Tapestry

Muslim comedian uses humour to cope with Trump

"I'm out there to change the stereotype," says Negin Farsad of her social justice take on humour.
Negin Farsad (Supplied)

​"I don't mean to brag, but I do have family members on the travel ban."

Negin Farsad is an Iranian-American Muslim whose unique brand of social justice comedy is meant to combat Islamophobia.

"I want people to hear what it's like to be a Muslim-American, and in a funny way," Farsad says. "The issue of Islam in the United States doesn't have to be dire and sad. It's not about that. If you learn anything about Muslims from my book, it's that some of us really love honey mustard. Those are the kind of ridiculous mundane things you don't equate with being Muslim, but you should."

Farsad has two master's degrees, in Public Policy and in African-American Studies, from Columbia University. She interned on Capitol Hill and with C-SPAN and describes herself as a "dorky patriot."

Negin Farsad (Supplied)

Iran, of course, was one of the seven countries targeted in U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration ban. And even though the executive order has been halted by the courts — for now — Farsad's family has still been affected. Her parents were born in Iran, and even though they're both now U.S. citizens, Farsad says they have been advised not to leave the country, in case they aren't allowed back in. 

During the election campaign, Farsad got involved in anti-Trump activism. After Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the U.S., she teamed up with MoveOn.org to mock the idea. She conducted a fake religious test to show how difficult such a test would be to implement. 

Farsad set up a large tray of bacon on a street in New York and asked people to eat the bacon to prove that they weren't Muslim. If they refused, she would put them on a "Muslim registry."

"It's a challenge for comedy right now under this administration," she said. "I'm just looking for a week that there isn't something to talk about that affects Muslims, in a negative way, where Muslims aren't attacked. So far, we haven't seen a week of the Trump presidency in which that's not the case."

Negin Farsad is the author of "How to Make White People Laugh", and host of the Fake the Nation Podcast.

To hear Negin Farsad's rant on comedy under the Trump administration, click Listen.


Win a copy of Negin Farsad's book

(Supplied)

We're giving away two copies of Negin Farsad's book How To Make White People Laugh. If you'd like to be entered in the random draw, email us at tapestry@cbc.ca with "Laugh" in the subject line. Read the CBC's contest rules here.

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