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I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One On TV: Memoirs of a Middle Eastern Funny Man
     

I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One On TV: Memoirs of a Middle Eastern Funny Man

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by Maz Jobrani
 

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A hilarious and moving memoir of growing up Iranian in America, and the quest to make it in Hollywood without having to wear a turban, tote a bomb, or get kicked in the face by Chuck Norris.

When he first started out in show business, Maz Jobrani endured suggestions that he spice up his stand-up act by wearing “the outfit,” fielded questions about rising

Overview

A hilarious and moving memoir of growing up Iranian in America, and the quest to make it in Hollywood without having to wear a turban, tote a bomb, or get kicked in the face by Chuck Norris.

When he first started out in show business, Maz Jobrani endured suggestions that he spice up his stand-up act by wearing “the outfit,” fielded questions about rising gas prices, and got called an F’in Eye-ranian for being involved in the Iran hostage crisis even though he was only eight years old at the timein fact, these things happened so often that he began to wonder: Could I be a terrorist without even knowing it?

Having emigrated with his family to the US during the Iranian Revolution, Maz spent most of his youth desperately trying to fit in with his adopted culture—whether that meant learning to play baseball or religiously watching Dallas with his female relatives. But none of his attempts at assimilation made a difference to casting directors, who only auditioned him for the role of kebab-eating, bomb-toting, extremist psychopath.

In this laugh-out-loud memoir, Maz shares his struggle to build an acting career in post-9/11 Hollywood—from playing a terrorist on 24 to playing a terrorist opposite Chuck Norris to his mother asking, “Vhy you alvays terrorist?!” (Followed by, “Vhy you couldn’t be doctor?!”) But finally, through patience, determination, and only the occasional unequivocal compromising of his principles, he found a path to stardom. And he also learned the proper way to die like a bad guy on TV.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/02/2015
Iranian-American comedian Jobrani is a man of many stages: he's acted alongside Chuck Norris (regrettably), entertained the king of Jordan (nerve-wrackingly), and even played his own worst enemy: an ethnic cliché. Jobrani's immigrant story confronts pre- and post-9/11 prejudices unflinchingly, with writing that mimics the comedian's signature accents, though they play better onstage than on the page. Jobrani explores his Iranian family with stories that bridge the invisible wall between cultures as he describes escaping the Iranian revolution and establishing himself in comedy. Hidden amid tales of strip-club performances (don't do them, is Jobrani's advice) and elderly Persian hecklers is a valuable study in American race relations centered around Jobrani's own relationship with his family and friends. Jobrani's personal touch lends weight to his often but not always joking observations, and the result is a memoir about race that's accessible to people who don't like to talk about race. (Feb.)
Whitney Cummings
“I didn’t even know Maz was Persian. I thought he was Mexican. You learn so much when someone writes a book about themselves. Now read it so you can understand why Maz is hands down my favorite bald headed, goateed, Persian comedian named Maz.”
Jamie Masada
“I have witnessed hundreds of thousands of people come to my club, and adore Maz. I highly recommend this book. It’s an incredible story about an incredible comedian. You will love it!”
The Iron Sheik
“Maz Jobrani is no Jabroni. If you don't read his book I will find you, put you in a camel clutch, and break your neck! Oh, and his book is funny too.”
Reza Aslan
“A heartfelt and laugh-out-loud hilarious memoir about growing up an immigrant in America. Maz Jobrani is not just one of the funniest comics out there. He's a keenly perceptive voice on what it even means to be American.”

From the Publisher
“Jobrani has plenty to say about matters of race, assimilation, embarrassing family members, life in America for brown-skinned people before and after 9/11, the vagaries of international pop culture and making it in big, dumb, fizzy, sometimes beautiful America.” —The New York Times

“I didn’t even know Maz was Persian. I thought he was Mexican. You learn so much when someone writes a book about themselves. Now read it so you can understand why Maz is hands down my favorite bald headed, goateed, Persian comedian named Maz.” —Whitney Cummings, stand-up comedian and creator of Two Broke Girls

“I have witnessed hundreds of thousands of people come to my club, and adore Maz. I highly recommend this book. It’s an incredible story about an incredible comedian. You will love it!” —Jamie Masada, Owner, The World Famous Laugh Factory

“Maz Jobrani is no Jabroni. If you don't read his book I will find you, put you in a camel clutch, and break your neck! Oh, and his book is funny too.” —The Iron Sheik, WWE Champion and Social Media God

“A heartfelt and laugh-out-loud hilarious memoir about growing up an immigrant in America. Maz Jobrani is not just one of the funniest comics out there. He's a keenly perceptive voice on what it even means to be American.” — Reza Aslan, author of Zealot and No god but God

"The struggles and successes of ‘the Persian Eddie Murphy.’ Iranian-American comedian, actor and first-time author Jobrani tells a fish-out-of-water story. . . . A funny [and] insightful memoir" —Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-11-29
The struggles and successes of "the Persian Eddie Murphy."Iranian-American comedian, actor and first-time author Jobrani tells a fish-out-of-water story, all the while maintaining a self-deprecating tone—e.g., regarding immigrant parents: "I don't think immigrant parents really understand the ratings system. They think that PG…means that a movie will give ‘parental guidance' to your kid while you go shopping for gold jewelry, chandeliers, and marble counters at the mall." The author also recounts his desire to blend in and be seen as just another rich kid in Northern California, albeit one whose "loud and brown" father picked him up from soccer practice in a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. Cultural typecasting followed Jobrani throughout his fledgling Hollywood career, perhaps most shockingly when he caught his big break at the renowned Comedy Store in Los Angeles in 1999 and was asked to dress in "Middle Eastern garb," like "the Persian equivalent of blackface." The author hits his stride with his chronicle of the period after 9/11, when he went on the offensive with his comedy, sharing his political views and observations in his stand-up act and on cable TV specials. Jobrani embraced the role of comedy in healing after 9/11 and, later, with two other comics on the international Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. This mission and his tales from the road comprise the bulk of the book. Jobrani believes it is his duty to bring these issues to light in a humorous, accessible way—e.g., when he quips that he is not involved in jihad, explaining he "lost interest altogether once [jihadis] started putting bombs in their underwear." He also offers this practical advice: "Don't Wear A Backpack At Home Depot." A funny and occasionally insightful memoir of an Iranian-American comedian finding a voice in showbiz.
The Atlantic
“Maz Jobrani is challenging extremist ideology and Muslim stereotypes, one punchline at a time.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476749983
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
02/17/2015
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
893,351
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

I'm Not a Terrorist, but I've Played One on TV

Introduction

Hello there! Thank you for picking up my book. Maybe you picked it up because you recognize me from a television show. “Isn’t that the guy from Better Off Ted and Knights of Prosperity and Life on a Stick? Whatever happened to those shows? What happens to actors when their shows get canceled?”

Well, reader, we write books. That’s what happens when our shows get canceled. Maybe you’ve picked up this book because you saw the word “terrorist” on the cover and thought: I always knew this guy was a terrorist! Always trying to convince the American public that he’s a stand-up comedian. What a dirty piece of scum! He was never that funny anyway! Or maybe you’re related to me, and you thought: What the hell—Maz wrote a book? I wonder if he mentions me. I better buy a copy and check it out.

Whatever the reason, thank you.

Writing a book isn’t easy. I’m a comedian, so I’m used to writing a few lines of comedy each day, but when I was faced with writing two hundred pages I was intimidated. I immediately began to think of ways to cheat. What if I double-spaced everything? Or maybe I could add a hundred pages of pictures. That would really help move this baby along.

However, once I began writing, it started to flow. After all, this is a story about my life. Who’s more qualified to write about me than me? I’ve been studying me for forty-two years. I’m an expert on me. I’ve got a Ph.D. in me. I wrote the book on me. Literally! And what a life it’s been! A classic immigrant story. A kid from the streets of Tehran moving to the streets of Los Angeles. (Which nowadays is packed with so many Iranians that it’s basically like living back on the streets of Tehran.) Along the way I’ve experienced a revolution, a hostage crisis, and male-pattern baldness.

Writing a book is like going through a therapy session. It’s amazing how much you forget about your past until you’re forced to sit at a desk and put it down on paper. If you want to go through therapy but can’t afford the payments, try writing a book. When you’ve got a busy life filled with work, family, car payments, Twitter feeds, and Facebook photos, you don’t have as much time to reflect on your past. But when you have an editor with deadlines, you’re forced to dig, and you find that you have stories to tell. Like the one about how I was made to wear a turban on a Chuck Norris movie of the week. Yes, I know, you’re jealous. Don’t hate—we can’t all be friends (or, in my case, enemies) with Chuck.

In imitation of the therapeutic process, I tell my story as I remember it. Some of the dialogue you will read wasn’t said word for word but what it actually sounded like when I heard it. My mother, whom you will read a lot about in this book, is a prime example. Anyone who has reflected on a parental relationship knows that when a mother says one thing, her kid can read a million other things into it. For example, when my mom would say, “Why can’t you go to medical school like Mina’s son?” I would hear “You’re a bum loser, and you’re a disgrace to our entire race! I never should have had you in the first place!” In fairness to my mom, she was no Joan Crawford from Mommie Dearest. She was always a loving mother who did what she thought was best. Sometimes that included hitting us with clothes hangers when we were young, but I’m sure we had it coming. To this day I have flashbacks when the dry cleaner asks me if I want my shirts folded or on hangers. I love my mom dearly, and thanks to her all my shirts now come home from the dry cleaner’s folded.

Since my life as a comedian involves so much traveling, you could call this a travel book as well. You will read about my experiences in bars in Lebanon with Christian Lebanese (yes, there’s alcohol in the Middle East, and Christians, too!). You will read about my visit to one of the Wonders of the World, Petra in Jordan, where not only did I see the historical city built thousands of years ago, but I was peddled Indiana Jones merchandise. American capitalism at its best! There’s also my trip to the White House, where President Obama groped my wife. You want scandal? I’ve got scandal! The point is, I’ve traveled a lot. You know you’re flying too much when you consistently hit more than a hundred thousand miles per year. I’ve gotten to know the shuttle bus drivers at the parking lot, the flight attendants, and even some sure-handed TSA agents. In fact, just the other day a TSA agent fist-bumped me as I went through the metal detector—that’s how close we’ve become. Since I’m of Middle Eastern descent, the first time a TSA agent recognized me I was worried she was profiling me. Turns out she was a fan of my stand-up and just wanted to say hello. As usual, I was the one profiling myself. Much more on that later in this book.

I hope you will enjoy reading about this Middle Eastern–American comedian’s life, because I’ve certainly enjoyed writing it. Once you read my story, I think you will see we have more in common than you anticipated when you picked up the book thinking you were grabbing the memoir of a terrorist. If you do finish the book and are still scared of me and people of my ilk, then I recommend you schedule an appointment with a therapist. Either that, or try writing your own book.

Meet the Author

Maz Jobrani is a founding member of The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. He performs stand-up comedy around the world, including in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East where he performed in front of the King of Jordan. Maz starred in the films Friday After Next, 13 Going on 30, and The Interpreter. He was a series regular on ABC’s Better Off Ted, and he has guest starred on Curb Your Enthusiasm, 24, True Blood, and Shameless, to name a few. Jobrani is currently a regular panelist on NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” He has also given two TED talks, which can be viewed at TED.com. He has performed his stand-up on The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, and Showtime and is starring in the indie comedy feature, Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero, which he cowrote and produced. I’m Not a Terrorist, But I’ve Played One on TV is his first book.

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I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One On TV: Memoirs of a Middle Eastern Funny Man 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Its horrble