In a world where religion is part of so many conflicts, some have found ways to bring people together and force them to address their stereotypes. Comedy is one way to achieve this goal. Laughing together can create a sense of understanding across differences. While some may people may not associate the two terms “Muslim” and “comedian” (or even “religion” and “comedy”), there have been many Muslims like Azhar Usman, Mo Amer, Preacher Moss, Maysoon Ziad, Tissa Hami, who have used comedy as a way to break stereotypes and to make the audience appreciate their differences.
If comedy can dispel stereotypes, can it also be a platform for interfaith dialogue? Well, the creators of “FUNATICAL: Taking Comedy to the Extreme” think so. They launched a new tour called “We Come in Peace” this past week.
The new tour features comedians from diverse religious backgrounds: Muslim, Jewish Arab, Christian Arab, Sikh, and even Muslim/Baptist/Jewish/Zoroastrian. The goal of the show is to shed light on the misunderstandings between the different faiths and to demonstrate that at their core all religions share a common message. According to Matt Kazam, one of the comedians who comes from a Muslim and Jewish background, “If we can laugh at each other, we can love each other. Comedy is about comparing and contrasting differences.”
For me, comedy is an excellent medium to bring people together. Laughter forces you to lighten up and really think about the issues being addressed. It can also cause you to think differently about a group of people, a point that Said Durrah, one of the Muslim comedians highlights: “If I am on stage performing for non-Muslims and I get them to laugh with me and enjoy my comedy, I made an impression on them.” Moreover, if you know that the goal is to emphasize our commonality and all groups are dealt with equally, then a sense of understanding can be achieved.
Do you think that comedy can be a platform for interfaith dialogue? Can laughing with someone become a bridge for understanding? Do you think religion and comedy can go together? Please share your thoughts below.