Fann sat down with filmmaker Fawzia Mirza to ask them about their feature debut “The Queen of My Dreams” and the film’s upcoming U.S. debut at SXSW.
Allah Made Me Funny: A Closer Look at America's Longest-Running All-Muslim Stand-Up Comedy Troupe
Allah Made Me Funny, America’s longest-running all-Muslim stand-up comedy troupe, has spawned many careers in its nearly two decade existence. Originally consisting of Bryant “Preacher” Moss, Azhar Usman and Azeem Muhammad, the ethnically diverse troupe tried to subvert prevailing war on terror narratives about Muslims, one of the most ethnically diverse religious populations in America. Later, Azeem Muhammad was replaced by Mohammad “Mo” Amer.
Each of the members made an impact, and had careers that likely surpassed their expectations when they formed the troupe in 2004.
Bryant “Preacher” Moss was the most senior and established member of the troupe, having toured as an opening act for future SNL cast member Darrell Hammond in 1994. After that tour he moved to Los Angeles where he wrote for prominent comedians like Damon Wayans and George Lopez. Before Allah Made Me Funny, Moss had written his own show “End of Racism” which he performed across the country at numerous colleges and high schools, combining comedy with education.
Azhar Usman was a lawyer and community activist and lecturer before he became known as the “Ayatollah of Comedy” and “Bin Laughin.” He performed internationally early in his career, making it as far as India in 2008. In December 2020, Marvel Studios announced that Usman had joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, agreeing to play Najaf on the cast of the studio’s “Ms. Marvel” original streaming series for Disney+. Usman has served as a creative advisor and co-writer on many shows such as “Ramy,” and “Mo,” the hit Netflix comedy by Usman’s fellow Allah Made Me Funny member, comedian Mo Amer.
Azeem Muhammad is a self-stylized “holistic healer though humor,” though you wouldn’t suspect that at first from his self-disparaging, inwardly-aimed insult comedy. A native of St. Louis, Mo., Muhammad began his comedy career in 1999 at the age of 26 while working at a rehabilitation center for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. His last tour took him around the country so check his website for new dates.
Mohammed Mustafa Amer, also known as Mo Amer, is a Palestinian American stand-up comedian. Prior to appearing as the character Karim in the Marvel movie Black Adam, his best known work was likely his Netflix comedy special “Mo Amer: The Vagabond,” or his loosely autobiographical Netflix show, “Mo.” He also starred for two seasons of comedian Ramy Youssef’s Hulu sitcom “Ramy” as Ramy’s cousin Mo.
During the events of the War on Terror, Muslim American organizations and advocates were scrambling to take control of the narrative amidst their increasing portrayal as terrorists or combatants. Many initiatives set forward to dispel stereotypes, including the launch of a TV Channel explicitly created to counter stereotypes about Muslims. Looking back nearly two decades after the group’s formation, it is easy to place the efforts of Allah Made Me Funny amidst this climate. What is special about this stubborn comedy troupe, though, is its members’ perseverance in popular culture: they suffered that tense and often unfruitful moment in American history to taste stardom today.
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