAN’T REALLY ANSWER EVERY MYSPACE MESSAGE LIKE YOU USED TO.
How hard is it to keep your material fresh after touring for so long?
I’M ALWAYS TRYING TO WRITE NEW MATERIAL AND EXPAND UPON OLD MATERIAL. WHEN I’M IN LA I GO TO THE COMEDY STORE AND TRY OUT A NEW JOKE OR TWO EVERY WEEK. BEING ON TOUR AND DOING AN HOUR TO AN HOUR AND A HALF HAS KEPT MY SET PRETTY SET (FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD). BUT EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE YOU COME UP WITH SOMETHING NEW ON THE TOUR TOO.
Any new movies coming out?
DID AN INDEPENDENT FILM CALLED “OVERNIGHT” LAST YEAR. NOT SURE WHAT ROUTE IT WILL TAKE (THEATERS, FESTIVALS, DVDS, ETC.) ALSO DID A STUDENT FILM CALLED “IN THE DARK” THAT’S DOING FESTIVALS RIGHT NOW.
Any other cool projects you’re involved in?
I HAVE A RECURRING PART ON A TV SHOW ON ABC CALLED “BETTER OFF TED” THAT COMES
OUT IN MID-MARCH.
***For more info on Maz Jobrani and his Tour Dates, please visit: mazjobrani.com