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Maysoon Zayid & The First Ever Muslim Stand-Up Comedy Festival

Maysoon Zayid

Pictured: Maysoon Zayid; Photo Credit: Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Too often, when people hear the word “Muslim” they have one-dimensional images pop into their mind. Women wearing all black and covered, so only their faces – or just their eyes – can be seen. Bearded men carrying weapons. Terrorism.

Such associations stereotype 1.6 billion people. And fabulous comedians will make that point. Take a look and even go and laugh with them at America’s first ever Muslim stand-up comedy festival, The Muslim Funny Fest. From July 21 to July 23 in New York, the not-for-profit festival features top Muslim American comedians from the United States, Canada and Dubai.

Co-organizers of the festival, Dean Obeidallahand and Maysoon Zayid, are mainstays in the comedy circuit. “We’re not censoring any of the comics,” Ms. Zayid said to The New York Times. “They can talk about whatever they want. We’re not telling anyone, ‘Oh, this is a Muslim comedy festival, so you can’t talk about the fact that you love bacon sandwiches.’ ”  Zayid can also boast having the most viewed TED Talks session of last year, in which she found humor in growing up in New Jersey as a Palestinian American with cerebral palsy.

In addition to stand-up, Zayid tries to battle discrimination with humor via Twitter. In one tweet she jokes, “A lot folks don’t realize you can be Muslim and American. They’re all, “Go back to your own country!” and I’m like, “You mean NJ?”

But there is a serious issue that underlies the festival. “We didn’t start doing the ethnic comedy and Muslim comedy until we felt our community was under siege and that we could no longer just step onstage and be treated as an equal,” Ms. Zayid said in a phone interview with the New York Times.

Whether Muslim or not, we all love to laugh. Humor is a universal joy that binds us all and one we all can support

For details about the festival visit http://muslimfunnyfest.com