By Grace Nasri, Iran Times
An Iranian-American comedian has been chosen as a semi-finalist in the Butterfinger Comedy Showdown for her "Hairy Persians" comedy bit.
Elham Jazab was born in Shiraz and moved to Tunisia with her family when she was just a baby. From Tunisia, her family moved to America, where her mother and father-a pharmacologist and surgeon respectively-completed medical school.
Jazab told the Iran Times she began school in the U.S., but again moved with her family back to Africa-the Congo-when she was in elementary school. She attended the American International High School, then moved back to the United States for college, and has remained in the U.S. ever since.
She received her bachelor's degree at Chicago's Northwestern University-where she studied acting and theater-and her master's degree in arts at Columbia College.
When the Iran Times asked Jazab how she got involved in comedy, she replied, "At first I began doing one women shows-performance art pieces that were funny in Chicago; but probably after my divorce [in 1999], I started doing more of a stand-up type routine-first for Persian parties and cultural conferences and then, after I moved to California, I started to appear at clubs in the San Francisco and LA areas-where I have been for almost six years now.
"My type of comedy is, I think, typical American-style comedy-self deprecating, somewhat satirical, commentary on myself, on being Persian, on Persian culture, on what others think of Persians, on what Persians think of themselves and others, of being a single girl, etc. It's a bit silly sometimes, but generally pretty funny. I crack myself up a lot when I'm writing jokes."
Jazab, who speaks Farsi, told the Iran Times, "If I'm doing an event that is primarily a Persian audience, I'll throw some Farsi in. I can certainly imitate the Persian accent well-I do all sorts of accents really. There are always Persian people in the audience who insist on bringing their old non-English speaking aunt or grandma to my shows-who always say loudly from the front row, 'Beh Farsi, beh Farsi begu. Cheezee nafahmidam!'' ("In Farsi, speak in Farsi. I can't understand a thing.")
When the Iran Times asked Jazab how she got involved in the Butterfinger Comedy Showdown, she said, "It was brought to my attention by a friend who thought I would do well. I was actually recovering from spinal surgery-still am-and took off my neck-brace and wrapped a scarf around my throat and had a filmmaker friend of mine tape me."
Jazab has performed regularly at comedy outlets such as the Comedy Union, the Laugh Factory, the Comedy Store and the Hollywood Improv. Last week, she hosted and performed at an all-female comics show entitled, "The Sultanas of Satire" at Cal Poly Northridge University in California.
"Right now I perform regularly with a group of Middle Eastern background comics, the Sultans of Satire. We're at the Improv monthly with a show coming up on Thursday, October 30," Jazab said, adding that you can watch some of the group's comedy routine at www.sultansofsatire.com.
Last November, Jazab toured Europe for a month replacing the lead actress in the Persian stage comedy entitled "What Women Really Want," starring the Persian actor Miri and written and directed by Mansour Pourmand.
"I learned that part in 10 days; no rehearsals, just by writing it out in Per-glish and listening to tapes. Insanity! But a great success and lots of fun and I felt very proud that I did a good job and got huge laughs everywhere we went."
Now competing for the Butterfinger Comedy finals, Jazab said, "I'd LOVE the votes of Iran Times' readers and want my fellow Persians to step up and support me. Vote, vote, vote-everyday as a matter of fact! The contest ends in less than two weeks!"
The comedian's "Hairy Persians" video bit will be featured on the Butterfinger Comedy Showdown website for people to vote on who will perform in the final round at Hollywood's Laugh Factory. To learn more about the Butterfinger Comedy Showdown and to cast a vote before the October 28 deadline, visit: http://butterfingercomedyshowdown.yahoo.com/
Jazab left the Iran Times with a bit from her skit. "Here goes: We Persians are the hairiest white people on earth, really. We Persian girls, we don't buy Persian rugs, we marry them."
About Iran Times: The Iran Times is an independent newspaper with no affiliation with any political party or faction The Iran Times corporation was founded in Washington D.C. in 1970, in accordance with U.S. federal and local regulations: www.iran-times.com
... Payvand News - 10/28/08 ... --